B for Brock

My 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge revisits my best posts from the 2014 to 2019 Challenges.

B for Brock (2015 Challenge)

The War of 1812 is central to my historical research for a diary that will appear in my Snowdon Shadows novel, ‘Seeking A Knife’.

Major-General Sir Isaac Brock was instrumental in ensuring British forces and local militia in Upper Canada were prepared when war broke out. His victories at Fort Michilimackinac and Detroit defeated American invasion efforts.

How much do you know about the War of 1812? When I studied  British history in the UK, it was a footnote to the Napoleonic Wars.

A to Z April Challenge Theme Reveal 2020

As April draws nearer so does the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and lots of exciting posts on loads of new sites.

I’ve been doing the A to Z Challenge since 2014 and began pondering my 2020 theme sometime last year. But in the last few months, everything has overwhelmed me – emails, regular posts like IWSG and WEP, replying to comments, and my own writing. Plus, my health issues.

So, I’m taking the simpler way out – reposting my best posts from 2014 to 2019 Challenges.

Thanks to Jacqui Murray for triggering that approach with her 2019 solution: ..a genre for every letter of the alphabet, but with one or two posts every month. Her reasoning chimed with my own thoughts about too many posts to write/read/comment on etcetera in April.

She wasn’t alone as others found other solutions to negotiating the A to Z Challenge.

However, I’m still going to post on the official A to Z days, starting with A for Assault on Wednesday April 1st, 2020. If you’re tempted and follow that link, you will discover Part One of Azure Spark, which evolved into a novella featuring my Welsh detective Sparkle Anwyl. I edited the posts into three acts, and all three will be posted during April: on the 1st, 11th, and 23rd.

I suspect not everyone got to read ‘Azure Spark’ so this will be another chance. A chance to to revisit older posts on other themes; like my 2017 History of Kanata or my 2015 The War of 1812. But I’ve yet to decide what posts to choose.

Watch this space.

All I can say is Sparkle Anwyl’s case will be complete, and Azure Spark is referenced in my WIP ‘Fevered Fuse’ – my current priority along with the more imminent and crucial release of the IWSG Anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost on May 5th.

V for Voyagers on April 25th?

T is for Texas

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

My 2017 A to Z Challenge theme is “The History of Kanata”, the parallel world that is the setting for “Eagle Passage”, my alternative history novel that all began when I wondered, “What would have happened if Leif Eriksson had settled Vinland permanently in 1000 AD? For further details and links to my other A to Z posts – and hints at the ones to come visit “Kanata – A to Z Challenge 2017”.

T (1)

T is for Texas: 1836 – Thirty-three years after the Dixie States acquired territory from France by the Louisiana Purchase, the Mēxihcans attempt to claim Texas. The port of New Orleans is no longer in Kanatian hands, as it was the only concession that the Dixies received after invading the Chesapeake Bay area in 1812 and instead lost their capital at Richmond in the peace talks. From their new capital in Memphis, the Dixie States control the Mississippi all the way to the Gulf of Mēxihco, but Kanata still has trading posts all along the coast.

On the 13 February 1836, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna leads a Mēxihca army of six thousand troops north to wipe out the massively outnumbered Texian army garrisoned at the Alamo Mission in San Antonio de Béxar.  From there, seizing Texas will be straightforward. However, the unusually low temperatures in Texas, including snow, slow his progress and he is unaware that Kimantsi scouts have detected the army as it heads north and alerted the Mjölnir Militia at the trading post on the Nueces estuary. As the senior merchant, Donat Migisi values dealing with the Texians over the Mēxihcans. Kanata is anxious to see the buffer territory in the south of the continent strengthened.

With two hundred Kimantsi and Mjölnir guerrillas divided into two groups, Santa Anna’s army is harassed by a fast-moving enemy. After two weeks of ceaseless assaults, and with his forces disillusioned, Santa Anna reaches the Medina, where a final ambush decimates the invaders and only a thousand remain. The delays allow reinforcements from the other Dixie States to reach the Alamo, along with another fifty Mjölnir Militia led by Donat’s sister, Daina. Traps are set everywhere from covered pits, fire trenches and barricades creating pinch points for sharpshooters. The harassed army is driven forward by relentless marauders, and Santa Anna is forced to sue for peace. “We’ve ensured the Mexicans remember the Alamo, and remember to stay south of the Nueces,” say Colonels Travis and Bowie.

 

Fall-of-the-alamo-gentilz_1844

The Fall of the Alamo, painted by Theodore Gentilz in 1844, depicting the Alamo complex from the south. The Low Barracks, the chapel. and the wooden palisade connecting them are in the foreground. – Texas State Library – Public Domain.

 

In our timeline: Richmond, Virginia was the most permanent capital of the Confederacy in the American Civil War. Although 25% of the city’s buildings were destroyed, by departing Confederate troops, the city recovered – as did Washington which the British burnt during the War of 1812, when the US invaded the British provinces of Canada.

Memphis did see some action during the Civil War as a strategic location on transportation routes. Its access by water was key to its initial development, with steamboats plying the Mississippi river. Railroad construction strengthened its connection to other markets to the east and west.

Tragically, “Remember the Alamo” is linked to a heroic but bloody defeat of the brave Texian defenders under Colonels Travis and Bowie. Snow did hamper the Mexican army, and Comanche warriors did harass the advancing troops, many of whom were conscripts, but the reinforcements were delayed and there were Mexican settlers in Texas spreading false information as well as spying for Santa Anna. Texian Army General Sam Houston was only able to exact revenge afterwards, at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Could the combined strategies of the Kimantsi warriors and the Mjölnir Militia with their generations of elite fighting prowess have bought the crucial time for the reinforcements? Was Kanata correct to side with a neighbour that had invaded them twenty-four years earlier?

***

Important Links for the A to Z Challenge – please use these links to find other A to Z Bloggers

Website: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/atozchallenge/

Twitter handle: @AprilAtoZ

Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Lessons learnt for next year’s A to Z Challenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections

Reflecting on how I survived the Challenge is hard, but I do know that I’m wearing the T-shirt as I write – and I’m okay.

This post will be shorter than others as I suspect that you have had to read too many of my words during.

I realised as the month unfolded that my posts were too long, although I hope they were informative about ‘The War of 1812’. The research will be useful when I eventually get back to my novel “Seeking A Knife”, although I need to concentrate on the novel preceding it in the Snowdon Shadows series.

Writing the posts and updating/amending them as I went along took too long, and left me with too little time to visit many other bloggers, even some of my regular haunts – apologies.

Those I did visit regularly and enjoyed were:

Tasha’s Thinkings – an example of how to do A to Z and have fun

Alex Cavanaugh – the Ninja Captain is always worth visiting but how does he do it?

Magic Moments – an Indian perspective from Pratikshya Mishra, often looking further East

if I only had a time machine – Second World War insights

The Old Shelter – information that I never knew about Roaring Twenties America

Insecure Writers Support Group – succinct and insightful; and one of the guiding lights

There were other blogs that I dropped by, but not on a regular basis like these. Over time I intend to visit some more, but at the pace I do things it will take a few months. (My wheelchair goes faster than my fingers or my mind.)

So inspired by the way that others approached this challenge, and encouraged by the way that it has been organised, I am now looking forward. Next year I will plan better, and choose a short post theme – letters of the alphabet.

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Just kidding. Not sure what I will do but will be something easier for everyone, especially passers-by. Suspect that the window-shoppers take one look and run.

For more reflections by other blogging survivors, visit here.

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS

Details on my 2015 A to Z theme and a linked list of posts can be found on my A to Z Challenge page, which also has a linked list of my 2014 posts.

Z is for Zachary Taylor

Z

Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was the 12th president of the United States, serving only 16 months in office from March 1849 until his death on July 9 1850 from acute gastroenteritis.

Taylor was born near Barboursville, Virginia to a prominent family of planters who migrated westward to Kentucky in his youth. He received only a rudimentary education but was well schooled in the frontier skills of farming, horsemanship and using a musket. In 1808, he left home after obtaining a commission as a first lieutenant in the army.

In 1810, he married Margaret Mackall Smith, and they went on to have six children. Their second daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor, would marry Jefferson Davis, the future president of the Confederacy, in 1835.

During the War of 1812, Taylor successfully defended Fort Harrison in Indiana Territory from an Indian attack commanded by the Tecumseh. Later that year he joined General Samuel Hopkins as an aide on two expeditions: the first into the Illinois Territory and the second to the Tippecanoe battle site, where they were forced to retreat in the Battle of Wild Cat Creek. Taylor moved his growing family to Fort Knox after the violence subsided.

In October 1814, he supervised the construction of Fort Johnson, the last toehold of the U.S. Army in the upper Mississippi River Valley. A few weeks after the death of his commander, Brigadier General Benjamin Howard, Taylor was ordered to abandon the fort and retreat to Saint Louis. Reduced to the rank of captain when the war ended in 1815, he resigned from the army.

Official White House portrait of Zachary Taylor by Joseph Henry Bush, c1848

Official White House portrait of Zachary Taylor by Joseph Henry Bush, c1848

He re-entered it a year later after gaining a commission as a major. Taylor’s status as a national hero as a result of his victories in the Mexican-American War , won him election to the White House despite his vague political beliefs. His top priority as president was preserving the Union, but he died before making any progress on the status of slavery, which had been inflaming tensions in Congress.

Further Information:

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/zachary-taylor

http://www.biography.com/people/zachary-taylor-9503363

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zachary_Taylor

Of course I could have chosen Brigadier General Zebulon Pike, who led the Pike Expedition as a Captain in 1806-7, and for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named. The same Zebulon Pike that led the American troops at the Battle of York, where he was killed (My letter Y.).

And finally, there is Reverend Zephaniah Wendell, the youngest brother of Talcott Wendell, my fictional memoir writer from the War of 1812 in “Seeking A Knife” – the beginning of this journey back in time.

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS

Details on my 2015 A to Z theme and a linked list of posts can be found on my A to Z Challenge page, which also has a linked list of my 2014 posts.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.

Further reading on The War of 1812:

http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng

http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-war-of-1812-stupid-but-important/article547554/

http://www.shmoop.com/war-1812/

http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/

Y is for York

Y

The Battle of York was fought during the War of 1812, on April 27, 1813, in York (present-day Toronto), the capital of the province of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario), between United States forces and the British defenders of York. U.S. forces under Brigadier General Zebulon Pike were able to defeat the defenders of York, comprising a British-led force under the command of Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, combined with a small group of Ojibwe allies.

An American force of approximately 1700 men, supported by a naval flotilla of 16 American ships under Commodore Isaac Chauncey, landed on the lake shore to the west, suppressed the small group of warriors defending the shore, while knocking out the town’s meagre batteries. With the fort poorly defended by an undersized garrison of 700 soldiers and backed by an unenthusiastic (indeed, almost wholly absent) militia, the Americans captured the fort, town and dockyard. To circumvent looting, Sheaffe had ordered all valuables to be destroyed before retreating. A ship, then under construction, was burned, the naval stores were destroyed, and the fort’s magazine was set on fire. Two local militia officers were left behind to negotiate the terms of surrender.

The death of American General Pike at the Battle of York, 27 April 1813 (courtesy Canadian Military History Gateway, Government of Canada).

The death of American General Pike at the Battle of York, 27 April 1813 (courtesy Canadian Military History Gateway, Government of Canada).

The Americans themselves suffered heavy casualties, including Zebulon Pike who was leading the troops, when the burning magazine blew up with devastating results. The American forces subsequently carried out several acts of arson and looting in the town themselves, before withdrawing. Over the course of their six-day occupation, American troops sacked any home they found deserted, along with several businesses and public buildings.

Though the Americans won a clear victory, it did not have decisive strategic results as York was a less important objective in military terms than Kingston, where the British armed vessels on Lake Ontario were based. The loss of naval and military stores was crippling, particularly for the British efforts on Lake Erie.

Fort York was sacked twice by the Americans during the War of 1812 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-40091).

Fort York was sacked twice by the Americans during the War of 1812 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-40091).

The capture of the capital was an embarrassment for the British, exposing fatal inadequacies in their defences. Indeed, so poorly defended was the town that Chauncey returned in July, landing unopposed to burn several public buildings and boats, destroy a lumber yard, and make off with their supplies. The British attack on Washington in August 1814 was seen as just retaliation.

Further Information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_York

http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng/Topic/47

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS

Details on my 2015 A to Z theme and a linked list of posts can be found on my A to Z Challenge page, which also has a linked list of my 2014 posts.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The War of 1812, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.

Further reading on The War of 1812:

http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng

http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-war-of-1812-stupid-but-important/article547554/

http://www.shmoop.com/war-1812/

http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/