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The Battle of Bennington’s Anniversary

 

Legacy of Payne Front Cover_On August 16th, two hundred forty-three years ago today,, The Battle of Bennington was fought just outside Bennington, Vermont, just inside New York Colony. The battle is an important milestone in my latest novel, #3 of The Maggie Chronicles, The Legacy of Payne. Here is an excerpt in honor of the day. (Oh, yes—available on Amazon, wink-wink.)

At Stark’s encampment, they stopped, but only long enough to drop their knapsacks in a pile and line up for a ration of rum and water. Then they were off. The gunfire, no longer scattered, shivered on Sam’s brow. Sweat ran down his neck and soaked his shirt. As he ran, double-time now, the rum worked on him, relaxing the fearful weight on his chest, and his mind.

Just as he imagined himself prepared for what would come, a cannon blast sent the rum rolling in his gut.

Ez laid his hand on Sam’s shoulder. “We take care of each other now. One step at a time.”

“Just pay attention to what’s in front of us,” Rob added. “And at our backs.”

Jed edged up between them. “And up there. See it? The first bridge? Never thought I’d be wantin’ water—surely not yesterday. Now I want to bathe in it.”

“You? Bathe?” they said, in unison. And they laughed. They had to laugh. The firing and the cannon shot rose to full battle roar. A pall of smoke drifted into the air, and after kneeling at the Walloomsac’s edge and running water over their necks and cupping it into their mouths, they followed the smoldering cacophony.

Not a half-mile down the road, at another bridge crossing, the battle unfurled before them. Blue-coated Hessians flew down the hill on Sam’s right, their scabbards catching in the brush. One tripped and rolled nearly in front of Sam. His foolish gold hat bounced away, and he threw his hands in the air shouting something Sam could not understand. Then someone—“One of ours,” Sam thought—jabbed a rifle to the blue-coat’s back, smiling as if he had gambled and won.

Men on a small rise worked together to raise two cannons nailed to skids and stumbled off, like prideful pallbearers at some outlandish funeral. Sam twirled in confusion. Nothing made sense. Drunk and bellowing men passed him by, laden with goods stripped from the dead and dying. “Stuck him with his own saber,” one said. “Still’s got his blood. See? It’s a fine blade.”

“Sam?” It was Ez, his hand on his back. “We’re moving.”

They marched on, beyond a swarm of blue and red-suited prisoners, and bodies already swarming with flies.

“A win, by God,” Jed called it.

“Lacking order,” Rob countered and led them on.

They stopped, on orders, at a thinly wooded hill where the road dipped down a ravine. A volley of gunfire and the blast of a cannon told them the win was a ruse. Then the wounded filtered past.

Word carried. “Enemy reinforcements encountered. On Warner’s orders, head down the road and form a line…” The words jumbled. Barely contained, the company, like a bull in heat, rushed downhill and spread out.

Jed and Sam bumped into each other, headed in opposite directions. “Right,” Sam yelled. “He said right!”

“Left!” Jed said and pumped his gun toward the river.

“I couldn’t hear,” Ez said, “but they’re mostly heading left.”

They filed toward the river and were met by a riparian swamp. Muck, knee deep, ensnared them. “Now what?” Sam asked, holding his gun high.

“Their coming!” Rob cried.

And they were. Sam fumbled with his rifle, sloshed through the reed and water-loving brush, looking for a bit of high ground. He steadied his arm, elbow high, listening. A musket ball flew past, a whistle at his ear. Reeds rushed and mud sucked, a warning announcing a hard-faced man with frightened eyes. He darted, then froze.

“Like the fox,” Sam thought. He dropped to his knees, gun held high.

“Wir sind ein, bruder!” the man yelled. “Wir sind ein!”

Sam shook his head. What was he saying? He yelled back, “Put your gun down! Gun down!”

The Hessian’s head bobbed. The gun dropped, as did his hand, reaching to his waist. A shot reverberated in Sam’s ears, and the Hessian’s belly opened in a splatter. Thick droplets crusted Sam’s arm and chest. Smoke enveloped him. Then a hand reached out, and gently lowered his gun.

Rob dragged him to the body and pointed, using his gun. “A pistol at his belt. You’d be dead,” he said. “Now, get yourself to high ground. And shoot! Our lives depend on it.”

So he shot—and he killed. One boy in neat civilian dress went down. By his lead shot? “Who cares,” he thought. “The Tory bastard.” Then he yelled it. “Tory bastards!” The words made the next shot easier. And the next.

The Legacy of Serendipity

250px-Catamount2

The photo from my first blog, posted September 7, 2013. Catamount Tavern in Bennington, Vermont, the setting for book The Legacy of Payne, just published on Amazon. Serendipity in action.

Four months since my last post, a long time for me. As I reflected on how much I had left to say, I wondered: How long have I been writing this blog anyway? So I looked. My first post was September 7, 2013—almost eight and a half years ago! That is a long time for a blog to stay alive.

I’ve pretty much exhausted what can be researched and written about my paternal family history. I keep looking but, really, take a look back. Undiscovered records and side roads likely exist, but they’re deep-buried. I’ve yet to post anything definitive on my mother’s family. I will this year, but the story is short since they all immigrated to Wisconsin in the late 1800s, and what happened before then has been hard to decipher. A couple of research trips might still be in the works, the Civil War sites and places in Virginia, where all my paternal grandmother’s family originated. But other than that—my posts will be few.

Writing still engages me, but blogs regarding the skill/art of writing are many. Never able to label myself, period, and certainly never as an expert, I feel no need to add to the plethora. There are excellent writing blogs available. Just search. What engages me right now is writing a story too wonderful not to share. That act, and my garden, consumes me.

I’m working on a fourth book in The Maggie Chronicles, which I’m very excited about set in Ohio in the mid-eighteen hundreds. It will bring the two families, Payne and Carter (i.e., Croy), together and end the series.

Through the course of what will be four books, Maggie, the family historian who is a constant in the series, is book-by-book pulled deeper into a time-melding world that toys with what is real and imagined, coincidental and serendipitous. And I half to say, I believe!

Too much has happened in my ten-year journey into genealogy not to believe that serendipity is far more mysterious than random chance. Otherwise, how is it that, on the day I publish the third in my series, titled The Legacy of Payne, I looked back to my first ever blog post, so simple, so short, a first attempt to add to and correct a genealogy book I gave to my family, and find:

  • a picture of Catamount Tavern in Bennington, Vermont, an essential setting for my fictional accounting of Sam and Abby Payne of Sunderland, Vermont
  • a last sentence, referring to information crucial to the arc of the Legacy story!

    Still, a new story emerged about Christopher and Abigail who lost all but one child, Abigail Grimes, in an epidemic, and so named their next child Comfort. 

Interested in learning more about the Payne family that inspired Legacy? Search the sidebar. Vermont? Same place. Purchase my books (shameless plug)? See the tab above. Until the next time, find joy where you find it—and consider finding it in the history surrounding you, and a good book.

Cover Reveal: The Legacy of Payne—Publication? A Long Way Off

 

Legacy of Payne Front Cover_

Check out the cover for The Legacy of Payne, the third book of The Maggie Chronicles. Pretty darn exciting!

One week and two hundred forty-two years ago, Gen. John Stark and Col. Seth Warner thwarted Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum‘s attempt, under orders of Gen. John Burgoyne, to abscond with supplies housed in Bennington, Vermont. The Battle of Bennington, fought just inside New York’s borders, was a pivotal moment in the American Revolution AND my upcoming book.

Fittingly, my fantastic cover designer, Pam Mullins, and I finalized the cover within days (and 242 years) of that momentous date in history. I’ve gone into great depth on this battle, my trip to Vermont for research, and the book’s featured Payne family heroes and heroines on my blog. Just go to the search square in the upper right corner and type in Vermont to learn more.

Here is the back cover featuring a painting called The Old Mill by George Inness, 1849. The blurb tells you more about the story. Back CoverNeither the date of the work nor the setting, likely upstate New York, match the time frame or the exact setting of The Legacy of Payne, but it certainly evokes the feel of a Vermont country mill in the 1780s.

But hold your horses, so to speak. In the hopes of avoiding some of the pitfalls of a rush to publication (slowly learning), I’m taking my time bringing this book to publication. Anticipated Amazon debut: April 2020!

Ugh! What?

Until, if you haven’t yet, there are always books one and two.

Find them here and here.