Page one teaser of “The Red Haired Man”

I will be posting a page per day till xmas as a preview. On xmas, ordering the complete story will be set up on this site. Proceeds will go towards printing Tecumseh Issue #1

The Red-Haired Man

by Dave Rocha

based on the events of the War of 1812

Today I received a letter from the main office of my employer, The Upper Canada Gazette, based in the provincial capital at York. It was good to be away from the capital doing “field work”, but this is the letter that changed everything.

Up until today I was just a gopher and occasional field reporter for the UC Gazette. Today I became a WAR CORRESPONDENT! The letter stated that I was to attach myself to the 1st Essex and act as War Correspondent. The war was on and a defense strategy five years in the planning was about to be set in motion.

I was summoned to a meeting with the commandant of the 1st Essex, Colonel Matthew Elliott and I didn’t want to be late. Sandwich Street was nice and clean from a healthy spring downpour the night before. No doubt the rider that brought me my message got soaked to bring me the news.

The pristine house that billeted Elliott and the other officers was built just 7 years ago and looked majestic against the backdrop of the beautiful Detroit River. I knocked on the door and as expected a militia officer answered.

“I have a message for Colonel Elliott.”

The officer paused for about 3 seconds and then replied, “… and you are?”, motioning for me to enter.

“I’m the reporter for the Gazette that spoke with him earlier. I have a message from General Brock.”, I quickly answered.

From the next room I heard Elliott talking to someone in an “Indian” language and when I spoke the conversation stopped.

“Bring it here please Mr. Durocher, there’s someone here that would like to read that with me.” was Elliott’s reply.

My name was not Durocher but Da Rocha as said in my native Portuguese. I joined the 49th Regiment of Foot as a commissioned officer in the Azores when it first came over and they helped me perfect my English. I was to train with them here and when they finally got assigned to the liberation of Portugal and Spain from the tyrant Napoleon as General Brock dreamed of I would return home. That moment never came and I began to bore resigning my commission and then moving to Montreal where I learned French. Before long the wanderlust hit me again and I moved to York being hired by the Gazette. That’s how I came to Sandwich being assigned to this backwater settlement. Given the large francophone population here I changed my last name to Durocher.

Upon entering the room I saw that Elliott and an Indian dressed in his native garb were standing and involved in a serious discussion. The Indian scowled at me while Elliott opened and read the letter. His expression was grim at the start but changed to a smile. I had a feeling I knew was the coded message meant. Of course I had read it but being in code I did not understand the particulars. The gist being that the anticipated war had finally been passed in the United States and they had officially declared war. The second part had stated that some sort of plan is ready to be enacted and it was go time.

Elliott handed the letter to the Indian who apparently could read and also understood the code as he was now smiling too. The pair embraced and the Indian left scowling on the way out. Elliott sat and motioned for me to do the same.

“Durocher, I would like to re-activate your commission and assign you to an as of yet unnamed unit as a lieutenant. I want you to travel at once with some native interpreters and meet with the Red-Haired Man at Fort St. Joseph in the North.”

“In addition you are to take a small contingent of militia with you in case you encounter the enemy. Make no mistake we are now at war with the United States and our General wishes to strike first.”

“The people of Upper Canada deserve an accurate account of this epic conflict for survival so I will also be attaching an civilian artist to illustrate your journey. We must leave at once.”, and with that Elliott had me speechless.

I will do the British loyalists here proud by defendling their land as tirelessly as the forces of the Duke of Wellington are doing for my people on the mainland of Europe. After packing one bag’s worth of supplies which mostly consisted of plenty of quills, ink, notebooks and grooming tools; I ran to the docks to board the HMS General Hunter which would be taking me to the location for a second briefing that would change my life forever.

The deck and crew of the Hunter would immaculate and ready for action. Each came to attention and saluted as I passed on my way to the bridge. I nodded back with a smile to each and every one of those fine sailors. 1st Lt. Rolette the commander of the ship was conversing with Elliott as I did my best to visibly approach them without disturbing. Both men stopped talking and came to attention abruptly facing me. I also came to attention and announced, “Lt. Durocher reporting for duty.”

“At ease. Put down your stuff and come with us.” , Elliott replied, as both men descended to the lower deck. My bag hit the deck about the same time as I caught up to them both standing before a map detailing the plans for our opening moves of the war.

The men then went on to explain that the “Indian” I had met earlier was none other than Tecumseh himself. There was a rumor that the Governor of Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison had once called him the “Napoleon of the West”. Not sure what that meant but as Napoleon was in control of most of Europe, Harrison clearly feared the man. That made him the perfect ally. I was extremely anxious to meet him and expressed that to Elliott and Rolette. They both shook their heads and Elliott explained the mission for me.

Major-General Brock and Tecumseh have both sent messages to this “Red Haired Man” instructing him to gather the warriors of the Northwest and capture Fort Michilimacinac in a sneak attack after the expected declaration of war. Whomever controls the Fort controls the fur trade and the Northern most terminus of the Mississippi River which is a valuable supply route.

They were outnumbered and out gunned but this crazy sneak attack might actually work if executed properly. War had already been declared on the and a dispatch from Brock had already been sent to “The Red-Haired Man”. That was the same message that Elliott and Tecumseh had received from me. It was go time for us as well and Elliott had chosen me and my illustrator to accompany some of Tecumseh’s warriors to assist or at least be able to report the result back here at Sandwich.

This entry was posted by drocha on Friday, December 20th, 2013 at 12:27 am and is filed under Uncategorized . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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