cannon cannon

Barrett's Canons

By Général de Brigade Baron Richard Barrett
Les Compagnies d'Artillerie à Pied de la Jeune Garde
Commander, VI Corps, Armée du Rhin

A Prisoner's Tale

French Prisoners

Roll over.
Still snoring.
Eyelid cracks a touch. Assault of light, piercing through the foggy mists of my mind, bouncing about inside my head, ricocheting off bits of my inside. Finally hits a conscious bit. "Ah, daylight, Barrett!" says Consciousness.
Snoring still.
Consciousness perks up. Sends a hasty note off to the Ears to explain themselves: "Who's snoring?" it enquires.
Ears tell Consciousness to piss off, they are in some pain.
Consciousness is not pleased by the dereliction of duty. Sends a new message to Ears, explaining the need to rouse Barrett at some point, and that all things considered, the contribution of Ears might be conducive to the exercise. A polite note, truly, in the circumstances.
Ears tell Consciousness to go back to your ivory tower, etc. etc.
Snoring persists.
With some consternation, Consciousness invites Eyelid Number 2 to help out just a touch. Perhaps then the snoring might cease, and Barrett can get down to business.
Eyelid Number 2 wants to know what's wrong with Ears first, and why should it have to get up if Ears don't.
Consciousness decides there's nothing to be done in the face of this open mutiny, and starts to think about fried eggs and kippers.
The effect is almost instantaneous; Stomach heaves a mighty glutinous belch northwards, blasting all detritus before it.
Nose immediately sends a loud complaint to Stomach, considering the surprise assault completely uncalled-for. Eyelid Number 1, which had been disregarded for some time, starts to water, and blinks. Eyelid Number 2, predictably, gets curious, and cracks a bit.
And so begins another day in the life.

Prison Hulk Cell

The British officers are loafing about, some unconscious, others likely dead, like the empty bottles strewn hither and yon. Damn English hold their liquor like sieves. A fairly routine night in captivity: drinking, carousing, drinking, singing. A few of the odder lads donning women's clothing and offering dances for a shilling. More drinking. Their hearts are in the right place, but no stamina. I gets up. It looks a bit like the battlefield after the Gods charge over, I thinks to myself. Redcoats here, there, arms and legs akimbo, little puddles of goo not meriting a closer look.

Sigh. Captivity can be rather dull, truly.


Still, the English have their qualities, and do their best for a French Colonel. The alcohol abounds, they have excellent horses (even Henri II has had rather more excitement of late than might be altogether wise or appropriate), their women are for the most part buxom. Marvellous sense of humour, and they love sport, bad luck for the foxes. Still, it's the food that truly demonstrates their cultural inferiority to we French. Revolting fare, doesn't bear describing, it would only turn one's tummy to hear what I have had to eat. Happily, I was able to garner a few of my chefs from the general cull of my imprisoned men; no point sending chefs off to gaol, seems to me. But even so, there seem to be limits on what even a chef can do with the English supplies.

We've been marching at a leisurely enough pace, though I know not the destination. I have of course given my parole, and as a gentleman fully intend to stick this out pending my exchange, as is proper. But even so, or perhaps because of that, my hosts do not tell me my destination. Our days are meandering, and are often taken up with band-playing, steeplechase, the hunt, but damn little of a belligerent bent. No matter. I shall make the best of this respite, and shall hold myself up as an example to the men. Seeing how I bear up under the duress, I have no doubt but that they will take heart and find the strength to endure their own dismaying circumstances. I hear a handful died so far, poor bastards. Guess my example didn't get there in time. Shame. (Burp!)

Prison Hulk

I have tried to open discussion on a variety of topics with these English, to find some common ground, or interests, with which to ease the interminable hours in the saddle. Just so did me old Guv'nor advise me, regaling me with tales of his survival in captivity (after the failure of his attempt at the Iroquois-behind-a-tree trick): "Ye must talk to 'em, Dickie-boy," he would say; "unleash the golden harp o' your Irish gift o' eloquence. Aye! Them Frenchies was so taken with me," (he would boast to me) "they let me sit in a nice, snug, safe cell in the fort-a-ress of Quee-bec, while they an' the English dashed each others' brains out on the Plains o' Abraham. Luck o' the Irish, me Dickie-boy!" (I promised myself to murder him one day for always calling me "Dickie-boy," and luck of the Irish be damned!) Finding it always a point of interest myself, I have spoken at length about the French Order of Battle, marvelling at how the Emperor turns out recruits so well and quickly, which regiments enjoy reinforcements, which have the better generals, indeed, all manner of interesting sub-topics. At first, many of the English expressed some enthusiasm for the topic and veritably hung upon my every word, but as the days have crept by, I find it more and more difficult to find even a subaltern interested in the discussion of French military tactics, strategy, drill maneuvers, etc. Remarkably dull-witted bunch.

Napoleon Grieving for the Lost Barrett

I really can't imagine the cause of the Emperor's tardiness in responding with my exchange. Doubtless these English lost the letter coming or going, wouldn't surprise me a bit. I endure my anguish by contemplating my poor Emperor's dismay at hearing of my captivity, and the pain he must feel in losing such a close and trusted advisor. Daily I expect a Corps d'Armée to come over the hill, specifically sent out to effect my rescue.

Barrett's Barrel

But the days tick past, and not one of the (doubtless many) relief columns has found me yet. But I shall endure.

Right, well, time to kick a few of these redcoats awake. If I am up, no reason for them to be sleeping peacefully. At least they shall have headaches, not I. We all fight as best we can, and the rules of parole do not forbid such contests with the foe. Another day begins. Sigh. I think I shall pee in that Major's boot...

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