Northwest of Magdeburg
The Red Lion Regiment was in the field for a few days instead of snug in their barracks which were only a couple hours away. Four of the dwarves were sitting around the fire. Ever since Drill Sergeant Sloan had demoted them from recruits to dwarves after that snipe hunt, everyone called them that—even though they were officially privates now. Some things never changed.
Schliemann, Tüntzel, and Tüntzel’s wife—the non-dwarf members of the squad—were at the Committees of Correspondence meeting tonight. So were Snow White and Angry—officially known as Corporal Barbara Danker and Private Johann Metzler. Sarge—Andreas Strauss—was at sergeants’ school, and Boller—Dopey dwarf—had already gone to bed. Some things never changed. So the other four had nothing to do but share stories they had heard about the various commanders—and invite a couple of recent volunteers to join them.
“Give me that,” Gunter told Hans Tauler. He took the stick Tauler was poking the fire with. “You are Clumsy. I am Torch. Tell them about our commanders.”
The new guys, Martin and Bertrand, looked interested, so Tauler started at the top. “There is General Torstensson, of course, and then there is Jackson. I do not know much about him, but I heard he is a lot older than the prince. Do you think he is too old for the campaign?”
“Nein. He is an expert soldier. He has fought in three wars before,” Johann Mohr declared.
“Three?” his buddy Karl Sauer asked.
“The Viet Nam . . .” Mohr pronounced it carefully with a short A. “The up-timers’ civil war . . . and . . . I know there is one more.”
Martin frowned. “I thought their civil war was long before they came back to our time?”
“I am telling you, General Jackson was in their civil war.” Mohr was emphatic.
“Nein!” Sauer remembered something. “Jackson fought the English in some French city.”
Tauler came up with it. “Orleans, ja?”
“Nein, nein,” Gunter insisted. “Jackson is the one who made his men march very far, very fast. As we ourselves have found out.”
“All of you are correct,” Mohr insisted. “The Viet Nam, their civil war, and the French and English War.”
“Drill Sergeant Sloan did say that in their civil war the up-timers named their armies after rivers. And he talked about a river in the Viet Nam. . . .” Sauer remembered half of what the drill sergeant had said. That was typical for him.
“That is it!”
“So the English and the French have fought him before?” Bertrand asked.
“Absolut. That is why they allied together in the League of Ostend.”
Martin and Bertrand paid very careful attention to everything the dwarves said. They learned almost all the details. Alas, they never learned that Sauer and Mohr were dwarves Moron and Nutty. If they had, they might have questioned their intelligence windfall.
Once the dwarves started to settle down for the night, Martin and Bertrand made a beeline for a certain sutler.
“I told you not to come here! You are supposed to be with your company!”
“It is an emergency!” Martin hissed. “We have been tricked!”
“What do you mean?”
“Jackson was not really demoted,” Bertrand explained. “It is all a ruse! The Swedes are trying to conceal that he is a very famous up-time general!”
Sergeant Matt Lowry was lying behind some crates in the back of sutlers’ row. It was his turn at surveillance again tonight. Matt remembered a time when he’d naively dismissed the idea of assassins and spies. Not anymore. Maybe someone would finally say enough that he could have the MPs throw this sutler out. Perhaps even arrest him.
Martin and Bertrand laid out what they had learned.
Lowry spent the next ten minutes with the leather strap of his cartridge box in his mouth, to keep from laughing.
Matt knocked on the captain’s door early the next morning.
“Sir, it seems we have some French spies in the camp.”
The captain snorted. “It seems we have some fleas in the barracks, too. Tell me something I did not already know.”
“Well, a couple of the new men got talking to the Seven Dwarves last night.” Lowry smirked. “They may have come away with a slightly inflated view of Colonel Jackson, sir.”
“It seems that General Jackson marched his Union Army of the Mekong thirty miles a day while leading them to victory over the English at Orleans, France—where they fired at them from behind the Stone Wall. And then he outflanked the Confederates.”
The down-time captain broke up laughing.
The captain stopped laughing. “Did they now?” He fiddled with his mustaches. “Matt, go tell the men to stop talking about military secrets. Just make sure you are not too successful at it.”
Lowry had a very evil grin on his face. “I understand, sir. I will go take care of that right now.”