Victoria: Chapter 35

In the fine fashion of Agatha Christie mysteries and the old Orient Express, I was traveling incognito. When George the Pullman porter asked my name, I gave it as Mr. McWhorter. I was dressed in the uniform of the New South – expensive suit worn over a shirt with open collar – and I trusted to a Panama hat pulled low and Italian sunglasses to make a sufficient disguise. So long as I didn’t slip into State o’ Maine speech, I figured I was safe enough.

The train was fast but the Southerns’ track was smooth, and I got a good night’s sleep as Mr. Pullman’s guest. George woke me at 7 o’clock on the 25th of March in time to shave and dress, and we arrived in Atlanta’s Peachtree Street station on the advertised at 8 AM.

The only way to see a city is to walk it. I traveled light, with one shoulder bag, so I could do just that. Coming out of the station, I took a right on Peachtree Street toward downtown.

Immediately I got a powerful sense of deja vu all over again. I’d been here before, in the Corps, in places like Lagos, Mombasa, and Maputo, and later in Washington, Baltimore, and other American cities. Atlanta reeked of disorder and decay.

It wasn’t just the garbage piled high on the street corners, uncollected, or the trash littering the potholed streets. It was the smell of fear. Even in the morning, when the worst elements were usually asleep, my nose wrinkled with it. All the windows and doors were barred, including upper stories. The better establishments had armed guards out front. The lesser made do with “Beware Of The Dog” signs. The few pedestrians scuttled furtively, like people in a kitchen full of cockroaches.

I picked up the day’s Atlanta Constitution – now a double entendre, since Atlanta’s New South government had its own constitution – and dove into a diner to get some breakfast. The few other patrons looked up briefly without any expression as I sat down at the counter. The young black counter-man turned to take my order, and on his face was written “the attitude,” that cultivated stare of defiance and menace I hadn’t seen up north since CORN solved our black problem, and that had also vanished from Old South Richmond. He took my order for a three-egg omelet with ham and sausage without saying a word, then barked it to the cook at the grill.

As I waited for my chow, I unfolded the paper to find an unpleasant reminder of the bad old days. Murder and mayhem, rapes and riots filled the front page. Even with the New South Congress in session in the city, the political news took second place to crime. That reflected reality. When order is lost, the important news is all local.

My breakfast, when it came, was good. Atlanta was still Southern, in its way. I was through the sausage and starting on the ham when I heard pop, pop, pop, from somewhere out in front, mixed with the harsh staccato of an AK on full automatic. The waiter and cook dove behind the counter and the rest of the breakfasters ran toward the back. I grabbed the Walther .380 I carried in a shoulder holster, bent low, and made for the front door. I waited a few seconds – all quiet – then opened the door carefully a few inches, just enough to be able to look up and down the street.

About 100 feet away, south toward the downtown, a police cruiser stood, its windows shot out and one door, toward the sidewalk, hanging open. I could see a cop stretched out beside it, on the sidewalk. His Glock was in his hand. He wasn’t moving.

“Call 911,” I shouted back into the diner. “I think a cop’s been shot. I’m going to check it out.”

From behind the counter, the counter-man replied, “Fuck the cops and fuck you too, motherfucker. I ain’t callin’ nobody.”

Boy, you just lost your tip, I thought.

I crouched and ran, keeping behind the parked cars, toward the cop. People in shops closer to the scene must have seen him, but nobody came to help. I figured whoever had done the drive-by was long gone, but you never know. I kept checking six, a useful lesson from Marine aviators, but in this case six stayed clear.

As I got in closer, I saw a pool of blood around the officer’s head, not a good sign. Dropping down beside him, I checked for heartbeat and breath. He had both. He had a nasty gash on his right temple, but I quickly saw it wasn’t deep. He’d been winged and knocked unconscious, but unless there was something I couldn’t see, he’d live to collect his retirement.

I pressed my handkerchief into the wound, held it in place with the cop’s cap, and leaned into his vehicle to see if the radio was still working. It was. I pressed talk and gave the signal every cop regards as sacred, and dreads: “Officer down, officer down!” The dispatcher came on immediately. Glancing at the street numbers,
I gave him an address. I knew other cops and an ambulance would be there fast.

Returning to the downed cop – a good-looking kid, white, Kearney according to his name badge – I held the bandage tightly to stop the blood flow. As I did so, I looked up the street to see one of the other patrons leaving the scene of my breakfast, carrying my bag. A white guy, too. I yelled, but he just ran the other way. Blood is thicker than baggage, I thought. No way could I leave the cop. Thanks, New South. I’ll get even, some day.

Kearney started to come to. His mind was still where it had been when he fell, and he started to move. I held him down. “It’s OK, kid. You’re covered. Help’s on the way,” I told him. But he was going into shock.

Even where everything else has fallen apart, cops still take care of each other. A cruiser smoked by in less than a minute, slammed on the brakes, and backed up on the sidewalk. Just one guy was in it – another dumb practice in the jungle. He saw the Walther in my right hand, reached toward his own weapon, then realized I was helping his buddy and cooled it. “Better get that out of sight,” he said to me as he ran up. “It’s illegal here for a private citizen to carry a weapon.”

“Did the city council bother to tell that to the guys with the AK?” I asked.

“Fucking politicians,” he replied as he moved quickly to check his buddy over. “I hate all of them.”

He found no other wounds. As usual, the drive-by boys couldn’t shoot, they just sprayed.

The new cop guided in a couple other cruisers, a motor and, somewhat later than I expected, an ambulance. The cops didn’t say anything to the EMT guys, seeing as they needed them, but their body language told me they weren’t happy.

We saw Kearney lifted into the ambulance, and the motor and one cruiser gave it an escort to the nearest hospital. The remaining cops asked me a few questions, and I told them what I’d seen, which wasn’t much. “Are open attacks on police something regular down here?” I asked a sergeant.

“Every day,” he replied. “In case you didn’t know it, you’re in a war zone. And it’s gonna get worse, fast.”

“You think so?” I replied as casually as I could. The best way to find out what’s going on in a place is from the cops. The problem is getting them to talk to you, if they don’t know you.

“I know so,” he replied. “Look, we owe you one. You came to the aid of an officer who was down. I can tell you’re not from around here, because none of the SOBs in this lousy town will lift a finger to help a cop. I’m afraid Kearney bled all over that nice, expensive suit. Why don’t you ride with me down to the station and get cleaned up?”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I’ll enjoy being safe for a little while.”

“You think so?” the cop, a Sergeant Randall, replied. “They’ve mortared our station twice in the last month.”


The police station was walled off for a full block around the actual building with Concertina wire, street barricades, and blockhouses in which I saw machine guns mounted. “Welcome to Fort Zinderneuf,” Randall said as we drove in. “Isn’t the New South gracious?”

The word had spread that Randall was bringing in a citizen who’d helped a cop in trouble, so I was met with friendly smiles and strong handshakes from all the other cops. Nobody said anything about the Walther. Randall showed me to the shower room, where I cleaned up while another cop did some quick work on my jacket. “Cold water will take the blood out if you get it before it dries,” he told me. Somehow, it felt good being back among men who knew that sort of thing.

After I’d scrubbed up and the suit coat was hung to dry – my shirt was a lost cause but a cop my size gave me one of his – Randall stuck his head back in. “Can I invite you upstairs for a cup of coffee? There are a few other folks here who’d like to thank you for what you did.”

“Sure,” I answered. “But no thanks are needed. You guys are out there for us all the time. I’m happy to have a chance to return the favor. How’s Kearney?”

“The hospital says there’s no damage beyond what you saw,” Randall replied. “A transfusion, some IVs, and a couple days in bed and he’ll be OK. Thanks for asking.”

Upstairs was officer country, as I could see by the “I love me” pictures as we walked down the second floor hallway. Sergeant Randall led me into the office of the police captain who ran the station house. There, about a dozen cops were gathered.

Again, it was smiles and handshakes all around, along with good southern coffee. The captain gave a little speech formally offering his gratitude and that of his men. At the end of it he said, “I’ve got a small present for you,” and handed me an official looking piece of paper. It was a permit to carry a sidearm. “You may find that useful, Captain Rumford.”

I jumped. At least I did inside. I immediately hoped it hadn’t showed. I realized denial would just make me look foolish. “It’s nice to be addressed by my real rank again,” I replied with what was intended to sound like nonchalance. “I think you have to be German to carry out this Field Marshal business. I feel like I’m playing in The Student Prince at Heidelberg.”

The cops smiled, though in Dixie I doubt many got the reference. “Don’t worry, sir, you’re safe with us,” the police captain replied. “You would have been even without your help to Kearney. We know what you all have done up north, and we only wish we could do the same down here.”

I’d learned long ago that liberal cops are very, very rare. Cops see too much of life to believe in bullshit.

“But now we do owe you for Kearney, too,” he continued. “So our question to you is, how can we help you do whatever you came here to do?”

“I came here to find out what’s going on in the capital of the so-called New South,” I replied. “The best way you can help me is to tell me.”

“You’ve already gotten a good taste of it,” one patrolman replied.

“I have,” I answered. “But on my own, I can only see what’s on the surface. What I need to know is what’s going on that I can’t see. The situation here can’t endure. Human nature can’t tolerate disorder indefinitely. Which way is it going to turn, restoration of order, or chaos?”

My question met with uneasy silence. The cops looked at each other, looked at me, then looked at each other again. They were pregnant with something. Could I get it to drop?

Finally, the station chief said, “I’m going to give you an honest answer. We owe you that, and one thing more besides.”

“For more than a year, we’ve been tracking a conspiracy here in Atlanta. We’ve told the mayor, the city council, even the New South government, but they won’t listen. They just call us ‘racists’ and tell us to go away.”

“The conspiracy involves the gang leaders, some local politicians, some members of Congress, all black. To put it simply, they plan to take over the city, kill all the whites and Asians, and proclaim something they call ‘The Commune.’”

“When?” I asked.

“We don’t know that,” the police captain replied. “But the pieces all seem to be pretty much in place. My guess is the only reason they’re still waiting is that the Congress is importing more arms for them. The gangs are now formally part of the ‘New South Army,’ which should tell you what that army is worth.”

“What are you going to do when it happens?”

“Run,” one officer replied.

The captain nodded. “We’ve all gotten our families out of this place long ago, into the Old South, the countryside. We’ve only stayed because we need the paychecks. We don’t owe the SOBs who run this town, white or black, the time of day. When the place blows, we hope it takes them with it. We’re getting out.”

A picture was forming in my mind. The Commune. The Paris Commune in 1871. If Atlanta became the Paris Commune, the whole South would have to unite against it – and act, just as the French had to do then. From my standpoint, the sooner it happened, the better.

“Are you willing to set this bomb off?” I asked.

The cops looked startled. That was not a response they expected. “Why should we do that?” one cop asked.

“Because it will finally force the True Confederate government in Richmond to act,” I replied. “As you’ve probably noticed, they aren’t the most decisive sorts. This would leave them no choice.”

Again, the cops looked at each other. One spoke up, “Why not? We know it’s coming. If we set it off, we can be sure we’ll get out.”

“How could we set it off?” the police captain asked.

“Am I right that you’ve been recording this meeting?” I said.

The officers looked a bit sheepish. “You’re right,” the captain answered. “We record everything. We have for years. It’s the only way to cover our own asses. If the wrong people found out about this, we could always say we were just setting you up.”

“Okay, here’s how you light the fuse,” I told them. “Make a dozen copies of the tape, get one to each of the chief conspirators, then get out of town. Once they know I’ve been here, and that I know their plan, they’ll set their coup in motion. They’ll have to, because they’ll think I’ll move to stop them. Delete the portions of the tape after my question, ‘What are you going to do?’ so they won’t know what you’re planning either.”

I knew the cops would need to palaver on this one. I’d made their day somewhat more interesting than they had anticipated. I was asking them to play for high stakes, and to take risks, which cops don’t like. At the same time, I was giving them a chance to get back at politicians they hated and a citizenry that looked on them with indifference if not contempt. Which would win out, fear or rage? I gave them some time to think about it by asking directions to the head.

When I returned from an extended head call, the cops had made their decision. “We’ll do it,” the captain announced. “We know what’s coming and we sure can’t stop it. Plus, we know your war record up north. If you think this is the right thing to do, we probably ought to listen to you. We’ll time it so they get the tapes day after tomorrow, March 27th. That will give us a day to get clear.”

“And we still owe you something. We need to get you out of town, too. If the New South government or the conspirators nab you, you’ll have seen your last New England autumn.”

“Can you get me to Savannah?” I asked.

“Sure,” he replied. “We’ll just dress you up in one of our uniforms and have you ride with one of our men. Nobody stops a cop car, and if they do, no one looks at a cop’s face. They just see the uniform.”

So the bomb was armed. I spent the night in the station house. The next day, March 26, in the uniform of Atlanta’s finest, I left town in a plain brown wrapper, driven by a patrolman whose family was in Savannah, a secure bastion of the Old South. At the outskirts, I turned around in my seat for a last look at the Atlanta skyline. “Kind of makes you wish old Sherman could come back, doesn’t it?” the officer who was driving me asked.

I thought about Kearney left bleeding on the sidewalk and my stolen travel bag. “Ayuh, it kinda does,” I replied.


The Atlanta cop drove me directly to the 3rd Texas Rangers’ base camp, where our uniforms and his ID got us through the gate. Still Southern security, I thought. He dropped me at the CP, where I quickly found Captain Armbruster and Sergeant Danielov. Armbruster wasn’t quite sure how to react to my latest avatar as an Atlanta cop. Dano just grinned. “Looks like you’ve been doing some spec ops on your own,” was his comment.

“Ayuh, you could say that,” I replied in good Maine fashion.

“You bring the rest of my trash down with you?”

“Got it all,” Ron replied. “Though I’m afraid your uniform might need ironing.” He’d obviously gotten the word from Captain Ravenal.

“We can take care of that, sir,” Captain Armbruster volunteered.

Dano and I looked at each other and broke up laughing. No one up north ever thought of ironing a uniform. We seldom thought of washing them. We were wary of the Sukomlinov Effect: the side with the best uniforms always loses.

“Don’t sweat it, Captain,” I replied. “I assume Southern regulations forbid a Field Marshal’s uniform to wrinkle itself.”

The battalion commander, Col. McMoster, was out leading some training, but he would be back around dinner time. I suggested we meet in the mess, then retire to someplace quiet where we could talk. I told Armbruster we had some sensitive material to discuss, and left it up to him who should be there. Meanwhile, I could shower up and change into something more comforting.

Dinner in the mess was steak, barbecued pork South Carolina style, or both. Dano and I both took both. It would be some time yet before we had our guts and our arterial deposits back up to normal.

Col. Bill McMoster, CO of the 3rd Texas Rangers, joined us halfway through chow. He knew I had arrived, and I was glad to see he’d put training above hospitality. His utilities were muddy and he stank, which were also good signs. His conversation over dinner was direct, honest and self-critical.

We gathered afterwards in his office, which was paneled with books, most of them military histories. Their condition suggested somebody had read them in the field. Cigars and bourbon quickly went around. It was funny to think back on the old U.S. military, with its “no smoking, no drinking” rules. If your armed services have become a girls’ school, you probably need rules like that.

I shared with the assembled Texas officers and NCOs the story of my minor adventures in Atlanta. The point, as I saw it, was that all we had to do was wait. When Atlanta erupted and the blacks proclaimed The Commune, the Confederate government would have to act. “I guess I should probably head back to Richmond tomorrow,” I concluded. “They shouldn’t need any advice as to what to do, but from what I saw there, they might.”

Colonel McMoster sipped his bourbon for a bit, then responded. “I’m afraid you still don’t understand the depth of the problem in Richmond,” he said. “You weren’t there during a crisis. I was. They didn’t act when New Orleans burned, and they won’t act when Atlanta goes up either. With the people they’ve got in charge, they can’t. All they know how to do is nothing, so nothing is what they will do.”

“That leaves me with a question for you,” McMoster continued. “If the blacks proclaim this ‘Commune’ and Richmond doesn’t respond, what do we do then?”

The Colonel’s question hit me in the face like a cold, dead flounder. I didn’t have an answer. I immediately realized I had just played the game of High Seas Fleet.

Prior to World War I, Germany had built a powerful force of battleships, the High Seas Fleet. Britain’s Royal Navy was stronger, but the Germans were certain that, when war came, the British would steam up close to the German coast to blockade it. There, mines, submarines, and torpedo boats could whittle them down until the German battleships could engage them on equal terms. In May of 1914, Admiral Tirpitz asked the High Seas Fleet’s commander, “What will you do if they do not come?” He received no answer. When war erupted three months later, the British dreadnoughts stayed far away from Germany’s home waters, supporting a distant blockade, and the German High Seas Fleet proved useless.

With my stomach in free-fall, I looked at Colonel McMoster and the other Confederate officers and gave the only answer I could. “I don’t know,” I said.

I could feel the room deflate. Here I was, their best and brightest hope, “the new Moltke,” caught with his pants down like some second lieutenant in his first tactical decision game. Nobody said anything, but I knew what they were thinking. They were right. I hadn’t thought the situation through to the end.

The one advantage experience gave me over a second lieutenant was that in a moment like this, my mind didn’t freeze up. I asked myself the question, “If I were back up north and found myself in a fix like this, what would I do?” Immediately, I knew the answer.

“Can you get me a secure communication link with our Governor Kraft, back up in Augusta, Maine?” I asked the Rangers.

“Yes, sir,” their commo replied. “We have secure comm with the military attaché in our embassy there. He can patch you through.”

“OK, set it up,” I said. I gave the commo the governor’s private number. “Gentlemen, I’m afraid my guilty secret is out. I’m not really a Field Marshal. But I know someone who is. God willing, he’ll have the answer I don’t.”

It took about 20 minutes to put the call through. I took it privately in the XO’s office. After a fair amount of crackling and hissing in the phone line – Confederate Bell, I thought – I heard Bill Kraft’s welcome voice come on. “Is this the vaunted Southern Field Marshal on my phone?” he asked.

“No, sir,” I replied. “This is one very junior captain calling to say he’s screwed the pooch and needs some help.”

“Well, well, the prodigal returns,” Kraft chuckled. Luckily I’d caught him in a good mood. “Fear not, we shall kill the fatted calf. What can I do for you?”

I explained the situation to the governor. “We have an embassy in Richmond, as you know,” he said. “Their estimation of the Confederate government tallies with that of your colonel there. I suspect he’s correct that when Atlanta erupts, they still won’t act.”

“So what do I do then?” I asked.

Kraft was silent for about thirty seconds. The way his mind worked – instantly or not at all – that was a long time. I was relieved when his voice came back up on the net. “Act for them,” he said. “Act in their name. Present them with a fait accompli, an action so bold they have to repudiate it or take credit for it. If it works, they’ll take the credit.”

“You have any thoughts on what that action might be?” I asked.

“It has to resolve the situation in Atlanta,” Kraft replied.

“How do I do that with one Ranger battalion?” I inquired. “They’ll go into Atlanta if I ask them to, and they’ll go down in a blaze of glory, but against a whole city, they’ll still go down.”

“You’ve got to use them to generate other forces,” Bill said. “Exactly how to do that I can’t say from up here. You’re the one at the front, so you’ll have to answer that question for yourself.”

I thanked the governor for his advice, which did help put the puzzle together. But the key piece was still missing.

I hung up the phone and turned to go back into McMoster’s office, where the Rangers were still waiting for a brilliant solution. Sergeant Danielov was standing in the doorway. “I took the liberty of listening in on the phone in the S-3’s office,” he said. “I’ve got an idea that might do the trick.”

“What is it?” I asked, hoping I’d been right that if I got myself into trouble, a sergeant would get me out of it.

“Why don’t we ask the Rangers to steal us a nuke?” favicon

Victoria: Chapter 34

As ordered, on March 5, 2034, I left for Richmond. I thought about who to take with me, and decided in the end I didn’t want anyone but our Spec Ops chief, Sergeant Danielov. A sergeant would help get me out of trouble, other officers might get me into it. Besides, if I screwed up, Ron wouldn’t tell anyone.

I could have asked the Confederates to send a plane for me – due to the fuel shortage, we didn’t fly ours unless we had to – but I didn’t want to come hat in hand. So I decided to travel as everyone else did.

From Augusta, I took the steam train to Portland. I had to admit I enjoyed bucketing along through the Maine countryside at a stirring 40 miles per hour, the smells of summer mingling with the wood smoke from the engine, the rail joints and the locomotive exhaust playing their leisurely, syncopated song. Old pleasures rediscovered are better than new, because you can muse on your grandparents and great-grandparents enjoying the same things.

At Portland, we booked passage on a freighter sailing for Norfolk, Virginia. There weren’t enough people traveling to support passenger liners, but most freighters had space for half-a-dozen folks. Ours was a Maine vessel, sail with auxiliary diesel, the Silas Lapham out of Castine with a cargo of used cars, newsprint, and live lobsters. I noticed .50 cals mounted on either side of the quarterdeck. Pirates were operating out of Philadelphia.

We left Portland harbor on the evening tide, picking up a strong breeze off the port quarter aft, the remains of a Nor’easter, as we headed south. Dano turned green and spent the night communing with the leeward rail. I enjoyed the sharp sea air and a cigar, then turned in. We’d be in Norfolk on the 29th.

Like so many activities from the past, traveling by ship gave me time to think. The question I needed to think about was, what was I going to do? Our objective was to help the True Confederates. In our Germanic way of war, “help” didn’t mean fiddle and diddle at the margins. Help meant “win,” win decisively, completely, finally, in such a way that the victory could never be reversed. Icy cold and lightning fast, as somebody used to say.

Did that mean keeping the peace or tilting the balance toward war? And what kind of war could our True Confederate allies wage? I’d known a few Marine generals from the old Southern aristocracy. They were fine, upright, honorable men, solid as old Stonewall himself on matters of morals and character. But they seemed to have the notion that it wasn’t quite gentlemanly to make a decision. And the people they chose for their staffs… John Randolph of Roanoke’s simile came to mind: like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight, they shined and they stank.

War, as von Moltke said, is a matter of expedients. You need to know what result you want. That was clear enough in this case. But as to how I’d get there, that would have to depend on what I found, and who. In war, the power of personality is immense. You get a Napoleon, you conquer Europe. You get a Napoleon III, you end up in a chamber pot at Sedan. Sam Yancey even in his younger days had been a cautious, lawyer-like fellow, and few men get bold as they get old. But it isn’t only the people at the top who count. Sometimes it’s a guy at the bottom who takes the action that gains the decision.

Such soliloquies, along with the volume of Horatio Hornblower I always took with me when I went to sea, made the few days pass agreeably. The Silas Lapham carried enough canvas that we bowled along at eight knots or better.

Once Ron got his sea legs, we liberated some lobsters from the tank in the hold and dined in style each night on the quarterdeck. Good sergeant that he was, Dano had a couple bottles of Piesporter Spatlese, the companion God intended for lobster. As we drained the last on the evening of the 12th, I remembered the old Marine rule: don’t whistle while packing for deployment. Detached duty had long been good to captains.

We awoke on the 13th to find ourselves back in the 21st century; a pilot boat was leading us through the minefields into Norfolk. The Confederate ambassador in Augusta had cabled our arrival, and a young CSA officer was on the dock to meet us and whisk us around customs and immigration. He introduced himself as Captain Charles Augustus Ravenal of the Palmetto Horse Guards.

Captain Ravenal splendid in his high-collared gray uniform and mirror-shined cavalry boots with silver spurs. In the simple, forest green hunting jacket that was the uniform of the Northern Confederation, I looked like Grant opposite Lee. Captain Ravenal’s darkey driver bowed us into a Mercedes limo with the CSA crest on the doors and Confederate battle flags on the front fenders, and we were soon speeding up the Interstate toward Richmond. Dixie was indeed rich.

Southerners are good at small talk. Mainiacs aren’t, but we listen carefully. As the captain went on, I got the sense he was uncomfortable about something. So in Maine fashion, I went right at him. “Something’s bothering you, Captain. If it’s that we smell like lobsters, well, most folks up north smell like fish, ‘cause it’s all we’ve got to eat. If it’s something else, why don’t you tell us about it?”

“I am truly sorry, sir, if I have in any way offended,” Captain Ravenal replied. “We are all deeply grateful for your time and trouble in coming here. But to be entirely honest, sir, there is a small matter that gives us some difficulty in our protocol.”

Welcome to the South, I thought. Up our way, protocol meant seeing that the other guy was warm and had something to eat. “I am certain we can resolve the matter easily, Captain, if you’ll tell us what it is,” I replied.

“Sir, we are all aware that you are Chief of the General Staff of the Northern Confederation,” Captain Ravenal answered. “You will be accorded every honor due to your position. Our difficulty, sir, is that formally your rank is that of captain. That required that you be met by someone of similar rank, which is why I am your escort. Again, I assure you no offense was intended.”

“None taken, Captain,” I replied. “I rather like the rank.”

“Thank you, sir. But you will be meeting with our generals and our President, Mr. Yancey. Normally, a captain would not be included in such circles, and there is some concern about seating arrangements, precedence, and the like. We do not wish to offend, as I have said.”

“No problem, Captain. Sergeant Danielov and I are happy to stand in the back.”

“Er, sergeant, sir? Would you expect the sergeant to accompany you, sir? I assumed he was your servant.”

“Sergeant Danielov is head of Special Operations for the Northern Confederation. In effect, he’s a CINC. Besides, he might have something useful to say.”

“Yes, sir. I’m afraid we have made arrangements for the sergeant to stay in our NCO quarters.”

“Is the NCO mess good?” Dano asked.

“The specialty is Tennessee barbecue,” Ravenal answered.

“Then I’m not moving. Captain Rumford can go to the meetings. I’ll just potter around on my own.”

“I’m certain that will be agreeable with us,” Ravenal said, making a mistake of serious proportions.

“Captain Rumford,” Ravenal continued, “if I may put forward an entirely unofficial proposal, for which I take full responsibility, would you possibly be willing to take on a higher rank while you are our guest here in the Confederacy? It would make our situation a great deal easier, in term of providing the hospitality which is our duty as officers and gentlemen. Please understand that I intend no disrespect to the rank you hold up North. It’s just that, well, things are different down here.”

I remembered how my Senate staff friend back in Washington in the old days had always been given three-star rank when he spent time with the American military. He found it funny as hell, but without that, they didn’t know how to deal with him.

“If that would make your situation easier, Captain Ravenal, I have no objection,” I said. “After all, we are allies, and I hope we will be friends. Anything I can do to assist, I am ready to do. What rank did you have in mind?”

“Whatever you think suitable, sir, so long as it is of a general officer grade.”

This was too delicious an opportunity to pass up. I could play a joke on the South and on Bill Kraft at the same time. “How about Field Marshal?” I suggested.

The captain’s eyes popped. But he recovered quickly, and said, “I am certain that would be agreeable with our people, sir. In fact, there has been some discussion about introducing such a rank in our Army, and I know some of our officers would find such a precedent useful. Thank you, sir.”

As I settled back into the leather upholstery of the Benz for the remainder of our drive, I suspected this might be a long war.


Now that I was formally an Exalted High Wingwang, Richmond was rich with hospitality. I was met by a 500-man honor guard, all in first Civil War uniforms, though much too well fed to be real Confederate soldiers. For quarters I was given my own mansion, right off Monument Avenue. The butler was even white. For a solid week I was toured about in the daytime and feted and admired at balls and cotillions in the evenings. Not a lick of work was done. It was just like Richmond in 1863.

When I gently reminded Captain Ravenal, who I had asked to remain as my escort despite my promotion, that I had come south to do more than drink Bourbon and admire the fine figures of Southern ladies, he seemed surprised. “The town would be deeply disappointed if it did not get to meet such a distinguished visitor,” he explained. “President Yancey would be deluged with complaints from the fair sex. The brilliance of your campaigns up north has our newspapers calling you ‘the new Moltke,’ you know.”

“That’s butter without much bread,” I replied. “I only know how to be silent in two languages. But I also know the South wants its guests to be happy. Would you do me the favor to convey the message that this guest would be happier if he could do some work?”

Putting it that way seemed to do the trick. Three days later, on March 23rd, I was invited to a briefing on the situation in the South by the Commanding General of the Confederate States Army, General Loren Laclede. Following the brief and a formal luncheon, I would be received by President Yancey.

The CSA headquarters wasn’t a building. It was three whole city blocks in downtown Richmond, mostly highrises, filled to overflowing with staff officers. To take me there, instead of the usual Mercedes, I was met at my door on the 25th by an elegant barouche with a cavalry escort. Another honor guard was waiting on arrival (I found out later there was a brigade-worth of ceremonial troops in and around Richmond). General Laclede received me in a gorgeous uniform, complete with that nice Latin American touch, a sash, amongst a vast entourage of other generals and colonels. Great material for a couple of mine clearing battalions, I thought.

After coffee in his mahogany-paneled office, furnished with Second Empire antiques and decorated largely with pictures of himself, General Laclede escorted me to the briefing room. It was nothing less than a thousand-seat auditorium, and every seat was taken. On the stage, three huge screens were set up for the Power Point slides.

Shit, it’s the Pentagon all over again, I said to myself. Just as the Confederacy had gotten the old American politicians, it had also built its military on the old American senior officer caste. I knew what was coming: a highly choreographed presentation of absolutely nothing.

I was right. For three hours we sat in wonderfully comfortable chairs as one staff officer after the other delivered a scripted, meaningless patter. The maps did indicate which areas were held by the New South and which by the Old, but the newspapers had published the same maps long ago. Beyond that, we heard about the weather in each area, the roads, the telecommunications; the general locations of units; endless equipment rosters and readiness reports (most of which I knew were bullshit); and I can’t remember what else.

The reason I can’t remember is that I offered the most appropriate comment on the whole affair. I went to sleep.

It was rude, no doubt. But Southern gentlemen dealt with it with Southern manners. They pretended it hadn’t happened. When the lights finally came up again, Capt. Ravenal discreetly elbowed me awake. General Laclede then took to the stage himself, summed up by thanking his regiment of briefers for a splendid performance, and asked if I had any questions.

“Just one, General,” I replied. “What are you going to do?”

Das Wesentliche ist die Tat. I thought of quoting von Seekt, but realized that if any of these buffoons spoke a second language, it was Spanish, not German.

“A most important question, Field Marshal Rumford,” Laclede replied. “It is one which we have under study. Fourteen Colonels in my G-3 section have been working on it for most of the summer. Those are all full colonels, I might add, not lieutenant colonels. We have more than fifty contractors and consultants supporting them. Confidentially – this is the first my own staff has heard of this, and I apologize for surprising them – President Yancey is thinking about appointing a Blue Ribbon Commission of retired senior officers to investigate the matter and give us the benefit of their recommendations. I can assure you, we are considering every possible aspect of the situation in the most thorough manner.”

“When do you expect to make a decision?” I asked.

“Well, sir, I am not certain I am prepared to put a time line on it. I would certainly need to consult further with my staff before attempting to do so,” Laclede replied. “After all, I’m just the coach,” he added, smiling benignly on his vast staff horde. They smiled back, with the grin of the apparatchik who know that nothing is likely to disturb his comfortable routine anytime soon.

I realized further questions were pointless. It was the worst of the French way of war combined with the worst of the British: endless staff action and a commander who played umpire. I’d seen it all before, in the Marine Corps and, even more, whenever we did a CPX with the United States Army. Like the French Bourbons, the Confederates had forgotten nothing and they had learned nothing.

We adjourned to a splendid lunch, including a concert by the CSA band and chorus. If these guys ever did win a war, they’d put on one fine victory parade. But in this case, someone else would have to win the war for them. I now understood why New Orleans had gone as it did. Nobody could decide anything.

My session that afternoon with Confederate President Yancey confirmed my depression. He was a splendid old gentleman, earnest, decent, upright. Over and over, he impressed upon me his urgency to do the right thing. Unfortunately, in war the right thing is never clear, so he too would do nothing.


On the way out of the Confederate White House, I told Captain Ravenal to ask Sergeant Danielov to come see me that evening. Dano might have found out something useful. I certainly hadn’t.

“You want to see your sergeant, sir?” Ravenal replied, clearly concerned that someone of Field Marshal rank would stoop so low. “Is it a matter I could take care of for you?”

“Well, to be honest, Captain, I’m not quite satisfied with the way my uniform is being ironed,” I replied. “It takes a Northern man to know how to do it just right.”

“I understand, sir,” Ravenal responded, reassured and comfortable again. “I’ll have your sergeant sent over right away.”

I had requested from General Laclede the papers his staff was developing on possible courses of action, which arrived during the first solitary dinner I’d enjoyed since I came South. True to form, the Confederates had made sure my house had a first-rate cook, an old black mammy who could have stood in for Aunt Jemima and whose biscuits and cornbread would have made Escoffier swoon. After stuffing down a third piece of her ambrosial peach pie, I waddled upstairs, leaving her beaming. I’d put on a pound for each day I’d been in Dixie, and enjoyed every bite of it. I knew it would come off again as soon as I got back North, back to codfish cakes and boiled potatoes.

I settled in my study, lit my cigar and took up the papers. The old U.S. Army stared out at me from every page. It was endless, badly-written, jargonized nothing. With the best of intentions, hoping to find a diamond among the dung, I plowed on. But drivel on top of the dinner was too much for me. I last heard the great old grandfather clock, once the property of General Longstreet, chime eight. My brain swam lazily, back to The Basic School, to happy days playing in the mud and nights of beer and bullshit . . .

Someone was trying to get me up. Crap, it’s o’dark thirty and I want to sleep. Tell the SPC to go play with himself. I’m too full for a company run. I’ll puke up all that wonderful chow, and it never tastes as good the second time around.

I was awake. Someone was rapping at my second floor window. The clock said 9:15. If it was Poe’s raven, I’d eaten my last piece of peach pie. It wasn’t. It was Danielov, and he had somebody with him.

I threw up the sash and screen, and they scrambled in. “Glad to see you got my message, Dano” I said. “But this place does have a front door. Or were you just testing our security?”

“It’s Southern security,” Ron replied. “Sentries in perfect uniforms walking a regular beat. Let’s just say we didn’t have a problem getting in. I came this way because I wanted you to meet someone. This is Captain Walt Armbruster, 3rd Texas Rangers.”

“Happy to meet you, Captain,” I replied, “and happier still to dispense with the usual Southern formalities.”

“I’m more than happy to meet you, sir,” he replied. “We’ve been down on our knees praying you’d come.”

“Who’s ‘we’?” I asked.

“The real soldiers, sir,” he replied.

“Are there any in the Confederacy?”

“Yes, sir, there are,” he answered, meeting my eyes. “Despite what you’ve seen here in Richmond.”

“It was to discuss what I’ve seen here in Richmond that I asked Sergeant Danielov to meet me tonight,” I said. “I find myself in a somewhat awkward position, since what I have to say may appear poor return for lavish hospitality. Captain, would you excuse us if we go in the other room to talk privately?”

Dano answered before the captain could. “No need, sir. I know what you’ve found here, and I know it through Captain Armbruster. You’ve found the worst of the old U.S. military: bloated staffs, meaningless briefings, commanders who can’t make decisions, process without content.”

“All covered in syrup,” Captain Armbruster added. “That’s the Southern touch.”

“That about sums it up,” I replied. “Make no mistake, Captain, the Northern Confederation is with the True Confederate party all the way when it comes to the important things, to morals and culture and religion. But I was sent down here to help win a war. At the moment, I have some difficulty seeing how I’m going to accomplish that, since your leaders seem unable to make up their minds about anything important, like what to do.”

“Sir, our leaders don’t have any minds to make up,” the captain replied.

Having been a captain in the American military, I knew what I was dealing with in Captain Armbruster. He was a warrior himself, but he was more than that. He was a warrior who realized that most of his superiors were not warriors. I didn’t figure that out until right at the end of my brief and lusterless Marine Corps career. This guy was ahead of where I had been.

“Captain, I think I understand where you’re coming from. Earlier, you used the pronoun ‘we.’ Are there any more like you?”

“Yes, sir,” he replied. “There’s a lot of us among the junior officers. We never belonged to the old U.S. Army, so we never learned how to be feather merchants. We joined up with the Confederate States Army for the same reason our ancestors did: to fight. We’re eager to get at these “New South” traitors to our Cause. But what can we do? Some of us have even thought about a coup, sir, but we don’t want to turn the Confederacy into some Latin American banana republic. Frankly, we’re stumped.”

“Are you in touch with each other?”

“Yes, sir. We’ve got our own network. We can get the word out, if you’ve got a word for us.”

“Do you have a base?”

“Yes, sir, a couple, wherever we have a commanding officer who thinks like we do. My unit is on one of our bases. We’re in Savannah, right where the old 3rd Ranger Battalion of the U.S. Army used to be stationed. We’re all Texas boys, and our colonel, Colonel McMoster, is on the right side.”

“How do you know that?” I asked sharply. Trust demanded deeds, not just words.

“During the burning of New Orleans, Colonel McMoster came to Richmond with a plan for our battalion to jump on the city and take it in a coup de main. He couldn’t get an answer from Richmond, so he decided we’d do it anyway. We were commandeering civilian aircraft at the Savannah airport when the word came over CNN that we were too late. The city was already gone.”

“Why wasn’t he relieved for disobedience?”

“His wife is distantly related to President Yancey’s wife. This is the South, sir,” the captain replied.

Nepotism has its random virtues, I thought. “All right, Captain, I trust you and I’ll have to trust your colonel as well. I’m going to head down to Atlanta myself and see what’s going on there. Once I’ve done that, I’ll come see you and your CO over in Savannah. You get there first and tell Colonel McMoster that I don’t plan to go home until I’ve done something. What, I don’t know yet, but whatever it is it’s not going to happen here in Richmond.”

“Nothing ever happens here in Richmond,” Captain Armbruster replied. “I’ll head back tonight. Sir, I speak for our colonel when I say I hope you will regard the 3rd Texas Rangers as under your command.”

“Thank you, Captain,” I replied. “What’s the old Texas Ranger rule, ‘One riot, one Ranger?’ Maybe here we can say, ‘One civil war, one Ranger battalion.’” In any case, you can count on some action.”

I turned to Danielov. “Dano, go with him. We’re going to need some aircraft. See if you can find a former Marine or two who has some.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Ron replied.


The next morning, when Captain Ravenal came to pick me up for another visit to another useless headquarters, I told him I had a special favor to request.

“President Yancey has personally directed that we assist you in every way, sir,” he replied. “If it can be done, we will do it.”

“I want a Pullman berth on tonight’s train for Atlanta,” I said.
The captain stiffened. “Sir, I cannot advise that. It would be extremely dangerous.”

“That is my request, Captain. Will you meet it, or do I have to give you the slip, find the rail yards and hop a freight?”

Captain Ravenal’s face was a study as he wrestled with the greatest of military challenges, the need to make a fast decision in the face of unexpected events. Finally, he said, “Sir, President Yancey’s order was quite clear. Your ticket will be waiting at the station. I will of course have to inform my superiors of what I have done – tomorrow.”

Maybe Captain Ravenal had the makings of a real military officer after all.

That night, at 8 PM, at Richmond’s Broad Street station I boarded the Southern Railway’s crack express for Atlanta, Birmingham, and Mobile, the John Wilkes Booth. favicon

Victoria: Chapter 33

One of the rules of America’s second Civil War seemed to be that those who started off best, ended up worst. In that respect it was like the first Civil War. The South’s star had shone most brilliantly at the beginning at Bull Run on the peninsula with Lee and in the Shenandoah Valley with Jackson. After those brief shining moments, the industrial and financial sinews of the North put forth their strength and the South withered. Plus, the Union found two generals who could competently command armies, and the South had only one.

When the union broke up a second time, the Confederacy resurrected itself smoothly, almost as if it had been there all along. The southern Senators and Congressmen again left Washington for Richmond. Old Senator Sam Yancey of Georgia was elected Mr. Davis’s successor and installed in the Confederate White House (on Monument Avenue, the trivializing statue of tennis player Arthur Ashe was replaced by a heroic cast of the black Confederate soldier). Southern officers and men of the former U.S. Army turned in their Yankee blue uniforms for Confederate gray.

The Confederate economy took some shocks from the usual loss of markets and suppliers, but the South was big enough and prosperous enough to recover quickly. Beyond the low-level guerrilla war between blacks and Hispanics that had been going on in south Florida since the 1980s, there was little internal disorder. All in all, for most Southerners, not much seemed to change.

In fact, it hadn’t, and that proved to be the Confederacy’s undoing. The southern wing of the old American Establishment held on to power. The politicians were the same people, the university presidents and newspaper editors and television commentators were the same types, and the leading businessmen played up to those in power, interested only in maintaining their status as members of the club.

These people all belonged to the “New South.” A product of post-World War II Southern prosperity, the New South abjured the old Southern ways and culture. It embraced the rules of political correctness, found the Stars and Bars “offensive,” and lived the hedonist modern lifestyle. It favored Bauhaus architecture, not neoclassical columned porticoes. It listened to rock and rap, not Stephen Foster, and read Günter Grass, not Walker Percy, much less Sidney Lanier. It shuddered at the Southern Agrarians and sought its heroes among the carpet-baggers.

The wealthy, ugly, overgrown crossroads of Atlanta, Southern only in its inefficiency and corruption, was the New South’s home and shrine. Charleston it regarded not as a wonder and an inspiration but as some sort of antediluvian theme park. The recovery of Southern independence and the restoration of the forms and symbols of the old Confederacy were, to the New South, not the triumph of The Cause but an unavoidable embarrassment, hopefully to be mitigated by time.

Because the New South ruled the new Confederacy, the recovery of Southern independence did not bring with it any recovery of will. After a brief revival incident on proclamation of the Southern Republic, the old slide continued. Crime resumed its racial cast and upward trend, with the same old judges letting off the same old criminals. The schools – “attendance centers,” as they were already called in Mississippi by the 2000s – continued to turn out illiterates who had learned only that their own feelings were the most important thing in the universe. Television and other video entertainment (the South had plenty of electricity, thanks to coal and TVA) still sucked out brains like an ape sucking an egg. Ted Turner became Secretary of Education in Mr. Yancey’s second cabinet.

But the New South was not the only South. Outside Atlanta and Miami and Charlotte, the Old South still lived. It hung on in the small towns and the hollows, on the farms and the shrimp boats, and in the real Southern cities: Charleston and Savannah, Montgomery and Natchez and Vicksburg. It resided among the country people – black as well as white – and the old folks and the Independent Baptists, and also among a genuine southern intelligentsia who did read Walker Percy and knew the Southern Agrarians and realized the whole civil rights business was just a second Reconstruction.

Unlike the New South, the Old South had will. It didn’t have to recover it. It had never lost its will, the will to preserve and restore the old Cavalier Southern culture.

It took about two years for the Old South to figure out that the New South despised it no less than the Yankees did. By 2030, the first rumblings of discontent could be heard. From country pulpits, Richmond was denounced in the same words earlier reserved for Washington. That year in Mississippi, an initiative put a referendum on the ballot to open each school day with a Christian prayer. When it passed by 78%, the Supreme Court in Richmond struck it down. A few months later, the Commanding General of the Confederate States Army asked the Senate Military Affairs Committee to end the recruitment of women as “incompatible with Southern chivalry.” The Committee responded by demanding the general’s dismissal. In the truck stops and the garden clubs, heads shook and tongues clucked.

In most of the Old South, race relations were not a problem. Contrary to Northern propaganda, they had never been, for the simple reason that local blacks and whites got along. They lived largely separate social lives, but when they came together, they did so courteously, with understanding of the roles and responsibilities proper to each. That’s the way people work things out when they live side-by-side for centuries and are left alone by ideologues.

The cities of the New South were a different story. There, a black underclass had formed by the late 20th century. Nurtured on phony resentments and imagined “injustices,” that underclass generated its own little Africa of crime, drugs, noise, and dirt. The government in Richmond proved as vulnerable to mau-mauing as its Washington progenitor, and with no will to contain it, black terror soon spread its bloody hand into an ever-widening circle of the white community.

In the Old South, eyeholes were cut in sheets. But the courts and police remained mostly in New South hands, so the Klan stayed in the hollows, where it wasn’t needed. Alienation between people and government grew like kudzu in a wet July.

By 2032, the guerrilla war in south Florida could no longer be mislabeled a crime problem. In Dade county, the body count from battles between blacks and Hispanics was upward of a hundred a week. Gangs and militias ran a network of feudal fiefdoms. If anyone, including grandmas pushing prams, ventured off their turf they were dead meat. Raiding parties of blacks were working steadily north, while Cuba threatened to send troops to protect the Hispanics.

In March, 2032, the Confederate Congress finally ordered the army to take over Florida and restore order. Had the CSA been allowed to do what was necessary, the Confederacy’s disintegration might have been checked at that point.

The Confederate Congress, being New South, had no stomach for anything of the sort. Instead, it laid a set of rules of engagement on the forces it sent to Florida that made them first impotent, then laughingstocks, and finally targets. All crew-served weapons were forbidden, and individual weapons could be used only to return fire, not initiate it. Fleeing felons could not be shot. “De facto local authorities” were to be respected and negotiated with, not rounded up and hanged – and the Army had to negotiate in Spanish if the locals demanded it. Habeas corpus remained in force. Black and Hispanic ombudsmen were to accompany the troops to investigate any charges of “racism” or “insensitivity,” with Confederate soldiers subject to courts-martial on either charge.

It was the same old cultural Marxist crap as used to flow out of Washington, for the simple reason that the same people were sitting in Richmond who had sat in Washington. Just as when the Soviet Union fell apart in the 1990s, the nomenklatura simply transferred its allegiance to the new system, kept the same jobs, and got richer.

By the Fall of 2032, the Confederate forces sent into south Florida had been pushed into enclaves by the effects of their own rules of engagement. As in intervention missions by the old U.S. Army, “force protection” had become the top-priority mission. A military that is most concerned with protecting itself can’t do anything else, so the local tribes and gangs became bolder than ever .

Ominously, blacks and Hispanics began concluding local nonaggression pacts so they could cooperate in raiding into white areas up north. On October 2, a column of over three hundred vehicles and almost 5000 gang-bangers hit Tallahassee, sacked the city for three days and made it back to Dade with a train of loot that stretched for seven miles along the highway. The Confederate Army threw up a roadblock, but the raiders, wise to their enemy’s weaknesses, literally pushed their way through it without firing a shot. Not having been fired upon, the Southern soldiers couldn’t use their weapons.

This pathetic display of impotence on the part of an army with a noble fighting heritage enraged the Old South. Rallies, marches, and torchlight parades were held in protest in all the Southern states, with hundreds of thousands of people turning out. When one came right down Monument Avenue in Richmond, old President Yancey joined it himself, telling the crowd he was “disheartened and dismayed by the disgrace to our ancestors and our flag.” In response, the Confederate Congress removed itself to Atlanta, where it passed a joint resolution “reaffirming the South’s commitment to a diverse, tolerant, and multi-cultural future.”


New Orleans had long been a strange Southern amalgam. Physically, it was one of the finest cities of the Old South, not just in its unique French Quarter, but also in the old Anglo section along St. Charles Avenue, the site of America’s most beautiful homes and quaintest streetcar line.

Its population was another matter. Run since the 1970s by the usual corrupt and inept black city government, the city had long been a hell-hole of violent crime and sexual perversion. The scenes in the French Quarter on a Friday or Saturday night would have given pause to a citizen of Sodom. A walking tour of the Garden District was dangerous even in daylight.

The city depended on tourism, but the breakup of the union put an end to most of that. Under the Confederacy, there were some half-hearted efforts to sweep the French Quarter’s dirt under the rug, but the lowest class grew steadily more worthless and more violent. From events in Florida, it drew the lesson that it could get away with anything. On the prematurely stifling evening of May 17, 2033, it erupted.

At first, there was some organization, as much as gangs could manage. Columns headed out into the suburbs and surrounding countryside to loot and kidnap. But Louisiana wasn’t Florida, and the local refinery workers, shrimpers, and good old boys had long ago put together the Coon-ass Militia, as they called it. The black raiding columns were met not with roadblocks, but ambushes. The Coon-asses knew how to hunt, and the raiders who left New Orleans did not return.

The state government in Baton Rouge was corrupt but white, and it swiftly mobilized the official State Militia and marched on New Orleans. Mississippi sent reinforcements, and from Richmond President Yancey ordered CSA units to assist – this time with heavy weapons. Within ten days, New Orleans was sealed and under siege.

The blacks responded by letting loose the red cock. It wasn’t merely random mob action, which usually concentrates on liquor stores and leaves civic monuments alone. It was systematic self-destruction. The mayor of New Orleans, Mr. Tsombe “Big Daddy” Toussaint L’Overture Othello Jones, climbed up on a Mardi Gras float (a vast statue of Aunt Jemima pouring syrup into a pool where high yellow beauties wrestled with “White Planters”) and harangued the crowd in Jackson Square. “The white folk like things pretty. The white folk love this beautiful city. Well, I’m here to tell da white folk that this here city ain’t gonna be beautiful no more. Blow it up! Tear it down! Burn it to the ground! That’s the word we have for da white folk of Dixie – burn, baby, burn!”

This, their final promise to their glorious city, the blacks accomplished. The cathedral on Jackson square was blown up by the New Orleans’s police SWAT team. The little cafe across from it by the river, famous for its beignets and cafe au lait, was bulldozed with city equipment, as were the gardens of the square itself. Bourbon Street was burned, along with Tulane University. Audubon Place, which 20th century writer George Will said contained “America’s noblest collection of stately homes,” was first burned by the city fire department, then razed. The stately, ancient Perley Thomas streetcars of the St. Charles Avenue line were stacked in a pile, doused with gasoline and set on fire. A mob then ripped up the tracks, heated the rails over bonfires and twisted them around trees, just as Sherman had done to southern railroads during the first Civil War. By the tenth of June, everything that had made New Orleans what it was lay in smoking ruins. Like Dresden in 1945, the city was no more than a bend in the river, covered in ash.

The Confederate Army, state, and militia forces around the city were strong enough to have intervened, but they did not. The orders to do so never came. No one believed the blacks would really destroy one of the South’s most historic places, until they did it. When it happened, the authorities in Baton Rouge and in Richmond were too stunned to react.

In Atlanta, the New South Congress did react. Blaming the death of New Orleans on “racism and intolerance that tried the patience of loyal African Americans beyond endurance,” they called for a series of “reforms to eliminate the symbols and substance of the South’s racist heritage.” The first reform was to abolish both the Confederate national flag and the battle flag as the nation’s emblems. In their place, they raised over the Congress’s temporary quarters, the Atlanta Convention Center, a new flag that showed a rainbow on a U.N.-blue background. Beneath the rainbow was a black-and-white dove, behind and beneath which floated a sprinkling of silver stars, one for each Confederate state. The banner was immediately nicknamed “the Pooping Pigeon.”

Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Alexandria, Baltimore, Birmingham, Little Rock, and other New South cities promptly raised the new flag. The Old South stuck with the old flag. Pointedly, the St. Andrew’s Cross still flew over the Confederate White House in Richmond.


Often, a people will put up with unimaginable abuses on matters of real importance, but rebel when their sacred symbols are defiled. So it proved in the new Confederacy. The official replacement of the old Confederate flag with the Pooping Pigeon recalled the people of the Old South to their founding tradition: rebellion. On June 23, Coffee County, Alabama, announced its secession from the Confederacy, “in order to uphold and preserve the traditions of our Southern people and culture.” Interestingly, Coffee County was peopled almost wholly by blacks.

As the news of Coffee County’s action spread, it set off a chain reaction. All over the South, towns and counties, cities and some whole states – Mississippi was first – seceded from the Confederacy. They still recognized Mr. Yancey as President, and called themselves True Confederates, but they would have no more of Atlanta, the Confederate Congress, and the New South.

The New South responded in mirror-image fashion. New South cities (there was no New South countryside) withdrew their recognition from the executive branch in Richmond and from most of the state governments as well, pledging their loyalty to the Congress in Atlanta. That Congress elected a new President, a Dr. Louis Greenberg, formerly head of Duke University. True Confederates replied by electing a new Congress, which once again met in Richmond. This time, there were no holdovers from Washington.

By the winter of 2033, two states existed on one territory. There was no geographic separation, beyond urban and rural. One city owed allegiance to one government, one to another. So far, there was no shooting, but it was obvious the situation was too unstable to endure. In the New South cities, militias were being organized (largely by combining black gangs) and weapons smuggled in. In Richmond, President Yancey was desperate for peace, but the Confederate Army was thinking about the war it knew was coming.


On March 4, 2034, Bill Kraft asked me to stop by his office.

“John, I received a letter this morning via our embassy in Richmond from the Commanding General of the Confederate States Army. He is of course aware of the vote up here to provide military advice to people elsewhere in the former United States who share our beliefs. The True Confederates meet that standard, without a doubt. Are you ready to do some traveling?”

“Have they formally asked for our assistance?” I asked.

“They have,” Bill replied.

“Well, it should be an interesting war,” I said. “When do you want me to leave?”

“Tomorrow.” favicon

Victoria: Chapter 32

Following the Dartmouth massacre, life became pretty quiet in the Northern Confederation. I had given up hoping the war was over. But gradually, as things stayed peaceful, I came to think life had again taken me by surprise. Maybe it was over, at least for us.

It was hard to call it peace. In the 21st century, a nation lived on guard every moment or it didn’t live very long. Border control was as necessary as food or water or air. One moment’s inattention, one contaminated refugee or shipping container slipping through, could mean death for thousands through a genetic bomb.

We still has some disaffected folks at home, Deep Greeners, cultural Marxists, animal rightsers and the like, but they kept a low profile. We’d made it clear what would happen to them if they didn’t. Besides, like everyone else, they were busy trying to eat, stay warm, and maybe make a little money.

Our poverty continued to cleanse us of our sins, as the Dark Ages had cleansed Europe of the sins of the late Roman Empire. Consumerism, materialism, careerism, and the “me first” attitude of early 21st century America faded before the demands and rewards of real life. People began to see our “Shaker economy” as something good. Plain living strengthened old virtues and revived honest pleasures, like the smell of a fresh-mowed field of hay and a cow’s kiss on a frosty morn.

Summer and winter, one thing grew stronger: Christian faith. We had some Jews, too, of course, and they were welcome. And each place still had its town atheist and village idiot. But our deep roots were Christian, and they were not touched by the frost. On the contrary, with the tares frozen, faith sprouted everywhere. Catholic or Protestant, high church or low, made no difference. We all knew what we shared was more important than what we differed about.

This was real Christianity, too, not social gospel or social club Christianity. It was Christianity that changed the way people thought and lived. No longer was this world the most important. It was the place where people got ready for the world to come, through self-sacrifice, serving others, and obeying God’s laws because they loved God. Like our wise medieval ancestors, we were learning to put beatitudine before felicitas. Being saved was more important than being happy.

It was clear we would never turn back to the vulgar carnival that was late 20th and early 21st century life. But being human, we did hope for a somewhat easier time of it, for hot water and frequent trains and the power to run machines that made things we could sell.

Here, the Christian virtue of patience stood us well. The great project to dam the Bay of Fundy was moving forward. When it was complete, we knew we would have an abundance of white coal: electricity. With plentiful, cheap, clean energy, we could be prosperous despite our lack of most other resources, so long as we worked hard and maintained our morals. Switzerland isn’t poor.

When in the Spring of 2031 the former Canadian provinces east of Quebec asked to join the Northern Confederation, our people voted yes. The Brunswickers, Labradorans, PEIers, and Newfies shared our faith and morals, language and culture, and would be assets despite their current poverty. Our economies would be integrated by the electrical grid anyway, so we felt we might as well make it official.

The reception of the former Canadians on July 4th, 2031 completed the Northern Confederation. We had reached what Mr. MacKinder would have called our “natural limits.” Unlike in the 19th century, those limits were now marked not by great rivers or towering ranges of mountains or uncrossable deserts, but by chaos.


To see how lucky we were in the N.C., all we had to do was peer over our southern border, into what had been Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Right after the remnant of the Washington government in Harrisburg fell into history’s dustbin, Pennsylvania’s future had looked bright. The sweep of our OMG through Pittsburg had left the white ethnic communities in control of that city. The state had resources: coal, oil, good farmland. It had a functioning government. It seemed to have fine prospects.

Unfortunately, it also had Philadelphia. Already by the late 20th century, much of Philadelphia resembled some former colonial entrepot on the West African coast. The remnants of civilization, buildings, paved streets, electric wires, even that summa of urbanity the streetcar, still filled the view of the passer-by. But of civilized people there was small sign. Instead, mile upon square mile was crammed with jobless, skilless, feckless blacks. Beneath the human decay, every other kind of decay spread.

Up the Delaware, there was more of the same. East of the water gap, and not far east, you were in the urban bush. Camden, Trenton, New Brunswick, Newark ran the line of the new Underground Railroad, moving drugs, guns, whores, and gang members up and down, back and forth in an endless journey to nowhere. Newark’s fame as the Aframerican Florence had proven brief. Within a couple years, the corruption and incompetence of black leaders had brought it back to where it started.

Hell was like that. By great effort, you could make a difference, for a little while. But then people got tired, and it all slid back into Hell.

New Jersey never established itself after the union broke up. There was no effective government, and soon no government at all. Gangs, mafias, tribes provided the only order and security, if those terms had any meaning. Within a year of Pennsylvania’s independence, Philadelphia had de facto joined the Jersey tribal territories.

Soon, the tribes started raiding. First it was just into the suburbs, for whatever they could steal. Then they started burning whatever they couldn’t steal. Kidnapping became the leading sport once the goods were taken or trashed; you could get someone to pay for their kid or their grandma.

Pennsylvania tried to stop it with the Guard, but around Philadelphia the Guard shattered on ethnic lines. Many blacks went over, with their equipment. Whites fled west into the countryside, but the raiding parties followed them. Pennsylvania’s rural areas had been depopulating for generations, and the few people remaining were mostly old. They were easy pickings. By 2030, all the territory up to the laurel highlands was Indian country.

At the beginning, Pittsburgh could have helped, but it had never given a shit about Philadelphia and wasn’t about to start. Then, the no-longer-working Pittsburgh white working class started coming apart. It had given birth to its own culturally black lower class, “whiggers,” its own children. The poisonous culture of drugs, sex, and degraded “entertainment” that overwhelmed the urban blacks proved no respecter of color lines. Soon, whigger gangs were turning Pittsburgh into another Philadelphia, and the country folk west of the Alleghenies were living in fear of white savages with painted faces and Mohawk haircuts. It turned out the dark mills where their grandfathers had labored were less Satanic than crystal meth and punk rock.

On March 14, 2031, the last Pennsylvania governor packed up what was left of the state treasury and fled across the Maryland border into the Confederacy. A raiding party of Camden Orcs burned the state house the next day. Pennsylvania had become a geographic expression.

What happened on our southern border was repeated in most of the other industrial states: Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, even Wisconsin and Indiana, though there the rural areas were strong enough to establish lines behind which they lived in comparative safety. They did it partly by fighting and partly by buying the barbarians off with regular shipments of food and house coal.

A few folks in the N.C. argued we should intervene. But when they put the proposition on the ballot, 83% of the voters said “No.” Our people realized we could not export our success, not that way. We’d get drawn into the briar patch with the tar baby, and in the end would have nothing to show for it but a long butcher’s bill. The cultural base had to be strong enough locally to allow our old, Western culture to rebuild itself, and in these states it wasn’t. The rural areas had too few people, and in the cities, too many whites had gotten caught up in the cultural disintegration of early 21st century America to the point where they had lost the old ways.

The only answer was depopulation, and that was happening. People died in the fighting, the massacres, the raids, and the sieges. They died of hunger and cold, especially in the cities in Midwestern winters. Mostly, they died of diseases, diseases created in labs as weapons of war. Lacking any but the most local political organization or security, they could not protect themselves from the new weapon of mass destruction , the genetically engineered epidemic. By 2038, the population of the industrial Midwest was one-tenth what it had been in 2000. The great cities lay deserted and in ruins. Happy the womb that was barren.


Behind our sealed borders, we survived. As things stood, we could hope for little more. Survival itself was tough enough in the New World Disorder of the 21st–formerly the 14th–century. We survived because we still believed in our old culture, and were ready to do whatever it took to keep it alive. In turn, it kept us alive. That was the ancient bargain, the bargain that had governed the West from its beginnings until the apostasy of the Enlightenment.

Because we knew what we owed to our Christian culture, deep in our hearts we wished we could do more for it, more than keep it alive in our northern redoubt. We recognized the limitations on our power, and the primacy of our one absolute interest, staying alive – no Trotskyites, we. Still, as we smoked our pipes in our cold rooms, we dreamed.


On a frigid, early December day in 2032, St. Nicholas’ Day to be exact, Bill Kraft asked me to stop by his place in the evening. Bill wasn’t very social, even with Marines, and an evening invitation meant he had something on his mind. He needed to ruminate, and was inviting me to serve as his cud.

I trudged across the snow, already crisp enough to walk on top of, about eight o’clock. Although Augusta was our capital, already by that hour it was shuttered, with most folks in bed. I saw only two sleighs out on the freshly-rolled streets. The pinholes of my candle lantern sent a wild display shooting along the silent surface of the snow. Shaker pleasures, I thought to myself, smiling. In the truck the white stuff would have just been something to get through.

I found Bill as always, smoking his pipe and reading. He offered me such luxuries as a Maine governor now had at his disposal: a good fire and a bottle of Father Dimitri’s vodka well iced on the windowsill. Together they warmed me up.

“Thank you for coming by to see me so late,” our Governor said. That touch of Spanish court etiquette was a sign Bill had carefully worked out what he was going to say and would proceed to unroll it like a Torah scroll. My function was to let my ears attend.

“Like many of us, I am distressed by what is happening to those who believe as we do in the wreckage of what was our country,” he began. “I would like to do something to help them, and by that I don’t mean sending potato peelings and tracts.” That last was accompanied by a sharp look. I knew what Bill was thinking: the time-honored Anglican response to the needs of others.

“My model in matters of state is Prince Bismarck,” Bill went on. “He knew when to make war, and more unusually, he knew when not to make it. I have no intention of dragging the Confederation into more war for the benefit of peoples elsewhere, even those who believe as we do. It wouldn’t benefit them in any case, and I know how our citizens voted when that proposition was made to them. I voted against it myself. Still, I think there may be another way.”

“What we did here, in the creation of our island of sanity amidst the chaos, we did with few resources, no fancy weaponry, not even any real soldiers beyond John Ross’s Marines. We succeeded because we had some people who understood war. They knew the history and the theory of war. They had educated their minds to think militarily. They understood von Seekt’s rule, das Wesentliche ist die Tat: in war, only actions count. They could put thought and action together.”

“What if, very quietly, we offered that same ability to our friends elsewhere in the old United States?”

“Waal, that’s a thought,” I replied in non-committal Maine fashion. “When you say, ‘very quietly,’ do you mean without letting folks up here know we’re doing it?”

“No,” Bill replied. “We’re not about to go back to the ‘Imperial Government’ games Washington used to play. The people of the N.C. would vote on this proposition as on any other. By quietly, I mean in ways that don’t get our armed forces into shooting matches.”

“Hmm,” I responded. “That might be easier said than done.”

“History shows a way, I think,” Bill suggested. “Remember Liman von Sanders?”

General Liman von Sanders, I knew, had headed the German military advisory mission in Turkey during World War I. He turned the creaky Ottoman armies into far more effective opponents than the Allies had expected. One whole British army was compelled to surrender to them outside Baghdad, the first time that had happened since Yorktown. And there was Gallipoli.

“A military advisory group, you mean?” I asked in turn.

“Precisely,” Bill answered. “It could help our friends at small risk or cost to ourselves, and would keep us accurately informed about the wars now raging on our continent.”

The latter point was important. Our own security demanded that we be up to the minute on what was going on elsewhere, because it could quickly arrive on our doorstep. At present, our information was spotty at best, because we didn’t have our own people on the scene.

“Well, I think that might have some merit,” I said after chewing on the idea and my cigar for a while. “Obviously, the group would be small, and so long as things are quiet I could spare a few general staff officers. It would be a good education for them. Have you given any thought to who ought to head it up?”

“Yourself, of course.”


“As you said, it would be a good education.”

Ouch. There was the patented Kraft suppository. I shot Bill a resentful glance, but I couldn’t fairly reply. Even though I was Chief of the General Staff, he was better educated in the art of war and we both knew it. So I stood up, clicked my heels (as much as they’d click in heavy wool socks, having left my wet boots on the landing), and replied, “Zum Befehl, Herr Generalfeldmarschall!” Bill got the sarcasm.

“Now don’t be snotty,” he shot back. “If you’ve done as you should in developing your subordinates, they’ll carry on for you quite nicely in peacetime. If something happens here, we should be able to get you back quick enough. Remember, there are wars going on all over the place, some none too distant from our own frontiers. Would the Chief of the General Staff rather spend his time in bed?”

That got my Marine back up. “I’ll march to the sound of any guns I hear, humping a full pack, and still get there a damn sight before you do,” I replied.

“Good, then it’s settled, as far as we can settle it. The rest is up to the people of the Northern Confederation,” Bill said. Over and out.

Slowly, I realized I’d been had once more. Oh well, I thought, the places I’d be going were mostly warmer than Maine, and maybe they offered something besides potatoes and codfish to eat. Still, a small voice told me I’d added one more layer to the legend of the “dumb Marine.”

The proposition was put to the people on January 15, 2034, in this form: “Shall the Northern Confederation, within the limits of its resources and without engaging its armed forces, offer military advice to those people in the former United States who are fighting for traditional Western, Christian civilization?” It passed, though narrowly: it got just 53% of the vote. But my door had been opened.

The world I was to find beyond was stranger than any beheld by Alice. favicon

Victoria: Chapter 31

By the 21st century, America had become a country of many universities and little education. Her colleges were mostly diploma mills crossed with asylums for the politically insane: howling Bluestockings, inventors of “Afrocentric history,” mewling “advocates” for the blind, the botched, and the bewildered. Frequently, these defectives pooled their neuroses and formed a coalition that took over the campus, turning it into a small, ivy covered North Korea. Any student who dared dispute their ideology of cultural Marxism swiftly felt the hand of “revolutionary justice.”

Students still arrived, despite appalling tuition bills, because they needed the sheepskin. America had come to value credentials over performance, so anyone without a college degree remained a bottom-feeder for life. Universities were a classic socialist set-up: a monopoly that produced crap at high prices. Many were little more than vending machines; insert your $250,000, pull the lever, and get your diploma.

Inflation proved the ax that finally killed the silly goose. The American republic’s final hyperinflation wiped out college endowments, destroyed the middle class that footed the tuition bills, and finally made worthless the massive government grants and subsidies most universities had come to depend on. The professors were still paid, but in money worth so little a month’s paycheck couldn’t cover lunch. It got so bad some of them had to go out and get jobs.

The break-up of the union and the fall of Washington closed the doors of every college and university. Young people had real work to do, and no state government had spare cash to fund phony “education.” Frankly, nobody much missed institutions that had long since abandoned their function, which was passing the higher elements of our culture on to the next generation. So it was something of a surprise, in early September, 2029, to see students once again matriculating. The way it happened was even more surprising.

Sometime in March, an organization based in Zurich called the Foundation for Higher Learning had approached the former presidents of Yale, Harvard, and Dartmouth and asked whether they could start their schools going again if funding were provided. They said they could, and immediately found themselves with a hundred million Swiss francs each – an enormous sum in our poverty-stricken economy. Lured by huge salaries, their professors regathered. Students were offered full scholarships, plus stipends that amounted to enough money to feed a whole family. People without much cash realized their college-age son or daughter could be their main wage-earner, and applications poured in.

At the time, I’d been occupied with both the Boston problem and our succession crisis, and I hadn’t paid the whole business much mind. Three hundred million Swiss francs was an economic Godsend, because it enabled us to increase our money supply. It was many times what we were earning in foreign exchange from all our exports put together.

I had gotten a nose full of “Political Correctness” at Bowdoin, so I guess I should have known what to expect. But that seemed ages ago, and I figured reality would impress itself on campuses just as it had on the rest of our society.

I was wrong. Quickly, all the old games started up again. The course catalogs were filled with crap like “Women in Judeo-Christian Societies: Three Thousand Years of Phallic Oppression and The Symbolism of the Bagel,” “The African Origins of Chaos Theory” (a course which was quickly denounced as “insensitive” and withdrawn), and “Salons in the Camp: Lesbian Contributions to Line and Column Tactics in 18th Century European Warfare.”

An informal contest developed among the three colleges to see which could be the most PC. The Harvard faculty collectively led a “love-in” that “introduced students to the richness of man-boy relationships.” Yale countered with an “auto-da-fe” in which every heterosexual male student had to choose a “sin” from a PC list – “sexism,” “homophobia,” “good table manners,” etc. – and parade around campus wearing a signboard bearing their “confession.” Dartmouth erected a Temple of Artemis in the center of the green and forced all male students to prostrate themselves before the goddess, on pain of expulsion it they refused.

Seeking to establish itself as the best of the worst, Dartmouth called a “faculty workshop” for October 12, Columbus Day, “to discover means for reversing Eurocentrism and white male domination over the North American continent.” Faculty leaders from Yale and Harvard were invited to attend.


On October 2, I received a note from Governor Kraft asking me to meet with him the next day and to bring along Ron Danielov, head of our Special Operations forces. We gathered in his small office that afternoon.

“Are you both familiar with what is happening in our so-called ‘institutions of higher learning?’” Bill opened.

“I guess everybody is,” Ron replied. “It’s in all the newspapers. I can tell you, people aren’t happy about it. We all thought we were through with this kind of crap.”

“We soon will be,” Kraft replied. “As usual, there is more to it than meets the eye. Do you know where these colleges are getting their funding?”

“From some foundation in Switzerland,” I said.

“That’s a front,” Bill replied. “Some friends in Europe did a little sniffing around for me. The real source of the money is the UN, specifically UNESCO, the UN’s ‘cultural branch.’ It’s been a den of vipers for as long as anyone can remember. Now, with UN money, it hopes to poison us the same way it’s poisoned so many other places. Only that’s not going to happen.”

“Where do we come in?” I inquired.

“Conveniently, the worst malefactors are gathering at Dartmouth College on October 12,” Bill answered. “They are meeting in Dartmouth Hall, in room 105, which is a small auditorium. I’m going to be there.”

“Do they know that?” I asked.

“No, and they won’t until I walk in,” Bill replied.

“Mightn’t that be a bit dangerous?” I cautioned.

“I intend it to be dangerous – for them,” Bill answered.

“Here’s my plan, and here’s where you come in, sergeant. About mid-morning, I will crash their meeting. I’m simply going to barge in, march up to the front and grab the mic. There, I’ll explain what “political correctness” really is and why we will not tolerate it, or its advocates, in the Northern Confederation.”

“Sergeant, I need two things from you. First, I need snipers concealed in 105 Dartmouth where they can cover the stage. If any of the freaks, phonies, or faggots try to rush me or shout me down, I want them shot. They are going to hear this speech whether they want to or not.”

“No problem,” Ron replied. “I hope you don’t mind if I’m one of those snipers myself. I’d enjoy taking a few of those bastards out.”

“Be my guest,” Bill answered. “But you still need to be able to run the second part of the operation. Once I’ve said my piece and left the stage, I want a massacre. I don’t want a single one of those idiotlogues to leave that room alive.”

“Press will be there, so you can’t just blow the building up,” the governor continued. “I want to kill the people who’ve earned death, but no one else. And I want the media, including television, to record and report the whole thing, in every detail.”

I was taken aback by Kraft’s sudden bloodlust. In the past, we had generally been careful to minimize casualties, especially among people who were at least nominally our countrymen. Knowing a General Staff officer has no right to keep his opinions to himself, I spoke up.

“Excuse me, but there’s something here I don’t get,” I said. “When the Vermont Deep Greeners led an actual revolt, we made every effort to avoid killing them. Now we’ve got a bunch of crazy professors just holding a meeting, and we’re going to slaughter them like so many pigs. Why?”

“A good question, captain,” Governor Kraft replied. “It has two answers.”

“First, the Deep Greeners were deluded, but they were not deluders. They had swallowed the poison of ideology, but they did not know it as such. They thought what they were doing was good. And a proper concern for the environment is good. We Christians call it ‘stewardship.’ They had simply gone too far, in both their goals and their choice of means.”

“Because they erred, they had to pay a price, and they did. The price was banishment. Had we set their lives as the price, we would have gone too far. It is useful to remind ourselves that we are all fools on occasion.”

“It is otherwise with the slime now oozing its way toward Dartmouth College,” the governor continued. “These people are not the ensnared, but the setters of snares. They are the deluders, the tricksters, the deceivers who serve the One Deceiver.”

“They know political correctness is bunk, and ‘deconstruction’ a mere parlor game with words. Why do you think they devote their efforts so assiduously to youth? Young people have not seen enough of life to tell what is real from what is not. So they drink the poison unaware.”

“This mutilation of innocence in the service of death, the death of culture and the death of truth, deserves death. That is what it shall receive. Let it be to each according to his works.”

“And that leads into the second answer to your question,” Kraft went on. “By giving each what he has earned – which is to say, by acting justly – we make the point that at least in the Northern Confederation, our culture, Western culture, is recovering its will. We are no longer afraid to act on what we know is right. You know Von Seekt’s saying, captain: Das wesentlilche ist die Tat. The important thing is the deed.”

“Oh, we’ve known, most of us anyway, that what was preached in our universities was garbage. Most of the students themselves have known it, ever since political correctness reared its ugly backside in our faces in the late 1960s.”

“But we were cowed. We were frightened out of acting on what we knew, because we were told it wasn’t nice, it wasn’t ‘tolerant,’ it didn’t ‘respect the rights of others.’ Those arguments were themselves provided by the politically correct, to create the opening wedge for an ideology that, once empowered, showed not the slightest shred of tolerance for any dissent, or dissenters.”

“But that’s all done with. We’re becoming men again. Men have the will to act. This act, I promise you, will speak in a voice no one can misunderstand. This trumpet will not sound uncertain.”

The governor turned to Danielov. “So then, can you give me my massacre?” he asked.

“Easily,” Ron replied. “Our snipers are good enough to take out the right people and not hit the wrong people, even in a melee, which this will become as soon as the first shots are fired.”

“But I think there’s a better way,” Sgt. Danielov continued. “You want to send a signal that we are recovering our will. Killing our enemies does that, but I think how we kill them can make the signal stronger.”

“In killing, the hardest thing to do, the greatest challenge to the will, is to kill up close, with cold steel – to plunge your sword or bayonet or dagger into your enemy’s guts and twist. Will you allow us to do it that way here?”

“I like it. Yes!” Governor Kraft replied. Let the trumpet sound loud and clear.”

“What about the women?” I asked.

“These women despise anyone who looks upon them as women,” Kraft responded. “They spit on the word ‘lady.’ If a man opens a door for them, they kick him in the shins. They demand to be treated equally. Let it be unto them according to their wish.”


Ron knew what was wanted, so I left it to him to make the arrangements. Precisely because I still wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a massacre, I felt a need to be in Hanover on October 12th. I needed to show myself that I could do what I was ordered even when I was uncomfortable with it. On the other hand, I didn’t want Danielov to think I was looking over his shoulder, and I knew I’d be recognized. The targets might suspect something if they spotted the Chief of the General Staff wandering around town.

In the end, I decided just to go home to Hartland, where I could get a better sense of the public reaction. I wasn’t at all sure our folks were ready for this. Up home, I was still just “that Rumford kid,” and people would let me know in a hurry what they were really thinking.

On the morning of the 12th, I hitched up the wagon and headed into town. The general store had a generator, powered by a turbine in the stream that flowed by the tannery, because they still had a good-sized freezer. The ice cream in the freezer plus a television made the store the town social center. There’d be enough of a crowd that I’d get a good sense of public opinion.

The PC congress at Dartmouth was well known to folks, since the papers had been talking about the affair at some length. When I got to the store around 9:30, a good crowd had gathered, and they had hard words for the goings-on. Time had not dimmed their memories of what was worst about the old USA, and this political correctness crap was at the top of the list. More than one neighbor said we ought to take the lot of ‘em out and shoot ’em. I took that as a good sign, but still wasn’t sure how people would react when we actually did it.

The television was covering the conference, live, and the other side was laying the groundwork for us as well as if we’d written the script. The speakers were a succession of whiney women and faggy men, all bemoaning this or that “oppression” and blaming the world’s ills on white males. The comments from the Hartland peanut gallery got increasingly nastier; we all felt like we’d gone through a worm-hole into a tour of the Inferno conducted by Catullus. The main sentiment seemed to be, “Why are we still putting up with this stuff?”

By around 10:30, I began to fear the local crowd would go home before the action started. Just at the point when Farmer Corman said, “If I want chicken shit, I got plenty to shovel at home” and headed for the door, the picture changed.

From the back of 105 Dartmouth, the camera panned to Governor Kraft marching in the side door, to gasps, then boos, hisses, and shouts of anger from the gutter worshipers. Bill’s 300-pound bulk tossed those in his path aside like bumboats around a battleship as he climbed toward the stage. Grabbing the mic from some stingy-haired bitch reading a poem about making love with her Labrador, the governor bellowed, “Sit down and shut up!”

They did. Auctoritas has that effect, even on the illegitimate.

“Fellow revolutionaries,” were Kraft’s next words. Recovering quickly from their initial shock, a few of the snakes hissed at them.

“You doubt that I am a revolutionary?” he replied to the hisses. “Oh, how very wrong you are. Very wrong indeed, as you will shortly learn,

“Now ‘fellow,’ I confess, is merely a bit of polite rhetoric. After all, I cannot address you as ‘ladies and gentlemen.’ You would be ‘offended,’ about which I care not a fig. But it would be untrue. You are neither ladies nor gentlemen. Considering how long you have coupled with demons, I’m not sure there is any humanity left in you at all.”

No one was moving toward the door of the Hartland general store now. It was so quiet you could have heard a mouse fart. Like all effective leaders, Bill wore the masque of command well.

“You see, I am not one of the beguiled,” Governor Kraft continued. “I know whence you come. I have studied your history. You are not descendants of the hippies, despite your bedraggled appearance. You are not the offspring of Quakers and Anabaptists, for when you say ‘peace,’ you mean ‘war.’ You did not grow from the Suffragettes, nor the civil rights movement, nor apostles of tolerance such as Roger Williams.”

“For your father in Hell, no less yours than Lenin’s and Stalin’s and Mao’s, is none other than Karl Marx himself. Your poison, the poison of political correctness which you have striven these many years to inject into the Western bloodstream, is nothing less than Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms.”

At this, one aged crone on the Dartmouth faculty, Professorette Mary Ucistah, realized the danger. The governor was about to unveil PC’s ultimate secret: where it came from and what it really was. She jumped to her feet and cried, “Come on, people, let’s shout this pig down. You know the chant: Two, Four, Six, Eight, We Know Who the People Hate. . .”

Their eyes fixed on the professor, few television viewers noticed Bill look up slightly toward the rafters and raise his eyebrows. Ron read the signal correctly. 105 Dartmouth rang with one shot from a sniper rifle, and “Ms.” Ucistah’s brains splattered across the backs of her colleagues. The room froze.

“Thank you for the courtesy of your attention,” Bill said quietly.

“As I was saying, the sewage which you have poured for decades into the once-sweet grove of academe is Marxism, nothing less. The derivation is obvious. Like classical, economic Marxism, cultural Marxism is a totalitarian ideology. From Marxist philosophy, it derives its vision of a “classless society” – a society not of equal opportunity, but equal condition. Since that vision contradicts human nature, society will not accord with it, unless forced. So forced it will be. Thank God, you never got control of the power of the state, not in full. But on campuses like this one, where you did gain power, you made your totalitarian nature clear. Cultural Marxism was forced on everyone, and no dissent was allowed. Freedom of speech, of the press, even of thought were all eliminated. Anyone who challenged you, student or faculty or administer, was driven out.”

“Like economic Marxism, your cultural Marxism said that all history was determined by a single factor. Classical Marxism argued that factor was ownership of the means of production. You said that it was which groups – defined by sex, race, and sexual normality or abnormality – had power over which other groups.”

“Classical Marxism defined the working class as virtuous and the bourgeoisie as evil – without regard to what members of either class did. You defined blacks, Hispanics, feminist women, and homosexuals as good, and white men as evil – all, again, with no attention to anyone’s behavior.”

“Classical Marxists, where they obtained power, expropriated the bourgeoisie and gave their property to the state, as the ‘representative of the workers and peasants.’ Where you obtained power, you expropriated the rights of white men and gave special privileges to feminists, blacks, gays, and the like – Marcuse’s revolutionary class.”

“Classical Marxists justified their actions through a warped economics. You justified your actions through a deliberate warping of the language: deconstruction. Deconstruction ‘proved’ that any text, past or present, illustrated white male oppression of everyone else, just as economic Marxist analysis ‘proved’ the exploitation of the working class. Deconstruction was in fact merely political scrabble. Compared with it, classical Marxist economics was at least intellectually challenging. But then, most of you never had minds.”

“But that is not all I know about you,” the Governor continued. “I have visited, through history, the fetid holes where your cultural Marxism grew. I have read Gramsci, the Italian Communist who pioneered the translation of Marxism from economics into culture as early as the 1920s. I know Adorno, and his Frankfurt School that in the 1930s crossed Marx with Freud. I have studied ‘Critical Theory,’ the product of that school that carried the bacillus into American universities. I know the whole, sordid story of your sorry ancestry among the exiled refuse of European Marxism, the story of how failed intellectuals worked for what is now almost a century to stab our culture in the back.”

“But as I said at the outset, I too am a revolutionary. My revolution – our revolution, here in the Northern Confederation – is against you. Marxist revolutionaries of every yellow stripe, wherever they obtained power, brought ‘revolutionary justice.’ Anyone or anything that furthered their revolution was just, anyone or anything that opposed it was unjust. And the unjust were liquidated, by the millions.”

“Now, by your own standard let you be judged. You have opposed our revolution, so you stand condemned.”

“You are condemned, let me hasten to add, not by me alone, nor merely by those who live today in our Confederation. Your jury is every man and woman who for three thousand years has labored and fought and died for Western culture, the culture you sought to sacrifice to your own pathetic egos.”

“And that jury’s sentence is death.”

At those words, the doorways to 105 Dartmouth filled with our men. Each wore a white surplice with the red Crusader cross emblazoned on a shield over the heart. Each held a Roman gladius, the short, sharp stabbing sword of the Roman legionary, in his right hand. Through the doorway closest to the stage, a choir of monks filed in. Mounting the stage, they began chanting the Dies Irae. At that signal, the soldiers set to their work.

The hall held 162 politically correct luminaries – 163 if you count “Ms.” Ucistah’s corpse. The work of slaughter went quickly. In less than five minutes of screams, shrieks and howls, it was all over. The floor ran deep with the bowels of cultural Marxism, and at least in the Northern Confederation, it was dead.

As intended, the television showed the whole thing, the faces frozen first in terror, then in death. It was not a pretty picture, even to those of us who had seen war. As the cries turned to moans, and the moans were replaced with nothing but an occasional twitch of a limb unconnected to any living brain, the Dies Irae too softened until the choir was silent.

Then, Governor Kraft, who had stood like some human Matterhorn overlooking the carnage, moving and unmoved, turned and walked slowly, as if in solemn procession, toward the door. As he did so, the choir broke again into song, now in a major key, strong and soaring: the Non Nobis. “Not to us, Oh Lord, but to Thee be given the glory.”

In the Hartland general store, I had kept one eye on the television and the other on my neighbors. Perhaps my own ambivalence made me overly sensitive, but Kraft’s massacre was a high-risk move, and public reaction would determine whether it worked or blew up in his face.

State o’Mainers are born with poker faces and stuck tongues, so at first it was hard to judge. But as the massacre proceeded, I began to notice a few thin smiles, the sign a Yankee likes what he’s seeing.

After Kraft left the stage in 105 Dartmouth, Farmer Corman reached up and turned off the set. “Waal,” he said, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I thinks that deserves a toast. Here’s a jug of my best cider, which I brought in to sell, and I see some glasses theah on the shelf.” The glasses and the jug quickly went round.

“Heah’s to our Governor, the State of Maine, and our own Johnny Rumford, who’ve had the courage to do what we should have done a long time ago.” As the glasses were raised, a kid in back shouted “Hip, hip, hurray!” Three cheers rang out, and I bowed my thanks for good neighbors and a people who deserved their liberty.


Bill Kraft had gambled and won. No one in the Confederation regretted the loss of the treasonous intellectual scum who, perhaps more than anyone else, bore the responsibility for what had happened to the old USA. But I felt there was still some unfinished business, and a few days later, back in Augusta, I asked Bill if he would stop by my boarding house lodgings some evening so we could talk.

He came on a cold November night. Knowing that the route to Bill’s heart and brain lay through his stomach, I had stopped by Father Dimitri’s to wheedle something special. Not only did the good priest provide the tin of caviar I had hoped for, he threw in a few bottles of vintage Port, Bill’s favorite drink. “Just lubricating the wheels of government,” he said smiling as I thanked him and his Tsar for their generosity. He knew one good bottle often accomplished more than many memos.

Bill arrived around eight and caught sight of the sideboard as he was shucking off his field-gray greatcoat. “I’m pleased to see the General Staff has been maintaining a productive relationship with the Russians,” he said jovially.

“Tanks and caviar are a happy combination,” I replied.

“Especially when it’s Sevruga,” Bill added, quickly pouring himself a glass of Port and diving into the tin.

“I’m glad to see you’ve gotten your appetite back,” I joked.

“Nothing picks up the spirits better than a good massacre,” he mumbled through a mouthful of black pearls. “An ‘Un-rest Cure,’ you know.”

“Having a bit of Saki with our caviar?” I teased.

“Reginald would approve, I’m sure,” he purred. Bill’s ecstasies, like his rages, were something of an art form.

Seeing an opportunity to turn the conversation the way I wanted it to go, I asked, “I wonder how many of the young men growing up today in the Northern Confederation will ever have a chance to read Saki?”

“Not many, I guess,” Bill replied. “That’s always a problem with revolutions. You lose a lot of good things too.”

“Is it time to start getting some of them back?” I asked.

“What do you have in mind?” he said.

“A real university. You know what that is. It’s a place where people study Latin and Greek, read Aristotle and Cicero and Thomas Aquinas, learn Logic and Rhetoric, and come to appreciate the classics of our English language – Jane Austin and Chesterton and Tolkien and, perhaps, even our friend Saki.”

“I would like to see that too,” Bill said. “But can you read Chesterton on an empty stomach?”

“Who was it that said, ‘If I have money, I buy books, and if there is any left over, I buy food and clothes?’”

“Virgil, I think,” he answered. “But I’m not sure our fellow citizens are Virgils.”

“Why don’t we ask them?”

“You mean a referendum?”

“Exactly. Remember the first truth about modern war: you have to trust the troops.”

“True enough,” the Governor said. ‘And you have to take risks. The risk here is that if it’s voted down, it may be hard later to bring the issue up again.”

Bill chewed thoughtfully for a while as he pondered my idea. “OK, I’ll do it,” he decided. “I’ll make the proposal to the other governors, and I’ll campaign for it in public. If we lose, we lose. If we win, we’ll be on the road to rebuilding our culture. To me, that’s ultimately what it’s all about, everything we are doing.”


The other governors agreed the people should decide, and the vote was held on December 24th, 2029. The citizens of the Northern Confederation decided to give the future a Christmas present. The measure passed with 63% of the vote.

There was a general feeling that since Dartmouth College saw the death of the old, ideologized, corrupted education, it should also be the place classical education was reborn. Besides, we wanted a college devoted to teaching undergraduates, not a “research university.”

From every corner of the Confederation, real scholars emerged from hiding, hiding they’d been driven into by cultural Marxism, and offered to teach, even though the salary was small. Many had no PhD; their work was their credentials. Most proved dedicated and effective teachers.

Autumn, 2030, once again saw students matriculating. The number was small – no stipends this time – but they were earnest. They came for knowledge and understanding, not a sheepskin. Small farms and factories cared little about degrees. At least in the N.C., civilization was returning. favicon

Victoria: Chapter 30

The election for governor was held on May 15, and Bill Kraft was elected with 83% of the vote. He had opponents. In Maine, the law made it easy for candidates to get on the ballot. We didn’t want any rigged two-party system like in the old United States, because the two parties soon became one party with a common interest in keeping everyone else out. But most folks in Maine knew what Kraft had done for us, and they wanted to give him a chance to do more.

Governor Kraft was inaugurated on May 20, and since the other N.C. governors all decided to come, they got together for a meeting. There, they agreed that Kraft would remain the supreme decision-maker in military matters, just as the two previous Maine governors had been. States rights notwithstanding, everyone knew what war required.

I was called before the governors to tell them where the implementation of the peace agreement with the Muslims stood. The World Islamic Council had agreed to return the black Christians kidnapped from Boston and sold into slavery in return for the Islamic POWs we held. But so far, nothing had happened.

I’d been communicating directly with the Egyptian military authorities in Cairo, who were in charge of the exchange for the Islamic side. At first, I’d been troubled by an incessant gurgling sound on the phone; I figured it was some kind of recording or EW device. Then one of our intel guys with some experience in the Middle East explained that the Egyptian general was just smoking hashish in his water pipe as we talked. I understood why not much was happening.

However, the Egyptians did tell me they had collected some 3000 of our blacks in camps outside Cairo, ready for exchange. To get things moving, I proposed we tell them that as of June 1, unless the exchange was underway, we would forbid all our Islamic prisoners to practice their religion. No prayers five times a day. No Korans. And we’d send ’em all to work on pig farms.

Most of the governors liked that idea. But Bill Kraft was uneasy. “Gentlemen, I have to tell you this whole business troubles me. It’s gut instinct, and I can’t put my finger on it. But I feel in my bones that when we bring these black folks back to Boston, we’re bringing in trouble.”

“They won’t be in Boston very long,” New York’s governor responded. “Thanks to CORN, blacks are already moving out of the cities, back to the land, in substantial numbers. We’re not seeing the usual crime or unrest among those who remain. The good blacks have taken their community back from the scum. It seems to me these blacks coming back are good Christian folk who’ll help that process along.”

“What would be the effect if we repudiated our agreement with the black community to get their people back?” the governor of Rhode Island asked me.

“Militarily, it wouldn’t be a problem,” I replied. “The blacks know we won’t tolerate disorder and we have the muscle to put it down.”

“But I think CORN has shown us the way to make the Confederation’s blacks into contributing members of our society. If we broke faith with them, we would undermine their new direction,” I added.

“Of course, as a soldier, my word is my bond. If the Confederation broke the deal I made – a deal that saved Boston from widespread destruction – my honor would be at stake. I would have no choice but to resign immediately.”

The governor of Massachusetts broke in. “If I may speak bluntly to Governor Kraft, does he expect us to agree to break our agreement with the blacks just because he has a gut feeling?”

“I cannot expect you to do that, and I don’t,” Kraft replied. “But as those of you who have been in war or studied war know, sometimes your instincts are your best guide. Are you willing to agree to repatriate the blacks slowly, into a few limited areas, until we see how it goes?”

In the old days, politicians would have rolled anyone, military or civilian, who offered an argument like Kraft’s. The game was just to “win” the immediate squabble so someone could look good by making someone else look bad. But the cold shower of reality we had all taken in the break-up of the U.S.A. had changed things.

“I know Governor Kraft’s achievements as a soldier,” the governor of New Hampshire said. “If he says his soldier’s gut instinct troubles him about this, I’m troubled too. In the world we now live in, it pays to be careful. I don’t see any harm in some sort of quarantine of the people we’re getting back. Being too soft is what brought our old country down. I’d rather risk being too hard.”

The word “quarantine” seemed to do the trick. We didn’t know what these people might be bringing back with them. It would have been risky for the Muslims to impregnate our blacks with a genetically engineered disease because of the risk it would spread to their own people, but it wasn’t impossible.

The governors recommended that the matter be handled as a national security issue, which put Kraft in charge and left me to work out the details. Before the end of the day, the General Staff had selected a couple areas in Roxbury where returnees would be held for three months, until we could be sure they were not infected. The migration to the countryside had left places enough there for them. The remaining local residents could go or stay, but if they stayed they would be stuck there for the same three months. The governors seemed comfortable with that.

In the absence of any word from Cairo, on June 1 we implemented our threat. We made sure Al Jazeera got pictures of their POWS shoveling pig manure. We also made clear it would continue until the prisoner exchange began. The next day, Cairo called, and on June 7 the first planeload of our blacks landed at Logan. It took off the same day filled with Egyptian POWs returning home.

Boston received her heroes gratefully, but Boston’s blacks also accepted the quarantine. They had learned some lessons, including patience. They knew that when the Confederation acted, it was for the common good. In the 21st century, it was wise to be prudent.

For about six weeks, everything went smoothly. The number of black returnees grew steadily. Some local folks had deliberately stayed in the areas where they were quarantined, to help them reintegrate. It turned out that in almost every case, the experience of being sold into slavery had strengthened their Christianity, not weakened it. These people would be assets to our society.

Then, on July 23, I got a phone call from the head of the public health office in Boston. “Captain Rumford, I don’t like making this call,” the fellow said. “I hope what I’m about to tell you is wrong. In the last week, we’ve had fourteen deaths among the blacks who returned from Islamic countries. They all showed the same symptoms. Now, we’ve got three local people from the quarantined areas showing those symptoms.”

“What are they?” I asked.

“First, inflamed swelling of the lymph glands, usually surrounded by a ring. Then, fever, chills, diarrhea, and internal bleeding leading quickly to death.”

History told me immediately what we were facing. Black Death.

“It’s the plague, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yes, it’s plague. But there’s a difference. Normal bubonic plague responds to antibiotics. This one doesn’t. The doctors have tried every antibiotic known, with no positive results.”

I gave orders to tighten the quarantine by evacuating all areas bordering those where the returnees had settled. No one was to be allowed in or out on pain of death. Snipers in full MOP gear were positioned to enforce that order. The prisoner exchange with the Islamics was also suspended immediately.

We had a network, established in the 1990s by the Marine Corps, that tied us into scientists who were specialists in biological warfare and genetic engineering. I immediately pulled a team together to go to Boston and figure out what we were facing. If it was genetically engineered, we needed to find out how before we could develop a vaccine.

Meanwhile, the black returnees continued to die. We had communications with them, of course, so the picture was clear. Just as in the Middle Ages, the houses filled up with dead, the living too weak to drag out the bodies. Some dropped in the street, where the dogs and rats feasted on them.

We sent every medicine we had, but none made any difference. Some white doctors and nurses went in as volunteers. Since this plague took at least six weeks before symptoms appeared, they could relieve some suffering before they too went down. By then, we hoped to have a cure.

The scientists worked frantically, but without success. The problem was, there were many ways bubonic plague or any other disease could be genetically engineered to get around the usual vaccines and medicines. Finding which genes had been altered and how took time – too much time for those who had been infected. By the end of September, they were all dead, including the local residents who had remained and the volunteers who had gone in to succor them. Roxbury was a cemetery.

Yet even as they died, those black Christians accomplished something. They did not rage or rail or issue demands. They prayed together, and died together, quietly helping bear one another’s burdens to the end with a Christian patience that inspired us all. In so doing, they worked powerfully to change whites’ late 20th century image of blacks from whiners who always demanded something for nothing or punks with guns to an older, truer picture: a good, faithful people who suffered without complaint and humbly served God and their neighbor. In a society that was beginning once again to accept such qualities as virtues, that was no small legacy. It did much to ensure that blacks had a solid future in the Northern Confederation.


Nor did their deaths go unavenged. In the Muslim countries where Boston’s blacks had been sold as slaves, the buy-back program had slowly gathered them in camps, in preparation for the POW exchange. There, they had been injected with the engineered plague. The Islamics thought this safe enough, since the disease took about six weeks to manifest symptoms and was not contagious until it did. That was plenty of time for them to be shipped off to the infidel.

Only now it wasn’t because we had halted the exchange. So the plague broke out in the camps. There, too, the blacks died, but in the process they infected their guards. Islamic countries not being noted for their efficiency, their quarantines had holes in them, and the bacteria crawled through. Soon, plague was raging through the slums of Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran, and Islamabad. By the Fall of 2029, thousands were dead or dying and hundreds of thousands were infected.

We still held the Islamic POWs, and I thought turnabout was fair play. I asked our scientists to come up with a different genetically engineered variant of plague, one that would mimic the symptoms of the Islamic variant but not respond to the same vaccines or treatments. Genetic engineering had become all too easy in the 21st century. Some teenagers working in a basement in Stockholm cooked up one bug that gave a week-long case of diarrhea to anyone who ate either rutabaga or herring, thus wiping out Swedish cuisine. We had the right stuff in a couple weeks’ time, and as soon as we had inculcated it in the POWs by mixing it with their hummus, we sent them home. Our blacks were dead or dying, so the POWs were no longer of any value to us as commodities.

The Islamics took us for fools, welcomed their heroes with open arms, and ended up with a mix of plagues it took them three years to sort out, at the price of millions of dead. It was a small lesson in not playing games that advanced, disciplined societies could play better.

Governor Kraft’s gut instinct had saved us from a similar catastrophe, but it had been a close call. The lesson, once again, was that closed borders were essential to survival. It wasn’t just movements of people that had to be controlled. It was easy enough to send a bacillus by shipping container or mixed in a bulk commodity. Foreign trade fell drastically throughout the world as every import had to be quarantined, examined, and tested. Only what was local was safe, and even at home we developed a “neighborhood watch” to report any suspicious basement laboratories. This didn’t require a police state. People were eager volunteers, because they knew the mortal danger genetic engineering posed to everyone.

It was funny, at least for those with a sense of irony, the way Americans in the early 21st century had howled about the stupid mistakes of earlier generations in pursuing “better living through chemistry” and similar scientific great leaps forward. As they scorned their forefathers, they made the same blunder on a vaster scale. Genetic engineering rolled Frankenstein’s monster, “The Fly,” and the Black Death all into one, yet they hailed it. Computers reduced their operators to mindless androids while hooking them on the drug of virtual reality, yet they were the miracle machine no one could do without.

It wasn’t a case of those not knowing the past repeating it. They knew, yet they repeated it anyway. That’s what brings civilizations to their end.

We in the Northern Confederation were lucky, once again. We figured out early what everyone who survived learned eventually. Just because a technology exists doesn’t mean you have to use it. Those who depart from the ways of their ancestors do so at their own peril. favicon

Victoria: Chapter 29

Down at Mel’s, the talk was about our new governor. The problem was, we didn’t have one. We’d never had an election to choose a new lieutenant governor after Governor Adams was assassinated and Bowen moved up. While most matters were handled directly by the people, through referenda, if the war heated up again we’d need someone who could make decisions, fast. The Roman republic had elected dictators in times of crisis. We didn’t need to go that far, but we did need a governor, and this time it had to be a good one.

Everybody knew who that was: Bill Kraft. He believed what we believed, he could make decisions and he understood war. But Bill was not about to cooperate.

Nolo episcopari,” he growled when the speaker of the state legislature asked him if he’d take the job – “I don’t want to be a bishop,” the ancient answer a priest is expected to give when he is selected for that honor. The difference was, Bill meant it.

I added my voice to the many telling him he had no choice, Maine and the Confederation could not do without him, we could not afford another mistake, and so on. He would have none of it. When he got up from his half-eaten meal and marched out of Mel’s, I knew he was serious. I’d never seen Bill leave a table while it still had something edible on it.

At the Speaker’s request, I joined him and a few other political movers and shakers at his office after lunch. Sam Gibbons, the speaker, was clearly worried. “I think we all expected Bill Kraft to replace Bowen, as soon as we knew what Bowen had been up to. I know the folks back home in my district want him. Bowen’s treason upset them in a serious way. They feel Maine could go the way of the old USA if this sort of thing continues. They know Kraft and what he has done for us, and they trust him. If I have to tell them he won’t do it, they’ll really start to worry where we’re headed. They just won’t understand, and frankly, neither do I.”

“Have you ever visited Bill Kraft at home?” I asked.

“Nope,” Sam answered. “Bill doesn’t really like politics, or politicians, even ones who agree with him,” Sam explained. “He does like Marines. Have you been there?”

“I have,” I answered. “And I think I understand why Bill is afraid of the governorship. He lives a quiet, ordered life, a retro-life if you will. That’s his anchor, and it enables him to think creatively and boldly without becoming unstable. My guess is he fears the ‘celebrity’ life of a political leader would overturn that. He’s probably right. It’s not for nothing that “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen” is a sad song.”

“I can understand that,” Gibbons said. “We all feel it. I’m a lot happier back on my farm than here in Augusta. But in Bill’s case we have to get him by it. No one else can make the people of Maine confident in their leaders right now, after Bowen. What if we just put his name on the ballot, hold an election and let him win, which he would?”

“I seem to remember another popular military leader named Sherman who faced the same kind of political draft,” I said. “His answer was, ‘If nominated I will not run, and if elected I will not serve.’ I suspect we’d hear something similar from Bill Kraft.”

“Isn’t there some way we can order him to do it?” Gibbons asked.

“He only takes orders from the Kaiser,” joked one of the other politicos.

Bingo! As the light went on in my brain housing group, I could feel a big grin spreading over my face. Herr Oberst Kraft had played one on me by letting me go after the Deep Greeners without a full sheet of music. Now, it was payback time.

The others saw my idiot grin. “You got an idea?” Gibbons asked.

“I do,” I replied. “I think I can arrange for Bill to get an order from the Kaiser, or more precisely from the King of Prussia – they’re the same person.”

“Who is it?” asked another politico.

“The head of the House of Hohenzollern.”

“I didn’t think Germany had a Kaiser any more,” Sam said.

“Technically, it doesn’t,” I answered. “But technically, Prussia doesn’t exist any more either. I don’t doubt Bill’s Prussia is real, but its place is in his heart, not on the map. That Prussia has a king, and its king is the head of the House of Hohenzollern. If he orders Bill to accept the governorship of the state of Maine, he’ll do it. As a Prussian officer, he’ll have to.”

“How do we get to this king?” Sam asked.

“Through his ‘dear friend and cousin’ – that’s how the kings of Europe addressed each other, even when sending a declaration of war – the Tsar of Russia,” I said.


Following our little meeting, I walked a few blocks to the small wooden house that was the Imperial Russian Embassy and the residence of the Russian ambassador, Father Dimitri. In the front room that was his office, the samovar was bubbling beneath the double-headed eagle, and from the kitchen the ambassador brought out blini and a tin of caviar. “Thanks,” I said. “You know all we eat up here any more is fish. You wouldn’t have a nice beefsteak back there, would you?”

“Not on Friday,” Father Dimitri answered, laughing. “Besides, fish is good for you. Caviar especially. Health food. And it goes so well with vodka,” a large bottle of which adorned the silver tray bearing the imperial coat of arms. I helped myself to a generous glass.

I explained our problem to the good priest, and why we needed assistance from his sovereign. He knew first-hand what Bill Kraft had done for Maine and the Northern Confederation, and why we needed him to be governor. He also knew this would be the best joke ever played on the formidable Herr Oberst, and his eyes danced with laughter.

“I know His Imperial Majesty well enough that I can say he will assist in this,” Father Dimitri concluded. “Give me ten days, then check back with me to see where things stand. I would guess that Prince Michael, the rightful King of Prussia and German Kaiser, would be willing to oblige my Tsar in such a matter, but I cannot be certain.”

We left it at that, and I returned to my office and other business, principally the business of trying to control our borders. As bad off as we were in the N.C., others had it worse, which meant they wanted to move in with us. We couldn’t allow that. By the early 21st century, it was evident around the world that any place that got things working was immediately overwhelmed by a flood of people fleeing places that didn’t work. Unless it could dam the flood, it drowned. It was dragged down to the same level as the places where the refugees were coming from. We didn’t intend to let that happen to us.

About mid-afternoon on April 23rd, I was going over reports from New York militiamen of shootings of would-be illegal immigrants when the door of my office was flung open with a crash that nearly tore it from its hinges. Filling the doorway was Herr Oberst Kraft, in full dress Prussian uniform including Pickelhaube and flushed, beet-red face. (The old saying in Berlin was that there were two kinds of Prussian officers, the wasp-waisted and the bull-necked; Bill tended toward the latter.) “Do you know the meaning of this?” he bellowed, waving some documents in my face.

I quickly guessed I did, but my gut told me to be careful. It was always hard to tell whether Bill was genuinely angry about something or just keeping up his reputation. If he really was as mad as he looked, I might be in for a hiding. Bill Kraft was no athlete, and big as he was, as a Marine I knew I could take him if it came to that. But I also knew I could never do that to him. I owed him too much. If he really was going to pound me, I’d just have to sit there and get beat up.

Moi?” I replied. “Mais mon colonel . . .

“Cut the froggy-talk, you little worm,” he yelled. “How dare you cook up some forgery in the name of the King of Prussia! That’s lese majesté, you maggot, and the penalty for it is death! I ought to run you through with my saber just as you sit and let your pathetic soul dribble out all over your damned reports.”

“May I see the papers you’re holding?” I asked, beginning to understand the cause of his wrath. He thought we were making light of his All-Highest.

“Here,” he said, stuffing them into my face. “But you can drop the charade. I’m sure you wrote them. Who did you get to forge His Majesty’s signature and mail them from Germany?”

What he handed me was a letter from Prince Michael von Hohenzollern to Herr Oberst Kraft, on royal stationery, ordering him to accept the governorship of Maine if he were elected to it.

“I am certain this letter is genuine,” I said to the enraged Kraft. “Further, I believe I have a witness. Will you accept the word of the Russian ambassador?”

That brought Bill up short. His face began to show a different expression – less anger, and dawning wonder. “Is it possible His Majesty really has sent me orders?” he asked. “I’ve served him since I was a boy, but I never thought he knew I existed. How could this be?”

“Will you come with me to Father Dimitri’s?” I suggested.

“Yes, I guess,” Bill replied, cooling down but still wary. “You know, when I first received the envelope with the Black Eagle of Prussia on it, my heart almost stopped, not from fear but from hope. Then I realized it had to be some trick. If it is . . .” His face started to redden again.

“It isn’t,” I said, skirting dangerously close to the edge of the truth. “Let Father Dimitri explain.”

It took us about fifteen minutes to walk to the Russian embassy. Bill’s face was blank, his mind far away. The private world in which he had always lived was taking on a new reality, and it was both wonderful and terrible to him.

My own thoughts were penitent. In what I had conceived as a good joke, I had trespassed on the core of my friend and mentor’s being. It does not do to laugh and make merry before the Ark of the Covenant.

Father Dimitri received us with the inevitably generous Russian hospitality and a good priest’s sense that we were on perilous ground. Bill took a glass of tea but didn’t even look at the tempting zakushki placed before us. He handed the letter from Prince Michael to Father Dimitri. “Captain Rumford tells me you know something about this,” he said in a slow, flat voice that told me he was pulling hard on his own reins. “Is it genuine?”

Father Dimitri, who also spoke German, read it carefully. “Yes, it is genuine,” he replied. “I can confirm that in writing with St. Petersburg if you want me to, but there is no question about it. These are orders for you from your King.”

“How do you know?” Kraft asked the priest. My stomach was wadded up tight as a fist around a grenade with the pin pulled. If Bill took Father Dimitri’s answer the wrong way, my relationship with him might be shattered irreparably. If that happened, I knew I’d have no choice but to resign as Chief of the General Staff. I could not function without his guidance and support. I would also have lost a good friend.

“You may recall that on the day Governor Bowen was hanged, you were approached about the governorship, which you declined,” said Father Dimitri. “Your refusal concerned many of Maine’s leaders deeply. They felt that you alone could restore the people’s confidence in their leadership after Governor Bowen’s treason.”

“Later that day, one of them came to see me and asked my assistance. He did something that you may dislike, but that you must also admit is not improper in emergencies. He asked my help in contacting your superior – your King.”

Every language has one phrase that captures the essence of its speakers’ culture. For German, it is “Wer ist ihrer Vorstehener?” – Who is your superior?

“I communicated the situation here, and your central role in the creation of an independent Maine and the Northern Confederation, to my superior, His Imperial Majesty Tsar Alexander IV,” father Dimitri continued. “He expressly directed me, when he assigned me here as his ambassador, to take such actions as I believed necessary to uphold the independence of the Northern Confederation. In my dispatch, I told him I believed it necessary for you to be Maine’s next governor, if the Confederation were to endure.”

“You may remember, Herr Oberst, that our Tsar was once a soldier himself, a general in the Russian Army. He understands Auftragstaktik, that wonderful Prussian contribution to the art of war. He therefore trusts his subordinates – or replaces them. Trusting me, he laid my case before his fellow sovereign – by rights – the King of Prussia.”

“Prince Michael read my description of the situation here in Maine. He is a Christian prince. Desiring to support the effort to rebuild Christian civilization in North America, he sent you his order to accept the governorship if the people offer it to you. It was his decision, no one else’s. The order is genuine, it is from him to you – he knows who you are and what you have accomplished – and it expresses his wish.”

Bill Kraft sat unmoving, unblinking, almost as if in a trance, his eyes fixed a million miles away, or more than a century back. East Prussia, Allenstein perhaps, a clear day in early fall with a hint of the steppes in the east wind, his regiment drawn up on parade, himself on horseback in front. The Kaiser, Wilhelm II, stops his horse, smiles, commends the appearance of his men. Explains his intent for the coming maneuvers, gut, alles klar. Oh, and you’ll soon be coming back to Berlin – plans division, West, in the Grossgeneralstab.

Slowly, Bill came back to us. “Father Dimitri,” he began in a soft, almost inaudible voice, “I thank you for what you have done. It goes without saying that I will accept whatever orders my King gives me. But to me, what has happened here touches on much more than any order. I must know this letter is genuine. Forgive me, but I must ask if you are prepared to swear that what you have told me is true?”

The good priest’s Bible lay open on his desk, to the Psalm appointed for the day. Reverently, he took it, kissed it, closed it, and laid his right hand on it. “I swear, before God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, before the Blessed Virgin Mary, Blessed Michael and all angels, and Nicholas, Tsar and Martyr, that what I have told you is the truth.”

“Thank you,” Bill said quietly. Then he turned to me. “May I ask what your role was in this?”

It was time to face the music. “I was the one who asked Father Dimitri for his help in reaching Prince Michael. I’m the one who went over your head.”

“Thank you also,” he said. My stomach began to relax. I’d made it over the bar.

Bill took a couple deep breaths, as if coming up for air after a long dive into some hidden depth. Gradually, he was reconnecting with the world.

“May I not tempt you with some Sevruga?” asked Father Dimitri. I knew Bill was very fond of caviar, and this was the best.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t right now,” Bill replied. “I have eaten and drunk too deeply of other things this day. If you will excuse me, I need to be alone for a while.”

“Of course, we understand,” Father Dimitri replied kindly. “But before you go, I have something else for you.”

From his desk drawer he removed a small box, richly worked with gold, looking like a Faberge egg. “This came with today’s dispatches. Prince Michael sent it to my Sovereign, with a request that he send it on to you. The box is a small token of esteem from Tsar Alexander.”

Slowly, Bill moved to take the box. He stared at it for a long time. Then, almost reluctantly, he opened it.

Inside was the Pour le Merite – the Blue Max.


After Bill had gone and I had recovered with more than a few glasses of vodka, I looked seriously at Father Dimitri and said, “I don’t know what you’ve learned from this day, but I learned that I won’t be playing any more jokes on Herr Oberst Kraft.”

With a gentle smile, Father Dimitri replied, “You still don’t understand the Russian sense of humor.” favicon

Victoria: Chapter 28

Hope, they say, is a fool, and perhaps so was I. But I had hope the new year of 2029 would see normal life begin to return to the Northern Confederation. With the war in remission and the black problem on its way to a solution, our main difficulty was that the economy was in the tank. We were caught in a depression worse than that of the 1930s, a lot worse.

As in Russia in the 1990s, the breakup of the country had severed so many trade relationships that industry came to a standstill. There were no raw materials, no spare parts, no markets. The Pine Tree Dollar held its value, because we stuck to the rule of not printing any we couldn’t back with gold or foreign exchange. But to get foreign exchange, we needed to export. To export, we needed to make things. And to start making things again, we needed to loosen the money supply, which we couldn’t do because we couldn’t print more money. Our empty wallets told us why economics is called “the dismal science.”

Bill Kraft worried that voters would demand we start issuing money we couldn’t back. That didn’t happen. Folks weren’t about to forget why the old USA fel1 apart. There was no nostalgia for decadence. People just took in their belts a notch or two, huddled together in the one room that had heat and looked for opportunities to work.

Slowly, those opportunities came. With the Federal government and its OSHAs and EPAs and EEOCs gone, someone with an idea could just set up shop. In Massachusetts, one of the companies on Route 128 made a breakthrough in battery technology and began manufacturing power-packs for European and Japanese electric cars. In New York, a crazy retired colonel started building small dirigibles using carbon fiber frames, as replacements for helicopters. They cost only one-tenth as much to operate and maintain for the same lift, and foreign orders started coming in.

A computer wizard in Providence came up with a terminal that gave the user hard copy as he typed, thus guaranteeing he would never again lose days of work because the system crashed. He called his device a “printwriter,” and it sold like, well, typewriters.

I was tempted to go into business myself, making a practical and highly gratifying attachment for the telephone which would, upon detecting voicemail on the other end, immediately zap the receiver with a gazillion-volt charge and turn it into a blob of melted celluloid. Regrettably, my General Staff duties proved too demanding to allow a diversion into Geschäft.

Most new businesses weren’t fancy or “high tech.” Rather, they represented a step back into the early years of the Industrial Age. They were small shops, located near rivers and railroads, making things people needed: plows and hoes, carts and wagons, frying pans and treadle sewing machines and hand operated washers.

It wasn’t clear at the time, but these NIPs – New Industrial Pioneers – marked the real “new wave” the Tofflers and other fat fools had predicted. Only it was the opposite of everything they had foreseen.

First, it centered on making things. It turned out that passing around “information” among computers was just a video game for adults. It wasted vast amounts of time, produced nothing, and caused living standards to fall faster than a whore’s drawers. By moving back into the Industrial Age, the NIPs began laying a sound base for a stable prosperity.

Second, in the real new wave, enterprises were small. Bigness did not result in efficiency. On the contrary, anything big – government, business, an army, whatever –created a labyrinth in which incompetents could hide, breed, and “make careers.” Instead of a “world economy,” we found ourselves moving toward many small, local economies where maker, seller, and buyer all knew each other and understood what worked.

Third, the new wave marked the end of rampant consumerism. A dose of reality, in the form of hard times, taught people what was important: a few useful things, made by hand by real craftsmen, built to last for generations. Some people called it the “Shaker Economy,” and that wasn’t off the mark.

These were the beginnings of a Retroculture society, though at the time they were actions driven by necessity, and we saw them as nothing more. An invisible hand was at work – not that of Adam Smith’s market, but the infinitely more powerful hand of God. For the first time in generations, we were willing to be the sheep of His hand, and let His wonders unfold.


But in the year 2029, that all lay in cloud. We were scrambling to make ends meet, all of us. The General Staff had quickly demobilized the army, all but three battalions which were stationed as quick reaction forces, one in Connecticut and two in New York. Local militia were responsible for keeping the borders closed. It was less than a bare-bones arrangement, but the Confederation didn’t have the money to do more, and the men were needed at home to hammer and forge, plow and reap.

The first crisis of the year came in April, right on April Fool’s day. I scented that something was in the wind, because for the previous three weeks, no one had been able to find Governor Bowen.

This wasn’t merely a case of the governor being “unavailable;” we were accustomed to that. He had vanished. No one had any idea where he had gone, not even the nurses who took care of him or his wife. What made it all the stranger was that, for many months, he had been unable to leave his bed.

Bill Kraft proved unusually unhelpful. He’d gone home to Waterville and he declined to return to Augusta. Nor would he let me come up there to see him. He told me flat out it would be a waste of my time and his. I suspected his was a Taoist withdrawal – inaction as a form of action –but that didn’t help clear up the mystery. The legislature was out of session, nobody moved to recall Bowen by referendum, so all I could do was sit like Mr. McCawber and wait for something to turn up.

Around 10:30 in the morning on the first of April, my phone rang. On the other end was Major Jim Jackson, formerly a Marine reservist in Vermont and now the NC General Staff rep in Montpelier. “We got some funny goin’s on here,” he said, “and I thought you ought to know about ʻem. As we speak, I’m lookin’ out the window at men and women both, all headed toward the state capitol and all carrying weapons. They don’t look like our sort of folks, either. Most of the men have long hair, and the women seem to be the horse-faced sort. If its some kind of April Fool’s gag, they’re doin’ a good job of keepin’ a straight face.”

“If this call is an April Fool’s joke, it’ll be on you, because I’ll have you clapped in irons ’til May,” I replied.

“It isn’t,” Jim replied. “I’m now seein’ a few flags. They appear to be green.”

“Shit, more Muslims?” I asked.

“I doubt it, here,” Jim answered.

“Who else would have green flags?”

“Deep Greeners,” Jim answered. “Vermont’s still got a good number of ʻem. They’ve kinda gone to ground since Vermont First took over, but they didn’t die off. If I were to bet, I’d bet that’s what I’m lookin’ at. They’re seedy enough. And no one else would give women guns.”
Deep Greeners were the Khmer Rouge of environmentalism. They believed nature was a gentle, sweet, loving earth goddess who had been ravished by Man the Despoiler. The earth could again be a Garden of Eden, if only man could be removed. That this would leave no one capable of appreciating the garden did not occur to them. Deep Green was the most radically anti-human ideology humans had yet invented, in that it called for man to eliminate himself. There were, of course, exceptions: Deep Greeners were fit to live. But nobody else was.

“OK, Jim, go check it out, and try to stay out of trouble,” I ordered. “Alert the local militia, too. I’ll be over as soon as I can get there, with part of the Kampfstaffel.

The Kampfstaffel was a new unit, established after demobilization, of two infantry companies. It answered directly to the Chief of the General Staff. Mostly, I used it as a Lehr unit, to experiment with new tactics, techniques and weapons and to train other units. In battle, they were a force I could use to intervene personally. In this case, they had some interesting gear I wanted to try out, stuff the Marine Corps had developed in the 1990s as part of “non-lethal warfare.”

We were ready to move out just before noon when Jim Jackson called again. “I was right, it’s Deep Greeners,” he said. “They’ve taken over the capitol building and most of the downtown. Nobody’s done any shooting, so far. I’ve got one of the handbills they’re passing round, and it’s what you’d expect: demanding an end to all industry, especially the NIPs, condemning logging and farming as ‘rape.’ They even say we should burn down all our towns and cities and make everyone live like they do, in huts and holes in the hills.”

“Who’s leading them?” I asked.

“Your governor, Bowen,” Jim said.

“What? Bowen’s there?”

“Standing tall and strong on the capitol steps, in the midst of a speech that’s gone on for two hours already and gives no sign of stoppin’,” Jim replied. “When I left, he was sayin’ that oxygen is a precious resource, and no one who didn’t worship ʻMother Gaia’ should be allowed any.”

“What action have you taken?” I asked, knowing that as a General Staff officer, Jim would have done more than collect information for someone else to act on.

“The local militia is mobilized, and we’re quietly evacuating the citizens from downtown,” Jim answered.

“We’ll put the area around the capitol under siege as soon as that’s done. I’d like to avoid any shooting if we can.”

“We’re thinking the same way,” I said. “I’ll be there with a company of Kampfstaffel by this evening. Out here.”


We rolled in around eight that night. The militia had sealed off downtown Montpelier, with the Deep Greeners inside. They weren’t allowing any food in, but hadn’t turned off the water or gas yet. We weren’t quite ready for a confrontation, nor did the Deep Greeners seem to want one. They thought that if they ran up the Deep Green flag, Vermont would rally to them. It didn’t.

We could just wait them out. But I saw this as an opportunity to demonstrate the Confederation would not tolerate putsches. Every state, and the Confederation as a whole, now allowed initiatives and referenda. If Deep Greeners wanted to change our course, they could put their ideas on the ballot and let people vote. Unlike the late United States, we had a legitimate government.

Our Kampfstaffel company had brought along a gadget I thought might force the issue. It was a sonic weapon, developed by the French decades ago, that caused people to lose control of their muscle functions – including their sphincter. Basically, they flopped around like fish and pooped their pants. What could be more appropriate than making Deep Greeners soil themselves? We also grabbed some local fire engine pumpers to use as water cannon; overnight, our troops welded shields on them to protect the operators from rifle fire.

We attacked at first light on April 2nd. The sonic weapon was on an LAV. It led our column right up to the capitol, followed by three fire engines and infantry with gas grenades. The Deep Greeners, with Bowen, now in the pink of health, out in front, met us on the lawn of the capitol building. They were carrying weapons, but they didn’t point them. Evidently, they hoped we would massacre them in front of the television news crews, creating martyrs for their cause.

Instead, we turned on the sound weapon. The effect was immediate. The Deep Green crowd hit the deck, involuntarily, as they lost all muscle control. We didn’t even need the fire hoses or the gas.

As soon as we turned the sonics off, our infantry moved in and started handcuffing the Deep Green warriors and tossing them in wagons. I directed the media reps to come in close, real close. They quickly got a strong dose of eau de excrement. Holding their noses, the TV and radio announcers reported the smell-o-rama, which sent their audiences into howls of laughter. That took care of the “martyr” danger. No one becomes a hero by crapping his drawers.

So ended the Deep Green putsch. By noon on the 2nd, downtown Montpelier was returning to normal, and the governor of Vermont met with the legislature to determine the fate of the putschists. It was quickly decided that since they were unsatisfied with life in Vermont, they ought to go somewhere else.

Cascadia had a strong Deep Green party, and the government there had been following events in Vermont with interest. They volunteered to take the expellees, and on the morning of April third we dumped them on two Air Nippon Airbus 600s and sent them on their way to Seattle. To help Cascadia appreciate what it was getting, we did not give them an opportunity to change their pants.


That was not quite the end of the matter. On the evening of the 2nd, I had received a telegram from Bill Kraft, commanding “Return Bowen to Maine immediately.” So I tossed our good governor in the back of my LAV, to find in Augusta on the 3rd a welcoming committee of Kraft, the leaders of the legislature, and the town jailer, who was there to escort the Hon. Mr. Bowen to the slammer.

Bill and I adjourned for dinner at Mel’s. When we’d ordered our codfish cakes and boiled potatoes, which was all the menu offered in those hard days, I gave the Herr Oberst my best hurt puppy look and said, “Old friend, you set me up, or at least I think you did.”

“I did not ‘set you up,’”Kraft replied, somewhat on the defensive. “If I’d told you what I knew, you would have acted just as you did anyway.”

“What did you know?” I inquired.

“I knew Bowen’s sickness was an act,” he replied. “At first it was real. He was overwhelmed by the responsibility of being a wartime governor. Like most politicians in the old United States, he’d spent a lifetime learning how to avoid decisions. When he had to make some, he came unglued.”

“But that passed. By the time of the governors’ meeting in New York, he was over it. I was getting reliable reports that when he thought he was alone, he was quite spry. Once I figured out he was acting, the question was why? If he just wanted to be governor of Maine and serve his people, he had no need to pretend he was sick. So who or what was he serving instead?”

“I got a break, thanks to one of the oldest engines of human history, female jealousy. Bowen’s wife had noticed that one of his nurses, a certain Miss Levine, spent increasing amounts of time with him. He brightened notably when she entered the room, and was sufficiently indiscreet to ask for her if she wasn’t there. At the same time, he grew colder toward everyone else, including his wife.”

“Naturally, Mrs. Bowen thought they were having an affair. Afraid to cause scandal, she approached me quietly for advice. I immediately suspected something more was going on. So I arranged for Miss Levine to get a telegram calling her home to attend a sick momma. Along the way, her journey was unexpectedly interrupted when the train made a water-stop. She was escorted to a waiting automobile, and thence to a small fishing shack on the coast. Interrogation techniques soon proved they have not lost their efficacy.”

“It seemed Miss Levine was a devoted Deep Greener. She did appeal to Bowen’s amorous propensities, but those just opened the door. Bowen had absorbed a great deal of cultural Marxism under the old regime, and his breakdown came in part because he found himself heading a government that rejected everything it stood for. She worked her feminine wiles to convince him he could become a hero by embracing Deep Green and leading it to power. That restored his health, and also gave him reason to keep his cure secret until he could find a way to act.”

“Did you know Bowen was involved with the Deep Greeners in Vermont?” I asked.

“Yes,” Kraft replied. “Miss Levine had established that connection for him. Threatened with the gallows, she agreed to become a double agent. She convinced Bowen he had to communicate with the Vermonters in writing. I got copies of all the letters.”

“Why didn’t you tell me all this?” I asked.

“I was afraid you would counterattack too soon. It’s a bad American habit. We needed to let our enemy commit himself irrevocably before we acted.”

“And what will happen to Bowen now?”

“He will be tried for treason, convicted, and hanged by the neck until dead,” Kraft replied.


The wheels of justice ground coarse but swiftly in the Northern Confederation. Bowen went on trial before a jury of his peers – twelve white men – on April 7. The weasel first reverted to his helpless invalid act, then suddenly recovered his health to offer a stirring defense of cultural Marxism. The jury literally laughed in his face. The prosecutor gave the court Bowen’s treacherous letters to the Vermont Deep Greeners, and on April 10, it took the jurors less than fifteen minutes in deliberation to find him guilty.

Bowen’s lawyer – we had not yet recodified the laws and eliminated lawyers – knew his client was as guilty as Judas, and hadn’t spent much effort suggesting otherwise. Instead, he focused his efforts on avoiding the death penalty. He presented the court with a stack of glowing character references. The prosecutor pointed out they were all written by former politicians or lobbyists whose palms Bowen had greased under the old American regime.

The defense then called a variety of clergymen – and, foolishly, some women, including one purporting to be the Episcopal “Bishop” of Maine (Bill Kraft, a traditional Anglican despite his Prussian commission, referred to her as “the Vestal”) – who testified that the death penalty was unchristian. The prosecution responded by offering the local Monsignor as a witness. He methodically cataloged passages from the writings or sermons of each defense witness where they had departed widely from Christian doctrine. With a twinkle in his venerable eye, he then recounted how the church itself, in its salad days, had not hesitated to turn the most hardened of sinners over to the secular arm for the ultimate sanction – while praying, most sincerely, for their souls.

Bowen’s attorney’s final trick was to call Mrs. Bowen to the stand. Perhaps he thought conjugal bonds would inspire her to plead for mercy, and a faithful wife’s tears would sway the court.

But Mrs. Bowen proved to be made of sterner stuff. Her plea to the court, while not what Bowen’s lawyer had hoped, was most eloquent.

“Your honor, men of the jury, perhaps you can imagine how hard it is for me to say what I must. Perhaps you can’t. Asa was a good husband, and I think I’ve been a good wife. I loved him, and I think he loved me. I know I love him still.”

“That’s what makes it so hard. If I were angry with him, or jealous because of his unfaithfulness, it would be easier. But I’m not. I wish with all my heart that he and I could simply walk out of this building together and go home.”

“But I know I must honor a higher love, my love of this state of Maine. And I do love her. I love her rocky spray-swept coasts and quiet forests, her old ways and silent people. And I know Maine’s women, no less than her men, must do their duty by her.”

“My husband betrayed us. There is no other way to put it. He tried to sell us out to people who would have destroyed us. I know what kind of people they were. Asa used to bring them by the house all the time, back when we were still the United States. They were always going on about this cause or that, somebody who was a ‘victim,’ somebody else who was an ‘oppressor.’ I’d invite them out to see our garden, a nice garden. But they couldn’t see it, or me, or anything. All their brain was taken up by some ideology, so they couldn’t see at all. And what they could not see, they would destroy.”

“If my Asa had succeeded with these Deep Greeners, this State of Maine my family has loved for more than 200 years would have vanished. It would not have been the same place. I don’t know what it would have become, but it would not have been the same. It would not have been Maine.”

“I would like to ask mercy for my husband. But I do not have the right to do that. All those generations who went before us, who carved our state from the wilderness with lives of toil and hardship, who gave all they had to make us what we are, forbid me. What Asa did might have reduced all their labor and pain and sacrifice to nothing. No one has a right to do that.”

“My husband is guilty of a terrible crime. I thank God he failed in it. But he did it, and he must pay the price. I will miss him, and mourn him the rest of my life. But I cannot ask you to spare him. Do your duty, as I have done mine.”


The judge, along with the rest of us in the courtroom, was deeply moved. His voice echoed as he sentenced the Honorable Asa Bowen, former governor of the great State of Maine, to hang by the neck until dead on the 15th of April. Those of us who remembered what April 15th had meant in the old U.S.A. found it a most appropriate day for hanging a government official.

The gallows were set up in front of the State House, still a burned-out shell thanks to federal bombing, but a symbol of Maine nonetheless. The whole town turned out for the hanging, and other folks came from all over Maine, despite the difficulties of travel. I was pleased to see that many parents brought their children. They weren’t too young to learn that the wages of sin are death, that Maine was recovering its nerve.

Right at noon, just after the factory whistles blew, Bowen stepped out of the horse-drawn paddy wagon, draped in black, that had brought him from the town jail. Before him walked a priest reading Psalms. Bowen kept his dignity, mounted the platform unassisted and stood on the trap. The executioner, in his black mask, hooded Bowen and bound his legs. The noose was slipped over his head and tightened. The priest offered a prayer for Asa’s soul; most of us bowed our heads and joined in the “Amen.” It was the state’s duty to execute justice, but God could be merciful. At exactly 12:10, the hangman pulled the lever and Bowen dropped. It was a clean kill.

It was also time for lunch. favicon

Victoria: Chapter 27

On September 15, just after lunch, I was finishing packing up my to move back to Augusta when Gunny Matthews stuck his head in the door. This time, he was smiling. Not only had he played a central role in liberating Boston and saving his fellow black Christians from slavery, his own pastor had backed me up in telling him he had been faithful through it all.

“Come on in, Gunny,” I said. “Pardon the mess, but General Staffs live on paper. Even this short operation has generated plenty for the archives.”

“Don’t you use computers, sir?” the Gunny asked in wonder.

“Just as paperweights,” I replied. “The only electronic security in the age of computers is not having any computers. The only computers in our army are in the Nachrichtendienst, where we have a nest of nerds who hack the other side’s computers.”

“Retroculture again, sir?” the Gunny asked jokingly.

“Ayuh, that’s what it is,” I replied. “I never did trust any machine that wasn’t run by steam.”

“Well, sir, I guess it’s Retroculture I came to talk to you about, in a way,” the Gunny said. “At least Retroculture may be a solution. I came to talk to you about a problem, a big problem, facing our Northern Confederation.”

I could tell Gunny Matthews had a piece to say, so I leaned back in my chair, put my boots up on the desk and reached for a fresh cigar, a good Connecticut Valley maduro. The Gunny knew from old times that meant he had the floor.

“Sir, let me put it to you straight. The biggest problem I see facing the black community is bad blacks.”

“Now, you know we have a lot of good black people. You saw that in the Corps, and in the Battle of the Housing Project. Everybody saw it in Newark. The problem is, in most places, it isn’t the good black people who run the black community. It’s the bad blacks. It’s gang leaders and drug dealers and drug users. It’s muggers and car-jackers and burglars. It’s pimps and prostitutes, beggars and plain-ol’ bums. It’s people who just won’t work for an honest living.”

“Sir, you know and I know the Northern Confederation isn’t gonna live with this. It’s not the old United States. The Northern Confederation is for people who want to live right, by the old rules. They won’t tolerate having little pieces of Africa all over the place. And they shouldn’t. Africa’s a mess. I’m thankful for that slave ship that brought my ancestors over here, cause otherwise I’d be livin’ in Africa, and I don’t think there’s a worse place on earth.

“Sir, I’m not talkin’ to you just on my own account. I’ve been speakin’ with a lot of folks, back in Boston, in the churches. We don’t want to go on livin’ like we have been, surrounded by crime, drugs, noise, and dirt. We know that if we don’t clean up our own act, the white folk in the Confederation are gonna clean it up for us. We want to do it ourselves, to show folks what good black people can do.”

“What I’m here for, is to ask if you can help us find a way to do that,” the Gunny concluded.

“Hmm,” I said, “Do you have any ideas about solutions?”

“Yes, sir,” Gunny Matthews answered. “We’ve had a group working on some ideas. But we don’t know what to do with them.”

“OK, let me see what I can do,” I said. “Give me a few days, then call me.”

The Gunny took his leave, and I followed him down the stairs to pay a call on Herr Oberst Kraft. He’d been expanding his political network into the new states, and he’d know who to talk to.

The smoke from my cigar mingled fragrantly with that from Kraft’s pipe, and he offered me a glass of Piesporter Michelsberg Spatese ’22 to wash down both. I laid out what Gunny Matthews had said to me, and asked if he could help make the political connections. The Northern Confederation didn’t have any real central government and didn’t want one, so what we needed to do was present something to the governors of the states.

“Your black friend is perceptive,” Kraft said when I concluded. “In fact, at the political level we have already recognized the black problem as the first thing we have to face, now that we have an interval in the war – and no, the war is not over yet. But this can’t wait. No one in the Confederation has any intention of tolerating disorder in our black inner cities. It represents everything we revolted against when we left the United States.”

“We have some ideas ourselves about how to solve it, and we have no hesitation in taking whatever measures are necessary, however harsh,” Kraft continued. “The will is there. I’ll tell you, quite frankly, that some well-placed people simply want to expel every black from our territory, and I think a majority of our citizens would agree.”

“I could understand that, and I think Gunny Matthews could too, given the black crime rate,” I replied. “But I also know there are good black people, good enough that they’ll work and even fight for the same values we believe in,” I continued. “Don’t forget the black Christians from Boston who chose slavery over renouncing their Christian faith. I read Gunny Matthews’ effort as a message from the same kind of people that they’re now willing to do what it takes to get back their own communities. If they can do it, then the blacks could become an asset to the Confederation.”

“I don’t know,” Kraft replied. “Perhaps you are right. The black community was an asset as late as the 1950s. But we cannot allow it to remain what it is now: a burden the rest of us have to carry.”

“Are you at least willing to hear what Matthews and his people want to do?”

“Yes, we can listen. But remember, das Wesentlich ist die Tat. We will only be satisfied with actions and with results, not intentions.”

“Agreed,” I said. “Will you set it up so they can make their pitch to the governors?”

“Yes,” Kraft answered. “But not to the governors alone. This matter is too important for that. The meeting will be carried live on radio, so every citizen in the Confederation can participate.”


On the afternoon of the first Sunday in November, the governors of the states in the Northern Confederation met in Albany, New York, to hear the leaders of the “Council Of Responsible Negroes” present their proposal. Even our Governor Bowen attended, though he looked like death warmed over. The session had been scheduled for a Sunday afternoon so the Confederation’s citizens could gather around their radios without missing work or church.

Since the liberation of Boston, what to do with the Confederation’s blacks had become the number one topic of public discussion, thanks to my promise to bring Boston’s black Christians back out of slavery. The deal was not popular; for too long, “black” had meant “criminal.” Fortunately, the governors realized I had made a military decision, one that had enabled us to re-take Boston with a minimum of fighting. Our troops, who for good reason did not relish combat in cities, understood it too, and they explained it to their families and neighbors. Otherwise, I might have been in for some tar and feathers.

Anyway, it was clear that Gunny Matthews, the director of the Council Of Responsible Negroes, or CORN, had a tough row to hoe. The question was, could he and his people come up with something this late in the game that would change black behavior and white attitudes?

The meeting was chaired by the governor of New York, since it was meeting in his state. Meetings of the governors had no authority to make decisions for the Confederation; each state had to decide matters for itself. After throwing off the heavy hand of Washington, we had no desire to create much in the way of a new central government. Such sessions were held, infrequently, purely for purposes of gathering information and sharing common concerns.

Facing the row of governors were the four leaders of CORN from the four states that had significant black populations: New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Gunny Matthews represented both Massachusetts and CORN as a whole; he was the organization’s president. In fact, he had put CORN together in the few weeks since Boston was re-taken, building on work a handful of blacks had been doing since the 1980s. These pioneers had realized the black community’s problems were mostly of its own making, and while they took a lot of crap from the cultural Marxists, they had persevered and slowly grown. Now, most blacks had turned to them for help and hope.

The governor of New York opened the session with a few remarks that reflected what most people in the Northern Confederation were thinking:

“Your Honor, we are here today to discuss the most urgent matter facing our Confederation, now that the United States no longer exists and our borders are, at least at the moment, quiet. Within those borders we hold people, black people, who are a threat to the rest of us. Blacks threaten to be what they have been for many decades: an economic burden and a source of disorder, crime, violence, and even, as we saw in Boston, war. Unlike the United States, the Northern Confederation will not live with this threat. A state’s first responsibility is to maintain order, and we will. However, if blacks themselves can successfully end the threat and permit all citizens of the Confederation to live in harmony, that would be the best possible outcome. We have come together today to hear from you, as representatives of the black community, proposals to that end. You may proceed.”

Folks in the N.C. liked their leaders’ speeches to be short and to the point. The governors understood that. So did Gunny Matthews.

“Gentlemen, thank you for this opportunity to speak,” the Gunny said. “As the leader of the Council Of Responsible Negroes, I do not dispute anything the governor of New York has said, because it is true. As a whole, the black community did become a burden on and a threat to the rest of society, starting sometime in the 1960s.”

“But it was not always that. As late as the 1950s, any of you could have walked safely, alone, through the black neighborhoods in your cities. You would have found intact families, with married fathers and mothers, who supported themselves and contributed by their work to society. You would have seen small but neatly-kept houses fronting clean streets. The people there would have welcomed you. If you were hurt or in need, they would have helped you. Their skins may have been black, but their hearts were as white as yours.”

“I say this because it proves that negroes are not inherently disorderly or criminal. It is not in our genes. The catastrophe that overwhelmed the black community over the last sixty years came from following the wrong leaders and the wrong ideas. That has happened to other peoples as well. It happened in Germany and it happened in Russia. Other peoples have turned from their wicked ways and lived, and we can do the same.”

“We know we must take strong measures, painful measures, to rebuild a negro civil society. We are prepared to do that. And we will do it, for ourselves, if you will let us.”

“Here is our proposal: First, we will put an end to black crime. Any negro who commits a crime involving violence or threat of violence, or breaks into a home or business, or steals a car, will hang. Any negro accused of such a crime will be tried within 48 hours, the jurors will be picked from the residents, black or white, of the street where the crime was committed, the trial will be over in 24 hours, and the sentence will be carried out within three days. We’ll build gallows in every park. We’ll gibbet the hanged corpses on every street corner. And negroes will do the hanging.”

“Not only will we hang every drug dealer, we’ll hang every hard drug user. Anyone, black or white, on the street in black neighborhoods will be subject to random drug testing. Anyone who fails the test will be dragged to the nearest gallows and hanged. The drug test itself will count as the trial.”

“Second, we will enable all negroes to work, produce, and contribute to society instead of taking from it. For decades, regulations imposed by the U.S. government made it impossible for most blacks, and many whites, to start a small business. Anyone who tried was visited by dozens of inspectors and regulators demanding something or other “under penalty of law.” Now that government is gone, but the new members of the Confederation, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, still have many such regulations of their own. They have minimum wage laws that price negro labor out of the market. They have zoning laws that prevent a negro homeowner from running a boarding house. They have laws that allow only union shops to bid on state contracts.”

“Before welfare, negro communities had a thriving small scale economy. If you will allow us to get the regulations and regulators off our backs, we will build our own economy again.”

“Third, we will make certain no more negro children grow up in cities. Cities have always provided rich soil for vices of every kind. The other reforms we have proposed will help, but the city will never be as healthy, physically or morally, as the countryside. Therefore, any negro family that has or wants children will be resettled on a farm. Our states have vast amounts of land that used to be farmed but now lies fallow. World prices for food are rising. Life on a small farm will not make negroes rich in money, but it will give them rich lives.”

“We will buy the farmland we need for rural resettlement. We will pay for it by sharecropping. No one will be forced to sell to us, but many whites own more land than they can farm, and they will profit if they sell. The Amish and the Mennonites have volunteered to teach urban negroes how to farm. We know we can do it, because most negroes used to farm.”

“This is our proposal. If you will approve it, we are ready to put it into effect within 90 days. We ask you to give us three years to prove that it works. If it does not work within that time, we will know black people cannot live in this country, and we will leave. We will lead our people back to Africa.”

“Our question to you is, will you give us a chance to show that negroes can live good, productive lives?”

The governors’ body language told me Gunny Matthews’ proposal had struck home. It was serious. It meant no more shuckin’ and jivin’. If it didn’t work, the blacks would leave the Northern Confederation. The risk to the rest of us was the possibility of three more years of black disorder, if it didn’t work. I figured we could live with that risk, especially since the potential payoff was a lot more land under the plow in a country and a world short on food.

The governors asked a few questions, then turned the meeting over to the citizens of the Confederation. Anyone could phone in their question or comment, and the response was broadcast live so everyone could hear it. I was happy to hear that most people seemed to react as I did: they were willing to give the blacks a chance, since they promised to leave peacefully if they failed.

By about nine that evening, the callers had dwindled, and the governor of New York moved to end the session. He did so with a surprise. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I know we are accustomed to allow every state to make its own decisions. But on this matter, and undoubtedly on others in the future, we need a common policy. I therefore propose we take a lesson from the state that gave birth to our Confederation, the State of Maine. I propose we submit this proposal to the people, in a referendum held throughout the Confederation.” Each state had to make its own decision on that proposal, so the meeting adjourned.

I had quietly mobilized militia around each city that had a substantial black population, in case of trouble. There wasn’t any from the blacks, but in Lawrence, Lowell, and Methuen, Massachusetts, the Puerto Ricans rioted.

The Massachusetts militia quickly encircled the affected areas in each city, then blockaded them. They turned off the water and gas, stopped all food deliveries, and waited. It took about 48 hours for the first Puerto Rican refugees, cold, hungry and thirsty, to approach the militia’s perimeter. There, by my orders, they were turned back.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution expelling all Puerto Ricans in the three cities from the Commonwealth. Once that law was in place, the militia announced over the radio that Puerto Ricans would be allowed to leave each city by one exit. The exit was chosen to be convenient to a railroad, and after the PRs had been fed, given water, and allowed to warm up, they were packed into boxcars for a short trip to Boston harbor.

There, freighters were waiting, along with John Ross’s LPH and his Marines. The PRs were led on board the merchantmen, and on November 17, the convoy set sail on “Operation Isabella.” It anchored off the small Puerto Rican port of Aguadilla on Thanksgiving Day. The Marines came ashore in case there was resistance – there wasn’t – and the human cargo was landed. Our men were back on board their amphib and sailing for home in time for turkey with all the trimmings, and Massachusetts had a double reason to be thankful. There were no more riots.

By December 15, all the states in the Confederation had accepted the governor of New York’s idea for a nationwide referendum on the CORN proposal. It was held on January 3, 2029, and it passed by 58%. Surprisingly, the referendum got strong majorities in virtually every black ward. The lesson we taught the Puerto Ricans probably helped, but the fact was that most blacks were ready for a change. After all, most of the victims of black crime were also black.

Quickly, inner-city crime vanished. The shiny new gallows stood mostly unused after the first few weeks. The whole “black militant” act everyone had groaned under for decades simply collapsed. As Dr. Johnson said, the prospect of being hanged concentrates the mind wonderfully.

What astonished many of us, including me, was how quickly the out-migration to the countryside began. Even though most urban negroes had been born and reared in the city, they retained some ancestral memory of a happy country life. We didn’t have to force them to head for the farm; they wanted to go. Churches, white and black, worked together to find landowners who would accept negro sharecroppers, sharecroppers who, unlike those in the old South, would eventually own the land they cleared and farmed. The Amish and Mennonites proved to be excellent teachers. Within a year, over a third of the urban black population was relocated on farms. By the end of the three years given by the CORN plan, the only negroes left in the cities were old folks without kids and a few black professionals. Gunny Matthews and the other negroes who had seen through the “victims” hokum had brought their people home.

Today, in the year 2068, our negro farmers are the bedrock of our agriculture. Their products make up more than 30% of our exports. Black and white folk still mostly keep to themselves socially, as is only natural, but they work together for the good of our nation. The black visionary whose vision came true was not Martin Luther King, but Booker T. Washington.

If you visit a one-room negro country school, at recess you may hear the children jumping rope to this little song:

Hang him high
Or hang him low,
To the hangman
He will go.
Hang the fat
And hang the thin,
Bow his head
And stick it in.
Hang the young
And hang the old,
Hang the bully
And the bold.
If he steals,
He sure must know,
To the hangman
He will go.

It’s always been true that children learn their lessons best at play. favicon

Victoria: Chapter 26

Back when we were establishing the armed forces of the Northern Confederation – just Maine at the time – I had sent one of our Christian Marines, Captain Rick Hoffman, formerly of the U.S. Navy, down to Portland to see what might be done about creating a fleet. Hoff had his work cut out for him, since our only ship was the LPH John Ross pirated when he came north.

I hadn’t paid much attention since to what Hoff was up to, partly because we hadn’t needed a navy yet and partly because he had a mission order and could be trusted to carry it out. I figured by now he ought to have done something, so I ordered him to our HQ in Worcester to help plan a naval battle.

“Waal, do we have a navy or don’t we?” I asked the good captain when he reported in, “I hope we do, because we sure need one right now.”

“We have a navy of sorts,” Hoff replied. “It’s nothing the old U.S. Navy would have called a navy, but I think it can fight.”

“Can it cut the Islamics in Boston off from the sea?”

“I think it can, if we use a combined arms approach,” Hoff replied.

“What do you have in mind?” I asked.

“We’ve developed two types of warships,” Hoff explained. “I should call them ‘warboats,’ because they’re pretty small. The first is a gunboat, armed with either a ‘Stalin organ’ multiple rocket launcher or a Russian 240 mm mortar. They are converted fishing boats, which means they can carry plenty of ammunition, but they’re slow. Our second warboat type is torpedo boats, converted from speed boats.”

“Did the Russians send us torpedoes?” I asked.

“No. They don’t have torpedo boats any more, and the experiments we tried shooting their submarine torpedoes from converted speedboats were not very promising: We’re using spar torpedoes.”

“Spar torpedoes?” I asked, not sure I’d heard right. “Hell, those disappeared with the Civil War. I’m all for Retroculture, but isn’t this taking it a little far? How will our crews survive ramming a torpedo on a stick into a Muslim destroyer?”

“We’re a little more modern than that,” Dick replied. “We’re up to about the 1880s. After the Civil War, in Europe, navies developed spar torpedoes that could be towed behind and off to one side of a torpedo boat. Instead of ramming the target, the torpedo boat could cut ahead or astern of it, and the towed torpedo would still hit the ship’s side. That’s the kind we’ve got.”

“Still sounds pretty risky to me,” I commented.

“War is dangerous,” Hoff reminded me.

“Well, you should have the advantage of surprise, anyway,” I responded. “The Islamics won’t be expecting a type of attack no one has made in more than a century. How do you plan to use your boats to cut Boston off from the sea?”

“There, I need some help,” Hoff answered. “We can’t do it alone. It has to be a combined arms operation – the old rock-paper-scissors trick. If we have surprise, and I think we will, I believe we can sink or disable the five warships the Islamics now have off Boston. Once the warships are gone, the transports are dead meat, and we can set up a blockade. What we can’t do is deal with the warships they will send to replace those we sink, because by then they’ll be on the lookout for our torpedo boats.

“The best answer to those ships are our F-16s. But they can’t operate near Boston so long as the Islamics have air cover out of Logan. So our navy needs to take out that air cover to allow our aircraft to keep their ships away.”

“Can you do that?” I asked.

“Yes, I think so,” Dick said. “I’ve talked to the Boys in Utica, and they’ll launch a massive feint toward Boston with every F-16 we’ve got at the same time we make our torpedo attack on the Islamic warships. That will make the Islamics launch their aircraft in response. Assuming our torpedoes hit, the way will be clear for our gunboats to blow the hell out of Logan airport. When the Muslim F-35s and F-16s get back, the only place they’ll have to land is in the ocean. After that, our F-16s will have clear skies to defend the approaches to Boston from any more ships the Muslims may send.”

“OK, you’ve thought this through well,” I said. “Combined arms is the answer. As always in war, the outcome is in the hands of Dame Fortune, but you’ve done everything possible to make her job easy. How soon can you do it?”

“It will take about three days to infiltrate our gunboats and torpedo boats into the Boston area,” Hoff answered. “Their weapons systems are concealed, so they look just like other coastal traffic, which the Islamics haven’t blocked. We want to attack at first light with the torpedo boats, when their warships will be silhouetted by the dawn and we can come out of the shadows. The gunboats will already be in Boston’s outer harbor, posing as the fishing boats they were. Utica is ready now, so let’s say we make D-day September 10th, four days from now. We need to move fast, or there won’t be any white Christians left alive in Boston.”

“There may not be any by the 10th,” I said, “The one thing Muslims seem to do efficiently is murder. Anyway, I’ll need that time to get our ground forces in position to attack. We should move when you do, and we’ll need to bring up artillery. A good artillery stonking should rattle them. But I fear we’ll still face heavy urban combat, which is the nastiest job on the face of the planet.”

“I’ll leave that part to you. I’ll be busy enough playing ‘Canoes vs. Battleships,’” Hoff said. “But I do have a question for you. All the attempts at forced conversion to Islam we’ve seen in Boston, and all the crucifixions, have been of whites, Hispanics, and Asians. What has happened to Boston’s black Christians?”

“Hmm, that is a good question,” I answered. “To be honest, I hadn’t thought of it. I guess I just assumed they were being left alone because they were black. But we shouldn’t assume that. Islamics don’t like black Christians any better than white Christians, as they’ve shown by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of them in Africa. I’ll look into it.”


After Hoff left for Portland to get his Navy moving south, I asked our intel officer, Capt. Walthers, what he knew about the fate of Boston’s blacks. He hadn’t asked the question either. But he said some blacks had fled through our lines, with the white refugees, and he’d see if he could find out what they knew.

I went back to work, writing the orders to deploy our forces close-in around Route 128 in preparation for the assault. The Islamics still had not attacked us with air, but I didn’t want their air recon to pick our movements up and tip them off something was coming. So we still had to move at night, on back roads, in small units. There were plenty of houses and barns to hide in during the daytime.

That evening, just after I’d finished giving the last motorcycle courier movement orders for the artillery, Walthers rang me up.

“Skipper, I’ve got someone you may want to talk to, a black fellow who got out of Boston just last night. He says he knows you, and he knows what’s happening to Boston’s blacks. His name is Matthews.”

“Shit, Gunny Matthews? Yes, I know him. Send him up to my office.”

“Aye aye, sir. He’s on his way.”

Mathews was the hero of the Christian Marines’ first battle, the Battle of the Housing Project. I’d lost touch with him since. Whatever the Islamics were doing to Boston’s blacks, it was great knowing he was still among the living.

My door was open, as usual, and I soon saw a very downcast Gunny Matthews standing in it. I got up to shake his hand and congratulate him on his escape. He wouldn’t take my hand, and he wouldn’t look me in the eye. That wasn’t the Gunny. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Are you hurt?”

“Terribly hurt, sir,” he replied. “But I did it to myself. You don’t want to shake my hand, sir, not after what I’ve done.”

“Sit down,” I ordered. “Now, what’s this crap all about? You’re still a Christian Marine, and you’re still my friend. What happened to you?”

“No sir, I’m not a Christian Marine anymore. I’m not a Christian any more. I have some information I think you should hear, sir, but once I’ve told you, and told you how I got it, I’ll be gone. I’m not fit to be around decent people no more.”

“As your commander, I’ll be the judge of that,” I replied. “Tell me what happened to you, what you did, and most important, what you know about the fate of Boston’s black Christians.”

“Yes, sir. Well, sir, you know what’s been happenin’ to the white folks in Boston. Back in our churches, we wondered whether the Black Muslims would do the same to us. A few days after they started crucifying white Christians there on the Common for everyone all over the world to see, they began rounding up black folk, too. We all knew people who ‘disappeared.’ Some came back as Muslims. They told us they’d seen other blacks refuse to convert, but they didn’t know what happened to ’em.”

“So, sir, I decided to try and find out. I went straight to the Black Muslim’s headquarters in the State House and told ‘em I wanted to become a Muslim. I figured if I volunteered, they’d trust me more, and maybe I could find something out.”

“So I did it. I said the words, ‘There is no god but God, and Mohammed is his Prophet.’ I turned my back on Jesus Christ, sir, and I denied him. That’s why I said I can’t be a Christian Marine any more. Of course I didn’t mean it, it was a, what did you used to call it? Something French, oh, yeah, it was a ruse de guerre. But still I said it, so I guess I’m no Christian anymore.”

“But it worked, sir. They’d had a few other people just come in and volunteer, but not many, so I was something special. They gave me the rank of major in their Black Muslim army, and some Arab handed me a whole bunch of his country’s money. They put me on the staff that was overseeing the conversion of other black people to Islam. There, I found out what they’re doing to black Christians who won’t convert.”

The Gunny paused, whether for breath or for drama I didn’t know. “And what are they doing to them?” I asked, playing my part.

“They’re selling them, sir. As slaves, back in the Arab countries. When a plane or a ship arrives with Muslim troops or equipment, it doesn’t go home empty. It goes back filled with black Christians, sir, to be sold as slaves.”

“You’re sure of this?” I asked, realizing we’d just been handed a potent weapon if it were true.

“Yes, sir. I’ve got proof. I’ve got it with me.” Gunny Matthews reached into a canvas bag he’d been carrying and hauled out a bundle of hand-written notes.

“The Arabs, once they had the black folk who wouldn’t convert rounded up, told ’em what was gonna happen to them. They thought they’d get some more converts to Islam that way. And they did get a few. But most black Christians are strong folk, sir. They’re like the church ladies you remember. Unlike me, they wouldn’t deny their Lord and Savior, Jesus.”

“After they’d been told they were goin’ back into slavery, when I could be alone with them, I told ’em that if they wanted to write their families and tell ’em where they were going, I’d try to get the letters through. These are their letters. I’d still like to get them to their families, like I promised, sir, but I thought you might have some use for them first.”

“Gunny, you done good,” I said, with a grin on my face. “I think it’s safe to say I – we – will make very good use of those letters. Are you ready to go on the air, letters and all?”


“Gunny, the forces of the Northern Confederation are about to attack, to liberate Boston. You have just given me the keys to the city. If you’ll do it, I’ll call a news conference where you will tell the whole world’s media what you just told me, and you’ll show them the letters. I’ll time it so it hits Boston right before our assault. I suspect every black in Boston, including the Black Muslims, will go for the throat of the nearest member of the Islamic Expeditionary Force as soon as he hears what his ‘allies’ have been up to. We’ll have those camel-drivers between two fronts and they’ll collapse in a heart-beat. You’ve given me the most powerful psychological weapon since Germany shipped Lenin to St. Petersburg in 1917.”

“I’ll do whatever you want to help my people, sir. All my people, black and white,” the Gunny replied. “I know I’m not a Christian any more, but to me, all Christians are still my people.”

“Gunny, listen to me. You’re still a Christian, as good a Christian as any and better than most,” I said. “Remember a guy named Peter? He denied Christ three times before the cock crowed, and he was the rock on which Christ built his Church. Christ knew what you were doing. I strongly suspect he put you up to it. Your idea was too good not to come from the Holy Spirit.”

“I don’t know what the one unforgivable sin is, but it surely isn’t using a ruse de guerre. Not only are you still a Christian Marine, when you get to Heaven, I suspect they’ll have a special big show when they give you your crown, with all those good Church Ladies belting out some Gospel number to shake the rafters. As I said, you done good. And you’ve helped save the lives of lots of other Christians, including my troops.”

I could see relief dawning in the Gunny’s face. Planting some hope was all I could do now, because we had a city to storm.


September 7, 8, and 9 were days of gut-wrenching tension. Our troops and “warboats” were moving into position. Gunny Matthews was briefing key members of the international press on the fate of Boston’s blacks, with release embargoed until noon on the 9th. The weather forecast for the 10th was good for our navy; some morning fog then clear, with light winds. Our infantry was deployed to attack, not on major routes, such as I-90 and I-93, but on all the back roads and minor streets. The Islamic Expeditionary Force had focused on defending the major roads, leaving the small stuff to their Black Muslim allies. I was relying on Matthews’ message to clear them.

Meanwhile, all I could do was wait and gulp down Maalox. Bill Kraft reminded me of what von Rundstedt did when he got the word that the Allies were landing on the beaches of Normandy. He went out into the garden and trimmed the roses. He had already done all he could, and anything more would just get him into his subordinates’ knickers where he shouldn’t be. It was a good lesson, but it didn’t untie the knots in my stomach.

The first action opened on schedule at noon on the 9th. At a massive press conference with reporters from all over the world, Gunny Matthews told his story. We beamed it into Boston, live, on radio and television. Then, the Gunny read, over the air, all the letters he had brought out with him. We knew they would authenticate his account in the minds of our Boston listeners, because the names and family events mentioned in them would be recognized. Those who heard the words of their own wife, husband, child, or grandparent would tell others the letters were real.

By the evening of the 9th, Boston was crackling with light weapons fire, and the deeper reports of tank guns and RPGs were starting to be heard. Boston’s blacks were turning on their Islamic “friends.”

At first light on the 10th, among the fog banks drifting outside Boston’s harbor, the lookouts on the five Islamic destroyers and frigates spotted some small boats messing about at low speed. Some were fishing boats, others the kind of speedboats used to run hashish between ship and shore in a trade both sides made money from. Nothing seemed unusual, on a blockade that had never been challenged. The lookouts knew the infidels had no navy, and besides, it was time for morning prayers.

Precisely at prayer time, the speedboats gunned their engines and turned sharply toward the Muslim warships, on courses that would take them across their bow or stern. The spar torpedoes ran about 20 feet outboard of the torpedo boats and 100 feet astern. The morning calm was broken by the deep booming of underwater explosions as 250 pound charges blew truck-sized holes in the Prophet’s war galleys.

At the same time, the Islamic air controllers at Logan Airport picked up a mass formation of incoming Northern Confederation F-16s on their radar. Within minutes, Saudi F-35s were scrambling to intercept, followed by everything else that could fly. No one noticed that on the fishing boats near the end of the runways, crewman were taking the canvas covers off tubes planted amidships. The first rounds from our gunboats’ mortars and rocket launchers began impacting the runways and support facilities at 06:40. There were no Islamic warships to interfere.

Our zoomies badly wanted to get into furballs with the Islamic fighter aircraft, but I had forbidden it. Our pilots were better, and I was sure we would win, but I was also sure we’d take some losses. Never fight an enemy you can destroy without fighting. True to their orders, our F-16s turned tail and fled west when they picked up the lead Saudi F-35s closing on them. The Islamic aircraft turned back also, jabbering on their radios about how the Christian dogs were hopeless cowards. They got back to Boston to find Logan a burning heap of wreckage. Some tried to land anyway and became one more wreck amid the potholed runways. Others tried putting down on highways; the ones that made it were captured by our advancing infantry. Most ditched in the bay.

With the Muslims’ air force wiped out, our F-16s launched a second strike, this time for real. They finished off two Islamic warships that had remained afloat after our torpedo attacks, sank the Islamic transport ships and strafed and cluster-bombed the Muslim armor and artillery.

Our ground assault had also kicked off at first light. Our infantry walked into a city-sized civil war. Everywhere, blacks were fighting troops from the Islamic Expeditionary Force. Militarily, the result was to open the door to us, since the blacks had gone after the Arabs, who were mostly on the main roads. The back streets were clear.

Without any direction from General Staff headquarters, our forces moved to encircle the regular Islamic units. That made me proud, because it showed that the concept of achieving a decision through encirclement had taken hold. The effect in this case was a double encirclement: first a ring of blacks around the foreign forces, then an outer wall of Northern Confederation forces around the blacks.

The question was, how would the blacks react? Would they fight both us and the foreign troops? Or would they welcome us as friends and liberators? Around noon on the 10th, I realized this would be the decisive question. It was not something I could determine sitting in an office in Worcester, no matter how good the comm (and ours was good, thanks to using Radio Shack gear and not the garbage the old U.S. forces had bought through their Soviet-model procurement system). I had to be there to get a feel for it. So I grabbed the chopper we kept ready at the door, and had a motorcycle recon squad meet me at Waltham. I took a soldier’s bike and the rest of the squad led me into the city.

A major pocket had been closed just south of Waltham, along I-90, between Newtonville and Route 128. In it was most of the Islamic armor, which had been put there to block an armor thrust by us that never happened. We’d blown bridges on I-90 before and behind the armor, so it couldn’t move. On the other hand, we didn’t have the heavy weapons to take it out. Tactically, it was a Mexican stand-off, but operationally they were toast because their shipping was gone.

John Ross and his Marines had led the column that created this pocket. I found him on I-90, just west of the blown bridge that cut the road back to Boston. In our army, he wasn’t surprised to find the Chief of the General Staff arriving on a dirt bike.

“How’s it goin’, John?” was my formal greeting.

“It’s goin’ good, best I can tell,” Ross replied. “From what I hear on the net, the rest of the Arabs are either caught in pockets like these guys, or are running for the harbor, where they’ll find their ships sunk.”

“It’s over for the Islamic Expeditionary Force,” I said. “All that’s left is for us to cut up their U.N. blue berets and use ’em as toilet paper. But it’s not them I’m worried about. It’s the local blacks. How are they reacting to you?”

“None of them are shooting at us, and I’ve made sure we don’t shoot at them,” John answered. “The black civilians have welcomed us and given us some good intel. Of course, most of them are Christian. You notice the markings on our vehicles?”

I hadn’t. John took me over to the Dodge pickup he was using as a command vehicle. Painted on the side was a white shield with a red Crusader cross. “You’ll find this on just about every vehicle in our army. The men came up with it on their own, as we waited in our jump-off points,” he said. “The cross tells the local Christians we are friends.”

“But the black troops are Black Muslims,” I said.

“I think most of them are galvanized Muslims,” John replied. “And they all know what their Muslim ‘brothers’ have been doing to fellow blacks who wouldn’t convert. I think many of them would come over to us, if we could talk to them.”

“Why don’t we try?” I suggested.

I broke a whip antenna off a vehicle, tied my handkerchief to it and started walking forward. John Ross came with me, as did a Catholic chaplain, Father Murphy.

The Black Muslims had built a small barricade of trucks and overturned cars between themselves and us. Beyond it, further west on the pike, they had a larger barricade built the same way between themselves and the Arabs. Periodically, the Arabs sent a tank shell into it, and the blacks responded with light weapons fire.

As we approached the smaller barricade, we could see weapons pointed at us. “Stop,” a voice called out. “What d’ya want?”

“We want to talk with you,” I replied. “A white flag means parley.”

After about a minute of silence, another voice called, “Who do you want to talk with?”

“All of you,” I answered.

Again, silence. Then someone in cammies carrying an AK stood up on the barricade. “OK, come on,” he said.

We climbed over the barricade and found a couple hundred Black Muslim militiamen gathered in front of us. Their faces showed uncertainty, not hate. They were caught between one enemy and one might-be enemy, which was not exactly a comfortable position. The man who had told us to come on said, “I’m Captain Malik al-Shawarma. What do you have to say to us?”

“What’s your real name?” I asked.

He hesitated a moment, then answered, “John Ross.”

Our John Ross grinned, then said, “I’m John Ross too. Glad to meet a cousin I didn’t know.”

That got a few chuckles, which was a good sign. “Captain Ross, I’ve got two things to say to you and your men,” I said. “First, you’ve been had. You’ve been conned, you’ve been swindled. This “Islam” stuff is crap. You’re not Muslims. And the whole Black Muslim bit itself is just Father Divine and the Reverend Ike and the Kingfish all over again – a few folks who get rich by selling you their shit.”

“Most of you, maybe all of you, became Black Muslims not because you believed it as a religion, but as one more way to ‘get Whitey.’ Well, it’s been a long time since Whitey sold you as slaves, as your Islamic ‘friends’ have done with your real friends and family members. In your hearts you know that what your mother or grandmother taught you is true; Jesus Christ is Lord. He’s the One sitting up there, the One we’ll all meet some day. It’s not some damn camel-driver who sits at the right hand of God.”

“We all get conned on occasion. I got conned by a car company once. I bought a Saab, which is what you do when you own one. You got conned by Mr. Farrakhan and a bunch of rug merchants, and you bought a false religion. Once you realize that and dump this Black Muslim garbage, we have no quarrel with you, nor you with us.”

“That’s the second thing I have to say,” I continued. “We don’t want to fight you. And I don’t think you want to fight us. If you do, you’ll lose. The whole Islamic fleet is on the bottom of the bay. Our aircraft will sink any new fleet that comes within 250 miles of Boston. You’ve got no way out – except to join us instead of fighting us.”

“What do you mean by ‘join you?’” one militiaman asked.

“First, renounce Islam. Then, turn in your weapons and go home,” I replied.

“Most of us know we was had by Islam,” Captain Ross said. “Anything that makes slaves of black people is our enemy. But we want to kill these Arabs. They sent my own grandmother into slavery. Can we keep our weapons until that’s done?”

“No,” I replied, “because we don’t want to kill the Islamic Expeditionary Force. We want to capture it, then trade it for the black Christians who chose slavery over renouncing their faith.”

“You mean you’re gonna get our people back?” Captain Ross asked, amazed.

“That’s exactly what I mean,” I answered. “Anyone who is strong enough to accept slavery rather than renounce Christ is someone we want as a citizen. We don’t care what color someone is. We care about what a person believes and how they behave. The black Christians of Boston are our people too, and we want them back.”

The militiamen looked at each other in astonishment. They’d been told what the “white devils” wanted was to put every black they could lay hands on in the kind of camp where they only came out through the chimney. Now, we were saying we wanted to bring back blacks someone else had gotten rid of.

As usual, the moral level of war was the strongest. A voice came from the crowd, “You got a deal.” The rest nodded their agreement.

“OK, start stacking your arms over here,” I said. “I need volunteers to team with my men and talk to the rest of the Black Muslims in this city. Our deal is open to everyone. Who’s willing to help?” More than one hundred hands went up.

After tossing his AK on the pile, one militiaman came up to me. “When we accepted Islam, or thought we did, they had us say, ‘The only god is God, and Mohammed is his Prophet.’ What can we say now to become Christians again?”

I turned to Father Murphy for an answer. “You’ve already been baptized, son?” he inquired. The militiaman nodded yes. “Well then, you’re still a Christian. Jesus Christ sees into your heart. He doesn’t need any magic formula to know you are His.”

“Isn’t there anything we could do to give up Islam?” asked another from what had become a growing group around the priest.

“Well, I suppose there is,” Father Murphy replied. “Are you willing to take Communion from a Catholic priest?”

Again, the nods said yes. And with that, Father Murphy took some crackers from an MRE and a half-drunk bottle of Ripple found among the rubble and said Mass. As he intoned the Words of Institution, more and more of the former Black Muslims gathered around him, until he had them all. Both John Rosses and I knelt with them to receive the Body of Christ. I still don’t know how the crackers from one MRE provided the Host for all those people, but they did.


The battle was over in one day, and thankfully, our casualties were light, as was the damage to Boston. By the 11th, the encircled elements of the Islamic Expeditionary Force knew their fleet was destroyed and their exit closed, so they asked for terms of surrender. We assured them they would be treated as POWs and exchanged for Boston’s blacks, provided they left their equipment undamaged. They agreed, and we inherited a huge park of the latest tanks, artillery, and air defense weapons. For real war, most of it was inferior to the older, simpler gear we already had, but we still found ways to use it. 70-ton tanks work fine as coast artillery.

With the revelation of the Islamic trade in black slaves, the Black Muslims ceased to exist. The vast majority turned Christian, and were welcomed back by the church ladies as prodigal sons. “General” al-Shabazz became Willy Welly again, and took up his sax in the cause of the WCTU. Some people wanted to hang him, but the consensus in Boston was that the Martyrs of the Common would rather have a convert than a corpse.

Boston again became the capital of Massachusetts, and Massachusetts, shorn of its long-standing liberal illusions, was accepted into the Northern Confederation. Connecticut and Rhode Island came in, too, giving us a solid, defensible block of the old northeastern United States. Again, I had hope of demobilization and peace.

But our war wasn’t over yet. The next battles would be against poisons within. favicon