Dear readers, tonight with me is a fighting for king and country.
In an alternative time-line to ours, Colonel George Washington fights on the side of the Crown, against upstarts such as Benedict Arnold, who seek to seize power and lead the colonies on a rebellious path.
The interview is conducted by a reporter native to his own time-line, and reprinted here. Read on to hear about the struggles of war, about torn loyalties, and painful decisions.
James Rivington reporting with the Royal Gazette, based in British-controlled Long Island, New York. I’m honoured to feature Colonel George Washington of the King’s Foot.
[Washington doesn’t smile. He nods, but seems agitated, perhaps he feels an urgent need to return to his ranks. Maybe he’s nervous about something else. Something I might uncover.]
Thank you, Colonel. Could you tell us about yourself? You were born here in the colonies, weren’t you? Virginia, was it?
Indeed. I own large tracts of land in Virginia and an estate off the Potomac — Mt. Vernon. I’d rather not say where precisely. You understand? My home is my life, my connection to this land. Just as the King safeguards his Colonies, I wish to safeguard my home and the people there under my care, with particular attention to my wife, Martha.
Quite reasonable. The Rebels are uncouth, uncivilized. I see this land hasn’t rubbed off on you, tell us about your experiences as a youth in such a savage, wild place?
I was a surveyor when I was young. And a Virginia militia member. I was part of Braddock’s Expedition during the war against the French, I’ve seen this wilderness. It’s not so savage or untamed—
That may be, but let us talk about your exploits. You mentioned the war against the French? You wrote about the French ambush, and how the Expedition was a nearly destroyed, General Braddock almost died. You were hailed as a hero, the single reason why the expedition survived, Braddock personally boasted of your heroism. Tell me, what was that like?
The events in question have been well-chronicled by both myself in my pamphlet and by newspapers here and in England. It was a difficult experience, I’d rather not relive those memories. I did my duty. That’s all I can say. Whether or not General Braddock survived due to my actions are best left to historians of future generations.
Would you say your petition to be Commissioned in the British ranks was a direct result of your actions that day? Colonists are very seldom selected—
As I said, I do not look to those actions in the past as anything other than as a soldier doing their duty. My job as a soldier is to preform my duties diligently. His Majesty would not deny anyone service if they adhered to his doctrine, colonist by blood or not. It was not destiny that placed me in this woolen red uniform, but dedication, service, and loyalty to the Crown.
Very well, then. As a Yank, do you have you any trouble keeping up with the British Forces, any troubles with any officers, any grudges?
It would not be prudent to reveal rivalries, but it is sufficient to say that not everyone in the British command… appreciates… my presence. Even so, I am a loyal subject of the British crown, even as a colonial, ‘Yank’ as you so eloquently placed the term. My duty here is the same as everyone in the King’s Forces, to put an end to the rebel rabble and re-instate order. And we are united in that goal.
What have you heard of the brash actions committed by Benedict Arnold?
Excuse me, I have not become acquainted with this name. Who?
A rebel. He sacked several British outposts before the war and nearly managed the successful siege of Quebec City. The nearby locals have taken to calling him the “Dark Eagle.”
If his alleged actions are indeed true, then this gentleman is a disreputable scoundrel, certainly. To commence hostilities before any declaration has been drawn is an egregious error in honor. Scurrilous. But it will be forces other than the Hessians under my command which will see his eagle wings clipped and brought to the King’s Justice. He is little concern of mine.
You and this Arnold character seem to have similar backgrounds and interests. You are both self-made men, both trying to climb the social ladder through military means, both of you have proven resourceful in battle—
I assure you, Benedict Arnold and myself share nothing in common.
Very well. What is next for you, where do you and your ranks plan to deploy?
I will serve the Crown in whichever means best put this matter to rest. I have ideas on how to hit the Rebels hard. We need to regain the initiative. As you know, we’ve hit a slight stalemate, so my Hessians and I will continue to probe the opposing forces and until General Howe best identifies the best opportunity for engagement. Everything else on that matter, is of course, best kept behind closed doors.
Is it strange for you to be fighting against your own countrymen?
We all are. Except for the Hessians, all British and Loyalist regiments are at war with their own countrymen, their own brothers. The Americans are British, if not held to the same esteem as those born elsewhere.
What I mean is, as this is your home, have you had to fight against Virginians?
It saddens me what is happening within the whole of the American colonies based on the actions of a rebellious few. The best way to see no further harm done is to end this calamity as quickly as possible and return these lands and people to peace.
Do you agree then, with how Howe has handled the uprising? Would you execute plans differently?
I find these queries of a curious nature. Nevertheless, I shall answer them honestly and simply. It is a soldier’s place to not question the execution of the General’s task, but to execute them. You must have my duties confused, esteemed sir.
Forgive me. Then, can you tell us a bit about the self-proclaimed General of the Rebels? Who is he?
The Continental Commander is a traitor by the name of John Hancock. Our forces are at present engaged with his forces despite the stalemate and should nevertheless see their complete destruction and capture by the end of the year. I have every confidence of victory.
How well do you know Hancock? What arrangements do you have with him?
I have little familiarity with Hancock outside of any merchant endeavors which have long since been terminated. This pursuit of questioning…
But you have had business relations with these rebels?
My business dealings are my own. I purchase what I can from England, but I am an honest trader within my own community in Virginia.
So, there was collusion in the past? Who else have you colluded with? Do you have Rebel sympathies, Colonel–
I see that your interview has slipped into a line of questioning more conducive to that of an interrogation. Were you tasked to question my loyalties? Did General Gage set you to this? To determine if I would illicit sympathy for the Rebel cause? I think not. I am a loyal servant of His Majesty, and my part in this charade has concluded.
Well then, Washington seems to have left in an outburst in anger. I should remind my readers that he is a Yank, from the colony of Virginia, where he has an estate on the Potomac. The question in every true-born Brit then is, can he be trusted? I’m James Rivington with the Royal Gazette and I’ll be following this story as the events unfold.
Brent A Harris is a Sidewise Award nominated author of alternate history. He also writes science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Previously published works can be found through Insomnia Publishing, Rivenstone Press, Rhetoric Askew, and Inklings Press. He resides in Southern California, where he’s become convinced that Joshua trees are in fact, real trees. When not writing, he focuses on his family, shuttling children around as a stay-at-home dad, and staying up late to write after they are nestled in their beds.
You can find Colonel Washington on the pages of A Time of Need.
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