Category Archives: Clash of Empires

excerpt from chap 5 – Clash of Empires

Liam awoke to the sound of thunder and Liza preparing porridge for their breakfast.  That he had been asleep surprised him as he had not slept for almost three days, the sight of Orenda tied to that tree haunted his dreams still as did the sound of her screams as she cried out to him.  Daniel and Henry were already awake and making ready to begin today’s trek to Donehogawa’s camp on Mahoning Creek.  Teeyeehogrow and Pierre had risen before dawn and went back tracking to see if anyone was in pursuit.  They had gone about two miles and were standing on the top of a hill looking down at a troop of French about a mile distant preparing to break camp.  ‘Best to warn the others and hasten our pace,’ said Pierre.  Teeyeehogrow nodded in agreement and replied, ‘We don’t know for sure they are after us though I suspect they are and there’s little chance they won’t find our tracks.’  They returned to where they had tethered their mounts and had to soothe the trembling horses as a blast of thunder and flash of lightning pierced the early morning quiet.  Another sudden clap of thunder brought with it a pelting rain that soaked them to the bones as they made their way back to camp.  ‘The beckoning call of the rising sun,’ spoke Pierre, ‘the breath of promise on the early morning breeze.  Dawn is God’s blessing to man and beast, though it seems to be an off day for the almighty.  I suppose even God enjoys a bit of variety.’  Teeyeehogrow slapped Pierre on the back and chuckled, ‘more likely he’s just pissed about something.’  ‘My friend, you are quite probably truer to the mark,’ replied Pierre.

With the news that they were probably being tracked by the French, Liam and Daniel decided they would take a position a few miles behind the others as they rode, keeping a watchful eye on their pursuers.  By mid-morning the storm had fled eastward and now the sun was beginning the drying out process as steam rose from the horse’s flanks and the ground was enveloped in a swirling mist.  Birdsong now replaced the staccato rhythm of the rain.    This was the third day after leaving Fort Necessity and they were pretty sure they could reach the Mohawk camp on Mahoning Creek by nightfall if they pushed their mounts a little harder.  As they crested a hill they found themselves looking down at the creek but could not see the Mohawk camp and were not sure which direction they should take once they crossed the Mahoning.  The sound of hoof beats from behind had them reaching for their weapons but as Daniel came into view they relaxed and dismounted.  He came to a halt, the suddenness of his stopping sending up a spray of dirt and leaves.  ‘We’ve got trouble,’ he started, ‘the French have split their pursuit and now half of them are heading down to the creek to keep us from crossing while the rest drive us into it.  Liam and I will hold them back for as long as we can but you need to make haste across the water.’  Teeyeehogrow motioned with his hand to point out the fact that there was already a group of French getting into position for the ambush at the water’s edge.

Lieutenant LeFurge positioned the six men with him behind a scattering of boulders and fallen trees.  ‘We have them now,’ he murmured to himself as he slid his saber in and out of its scabbard, willing himself to not be nervous about his first real taste of battle and there was no way he was going to obey his orders to the letter.  ‘No one fires until I give the command,’ he ordered, ‘shoot to kill but spare the woman, she’ll make a fine gift to our Shawnee friends.’

Wahta and Deganawidah were returning to the Mohawk encampment from a hunting trip and from the trees noticed the French across the creek setting up for what appeared to be an ambush.  They set down the deer they were carrying and crept to the creek bank to see if they could be of help to whoever the French were after.  The sounds of gunfire from the hill in the distance drew their attention but they still could not make out who it was.

‘We can’t take on both groups, there are too many,’ said Daniel, ‘Pierre, go get Liam.  We’ll meet the group behind us from here.  We’ll have the advantage of being uphill with enough cover to protect us.  Liza, I know you’re a good shot but for now I need you to reload our muskets.  We have two extras so we should be able to keep up a continuous fire and no doubt Liam will be using his bow as well as his musket.’

Liam and Pierre rode back to the others and took up positions behind the trees just as the first of the French came riding up the slope.  They dismounted quickly as Liam let fly and struck one the horses with an arrow in the shoulder causing it to rear and throw its rider.  Daniel and the others then opened up with musket fire taking down two in the first volley.  The remaining three returned fire but Liam and the rest were too well sheltered for any clean hits and when they reloaded and stood to fire again they were met with another volley wounding two more of the French troops.  Setting his musket down and holding his palms outward, the lone remaining Frenchman helped his wounded comrades onto their horses and took off back the way they came.  ‘Looks as though we won’t have to worry about that group,’ said Daniel, ‘How do we deal with those in the rocks below?’  It was then that Wahta recognized Liam and shouted while he drew back his bow and released an arrow, striking one of the surprised French in the back, the force of the arrow causing him to stumble and fall into the creek, ‘Snake slayer my brother, let us meet our foes together.’  At the sound of his voice and seeing one of his troopers floating away, LeFurge turned to see two Mohawk braves shooting from across the creek.  He barely had time to duck as an arrow whizzed by his ear.  Taking advantage of the changing situation, Liam, Daniel, Henry, Liza and Teeyeehogrow charged down the hill, muskets at the ready and firing into the rocks.  There wasn’t much chance of hitting anyone from the back of a charging horse but it kept the French pinned down as they took fire from front and rear.  Thirty yards from the French Liam and the others veered off to the right and plunged into the creek while Wahta and Deganawidah kept up their fire killing one more of the French and wounding LeFurge.  Once his friends were safely across, Wahta stopped shooting and headed up to meet them in the trees.

With a smile almost as broad as his shoulders Wahta embraced Liam, ‘It does my heart good to see you again brother.’  ‘Not as much as I am to see you.  We were in some trouble and the outcome would have most likely been different without your timely involvement.  How far is it to Donehogawa’s camp?  I fear our horses are sorely tired as are we.’  ‘We will be there before the sun sets and then we will feast on venison and talk late into the night,’ replied Wahta.

Lieutenant LeFurge, his right thigh bandaged and in some pain seethed at the thought that in his first engagement he was so thoroughly routed and wounded on top of it.  All that and he didn’t even fire his musket once, so complete was the surprise attack from across the creek.  His already smoldering hatred for the English was now raging into an inferno of revenge especially at the expense of these uncultured backwoodsmen and that bastard Colonel Washington for allowing them to leave the fort.

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excerpt from Chap 1- 2nd draft – Clash of Empires

CHAPTER 1

A Journey Contemplated

1749 – Autumn

Thomas Mallory stopped chopping and took a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow.  ‘Saints preserve us,’ he sighed, ‘it will take more wood than this to see us through the winter.’  He gazed about and took in the sights of the small lease held farm he worked with his family.  His wife Abigail was baking bread in the outdoor oven. His eldest son Daniel was over in the field harvesting the last of the squash and pumpkin. His only daughter Elizabeth was spreading feed for the ducks and chickens.  Liam, the youngest son was nowhere to be seen as he was out hunting.  ‘Aye and what about the spring?  What will they think about my plans for the spring?’

Thomas never did much like farming.  The plot of land that he leased from a wealthy member of the Philadelphia merchant aristocracy was barely sufficient to feed his family and make a profit.  For fifteen years he toiled, saving up every last farthing so that at last they could move West and begin a new life.  He had met William Trent, an adventurous woodsman and one time officer in the Virginia militia a few years back when he stopped by the farm looking for a place to bed down for a few nights.  He regaled them with his stories of the frontier, about his trip down The Ohio and the opportunities waiting for men with vision and courage.  ‘This is only the beginning’, said William, ‘but I plan on opening a trading post along the Allegheny River.  If I’m any judge of events then it won’t be long before the frontier will be teeming with them that’s looking to make their fortune.  Hunters and trappers at first and then with settlers.  Once things have settled there it will be back to The Ohio to start another trading post.’

The seed of adventure and profit was duly planted in Thomas so when William asked him to be his partner in a recent letter he quietly accepted to himself.  The time to tell the family would come soon enough.  All he needed to do now was to convince his wife Abigail that the move would be more than worth the risks involved as the area in question was in dispute between the British, the French and the various tribes of Indians, some of which sided with the British and some with the French.

The thought came to Liam as he followed the movement of the deer that he was never so at peace as when he was in the woods.  For as long as he could remember he made the most of every opportunity to be outside, marveling at nature and studying it.  Indeed he had come to know the area around his home very well and was now hidden on a small mound that was overgrown with brush.  He knew from experience that the deer used the trail below the mound to travel to a small creek for water.  He also knew that he would be too far away for an effective shot with his favorite weapon, the bow, so he had brought his musket along.  The deer was now broadside to Liam, the hindquarters obscured by tree branches but the front shoulder was in the open.  Liam fired, the shot hit and knocked the deer down but it was soon back on its feet, staggering away.  Liam resisted the notion of rising up and following the deer right away.  He knew that that would only cause the deer to panic even more causing it to run meaning it would be farther away once it finally succumbed to the wound and Liam was sure the shot was fatal.  ‘That got at least one lung, maybe both,’ he said to himself as he rose up just enough to keep an eye on the deer.  The wounded deer was still standing and walking but it was quickly losing blood and becoming weaker.  Liam, satisfied that it would not be going too much farther sat back down to wait for a few more minutes giving him time to think and daydream.   As was usually the case his thoughts were of Indians and how they used and nature to survive.  He was most in awe of the Indians and their way of life though he had encountered them only fleetingly. The farm he grew up on along the Schuylkill River west of Philadelphia didn’t have many Indians in the area. The last of them, the Delaware tribes, had been pushed farther west by the encroaching white settlers.  What truth he did learn he gleaned from a former Black Robe, a priest who had lived with his Order in the village of Teatontaloga near the white settlement of Albany.   Pierre Baptiste was now the village apothecary having learned from the Mohawk about the various herbs and plants that could be used for assorted ailments.  He was also an amateur naturalist and agreed with Liam to teach him about the Mohawk including their language in exchange for Liam gathering up and bringing him herbs and any other interesting plants and critters he could find.  He peered over the brush in time to see the deer collapse to the forest floor.  He slowly got up and stretched his cramped legs.  When he reached the where the deer had fallen he noticed the pink froth that had been seeping out of the deer’s mouth and nose.  ‘Yep, got the lungs,’ he said to himself.  Liam then got down to the business of field dressing the deer, removing the unwanted innards, placing the heart, liver and kidneys in a pouch.  He used a long strip of rawhide to wind around the torso, keeping it closed as he hoisted the carcass up onto his shoulders using the legs as handles and began the short but laborious trek back home.

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finish line still in sight

A short breather from this morning’s musings…a time to celebrate another minor milestone…word count now stands at 89,004.  Had to change things up a bit as what I thought was the last chapter proved to be longer than I liked so I split it in two…well actually three as I am now just starting the last one as I felt the need to finish at Mallory Town….the epilogue will play off that nicely I think.  So, boys and girls work continues on this longer than expected work…originally thought 80,000 or so would be good…looks more like 95,000…

I have four beta readers reading the pre-edited final draft…if all goes well and I can find the resources to acquire a good cover I hope this will be out in Kindle in a couple months…..

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finish line in sight

Getting close boys and girls…the last chapter is proving to be a bit lengthier than I first thought but that’s okay…will be writing the last major battle of the book next as the British penned up in Detroit attempt to break the siege….after that it’s only a matter of time and pages until Pontiac’s war concludes and book one ends….the epilogue is partially complete and I hope sets the scene for book two.  🙂  Here’s a bit of the lead up to the battle I haven’t written yet:

Captain Dayall as Major Gladwin knew was not one who liked to be on the defensive so it was not a great surprise when Dayall suggested rather heatedly that the time to strike was at dawn tomorrow.  What did surprise the Major was that Liam and Mulhern both agreed with him.  ‘Pontiac knows we’re going to hit him but he doesn’t know when.  The sooner we strike the less chance he will find out and the less time he has to prepare,’ said Liam.  ‘All right gentlemen,’ responded Gladwin, ‘we attack at dawn.  Captain Dayall will be in command.  I suggest using the river gate as it is less visible than the front.’

Pontiac knew he was violating one of the main points of his program for the tribes but sometimes, as he was learning, it was necessary for those in power to bend or even discard the rules once in a while.  The spyglass had been a gift from the captain of a French trading vessel and was one piece of the white man’s ingenuity that he was not ready to give up.  He climbed up into the oak tree he had been using during the siege as a vantage point for keeping an eye on the British.  The eastern sky was heralding in the first light of the new day on the horizon as Pontiac focused the spyglass on the far wall.  He had seen little activity at the front gate but did notice the many soldiers forming up near the river gate.  ‘So, I was correct in thinking you would make your move tonight,’ said Pontiac to himself while clambering down from his perch.  He walked over to Megegagik and said, ‘ready your men and make sure they remain hidden.  I will join you shortly and will lead the charge.’

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