The Soldiers Recall of the Crimean War -Memories of a Connacht Ranger

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I got this idea reading another writer on booksie.
I decided to research a bit about the Crimean war and the famous Connacght Ranger Battalion..
This is intended at least as a SERIOUS STORY !

Submitted: April 16, 2010

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Submitted: April 16, 2010

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When Captain Mahony arrived at the spot where Sergeant Guiot and the remainder of his company stationed, he found them on the alert. Their experience of active service had rendered them quick, but at the same time it had given them that amount of self—reliance "which teaches the soldier to control his head and his nerves — to keep the one cool, and to run a straight eye along the barrel of his rifle. The made soldier never, wastes his ammunition — at least, he never did before the breech—loader came into vogue. Nowadays, it is hard to resist the temptation of blazing away, when one has only to slip a cartridge into a groove, detonate it by a touch, and chuck it out by a turn, but in 1855, when the process of ramming home and fixing the percussion cap on the nipple had to be gone through, a charge meant more than it does at present and was not to be lightly expended.

"Hot work for the froggies to—night, Sergeant Guiot," said Captain Mahony, "Everything in order?"
"Yes, sir," answered the sergeant, "we're always ready, and if they want to finish us many happy returns of the day, trust the boys to give them an Irish welcome. But I fancy the brunt of it will fall on the French, sir; they're tolerably quiet in our front."
"It may be a use, you cant' be too much on your guard. By—the—bye, where's our new officer, the Hon. Mr. Biut?"
"He was here a few minutes ago, sir, I fancy he's taken a tour of inspection of the outlying sentries."
"What, already ! He takes kindly to the business. He only joined three days ago, and this his first night in the trenches."
"You know what the poet says, Captain," said Sergeant Guinot, who was fond of reading, and prided himself on his acquaintance with literature," "he jests at scars who never felt a wound."
"Hay ! very good, very good that, but let us hope we shall have no scars tonight. What is the matter, Tim? added the genial officer to Tim, who was standing close by in an attitude of respectful suspense as if desirous of speaking with him.
"Begging your honor's pardon, sir, in case there is any rough work tonight, I think this gossoon," pointing to bugler Mehaghan, "had better go under cover."
"Chup raho," said the bugler in an undertone, as he saluted his captain.
"He's only sixteen," continued Tim, taking no notice of the interruption in his favourite tongue.
"I am old enough to ate a man's share" said Monaghan, "an' I mane to do a man's work."
"His duty, sir, if he will stop," said Tim, still unheeding the boy, "is to convey the first wounded man to the rear."
"Beg pardon, sir," protested Mickey, "I'm a bugler, not a bandsman, and buglers always fight."
"Where's your rifle?" asked Tim, as if he had nailed this objection.
"I'll take it off the first wounded man that falls, if you want to know," was the undaunted answer.
"Well, well, perhaps the Russians will settle it between you by leaving us alone this once," said Mahony smiling, as he turned away to meet a brother officer. The captain was a great favourite with his men, which accounts for the fact of their speaking their minds so freely before him — he behaved towards them more like a friend than a superior — but if they were more familiar towards him than severe discipline would tolerate, they never failed in deference, and as the faithful fellow themselves used to say," it would be a sorer lookout for anybody who would say black was the white of Captain Mahony's eye in the presence of a Ranger."
"You were always a cheeky young beggar," said Tim to the bugler, "and it would serve you right if you lost the number of your mess for your impudence. No matter, I'll pay you off. I'll tache you no more Hindustani. Faith, it's playing marbles you ought to be like Cusack of my ould regiment."
"Tell us that story, Tim," entreated Bob Fitzgerald.
"Well, this Cusack was a giant of four feet nothing or thereabout, and a baker's dozen in point of age, but he was a natural born bugler and no mistake. He was a great favourite with the adjutant. We were at battalion drill one day and the imp of the devil came on the ground five minutes too late, and sneaked behind the adjutant, in an awful fright. 'Send an orderly to look for that man Cusack, Sergeant Major,' the adjutant cried, pretending not to see him.
"I'm here, sir, said the young leprechaun.
"This conduct is outrageous — never heard of such a thing in the whole course of my life," roared the adjutant. "I've seen men tried by drumhead court martial for less."
"Cusack flushed and was all of a tremble."
"Put him under arrest Sergeant—Major, take away his bugle and have him marched off to the guard room."
"The Sergeant—Major was a play—boy himself. He ordered the right section of the grenadier company to fall out under a corporal, to fix bayonets and march off that man Cusack to the black—hole and see that he does not escape."
"I think he has a weapon concealed, sir," said the Sergeant—Major.
"Ha ! open your left hand, you desperado," cried the adjutant.
"And my bould Cusack did, and down on the grass rowled a peg top and six big allibaster taws!"
"Did they take 'em from him?" asked Mickey Monaghan.
"Of course they did, you omedhaun. He meant to shoot the co'onel and all the officers wid 'em, don't you see; but he got thirty—nine lashes of the cat—o'—nine—tails next morning fasting, and two hundred and ten days imprisonment, one day in each month solitary on roti and pani."
"What's that?" asked Lance—Corporal Denhahy.
"Bread and water," said Mickey, "but wasn't that cruel punishment?"
"Twas the mercy of the good God he hadn't to march to his own funeral. The colonel's daughter was soft on him, an as she was the Queen's principal maid of honour, her influence at Coort — by me sowkins, if I had the bla'guard that hit me in the eye with that pebble, I'd warm his jacket for him!"
"Chup raho' was chorused with accompaniment of laughter from the entire group.
"Tell us some of your stories of India, Tim," asked Corporal Dennahy.
"'Tis too late for an early humbug, Mr. Solitary—stripe," said Tim, sullenly, and then turning to Mickey, he added, "Heare, ag la o chokra."
Mickey fetched him a bit of burning stick from the fire.
'Achchha ! ejaculated the veteran, and he relapsed into dignified silence, and pulled away at this kindled stump of blackened clay.
"Dennahy, they tell me you've composed a first—rate song about the Rangers. Give it to us the night that is in it," said Fitzpatrick.
"Well, as it's St. Patrick's night an' it's short, I don't mind, but as it's more of a poem nor a song, and consequently there's no air to it, I'll only repate it," and the Lance—corporal began:
The Highlanders are very brave, the Guards are very tall,
The Riflemen are splendid shots, although they're rather small,
The Cavalry are mounted, the Marines they ride in ships;
But give to me the Rangers, boys, the handiest of all,
To stand at ease, to stand at arms, or kiss a colleen's lips,
They're dacent and good—humoured, too, although they never brag;
On say or shore when riding, Shanks's mare's their only nag.
The Eighty—eight are tall and straight, i'dout wearing ov bearskins;
They're deadly on target, on the march they never lag,
And to the foe they ever show they're faces, not their shins.
The Lancers, they are beautiful with pennons fluttering gay,
But the colors of the Rangers, boys, are foremost in the fray.
The cannon's roar is wonderful and makes the Cossack fear,
But where the battle's hottest, the noise that houlds the sway
Is not the big gun's thunder, but the rousing Connaught cheer.


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