Tuesday, June 19, 2012

[Duty & Honour] Session 7: The Cannon

Session 7:  May 18, 2012
April 1809, Portugal

The next morning, the pickets reported that they had heard cannon moving in the distance. If the French attacked with cannon support, the 30th Northumberland may not hold the line.

Lt. Hardrick, having breakfast with Lady McFaine (wearing one of his shirts and looking noble and very attractive yet distinctly sad at the loss of her luggage and quarters), called Sgt Finkauf to gather a patrol to either destroy the French cannon or capture them for the 13th Light Dragoon.

Sgt. Finkauf, Cornet Wyle, Corporal Limekiller and Privates Crossley and Habib mounted up and stole out of camp, across the bridge and into French-held territory. The Sgt turned to the 30th Northumberland pickets on the bridge and said that he planned to return with a cannon and the French in hot pursuit and wanted them to vent their hate of him on their common enemy.

Into the wild, the patrol knew that if they were sneaky, they might make it to where the cannon were but they risked being cut-off, overwhelmed and killed.

Sneaking through the French lines and dodging cavalry patrols, the riders of the 13th Light Dragoons managed to find the French cannon. From the trees, they watched as the French artillerists fussed over their two cannon - one a heavy and the other a horse-cannon.

Cornet Wyle ordered sabres or lances only in the attack - firearms would alert nearby French cavalry to their location - and they charged down the hill towards the cannon.

The fight was brief and bloody, with the French totally defeated. The few captured soldiers were disarmed and their and their dead companion's weapons and powder were thrown into a nearby stream.

Sgt. Finkauf spiked the heavy cannon while the others smashed the wheels and monkey-wrenched the bore. They left the broken cannon in a fire and ran off the French soldiers. Then they hooked up the horse cannon and set up a bomb with the heavy cannon powder, lighting it as they rode away.

As they snuck back through enemy lines, the powder exploded, sending French patrols towards the ruined heavy cannon and managed to get ahead of any French cavalry on their tail.

Riding at full gallop, with the horse cannon, they broke for the bridge. French cavalry quickly picked them up and gave chase, but not fast enough. They made the safety of the 30th Northumberland pickets and the men of the 30th gave the French pursuers several volleys, forcing them to retreat.

A horse cannon now in their possession, the 13th Light Dragoons and the 30th Northumberlands were well prepared for the main French attack! And the hate the 30th felt for Sgt. Finkauf was changed to that of muted respect.

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