Cannon Cannon

Barrett's Canons

by Colonel Baron Richard Barrett
Les Compagnies d'Artillerie à Pied de la Jeune Garde
V Corps Artillery Reserve, Armée du Rhin

Barrett's Barrel

...focus rage...embrace it...don't deny my is part of me, and I am proud of it...yaddah, yaddah, your case...yoda, yoda, yoda...

Did you ever have just one of those days? The kind of day where, from the moment you awoke, you just knew Fate, whom you had so neatly been dodging for so long, had finally sat up and realized that you were missing out on all its fun, and dammit! it was time to catch up on all that you had been missing out on? No? Well, I did.

Explosion of the Elster Bridge

Roused out of bed at my usual early wake-up call of an eye-lid-busting 9:15 AM, (consider briefly, mes amis, the hour at which I retire, for some perspective), I found the day wet, dismal, dreary. For there was no brandy for my tea, the junior officers having quite nastily consumed it all through the course of the night before, thinking that somehow I might be pleased by their devotion to my example. Let their hides rot in a vat of acid.

Mais non. So I had to actually slippy-slide my way across the oh-so-muddy field to the canteen, and sweet-talk a little curly-haired cantinière named Betty, (which is short for "Bettanottouchmeyouscumsuckingpigman") into selling me (me! the Colonel, no less!) a bottle of hogswill fit for no officer serving. I am quite certain that, if it had been distilled at all, which was debatable, it had been only in the previous quarter hour. I suspect the men use the stuff to polish their belt-buckles; but necessity pressed upon me sorely, and into the tea it went.

Breakfast arrived cold (last night's leftovers) as my cooks were having some kind of spat which had evolved into a food-fight with MY breakfast. Apparently, it would have been quite good: ham, turkey, eggs of 3 birds, venison, jellies, sweetmeats, the usual. As an aside, I find the typical complaints about army food entirely unjustified, provided one takes the elementary precaution of employing one's own chefs. But clearly there are days when even so, one is obliged to eat (eat?) as the men do. Remind me to flay the chefs later. After dinner.

Barrett and Henri II

Now, we had received orders some weeks earlier to break camp and march forth, and indeed I had noticed a distinct reduction in the number of fellow officers in the immediate neighbourhood lately; so, as I was in a bit of a mood anyhow, I decided we might as well get cracking and find where the rest of the army had wandered off to. I never like moving out; gets the men all sweaty and dirty, dammit. Takes the edge off them, I find. Always look smarter on turnout when they don't have to work too hard. Still, one must do one's duty, so I had one of the batboys gather up a few nosegays for me, and I rode on off ahead, so as not to embarrass the men in the midst of their labours with my evident distaste for them.

Now I'm riding along on my worthy old warhorse, Henri II, (who, some wag once suggested, had served in the Hundred Years War: start to finish) when up ahead I see some lads scouting my way. Well, I admit, I enjoy something of a friendly, comradely disposition, so I wave and calls out to them a mighty "halloooo." As they canter towards me, I note a disconcerting fact, that their uniforms ain't ours! Well, I wasn't born yesterday, so I turn old Henri II about, and make known to him the fine oat lunch awaiting him back in the ranks if only he could see his way clear to reconnecting his brain with his legs. Old Henri starts pacing along at a fine clip, for him, and I decide I'd do better to get off and walk. The scouts were closing on me, so I decided, damn their eyes, that I'd best do an old Injun trick, taught to my father* by an Iroquois during the French & Indian wars. I dismount, give Henri a mighty whack to the end-quarters to set him on his meandering way, and I hives on over to a tree, and STAND BEHIND IT. Now young 'uns, listen to the master, for I shall tell you clever secrets if you've but a mind to listen.

British Hussars

But Fate was clearly out to get me this day, and damned if those scouts didn't find me right away despite my best trick. [Editor's Note: We must petition the Imperial government to install wider trees in the public forests, for the better concealment of distinguished officers of imposing girth.] But that wasn't the half of it. Turns out they weren't just scouts, but the head of an advance guard, and don't a whole enemy regiment of hussars come trailing along behind. Well laddies, there comes a time to cut cards with the Devil, when the only thing left to do is to send a message to posterity: so in the finest tradition of military bravado I drew my sword, gave it a fearful shake at the lot of them, and commanded them to surrender!

When the laughing died down, they trussed me up and marched me off. Bugger. Then, to make things really nasty, the hussars moved on and seized Henri, who was about ten feet off by this time, grazing on brown-eyed susans and such-not at the side of the path. Worse, they chased on down the path, found my batteries, and captured the whole damn lot of lazy bastards. The rascals had barely broken a sweat since I had hoved on out of sight earlier in the morning! Serves them right. I shall flay the XO with the chefs, someday, when the power returns to me.

But this was going to be hard to explain, I perceived.

Best start thinking up an excuse, who to blame, that sort of thing. Seemed I had a bit of time on my hands. Time to reconsider what's important in life; maybe a little introspection, sit down with the enemy Colonel, see if he drinks like us (me), shares the same fears, ambitions, pleasures, all that sort of crap. Maybe life isn't all about cannon, and explosions, and grapeshot, and chilled fruity beverages with little umbrellas. Damn! Nothing but English cooking to look forward to. Some days, one can only hope Fate is laughing heartily, for I'm not. What the Hell is "bangers & kippers" anyway? Maybe it's not as bad as it sounds....

(*The astute reader will of course have recalled that Barrett, bastard nephew of a Connaught innkeeper, had no known father. The affecting tale of the reunion of a loose-moraled Seven Years' War veteran with his long-lost ne'er-do-well son will doubtless constitute an edifying future chapter in this saga. Ed.)

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