Monday, May 23, 2016

The Trial of Edward Braddock part 3

The Charges Defended, by James Stuart and Chief Shingas


(To follow this story’s progression, read parts 1 and 2 first.  Part 1 can be read at:


The prosecuting attorney had listened to the testimony of the two witnesses much like a card player who holds the ace of trumps in his hand, or a chess player preparing to checkmate his opponent with the next move.  When Mrs. George Anne Bellamy stepped down from the witness box, the prosecutor arose.


“The witnesses for the defendant have given their evidence, and perhaps they are correct that Braddock treated fellow Europeans less brutally,” the prosecutor said smoothly.  “But what of his treatment of the Native Americans who were his allies?  I have evidence to confirm my original assertion that Braddock despised these masters of frontier warfare, leading to his defeat and death at the battle of the Monongahela.  Mr. James Stuart, will you take the witness box?”


A man in the dress of a frontier settler came to the witness stand and began.


“This testimony comes from Chief Shingas who met with General Braddock.  ‘That he with 5 other Chiefs of the Delaware Shawnee & Mingo Nations (Being 2 from Each Nation) had applied to General Braddock and Enquired what he intended to do with the Land [the Ohio Country] if he Could drive the French and their Indians away To which Braddock replied that the English Shou’d Inhabit & Inherit the Land, on which Shingas asked General Braddock whether the Indians that were Friends to the English might not be Permitted to Live and Trade Among the English and have Hunting Ground sufficient to Support themselves and Familys as they had no where to Flee Too But into the Hands of the French and their Indians who were their Enemies (that is Shingas' Enemies). On which General Braddock said that No Savage Should Inherit the Land. On receiving which answer Shingas and the other Chiefs went that night to their own People-To whom they Communicated General Braddock's Answer And the Next Morning Returned to General Braddock again in hopes he might have Changed his Sentiments and then repeated their Former Questions to General Braddock again and General Braddock made the same reply as Formerly, On which Shingas and the other Chiefs answered That if they might not have Liberty To Live on the Land they would not Fight for it To which General Braddock answered that he did not need their Help and had No doubt of driveing the French and their Indians away.’” (1)


Will the defendants have any answer to this eyewitness testimony against Braddock?  Stay tuned for part 4 of the Trial of Edward Braddock!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fontenoy Gallery by Jacques Onfray de Breville

Today is the anniversary of the 1745 Battle of Fontenoy, fought between the French Army and the Pragmatic Allies (comprising Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hanover, and the Holy Roman Empire).  At the battle of Fontenoy, Marshal Saxe directed the French army to victory.
 In the picture at left, Marshal Saxe rides in his wicker chariot because he was too ill to ride a horse.  The man at right is an uhlan of the Volontaires de Saxe.

Saxe's plan called for redoubts to strengthen the French position against the Allied attacks.  It also incorporated the elite Arquebusiers de Grassin to patrol the woods and harass the enemy columns as they attacked Saxe's redoubts.  They are doing this in the picture, warily looking out for trouble.  They performed their job admirably, delaying the advance of a column of British infantry.

But the Allies had penetrated Saxe's lines in a massive column that refused to be broken.  Saxe ordered the reserve Irish Brigade (made up of Irish exiles in French service) and Louis XV's bodyguard, known as the Maison du Roi, to give one final attack.  These elite troops hit the Allied column and gained the victory for France.  The Maison du Roi is charging in this picture.  Fontenoy is also remarkable because Louis XV and his son the Dauphin were encamped there during the battle.

All these pictures were created by the French artist Comte Jacques Onfray de Breville.  He signed his work with his initials "JOB."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Review of Through The Fray by G. A. Henty

Through the Fray

By G. A. Henty

Originally published 1886


The Victorian novelist G. A. Henty wrote a multitude of excellent books during his career.  But many of his stories are “Henty-esque”, that is, they tend to have very similar plotlines.  Not so Through the Fray.  Its main conflict is internal, its main hero (Ned Sankey) is a mill-owner, and its main heroine  (Mary "Polly" Powlett) does not marry the mill-owner.


Through the Fray follows the adventures and misadventures of Edward “Ned” Sankey, a son of a retired officer.  This story is set in the years 1811-12.  It opens with Ned in the school of a brutal tyrant Mr. Hathorn.  As a result of his unjust punishments, Ned leads a rebellion against him, which ends in a courtroom trial and the loss of Mr. Hathorn’s job.  While good came out of Ned’s revolt, and the school is now under the kindly Mr. Porson, Ned’s father warns him about the dangers of his quick temper.  “Beware of your temper, Ned, for unless you overcome it, be assured that sooner or later it may lead to terrible consequences.” (pg. 79)


The school is now run by Mr. Porson, a good-natured schoolmaster with a fondness for cricket.  The boys all love him—well, almost all.  James Mathers believes Mr. Porson’s kindness to be all “gammon”, but the rest of the boys disagree.  However, the school is thrown into an uproar when their teacher’s classical dictionary turns up missing.  It is located in a second-hand bookshop with an ill reputation, but how did it get there?  Did one of the students steal it?  Another theft follows, this time of a gold pencil-case.  Ned and his chum Ripon trace it to Mathers, who is caught.   “He was tempted, you see, and none of us can tell what we may do when temptation comes, unless we have God’s help to enable us to withstand it and to do what is right,” observes their teacher.  (pg. 113)

Now Ned passes through a very difficult time in his life: the death of his father in an accident.  As the oldest child in the family, much responsibility devolves on him, especially since his mother does not like to be troubled.  Ned’s life is made even more difficult when his mother remarries a mill-owner named Mr. Mulready.  Mr. Mulready and Ned dislike each other.  After sparring and arguments for months, their antagonism finally breaks out into a fight.  The next morning Mr. Mulready is found dead.


Most people believe that Ned killed his stepfather in a fit of passion.  Ned denies it, but the circumstantial evidence is against him.  Ned is put on trial and found “Not Guilty” but his mother is certain of his guilt.  Will proof ever appear that Ned Sankey is innocent?


The characters in this book are some of the most vibrant that Mr. Henty has written.  There are three villains of very different stripes, from two-faced Mr. Mulready to thieving James Mathers.  But the heroes of the book are also very well-defined.  Longsuffering Captain Sankey, kindly Mary Powlett, and loyal Bill Marner are some who touch Ned’s life in different ways.


Highly recommended.

This book can be read for free at


I’ll leave the last word with Mr. Henty: “In this story I have left the historical battlefields, across so many of which I have taken you, and have endeavored to show that there are peaceful battles to be fought and victories to be won every jot as arduous and as difficult as those contested under arms. … In the present tale my hero's enemy was within, and although his victory was at last achieved the victor was well nigh worsted in the fray. We have all such battles to fight, dear lads; may we all come unscathed and victorious through the fray! “