“Light duty. Ah, my good my luck continues! An easy assignment,” said Cornelius. He needed an easy assignment. The march from Caesarea Maritima, some 65 milia passus to the northwest, had been hot, dusty, and insufferable. He had come to enjoy very much the sea breezes off the Mediterranean that made Caesarea Maritima so enjoyable, so comfortable, and so civilized. He loved the transparent blue of the water and knew that he could not live out of the sight of such blue beauty. Who would have thought that the child and grandchild of legionaries, whose family had moved from Spain to Cisalpine Gaul nestling in the red clay hills of Rusellae in Tuscania, could love the shimmering waves of the oceans so much? Why, it was un-Roman! But as much as Cornelius loved the straight sleekness of the cypress trees on the sides of the hills, the rose bushes donning the trellises of the home atop a hill, and the fine wine of Tuscania, the smell of salt called him back time and time again. He knew that a Roman ought to fear the sea. No Roman trusted the sea. It was dangerous, uncertain, and always ready to rob man of life at caprice. But loved the sea he did. But not enough, he reminded himself, to become a marine and take the pay cut that went with the job of being a centurion of marines.
This was the one Cornelius had been seeking for the last hour. We had prowled every tavern and hole in the wall selling wine in this town of Venusia in Campania. I was ready for some wine, some food, and to rest my feet.
It seemed to be an ordinary bar. There were large jugs set into the counter from which the barkeep could serve hot food and drinks. Nice touch to be next to the poultry shop. Saved the barkeep a long commute. There was an oven. Amphorae were stored in a large wall rack. Several tables were set up. The perennial game of dice was going on, accompanied by both cheers and cries of despair as the dice flew and fortunes were won or lost as the cast of the lots fell. The scent of heavy spices hung in the air from the meat cooking. The pepper in the air almost made me sneeze.
An old man who had clearly had too much to drink was asleep in the corner. So it seemed that this bar was owned by a benevolent barkeep who did not disturb his guests when they overstayed their welcome.
I laid out my instruments. I particularly liked my bronze scalpel because it had been given to me by my father. It was my last link to him and to my life in Greece. My instruments were expensive. My father had paid more than he should because the instruments were the not of the highest quality. But whether they were the best quality or not, they were sacred because he bought them for me and they were all I had of my family. I heated the cadens to cauterize the flesh. I heated the scalpel because it cut best when hot. The cadens seared the flesh, thereby staunching blood flow. The burning seemed to bring about better results. I positioned the hamus to excise the decayed flesh around the wound. I said my prayer to Asklepios to guide my hand and to heal my patient.
Caledonia A Song of Scotland
Bonnie Prince Charlie had lost the Battle of Culloden, or rather, the battle had been lost for him. Whether it was his fault or not is rather something which did not really matter then for the battle was lost and now he was a fugitive in his own land. The duke of Cumberland wanted to end these incessant Jacobite uprisings once and for all. He was next in line to the throne, and rally did not want to be annoyed about the matter anymore. The Highlanders had rebelled once too often for his liking, and he was determined to end this forever. Thus, he knew that he had to capture Bonnie Prince Charlie and if it so happened that Bonnie Prince Charlie was killed in the taking, so be it. It might even be better to be rid of the rallying point—the cause celebre, the personage sine qua non—now and for good.
So even as the mist began to settle upon the moors of Culloden, he ordered his men to go after the Highlanders, hunted them down, and be done with it. The men understood this to be a license to do as they willed when they willed. It began on the moors. If a Highlander writhed in pain, they bayonetted him. As they caught up to those who fled, few—very few—for some reason, became prisoners. The farmers and the farmers’ wives who harbored them faced the same threat. Any village found with a man or even a wounded man who had fought upon the fields of Culloden was sentenced to the punishment of being burned to the ground, the men shot, and the women raped, the children carted away to who knows where. The duke kept up the relentless pressure: find the prince.
The morning came with sleet slamming into our eyes as we made our way into our battle line. Few of us remained from the ordeal of the night. Hunger growled in our bellies. The thirst was great. Men did what they could to keep their precious powder dry. The gale swept around the men carrying wet mist into those awkward places where you want to touch but dare not for civilities’ sake. A couple of men who had claymores began grinding the blades to hone them to a sharpness such that but one great swing of the mighty weapon could lope off a limb or a head. But only a few possessed the mighty weapon.
I grew up there in this lonely, windswept coast of the Isle of Skye. I learned to fight there; I grew into my first claymore. As I grew up, my uncle’s leg, wounded a long time ago in some fight with Angus Campbell, got the better of him. He hobbled more. He could not effectively wield his claymore and would have been vulnerable in a fight. He took me under his wing because he was my father’s brother and had promised him while he lay dying that he would raise me and raise me right.
“Boy, ne’er forget that were descended from Viking kings. We’re royalty. Remember our father, Somerled, the first lord of the Isles, one of the greatest of all the lords. Lord of Argyll, lord of the Hebrides, lord of Kintyre, the Norse king of the Sudreys. Your blood courses with his blood.”
He gestured around the room to all the men who stood at arms ready to serve. “We’ve vassals aplenty.”
The smoke of his pipe swirled and danced and wove itself into wreaths of mist that faded into the darkness away from the fire. His arms were still strong and his mind was clear, but his damaged right knee pained him with every movement.
“I’ll fight to redeem your knee.” It came out before I knew what I was saying.
“I’ll fight to redeem your knee,” I reaffirmed my vow. Having said it, I could not take it back, much like the smoke once expelled from your lungs cannot be put back into the tobacco.
New Caledonia A Song of America
Daniel took me to his favorite place in Winchester—the Shenandoah Store. There, we played cards under the ever-watchful eye of David Allason. Now, David did not own the store, his brother William did, but David had found his niche in the business world. In the back of the store, where smoke swirled in the air from clay pipes and rum flowed, as men played cards winning and losing money, David would be found with his account book. He would advance rum on account, as long as both the losers and the winners agreed to pay for it. In the heat of the game, he had each man make a mark or sign next to the date and number of drinks. The men who came there were strong, muscular men, rough, hewn from days of living on the frontier. They often did not “remember” or pay their debts. David’s account book became law, and each man honored his commitment. Daniel Morgan was a good customer, and because he was such a flamboyant personality, he brought in more customers.
Jean Ann—there is not a day that goes by without me thinking of her. As I rise in the morning, I hear her calling my name. I can almost sense the eggs and bacon being cooked by her lovely hands. As I go to sleep, I whisper her name. My heart is broken and can never be mended. She was the very air I breathe, the water I drank, the food I ate. She is essential to my life. I am always talking with her. I am always telling her my dreams, my hopes, my prayers. Even as time passes, I still feel her around me, with me, near to me. Nothing can ever take her from me. But she is still not here with me but always just out of grasp. She is a wisp of smoke or the swirl of mist on a cold day arising from the pond in the first rays of the rising sun. She is the dream that fades just as one awakes and feels happy, warm, and comforted but not sure why. She is the one I can feel just around my back who glances out of sight as I turn to behold her. She is the fairy queen who dances in the moonlight and calls to me but becomes just a shimmering sliver of silver as I glide across the grass in the night. She calls to me to join in the dance, but I do not hear the music or see the musicians.
Tarleton did not waver. He went straight ahead. Tarleton, as was he wont, waited not a moment but launched a head-on cavalry charge straight at the Patriots. The Virginians, though armed with rifles, upon Buford’s orders, held their fire until the wave of horse was almost upon them, maybe ten or so yards away. Although some riders tumbled off their steeds, the rush of horse crashed into the Patriot lines, and Buford’s line cracked. Mounted hacking swordsmen tore through the Patriots. At that moment, many of the Virginians cried surrender and pleaded quarter, which were pleas met by deaf ears. The British hacking, slashing, and cutting continued. Many Virginians had two, three, or four or more wounds. One American officer received over twenty-three wounds. A British surgeon, tending to his wounds, deliberately tried to finish the job. One hundred thirteen of the one hundred and fifty Virginians died that day.
Caledonia Lost The Fall of the Confederacy
The crisis continued to fester. Finally, South Carolina stopped talking, negotiating, pleading, and begging. She acted. On November 24, 1832, the general assembly heard the clamor of the people and voted to nullify the tariffs. With this, the crisis continued to boil but was not yet threatening to spill over.
Darlington was a little town, barely on the map. We had lost our chance for glory when we were not chosen as the state capital. But we were a proud town.
It was from this land that our ancestors sprang. They were men—almost, it seemed—from the moment of their birth. They were larger than life. They were men like Daniel Morgan, Daniel Boone, and Capt. Anthony Hampton. Capt. Anthony Hampton, who fought in the French and Indian War, led his family to South Carolina just before the Revolution.