The Sodom Vale was, as the reader will doubtless recall, rather coarsely described by General Braddock as ‘the arse end of Saindoux’. In fact it is a pretty enough bottom to have attracted a number of bolder settlers to the region, that lies within the wider tract of land known as The Devil’s Kitchen. Following his reverse at the hands of the 42nd Foot, Capitaine de Givenchy of the Régiment de Languedoc attempts to force his way to safety through Sodom Rising, a piece of land noted for fast-flowing streams, rather salty marshes and, naturally, many trees. De Givenchy has been reinforced by men of the Milice du Trois Rivieres, having been abandoned by his fickle and possibly treacherous native allies. It is these natural born sons of New France who he trusts to guide him out of danger. Will de Givenchy force a passage, or will his fancy French tactics unravel again? Read on . . .
Monsieurs Daniel Leroux and Felix Lechat lead the small group of Milice Canadienne who are guiding de Givenchy. They have, however, badly misjudged just how slow the regular troops are across rough-country and de Givenchy’s column has become badly scrunched up on their approach to more open ground across the Brimstone Stream.
The men stumble through the dark forest, urged on by the increasingly worried Lechat and Laroux.
As dawn draws nearer, the French look for good crossing spots.
The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin is the sole building on Sodom Rising. As her sons have joined the Virginia Regiment, she has wisely decamped to the relative safety of Canaan, where she hopes to find an able-bodied protector.
With the white-coated regulars still crashing through the woods, the Milice Canadienne scout ahead.
Will the French luck hold?
Captain Murray brings forward his men with amazing speed, the highlanders proving as nimble through the trees as across their native heather. Dawn breaks just as Murray reaches the borders of the woods looking out onto the Widow Bumgardener’s land.
Suddenly, Lechat feels rather exposed.
Fortunately for Lechat, Murray’s men are not immediately concerned with his small band.
Meanwhile de Givency urges his men forward through the woods.
Laroux has identified the best crossing point for de Givenchy’s men. The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin will shelter men from the enemy while they regroup after fording the stream.
Captain Cutlass, Murray’s chief Mohawk scout exchanges fire with Lechat’s milice.
Lechat loses a man and decides to fall back.
Laroux gets his boys across the Brimstone and finally de Givenchy has his men on the banks.
Lechat gets back behind the Widow Bumgardener’s fence, which provides at least the illusion of protection, without further loss. The whoops of the Mohawk ring in French ears.
The first of the Regulars cross the Brimstone.
Murray leads his men over the boundary Fence. His line now covers the route the French must take to safety.
Faced with running a gauntlet of fire, and with little prospect of being able to form a decent firing line himself without his men being severely mauled in the process, de Givenchy orders his men to retire. An almost bloodless battle with very little powder expended. But as Maurice de Saxe was fond of telling the young de Givenchy, ‘La discrétion est parfois la meilleure partie de la valeur.’
De Givenchy will find a better time and place.