A Glibertarians Exclusive – Legionnaire, Part IV
Marseilles, France – 1911
The plate of cheese and bread was exhausted, and the two Americans were on their second bottle of wine. Caleb Pettigrew, lost in his memories, was still holding forth.
“So, us volunteers, we were organized as the 5th Battalion, and assigned to General de La Motte Rouge’s 15th Army Corps. We made it to Orléans on the tenth of October. They tossed us into the defense of the city. On the tenth and eleventh, we fought for that city, and we sure as hell fought. I thought the Yankees were tough – hell, the Yankees were tough – but those Prussians, they were something else. They just wouldn’t quit.”
“How did it all end up?”
Caleb emptied his wine glass, then looked at the empty wine bottle and frowned. He waved for the waiter. “I’ll get this one, son,” he said, and laid down a few coins. “Now where was I? Oh, yeah, Orléans. What a mess that was. We were outnumbered – but hell, anyone who followed Marse Bob Lee around for four years was used to that. Only advantage we had was a better rifle. The Chassepot was a damn sight more accurate and reliable than what the Germans were using – a “needle gun,” they called it. One of our guys, a little Belgian called Féront, he killed eighty Prussian soldiers with his rifle, one at a time; little fucker just couldn’t seem to miss. Then, late that day, our commander, Major Arago, was killed, and the French regulars passed down the signal to retreat.”
Orléans, France, October 1870
The streets surrounding the large open square in the Bannier quarter of Orléans were obscured, partly by long, late-afternoon shadows, mostly by the thick clouds of gunpowder smoke that hung in the air. Caleb Pettigrew – Caporal Tom Jackson to his fellow legionnaires, Caleb having been promoted and placed in charge of a squad – crouched behind an overturned wagon, peering through the smoke, watching for the advancing Prussians.
Private Charles Sebastian Diego y Sanchez was lying on the ground beside Caleb. Private Grant Edward Smythe-Carstairs crouched a few feet away, covering behind the wreckage of a wall. The Englishman looked up. “Did you bastards hear that? The French regulars are sounding the retreat.”
“Fuck that,” Caleb said. “They won’t be taking this square away from us.”
“Amigo,” Sanchez said, “We wait a few moments longer, we may no longer have anything to say about it.”
The little dago’s right, Caleb thought bitterly to himself. They were badly outnumbered; the streets were littered with the bodies of dead legionnaires and French regulars. Down the street, a figure wearing the light-blue uniform of the Bavarian Jägers peered around the corner of a wrecked building. A French Chassepot boomed from the second floor of a building to the left, and the Bavarian collapsed in a boneless heap. “That little Belgian Féront again, I’ll wager,” Eddie Smythe-Carstairs observed.
“Very likely.” Caleb watched down the street, thinking hard. From somewhere in the rear, a bugle call, Retreat.
“Fuck it,” he said in English, prompting a grin from Smythe-Carstairs and a confused look from Sanchez. Caleb switched back to his Legionnaire’s French. “How many men do we have here?”
“Looks like about thirty,” Smythe-Carstairs said, looking around. “Some from the first company, some from the third. We’re all mixed up, old man.”
“None that I can see.”
“Sergeants? None of them, either? Who the hell is in charge of this mess?”
“Looks like you are, amigo,” Sanchez said.
Caleb heard a voice, high-pitched in fear, shouting from their rear: “The Prussians have closed ranks behind us! We are surrounded!”
Well, shit. Come on, Caleb old boy. Think. What would Stonewall have done?
He remembered First Manassas. Sure as hell.
Caleb checked his ammo pouches. He had three rounds left, which he handed to the Spaniard. He laid his empty rifle down. A dead Legion lieutenant lay nearby. Caleb slid over to the dead officer, picked up the man’s sword and his Lefaucheux revolver. He quickly checked the revolver and found it to be fully loaded.
He stayed in his crouch behind the improvised barricade. “Men of the Fifth Battalion,” he bellowed, loud as he could. “Fix bayonets!”
Around him came the rattle of bayonets being affixed to the men’s Chassepot rifles. Down the street, a large body of Prussian and Bavarian soldiers were forming. They are going to storm our positions.
“We will charge,” Caleb shouted. “And when you charge, yell. Yell like Furies!” Why not, he thought. Sure scared the hell out of the Yankees.
Caleb paused. He took a deep breath. Down the street, he could hear a Prussian officer shouting orders. We need to get to them before they get to us, Caleb realized. He leaped to the top of the barricade, sword in his right hand, revolver in his left. He pointed with his confiscated sword. A Prussian bullet went past his head, trailing a slight sound, wheat.
“Fifth Battalion!” Caleb roared. “Forward!”
The Legion charged.
Caleb ran in front of the men. The Prussians and Bavarians were frantically forming a line, maybe a hundred meters away. It seemed to take a century to reach them. Bullets whizzed past, missing Caleb only by what was surely a series of miracles. He ran, boots pounding, pointing with the sword, screaming the Rebel yell. Around him, legionnaires ran, copying the wild call. Caleb felt himself filled with an unreasonable, impossible joy. The boys of the Army of Northern Virginia couldn’t have done it any better.
They lost a third of their number just reaching the Prussians. Caleb, out of the corner of one eye, saw Smythe-Carstairs go down, but there wasn’t time to worry about his friend. He led the Legion crashing into the half-formed German lines. He slashed with the sword. A German private swung his Dreyse rifle around; Caleb pointed the revolver, awkwardly in his left hand, and put a bullet between the man’s eyes. Around him, the men of the Legion fought like demons, until, at last, there was no point in going on. The Prussians were too many; the Legion, too few.
“Cease fire!” Caleb shouted in English. He shook his head; drops of blood flew from his beard, but at least the blood wasn’t his. “Capituler!” he shouted in French. “Surrender! Déposer les armes!” Caleb looked around; there were only eight men left to do so.
The Prussians, seeing the dropped rifles and raised hands, stepped forward to take the men of the Legion prisoner. Caleb laid down his revolver and looked around; there was Sanchez, hands held high. And there, supported by two of their fellows, was Smythe-Carstairs, a blood-soaked bandage wrapped around his leg. Caleb nodded.
A Prussian officer approached Caleb. Caleb looked at the man’s insignia; a major. Caleb held out his sword. The Prussian major nodded and accepted it. “Corporal,” the man said, in fair French, “I am told that you led this charge.”
“I did,” Caleb replied.
“I should like to shake your hand,” the Prussian said. “You and your men are to be congratulated. That was one of the finest acts of courage I have ever witnessed.”
Caleb shook the man’s hand. “Thank you,” he said.
The Prussian noted Caleb’s accent. “You are not French,” he said. “You are not from the Continent at all, I think.”
“I’m an American,” Caleb said.
“Ah. These are the men of the Legion, then.”
Then, impossibly, a volley of bullets crashed into the Prussian’s flank. The Prussian major clutched at his chest and fell. Caleb and his comrades hit the ground, scrabbling for their abandoned weapons, but the volley had hit the Prussians and Bavarians. “Men of the Legion!” Caleb heard a voice shouting from a side street. “This way! Run!” Another volley; the Prussians were reforming, their prisoners for the moment forgotten. The men of the Legion disappeared into the growing shadows of the narrow street.
A few minutes later, Caleb came face-to-face with their savior; a lieutenant of the Legion, Kara George. The man was short, swarthy, and impossibly, had a bedraggled flower stuck in the pocket of his uniform tunic. “Did you men not hear the retreat?” he demanded.
“Can’t say as we did, sir,” Caleb said. “Must have been too much shooting going on.”
The lieutenant glared at Caleb. “I should ask your name,” he said, “but I saw your charge. It is only good we were able to save you from captivity. I will be bringing this to the attention of the General, of course.”
Caleb felt his stomach lurch. “Of course.”
Five days later, Caleb was surprised to hear of his promotion to Sergeant, “in recognition of conspicuous gallantry.”
Well, Stonewall, he thought after receiving the news. I hope I did you proud.
Note: There are several versions of the song that inspired this story.
The lyrics here are from this version.
Suddenly I turned around and she was standin’ there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
“Come in”, She said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”
Now Ted S. would most likely link some Billie Idol here, but I won’t. And thanks for getting sloop’s wretched image down (and off) the front page.
I would also think the lesson, no good deed goes unpunished applies.
Sounds like he got a lot of men killed for little gain. A fine line between bravery and stupidity.
Feel free to surrender the first time things get bad…. ya Cheese Eatin’ Surrender Monkey!
They were surrounded, so retreat wasn’t an option. That left fight or surrender, and I am sure that Caleb knew from the Civil War that surrender often ended in a lingering death in a prison camp.
Or a quick death in a ditch on the spot if the captors are unable or unwilling to take captives.
My thoughts exactly.
This is an asshole that got men killed for no good reason
I’m not sure if asshole is a strong enough word.
“Bullard continued to conduct offensive operations, with full knowledge that the Armistice was due to take effect in a few hours…”
If you want to be further infuriated, read this: more than one allied officer conducted offensive action to either earn a promotion, or bolster their combat service time for various perqs. This sometimes included attempting to seize an objective that would either be returned to the Germans at the armistice, or would have been given to the Allies anyway.
Asshole is definitely not a strong enough word.
There may be no war in history where the most senior leadership was so uniformly abysmal.
A grotesquely fitting casualty number. Monsters. Psychopaths. If we’re going to be removing names from military installations, these fucking assholes would be the first place I’d start.
Hmmm…another place I read 2700 casualties on the 11th. Whatever the number, the officers who ordered those offenses are war criminals.
‘Due to his alleged disobedience or deliberate misinterpretation of orders, Cameron’s 79th division had no support to their right and suffered unnecessarily severe casualties as they performed a frontal attack on the fortress. Additionally, Bullard continued to conduct offensive operations, with full knowledge that the Armistice was due to take effect in a few hours,’
Christ, what an asshole.
Kinda worked out for him…
Great chapter, Animal!
We will probably never have to worry about such things but we hope that if we do we will measure up.
I think I say this every time, but I believe this is my favorite series yet!
“Amigo,” Sanchez said, “We wait a few moments longer, we may no longer have anything to say about it.”
The little dago’s right, Caleb thought bitterly to himself.
Website FYI: The submit articles link/form thingy has been fixed. There is discussion and further information in the AM links; scroll down to the 8:36 am comment by MikeS and read my replies.
Thank you and WebDom.
(Almost) death by chocolate.
It’s seems funny at first, but I reckon it was pretty danged warm. Hopefully they recover well and just have a story that nobody will believe.
Thankfully, the melting point of chocolate is lower than some of the other materials we’ve discussed people falling into on this site.
They’re still looking at 1st-2nd degree burns though.
Let’s not candy coat it, they could have met a bitter end.
There’s Mounds of puns to be made here, but I’ll Twix the urge.
I can see a Rocky Road ahead.
That’s a Semisweet sentiment. But should we really Bar such Morsels?
This thread: *Chef’s Hershey Kiss*
*Mass Narrowed Gaze*
So the pot had to be sweetened to get an NG.
Darn it. Late to the party again. Guess I’ll just have to milk the next pun fest.
Next time we’ll make it a Marathon.
I can’t play along here. I’ll never get a Payday if I don’t go back to work.
That’s the spirit, my Peeps!
A double mint narrow gaze? I think we all won a $100,000 Bar exam!
I think he may have gotten lemon drops in his eyes.
In sports news that no one else cares about: Vashti Cunningham (Randall’s daughter) is ranked #6 in the world in women’s High Jump. At the current world championship, she failed to clear 1.90 meters and failed to make the finals. Neither did the other two Americans, but they weren’t expected to be there.
One of them did clear 1.90, but had too many misses and missed out on the tiebreaker.
Vashti is an uncommon name! I’ve always been on the Persian Vashti’s side for refusing to let the king and his drunken buddies ogle her.
Hope she enjoyed her exile.
By the way. A recording of a Rebel Yell made in the 1930s by a old Confederate soldier. I always assumed it similar to the Duke Boys Yee Haw. I was incorrect. Very much like a Native war cry or a pack of hound’s on a fox hunt.
70 years after. So by a geriatric recalling it. A twenty year old doing it would probably be a slightly different character.
You also have to imaging a few hundred or so doing it at the same time.
Sorry, I meant a twenty year old with a full voice doing that would be much more unnerving to bone chilling. Combined, like you say with several hundred other men.
Another version. You can skip to 1:30. Sounds pretty similar.
David Brooks get called out.
My cell phone # is older than that.
Alternate Title: Zoomer discovers that David Brooks has been an asshole for longer he has been alive.
And doesn’t entirely understand why Buchanan was on the outside of the tent.
This is why 22 year olds should be making coffee and other menial tasks until they earn their stripes instead of being given a soapbox to spout off their ignorance.
We fought a war to free ourselves from “royals” like this ginger git.
Who cares what he has to say about America? And what happened to wanting to withdraw from the public gaze? Oh, that’s right—his silly wife wants to run for office.
That woman irritates me.
Bugger off, ya git.
And fuck off with titles that don’t apply here.
Unelected prince worried about democracy.
I thought the queen disowned them as well, or they did it themselves?
Either way, right on.
“As a person who has never worried about food or shelter or protection for my entire life, I can assure you that poverty is a terrible affliction of humanity.”
“Now let us focus on climate change, and call for a ban on all fossil fuels and fertilizers.”
For the children.
As a ginger, he makes the case for not having a soul.
Spaniards are also dagos?
Those southern european types all look alike.
It might have been a generic “Mediterranean” slur back then.
I imagine it was similar to a guy in his 70’s who thinks anyone from Asia is whatever type of nationality that shot at him in the war.
It’s truly a chink in their armor.
‘I didn’t blame anyone for the loss of my legs. Some Chinaman took them from me in Korea. But I went out and achieved anyway.’
To be fair, we did fight the People’s Liberation Army in Korea after MacArthur got too close to the north border and drew aggro.
MacArthur was a hugely overrated general.
Cotton didn’t have that problem:
The wogs begin at Calais.
Yep. Started with Spaniards, moved to include Italians for diversity.
My character Caleb uses the term pretty indiscriminately, just to mean “some swarthy guy.” It’s not giving away anything to mention that later on he applies the term to a Portuguese.
BigotsJudges will allow!
Where I grew up, everyone knew that dagos meant greazy wops; spics was a lot more indiscriminately used, but I suspect that’s because we didn’t have a big enough group to be able to make the necessary distinctional slurs. The Portugese got called “pawtah-geez“… mostly by the dagos. We had enough “po-locks” to have the full panoply of jokes available (Cheerios sold as donut seeds, etc.) and enough poor Micks to know those insults, too. (We just didn’t use those as much ‘cuz (a) there were a shitload of Tierneys and O’Neills and (b) they all liked to fight – even the girls…especially the girls).
Modern web designers need to be shot, their bodies burned, and their worked buried. Who the fuck thinks making everything excessively large, blank, and wasting screen real estate so you have to scroll endlessly is a good thing? Couple with dynamic webpages that lag, excessively pop ups and other static elements that block content. And needing to click, click, click, to drill down to something that should be at the top level. Or dumbshit like forcing a preview of a pdf inline instead of having a simple description at most and just opening the file. Or making that preview happen first when clicking the download icon.
“People only use their phones to view websites”
Because when screen real estate is measured in single-digit square inches, and connection speeds limited by phone networks, that’s when you really want blank pages and crap going on in the background.
Do you have any sites you think are really good? We need to re-do ours and I’d like to give our guy some better direction.
Show him this site!
But not on a Wednesday afternoon.
I’ve always thought this one to be pretty classy.
I don’t see a blink tag.
Or an epileptic seizure warning.
He is Ling. Trust him. You will not have a seizure.
That’s just fucking classy.
O. M. G.
I just noticed there is a music video you can play on the big screen behind him. It’s even more perfect than I realized!
Woops. Ling is a she. Sorry, Ling!
Blows Grainger and Digikey away, IMO.
Agreed. The McMaster site is excellent.
Just what I was looking for….
I need to purchase some of that just for the certification on the wrapper. I’ll hang it with the other adhesives on the pegboard in the garage.
Also, makes reactor head repairs a snap! Get back in operation ASAP!
Are your control rods continually falling into the core? Use our tape to hold them in place!
It’s not UPS’ website with the no working remember me/keep me logged in button and the forced click through agreement that gets updated every other week.
I’m thinking maybe a time machine could help at this point.
I think that Granger’s web site is pretty good, same with Digikey. You can drill down by category or search to reach a similar SKU.
Although Digikey is pretty good, it takes some time and effort to decode the terms they use. If you’ve ever shopped for CPC or Molex connecters there, you may understand my frustration.
I’m also loving Edge and other applications that want to handle printing instead of the system print dialog box, yet have less options and more wasted real estate (just like web pages). If you can’t do the fucking job, quit trying to do it assholes.
I’m conflicted. On one hand, it’s a cute logo. OTOH, anyone who was in Cub Scouts should be able to distinguish between a feline and a canine paw print.
First interview of the week is over.
I have to give him zero points for communication because he did not understand English past the bare minimum tourist level. That made the interview even more painful, because if he had the skills we were looking for, he didn’t know the technology by the english terms for it.
You must not be hiding for a support position.
We don’t deal directly with the end users, no.
It’s always amazing to me that manufacturers don’t get back to sales inquiries in a timely manner. I’m trying to buy your product, dumbasses.
Hell, I submitted two this morning that I haven’t even received a “Yes we got your email” email.
Maybe they are allergic to money?
What’s the product?
I am frequently thanked for the “really fast” turnaround if I am back to them same day. Usually I respond right away, but if I’m on the road or something it can be a few hours.
Steel shot, not exactly a fast moving industry, but at least have a receptionist call to acknowledge the inquiry.
Gotcha. The only time my guys are in a hurry is when they forgot that a bid was due or they missed a line item for a job that starts the next day!
Enjoy the tears of impotent rage.
No discussion in the article or comments on why Paul opposed his nomination.
I read three non-Mother Jones stories and none of them gave Paul’s reasoning either, just Cocaine Mitch whining and calling it “pointless”.
The only thing I could find was speculation that it was Paul’s “turn” to recommend a nominee, but McConnell knew Biden wouldn’t listen to anyone Paul suggested.
But that was speculation.
Yeah, that’s what would be really interesting about this story to me (and should be to Mother Jones as well).
They are just sticking with another Senate tradition that goes way back, and has been honored consistently – the Senators from the State where the new judge will sit essentially get a veto.
Not mentioned: why Rand Paul didn’t blue slip this nominee.
Everyone knows Rand HATES blue! He won’t use it. He returned his assent on a plain white piece of paper.
They don’t care why Rand opposed – he wasn’t the right person to pay attention to!! There were lefties that were unhappy and THEY should be the reason for torpedoing the nominee!!!
They all look alike to them.
YAL has both Justin Amash and Fruit Sushi lined up for their August shindig. Sign me up!
Malice was scheduled to speak but I think there was an issue with his proposed topic, so he bailed. Too bad, he would have been a nice counterpoint to those sad bastards.
Good for him.
In fairness, both Rand and Ron are scheduled to appear.
And Dave Smith. I’m sure it will be fine, I just really can’t stand Amash.
I have some Tekton sockets, and they’re good quality so far, good value, and very transparent about COO.