Disclaimer:No rights infringement intended
Warning: Mature Adults only
Dedicated to Sharpes true father, Bernard Cornwell,
without whom we all would have a lot less to write about.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to the many people who helped me in the writing of Sharpes Gator. First, of course is Bernard Cornwell, who established the characters and how they act and react, so that all I had to do was plug them into the historical setting. That made writing this novel one of the easiest things I have ever done. Many thanks are due to JJ, Helen in Houston, Sarah not in France, Cathy, Bonnie, Beth, Laura the Lurker, Patti, Mira, Caroline, and all the other ladies of the Sharpe Smut List for the encouragement they gave me in this project. Im sorry for the agony of waiting you have had to endure, I hope you find the end product worth it. Robert Remini is the foremost Jackson scholar in the world. His excellent little book The Battle of New Orleans was invaluable, as was the first volume of his magisterial Jackson biography, Andrew Jackson and the Growth of American Empire, particularly as a source for the Creek War. Most of Fredricksons story in Chapter 4 comes from The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814, by Anthony S. Pitch. It is real "you are there" history. Also very helpful was Robin Reileys British at the Gates for the British perspective, and New Orleans 1815 by Tim Pickles, which had excellent topographical maps. Another excellent source was The American War, 1812-1814, in the Osprey-Men-At-Arms Series, by Philip Katcher. It has some fine color plates of period uniforms by Bryan Fosten. Allen W. Eckerts wonderful biographical novel A Sorrow in our Hearts: The Life of Tecumseh was a matchless source on the life and campaigns of the great Shawnee leader. Great thanks are due to Roger Fuller of the 95th Rifles 3rd Battalion North American reenactment group, who saved me from the unpardonable error of putting the 95th in Maryland for the Chesapeake campaign of 1814. The Internet was an inexhaustible resource. Through it, I found the War of 1812 Website, with articles by Donald Graves on songs of the War of 1812 and by Robert Henderson on clothing and equipment of the period. I also found articles on farming in the early 19th Century by Leo Landis and David Vanderstel. The Sharpe website has some really good articles on period medicine, uniforms, and how a flintlock firing system works. I had several e-mail correspondences with various escape artists, including Arthur & Helen Coghlan, Michael Griffin, Ryan Madden, Ace Starry, and Dean Allen, as we discussed how to self-dislocate and re-attach a shoulder joint. Keith Denys of Tactical Options, Inc. in Wisconsin gave me some helpful input in setting up a sniper vs. sniper duel. The Voodoo Museum of New Orleans has a great website where I got a lot of material to describe Marie Laveaus swamp house. Adrian Nicholas McGrath wrote a great short biography on the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Much thanks to all these people, and anyone else I forgot to mention. Any mistakes I made in the course of this novel are my fault, not theirs.

Sharpe's Gator

Richard Sharpe and the New Orleans Campaign,
December 1814 To January 1815.
A Novel by Alan Kempner.
Based in Part Upon Characters Created by Bernard Cornwell.

Blades Corner, Maryland  August 22, 1814.

Zebulon Ryken, head man and unofficial mayor of Blades Corner, looked uneasily at the column of soldiers marching up the dirt path that ran between the two rows of ramshackle buildings that formed the center of life for the ninety-odd people who made this hamlet their home. It was market day, and the farmers from the surrounding area had brought their produce to sell, setting up stalls where the path opened up to form a crude town square. It wasnt much of a village, but it was his, and he was responsible for inquiring after the business of whoever came to Blades Corner.

Soldiers usually meant trouble.

There were about forty of them. They wore the black shako with a white plume, the blue jacket trimmed in white and the white breeches of the American army, specifically the 2nd Columbian militia. Soldiers usually wanted to buy supplies, usually on credit, or with the near worthless paper scrip that the government in Washington now said was as good as gold. Although they always came through with the promised money, it was usually later rather than sooner.
Times were hard, and the people here couldnt afford to wait for the army to honor its debts. They wouldnt be getting any easier, now that word had it that the Redcoats had landed. Again. He remembered the last time, near forty years gone. A bad time, that.

They were big men, tough and rather menacing looking, with dark faces. Most carried the long Kentucky rifle, and all carried big knives and tomahawks. The lieutenant who led them was the tallest, standing six foot six. As his men fanned out throughout the crowd, he approached Ryken.

Subtly, an air of undefined menace entered the square. All around, people stopped squeezing vegetables for firmness or checking chickens to see if they were plump, and looked up in apprehension. Dogs whimpered uneasily. Women hugged their children closer to their legs as they watched the silent, blue uniformed men.

The lieutenants lips curved up in a smile that did not reach his strange, almost colorless pale blue eyes. He spoke with a noticeable Irish brogue.

"Top of the morning to you, your Honor."

Ryken, still cautious, nodded in acknowledgement.

"And to you. What might we do for you today?"

"Well be needing what food you can spare for our noble fightin men."

"Times are hard, but well sell what we can."

"I also wish to express my sincere condolences."

Ryken squinted in bewilderment? Condolences?

"Eh? Hows that?"

A slight tone of mockery came into the lieutenants voice.

"You see, your Honor, you and all in your village were unfortunately massacred by those murderous Redcoats. Its so sad."

Ryken looked around him suddenly. The soldiers had quietly surrounded the village, and now closed in, their weapons lowered. He opened his mouth to shout a warning, which turned to a gasp of terrible pain. He returned his gaze forward, and looked in amazement at the massive fighting knife in the hand of the lieutenant.

The knife that was now buried to the hilt in his gut, lifting him off his feet like a worm impaled on a hook.

Zebulon Ryken clawed feebly at the blade, scarlet agony blurring his vision.

The last thing he heard were the screams of the woman and children of Blades Corner as the massacre began.

The last things he saw were the lieutenants teeth as he smiled.

They were sharpened and pointed, like the teeth of a predatory beast.

Then he heard and saw nothing at all.

The lieutenant threw back his head and let out a long, animalistic scream, a scream of bloodlust and the joy of killing, a scream that turned to a howl of laughter.

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