17. May, 2017

BLOG 02-HAMILTON'S HOME GUARD

When I was preparing to write my story, I required some references to gain assistance. I sought help from my good friend, Peter “Parra” Montgomery, the Sports Editor of the local paper in Hay-The Riverine Grazier. He gave me a lovely reference with this caption amongst the wording:

‘He wrote many ‘stories’ on local people – turning fact into fiction – and he kept everyone entertained on long bus ‘sporting trips’ by reading these stories on the ‘way home from sporting activities’.

So when I was planning Hamilton’s Home Guard Squad, I decided to keep Parra’s words. The wording about their flag was an image of Dave Beckwith’s picture which he approved me to use. Thanks Dave.

All these people in this section are true and friends of mine in Hay. This is my first fictional blog on my web site

 

Hamilton’s Home Guard

Hamilton’s Home Guard was a force of 11 men, Robert Hamilton employed as his own private army to protect his assets at Jettena Junction. As the Civil War loomed, Robert Hamilton became a major player in the Confederate’s buildup. With him more often away working for both sides, he had to protect his interests at his plantation in Pennsylvania, not only from the rift raft that the Confederate Government and Generals sent to run their mining operations at Moe Moe Mountains but also from Union looters within the region. Hamilton needed someone he could trust to protect his interests, and who better to be placed in charge of his own personal group of soldiers but his long time overseer of Shark Point Plantation and friend, Monty Parra Pete. A hulk of a man whom always thought his sick jokes were wonderful. He was strict and quickly put the men under him into line.

His only son, Michael was drafted into the group as his father was his guardian. Michael opposed his father’s action, but with no other ties to family and without his father’s help, would have any chance of survival. Warrants were out for his arrest in Munroe as he voiced his opposition to the Confederacy and to save him from jail or death, Monty persuaded Mister Hamilton to allow him to join his home guard.

Among those whom had gathered were brothers Davy and Michael Becky. Originally from Texas, Michael was shy and quiet and needed his brother’s protection. Davy on the on the other hand was a character within himself. He always claimed he was the sole survivor of the Battle of the Alamo, where he fought alongside the likes of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie and only survived because he played dead when the Mexican Forces of Antonio López de Santa Anna stormed the fortress and killed everyone. He managed to escape when the Mexicans celebrated their victory by slipping into one of the wagons driven by Misses Dickerson and was driven from the Alamo without discovery. Once clear, he managed to escape and returned to the family ranch, near New Braunfels, North West of the battle zone. There he found his older brother, all alone. In the mass exodus of Texas, ahead of Santa Anna’s Army’s advance, they fled eastward eventually reaching Munroe, Georgia, where they became friends with the other members that eventually formed Hamilton’s home guard. 

Even though Michael was backwards and really no good as a soldier, he was loyal to the remainder of the group, often been used to supply them with ammunition and other duties. He drove the wagons and looked after the horses. Even though he trained with the others in firearm drills, he was really more of a hazard than an asset to the group, but they persisted with him as he was one of them.

Fredrick “The former Frog” McScotty was a Scotchman with vast military training. He served in the Royal Scots Royal Regiment, holding the rank of Corporal. He saw action in the Crimean War where he was given high praise for his actions till the time of the Battle of Alma, he cracked under the pressure of war and deserted. He managed to escape Europe and made his way to the United States, eventually coming to Munroe to settle with his son, Adam, whom had left Scotland years before to settle in the United States. The nickname of the former frog was given to Fredrick by Parra Pete and Becky after a drinking spree at the local tavern, which was owned and ran by their good friend Kevin Goldy. Fredrick claimed he was a dependant of King James

(James I of Scotland-1394-1437) and had royal blood in his veins. No-one really believed him but Parra Pete recalled a child’s story of a Prince turned into a frog by an evil queen and so the nick-name of “Fred the former Frog” stuck.

When Fredrick decided to join Parra Pete and the Becky Brothers and move from Georgia to Pennsylvania in 1858, his son, who had fallen upon hard times, decided to join them and became a member of the Hamilton’s Home Guard.

Kevin Goldy and his son, Brett was unlike most of the other members of the Hamilton’s Home Guard. They owned and ran a successful Tavern near Shark Point Road Plantation, which was regular drinking place for Hamilton and his men. When talk by Hamilton about moving to Pennsylvania, Goldy decided to join him to begin a better life. They sold the Tavern and joined the exodus to Pennsylvania, joining the Home Guard. Moving to Hamilton’s Plantation, Robert Hamilton came up with an idea when the nearby Morganville Saloon was foreclosed on its previous owner and he purchased the license and set up Goldy as the Tender. What better way to get information than to have someone whom people trusted and a drunken soldier trusted the person serving them the liquor.

Salty False Eagle was a Creek Warrior who had seen his tribe subjugated by the United States. What better way to seek revenge against those whom destroyed his way of life than to join a band of Confederate fifth columnists in the heart of Federal territory. Salty False Eagle was an excellent tracker whose native skills gave the small group an advantage over their Federal Counter parts.

Unlike the other members of the group whom all came from the middle of lower classes of society in Georgia, Wardy Stuart was from the upper class level of Munroe’s society. He was the former bank manager of the First Munroe Bank. But his greed got the better of him with all the money he handled day after day and began to skim it from accounts. He had managed to steal millions of dollars before it was discovered. An angry crowd gathered outside the bank that rainy morning in September 1860, screaming for Stuart to be hung. He saw the Marshalls coming down the street and managed to escape out the rear of the bank as they entered the front door. He began life on the run, heading east towards Charleston to escape, but was captured in Thomson, Georgia three days later. By this time Hamilton had learnt of his plight and realized he could use a man like Stuart and the millions he stole. He used all his influences with the Confederate Government and President Jeff Davis to have Stuart placed in his ward and on approval, made it clear to Stuart that is he betrayed his trust, he would be executed without hesitation. But there was no sign of the money. Stuart claimed he did not take it. No-one believed him.

Another member was the big Irish man Patrick Bunyip who had migrated from Ireland three months before the Civil War had erupted into conflict, but found life in America was not as it was made out in reports from Ireland. He joined the famous 69th New York Infantry Regiment which was a part of the famed Irish Brigade. Military life was not for this farm boy from County Cork in Ireland. Whilst on leave in Washington DC in July 1861, following the Battle of Bull Run, (Battle of Manassas, the Confederate’s title for the battle) Patrick meet Robert Hamilton and Parra Pete who managed to persuade him to join them in Pennsylvania, offering him protection from the Federal Authorities. The offer was too good to refuse and Patrick Bunyip was the last member to join Hamilton’s Home Guard. He changed his name to Bunyan and claimed he was from a small town called Booligal in the Colony of New South Wales.

Moving to Pennsylvania, the eleven men trained regular under McScotty’s drilling. Another of their duties was to mingle with the authorities in Morganville, gaining vital information for the Confederacy on troop movements and updates of the war which flowed freely after a few drinks.

Usually Goldy and his son got into general conversation with those whom they believed were important and gathered vital information from their unsuspected guests.

Like all military outfits, Hamilton’s Home Guards needed a uniform. But they needed something that would not alert the Federals to their connection to the Confederates as they would be classed as spies and their mission would be discovered and a stop put to it. As an agent moving Federal Government, Hamilton managed to get blue trousers by the great number.

Among some of his imports from Europe were a collection of yellow coloured Russian Infantry Jackets from the Napoleonic Wars. The head wear that was part shako and part hat. Basically it was a round hat with a squared peak and a brim all the way around, and with standard shako ornaments on the crown. They wore a long cartridge box, which runs across the stomach and round to the middle of the back in one piece. A most remarkable device. They wore black brogan shoes. They were impressive in their blue and gold uniforms with their sea green hats. They were proud of themselves and their attire. 

Like armies before them and their brother regiments, they needed a flag that would represent their unit. Davy Becky had a drawing someone gave him upon his arrival in Munroe of an eel in a blue and gold outfit. He had it hanging upon the wall of the bunk house, above his bed. When they decided upon a flag, it was suggested they should reproduce the picture into their flag. They ladies of the area, unknown the true nature of the cause, were willing to sow it as a gift for Robert Hamilton’s birthday, April 14th, 1861-the same day Fort Sumter fall to the Confederates and the Civil War began in earnest.