Guidon 4ème Dragons


by Bill Peterson

My Friends,
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one Editor to succeed another at the helm of such an august publication as this, a decent respect for the opinions and curiosity of the readership requires that the new scribe should introduce himself.

Lieutenant, 4me Dragons

I was born and raised in the village of Veyrier, in the République de Genève (Geneva), which was annexed to France in 1798. It was always known, but not talked about, that I had been conceived well before "Maman" met "Papa." I am tall and blond, while Papa and my half-brothers are stocky and dark. Rather than giving me the family surname, Maman insisted I be called by the un-French name of "Guillaume (Bill) Peterson." She only smiled, but never said a word when I tried to ask her about my real father. Yet, when I and my friends disdainfully punned thet "les autrichiens" (the Austrians) were "les autres chiens" (the other dogs), she would look sad.

Papa tried to teach me to be a farmer and part-time blacksmith like himself; Maman pushed me to study and become a teacher, a physician, or a Calvinist pastor; but I always played at war and yearned for the sound of drums, as if the love of warfare was in my blood. It was only after I reported to the Camp de Boulogne for training as a cavalry officer that I heard of the great Austrian Feldmarschall Bill Peters. Suddenly, my life and my origins made sense. A bastard I may be, but like William the Bastard (the Conqueror) of Normandy, I have a proud sire. Feldmarschall-Archduke Peters has indeed acknowledged paternity, while dodging the charge of adultery by claiming I was his legitimate son, kidnapped shortly after birth.

Be that as it may, the Feldmarschall-Archduke's attempts to alter my allegiance are futile. My heart and soul belong to my adopted "Patrie," France, to "la Gloire," and to l'Empereur. I earnestly hope for the day when the great Austrian Empire becomes an ally of France, and I can fight shoulder-to-shoulder with my father in the same great cause. Until then, though he has my deep respect and my full gratitude for giving me life, I am ready to risk that life in battle against him if duty so requires. I do reserve a spot of mercy for my half-brothers in the Austrian service; I pledge myself to seek them out in the prisoner-pens after each French victory, and do what I can to ease their lot.

One part of Maman's teaching that did not go to waste was music. I was warbling Ma'lb'rough s'en va-t-en Guerre before I could walk, and I continue to build the repertoire of the "Singing Dragoons" choir. I encourage the troopers to sing; ribald songs of girls and liquor while on the march, patriotic and sentimental songs at camp in the evening, and lively mocking songs to sing in the face of the enemy just before we close to combat.

My other, 21st-Century self was born in Detroit, Michigan, but I did live in Veyrier while my Dad worked for Chrysler International in Geneva, 1959-66. I picked up a good grounding in French, and my first editorial experience running The Primary Press at the International School of Geneva. I devoured military history and fiction (any other Biggles fans out there?) and regularly invested my allowance in Airfix soldiers and Minitanks.

My formal wargaming experience began on my 13th birthday with the gift of Avalon Hill square-grid Gettysburg. I haven't stopped in the last 34 years. After high school in Detroit, I went through the University of Michigan with a double major in Zoology and French Honors. My French-literature specialization was early-19th-Century fiction, a generation of writers steeped in the Napoleonic epic (Stendhal was a staff officer, Victor Hugo was the son of a General...). I attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where I had plenty of opportunity to speak French, edited the student-produced McGill Medical Journal, and co-edited the highly informal and satirical Gastric Growl.

I took specialty training in general and child psychiatry in Illinois and Wisconsin, 1981-87, then jumped at the opportunity to live in Europe as a civilian psychiatrist for the U.S. Army in Frankfurt, Germany, 1987-94. I was in private practice in Fredericksburg, Virginia (stomping-grounds of Muddy Jones, though we never met) in 1994-97, before rejoining the Army Medical Department in Würzburg, Germany. I will probably be leaving government service and moving to Oregon in 2002.

I never owned a personal computer before 1997. I chanced upon Napoleon in Russia at the PX in 1998, and was immediately in love. My association with the Napoleonic Wargaming Club dates from 1 September, 2000. I had no knowledge of HTML prior to March 2001, when I volunteered for this post. I am wide open to tips and suggestions from the more technically adept! Indeed, the whole computer thing is still rather foreign to me; I have not yet worked up the courage to try to download Eylau.

I look forward to plenty of feedback and contributions from you toward making the NWC Newsletter what it ought to be: a vehicle for information, education, and much entertainment. Friends, enjoy!