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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

“The Siege of Fort Detroit” by Frederick Remington

Regular friends of the decanter will recall that I posted a couple days ago about my first impressions of  the French and Indian War historickal narratives of Allan W. Eckert sent to me by Old Dominion Tory.  In that post, reviewing specifically his Wilderness Empire, I noted Eckert’s character-based approach to narration, and the pros and cons of using this device in trying to summarize the North American front of what many people consider to be the real First World War.

Well, I’m now deeply into his next volume, The Conquerors, which tells the story of Pontiac’s Rebellion immediately upon the close of hostilities in Canada between the French and British.  Eckert uses exactly the same narrative form in this book, and I’m here to tell you that – at least so far – it works absolutely beautifully here.

Why?  Because Pontiac’s Rebellion was not a large-scale movement of armies.  It began, instead, as a series of attacks against a dozen or so small British forts scattered around the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley.  The source materials for practically all of these events are the reports and recollections of a handful (or in some cases, the sole) survivors of these attacks, so it is absolutely natural to zero in on the point of view of a few individuals.  (We’ll see how this holds up later in the book when the coordinated British counterattack starts and the story necessarily moves away from the strictly personal level.)

One thing else I can say:  Eckert has no love whatsoever for Lord Jeffrey Amherst and his ham-fisted, tone-deaf approach to dealing with the Indians, together with his utter refusal to listen to the warnings being screamed at him by men in the field such as Johnson and Croghan.  The fact of the matter is that the British colonial model of aggressive agricultural development and large-scale settlement was incompatible with Indian occupation of the same lands, and the Tribes would have been assimilated, driven out, or eliminated sooner or later anyway, but Amherst surely could have finessed things in a way that did not provoke an irruption that killed so many people (on both sides) so brutally.

(Comparative colonial models is an interesting study, by the bye.  The French primarily wanted two things: pelts for trade and Catholic converts.  Thus, their physical footprint in New France was really rather small, and the most friendly to the Indians.  The Brits, on the other hand, wanted the land. Period.  The Indians could deal with it or go someplace else.  Neither of these, of course, compares to the Spanish model, which was basically to plunder everything that wasn’t absolutely nailed down, and to enslave everyone they could get their hands on.)

Oh, one other thing about this book:  Mention is made now and again of the Shawnee chief Cornstalk.  This grabs Ol’ Robbo’s attention because it was Cornstalk who allegedly led – or directed – the attacks on Kerr’s Creek in what is now western Virginia in 1759 and 1763 which led to the murder and kidnap of several of Ol’ Robbo’s own ancestors.  (People named Gilmore, specifically.  They eventually removed to southwestern Ohio and married into the family of my father’s paternal grandmother.)

** Yes, I forgot to include a title when I first put this up.  Sorry.  I was probably distracted by the thought of all those children who are going to die because of that bastard Trump’s tax cut for his sooper-rich buddies.  Oh, I’m so triggered!!!!!!


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December 2017