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The drums pounded along with the thumping feet.
“Ugh…” Mark groaned sleepily. He opened one eye and rolled over. He stared right into the contorted face of his commander.
“Soldier, if you would like to sleep do it at home, not here!” the commander yelled, spraying spittle all over Mark’s face. With furrowed brows and cheeks hot with anger the commander grabbed his pack and rifle, shouldered the gun and walked off.
Mark was fully awake now; he jumped up and shoved his blankets into his huge dark green bag. He pulled on his rugged parched blue uniform. He hoisted the bag onto his back with a clink from the large buckles. He grabbed his blue cap with the American seal on the front and, with his rifle against his shoulder; he slipped into the back lines of the marching troop.
Drums tapped and boomed along with the clomp of heavy boots hitting the dry dust. The floating dirt swirled around the legs of the soldiers like clouds around whirling tornadoes.
“Attention!” yelled the general that had woken Mark. He was on an impressive brown stallion in front of the regiment of troops. “As you all know, you were the recruits picked untrained and unpracticed with weapons. Our battle will start when we reach General Washington’s army. General Washington is already in combat with the last of the Redcoats. Our mission is to make sure none of them escape. We just need to act as a barrier so the Redcoats bounce back to their ships and sail away. After that, the navy will come and secure the coast. At that point in time, you will all be marched back to your homes and come back heroes to your family and country.” The commander smiled with confidence. “We follow the river until the woods, where we rest for battle!” With that said he raised his sword and the men cheered.
The unit started marching again. With aching feet Mark reluctantly started walking to the pace of the drums. He looked for a tree or foliage he could use so he could slip out of the group unnoticed and take a break. As he scanned a full circle his gaze came to rest on the angry face of a drummer with a broken snare drum. Mark gave him a sheepish innocent gesture. During their march Mark had tripped on a stump and, like dominoes, everyone behind him had fallen, eventually tipping the drummer in an unlucky fall.
The rest of the marching went fast. After a couple more hours of trudging along the twisted bank of the river with a glaring sun slowly baking the recruits in their hot uniforms like a lobster being boiled for a fancy dinner, they took a break and drank from the river. But after a few minutes they were marching again.
The commander announced they would soon enter the forest and be able to rest until the first Redcoat was spotted. At that time they would charge out of the forest to push back the Redcoats. The regiment kept marching until they finally entered the canopy of a lush copse of trees. The commander handed out swords while everyone lay down and closed their eyes, happy for the rest.
There wasn’t much rest because as soon as everyone had been assigned a sword the commander positioned them behind trees or in bushes. Mark was behind a thick oak tree way to the left flank of the group. The plan was to push the enemy to the right down to the river on the opposite side of their little reinforcement party. Mark knew he would have the most of the battle by him. He grasped the hilt of the sword and pulled up. The sword came out an inch of the sheath and stopped. As he awkwardly put two hands on the sword and pulled away, he turned in circles while he tried to free the sword. Finally it came loose and slipped out, bouncing of the tree and landing on the grass with a dull thud. Mark glanced around, cheeks flaring, to see if anyone had seen his act. Mark pulled the sword into his hands and with two hands tried swinging it. He made large cuts without any control of the sword. He hoped he wouldn’t have to use the sword.
There was a sound to his left; the crunch of dry leaves. His eyes flashed over to the patch of short bushes. Red clothing was visible through the shrubbery. He went on full alert. Jumping towards the bush with his sword straight out as if poking a wild animal, he circled the bush and when he was almost on the other side of the bush he sprinted trailing the sword behind him, loading up for a powerful blow.
His eyes were closed as he disemboweled the bush, trying to take the invader out. Taking huge cuts, he whacked everything around him. Then he opened his eyes to see a couple of moldy apples lying on the ground and broken twigs from the slapping the bush had been given. Looked in disgust at his foolishness, he saw a squirrel and some apples had turned him into some battle monger. He shook as he heard a yell.
His head whipped around to see a Redcoat charging at him with a bayonet pointed right toward his chest. Mark took a big swing with his sword and awkwardly knocked the bayonet off track. The Redcoat was better trained than Mark, so he quickly recovered while Mark was still swinging his sword from the first deflection. The Redcoat made a slash with his short blade but Mark spun out of its way. This time he was prepared for the attack; it came towards his left, but when he stuck his sword out to block it, the Redcoat twirled his weapon so the blade was coming at his right. Mark shoved his sword in the ground and the bayonet clanged against the hefty blade. Mark gave a pull to heave the weapon out of the ground but it wasn’t coming easily, and he didn’t have the time. Mark used the sword as a point to keep the Redcoat on the other side like a very dangerous game of ring around the rosy. After a few seconds of side stepping, the Redcoat pulled out a bullet from a pouch inside his crimson jacket and rammed it into the rifle. Mark eyes widened as the Redcoat poured gunpowder into the powder socket.
Mark sprinted back to his post. The Redcoat leisurely struck a match. Mark charged as fast as his legs would take him. He was just about to reach a tree for cover, but a large rock was in the way. Mark took a huge leap and flew over the rock. Once he was full out with arms stretched he heard a boom. The gunpowder exploded, rocketing the spinning bullet towards its target. Mark disappeared behind the tree still in flight. He was almost behind the tree, he thought the Redcoat must have missed, when his foot was whacked throwing him off balance. He landed with a thump on his back.
Pain erupted from his boot like a volcano exploding rock everywhere. He grabbed his gun and slapped a match onto the igniter, lighting the match. Inched his way, using his elbows trying not to drag his foot on the ground he peered from behind the tree. He could see the Redcoat walking towards the tree glancing back, watching for any other oppositions. Mark was still on his back but he inched a little farther so he could comfortably get his gun set on a rock aiming towards the enemy. The match was burning down the wick and he could feel the heat from the small flame on his hands. He lowered the match into the compartment and with one final glance through the sights the fire lit the powder. As the boom erupted he smiled and blew out the match.
When the gun fired, the Redcoat’s head spun towards Mark, watching as he blew out his match. When the flame left the stick the Redcoat’s back hit a tree from the force of the shot.
Mark’s smile quickly fell. He had made a dead-on shot, but wasn’t ready to see the end. His foot burned and he looked around for someone to get him to medical care. He turned to see none other than General George Washington crunching through the forest towards him.
With one look at Mark he knew he needed some help. “Soldier, you’re hurt.” He turned to another man standing behind him and gestured to get a doctor. The General kneeled down beside mark and looked at his foot. “From what I know, you’ll be alright. You were very brave coming here and fighting like you did. You came a man, and you go home a soldier,” and with a smile and a salute he stood up and walked away.
As soon as the general had left the doctor arrived with the other man who had been with General Washington. The doctor removed Mark’s boot and dabbed it with a wet cloth. It stung, but the pain didn’t last and after he wrapped the wound up in rolls of cotton the boot was put back on. “I would advise you to hurry home and have your town’s doctor look at it more there,” with that he left.
When people heard the musket shots they came to see what happened, soon a little crowd had gathered around Mark. They smiled and patted him on the back. A few of them helped carry him back to their regiment. When they reached the commander he gave a serious look and then patted Mark on the shoulder.
“Your work is done, soldier,” the commander said, saluting Mark.
Mark smiled, his carriers walked down the dusty road he had marched on, not two hours ago. The sun glinted making a perfect exit for the new hero.
Far Hills, New Jersey
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This article has 6 comments.
We could visualize the battle and what Mark must have been feeling! Kept our interest throughout.
Clear plot and great descriptions.
Nice writing, Patrick!
I also loved the ending.
Fab job on this one!!