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(A short story of 3372 words)

The Hand of Providence

Historical Fiction

by David Churchill Barrow

Continental Army New Windsor Cantonment, Newburgh, New York: Mutiny is in the air during the late stages of the American Revolutionary War. "By the winter of 1782-83, tension had reached a dangerous level. The future of the Republic was in doubt." U.S. Army Field Manual 1, Chapter 1.

Major Sam Shaw didn’t think much of the month of March. It seemed like it couldn’t make up its mind betwixt the muck and mire brought on by a sleety rain, or still another “sick-of-by-now” snow storm. It was bad enough back home in Boston, where you had to keep switching from hitching up the sleigh to the buggy and then back again, but here with the cold wind coming off the Hudson and down Butter Hill into the cantonment at New Windsor, it seemed like Ol’ Man Winter was long on leaving. Of course things were nowhere near as bad as they were that winter at Valley Forge, or the record cold of Morristown two years later. None of his compatriots had to roast and eat anyone’s old shoe lately, thank the good Lord. Food supplies were coming in, even if the pay wasn’t. And hadn’t the “world turned upside down” when they crushed Cornwallis at Yorktown? Yet all the huzzahs that made their throats sore had faded to the meekly-asked “What now?”
Oh well… At least there were these comfy artillery officers’ messes at the Ellison House, he thought as he sat content in the window seat, warm from the fire and full from the just-finished meal, staring at the odd patterns the sleet made on the glass. And there was Henry; large, loud, lovable Henry although Sam was careful to call him “General Knox” when others were about. Sam smiled as he remembered his mixed feelings that Christmas long ago in ’75 when he found out he’d be serving under him. Sam came from – well, “higher society” than Henry, though both were Bostonian, born and bred. Would Henry resent him? Boston was peculiar that way quick to throw off the yoke of British aristocracy, but just as quick to create and preserve their own. He’d always admired Henry, even if he had to keep quiet about it around his parents, who might frown upon an open friendship with some “Scots-Irish ruffian.” He’d snuck out to watch the boys engage in their usual riot on “Pope’s Night,” and he saw how the mighty Henry had rescued the South End Gang’s cart when a huge wheel came off by grabbing the axle and substituting his massive frame in place of it. Oh, how they all cheered…

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A review of The Hand of Providence from the CUT team....

A historical piece depicting a key moment in the American Revolution. Winter is upon Washington’s tired troops and rumours of insurrection threaten to undo the promise of a Republic. Two friends try to make sense of what is occurring around them during a bitter east coast winter. This short story presents an engaging slice of historical fiction.

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