The next two years, 2026 to 2027, were the last of the American Republic. In Maine, we were effectively running our own show. We still sent tax money to Washington, but those taxes were paid in U.S. dollars, not Pine Tree Dollars, so they didn’t mean much to us. In effect, we just shipped some green paper south for recycling.
In Augusta, Governor Adams and the Maine First Party put through a change to our state constitution. It required that every major issue be put to the people of Maine in a referendum, and it also allowed Maine citizens to put on the ballot any issue for which they could get 5000 signatures. That gave the government back to the people, where it had originally come from. It also meant that whenever government did something, it had a majority of Maine folk with it.
The Maine First Party in addition set a rule that it would only consider an issue in the legislature if a majority of Maine towns said they couldn’t deal with it in town meetings. That moved most decisions back to the local level, where they belonged.
We were all poor, but thanks to the Pine Tree Dollar, we weren’t getting poorer. We ate a lot of cabbage and potatoes – the Eastern European diet – and we huddled around the wood stove in winter, but we didn’t starve or freeze. As we had hoped, Asian firms lined up to bid for leases on what had been the national parks in Maine, and the foreign tourists came – and spent. Our economy began to revive.
We knew we had one serious, long-term problem: energy. The only oil in Maine is that left over from frying fish, and our gas was a product of Boston baked beans. Bio-diesel or ethanol wasn’t a solution, given our poor soil, which we needed for potatoes anyway. But electricity was.
In a referendum on March 11, 2026, 83% of the people of Maine voted to open negotiations with the independent Crown provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on damming the Bay of Fundy. With the strongest tides in the world, the Bay of Fundy offered a vast reservoir of power which could turn electric turbines. Both of the former Canadian provinces were agreeable; they were also desperately short of energy, along with almost everything else, now that the rest of Canada was no longer there to subsidize them.
Of course, none of us could afford to build such a vast engineering work. But private industry could. We offered the concession on a build-and-operate basis, with a 99-year monopoly on selling the power. On February 28, 2027, the State of Maine, with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, signed an agreement with the Great Wall Construction and Power Company, a Chinese consortium. Work began that Spring, on a project that would take thirteen years before the first electricity flowed. In the meantime, we would continue to burn wood in our stoves and locomotives (we started building steam locomotives again, at the old Boston & Maine Railroad shops in Waterville) and see our way around the barn with a tin lantern, as our ancestors had.
We even told a good New England joke on ourselves. What did Yankees use for light before they had candles? Electricity.
Thanks in part to our poverty, we began to rediscover real life. Family took on renewed importance. If people were to survive, they had to look after each other, and the family is where that starts. Family members still on the farm sent food to those in town. The kids working in the Asian-owned resorts sent money back to the old folks on the farm. Families set up new businesses to make the basic tools we needed again; plows and buggies proved more useful than computers.
Real life has always meant working, not waiting to be entertained, and there wasn’t much time for entertainment when fields were waiting to be cleared, plowed, sown, and reaped. That was healthy and good. So was the kind of work we did as we returned to the soil and the sea. Dirt is what used to flow from the video screen, not what you run through your fingers as you decide when to plant or water. Maine’s cold sea was cleansing to her sons who turned to it again, in wooden boats propelled by sails or oars, seeking the cod that were once again essential to our survival.
With automobiles stopped for lack of gas, the people who lived nearby took on new importance. What had been mere places again became communities. Families helped other families, trading skills; one could farm, another could teach, a third could saw and hammer. As in the Great Depression of the 1930s, the local doctor took his fee in vegetables and eggs.
Life had gotten harder, but somehow also cleaner. We didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of the Recovery.
Up in Hartland, still at the Old Place, I worked the farm. Now, there was no EPA to tell me I couldn’t plant, and the town needed whatever I could grow. A neighbor was breeding work horses, solid, gentle Belgians, and I got a team from him. I built a wagon, and, with the help of our local blacksmith, a plow, and went to work clearing stones and planting. It was nothing fancy, just corn, potatoes, and cabbage, but it fed the folks working in the tannery, who in turn made leather we could sell overseas.
To my regret, it proved too soon for me to play Cincinnatus. In October, 2026, after the harvesting was done, Governor Adams called. Would I venture the trip to Augusta again? He and a few other folks needed some help thinking about Maine’s future, and felt the Christian Marines had a role to play in that. Of course, I said I’d go. At least this time I could drive a wagon to the train in Pittsfield instead of walking.
We met on October 28, in the governor’s living room. He understood that informal meetings usually get more done than formal ones. Besides the governor and myself, the gathering included General Sam Corcoran, who was the Adjutant General of the Maine Guard, a few of his unit commanders, and some leaders from the various militias around the state.
Governor Adams made sure we each had a bottle of hard cider lying easy to hand, to lubricate the flow of ideas. Then, his back to the fire and his meerschaum pipe in his hand, he explained why he had called us together.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “I do not know what the future has in hold for the United States of America, but I cannot believe it is happy. We have already seen things that, merely twenty years ago, would have been unimaginable to most citizens. Through our own efforts, we in Maine have escaped the worst of it, so far.”
“But we have already had to defend ourselves with force,” he continued. “We must presume we shall have to do so again. As I see it, that means Maine needs an army. I have asked you here today to begin the process of creating one.”
“Of course, I realize we have some military units,” the Governor went on. “We have the Guard and Reserve units of the U.S. armed forces. We have our militias. And, not least, we have the Christian Marine Corps. But I wonder if these separate units constitute a real military – the kind Maine will need if she has to fight a war?”
General Corcoran replied first. “Governor, as you know, the Guard’s first loyalty is to Maine, now. We swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, but Washington abandoned that Constitution long ago. It abandoned it when the Supreme Court began finding things in it that just aren’t there, like a “right” to an abortion. It abandoned it when Congressmen became professional politicians instead of the citizen legislators the Founders envisioned. It abandoned it when the Executive branch bent the powers of government to force political correctness down everyone’s throat.”
“Above all, the government in Washington abandoned the Constitution when it deliberately misread it to rule God out of public life. The Founding Fathers committed the nation’s future to God. I have no doubt that if those men could come back now and see what the federal government has become, they would say it is the very opposite of everything they intended.”
“I think there is an easy solution to your problem,” he continued. “Just turn the Maine Guard into our army. Let us take over these militias and other groups here. We’ll teach them how to be real soldiers – to salute, march and drill, to wear the uniform right. I’ll give you a better-looking army than anybody else has got, I promise you that.”
At this point I realized we were on the verge of making a big mistake. It was time to speak up. “General,” I said, “I appreciate your loyalty to Maine and to what we all believe in. But quite frankly, Maine needs a fighting army for what is coming, not a parade-ground army. Remember the Sukhomlinov Effect: the army with the best looking uniforms always loses.”
“What would you recommend?” Governor Adams asked.
“I agree we should bring all our units together – militias, Guard, Christian Marines, whoever is willing to fight for Maine,” I replied. “But forget about uniforms and drills. The first thing we need is training. Real training is free-play training, where you go against someone who can do whatever he wants to defeat you. That’s the only way to train for real war. Do it with paint guns, BB guns, and eventually live fire.”
“Live fire force-on-force training? You’re nuts,” the AG replied.
“Other countries have done it, and do it today,” I shot back. “Go train with the Chileans some time. They do it. They learned it from the Germans. The rule is, ‘Offset your aim.’ It works, if you trust your troops. And if we want an army for modern war, the first rule has to be, trust your troops.”
“That’s only the beginning,” I continued. “We need all promotions to flow from exercise results: winners get promoted, losers don’t. Otherwise we’ll end up with leaders whose best ability is kissing ass. I saw enough of that in the Corps to last me a lifetime.”
“We need to reward initiative, not obedience: everyone, at every rank, must be expected to take initiative to get the result the situation demands. Discipline is key, but the modern battlefield requires self discipline, not imposed discipline. Armies of automatons lose.”
“We need soldiers who love their weapons, not soldiers who are afraid of their weapons, like those in most U.S. units. We need leaders who love making decisions and taking responsibility. We need to reward people who take initiative, even when it doesn’t work, instead of those who do nothing in order to avoid mistakes. We need units that can move, shoot and fight fast – faster than any enemy, because in war, speed and time are everything.”
“Pardon me, but just where did you learn all this stuff?” the AG asked. “I know you were a Marine captain, but I can tell you Army captains don’t think this way. Frankly, it’s new to me too.”
“There were a bunch of us pushing this way of thinking and fighting in the Marine Corps,” I replied. “We called it ‘maneuver warfare’ or Third Generation war. Historically, it is the German way of war – or the Israeli way, if you prefer. The Israelis got it from the Germans, though they don’t like to talk about that.”
“What you and your men learned in the U.S. Army, general, is the French way of war, Second Generation: focused inward on process instead of outward on results, prizing obedience over initiative, centralizing decision-making, and seeking strength through brute force instead of through speed and tempo. When the French and German styles of war clashed in 1940, the French army went down to defeat in just 43 days. It had more tanks than the Germans, so the cause wasn’t equipment. The reason was doctrine: the way each side thought about war.”
“It seems to me you have a point,” Governor Adams said. “What you are describing as the German army is also the way the most successful corporations have learned to do business: lots of initiative at every level, always trying something new, moving fast and focusing on the customer. Are you saying that Maine’s army needs to be like silicon valley instead of General Motors?”
“That’s right,” I responded. “The American armed services follow the old industrial model: Henry Ford’s production line. Instead, we need to be military entrepreneurs. The tie-in with military doctrine is direct. Around 1990, the Marine Corps put out a field manual on maneuver warfare called FMFM-1, Warfighting. Somebody else slapped a new cover on it and put it out as a guide for businessmen – without changing a word in the text.”
“Well, before I became Governor of this state, I was in the business of making paper,” Adams said. “We learned to run the paper mill just the way you describe running a military, and we beat the pants off our competition. I think if a small state like Maine is to have an army that can win, it needs to go at it the same way.”
“As I said, it’s all new to me,” the AG allowed. “But I do know that Maine cannot afford the equipment or the logistics I was taught to depend on. So I guess we have to do something different. Captain, can you show us how?”
“Sir, it isn’t just me,” I replied. “All Christian Marines understand maneuver warfare. Plus, the Jaeger or ‘Hunter’ tactics infantrymen use in maneuver warfare will be natural to most of your Guardsmen. After all, most of them are hunters. I’m sure some of your officers and NCOs have studied the Germans on their own. I can’t do it for you, but together, I know we can make this work with Maine soldiers.”
“Captain, it seems to me the man who understands this new way of war best ought to lead us into it,” Governor Adams said. “I am prepared to offer you the command of Maine’s forces if you will accept it.”
“Thank you, Governor, I am honored,” I replied. “But I think General Corcoran should be the commander. I would suggest that I serve instead as Chief of the Maine General Staff. In that role, I would advise General Corcoran, as other members of the General Staff would advise commanders of other Maine units. We would also establish a central office of the General Staff here in Augusta to do contingency planning. But we would not replace the commanders the units now have – that goes for leaders of our Maine militia units as well.”
“Is that agreeable to everyone?” the Governor asked.
It was. I knew the militia leaders would appreciate not being bumped downward in units they had created. And the AG’s dignity was intact. The meeting had shown he was open to new ideas, though he wasn’t likely to come up with them himself. That’s OK, I thought: I can play Max Hoffman to his Hindenburg.
“That settles it, then,” Governor Adams said. “That’s the kind of meeting I like, short and decisive. I trust you’ll also be available to advise me, Captain Rumford – or should we make you a general now?”
“Captain is enough for me, Governor,” I replied. “In the German Army, authority went with position, not with rank. I think that’s a good way to do it. It keeps people from thinking too much about getting promoted.”
“Fine. General Corcoran, I trust you will be accepting of the captain’s advice?”
“Yes, sir. It’s clear he knows a lot of stuff I don’t. I just want to serve Maine as best I can,” the AG replied.
“Was er rath, musst du tuun.” Where had I heard that before? Oh yes, it was what the Kaiser had said in August of 1914 when he introduced the Crown Prince to his General Staff officer. “What he advises, you must do.”
The next day, I traded my hotel room for a boarding house in Augusta. It was clear I’d be spending the winter there, working with the Guard to integrate the militia units into our new armed forces and getting the training program going. Of course, we already had our Maine General Staff: the Christian Marines.
We didn’t announce any of this, not yet. No reason to give Washington something else to howl about. By the time they found out, we’d be more than ready for them – or anything else that might come our way as the old U.S.A. dissolved.
For the melting pot had become the refinery. The United States boiled and bubbled and flared with fear and loathing: black against Hispanic against white, woman against man, gay against straight, neo-pagan against Christian, enviro-freak against corporation, worker against boss, west against east. It cracked and separated along every line imaginable, and some not.