TEARS OF THE FOOT GUARDS
ADAGIO - STAVE XX
S T A V E
11th September, 1777
A soupy morning heavy with mist, the kind to make the skin crawl. Fog in the Toughkenamon Valley, in the woods and the fields like the brume of a black powder battle; whole regiments can vanish in such fog. Perfect for subterfuge. Five thousand down the Baltimore Pike without fife, drum or song. A turn north onto the Great Valley Road. Flankers to the column’s right and left, bayonets fixed. Little could they see in front of them. Move quick while it’s cool and the fog burns off. And burn off it did in a cloudless white heat as the merciless sun rose.
Insects hummed. Crows darted over head with a racket of caws and turkey vultures wheeled on the thermals. The crunch of hobnails on a hardened dirt road that dipped and snaked from open fields into copse of trees where mosquitoes swarmed, and then suddenly, an open vista as pretty as could be seen – farmland with the stench of manure, but better than the sulfur of spent powder.
Geordie route stepped with his firelock sloped, its barrel polished as were all, giving the column a lustre. They would meet the Enemy in style. Spit and Polish. Though, in fact, they were ragged. Geordie was. Rain and sweat had worn his coat thin. His trowsers, with many rips, were patched at the knees with calico and canvas. At Kennett Square he’d lost his musket sling, and off his coat on Iron Hill, three buttons, the slow match off the back of his cartridge box strap . . . Crookshank stopped him a week’s wages. But what did that matter? He’d been issued sixty rounds and a day’s worth of cooked rations, and a blanket roll to rest upon after a long day’s action – Washington making a stand along the Brandywine River to defend Philadelphia to the last. But Billy’ll take them in his usual fashion – Cornwallis on a roundabout north from the river.
Geordie wished Obedience had been in camp. He’d not seen her since the landing, not touched her since. She and the women traveled with the baggage, like the tents and what the men needed most. He flexed his fingers, imagining her hand, walking him to the action. Even better – strolling on this summer day, and was with him now though many miles back, she must know and is plying God for his safety. And God’ll keep him. He cannot die. God would not be so cruel. Besides, he had the watch to give her, one he ‘lobbed’ from a house at Head of the Elk, worth ₤ 5. Five P., he thought, over three years pay, all the money in the world. He felt its weight in his pocket – had he left it in his pack, some Highlander bringing up the rear would steal it after they were dropped . . . Nothing’ll happen, Providence will not widow her again – he wore his old hatt-cap with the hole in the frontlet where the bullet should have taken off his head; when Crookshank saw it, he put Geordie in for more stoppages. Let him, Geordie thought, Death had his chance and must go touch someone else. Someone far away . . . He looked across a meadow of goldenrod and timothy grass. Single oaks and walnuts commanded plots of ground and taking him back – him and Obedience under the sycamore. If she was here, they’d lie under a tree . . . Tomorrow. The goldenrod nodded on a breath of wind. Pretty field . . . Will there be a fight? The rebels run. Drunken dogs, take them at the quick. Don’t waste ball and powder . . . A flash in his mind – eyes shot out, ears shot off, a bullet through the jaw, the grass mashed down and the fog of smelly powder, arms and legs gone, those with their insides across the ground, not killed outright and tortured. And Invisible Wounds – souls pierced and characters altered. The firelock solid on his shoulder and the column as far as he could see. He trusted in their training. Trusted in the Cause. That and liquid courage. For all his bravado, he play-acted in his uniform, hoping always to find in himself that capricious warrior who came and went as he pleased. He’d not failed him thus far. Liar, Uncertainty whispered.
“Are you with me, brother?” asked Tim next to him.
“I am,” Geordie said.
“Thinking about her?”
“Be glad when this day’s through,” said Tim. “I want to be billeted in a fine town. Philadelphia maybe. I’ll take me an American girl. They’ll line the streets when we march in, throw flowers and cry, “Pick me. Pick me.”
“You’ll pick one.”
“I’ll pick three and try them on for the best fit, then take her along as a ‘camp wife’. Maybe I’ll have two. They can keep Mrs. MacEachran company, better than them army bitches.”
“That she treats you good . . . But today, it’s you and me.”
“That I should depend on an Irishman.”
“An Irishman – remember that.”
“A liar and Papist. Irish in the Guards. What next, Negers and Gentoos? And America in rebellion. The world’s coming loose.”
“Not if Charlie can help it (Cornwallis). He’ll run us into the bloody ground. And when we’re dead he’ll demand to know why we’ve stopped fighting . . .”
An echo of gunfire sounded to their rear. The column froze.
A pleasing thing – a ball zipping past one’s head, gives one an appetite. So it gave Washington. By mid-day he was famished having been out reconnoitering. His teeth were in too as was his confidence, dining on Braised Hare, soaked bread, Kidney Pie and Bitters. His regiments on the Attack, the Order just given. Though it took some sorting out: the British having begun their advance at 6:00 along the Baltimore Pike, engaged Maxwell’s Light Infantry at Kennett Meeting and Maxwell made them pay for every inch of ground. When the British riflemen and that Tory Regiment got pinned down, up came the Main to push Maxwell back and take the heights west of the river. An artillery duel ensued with Rebel batteries on the opposite heights and the British stuck upon the hill. Excellent. Proctors batteries commanded the valley.
It was then the reports started coming in: Colonel Hazen guarding Washington’s right flank wrote that a body of the Enemy had been sighted marching up the Great Valley Road; he did not indicate their strength. Then a rider came up with a message from General Sullivan in command of his division on the right: “A large body of the enemy, from all accounts, about five thousand men with sixteen to eighteen field pieces has been sighted marching up the Great Valley Road.”
“He’s certain?” Washington asked the brown coated officer.
“I was on their tail with seventy men,” replied Lieutenant Colonel James Ross. “One of my companies laid in ambush. We fired upon them.”
Washington blinked. “With what result?”
“With no effect, Excellency. We retreated and they did not pursue . . . Sir William Howe was sighted with the column.”
Billy and his ruse, thought Washington, he’s going for our Supply Depot at Reading, that, or trying to turn our Flank. His tight lips smiled. We have him. “He’s divided his force in the face of our Front. How reckless.” He turned to the young Marquis de Lafayette and the rotund General Knox. “Magnificent if it succeeds and if it fails, a blunder . . . What do you recommend we do, General Knox?”
“Do it to him before he does it to us.”
“We shall advance across the Brandywine and fall on this force on our Front. We’ll turn their flank before Howe can get behind us. Presently, he’s marching away from our position to get around our end.” He turned to a cavalryman in his escort. “Inform General Greene to move his Division ‘cross the river and turn the Enemy’s Left.”
Washington took up his tankard and drained it in three gulps. On the Attack – how wonderful. Billy’s out matched.
A Captain of his Guard entered the room with a message from General Sullivan:
Since I sent you the message by Major Moore, I saw Major Spear of the militia, who came this morning from Martn’s Tavern at the fork of the Brandywine. He’s heard nothing of the Enemy, and it’s confident they are not in that Quarter; so Colonel Hazen’s Information must be wrong. I have sent to that Quarter, to know whether there is any Foundation for the Report, and shall give Your Excellency the earliest Information.
Washington passed the paper to General Knox who rubbed his jowls with his pork pie fingers. “What do you make of it?” Knox said.
“Makes sense,” Washington said. “There’s a Body marching up the Great Valley Road, but I doubt now if it’s five thousand. It is obvious Howe let us see it. A feint and the real attack is in our front.”
“All reports have said the Enemy has not advanced since Noon – just skirmishes,” Knox said warily.
“He could be waiting for us to take the bait, hoping we draw off our front line to guard the rear, or that we advance across the river. He wants us to think it’s Long Island again.”
Then another message from General Sullivan.
“He’s reconnoitered the area with two riders,” Washington said. “They’ve seen nothing.”
“Can we rely on two riders?” Knox asked.
“A column of five thousand is not easily hid. All reports specify there are massive troop movements across the Brandywine. Howe does not have that many men to march five thousand along our flank. An obvious feint – they’re returning to reinforce their front lines. They mean to attack. I am sending orders to have General Greene withdraw to his original position. It should be a stiff fight, but we’ll be ready for them.”
The flanking column waded into the shallows at Jeffries’ Ford several miles north of the rebel position, an echo of cannon fire to the south as General von Knyphausen’s force demonstrated against Washington’s front. Keep in order, the sergeants admonished even as they themselves wobbled under the scorching sun. They hoisted their cartridge boxes above their shoulders as they sank hip deep in cooling water, on every face a look of relief.
“Bear up, lads, you Bully Boys, you Heroes, you Cocks-of-the-Walk.” Crookshank, always loquacious. “A Country walk, we’re taking the air. Won’t the prodigals be surprised? Would a Yankee be able to tell his grandchild: ‘I stood against the Guards, but he can’t – he’s dead and the brat’s never born. Too bad. ‘Look sonny: see the fine hole in Grandad’s head. See the fine hole if I had a head.’”
They chuckled except for Elliot who bore his firelock like the Thief with his cross on his way to Golgotha.
“Elliot,” Crookshank scolded. “You some Mower coming from the field? Carry that Weapon proper.”
Without a beat, he sloped it, the bright barrel flashing in the sun, and in his mind the girl, staring with dead eyes, her vulva leaking blood. Had she been pretty? He couldn’t tell, not with her face all twisted. She’d just froze, didn’t hit or run, but pinched her legs tight ‘til he smacked her in the gut – not out of meanness, but of want, a persuasion. It’d only take a moment then it’d be done, and all in the quiet of her room. There’s safety . . . And had the rest come up, he might have protected her . . . Was that him? Is he the Monster she thought he was? No – someone’s Boy, someone’s Son. Monster in the Moment only. It’s War. Not Play Soldier.
The weapon grew heavy as he sloshed through the river, water up to his crotch. Fine Cross for his sins; he’ll stand and receive Enemy Fire, and if that doesn’t kill him, he’ll march into a cannon’s maw. Better that than to be hanged like those grenadiers found in the woods with their throats cut and their knapsacks filled with plunder. Even worse, those whimpering before Firing Squads caught for Marauding, and finished off with a ball in the brain – Billy’s Justice. Not for him. Obliteration – a just and glorious End . . . But if he should live . . . He smirked. In that case, he’ll be new – a Resurrected Man . . . until the next time. And always a next time . . . Better to be killed.
God won’t allow it. That would be too kind; Elliot must rot in the cage of his Soul and suffer that God is real; He must be, Elliot feels His Wrath. A poor justice, his conscience cried. So too cried the girl, her ring in his pocket. He took it out and placed it on his little finger, a sentimental work with filigree, a gift no doubt or a cherished heirloom, now jammed atop his knuckle. See it, he challenged God. See it, he prayed.
The sun beat him harder. In the fields the cicada clicked their song. Grasshoppers jumped from grass blade to grass blade, hoping to find a cooling shade. Elliot sweltered. The column marched a mile and came to another ford.
“Better I die,” Elliot mumbled as he waded across. “Better I die,” he said in cadence with the splashing. “Better I die,” he said with the crunch on the road coming off the bank. “Better I die. Better-I-die. Better-I-die.” Beetling red, he staggered.
It was then Crookshank took his tin cup and poured river water down Elliot’s neck. He refilled the cup for him to drink. “Compose yourself. You of all may not fall out. The Almighty has a task for you this day and you’re the Journeyman for it.”
Colonel Bland, Continental Light Horse, his frazzled hair pulled free from his clubbed knot under his boiled leather helmet, rushed into General Sullivan’s presence. “I have discovered a party of the enemy on the heights just to the right of Widow Davis’ on the Fork Road from Jeffries’ Ford about a half a mile from the Birmingham Meeting House.”
Sullivan, a vain and conniving New Hampshire man, sat back in his chair and wiped the sweat from his balding head, having just sent a message to Washington all was clear. “How many?” his voice rising; Washington would ill-treat him whenever he could.
“About two brigades.”
“Two brigades?” he huffed. “I should think we can handle two brigades with our entire Division. Orderly,” he called and wrote another message:
Your Excellency, Colonel Bland has, at this moment, brought me word that the Enemy are in the rear on my Right, about two miles, coming down, as he says, with about two Brigades of Chasseurs . . . Your Excellency’s M.O. Servant, John Sullivan, 2 of the clock p.m. instant, 11 September, 1777.
A half-hour later, another rider galloped up with Washington’s reply and Sullivan informed his staff, “His Excellency has ordered Sterling’s and Stephan’s divisions at the quick to meet the Enemy at Birmingham Meeting. We are to join them with myself taking command.
Gentlemen, get them moving.”
The British moved up Osborne’s Hill, battalion after battalion mowing over the late summer grass in a curious silence. Such would be done to the Enemy without a care, an enemy behind a thick stone wall a half mile across the valley. How must this look to them – gigantic ribbons of red, blue and green, a marshal beauty reserved for kings. How could they resist? Let them squirm a bit, shaking behind their stone wall. And with the slightest unconcern for the enemy’s position, the British sat down for lunch.
Geordie with a piece of jerked beef worked up the will to eat. He looked across the tree-lined valley to the Quaker Meeting with a long stone wall lined with men, in its breaches batteries of artillery. With every passing minute their numbers swelled.
“At least the marching’s over,” Tim said as he too looked.
On the hill’s pinnacle, Howe and Cornwallis upon their bony English stallions like Death and Pestilence in crimson and gold braid; Cornwallis ramrod straight, the proximity of the Enemy heaping him; Sir Billy with sunken cheeks slumping in the saddle.
A blanket was spread with a picnic for the battalion commanders – cold chicken, smoked meats and bottles of claret. One should be satiated before being shot at; Cornwallis pointing to an impromptu map with a drumstick.
Behind them, cresting the back of the hill, empty wagons darkened with bloodstains, rocking on their axles. Like meat packers, their drivers merry, eying the reclining troops – how many Light Bobs can fill a wagon? Forty if you stack ‘em neatly. Thirty if you mix ‘em with grenadiers – Candles in the Wind, ‘specially their officers. What would entice a young nobleman to that duty? The first to be hit and more than once, and the fools stay there leaking, waving their fusils while Sergeants direct the Show. But the Dumplings do take it and can eat a bullet better than any man for King and Country.
“Look at them,” Tim said of the Officers’ Mess. “Great plans.” He swigged from his canteen. “Only one plan – get ‘em! ‘His Majesty’s troops shall rely on the bayonet’.”
Geordie, on his back, his fingers brushing over the grass and then on the twill of his trowsers.
“What are they doing?” Tim said of the officers.
Geordie sat up. “What they’re supposed to do.”
“Well, let’s get to what we’re supposed to do . . . Come on.” And with that they broke to his sudden regret.
General Mathew returned to his commanders and drew out on the ground a line of little rectangles. Across the valley reinforcements arrived. And in the midst of this, civilians mounted Osborne’s Hill, Quakers by the look of them, come out to see the Show, strolling about the battalions as if it was a county fair and the Regulars livestock for the butcher.
“Look at this,” Willcock cried at the gawkers. “Piss thyself!” he shouted. “Sanctimonious bastards, no wonder both sides hate you . . . Grab a musket and come along!”
“Got a sister, Quaker boy?” Tom Tree also shouted.
“We can play sword and scabbard.” Willcock called. “I’ll set her to prayer. Stupid clown . . . You’re not like me.” And he grew quiet and listened to the cicada on such a summer day – they’d be envied if on parade in Town, the pomp and display. Not today. And what would the Quakers think, that soldiers only pretend to be brave and make a show because of the uniform?
Geordie sighed, “Soft ground.”
Tim jabbed him with a finger. “Shut your gob.”
The ‘General’ sounded and the battalions formed, the Brigade of Guards on the right with their Light and Grenadier companies ahead in an ad hoc battalion.
“Us again, lads,” Colonel Osborn said in a jovial manner. “Fathers and Sons.” He looked to the Light Company. “Point of the Sword.”
Prime and Load.
Geordie primed the pan just so and rammed the charge down the barrel – the single, perfect round, the day’s only one though he might exhaust the box . . . Might be the only one he fires. Never did a firelock feel so true as with the first charge.
The Click of the Steel to make the heart jump. Skiver the bastards.
Osborn rode before his companies. “Fathers and Sons! The Flower on this Field!” Then stood in his saddle with his sword thrust. “Honi soit qui mal y pense! Nemo Me Impune Lacessit! . . . Nulli Secundus!”
An eruption of shouts. So with all the battalions, commanders whipping them up – Colonel Meadows to the 2nd Grenadiers: “Grenadiers, put on your Caps! For damn Fighting and Drinking, I’ll match you ‘gainst the World!” A fine, tight spring.
The Music massed behind the columns. Regimental Colours, usually left in camp for safe keeping, uncased for the Show. Geordie, from his position on the far right, could see the enemy on the crest of the next hill, down the slope tree groves in the adjoining valley, and off to the right thick woods stretching back to the Brandywine. A Grand Attack with Colours flying!
Howe and Cornwallis surveyed their formations, a half-mile front, and Billy turned to Lord Charles. “Begin.”
A twelve-pounder, tripled charged, shook the Earth. From Kennett to Philadelphia – now that’s a Signal! Drums thundered. Fifes trilled. The columns at the Quick Step to ‘The British Grenadiers’. Up ahead, the Light Bobs in a trot. So too the Guards grenadier and light companies. The Hessians, in support, lag slow and measured. A gap formed and widened between the columns. They descended into the grove of trees, obscuring their view, fifes and drums behind them in the distance. An explosion ripped the air to their front. Round shot screamed overhead like a hammer on glass, and leaves and limbs rained down on the center. Still the Music played as sulfurous clouds rolled in.
Sir George, the lights and the grenadiers, emerged onto an open field after several hundred yards, and began their obliques to form their front. Behind was the rest of the brigade. Far behind. Though the rebel cannon played, they were yet to be touched having moved too far right.
Not so the grenadier battalions; Monckton and Meadows taking the brunt. Round shot ablur above the bearskins, then two heads sheared off. Firelocks pitched in the air. Explosions of earth – arms, legs, guts.
Billy watched, his heart pounding. The light battalions dove to their bellies and fired, then crawled under the cover of smoke between fence posts and rocks while Rebel volleys raked them from the wall. A sonorous howl, like the earth itself screaming. What was happening? The Acoustics of Battle. Anger. Rage. Pain. He scanned the field: the Guards far to the right as to miss the action. There – the grenadiers in the center, pounded by round shot; the Yankee gunners knew their business. Might they break? He pursed his lips. Too much after the long march? Gaps began to appear. God! God! They pressed forward. Take them, he cried. Take them, grenadiers!
Von Knyphausen on a hilltop could see the Brandywine and the Rebel batteries stationed on the crest. He saw the flash, followed by the echoing report – impressive, but with little effect, his division out of range. They fired into empty woods, fooled by the ruse of marching and counter-marching to look as if twice their number. Then the concussion from miles away – Howe’s signal gun. Von Knyphausen, old, lean and taciturn nodded to General Grant to attack the Rebel Front.
Smoke – sour and stinging. Out of the trees they come and into that cloud that rolls like poison. Their legs like lead. Breaths huffing. The crack of Live Fire. It barks. Fighting on the left. A rage of men shouting. Somewhere, the Light Bobs. Somewhere, the grenadiers. Even the Brigade – 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion somewhere. But it’s only them, here, on the right, untouched, Osborn taking them on, out the brume and into the sunlight. And there, across their front, a column of Rebels blundering from the woods. Regiment after regiment surge, looking neither right nor left, but only at their comrades on the Birmingham Hill wall.
Osborn shoots his hand up to halt. Colonel Martin of the light company does the same. And with a series toots on their whistles, the lights and grenadiers recover their Arms.
“God in heaven!” cries a rebel commander, the Guards coming on. “Form! Form!”
The Continentals turn into line, some in good order, some fumbling.
Another set of toots and off the Guards dash; Geordie in the first rank, Tim on his heels, pressing. Another rebel regiment streams from the woods and forms hastily behind the first. “Make ready,” Geordie hears a rebel colonel, followed by the click of a hundred hammers to Full Cock.
Eighty yards to the rebel line.
“Present!” and the entire Continental line levels on them.
Sixty yards and closing.
A grizzle-faced private in a brown regimental aiming down on Geordie, one eye squinting under his black cocked hat, the other cold, sighting down the barrel. Their eyes meet and both strangle Brown Bess.
The rebel line bucks with a single crack as flames shoot from the barrels. They’re consumed by smoke.
A Coldstream grenadier pitches forward. Geordie and the line advance.
The rebels gape. “Prime and load!” the colonel shouts. The regiment in the rear fires off a ragged volley . . . into the backs of their own men.
Forty yards and the Guards halt. More whistle commands: make ready, present, and Geordie sights down on the private in brown frantically loading his weapon, aiming at his chest. The First Good Round. Fire – the whistle command. Geordie didn’t hear the blast. Didn’t feel the buck. Only that the private in brown looked up and the center of his face stove in.
“Charge!” They break into a run. The rebel lines collapse, some trying to stand, but are knocked down and impaled. Others throw their muskets at them and flee. The rebel officers whip their men with the flat of their swords, but they too panic.
“Push on, old man!” So it was said Washington had shouted to the farmer as they galloped toward Birmingham Meeting. “Damn you, old man, I’ll blow your Goddamn brains out if you don’t ride faster!” Washington swiped him with his crop. “I’m too old for battles,” the farmer had protested, told and retold as if Fact, at which His Excellency reportedly had rung him by the collar – “Take me to Birmingham Meeting by the fastest route!” and brandished his pistol to press in the man’s ear. Now they jumped ditches and fences; the horses snorted as they struggled up tree-covered hills. Washington could see fighting on a wooded crest; the gunfire incessant, mingling with the shouts of orders and the cries of wounded men. The trees, thick with smoke, shook with the volleys. A Delaware regiment fell back to regroup. Washington met them.
“Colonel,” he cried. The officer turned to see his Commander-in-Chief.
“Your Excellency.” He saluted, his face smudged black from the powder. A rebel three-pounder sprang as it fired into an advancing foe.
“What’s happening here?” Washington shouted. “This is not Birmingham Meeting.
What’s your division?”
“Stirling’s, sir. Birmingham Meeting is a mile farther on. The enemy overwhelmed our position. We have withdrawn, offering battle the entire way.” The man coughed.
“Where is Sullivan?”
“Dispersed; half of them scattered before they ever came to our aid. The rest turned tail during the attack.”
“And the situation?”
“We cannot hold much longer, sir. They greatly outnumber us. The volleys nearly touch.
We’re going back in, though most of these men have no stomach for the bayonet. Still, we’re going back in.”
Washington rocked in the saddle. “To your honour, sir. What’s this place?”
“Sandy Hollow, your Excellency.”
Amid the clamour, Washington’s staff caught up with him.
“We must withdraw the army,” he told them. “General Greene must reinforce this position until the others can be drawn off. Generals Wayne and Maxwell will have to hold the river as long as possible.”
General Grant pressed his attack while Proctor’s pounded him. Regulars, raked by volleys, tumbled down the Brandywine, caught on the rocks, arms like streamers in the current all cherry with blood. Someone’s husband. Someone’s son. So few die in battle, despite the crash and fire. Unlucky few. They force the battery, the work-a-day soldiers with no particular élan and come to grip hand-to-hand.
Anthony Wayne, ‘Dandy Wayne’, noted for his jabots and Vulgar Tongue, held his position on the Brandywine while all else collapsed. A man of Cool and hard Discipline. This was his home, Chester County, and his troops, the Pennsylvania Line – sharp men that met the Regulars, every bit as trim. Make ‘em pay for every yard. The British hammered his front, crouching, taking cover, picking their marks, and when a breach, they assembled at the quick for a bayonet charge – thoughtless, ruthless, heartless. Evil men. A Regular ain’t Human. Kill everyone. And the world’s a better place for it. Better a ball in the groin than one in the head so they suffer. And how they merit to suffer. Better this than God get ‘hold of them . . .
The attack began to stall.
Lost in Wistar’s Woods. Gunfire distant and directionless. The trees shrouded in smoke. They’d chased the Relief, the Guards Lights and Grenadiers, but the woods swallowed them and they struggled in its guts.
Geordie pushed forward, muscles like lead. In his ears the clank of accoutrements, the snap of twigs and a blurt of profanity. Geordie twice had tripped only to be grabbed by Tim. A cut on his cheek; how’d it get there? And blood atop his waistcoat – his blood or the man he’d killed? God, for a drink, for an uncut tot of Rum. How long this day since 3:00 ante meridiem and the 17 miles to Osborne’s Hill, then quick into battle with an Attack on the Run and 5 miles more in Action. Where’d they go – the by-blows, the whore’s melts . . .
Gunfire and a zip past his ear. Eyes dart from tree to tree as he pushed through the underbrush with renewed speed. Blue Smoke. And there, through the brume, a hill with four cannon playing on Von Knyphausen’s troops.
Colonel Osborn advanced before the grenadiers and rode the length of the two flank companies. “Dress! Dress!” They did not wait as more companies stumbled out piecemeal. The Lights surged ahead, firing as they go. The grenadiers followed. The rebels jerked around and a gunnery sergeant with mouth agape, stared down at Geordie . . .