Wherein the Doctor, in his guise as Surgeon's Mate, travels to Fort Loudoun upon ye Tanassee River, delivers a mail packet, gives and receives Yule gifts, sees his first snow of the season, eats his first onion pie and is inadvertently married to two Cherokee sisters.

FESTIVE SPIRIT filled the air as I arrived at Fort Loudoun on Friday afternoon for the annual Christmastide celebration. I arrived bearing gifts, one was the gift that I had put together for Private Kirby, the other, slightly less expected was that of a mail packet for the men! Mail and news from loved ones is always a welcome gift to the men in the King's military, especially whilst station'd so far from home. And I do believe that none could be farther from their homes than the fine men a Fort Loudoun.

I settled back into the barracks just as though I had never been gone, laid out my two wool blankets on the bunk next to the fireplace. I laid them in the manner that was taught me long ago, to keep out the cold air, very similar to a cocoon.

Discover'd that some of the natives from Toskegee had been invited to stay in the fort for the festivities. Little Carpenter had also been invited to stay, but he refused, saying that his winter house would suffice.

The afternoon was spent in visiting with friends, whilst waiting for the last few men to arrive so the gift giving could begin. William Jack was the last to arrive, and as we had all tossed off a full bumper while waiting, a great huzzah went up as he came through the door of the barracks. T'was round nine o'clock when Ensign Boggs, in quite a jolly old mood, stood in the middle of the long, candle lit room, and took a few moments to introduce every man, woman and child in turn with compliments to each.

Without further ado, the gift exchange began with the children giving their gifts to one another. Some of

The exchange of gift between adults began with Ensign Boggs who had drawn MY name! First, he read his presentation poem, it may be a blessing that I do not recall much of the Ensign's poem... but the gift he got for me came enclosed in a haversack. Within, there was to be found a fine leather wallet, "for your bills", said he. And next to it at the bottom of the haversack was a large pouch filled with gold coins! The goode Ensign said it would so a ways toward fulfilling my goals for the coming year.

I was the second in attendance to have to stand and give my gift. I fetched the small box from my bunk and took the Ensign's place at the center of the room. Pvt. Hamilton stood just behind me with the smudge pot over my shoulder for additional reading light. You may find my poem below:

in FIVE parts

Wherein the story is told of young Private Kirby,
and we discover that the Doctor can not write poetry.

It would seem that Kirby's poor Mother,
had a problem quite like many other,
had his neck by the nape,
so he planned his escape,
the poor lad, how she did tend to smother.

So our Kirby took up the King's Shilling,
bought what the recruiter was billing,
he cared not what it paid,
figured he'd have it made,
to flee home he was Eager and Willing.

Crossed the ocean and got to the port,
his heart sunk when he stepped in the fort,
upon searching his bag,
he cursed the old hag,
he found his necessities short.

Nothing with which to blacken his lungs,
nothing in which to partake in his rums,
no way in which to pickle his liver,
the thought made poor Kirby shiver,
For his things he’d ask these here bums.

So the Doctor took up his request,
and told Private Kirby to rest,
fretting's bad for his health,
he reached up on his shelf,
and gave unto him this ‘ere chest.

My gift to Pvt. Kirby was a small wooden box wrapped with a red ribbon that contained:

  • A brass rum jigger
  • a rather naughty pipe tamp by the name of "Naughty Molly"
  • a pair of dice for gambling
  • A copy of the September 1759 London Gazette
  • A small wooden plate
  • two printed sermons
  • A small, leather wrapped edition of the Proverbs of Solomon
  • two hand written letters from home; One from a fellow by the name of Jonas from London who wrote to request money, and one from a rather upset sounding young woman asking Kirby to never call upon her again. I know this of course because Kirby opened the letters and had me read them to him.
After I gave Kirby his chest, I opened the mail packet and gave each man present his mail. There was even a piece from King George to Cherokee Peace Chief Atta Kula Kulla. He later told me his letter was of a private nature and that he would not discuss it. The mail was so well received that Trader Benn asked if he might keep the canvas packet it came in!

The poems and gifts continued, with even some of the natives getting in on the gift giving.

Pvt. Kirby gave to young miss Newell a beautiful red cloak that she wore for the remainder of the week's end to fend off the cold.

Doctor Anderson was giv'n a beautiful new fleam made for him by the blacksmith. It came in a magnificent wooden case with its own handmade fleam bat.

Atta Kula Kulla gave the Blacksmith a possum fur pouch that contained (I believe) a fancy pipe and some fine indian tobacco.

But my favorite by far came from Sgt. Nutcher, who was the final one of the lot to present. He held in his arms a fine leather tricorn hat box that he had made, and sang a song of his own creation entitled "O' Tricorn Box", which he sang to the tune of "O' Tannenbaum". All in attendance agreed that it was most humorous.

After the gift exchange, there was drinking and merry-making. One private was so in his cups that I had to escort him to his bunk, lest he fall down and do himself injury.

The visiting and discussion carried on well past the midnight hour.

In the night, while the soldiers slept, it snowed! The heavy clouds hung low in the hills and along the water.

to be continued...

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