DEC 2018 THE VOYAGE CONTINUES Part III Safe Haven
Part II Kliff Seney letters to his brother
Michel, in the late spring of 1800 General Duhesme’s Divisions which we were now part of, were moving to the Southeast away from the Austrian gold that we hid after ambushing Evermond. Comte Evermond had the responsibility of ensuring the safe return of the Austrians gold.
Now le Comte Evermond was a ruthless noble of the first estate who missed the Madame Guillotine by the frog’s hair in 1790. After his escape from France he entered the Austrian Army and with quick promotion was made a Colonel in the Austrian intelligence service. Where he was known as the French spy! We all agreed that there was no use worrying about the gold it is as safe as we could make it.
Then we received new orders and a couple of new troopers, ordered to scout the Mantua Road.
We bid farewell to our new ami, the two drummer boys of the 81st line Monsieur Benoit and Matthieu their Noir cart driver Monsieur Raymond, also the survivors of the 6th Legers. There was a real problem among the men, most of them were thinking about the gold.
I knew that there was only one way of getting that off their minds. What we needed was some real activity not just a reconnaissance mission but some real action maybe a bon fight.
We were on a certain scouting mission into Austrian held country around the Bormida Bridge that is west of the village of Marengo; we noticed that the Austrians were moving many troops over the bridges north not south like command thought. Kliff knew that the ground between Alessandria and Tortona was almost flat and mostly restricted to the line of sight. Therefore, we sent two of the new troopers back to our Capitaine to let him know what we saw. We, in the meantime kept to the many grape vines growing on the side of the new road on this mild spring day. There were many Austrian Cavalry units in the area mostly lights, Hussars or Ulhans. We noticed some corn fields with high corn growing near the road so we went into them and dismounted.
While moving through the corn field we were watching the enemies’ movements that were on the main road. That is when we saw a very large group of Austrian Hussars with what looked like a very important officer at the head of them.
I learned later that he was GFM.O’Reailly (Austrian Advance Guard Commander) with a full squadron of Hussars (very fancy dressed light cavalry) moving fast to the Northeast behind them, we saw three companies of Grenzers (elite light Hungarian troops) about five hundred men. Could this mean that they were moving in for the attack? I knew in my mind that our outposts could not stand up to their numbers.
Then we saw Artillery moving also! Kliff ordered his troops to mount up and ride to the Southwest away from both the French and the Austrians lines.
We were hoping that our two troopers got back to warn our company in time!
We later found out that many of our company where killed defending our outpost. It came to us that our Capitaine Theophile was more interested in glory and promotion than the well-being of his men. He knew that the knowledge that he stood and fought to the last man (all but himself) would go all the way up the chain of command. That he held his post after being attacked by the Austrians advance guard and how he delayed the Austrian advance, Monsieur Theophile with a few others out of the one hundred fifty were the only ones that escaped alive!
Now was the time to find a safe haven to retreat too, until we can return and pick up the treasure that we left in Italy in 1800.
Kliff would tell them of the opportunities that were at sea as freebooters. Kliff told them about all the money that they made off Dutch Merchant fleets and the Spanish Merchant ships. The Merchant brought their goods back to Europe to sale them. Most of the goods that the Merchants had stolen from the Native peoples of Mexico and the slave mines there.
A very interesting point rose, to get a garcons mind running. Why get killed for nothing when you could earn money doing the same thing.
The French Merchants were too busy transporting Slaves to their holdings in the West Indies. The English and the Americans also were mostly interested in slavery and slave ships.
Kliff told us that all the Merchants ships had a few guns aboard their ships and traveled without escort. If a man were smart, enough he could get a crew of men to follow him and they all would be wealthy. That appealed to many of them who were barely eating and the last time we got any pay was only after a victory over the Austrian and their Italian allies.
This company of solders found themselves following Kliff to the nearest port to embark on this new Adventure. We all knew that the Austrian was after the ones who took their gold and they had the best hunter of men in Count Evermond. We found this out sometime later.
Kliff told us that his father met his mother when he was working at the naval department in Marseille. The family sent to Strasbourg to work for the Department of the interior. There Kliff found out that being a mulatto in an all-white area was hard on the family. It was very fortunate that one such as Jean Bernadotte took an interest in the garcon. Jean Bernadotte was a sergeant at this time, which spent much of his time watching and patrolling the mean streets of a major city in the eastern part of the Kingdom.
While Kliff was in school most of his schoolmates were shorter and not as well built as Kliff. So not only because of his color, he stood out also because of his size. It was truly lucky that a certain sergeant in the National Guard noticed Kliff. That sergeant’s name is Jean Bernadotte who would someday be King of Sweden. Monsieur Bernadotte took an interest in the garcon when he saw him fight off a crowd of bullies trying to do Kliff some harm. Single-handed Kliff used a piece of wood as a club to fight off ten or more bullies many of them were grown men. The way that Kliff fought was with his head, he was in control of his own destiny and the bullies were out of control throwing wild punches and using anything that was near them. Kliff would disarm them and then retreat then attack. He would knock out the biggest first picking the ones that had the most scars on their faces and body. Kliff learned early on that the only way to survive in a city like Strasbourg was to keep your wits and guard up at all times. Kliff was born to a bourgeois father who was then working for the peoples department of deeds, and his mother is a Moor from Northern Africa. The year was 1779, when France was still under the rule of Nobles.
Monsieur Bernadotte offered to take the young garcon to the Port near where he was born, Pau, Pyrenees-Atlantiques. This was the beginning of many Adventures for the young garcon.
The French Revolution was in full bloom! Many people are arrested and hunted down for no reason, but then being able to eat during King Louise VII was a plus.
Monsieur Sent family was one that was on the list of the Republicans people represented. Their only crime that led to their arrest was for treason, which was not known until after the reign of Terror. Life in Strasbourg was a life of peril, for the family of six. After many battles with many ruffians, Kliff got a repartition as a dualist. The next step in his young life, he learned the art from a sword master in Strasbourg, who also took a liking to the garcon. Now learning to be a sword master at such an early age he was forced by reason to leave with Monsieur Bernadotte.
Therefore, Kliff found himself on a Dutch ship headed to the West Indies. With no money, this was a very good reason to leave France. Now he found himself working hard as an able bodied seaman and not a poor begger fighting for his next meal. He also found out about why so many poor boys were sailors, pressed into a life on a ship that was almost like slavery. The garcons pay is very little especially after the officers kept most for room and broad. When out at sea life was a real peril, day-to-day fighting nature, and starvation.
Kliff then went on to become a midshipman in the French Navy. Once aboard a fighting ship Kliff was in his element. He asked and got after his midshipman training was then up to being assigned to the Naval Marines. Now an officer in the French Marines he wore the uniform of a mounted Hussar.
JOIN US THE FIRST OF THE YEAR 2019 IN THE FIGHT FOR HONDURAS