An Alternate History of the Netherlands

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08/25/2011

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Due to the restructuring of An Alternate History of the Netherlands, the story arc concerning Clive Arnold will be put on hold. This delay will last until/if 
 
 
A bit of a delay here...

Former Canadian Trench

Columbia Front

August 18, 1913


            Clive Arnold was starting to develop a distinct dislike of the Cashmere Valley. The geography of the valley was quite vexing. After storming a ridge held by the Tories for the past few weeks, he reached the top of it, minus a good chunk of his company, only to discover more hills and ridges beyond. This time, the enemy occupied a hilly ridge to the south of the Wenatchee River, as well as a rocky outcropping north of it. Any American push further west would be divided by the river, and caught in a crossfire.

            If Arnold was in command of the Twenty-Third Division, he would have smashed the fortified hillside towards the north first. It was the lesser of two evils, and lightly manned. The only downside was that its hillside was lightly vegetated, giving advancing soldiers little in the way of cover. It was not a position worth keeping, and the Tories knew it. They placed just enough soldiers and machine guns among the rocks to chew up any advance towards the better developed trenches on the valley’s south side.

            From what news he gathered of the outside world, warring fronts across the planet were turning into similar mazes of trenches. Virginia reportedly already had a lovely line of trenches leading from the Appalachians to the Chesapeake Bay. Kentucky was not a whole lot better off. The Ohio Front worried him the most. It had been a couple of weeks since he heard from his old man, the esteemed general. The old man was likely far enough from the fighting to be safe, unless some Confederate airplane lucked out and dropped a bomb right down his chimney.

            As if thinking about airplanes were to make them appear, Arnold’s attention soon turned skyward. Inside a trench, even one dug by the Tories, gave him a narrow view of the blue sky above. The sky appeared to be the only part of his world not set ablaze. On either side of the ridge, as well as the river that flowed around it, once lush orchards were burned to the ground and reduced to toothpicks. With his duties to keep him busy, Arnold never once considered what happened to the people who worked the land. He heard a few made it to the relative safety of Cashmere, which only faces intermediate bombardment as of late.

            He glimpsed briefly the aircraft, and its American stars upon its wings. A observation plane, probably flying out of the Francher Aerodrome. He still remembered a time before man took to the sky in powered flight. Unlike balloons, airplanes could evade fire from below. Of course, if they did evade, the observer would fail to receive accurate photography. He could not fault the intelligence the Twenty-Third. Reconnaissance did an excellent job on this ridge; too bad they did not say just how to take the position.

            The past couple of days gave him a lull in combat. The enlisted men were far from relaxed, but their duties lightened up. Officers– as much as the enlisted man enjoyed grousing about officers, those grunts had a few good breaks. One of the responsibilities of an officer was to record the dead. It was one Arnold did not like. He could think of no officer who liked the task. Despite the lull, he sent out pickets to patrol for weakspots in the Tories’ lines. Three of them did not return.

            Three more telegrams. Three more families about to receive the worst news. No, Arnold suppose it was not the worst. Those were the cripples. Still young, Arnold would rather lose his life than his limbs. At least dead, he would not have to live with it. He knew his own mother was one of the millions of mothers across the country waiting in fear for the Union Express. Arnold thought he should write each of the letters himself, but it was not the army way. Telegrams were easier to mass produce.

            Arnold rubbed the throb within his temples. Here he was, sitting in a dirty trench, the summer sun pounding down upon him, with certain death waiting the moment he stuck his head out of the trench, and he was stressing over telegrams. Some officers would just let the system deal with it. Arnold felt he owed it to those families to personally write the telegrams. No, they were not letters, but the way this war was starting to drag on, the efficient way would prevail. He only hoped that the losses ahead did not callus himself to the point where he no longer bothered.


 
 
West of Cashmere

Columbia Front

July 11, 1913


            It was all suppose to be so easy. A simple matter of a little marching and a mountain hike, and Irredeemed Washington would be American once more. At least that was how the enlisted men thought of the war. Arnold never believed it for a minute. One look at the maps of the Cashmere Valley, a valley as meandering as the Wenatchee River that flows through it, and he knew that the hills and ridges that littered the valley most certainly gave defenders the advantage. There could not be more than a battalion opposing them, but with the steep ridges, they easily held up the better part of a division.

            A division on paper at the least. Far too few of the Twenty-Third were not infantry. Cavalry proved worse than useless in the face of machine gun crossfire. Those sent charging up the steep hills of the valley too often did not return to report. For the sake of the division, the Tories better only have a battalion here; any more than that, and this whole human wave tactic will get prohibitively expensive. Even after two days of shelling, which nearly exhausted to pittance Philadelphia granted to the Twenty-Third, the enemy still chattered away with their machine guns. Perhaps two or three were knocked out, but the rest kept up their fire.

            At least the Tories and Limeys were not having any trouble with logistics. Arnold cursed as he crawled through the trenches and foxholes the American had built. Canada had prepared in depth to defend this part of Washington, with enough trenches and dugouts to protect them from anything short of mortar fire. Even then it would be a lucky shot that landed in the trench. Once the first shells start to fall, they just breakdown their machine guns and take shelter.

            Thus far, American lines were not big enough to walk through, forcing Arnold to crawl on his belly. After a week of this, he was beginning to forget the color of his own uniform. The only light he could see at the end of this tunnel was that it had not rained yet. If he had his way, they would not be here long enough to wait for rain, or to dig a proper trench network. They would never have stopped long enough to worry about it. He poked his head up just long enough to glower westward.

            It was also long enough to draw the attention of some gunner. A short burst of .30 told Arnold it was a good idea to lie low. He glanced over his shoulder, noting that this gun came from the south. In order to storm that ridge, they would first have to cross the snaking Wenatchee, again, and then climb– not charge, but climb– up a fifty degree slope. Tory gun fire brought a response from the American gunner atop their own hill. It was not much, just a cone-shaped hill that sat in the middle of the valley. Machine guns and a few howitzers, along with a treacherous observation post, all crowded the hill. The grassy knoll had its fair share of craters from attempts to take out the observation post. Seemed like a waste of shells to target the hill, which was just high enough for spotters to direct incoming artillery.

            Arnold found the first of his surviving sergeants. Normally, he would look for lieutenants, but they were all killed in the first week of the war. He cursed them for getting themselves killed, and not just because it looked bad to get all your officers killed off so fast. He was forced to rely upon NCOs, which knew a great deal more about waging war than new Academy graduates or National Guards college boys. Sergeant Archer, a gruff old veteran of the Spanish War, looked up at his commander.

            “What can I do for you today, Captain?” he asked in an almost cheerful voice. What business anybody had being cheerful here was beyond Arnold.

            Arnold pointed west. “I need you to find some volunteers to go out there tonight and lay some barbed wire.”

            “What for?” Archer broke one of the cardinal rules of the Army; he talked back. “We’ll just be leaving it behind when we push forward.” He had a point, but that was besides the point.

            Arnold shrugged. “Be that as it may, Division and Regimental HQ wants barbed wire lain, and so it shall.”

            Archer might be argumentative, but he was still a soldier. “Yes sir,” he saluted. He did not stand at attention, but Arnold forgave him for that. Anybody who stood up this close to the Tories was likely to go right back down.

            Satisfied orders would be carried out, Arnold continued crawled down the trench to the next sergeant, hoping this war would not last so long that a proper trench could be dug.

 
 
Cashmere Valley

Columbia Front

July 3, 1913


            Clive Arnold found himself back in the field, much to his relief. Following the fall of Wenatchee, which alone took too long in his opinion, he was further dismayed by how long it took Colonel Dearborn to bring across the entire Twenty-Third Division. Too many days had been lost, and the Tories were given far too long to defend secondary defenses. The enemy could not have been in this part of the irredeemed state in greater numbers than a regiment. Dearborn should have pushed forward towards Steven’s Pass with as many soldiers as were on the west bank of the Columbia as he had on June 26. He loudly voiced this with his division CO, and was promptly sent packing. His old man should be proud to know that Clive inherited the Arnold’s ability of stepping on toes.

            In truth, he was far happier to be out of the command tents, even on a secondary sector of the Columbia Front, which was for all intent purposes, designed to divert British and Canadian soldiers from Puget Sound. Sure, this side of the mountains had some nice farmland, but the United States was far more interested in the natural harbor further west. The town of Cashmere, for which the valley was named, was a quaint town, largely undamaged saved the torn up rails. The Tories made certain nobody would be taking a train here for the foreseeable future. Arnold kept a watch on the various hills rising above the valley. If he were going to put up a defense around here, he would have placed field pieces atop those hills, surrounded by machine guns.

            Considering how stodgy generals on all sides were– Crickey, they did not even take in the lethal effect of weapons that can spit out hundreds of rounds per minute could have on his neatly arrayed columns on their planning. No, maybe they would deploy machine guns, though how effective they would be on orchards was unclear. Plenty of apple trees would get cut down by .30 caliber rounds. None of them were ripe yet, nor would they be for at least a month. He had no plan of still being here by then. The Pass needed storming, before the Tories had the bright idea of bringing an avalanche down on top of it. They would destroy the railroad to Seattle, and seal the place from invasion. At least from here. This is all assuming they already had not.

            The day had been quiet, with the soldiers of his company maintaining noise discipline. That quiet was shattered by the sound of– why it sounded strangely like tearing cloth, like a big old sail was ripped in half. And there was more than one sail. Arnold, along with the more attentive soldiers under his command, threw themselves to the ground. Slowly soldiers fell as well, just as torn as the imaginary sails.

            Arnold raised his face from the dirt, tracking any tracer fire he could see. In the midst of an orchard tracers flew from every direction. He could not get a clear fix on just where the machine guns were set up, or even how many. His ears could tell them that too many rounds passed too close, kicking up dirt and chew up leaves. There would not be much of a harvest this year.

            He and his men slowly crawled forward, making as small a target as possible. He shouted over his shoulder for them not to bunch up. If the Tories had machine guns, then there was a good chance— the clatter of thousands of small rounds was suddenly swamped by the screamed of larger shells. The first shell to burst hit many meters behind Arnold. The concussion hit like a kicking mule. Like all soldiers, he knew shells could kill without leaving a mark. Large explosions suck the air from men’s lung like a stomach pump. Of course, his immediate concerns were that of shrapnel, both steel and wood.

            The screams of soldiers told him that not all were as lucky as Arnold. Machine guns had killed his men outright; burning hot blades of steel would leave more than a few crippled for life. Further explosions hit him as the small freight trains of 75mm shells plastered the orchard. Dirt landed all around, and something solid slammed into his back. His gear, all fifty pounds of the stuff, absorbed the impact. He brushed the debris, his hand landing on something sticky. He felt a queasiness within his stomach as he glanced over to see a disembodied leg, from the knee down, sitting right next to him.

            “Dig in!” he shouted over the boom of guns and cries of the wounded. He yanked the entrenching tool out of his pack and attacked the fertile soil more fiercely than any Tory gunner. He was not the only one. Even before he barked the order, which he doubt carried more than a few tree’s distance in any direction, his unwounded men were already attacking the earth with zeal. He swore as he dug, even as new shells came in from behind. American batteries east of Cashmere were returning fire, hoping to knock out the enemy guns. He never knew if any gun hit another, but one thing was painfully clear: this advance was going to take far longer than anybody at General Staff could anticipate.

 
 
Wenatchee, Washington

Columbia Front

June 26, 1913


            Clive Arnold scrambled up the steep banks of the Columbia, along with thousands of other men, as they braved the crossing under the cover a hundred field guns. After a couple of hours of bombardment, Arnold would have sworn all the Limeys, and their Tory pets would have been dead. Yet somehow, even after countless shells burst into this small town, machine guns still opened fire upon the hundreds of boats as they rowed across the river. The Columbia was not overly wide between Eastmont and Wenatchee, but the current was strong, and carried them further south than Arnold wished to land.

            Oh well, as his father always told him, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Besides, somebody clearly neglected to tell the enemy that they were suppose to be dead. He had to give the gunners some credit– his own, not the Tory’s– they did manage to take out most of the enemy artillery emplacements. Too bad they did not reckon rapid-firing weapons worth the expenditure. By the ways some of the river front buildings looked, the gunners must have assumed them far more dangerous than the sandbagged positions on the corner of Riverfront Drive and 5th Street. He might not have landed where he planned, but enough hours were spent observing this town to know its layout well enough.

            He buried his face in the muck of the banks, along with his men, as a shell burst in the river. Did the Tories have a gun left, or did one of his own nation’s shells fall short. Not that it mattered to the boat it hit; its passengers were beyond caring. Arnold swore under his breath as he glanced from back over his shoulder down to his own side arm. Unlike so many enlisted who swarmed the riverbank, Arnold had but a trusty Colt 1910 semi-automatic, along with his tomahawk. The biggest draw back to this crossing under fire was that he could not be riding as cavalry, as he trained. Of course, horses made bigger targets than men, and he would likely be gunned down faster that way. Just because his illustrious ancestor died defending the Capital Building back in the Second War with England, did not mean Clive Arnold was ready to follow in his footsteps. Maybe when he was as old as Benedict when the British gunned him down, but not now.

            His Colt was packed full of mud. Despite the day being cloudless and bright, he still manage to clog up his own sidearm. Next to him, Corporal Mitchell saw it. He spoke, but Arnold could not hear him over the exploding shells and .30 rounds whirling past his head. ‘Tough break’, or something like that.

            Arnold shouted over the noise. “Doesn’t matter, we’re still moving forward!” His sidearm went back into his holster and he whirled his blade in the air. Soldiers around him rallied to his call, though the tomahawk would do little against machine guns. Perhaps not, he thought with a savage grin, but we shall see how these new grenades do. He gestured to the three enlisted men to his left, to pull pins and throw, while pointing just up the bank. At the moment, their heads were still below street level as well as out of the arc of the river which the gunners spat fire towards.

            Pull the pins and throw, that was what the men were trained to do. According to the chaps who designed these little bombs, pulling the pin popped the handle and started a five second fuse. None of his men waited to see. The grenades left their hands the moment the pins were pulled. On grenadier was tad taller than the others, and the top of his intercepted the line of fire. His head vanished in a hurry as the rest of him keeled over and fell back into the river. Arnold did not look back. He did not want to see how many Americans already floated face-down in the might Columbia.

            In imperfect precision, all three grenades went off. They must have hit, for the nearest machine gun went quiet. With a sudden surge, like a tide breeching the Dutch dikes, Americans swarmed up onto Riverside Drive. Sure enough, one of the grenades landed smack in the middle of the gun nest, and shrapnel tore the Tories operating the machine to pieces. Arnold did not have long to enjoy the small victory, before another machine gun opened up on them. One of the two surviving grenadiers went down, and Mitchell growled a curse as he threw himself against the torn sandbags.

            Arnold took refuge behind the corner of one building, a warehouse of sorts. Mitchell was on the opposite side of the intersection, his trouser legging turning purple as red blood mixed with Union blue. By the way Mitchell cursed the Canadians and British seven ways from Sunday, Arnold thought it a flesh wound. Mitchell pointed the muzzle of his Springfield carbine over the top of the sandbags and fired off a round blindly. The weapon quickly took cover while he worked the bolt. That was the beauty of his filthy Colt; it could fire off rounds as fast as he could pull the trigger.

            Arnold risked a peak around the corner, long enough to see the muzzle flashes from the second floor window of a nice, new brick building. Below the apartment, at least he assumed it was an apartment, sat a hardware store with blown in windows. The street had a few new craters, carved by shells falling short. As fast as he peaked around the corner, his head was back in safety. No point in giving the enemy a target. Besides, Arnold was rather attached to his head. Rounds flew past him, cutting down dozens of American soldiers climbing the river bank.

            If he had any grenades– no, that would not do him any good. Arnold was a horrible throw. He did not doubt he could throw the distance, but his aim was atrocious. He was about to call for a grenadier, when soldiers behind him kicked in one of the warehouse’s side doors. Arnold cursed himself a fool for not thinking of it before. Buildings were not giant boulders, solid blocks of stone, after all. He ordered Mitchell to stay down until that machine gun was silenced, and felt a bigger fool as soon as the words left his mouth. What else would a wounded man do?

            Arnold followed the other men into the warehouse, his tomahawk held high. It was a futile gesture, for any Tory inside would shoot him down the moment he saw him. That was another drawback to being a horrible throw; did him no good to chuck his tomahawk like the Iroquois Regiments. Arnold ran smack into a wall of cool the moment he stormed the warehouse. It was a fruit shed, and a refrigerated one to boot. Light was poor, for all they had for illumination were skylights. He could see clear enough to see a half-dozen Americans storming up the stairs. A good idea; shoot the gunners from above. Arnold followed off chance these soldiers did not know where the machine gun sat.

            From the roof, only three stories off the ground, he could see the hurricane of blue still crossing the Columbia. Arnold briefly forgotten he was in the first wave, much to Colonel Dearborn’s consternation. Arnold believed the worry was more over informing General Arnold of his son’s death, than for any genuine concern. Arnold moved forward to the soldiers, crouched over in a stoop.

            As he guessed, the soldiers were only poking their heads up for a second, scanning for the gunners. Arnold moved beside them quickly. Four of the six men were kids, probably just starting their tours of duty this year in their States’ National Guard regiments. He wagered none expected to have war when they gave their John Hanncocks on the dotted line. The other two were older, but not by much. One was a Corporal around Arnold’s age, and was suddenly astonished to see a Captain charging towards him.

            “Second floor window, on the corner,” he shouted into the Corporal’s ear. Above the battle, the sounds were not as deafening as in the manmade canyons below, but it certainly was not any quieter.

            The Corporal nodded, and shouted orders to his own men. Three of them lined up shots on the gunners, and as one, they fired. All of a sudden, Arnold could hear one less machine gun firing. Arnold risked another exposure of his head. With that gun silent, soldiers moved up Fifth Street towards the next obstacle. No sooner than he lowered his head down to safety, did he hear the freight train sound of a shell roar over his head and slam into the building across the street. Arnold swore a vicious oath under his breath. If only the batteries would have done that a couple minutes ago; it would have saved a few lives.

            Another thought suddenly struck him. A shell could land on this warehouse at any moment. He barked orders to the men, which he did not recognize from his own Company. It was time to get back down on the street and into the thick of things. They were going to take Wenatchee, even if they had to do so one machine gun nest at a time.

 
 
Eastmont, Washington

Columbia Front

June 23, 1913

Captain Clive Arnold looked down from his hilltop position to take in the view of the small town across the Columbia. It was not much, just a few streets, some brick buildings, and a sea of orchards. It could be a typical Canadian town, if not for the fact that it sat on lands, by all rights, were American. As he peered through his binoculars, he saw the town’s inhabitants move about their business, few old enough to remember the Third Anglo-American War. Arnold remembered vividly the stories his father told him about that war, about how America was forced again to sign away its Manifest Destiny to the limeys.

Well, not this time, Arnold thought grimly. The 1880s might as well have been Ancient Greece when compared to the advances of the last few decades. If Sherman had himself as many machine guns as Colonel Dearborn, a mere division commander, that war would have turned out very differently. Some of the militia back then were still using muzzle-loaders, for God’s sake. Muskets! The last of those antiques were either now in museums, private collections or melted down to reclaim their iron.

It was a warm, windy day. Arnold noticed that north-central Washington had plenty of those. The incessant wind was enough to drive a man mad, especially when a tent flap was not secured. The bulk of the Twenty-third Division camped upon the heights, clean out of view of the Limeys, and their syrup-sapping lackeys. Some days, the wind blew nonstop, sun-up to sundown. In the wind, dust and other fine particular matter was just waiting to lodge itself in somebody’s eyes. If the dust did not get you, then the cotton-picking ticks would.

Arnold made his quarters with his men, opting out of the offer by Colonel Dearborn, who wanted to station him near division HQ on Rock Island. The only reason any town existed on that little island was because no steam boat could navigate the rapids of the same name. At least not one large enough to carry a worthwhile cargo. Besides, why bother when a railroad passes through Rock Islands, Eastmont and crossed the Columbia into Wenatchee.

Arnold sighed. Of all the sectors of all the fronts, why did he get dumped here? He would wager a good portion of this month’s pay that his father had something to do with it. The big action would be on Ohio Front, where General Samuel Arnold commanded his own divisions, under the overall command of Black Jack Pershing. There, along with the Potomac and Great Lakes, was where the war would be fought and be won. Not out here in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dust storms and biting insects, above a town so small, that if he was passenger upon a train and blinked, he would not even know Eastmont existed.

The Colonel forbade any soldiers from wandering down from the highlands and into town, for fear that the British would learn about them. Yeah, right, Arnold snorted at the idea. As if the Redcoats did not know the better part of a division sat only a few miles across the Columbia. Not as if they still wear red uniforms, giving them up in favor of khaki, butternut, or whatever they called that drab color. Arnold’s own blue uniform, heavy wool, trapped more of the sun’s heat than he cared for. He let his binoculars drop from his face as he reached down for a canteen. The only good thing about this joke of a posting was that he would not have to do much fighting in the summer heat.

War was coming, anyone with a half-functioning brain and one good eye could see that. Yesterday, the Germans crossed the border into Poland-Lithuania in support for their candidate to the throne. Most soldiers and officers did not know this, but a month ago, the Germans sent a telegram to Philadelphia, warning that if the succession crisis was not settled by the June twenty-two, the Imperial German Army was going to cross the border and make the decision for the Poles. That telegram was the only reason he, as well as hundreds of thousands of other soldiers, were already on the front lines. Sweden made it clear that they would declare war if any hostile actions were made in Poland, where their own candidate was deadlocked with the German to take the throne. Frankly, it was beyond Arnold why anyone would want the Polish crown.

War was declared, and the Great Powers were mobilizing. Well, all but one. Roosevelt ordered a slow and quiet mobilization when it became clear war was inevitable. Aside from the Germans, who already invaded their neighbor, no nation on Earth was more ready for war than the United States. When Congress passed its own declaration, armies would march across the border, and crush the enemies of America. At least some would. All the Twenty-third would do is cross the Columbia, taking this railroad bridge in tact, and keep on marching across Steven’s Pass towards Seattle. Arnold was certain that ugly looking span of steel was the only reason the Army took any interest in this dust bowl.

The British certainly took little interest in it. Over the past few days, Arnold spotted plenty of armed civilians, riding into town with a rifle in their saddle, as well as a few uniformed militia. A trio of militia were spotted with a machine gun not more than a couple hundred feet from the bridge. Arnold kept track of them and carefully marked their location on the maps. He was sure that artillery would be brought down upon their heads first. He was also sure that for every one he saw, three more were likely hiding in town.

The only silver line he could see was that on the day of the attack, it was all down hill. They could cross from these heights down to the Columbia in an hour; two at most. Under the cover of early morning darkness, they could be across the river before the Limeys even awaken. The artillery crews will just have to make certain the horses do not get away from them.

"Regulars," said Corporal White Hawk. He was a Nez Peirce, one of the tribes loyal to the Federal Government. After over a century of frontier warfare, loyal tribes were they only ones left. He could not remember which county from northern Idaho he hailed, only that he was scout in the Three Hundred Sixteenth Idaho Guard Regiment. His skin was weathered and his eyes dark and keen. He could spot Limeys without binoculars. With them–

Arnold followed his gaze, bringing his glasses back to his eyes. Through them, he spotted several khaki-wearing, rifle-tooting men exit of the town’s largest hotel, a four story brick structure not more than a couple of blocks from the railroad station. Seven of them, and all wore kits far heavier than militia. They walked towards a battered horse-drawn wagon that must have been in Irredeemed Washington since before the British took over. Men of the Regular Army were a new sight, even if they were just Canadians.

"Looks like they’re just starting to mobile," Arnold said in his clipped New Englander tone, more thinking out loud than to anybody in particular. Beneath the cover of hides and blankets, he spotted metal boxes being drug out of the wagon. They looked a little too much boxes of ammo belts for his own taste. It was an odd thing unloading now; a single train has not arrived all day, at least that his ears could pick out. Since the Germans crossed their border, international commerce has ground to a halt this side of the Atlantic. No locomotive has moved west of Quincy in over a week. It was in that even smaller berg were the division’s assets are unloaded and quietly brought forward.

"Captain," spoke the soft-spoken man from Kansas, with his unmistakable Midwestern drawl. He reminded Arnold of a junior classmate back at Fort Arnold, except Corporal James Mitchell was third generation Kansan, all the way back to Bleeding Kansas. His former classmate was only first generation– his own parents fleeing Confederate Texas in search of greener pastures. So to speak.

Mitchell pointed up one of the numerous valleys that tended to branch off the Columbia, carved by its own smaller tributary. Up the Cashmere Valley, Arnold spotted the unmistakable plume of black clouds belched out by a steam engine. He could not hear the engine, but the British were bringing something in by rail. Mitchell voiced this opinion, which Arnold could only reply; "Or are shipping something out."

"Like what, sir?" Mitchell asked. "I hear apples real big in these here parts, but they ain’t gonna be ripe till fall."

Arnold snorted. Apples grow all over the place. Nothing strategic about them, unless the Canucks want them for flapjacks. Arnold ran some numbers in his head, trying to figure out just how many men the Limeys can ship in on one train. No where near the division level of Americans that are just itching to cross the river. With the hilly terrain across the Columbia, even a battalion could be enough to hold of the division’s advances, and through a rusty wrench into the carefully crafted schedule of the U.S. Third Army.

That was not his worry, at least not yet. With his name, he would no doubt be General some day, but for this war, he was only a Captain, a mere mortal by comparison. His was not to worry, only to report what transpired on the Redcoat side of the river. The train was close, perhaps an hour away. After he saw what tumbled off the train, Arnold would bring his report back to Dearborn. No doubt the Colonel would be just as interested to know what faced his division at H-hour as every man under his command.
 

An Alternate History of the Netherlands