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Where the Road Bends
Cannons thundered as the men charged into the field. Their sweat was not as much from the heat of the sun but from the fear most of them felt. Blasts from shells caused the view of the field to turn to a black unknown. The men lifted their muskets and fired into that darkness in the hope that their foes would be slain and not their comrades. Their Bright red uniforms made them widely recognizable which was both good and bad as they hoped to remain unseen by their foes within the smoke. The 7th regiment marched on into the dust hoping to find the uniforms of their opponents that, in their eyes, begged to be slain in the midday sun. John Walsh was the young sergeant of that regiment and was ready to face any danger, or so he thought. When he joined the British army at eighteen he was trying to follow in the footsteps of his father General David Walsh who was glorified after his victories over the French in wars long since passed. John knew he would never become half the man and officer his father was but hoped to begin his own legacy of victory and loyalty to the crown.
This was his first battle as the sergeant of the force plainly known as “The 7th” and he was feeling apprehensive about what was to come. From what he could tell the British troops were in disarray and wavering in several sections of their line. Luckily his men were veterans and battle tested giving him an advantage over the newly added recruits they had received the days before. These loyalists were not of officer or even soldier caliber and seemed to be ready to withdraw in a moments notice if things turned for the worst. North America and more importantly the Thirteen Colonies had been both his and his father’s home for quite a while. His father was sent there to fight the French during the French and Indian Wars and decided to start a family and after some time they had him and his brother Byron. They both aspired to be like their father however Byron did not share in the ideals of the British as much as John or his father which is why he left home when the sparks of revolution began to fly. From what we had heard from friends and informants Byron had joined the minute-men and Lexington and was a part of the force that ignited what people were calling the American Revolution. John would never call it a revolution because a revolution implied change to overthrow a corrupt or ineffective government and in his mind the British were perfect.
He had not spoken to Byron since he had left and that didn’t bother him at all, neither of them got along very well and as a result John felt some relief and even joy when Byron left. After all it was people like him that caused this pointless and utterly useless war that in John’s opinion would last no more than a year. John was ordered to march from his hometown of Yorktown with his troops to engage the rebel Americans at Philadelphia, specifically at Brandywine Creek. John had followed his orders to the letter, as usual, and here he was knee deep in a battle that seemed to have no end and left him holding a line that was wavering. He had attacked the left of the American line in the hopes to flank them but so far it was to no avail. He decided he must not sit there and allow the stalemate to continue. He reached for the sword on his belt and drew it at a speed that caused a sound of metallic slicing. He observed the battlefield to see an American column on the brink of running; he gave one last second look towards the grass and the flowers noting that they were now black with smoke and ash. The destruction had been palpable, the grass lay ablaze in some sections of the field and in others the trees that once stood tall were now cut down by shot and cannon.
As a tear fell down John’s face he pointed his sword forward and ordered with one word the turning point of the battle “charge.” Soon the men had charged into the fields and yelled with intensity of a lion and the passion of a patriot. With their bayonets shining in the midday sun their line crashed into the American position with such ferocity that the enemy reached an immediate breaking point and began to flee. The British troops fired at their backs and stabbed at those who were still in range. There was no mercy from the British, especially John; in his eyes they forfeited their lives when they turned against the might of the British Empire.
The British had driven back the American force with ease but it had taken a lot of man power, of the 700 men John commanded about 200 lay wounded on the field. Their bitter and painful cries pierced the air in a manner that was almost sickening to the stomach. The medics crossed the field dragging those who looked as though they could be saved but the news was grim for most. Not many could be saved; they were left only to bleed out in the hot sun as there was no time to halt. Philadelphia could be seen proudly standing in the distance and if it was up to every remaining man left in “the 7th” it wouldn’t stand untouched a minute longer.
After some time John had marched his troops up the pat to where the road faced the battlefield but had halted, awaiting the scouts he deployed to return and inform of the position of both the enemy and the rest of the British army. Soon enough the scouts had returned with news of the battle. In a hushed tone the first scout managed to force out the news knowing it would evoke both anger and violence from his commander. “Sir, the Americans are holding their lines about seven kilometers up the road, the column is strong and is led by…” the scout paused. Too fearful and filled with apprehension to release the last bit of information to the ears of the man he followed with unquestioned loyalty.
“Well, go on, use your words! This is important you know!” John had a feeling of anger slowly growing as he could not stand to know the Americans were succeeding to any degree.
“The Column is led by your brother Brigadier-General Byron Walsh” the scout managed to blurt it out before he felt as though he couldn’t breath.
John remained silent and leaned on his sword which was now dug into the ground thanks to his weight. The scout continued to speak after a while telling John the whereabouts of that main battle but John paid no attention. He could only concentrate on his brother’s success and feel the competitive anger run through his veins. The only words that John truly heard came at the end of the scout’s speech in which he uttered “The Americans are pushing us back sir.” Suddenly John’s face turned bright red and the weight of his body snapped his sword in two. His anger was as evident as the midday sun in the sky. Something had snapped and John had all but lost his mind.
“Prepare the men, we attack in one hour! No sooner, no later!” John was so furious he could barely speak and turned to hide his emotions from the men.
“Yes Sir!” was the general reply from all the surrounding officers.
Although some of the men motioned to join their commanders side, John would have none of it, he made up his mind and no one who ever existed or would exist could convince him to change his mind. The men marched without question and after an hour had been ready for twenty minutes as they knew how serious John felt about this. The men marched with quickness and alertness as they did not know what to expect despite the scouts report. A lot could change in the course of an hour, at last glance the Americans were winning, had they finished off the British? Or had the British been successful? In any case they marched on into the battle not knowing exactly what they got themselves into. The approached the field to see bodies sprawled across almost every inch and Philadelphia prominently displayed in the background. The bodies could not be recognized at first, the smoke from the battle had not yet cleared although the victorious army had evidently moved on. As the landscape came more into focus the road began to bend away from the city. The smoke had now cleared and it could be seen, the bodies littered the field with their blue uniforms stained red. The men began to cheer and now they broke ranks and stared into the distance at the city. A British flag flew high above its buildings and the men knew they had won a great battle despite not being there in the end.
John cracked a smile as he knew his brother had been beaten, but then, sadness fell over him. He ran out into the field examining the bodies seeing if his brother was one of them. He searched in such as hasty manner that the men stopped cheering and stared at their officer. Then he came to a body on the road itself. The body had a sword drawn and was facing the road in which John and his men had marched from. John flipped the body and to his horror it was indeed his brother, Byron, with his eyes closed and a musket ball in his chest. John began to weep and the other man came to console him. None of them had ever seen their leader cry but they knew how he felt. They had lost much in this war, far more then they ever could have imagined. In that spot where the road bends Byron had taken his last breath and in that exact spot is where John promised himself he would never fight again. Even with a war in front of him and a duty to his men he turned and gave a saddened look before turning away. He took off his jacket of his uniform revealing the white under coat. He began to walk and never stopped. No one knows what happened to that man but they knew one thing; wherever he went, however he lived he had done something his father could never do. Stand up for what he believed in as a person and for that he was the better man, and for that he would always be the better man.