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|A Repentance Offering
Written by Jack Cerf
(3/13/2003 9:35 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Lord Moira: a correction and some additions., penned by Linden
As Lord Rawdon, he was a Captain in General Howe's army in 1776. Before they captured New York, Howe's army spent a couple of months camped on Staten Island while Howe and his brother Admiral Howe engaged in fruitless peace negotiations with the Americans. In their unexpected leisure, the troops behaved as soldiers on foreign service sometimes will. Rawdon was amused. In a letter to his uncle the Earl of Huntingdon, he called the men "as riotous as satyrs," and went on:
A girl cannot step into the bushes to pluck a rose without running the most imminent risk of being ravished, and they are so little accustomed to these vigorous methods that they don't bear them with the proper resignation, and of consequence, we have the most entertaining courts martials everyday. To the southward, they behaved much better in these cases, and if I may judge from a women who, having been forced by seven of our men, made a complaint to me,'not of their usage,' she said, but of their having taken an old prayer book for which she has an affection. A girl on this island made a complaint the other day to Lord Percy of her being deflowered, as she said, by some grenadiers. Lord Percy asked how she knew them to be grenadiers, as it happened in the dark. 'Oh, God,' she cried, 'They could be nothing else, and if your Lordship will examine, I am sure you will find it so!'
The passage is a priceless combination of aristocratic amusement at the open carnality of the other ranks, metropolitan condescension towards colonial innocence of what common people had to put up with from armies, and sophisticated complacency about the boys having a good time at the expense of the local country girls, pervaded by the assumption that sexual agressiveness and prowess on the field of battle ran together.
Grenadiers were elite assault troops. The grenadier company in each battalion was composed of men selected for their size and strength, and the inference Rawdon means his uncle to draw from the last anecdote is both obvious and crude.
Thus gentlemen of that era with no ladies present. Granted Rawdon was young at the time, but he thought his uncle would be as amused as he was.
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