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Thread: Correspondence

  1. #41
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Darn it!

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  2. #42
    Maestro Director's Avatar
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    A very interesting perspective. I'm eager to see you continue with this.

    I'm familiar with Mr Russell from his dispatches from the Crimea (I won't give away more than that) and from his tour of the Confederate States during the Civil War.

    We shall see how the British Army fares in Russia... I suppose that will be determined by how close to history you play this.
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  3. #43
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    To All: After further thought, I decided it best to get out an update before New Years, as I will be absolutely destroyed for the next few days. It is not like many will have either time or conciousness to read this for the following days, but I might as well get it done.

    Snugglie: We will see more of his as he is, I feel, the really major character in all this. Afterall, it was him that gave the inspiration for the title. As for the chosen words, I have attemped to mimic his reports, and I dare say I will use vast chunks of his work in this. Phrases like 'Listlessness and Despondancy' were taken from his reports from Malta, and using 'ere' instead of 'before' I find important. He also loved describing scenery so I will attempt that at every point possible. What I think is more interesting, though, is how his view, and therefore the content of his reports, changes during the course of the war.

    Kurt_Steiner: Always glad to have to along Kurt... and Peti of course. I take it Peti is fine with eating hardtack ect. instead of pizza here; that is, of course, until the Sardinian's arrive.

    Director: Excellent, not many people have heard of him, but glad to have someone that does. I was aware that he continued the business he coined in the Crimea, though I did not know it was he that reported for the 'Times' in the ACW. I will have to take a check of it...

    update to follow...


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  4. #44
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    Chapter IV: The Emperor's Finest


    March 28th, 1854

    Captain Claude Henry Mason Buckle stood on the rear deck of HMS Valorous looking out with mixed emotions from the stern of the frigate. His eyes squinted towards the slowly receding Atlantic as his hands clasped each other firmly behind his back. He tapped left into the right slightly and blinked as the deep blue of the oceans gave way to the lighter turquoise of the Mediterranean. He enjoyed the openness of the Atlantic, but the ocean offered many more dangers of storms and bad seas. His daydreams were interrupted as a sudden thunder-like sound blasted through the ship and shuddered it, re-animating Buckle and giving him, a sailor of many years and well rehearsed in the new Steam Frigates, a small fright. He turned his torso around to see a large puff of dark black smoke appear from the chimney of the Valorous and smiled that it was not something more serious than a shutter being opened after being closed while the stoker was taking a minute or two or rest.

    Buckle hadn’t noticed that he had quite been carried away by the beautiful colours of the sea behind them. He turned to his left and it warmed his heart to see a familiar form in the great white rock that stood over the channel between the Atlantic and Mediterranean. It always made him feel calm when he saw the imposing structure that overlooked the straits. To a British sailor it was a home away from home, a safe haven from danger of enemy and the raging tempests of Poseidon’s seas. It was not so much the actual experience of Gibraltar, Buckle himself had never had to use the port to protect himself and his ship having enlisted after the Wars with Napoleon, but it was both the tradition of the navy and the knowledge that Gibraltar would always be there if he was ever in need that warmed his currently misty demeanour.



    The Second-Class Paddle-Steam Frigate, HMS Valorous



    “Sail ho!” came a distant cry from atop the Crow’s Nest that echoed off the waves below. Buckle blinked again and turned back towards the forward decks. He paced slowly across the deck towards the wheel, hands still firm behind his back and he watched the lieutenant of the watch call out “where away” not that it needed asking. A vessel coming out of Gibraltar to meet them would have met them at the head of the straits. This would have to be the vessel outlined in his orders; a Frenchman. Buckle dug into the pocket of his coat, the tail of which was fluttering the breeze. They were making good speed with both a fair westerly wind and a fully puffing engine. He grabbed his glass out of his pocket and extended it with his other free hand and leant into the lens. He studied the French ship, noting the Imperial flag flying above the mainmast, and then lowered his glass, sighed deeply and slammed the telescope back into place.

    “Master Higgins, bring her to our lee” he said to the Master of the ship, standing to his left, before replacing his hands behind his back. The ship began to turn slowly to port and Buckle paced towards the side of the deck. “Lieutenant Gibbons,” he shouted to the watchman, “send up the Jack if you please, and show these Frenchman how a British crew behaves.” The Crew began to launch themselves into action, some mounting the rigging and some manning the sides.

    A lonely red figure climbed up stairway to the rear deck and turned a gloomy face towards Buckle. “What’s all the fuss? My men are getting restless below.” This was Major Grant, second-in-command of the 49th Regiment. He was well known for being a depressing figure, but Buckle had no idea he would always speak in just mellow tones. His men seemed to like him, though, and he was well known for acts of reckless bravery during the Siege of Karachi and Sind. When Buckle did not reply, as he merely continued staring out to sea, Grant gave him a little nudge.

    Buckle turned his head and looked down at Grant, a few feet below him on the steps, and saw the brown eyes of the Major looking straight back at him in apprehension of an answer. Buckle smiled awkwardly, grabbed his glass out of his pocket again, and handed it to Grant before pointing out to the way he had been looking. Grant raised an eyebrow. “Our new allies” Buckle said with a hint of sarcasm after a few more moments of silence. Grant took a look through the glass and then nodded firmly.

    “It seems only yesterday that they were the public enemy, but now they are our allies” Grant moaned, not seeming quite as happy as the London politicians had been to secure the new Imperial France as an ally.

    “It may not seem-” Buckle paused for a second to think of a politic word, “politic, seeing as so many British soldiers… and sailors” he added hastily, “died to defeat the first Emperor, Napoleon I, and now we have not only condoned another Bonaparte to the Emperor’s throne, but have allied ourselves with them.”

    “Well, you know as well as I that we and the Ottomans together could not best the Russians, but with the French Army, which I will admit is one of the finest in the world, we may just stand a chance against the massive numbers. Our army is a fine force, but it is small. I hear that they are going to compensate for our small size by forming a Naval Brigade, and steal troops and cannon from the ships to better our strength” Grant finished with a tint of disgust, obviously unable to decide which was worse, the Navy or the French stealing the armies laurels of victory.


    ***


    The first Frenchman lifted himself up ladder and onto the deck of the Valorous and immediately snapped to attention and saluted Buckle. The Captain returned the unexpected salute with a hesitant salute that looked more like a wave than anything military. A second and third Frenchman joined the first and all saluted the two British officers standing before them. Buckle didn’t quite know where to start and his confidence at dealing with the French was not furthered when Grant whispered into his ear that “I can’t speak a word of French, so I trust you know how to.” Luckily, even after a few moments of silence, though Buckle was more than used to awkward hush, the second Frenchman stepped in front of the first and started the conversation, thankfully in English.

    “I am Cap-i-tan Lorenz of his Imperial Highnesses sloop, Terrible , and I believe you must be Buckle, seeing as your ship is the Valorous .” Buckle nodded but said nothing. “And I take, then, that you are to escort us and our load to Malta, where we will leave them and let your fleet take care of the troops, yes?” he continued with a distinct optimism, despite the dark expressions of the two Britons facing them.

    “That would be correct, Cap-i-tan” Grant uttered mockingly, not so much that the French would know it, but Buckle took the hint and smiled weakly. The Frenchman clapped his feet together and bowed his head slightly and stepped to the side.

    “May I introduce Lieutenant Claude Juliann, of the venerable Chasseurs de Vincennes” the Frenchman waved his hand towards the third man at the back. Buckle narrowed his eyes at the new comer, noticing that he was so young. He could barely be eighteen without a beard growing on his chin. Blonde hair, youthful and vibrant, wisped out from his tall kepi, and as he stepped up, albeit after a hushed ‘vite’, a quick smile revealed immaculately white teeth. He was tall; possibly taller that Lorenz, but it would seem he still had some growing to do.

    “Sirs,” Juliann began in an intolerable accent, “I would like to ask you if you could send over one of your redcoats, an officer as well if possible, so my Chasseurs may get familiar with British troops, and I will do the same with your troops?”

    Buckle, as usual gave no reply, but blinked and then turned his head slowly round to look at Grant and raised his eyebrows at the Major. Grant smiled back at Buckle’s frown, got the message that it was his decision, and then faced the newcomer. He rubbed his hand over his chin and then replied bluntly “I don’t see why not.” Juliann’s face lit up and he gave a full smile at the Major, but before he could reply, Grant had already turned around, leant over the railings behind them and shouted down for “Lieutenant Jefferies to report on deck” and to “bring a man of your platoon up as well.” Grant walked back to the gathering and waited for the French to reply. Several moments of more silence continued before Buckle initiated the reply from the Chasseur.

    “And your men to be sent over?” he said coldly. Breaking the ice was something that Buckle was not accustomed to. Juliann, who appeared to have gone into a trance snapped back into order.

    “Oh…err… yes” he said timidly “I, being the only officer, will stay with your ship as will Chasseur Petin” he finished, indicating to the third Frenchman with his head.

    “Excellent!” boomed Lorenz, replacing the bicorn that had been placed under his arm for the whole time back on his head. “With that settled, if Major Grant would get his men aboard our boat and then we will set under steam for Malta in, say-” he pulled out a pocket watch and studied it for a few moments, “Quarter of an hour?”
    Last edited by robou; 31-12-2008 at 18:08.

  5. #45
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Peti will eat anything he's able to catch, don't worry. He's in no troubles at dinner time. Talking about troubles. Are we sure that the English really know that the French are their allies? The don't look really that optimistic, methinks.
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  6. #46
    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    I would agree with Kurt, I don't see the optimism...
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  7. #47
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    Frankish betrayal?
    Gee, kill the bonapartists!

  8. #48
    Compulsive CommentatAAR stnylan's Avatar
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    Ahh, all the fun and game sone can have with allies
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  9. #49
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    Way behind on all the AARs I keep up with, but you asked nicely so I gave this one a reading. Hopefully, I can be more attentive when the new year really gets going.

    Having only just been to Gibraltar myself, I can clearly see what the captain sees when his ship approaches the rock. It seems wrong to me as well for a French sloop to be harboring there, and these French officers seem to be compensating for a lack of ability with an excess of decorum. Politics and war make strange bedfellows, and it's no different here. I also dunno if it's because of the nautical terminology or the use of the a Higgins and a Gibbons on the ship, but the salty flavor of this update really shows through. Starting off with the captain being slightly alarmed by the steamship's blast is a nice touch. I am curious to see how this ship fares, and love the picture you picked. Will you be following HMS Valorous, or will your POV shift to another place?

  10. #50
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    To All: The preludes will start coming to an end soon, in, I suspect, about 2 updates and we will move into Varna which I will move past somewhat quicker than Malta. However, due to public exams for the next two weeks, I will not be able to update in that time schedual. Awful sorry but that is how it goes. However, do, in the meantime, vote in the ACAs and perhaps give me a thought while doing so

    Kurt_Steiner, demokratickid, stnylan: The British and French don't really have a history of getting on, so don't expect them to fling at each other with open arms. However, they will work better in combat than you might imagine. Do remember the who the two British officers are here also, though. Buckle is awkward in any conversation and Grant is suffering from depression (no you Americans please don't get confused), so they don't exactly represent the best tag team to be presented to the French as the 'Perfect Allies'

    Enewald: If only I had a clue what you were on about. The Bonapartes are allies now, no killing them. For goodness sake, the Emperor's son leads one of the Divisions of the French Empire's Corps d'Expeditionaire.

    phargle: I didn't mention it, but the Terrible was harbouring in Oran and came out into the straits to meet the Valorous. Despite the alliance, a frog in Gibraltar would, as you say, not seem quite right. The French officers are drilled, but they do not lack in ability. Juliann is young, and will most likely have not served long in Algeria, but the large part of the French troops and staff we will meet will be battle hardened by years of guerilla fighting in Algeria, and as such is a much more professional and well organised force that the British 'Army of the East', as we shall see.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the update, and writing of the sea is not a speciality of mine. Most of the terminology I know is fromm repeatedly watching Hornblower if nothing else, but I wanted to invole the navy very much, as they will have a big role in this story and the era of sail into steam is just interesting, at least I find. And yes, we will see the Valorous later, but not where you expect it.


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  11. #51
    Roman LibrAARian comagoosie's Avatar
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    the english and the french, I bet we shall see more of this chasm of cultural differences
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    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robou View Post
    (no you Americans please don't get confused
    Why should we?
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  13. #53
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    Today I was reading in one of the books at school and I found something very interesting.

    "Field photographers had to take along [cumbersome] darkrooms in which they prepared the photographic plates that went into a heavy box camera. The van pictured here [picture not included] was used in the Crimean War. They soon discovered, much to their chargin, that such rolling darkrooms made uncomfortably obvious targets for enemy artillery and sharpshooters"

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  14. #54
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Aah! I'm falling behind!
    I'm going to have to read this last update and catch up!
    Darn real life... getting in the way of my reading...

    Looks good though - I'll post another comment once I've caught up.

  15. #55
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    To All: Update underway, though can't say when it will be finished...

    comagoosie: You mean a wagon like this:



    Thats Roger Fenton's darkroom that he took to the Crimea and took some amazing shots. Never heard it mentioned that it was a target for Russian artillery or sharpshooters (not that the Russians had many sharpshooters...).

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  16. #56
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    Finally caught up with this, robou - excellent work. The pieces are being set masterfully and I especially enjoyed the previous update. The little nuggets of ship life and action were captured really well. KUTGW!
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  17. #57
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    Chapter V: The Ditherers



    London, March 30th, 1854

    A dim lamp was all that lit the pitch dark room, its muted-orange flame flickering from side to side, playing on the breath blown onto it lightly and without any thought. It just lit up the desk that commanded the centre of the room, and made it possible to make out some documents scattered around the place. The silhouettes of two arm chairs could faintly be seen in front of the desk, moving closer towards the large double-doors that were the entrance to the room. Everything else that might have been seen during the daytime was shut out of bounds by the lack of light.

    An elbow positioned itself on the desk and coming out of the gloom, leaning forward, was the owner of that elbow. His hand massaged his brow for a few moments, after which he exhaled deeply but softly. He looked down with anxious vision onto the abundant pieces of paper that were laid out before him, as if they were some kind of riddle. He hated having to work late to finish off everything that needs to be done. Attempting to stall the inevitable, he let his eyes wander over onto a framed photograph, the latest fashion to adorn desks in, of himself brandishing a large rusty bronze shield, and he was reminded of his time excavating the ancient Greek ruins of the city. Now when the next British men moved passed that area, they would likely be the soldiers and sailors of his country.

    Again remembering that the work on his desk had to be done before tomorrow, he slouched down into his papers and began to write the necessary replies and edicts that they demanded. Most of it was just signing the bottom of the letter, but the invariable need to read through something before signing it was a tiring process. It would be far gone into the next morn before he would be able to trawl through the vast masses that cluttered the desk.

    One of the doors opened with a creek. The man stopped his scribbling but did not move his posture, merely propping his head to have the door in his sights. A paraffin lamp made its way around the door frame and following behind it were two men. The man at the desk squinted at the new, brighter source of light and began to move up from his hunchback stance and leant back into his chair. Soon enough, his pupils had constricted enough for him to make out some friendly faces.

    “Working late at night, sir?” said the man with the lamp as he stood smiling at the doorway, “You know we will need your presence in the House tomorrow” he ended with a grin.

    The man at the desk put up his hands and opened his palms. “Paperwork!” he said with a groan, “The burden of rank, Henry” he named the first man. “I never expected quite so much to happen when this rank fell onto me, though. Being Prime minister of the most powerful country in the world is no simple feat.” This was George Hamilton Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen and Prime Minister of Great Britain. He was once said to have resembled his famous cousin, Lord Byron, but now at the age of almost seventy it was hard to believe. He still had the deep curls of hair, but it was now grey and receding at the top. It was Byron’s fight in the Greek War of Independence that had taken George to Greece and where he had been able to hone his love for the classics by excavating the remains of ancient Greek civilisation. It seemed ironic that the people Byron fought against were now the people George would be fighting for.

    “I don’t always envy your position George” said the Henry, “but I fear you may have to clear your desk of all other matters for the night.” This man was Henry Pelham Clinton, 5th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne and Secretary of War and the Colonies. “I think it is time to act” he said somberly. George hesitated for a moment before he looked at his work once more, sighed, and then removed it into a drawer. It was always difficult when the Duke wanted to talk of the ‘imminent war’ they faced.

    “Come in and sit down” he beckoned Henry and the other man. “Could I offer you a drink of scotch?” he said, his slightly dampened Scottish accent coming through on the last word. Henry and the stranger sat down without a word. Now that both were within a metre of each other, George could now recognise the other man as the French ambassador in London.

    “George, you know that we can hardly avoid war now. Since Sinope*, the Russians have been openly challenging our authority. You cannot expect this nation who has seen its troops go out to war to not get a war, and a successful one. Russia is too much of a threat to us, and to our colonies, we must strike now” Henry stated the blunt facts about their situation in a quite distressed tone, even adding a punch into his hand on the word ‘now’. George did not reply, but started massaging his forehead again. “Have you seen what Punch has been saying about you?” Henry frowned as he handed over a ripped out page of Punch.




    George studied it for a few moments before handing it back and returning the frown that Henry was still giving him. “I will not take this country to war unless it is deemed entirely necessary for the safety of the Empire to do so! And certainly not because a comic is making fun of my hesitations to send men to their deaths!” he said firmly. Henry’s expression did not change. “I take it you have some evidence that shows me that it is under said threat?” he raised an eyebrow.

    “A report from Sir John Burgoyne in Constantinople, sir” Henry smiled at the fact that he was beginning to win the argument whilst he unfolded a piece of paper. “He states that the defences of the Ottoman Capital are ‘insufficient to the needs of their poor army, should the Russians break the Danube Fortresses’ ” he paused briefly and peered up from the paper to look at George. After seeing that his expression was similarly unchanged he continued. “As for those fortresses he has information from some of his engineer officers that the Siege of Silistra ‘hangs in the balance’ but also adds on that he feels that ‘it would be lacking in any prudence not to move the army from Malta closer to the Turkish Capital to cater for the chance that Silistra may well fall’ . And I must say, sir, that it would not seem wise to take the chance that the Siege may be lost and the Russians will be on Constantinople before our troops can embark onto the ship at Valetta!” he stressed. George held his top lip between his thumb and index finger while staring across the table with glazed eyes. Henry knew he was thinking on what had been said and he needed a few moments so did not press the point any further.

    “And the French attitude, ambassador?” he said slowly, adding a blink at the end. The ambassador shuffled in his seat a little and then brought his face forward into the light of George’s oil lamp. George let go of his lip and turned his head towards the ambassador’s.

    “We go where our allies go, monsieur , but the Emperor is keen to get the operations underway” the Ambassador said keenly, an emotion that seemed overruling in the Second Empire. “However, if Britain does not act quickly enough, we will act on our own if necessary. Forty thousand French soldiers will no doubt deter the Russians” he continued proudly. “Then again, with the extra men of the British Army, we could not only deter but beat the Russians in the field. That is France’s view, monsieur .” The Ambassador sat back in his chair and further back into the gloom.

    George ruffled what was left of his hair and pulled his hand down across his face. There was no choice in the matter anymore, he thought to himself. Events had overtaken him. “Do it, Henry! Inform the Tsar that we side with the Muslims today. Inform the foreign secretary and send a telegram to Paris and Malta and get the army moving as soon as possible. We have delayed too long already!”



    ------------------------------------------------


    Notes:
    *: The Massacre of Sinope was one of the first engagements of the war in 1853 when a small Russian fleet managed to sink a considerable amount of Turkish frigates and corvettes and kill over 7,000 Turkish sailors. It was considered an afrontage to British naval superiority
    Last edited by robou; 13-01-2009 at 20:00.

  18. #58
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    A good look at the political outlooks surrounding the war . Nice inclusion of the cartoon too XD
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  19. #59
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    So war it is to be, and the men, and our reporter, are to have their fates so easily disposed.
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  20. #60
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    Certainly waited until he had no choice. Pretty convincing argument. And now, the war begins.
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