Captain Schnoedt watched events unfold and sucked his teeth as the supposedly superior troops ran toward him. He cleared his throat and glanced around at his men, seeing their wide eyes and sensing their unease. “Steady, my lads. It seems we shall have to do the work instead.” He pointed to the distant dockyard. “Our friends and kin are in peril. We needs beat this ambush to reach them.” Without giving the militia pause to think, Schnoedt drew his sword and waved it over his head. “Onward, in the Grand Duke’s name!”
His men followed, as Schnoedt felt his heart begin to hammer in his chest. The last of the Marines streamed past; the braver ones – or those more ashamed – took up the rear to help wounded comrades.
Enemy bullets began to sing overhead. Schnoedt peered at the cloud of smoke lining a hedgerow behind which the ambushers lurked. Step by step the militia advanced, and the enemy fire began to find marks in his ranks, but still they stepped out with grim expressions. “Good lads, good lads,” Schoedt called as he directed them into line. A bullet plucked his hat and he reached up to straighten it. Casting an eye along the line he nodded. “Now, let's give those bastards a volley!”
The NCOs translated his orders. Muskets came up to the present, leveled on the hedgerow – and at Schnoedt’s shout of “Fire!” spurted mustard colored smoke shot through with flame.
Almost immediately the enemy fire slackened. Schoedt nodded with satisfaction as his men reloaded. There can’t be that many of them behind that hedge, he thought. He glanced at the dockyard, where the fighting still seemed intense. Smoke rose above it now, thickening even as he watched. There’s the real fight. We’ll see these bastards off the premises soon, I feel.