Clash of Empires – excerpt from chapter 16

frontiersmanChapter 16

Fort Pitt – Mallory Town

Fort Pitt – October 1763

While it could be said that the siege of Fort Pitt had had little effect on Jimmy Two Birds, the same could not be said for the garrison who had been on half rations for three weeks.  However, just as with the siege at Detroit, the tribes were getting restless with the lack of success or activity.  When the Delaware brave reported to Guyasuta that a large British relief column was approaching, he jumped at the chance and almost the entire besieging force left to intercept them.  The ensuing battle saw Guyasuta inflict severe casualties but still the British made it through and reached Fort Pitt lifting the siege.  This news was unknown to Liam and company as they made their way south.  They were crossing an open meadow when Wahta reined in his horse and motioned them to be quiet but the band of ten Delaware braves had already seen them and were even now rushing in.  With little time to react but having an advantage being mounted, the three pulled their tomahawks from their belts, kicked their mounts and charged the oncoming Delaware.  Wahta swung down and struck the brave reaching up to pull him from the saddle knocking him to the ground under the charging hooves of Liam’s horse.  Liam’s arm was grabbed and his tomahawk wrenched out of his grasp but reaching back to his quiver he pulled out an arrow and stabbed his attacker in the eye.  In just a matter of seconds they were past the Delaware but before they were out of range Mulhern was hit in the back of his shoulder by a war lance; the spear point embedding in the fabric of his coat and in his back.  He was thrown forward in the saddle losing his grip on the reins but was able to hang on by grabbing the horse’s mane.  Liam slowed down and came up next to Mulhern and with Wahta’s help they held Mulhern up as they rode away not daring to stop until they had outraced their foes though it appeared that the Delaware were not too keen on pursuit.  When it was safe they stopped and gently helped Mulhern dismount. ’Now laddies,’ he said through gritted teeth, ‘would you please be a getting this thing out of my back?’  They rigged up a travois for Mulhern whose shoulder was certainly broken in addition to the deep cut that required stitching.  They were only a day away from Fort Pitt so Liam rode ahead not knowing that the siege was over so he was pleasantly surprised to find the gate open and the bustle of everyday activity.  Turning his mount around he galloped back to Wahta and Mulhern who when told the news said, ‘Then why are we dawdling around talking for?  I need a drink, stitches and a sling; in that order if you please.’

The post surgeon put away his scalpel and probe and having readied the needle stitched the wound closed.  He had needed to open it up to clean it out properly, a process that Mulhern endured with nary a whimper after toasting the health of Two Birds after each of the five glasses of Irish whiskey he drank.  They were in Two Birds tavern using the backroom for Mulhern to convalesce.  Liam had gone off to report to the garrison commander while Wahta stayed with Mulhern to, ‘make sure the little Irishman doesn’t roll out of bed.’  When Liam returned to the tavern Two Birds handed him a letter that had arrived almost a year ago but with all the trouble stirred up by Pontiac it hadn’t been possible to forward it along to any of the western forts.  Grabbing a mug of ale he bade Two Birds good night and went to the room he was sharing with Mulhern and Wahta.  He set a lantern on the table next to his cot and opened the letter.  It was from Daniel and in which he told Liam of the state of affairs at Mallory Town and of the occasional exchange of gunfire with Seneca or Delaware.  Then the handwriting changed and Rebecca wrote just a few words, I am with child.  Hurry home my love. Liam sputtered and coughed up the mouthful of ale he had just started to swallow, ‘I’m gonna be a father.  Wait, this was sent a year ago.  I am a father.’

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