April 18, 1775

We heard them long before we saw the hated red coats of the Lobsterbacks. The steady rhythm of the beat of their drum was faint in the chill morning air, gradually growing louder and surer as the sun rose in the east. The sight of the surroundings was certainly beautiful; the sky turning from the deep powdery blue of twilight to a brilliant yellow-orange as the sun emerged from the horizon, its well earned rest ruefully over. The orb’s rays cast a vibrant slanting light on all, illuminating the village green and warming my face. Watching the sunrise I could almost forget why I was here… if it weren’t for that ominous tap-tapping of the enemy drum growing louder in my ears. Steadily, the marching of feet intermingled with the solemn beat.

“There! You see them?” The soldier next to me, a good friend, nudged me and nodded ahead. Sure enough, I could make out the uniforms in neat rows, the head of the lot sitting erect on a beautiful black stallion whose coat gleamed like fine silver.

“Remember your orders, men,” our commander, Captain John Parker, told us. “Do not fire unless fired upon.” He watched the enemy with steely eyes which were narrowed in intense focus.

“Do you think they’ll make us any trouble?” I asked, turning to my friend. He regarded me with curious and wondering eyes, eyes that held far too much wisdom for his youth.

“I can’t say,” he replied, “but I’d hope not.” White teeth flashing, a large grin split his boyish sun-browned face in two. “I can’t speak for you or our fellowmen, but I certainly don’t wish to get caught between a bayonet or a musket ball any sooner than I’d wish to sew or cook dinner. But if need be, then I’d be at the head of that circle making pretty little quilts which read ‘Fight for Rights’.”

I chuckled.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

We turned our attention back to the approaching troops. I was slightly startled to see that they had advanced so near in such a short time. Now I could make out the faces of each red-clad soldier, jaws squared, determined, and emotionless. Even their commander’s horse seemed to have this air about him as he clomped purposefully toward us.

I was alarmed by their sheer number of troops, all moving in perfect unison, as if they were one large scarlet colored beast instead of many separate individuals. I pursed my lips. The only thing missing was the Harlot.

I quickly glanced about me. There were faces of young and old, dark hair and grey, tri-cornered hats and bare heads. Most of the older minutemen’s faces were set in grim lines, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, and the youths betrayed foolish excitement at the prospect of a skirmish. A few faces were fearful, one of them a lad barely twenty. He stood in front of me, towards the right. I could see only a little bit of his face, but his expression was plainly visible. I felt sorry for the boy.

“Hark!” cried my companion. The drums and marching had ceased. The Lobsterbacks stood before us, drawn and sober. Their commander called out, “Disperse!”

We turned to Captain Parker. He hesitated, his eyes moving hither and thither as he tried to decide if we should comply with the order or not.

“Disperse!” the red commander cried again.

“Come men,” Captain Parker ordered reluctantly. I was turning to retreat when a loud crack resounded through the air. I did not see who fired. Then, chaos erupted. All about me, ear-splitting thunder cracks assaulted my eardrums, smoke thick and choking billowed from our common.

I was able to see my hand before my face not, nor could I hear myself think. Coughing, I readied my musket in a blind daze and searched for a clearing in the awful smoke. At last, I found one. It was a good spot, for the soldier I targeted was looking in another direction. Hastily, I aimed and fired, hitting the red coat in the shoulder. I was him crumple, but the smoke clouded my vision once more. I did not feel any triumph. I simply sought out another spot. Walking blindly, it was a wonder I didn’t get hit. I stepped once more and my foot landed on something soft. I looked down and my blood ran cold.

My friend! I dropped down to my knees and squinted, slapping his cheeks. He remained unresponsive.

“John,” I called, “John!” though I could hardly hear my own shouting. I lay a hand to his chest, only to bring it back up, horror-stricken, with the warm wetness of his blood coating it. I felt I couldn’t breathe. ‘Twas but a moment that I stared, wild-eyed, at him, for a large burly man bumped into me.

“Come!” he commanded, tugging at me. His vice-like grip held me so, I thought he’d break my arm.
“We must retreat!” he shouted vainly. All sound had been muted from my ears except for a dreadful ringing. I would have feared that I’d been struck deaf if not for the sound.

The man led me on. I followed like a sleepwalker, oblivious to my surroundings. We ran over a few more injured men, though I paid no mind. The shock was still in effect. For another moment I was in this dream-like state. Then my faculties cleared. The reality of it all came crashing down on me, like a giant tidal wave in a storm, I only a small sailboat. The roaring of the muskets was fiercer than any lion’s, the acrid smoke burning my nostrils and bringing tears to my eyes. I coughed and sputtered hopelessly, yet still trudged on. Suddenly, the smoke cleared and I found myself in the wood.

The man released me and I felt my blood begin to circulate throughout my arm again. I flexed my hand and collapsed against a tree, suddenly exhausted.

“Come now!” the man insisted.

“Wait,” I said, my chest heaving, “one moment.”

I placed my hands over my face and sighed in disbelief. I lay my arms to my sides and stared up into the treetops. The sun had just cleared the horizon, casting its warm red rays over the battle. The leaves glowed brilliantly.





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