Posts Tagged ‘empire: total war

01
Sep
10

George Washington is a coward

The year is 1757 and George Washington, later fated to lead the as yet unborn nation of the United States, is sat atop his horse overlooking the French Fort Niagara in what is now New York state.

He is a wise general, and through his brilliance the colonies have seized Fort Duquesne and with it opened up the Ohio valley to invasion. The French have suffered several crushing defeats to Washington, and he is now commanding a mighty army made up of line infantry, two units of light cavalry, some Native American mercenaries and a powerful contingent of artillery in the form of three units of 24lb cannon.

When Fort Niagara falls, the lower Ohio valley will be under the control of the British colonies. It will be a glorious moment and will signal the beginning of the inexorable scouring of the French from the New World. But they are not going gentle into that good night.

Washington tastes the air as across the town the French sally forth from the impenetrable bulk of Fort Niagara. The crisp October air is invigorating and Washington is pleased. He had planned for this French counterattack, and issues a command to the cannon. Thunder splits the air as dozens of heavy iron spheres are ejected towards the French lines, throwing mauled infantry into the air like leaves in the autumn wind.

The tactical insight which has previously served him so well is at play again. The forces of the British colonies are laid out in a line to Washington’s east, whilst he stands atop the grassy knoll overlooking the approach from the French across lower ground. This battle depends on his artillery, and so he has protected it. This hill is surrounded on all sides but the east by impassable cliffs, so if the French wish to silence the batteries they must fight through the entire British infantry line first.

Half an hour later and battle is well under way. The French have suffered terribly under the constant bombardment of the British cannon, and now their weakened forces are breaking upon the British lines as water on rock. It is not entirely one-sided however: as with all conflict there are casualties on both sides, and at the centre of the line the British lines of infantry begin to thin under constant assault.

There is no hope of a French victory, however. Their men are too few now, and the rigeurs of battle have taken their toll upon their morale. Even now units held in reserve by the French begin to waver, sensing that to surge forward into the range of the British muskets would be to march forward to meet almost certain death.

And yet without warning, the British are put under pressure. George Washington is under attack! A unit of peasants armed with pitch forks have seen what Washington did not: a small path winding up the western side of the cliff and they set about the great general, fighting with the ferocity that comes only from impending annihilation. His bodyguard are slain! Immediately to his left, the artillery crews continue to rain down iron on the French lines, seemingly oblivious to the fate which has just befallen their hero general.

And George Washington, future hero of the republic, founding father of the United States of America, begins to run away.  With his boots pressed firmly into his horse’s side, Washington thunders down that damned cliff path. But the sound of his horse’s shoes beating upon the ground is joined by that of many other boots. The French are running down that path too!

But they are not running to chase him down and kill him. From their recently seized vantage point they had an overview of the state of the battle, and saw before them the entire British horde. The French peasants, only moments before flushed with their triumph, have broken and are routing down the cliff path on Washington’s heels.

And so the British victory at Fort Niagara is assured, as George Washington flees in blind terror away into the forest, with a unit of peasants directly behind him, they too routing in utter fear and panic.

America. Home of the brave.