This book was a little different than I expected and I felt like I was reading someone’s telling of the story, rather than experiencing it for myself. However, it was interesting. The accounts of the war, the work for the government in those times and the different experiences they had, made it all very intriguing. ~ Martha
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Born in 1943 in the middle of WWII, R. Frederick Riddle early developed a love for history and literature. Reading was a great delight to him, especially when it concerned adventure.
In 1962 he joined the United States Navy and served as a radioman aboard two cruisers. After leaving the Navy, he worked in the telecommunications for 25 years. Owned Internet bookstore (Christian Writ Bookstore) for four years (2005-2009), while pursuing his writing career.
Mr. Riddle and his wife currently reside in Port Charlotte, Florida.
Visit the author’s website.
William Riddle quickly earned the moniker of ‘Dead Eye’ in the War of 1812. Whether serving in the army or after the war as a special agent, he proved himself to be a hero. But it wasn’t until he trusted Christ that he became an American hero.
List Price: $2.99
File Size: 704 KB
Print Length: 223 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: R Frederick Riddle; 1 edition (December 5, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
It was a beautiful autumn day. Except for the robust singing of the marching soldiers, it would have been an equally quiet day. The voices were not particularly soothing to the ear, not that the birds were complaining. Moments before, the birds suddenly took flight from their tree roosts and flew away.
The suddenness of the flight caused the men to pause. Silence hung in the air as the troops waited in dread expectation.
Thus the flight of a single arrow and its impact on soft flesh was heard by all.
The 134th Regiment had been marching through the Ohio woods with each soldier trying his best to keep pace and stay in line. Yesterday, they were in southwestern Pennsylvania, leaving in high spirits with songs in their hearts, as well as on their lips. The idea of war sparked their imagination, each man thinking in terms of honor, glory, and fame.
Now, on the second day of marching, the songs having ceased, subdued with a quiet unease, the silence was broken by the sound of the arrow striking flesh and then a sudden barrage of arrows and bullets assailed them. A sense of panic filled the air with the men looking about for a place to run.
As whooping Indians on horseback charged out of the nearby forest, the officers began shouting orders. The sound of their voices, calm and demanding settled the soldiers’ nerves.
“Indians! Defensive formation!”
The soldiers quickly formed two lines.
The soldiers in the first line raised their muskets, each man taking aim at a charging Indian.
A volley of shots rang out over the fields with many Indians shot from their horses. Then the first line stepped backward and the second line moved forward.
Fortunately these soldiers were used to shooting; some were actual woodsmen. The Indian attack had been sudden, violent and noisy, but the soldiers returned fire with a vengeance, breaking the attack before it really got started. The second line, now the first, fired.
Many of the Indians were shot off their horses, mortally wounded. Some had their horses shot from under them, forcing them to flee on foot. But when their chief was shot point blank, the remaining Indians turned and fled. As they rode away, many reached down and grasped the outstretched hands of their fellow Indians, who immediately leaped with fluid grace upon the backs of the horses. Peace once again settled over the Ohio fields.
The air was filled with smoke and one could smell the mixture of gun powder and death that hung in the air about them. Some brave Indians rode into the field to help their wounded. The soldiers watched uneasily, suspecting another attack.
The Indians were not the only ones to have wounded warriors. Several soldiers had been wounded as well. Even so, all but one of them were able to get up, rejoin their fellow soldiers, and resume the march. But one fallen soldier did not move. Lying still, barely conscious, he sensed them moving away.
“Where’s James?” he whispered.
Turning his head, he immediately felt dizzy. Everything looked hazy to him as he looked for his older brother. Trying to lift himself up, he saw the familiar shape approaching. Then everything turned dark.
When James spotted his wounded brother, he ran over and knelt beside him.
“Will. William Riddle, do you hear me?”
Only a moan and glassy stare met his inquiry. Fear gripped his gut as he considered that his brother may be dying.
But he felt immediate relief when he saw that his thirteen-year old brother was still breathing. Carefully examining Will’s body, he looked for blood or a sign of injury. It was with another sigh of relief that James discovered there was only one wound and it was only a gash made upon the boy’s head. Just a scratch. Good thing you have such a hard head, Will.
“He gonna live son?”
Startled, James looked up. His eyes immediately took in the beautiful brown horse bearing an officer sitting ramrod straight in the saddle. The officer was dressed in a blue waistcoat with a high white collar, blue stripes and oversized cuffs. James’ eyes moved up to the face and sudden recognition lit his eyes. It was Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Hosack, the commander of the 134th, looking down at him with his familiar frown. Leaping to his feet, James saluted.
A slight smile played on the colonel’s face as he studied the fallen soldier. He looked up and watched as his men were marching toward the forest.
“Then let’s get a move on, soldier. Make him as comfortable as you can and leave his weapon. If he is able, he can rejoin us later. Right now, we have need of you.”
Without another word the colonel spurred his horse and rode away. James watched in admiration. The Colonel was well known for both bravery and smarts.
Looking down at his brother, James considered his options. Will’s only thirteen. Tall for his age and stronger than most thirteen year-old boys, but he’ll be all alone here in a strange land. Not to mention Indians. He looked in the direction the Indians had fled, then back at Will. He sighed, An order is an order. He’ll know what to do.
He pulled out a scrap of paper and wrote a quick note.
Kneeling alongside his brother, he moved William into a more comfortable position. Setting him against a tree, he placed the boy’s musket by his side and stuck the note in his coat pocket. Looking at the battlefield, he considered the possible return of the Indians. Without their leader, it is unlikely that they will come back here soon. At least not until they get a new leader.
Standing and saying a silent prayer for his brother’s safety, he grabbed his own musket and hurried back to find his regiment. When he caught up to them, he saw that Colonel Hosack had the men once again marching in formation. Only this time they each carried their muskets at the ready position. James couldn’t help but look back toward Will, but trees and distance now separated them.
He’ll be all right.
Even though he felt confident that his brother would be all right, a hint of worry persisted in the back of his mind.
William Riddle had more than his father’s last name, he also bore a striking similarity to Edward Riddle. Whereas Edward stood 5’3″ tall, William was already at 5′ 6″ with many years of growth still ahead. But it was the red hair and the facial features that most struck anyone who saw them together.
Having served in the Pennsylvania Artillery during the Revolutionary War, Edward was a hero in all of the boys’ eyes, but perhaps more so in William’s. As a child, he had never grown tired of hearing his father’s war stories. That was part of the reason why he now lay against a tree, alone in an Ohio forest.
Now, as the darkness of his mind settled into a dream, his father was sitting on a stool and telling him about a place called Stony Point.
“It all began son when Sir Henry Clinton, the Red Coats Commander-in-Chief, decided he wanted to take West Point, which controlled the Hudson. Well, he ordered his men to take two of our posts, one on each side of the Hudson River. One was called Fort Lafayette on Verplanck’s Point, while the other was called Stony Point, which was a fortified peninsula jutting out into the river.
“Well, the garrison at Stony Point saw them coming, burned the blockhouse, and abandoned the works without firing a shot. Fort Lafayette was forced to surrender.
“You want to know what the weakness of the Red Coats is? Pride. Yep, pride. That Sir Clinton was real prideful. He was so full of pride and confidence that he started calling Stony Point ‘Little Gibraltar’.
“Well, he figured without taking General George Washington into consideration. General Washington decided to attack and retake Stony Point. That son, is how I ended up at Stony Point. I had been temporarily transferred from the Pennsylvania Artillery to the Forlorn Hope, actually the 6th Pennsylvania, which was led by Lt. James Gibbons.
“Just before midnight on July 15th, we moved forward. Our job was to precede the attacking force. Twenty men strong, we led the way, cutting gaps through the felled trees, (they called them abates) to eliminate the advance sentries. It was deadly business.
“We soon came under heavy fire, but we pushed ahead. We’d been chopping the trees, when suddenly a soldier to my right was shot in the shoulder. He refused to quit and continued chopping. The soldier to my left was killed only minutes later. Still, we continued. Then the soldier on my right was shot again, this time fatally.
“Except for a minor wound in the thigh, I was unscathed. When we were done, there were only three of us left. But we had done our job. That, son, is what soldiers do; no matter the danger, soldiers fight on and do their job.
“We won that battle and we won the war because men performed their duty!”
Will tried to respond, but the vision of his father was vanishing until nothing was left.
Two hours after the regiment left him, William awoke to a silent world. He lay there looking up at the bright sky, listening for a sound. But there was no tramping of feet, no boisterous singing, and certainly no sound of whooping Indians. Just total silence!
But the words “no matter the danger, soldiers fight on and do their job” kept repeating themselves in his mind.
Slowly turning his head, he saw his musket leaning against the tree right by his side. Reaching out and grabbing it, he immediately felt safer. But other than his musket, there was no sign or sound of war. He was alone.
Easing himself into a better sitting position, he felt better. He checked his uniform for blood and found nothing. I seem all right. Might as well get up and move on.
Finding a note in his coat pocket, he pulled it out and read it.
You’ll be OK. Catch up as soon as possible. I’ve got to go.
His mind still a little cloudy, he had to read the note several times before understanding its message. Then he folded the paper in half and stuck it back into his pocket.
Rising to his feet, he suddenly felt dizzy and started losing his balance. Quickly grabbing the tree and clinging to it, he waited for the dizziness to clear. It took several moments before he felt normal again.
“Where am I?”
His voice sounded unusually loud in the glen. Looking around quickly, he remembered the possibility of Indians.
“Ohio,” he said in a softer voice. “And we were just south of Lake Erie. I was with my brother James.
“That’s right! We were, I mean, are part of the 134th Regiment of Pennsylvania commanded by Lieutenant Hosack. We were attacked by Indians. I remember we formed lines. I was in the first line.
“I fired and was about to move to the back when I must have been shot. I don’t remember anything else. Except this aching head.”
Still feeling a little lightheaded and weak, he sat and leaned back against the tree. A weak smile played on his lips as he remembered how he’d gotten into this mess. Alexander and James were both old enough to join, but Mother wanted me to stay home. Said I was too young.
Dad would have convinced Mom eventually, but I couldn’t wait. A month later I slipped away and followed my brothers to their camp. James ordered me home, but I refused saying I would join with or without his help. That was only weeks ago, but it sure seems longer!
In spite of himself, he chuckled. I wonder if Mother’s Irish temper got the best of her when she learned I’d slipped out and joined the army. Immediately, his conscience struck him. He loved his mother and had never wanted to hurt her. But I belong in the military!
He sighed as he remembered his mother. Her refusal to allow him to join had been of fear he would die. She’d just seen two of her sons leave for war and didn’t want him leaving also.
At first his father had not interfered, but after a couple days of observing mother and son at odds, he decided it was time for action. He took his son aside.
“Son, I know how you feel. I want you to know that I have complete confidence in you. I also want you to understand that I will do everything I can to change your mother’s will, but it will take time. When I was your age, I would have slipped away in the night. But that is obviously not going to happen.
“Be patient. This war’s not ending anytime soon. You’ll get your chance.”
That very night, Will climbed out of his bedroom window, and left. He thought about taking a horse, but he was afraid of making a noise. With a long sigh, he began walking in the same direction he had seen his brothers take two days earlier.
Now as Will sat against a tree, alone and still weak, he looked in the direction he knew the regiment must have taken as they marched. His regiment was heading north to Lake Erie to fight the British. He’d heard the British might attack the small American Fleet protecting America’s Army. The army was hoping to retake Fort Detroit, which the British had recently captured. But to succeed, the Americans needed to control Lake Erie.
He suddenly felt an overpowering desire to sleep.
“I can’t sleep. I’ve got to find the regiment.”
But sleep came anyway.
The battle for Lake Erie was raging in Put-in-Bay on the western end of Lake Erie. There, Commodore Perry, aboard his flagship Lawrence, was engaged in a battle with the British fleet. Everyone knew that this battle was critical to winning the war. Lose Lake Erie and they might be doomed. Win and the war might end!
The 134th Regiment, out of Mercer County of Pennsylvania, was rushing to the Ohio shore to join the fight against the British. James and Will had joined the regiment back in Pennsylvania. While both were excellent marksmen, neither one had ever shot at another man or been shot at. Still, the whole experience had been exciting.
As Will slept, he dreamed of James, Samuel, and himself taking on the whole British army. As the dream progressed, he could hear the roar of cannons. That’s when he awoke.
In the distance he could hear thunder. Sitting up, he looked to the sky and was surprised that it was a clear blue with hardly a cloud. Suddenly, a thought struck him. Could that be cannon fire? Straining to hear the sound, he could not determine its exact nature. Were they army guns, naval or a coming storm? He couldn’t tell.
Once again he got up, this time keeping his feet. Grabbing his musket, a Springfield 1795, he slowly made his way northwestward. Fortunately there were hoof prints near his tree. Kneeling, he examined them and determined that they were left by shod horses. This could only mean one thing to him, they belonged to his regiment.
Excitement filled him and he broke into a trot, which moments later came to an abrupt halt. His head felt dizzy again. He slowly moved over to another tree and leaned against it, waiting for his head to clear.
Once the dizziness was gone, he resumed following the trail, albeit at a much slower pace.Feeling much better, he felt the urge to run, but common sense prevailed. He continued following the trail until night made it impossible to continue on. Reluctantly, he found a small knoll with a single tree and settled down, wearily allowing sleep to overtake him.
In a matter of days Commodore Perry would score a major victory over the British. While he lost his ship, he won the battle. He would write to General Harrison: “We have met the enemy and they are ours: Two Ships, two Brigs, one Schooner & one Sloop.” Lake Erie now belonged to the Americans!
But the young man was oblivious to all this exciting news. In the morning, he arose and checked his appearance. Like any soldier in this war, he was dressed in a uniform coat, a white linen shirt, a black neck stock, and straight bottom trousers. To complete the look he had half gaiters, low quarter shoes, and a shako (U.S. Army hat that had a felt body with leather edge, Brim, sweatband and drawstring liner). In addition, he still had a cartridge box with white buff sling, a white buff baldric for bayonet scabbard, a haversack, a knapsack, and a wooden canteen. A tall thirteen (he often was mistaken for eighteen), he looked like a real soldier!
Satisfied, he opened his knapsack, looking for food. All he had was a small loaf of dry, hard bread. Considering himself lucky, he bit into it. To his hungry soul, it tasted wonderful!