Read by Mark Vevers
We were on the march through the Black Forest, or as the Germans call it, the Schwarzwald. In my thinking, it’s a name of darkness and the Devil’s-own evil. Yet it sets a theme as apt as any for our tale.
Your father and I were among Marshal Tallard’s forces for the French Empire. Our detachment, as you know, was the last returning from the Danube, which flows to the east of the Black Forest. Before us was the River Rhein, just to the west of it.
The Schwarzwald. That wretched divide of rocky cliffs and deep forested valleys neatly cut our army in two. At the Danube we had just reinforced the French commander Marsin with men and munitions. And so, traveling light, we were soon to embrace our beloved France beyond the Rhein.
Our troop was under the command of Count Mérode-Westerloo, a jaunty, prideful man. He was held in high regard at Versailles. Still, his own soldiers had few reasons to admire him. Our pay and food, you see, never arrived when promised. To tell it true, hunger was as much our enemy as the English. Yet stranded in a dense, unknown forest we thought it best to stay on the march, where at least some food made its way down the ranks.