A Continent Divided
Ever since the British decided to take control of America, conflicts have broken out. The Americans hated the British, and the British hated the Americans. It wasn’t long ago when the United States of America was officially formed by the Congress. We were now no longer under the rule of the King George III, and the British didn’t like it at all, they thought of it as treason. Everyone was anticipating a long bloody war. Hell, the night that the congress made their decision, rumors were already spreading around that the British were going to arrive with their most powerful army. Nobody was really surprised when the news turned out to be true, it was an inevitable decision that George III had to make. So when I was called to join the military, my mother just looked me in the eyes with the most soulful emotions. Her eyes showed flames, they showed storms, they showed sorrow.
As I stepped out of my cozy and familiar home, the crisp air rushed towards me, engulfing me with a sensation of alertness. The sound of pine trees constantly swaying ironically cleared my mind. Despite the wind being intense, the birds were still singing in a harmonic choir. I checked my pouch one last time. Inside, it included a book, a pen, a notebook, a knife, but most importantly a pistol. Slowly, I wrapped my fingers around the pistol holder that was attached to the side of the pouch. I flicked open the strap and carefully took out the handgun, holding it out under the sunshine, and allowed the sun’s morning light to reflect off the smooth steel of the flintlock pistol. This was the pistol that my father had used during the French and Indian war. This was the pistol, that had won us land, fame, and respect. This was the pistol that forever reminds us of his existence, his confidence, and his love. I carefully placed the pistol back in its leather case, and strapped it tightly around the pouch. My father had been a hero to the people while he lived, and this was the last present I had gotten from him. I felt a warm hand rest on my shoulder, and I turned to find my mother next to me.
“Your father would be proud for you to wield his weapon,” whispered my mother. She scruffed my hair and kissed me on my cheek, “You should get going, it’s a long ride to the city...”
I nodded, and swiftly walked over to the large horse shed. I pushed open the doors quietly so that it would not startle any horses that might have been still be asleep. I scanned over the eight horses who were aimlessly trodding around, awaiting their breakfast.
“Come here girl,” I said towards the bay horse lingering in the left corner of the stable, “Let’s go, Beliah.”
She quietly trotted over to the gate and waited for me to lead her outside. Beliah was my favorite horse, she was the only horse that I had raised completely from a small foal. She was quiet, obedient, and loyal. I grabbed the comb that was hanging to the left of the gate and briefly combed Beliah. I held onto the end of Beliah’s lead, and started heading out of the stable.
My mother was waiting for me outside, a carrot in her hand.
“Just thought Beliah might want a quick snack before you two head off.”
I grabbed the carrot and held it near Beliah’s mouth, and she happily bit off a chunk of the carrot.
“I think she enjoys the carrots in your half of the farm more than the ones in mine,” I said while observing Beliah chew on the carrot. It mesmerized me how clean Beliah’s teeth were compared to any other horse; I liked to credit myself for brushing her teeth well, but I cared for every other horse just as well as I cared for her.
“Magnum...” At the sound of my name, I diverted my attention to my mother. I could already tell what she was about to say next. “Stay safe, okay? I already lost your father, my husband... I do not want to lose you as well…”
“I will, Mother,” I said solemnly, as she reached out to embrace me in her loving arms.
“I love you, Magnum.”
“I love you too, Mother.”
It’s wonderful living in the countryside, over time you really create a bond and a connection with nature. But at the same time, it’s also exciting to visit the city for the first time, imagining what all the tall buildings would look like, how all the streets and roads intertwined with each other to create quick and easy pathfinding. As Beliah’s hooves kicked up the dry cold dust and as the trees swung past me with great speed, I started to wonder what would happen when I finally got recruited for war. Would I be sent to war straight away? How long would I be serving? How dangerous would it be? I tried to push those thoughts out of my head. “It will only sadden me and make my situation worse,” I thought out loud. In the far distance, I could see housing start to appear. The houses grew larger and larger every second, the houses’ details becoming more and more visible. The wooden triangular roofs, the brick and stone slabbed walls, tall rectangular chimneys, all becoming larger and larger by the second. And soon, I could hear Beliah galloping on the cobblestone streets, with residential housing flying past me one by one, immersing me in the city.
“HEY!” cried a man. I pulled on the reins, hauling Beliah to a stop.
“Hello, how may I help you sir?”
“You mus’ be someone from the countryside coming to serve the army, ay? Ridin’ yer horse like it’s a race, huh?”
“Oh, I’m most terribly sorry sir, this is my first time in the city and I am not completely familiar with the rules here, please forgive me sir,” I said, embarrassed.
“Ay, ay, you better get y’self going lad, they’d be startin’ soon.” And with that, he continued on his journey.
I set Beliah off at a slow pace, and started heading east towards the barracks which were located at the other side of the city. I was really grateful for that stranger coming up to me and explaining I was going too fast, if it was not for him, it might’ve been the law chasing me down for a fine.
As I approached the open field I could see thousands of people gathering there. I climbed off Beliah, and lead her into one of the many small horse corrals available. Beliah whinnied in complaint as I got ready to leave her.
“Now, now, girl. Don’t be shy around the horses, you’ll be fine,” I said as I patted her back. She tossed her head left to right in distress, her dark black mane flinging from one side of her body to the other, as if not persuaded by my answer. I left Beliah and started heading towards the open field right as the people started lining up to be assigned roles.
“GET INTO A STRAIGHT LINE DAMMIT!” shouted a lieutenant as people hurriedly got into neat straight organized rows. I scanned the field in search of the shortest line to join, but they all seemed to be equally crowded. Without hope of a line being faster than any other, I decided to make a beeline for the closest queue and wait there. Nobody talked while we waited. You would think that a field with more than three thousand men would be quite noisy, but you could barely hear a whisper. Finally, I was near the front of the line. It must’ve been hours before I finally got to the front, yet there still seemed to be a sea of humans behind me. The person in front of me walked forward, leaving a large gap in front of me, I was finally at the front. I looked down, and on the floor, there lay a thin piece of wood, most likely to inform people where the line started. To the left, leaning on a rock, was a small wooden plank, the words “For Liberty and Freedom, we fight!” carved into it.
“NEXT!” shouted the officer sitting at a desk ten meters in front of me. I slowly advanced towards him. The officer nodded towards me. “Please give me the following information. Your name, your age, and your residency location?”
“My name is Magnus Price, sir, I am eighteen, and am from the west of New York in the countryside,” I replied.
The officer started scribbling robotically on some sheets.
“Good… good… done! Here you go, please hold onto these files, you’ll be needing these.” He handed me a small folder with around three pieces of paperwork inside. “Here is also an American badge, each badge has a unique code on the back, and this will be used to identify people during the war.”
“You can now proceed towards the fitness and shooting test section.”
I started heading towards the other side of the field where the fitness and shooting gallery were. As I walked, I heard a group of people behind me talk.
“I heard that they are already here,” said one person.
“Who? The British? No way,” said another.
“I heard that they are here in New York, over at Staten island.”
“I hope we kick those Brits’ asses.”
It sent a chill and a bone rattling sensation up my entire body, I didn’t realize that war was already about to happen, and since the Brits were in New York, that made it even more likely that the new recruitments would be dispatched straight away.
Walking into the crowd, I blended in straight away with all the people who were anxious, excited, and nervous at the same time.
“WHICH ONE OF YA SMELLY PEOPLE WANT TO COME NEXT?” shouted a lieutenant dressed in a military uniform. He was old, probably in his late forties.
“I do sir, I want to fight the Brits wholeheartedly,” said someone in the crowd.
There didn’t seem to be a system as to picking who was going to go next. I watched the man, around his mid twenties, blond hair, blue eyes, and a wide chin, as he stepped forward from the crowd.
“What do ya do for a living, kid?” asked the lieutenant.
“I deliver mail, sir,” said the man.
Laughter rose among the crowd, but the man did not seem to care.
“Well, le’s see what you got then, postman, pull yourself up this,” sneered the lieutenant, resting his hand on a wide metal pole with a bend at the top like an upside down ‘L’. The postman gripped onto the bent area. He contracted his biceps, and with surprisingly great ease, he pulled himself up onto the ledge.
“Impressive,” the lieutenant said approvingly. “Is important you can do that, so to get over rough terrain, chase enemies, and get to sufficient positioning. But don’t get too happy now, postman. Onto the next test.”
The lieutenant opened a small crate on the floor, and he took out a rifle. “Take this, kid. This is a Long Land BrownBass Musket Rifle. It has a long range, and is good for precision shooting.” The lieutenant threw the rifle over to the postman. “See if ya can hit that target o’er there,” he said, his finger pointing at a red and white target around 50 meters away.
Without hesitation, the postman knelt down, took aim, and fired. The bang was not as loud as I had first anticipated, I had shot my father’s pistol before and I thought a musket long rifle would be much louder, but it was impressive nonetheless. The crowd all turned their heads and focused at the target to see if he had hit anything. But to the postman’s dismay, he had missed the target completely.
“Ohhh I’m sorry kid, but I think you should stick to mailing, yer obviously no real man. Shootin’ is most obviously a major part if ya are gonna be part of the Forlorn Hope. I’m going to assign you the role of ‘messenger’. We needed more ‘messengers’ anyways,” he said in a mockingish way.
The postman walked slowly away from the crowd towards his next destination. As he passed me, I saw despair and disappointment in his eyes.
“WHO’S NEXT?” shouted the lieutenant.
“Me, sir,” I said without thinking, “I would like to be next.”
I stepped forward, away from the crowd, into the circle.
“Wow, what a fine boy you are eh? Blond hair, blue eyes, muscular body. You a king’s guard or what, kid?” taunted the lieutenant. A few people from the crowd chuckled.
“I’m a rancher, sir,” I replied.
The whole crowd laughed, just like they did with the postman. The lieutenant stood in silence as he waited for the crowd to quiet down.
“Well then, guard-rancher. Why you have a gun there?” He pointed at my pouch.
“This is my father’s pistol, he gave it to me when he died in the war.”
“Give it to me.”
Shrugging, I untied the strap, and carefully handed the pistol over to the lieutenant.
“A single action pistol, manufactured in 1760, owned by...” he fell quiet, “by Dutch Price...”
The crowd gasped. The lieutenant slowly handed me back the pistol and I carefully placed it back in its leather holder.
“You really Dutch Price’s son?” he said suspiciously.
I nodded. “Well then, le’s see how well ya can climb this metal pole now, son.”
I bent my arms, I bent my legs, and I directed all my energy into my quadriceps. Pushing hard into the ground, I propelled myself upwards towards the bent part of the pole. Instinctively, I grabbed onto the bend, as if it was a tree branch while harvesting apples. Tightening my grip, and with the momentum of the jump still flinging me upwards, I pulled myself upwards, and over the pole.
“Dutch Price’s son!” the lieutenant announced in delight. The crowd clapped respectfully, and I dropped down from the pole. “Now le’s see you shoot that target over there.”
He handed me the same rifle that the postman had used. Wasting no time, I knelt down, placing the stock butt on my shoulder. With one eye, I took aim, like I would with my father’s pistol. Raising the muzzle, I tilted my aim slightly above the center point of the target, knowing that the forces of gravity would drag the bullet down slightly. I fired. The crowd was roaring with applause and cheers, and as the smoke cleared away from the muzzle, I saw that I had gotten a perfect bullseye.
“Yer father saved my life once,” the lieutenant said quietly, “by sniping a French soldier who was ‘bout to execute me. It seems like yer marksmanship is jus’ as great as his,” the lieutenant said. He put out his hand. “David, nice to meet ya.”
“Magnus, nice to meet you too, sir.”
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