Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

E Pluribus Unum

By , Mashpee, MA

It was May 10, 1776. Tensions between the British Empire and the Western
Colonies have escalated to an all-time high. The American Revolution had just begun
about two weeks ago, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Paul Johnson, who
had just heard the news via horse and carriage, fears for both his country, and his
newly wed wife, Caroline.
Paul, who is 19 years old, has been working and living on a very small
plantation in Gastonia, North Carolina, about 20 miles west of Charlotte. He was
educated by his mother until her passing two years ago. His wife, Caroline, is 18,
and she has a baby on the way in the next few months. Caroline was originally from
England, and has a very neutral stance on the Revolution. They live in a modest
cabin, on about 2 acres of land, and had a modest amount of money, though they
were never rich. Paul also recently bought, and tended to a horse, who was called
Anne. North Carolina has reacted strongly to the civil war and has been beginning to
make a local militia. Paul, however, thought it would be wiser to travel up to Boston,
where the Patriots control, and where around where the American Revolution started.
The next morning Paul approaches Caroline, with plans on traveling to Boston
for a time. “My dearest Caroline,” inquired Paul, “I have been pondering about joining
whatever militia Boston has formed. I highly value your opinion on this, my love.”
“Why would you ever want to do such a thing?” replied Caroline, “Why would
you ever want to throw away your “British weight” by fighting them? You’re wed to me,
a British-born woman, and you have what you need right here! I could never forgive
you if you died fighting against the Empire. I could never get over losing you.”
“Yes, Caroline, I know that. But don’t you think that people should be free?
Free from tyranny, and muck rules and regulations? Not to mention the amount they
tax us. We aren’t even represented in the British Government!”
“This isn’t about freedom or Empires! This is about us! I would fall apart if I
were to lose you. We can live a grand life with each other, without the rivalry between
the colonies and the British! I want to enjoy life together, as long as a life God grants us.
The likelihood of you dying is too great for me to bear!”
“I feel the exact same way, Caroline. I love you with all my heart. With the new
baby on the way, it would make it very difficult for you alone to take care of him.
Although there are some drawbacks, I have made my decision. I can’t just sit here,
knowing that my countrymen are dying for our chance of a free life. It would bring me
too much of a weight on my conscience. A weight that cannot be lifted. I’m sorry,
Caroline.”
Caroline lay on the porch, watching Paul tend to a plot of Tobacco plants. After
the day had passed, Paul told Caroline that he would be leaving the day after the next, at
dawn’s time. They went to bed, and relaxed for the next day, staring into each other's
eyes, and making love to each other. The day seemed to last for years, but also
seemed to last a few seconds.
The day had come when Paul would head for Boston. He got up from their bed,
trying not to disturb Caroline. He had brought Caroline’s old carriage out from the
back of the house and packed 4 changes of clothes, 3 jugs of water, and about 10
pounds of food. He also brought a gun he stole from a nearby British Arms Storage, a
box full of musket balls, a small keg of gunpowder, and about 200 shillings. He knew
the journey would be about two weeks, so he only prepared for the journey, and was
planning on buying supplies in Boston. 
Before he departed, Caroline approached him, with tears in her eyes.
“Farewell, love. My heart is already sinking at the thought of losing you. You must
return to me.”
“I am jittered too, my love. Though I will not bid you farewell. I will return to you
and hold you in my arms once again. Not only will I return to you, but I will return
free.”
Caroline then tightly embraced Paul, and they both stood there, embracing.
After a few minutes, Paul released Caroline from his arms and mounted the horse. Caroline watched
as the horse and carriage trotted away down the trail, feeling a burning in her eyes.
Paul knew the dangers ahead of his journey, and he knew it would be quite a while
before he arrived at Boston.
The last 14 went by rather smoothly, significantly better than what Paul had
expected; he had never traveled that great a distance before. He asked around the
city for anyone who could point him in the direction of the Minutemen. He knew he
had to be careful whom he spoke to. If he wasn’t, he might run into a Redcoat or a
British spy. After about 4 hours of wandering around, he met a gentleman by the
name of Wallace. Wallace was a young man, a bit older than Paul, but not by much.
Wallace was only 5’10, compared to Paul’s 6’3, and he was heavier built. He was
never educated and did not know how to read. He also had a moderate southern
accent.
It just so happens that Wallace was on his way to join the Minutemen, too.
Wallace asked Paul if he wanted to tag along with him to a recruiting station about 5
miles from there. Paul cautiously agreed and tailed him by about 10 feet. About
halfway through the trip, Wallace made conversation. 
“So, Paul was it? Where are you from, an’ why are you here to fight for the
colonies?” 
“Yes, ‘tis my name.” Paul inquired. “I’ve made my way from Gastonia, North
Carolina. And since when does a man need a reason to stand up for his beloved
people and family?”
“North Carolina?” Wallace said with a surprised tone. “You’re pretty far from
home then, huh? You don’t speak like me either.” 
“Yes. I severely miss my wife, and she has a child on the way. Despite the circumstances, I
will not let that deteriorate my decision to fight in this Revolution.”
Wallace never responded to Paul’s answer, and so there no dialogue between
the two for the next two miles. The whole ride, Paul here some popping noises, and
was confused by what he heard, although he didn’t want to ask anyone. He brushed
the noises off and sat tight for the rest of the ride. After another 10 or so minutes,
they finally reached the recruiting and volunteering station. Paul approached the man
in the tent. “Hello, good sir,” Paul started, “My comrade, Wallace, and I are interested
in fighting alongside the Minutemen. And might I ask, what is today’s date?”
“So, you think you have what it takes to fight with the Minutemen, eh?” the man
replied, “We’re taking just about anyone right now. To answer your question, today is
May, 26th. My name is Ronnie Shaw, it's a pleasure to meet you, fellas.”
“That’s wonderful, sir, thank you.”
“When can we start, and where do you want us?” asked Wallace.
“Let’s see here,” Ronnie inquired, “We have a need for troops at Bunker Hill.
We suspect an attack there any day now, and you both could use the combat
experience if the day were to come. You will be stationed there for about a month,
and once that month is complete, you may return back to this camp. Assuming that
this camp is still standing.”
Ronnie handed Wallace a musket, and Paul a flintlock. Paul left his horse and
carriage at the camp, where it was most likely going to stay safe. He grabbed all of
his musket balls and only brought a small keg of gunpowder. The two made their way
to Bunker Hill, which was another five miles from that camp.
When they arrived at Bunker Hill, Paul was shocked at what he saw. The hill
was much smaller than he expected but very defendable. There were no cannons out
the sides, but there were a lot of men there. Paul and Wallace knew they were going
to sleep on the ground for the next month.
“Well this is the most God damned thing I have ever seen,” Wallace
complained. “The “fort” is about the size of a frickin’ cow pen. The gunpowder here is
not enough to mount a major defensive. The only thing good about this place is the
location. Most people probably won’t die here, if there was ever an attack. But the
redcoats could hop over the fortifications, unscrew our heads and s*** down our
necks.”
“Shut your gob, man, You complaining about it isn’t going to make things any
better. Now we have orders to defend this place for a month, and if you have an
issue, feel free to stroll on back to the camp, and bring it up with Ronnie. Otherwise,
I’m going to catch a quick kip.”
The next nineteen days went by at an unusual rate. Slower than usual, but more
suspenseful than most. Paul and the most other men at the hill had already gone to
bed.
The next morning, Paul awoke to the deafening sounds of gunshots. Paul
scrambles to catch his footing, grabbing his rifle as he stumbled to the edge of the
fortifications. He heard the repeated shout of a fellow soldier named Prescott, “Don’t
fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” Paul fired back about 5 times until the
Redcoats retreated. There was a pause of the gunfire, and the Patriots were still on
their toes. Many of the soldiers began an early celebration. After 10 minutes of
unrest, someone shouted, “Redcoats! They’re charging again!”
The muskets were blaring again, and Paul, once again, fired back with the
bracket of Minutemen. After another half hour, which seemed like a million years to
Paul, the British were repelled once again. Paul had witnessed the true face of fear.
The men whose faces were covered blood, praying and begging to their God and
their mothers for forgiveness.
Wallace reminded Paul that the men at the hill are critically low on gunpowder
and ammunition. Paul leaned his musket up against a crate, and he flopped to the earth. Paul could only see Caroline when he closed his eyes. Paul prayed to
God that he could be given strength to come home and return to Caroline, to care for
her and her newborn.
Paul zoned out, now seeing visions of death and Caroline’s sorrows. He
suddenly snapped out of his lethargic and hallucinogenic state to the sounds of more
gunshots.
“More?” Paul mumbled to himself. “How many troops do these jackanapes have?”
Paul reached for his pouch of musket balls but felt nothing. Paul started to
panic, patting himself down for musket balls. He felt a satchel full of gunpowder, which
gave him some relief, but he was still out of ammo. After giving it a few seconds of
thought, he had a near insane idea. He grabbed a beer bottle that had been left over
from a few nights ago and smashed it on the ground. He filled his musket ball pouch
with the glass fragments as quickly as he could, and soon he was ready to fire back.
With the minutes flashing by as fast as light, the British drew closer. The
Minutemen had finally used about the last pinch of powder they had. The colonists
began to retreat, and the British charged at the fortifications, fighting the Patriots that
occupied. The British had killed a sliver of the with their bayonets, but being far more
trained at close quarters than the volunteers.
Paul and Wallace made a successful escape, but that escape was not given to
them. Bullets flew past them as they retreated into the forest. Paul noticed that he was
grazed by a bullet in the retreat, and be fell into a pit and injured his leg.
Paul and Wallace made their way to the recruitment camp in the beginning. It
was a pleasant treat that it wasn’t burned to the ground. Paul asked for his horse, and
Ronnie gave it to him. He had earned that much. Paul thanked Ronnie and Wallace
for their service, and the opportunity to serve in the Militia. After a quick goodbye,
Paul hastily made his way back to North Carolina. Paul had encountered a few
complications along the way, but the ride back was mostly smooth, although it felt like
a lifetime before he finally made the border. He was relieved when he only had about
one day left on his slight conquest to his home. 
Paul hoped that Caroline was still breathing. He had not heard any news of
any potential battles located near Charlotte. Both he and his horse grew weary from the
journey, and the click of Anne’s hooves started to be a slight inconvenience to Paul,
for the sound grew quite annoying. 
Paul had stopped around 30 miles from Charlotte. His straw pillow had been
ripped, so he rolled up some of his spare clothes and used them as a pillow. For the
past two weeks, his sleep has been haunted by nightmares. The faces of the men he
had killed and the faces of his comrades mocked him, taunted him, tormented him.
He had been able to get one or two hours of sleep, although the sleep didn’t
seem to help him. Once he awoke, it was still pitch black out. He thought to himself,
“why not arrive by dawn?” So he gathered up his gear and suffered through the final
stretch. He finally saw a road he recognized, and he was almost falling out of his
carriage seat. Whether it was from his excitement or the rocky road, he will never
know.
He finally reached the opening to his farm, and he unsaddled his horse. He
quietly unlocked the back door, and sneakily unloaded his carriage. To his surprise,
he did not awake Caroline. Instead of waking Caroline, he sat on the white, colonial
bench on the porch of his house.
He lowered his colonial duster on his head and took a well-deserved kip. He fell
out of his slumber and heard footsteps inside his house. He got up, took a deep
breath, and opened the door.
Caroline could not believe her eyes. She covered her mouth with both hands,
started to squeal. Tears of joy ran down her face as she collapsed into Paul’s arms.
“Paul! You returned! For a while, I thought you met your fate on the battlefield!”
“I love you, baby. I love you, baby. I love you, baby” Paul repeated for the
duration of their embrace. Tears rolled down his eyes, knowing that all the work and
pain he had endured wasn’t for nothing.
Paul and Caroline lived a joyous, and bountiful life. The years were happy.
On December 3rd, their son, James Johnson was born. Half a year later, the British
attacked Charlotte. Paul fought in that battle and sustained a bullet to the shoulder. He
was treated at the nearest hospital and then continued on with his life. He helped
create the country today we know as The United States of America.




Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback