Disclaimer: This chapter fits earlier in the story, with the skirmish chapters. Possibly before the Lewis skirmish chapter, but after the other Frances chapter.
A man stepped through the door of my tent, his hand filled with various notes.
"Sir Frances," he greeted, handing the papers out to me, papers I knew contained names and little else. Sure, there were papers on rations, horses and the state of weapons, but at the moment they had taken the background in light of a new problem. "The daily reports. 5 more men in your section of the camp have contracted the swamp fever and 3 men have succumbed to it overnight," he stated.
"Damnation" I snapped, my fist hitting the table I was seated at. I noticed the man, who served as a secretary of sorts to me, flinch. "I'm sorry Richard for the outburst," I quickly apologized. "It's just that I'm tired of this swamp fever. We are losing good men out there, and for no good reason. We need to get them out of this darn swamp and soon,"
My mind turned to the pile of papers on my desk, letters informing those back home that their loved one was sick, that they were dying, that they were already dead. I had written too many of these letters for men who had contracted the swamp fever, men hadn't had the chance to do something for their country as they had been promised when signed up. And everyday there were reports that more and more men were contracting the illness. It was still reasonably small numbers, but every death was a death we could ill afford, a pointless waste of life in a time and place where every life mattered.
I turned back to Richard who was standing nervously in the doorway, awaiting orders. It was time something was done about those letters, about the swamp and the torturous swamp fever that went with. "Gather the other Generals, and every Strategist you can find. We'll meet in Sir Lukas' tent as soon as possible, and between us we'll find a way to get out of this forsaken swamp." I ordered, before turning back to the letters. There would be a brief amount of time to begin these new letters before Richard had gathered the necessary people.
Sure enough, I had managed to complete the first letter and was halfway through the second when Richard returned. "They are gathering now. Will you come?"
I nodded, gesturing for him to pick up my standard, as I picked up my helmet. My sword was already in its scabbard, beside my hip. Protocol dictated that the standard should follow me around the camp, as a rallying point of the men should we suddenly be set upon, and that I should never leave my tent unarmed and without armor. I found it an annoyance to take the standard with me on my most mundane of duties, but knew I would be chastised should I leave it behind.
I entered the tent of Sir Lukas, a tent larger than my own, it's size being the reason I commandeered it in a manner for this meeting. Glancing around I noticed that we were mostly assembled. A strategist slipped through the door, followed by one more general and then we were all here.
"You called us all here Sir Frances, so do tell us why," Sir Hamilton greeted, his eyes intent on mine.
"Yes I have called you. Everyday we lose more and more men to the swamp fever, from being forced by the enemy to make our camp in this forsaken swamp. Able bodied men, men who if they should die, should do so in the honor of battle," While I saw little honor in war, having seen too much of it, I knew many of these men and many of our soldiers placed great value in honor. "It is time we did something about this, time we stopped allowing our men to die of a fever that slowly eats away at them. It is time we pushed the enemy back and gained for ourselves the better ground, ground where our men won't get sick, ground where the mud won't constantly eat at armor and weapons, ground where we can defend ourselves. It is time we made a big push, pushing the enemy back. It is time for action."
The men around me nodded, no protests on their lips. Without further word of encouragement we got down to talking.
Much time had passed before a possible plan was found. The light had long since faded outside, the light of the tent's candles our only illumination. Quickly, I studied the plan our strategists had come up with, nodding in satisfaction. "Yes this will do it, this will get us our swamp,' I finally said, with a wry grin.
The other men nodded. Sir Hamilton stood up, his calculating eyes lit by an inner light. "Then tomorrow we move."