War of the Century

January 10, 2012

Another favorite piece of mine, I rather enjoy what I did with the newspaper clippings. This is closer to steampunk, a favorite genre of mine, but one I don’t have a lot of experience with yet.

Hope you enjoy it.



OCTOBER 7, 1897

President McKinley was fatally shot this afternoon while visiting the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. Vice President Garrett Hobart is to be sworn into the Presidency on the next Monday during a Full Session of the Congress of the United States. His assassin was not apprehended. Vice President Hobart gave chase after seeing, in his description, “a negro man of medium build carrying a dueler’s pistol” escape the scene. The man hunt for this villain continues.

My father was devastated when he heard the news about President McKinley. He had been an ardent supporter since the first debate held in Virginia. With the assassination of the President by an American-born Mexican national, things were not looking positive for our family. Already news papers in New York and Washington were calling for a greater war with Mexico. Already my family was hearing rumors of acquisition of our mining land in California for war staging.r

I’m not sure what the rest of the Renolds and Carson family are feeling, but I know my father, Edward, has already started ordering his assets from the west be transferred. He’s nervous about the coming days and he’s insisted I learn the rifle and the sword in case the Union needs soldiers.

His fear…is infectious.


DECEMBER 19, 1897

NEWSWIRE – President Hobart’s tactical advisers have shown increasing ineptitude in handling the war with Mexico. The Southern areas of California and Texas are overrun with Mexican soldiers and the strongholds that were put in place to defend encroachment appear to fall within hours of being put under siege. It is the opinion of this Paper that President Hobart should give full permissions to Vice President Roosevelt to lead his Rough Riders into battle. Furthermore, no concession should be e that harms the freedoms won for in blood and sweat by our brothers in the West! We conquered this land and it is our land to hold onto for generations, no matter how young our homesteads are.

My father’s savings have gone into keeping our home in operation. He has sold his factory in Maine recently to keep my brother out of the war. What a sad state of affairs for our household. Grandfather would have done all he could to prepare the both of us for battle without hesitation. It was his unit that saw the great surrender at Appomattox by General Robert E. Lee. Father apologized to me yesterday though – he won’t have the money to keep me from being drafted in the war against Mexico. He thinks that we should just relinquish California and Texas at this point, but I fear his position is driven mostly by his fear for me. I tell him not to worry, that I’m a strong man and I’m a fair hunter, I’ll survive and bring the glory of war to our household once again. This seems to be of little value to him of late, however.

It is late in the year, the colors of the leaves already turning and becoming a blanket of fire over the coastal town my family’s home is in. I occasionally walk these paths alone or with Roland the Brave, our family’s brass servant (so named by me when I was young, after the great Paladin of Charlemagne’s service). We discuss the war, President Hobart’s direction, the tactical mistakes made outside of the Alamo and the Westinghouse. He has explained much to me about the operation of war, and he’s assisted my firing stance. I do think that soon I will be ready to march to war if the need arises.

Father’s health, though, worries me. I think the weight of the world is weighing heavily on his soul. He spends every second night with Pastor Johannson, those nights not discussing the worries of the soul he finds solace in cognac. The fire is gone from his eyes, and I see the sickness when he looks upon me. I think he already imagines me dead and it haunts him.

I shall send for my brother tomorrow.


MAY 15, 1898

NEWSWIRE – President Hobart decried Vice President, and now Commander of American Forces, Theodore Roosevelt’s choice to employ Brass Warriors and his Rough Riders against the Siege of Los Angeles, driving Mexican forces south toward the agrarian settlements around San Diego. The President was also heard to shout in anger about the Vice President’s declaration to retake San Diego by the end of this year’s summer. Few lives were lost in the attack, as Vice President Roosevelt’s brilliant tactical decisions lead to a number of routes without loss of life. For the first time in open warfare, the Brass Warriors, soldiers of steel and steam, have seen to fare fa better than detractors and even supporters mustered. Roosevelt was later seen discussing the tactical implications of the steam powerplants with weapon consultant Nikola Tesla.

Father wept when the draft office came for me yesterday. Luck is with me, however, for we are a family of means not only in wealth but also associations. My father’s friend, Sir Charles Masterson, assisted me in securing a position at a fine military institution at Westpoint. There I will be trained to be an Officer in our United States Army. Already I have been given the colors of an officer in training and treated with the respect and dignity that our family deserves. I am glad to be away from home as well, for my father’s nerves have been rattled ever since my brother was killed in anti-draft riots in Georgia. It was truly a harrowing day, a day when my father thanked God and twelve negroes for, in a noble attempt, trying to save the life of his son. Since that day I have, as well, looked upon the negro man, not as my family had for generations, but as brother, and as friend. It seems that, between my brother’s untimely death and my commission within the Army, is a year of change.

Now I look over the coast of New York and I hear the fire bells from the distant city, the warning hand-klaxxons of the Brass Servants that fight the fires in the more wealthy parts of town. Police forces are already throwing the poor and dirty detritus of the city off of the Manhattan island and demanding tariff and tax for the safe conduction of business within the city. Truly it is not the negro that the world had to be concerned about – they are as human as any man. It is the poor, it is those mad with hunger or the evils of no self control…they are the true demons of this modern world. The Lord save us if women also began to pull at the shackles of their well-meaning captors. Men have heavy enough hearts as it is.

It is a blessing to be here with like-minded men, to be reminded of our place in the world as shepherds and caretakers. To be sentinels against the chaos of the world, to mind the bastion of civilization against the entropy of madness.


DECEMBER 13, 1898

THEODORE ROOSEVELT announced today that the Council of Western States has threatened SECESSION after President HOBART’s actions during the war with MEXICO. Currently the ceasefire is predicated on relinquishing CALIFORNIA as well as parts of TEXAS to Mexican forces in addition to paying a tribute on a yearly basis of gold and relevant technologies, beginning with three hardy trains and two brass warriors of superior type and construction. Commander ROOSEVELT has angered WASHINGTON by throwing the treaty suggestion back in the face of President DIAZ. Mexico’s diplomats have already threatened to continue the war despite President HOBART’s continued concessions to the demands of the Mexican diplomats.

Today is the hardest day of any man. After a tragic fire on my family’s land, I have had to lay to rest my mother and my father. May they find their eternal rest, lain solemnly next to my brother’s grave on our family’s estate in northern New York state. I have not cried as much as I do now since I first learned of my brother’s death.

I am a year from graduation now, a year from being given my own force. It looks as if I will be needed to defend the Union for the second time in our Country’s memory. Our civilization nurses sores of madness and inequality, sores caused by chaos and impulse with little regard for the truths of the world’s creation. Truly, Commander Roosevelt is unqualified to lead anything other than a circus.

I shall in all likelihood be taking up the mantle of one of the many forts in the Great Plains to see that the West cannot march Eastward and so as to quell the already fomenting rebellions against the Proper Order. Even the Indian Nations were not so bereft of intelligence as to keep fighting against a foe of iron and righteousness.

Perhaps I shall have a chance to see this “Teddy” Roosevelt on the field of battle and take stock of a man no more than a boy playing at being king.


FEBRUARY 21, 1899

President HOBART today declared that MEXICO seeks to assist the United States against the Treasonous Actions perpetuated by Commander ROOSEVELT. Lines have been drawn through the Border States, with the Mississippi River forming a natural barrier between the Civilized East and the Lawless West! Allies from prior engagements have offered assistance to the true UNITED STATES, with military or economic assistance coming from FRANCE, SPAIN, MEXICO, RUSSIA. Meanwhile, nations foolhardy or inexperienced have pledged assistance to ROOSEVELT, among them GERMANY, THE UNITED KINGDOMS, and NIPPON. Only time will tell who made the wiser investment!

I have been stationed at Fort Grant, a fortress of large dimension. We watch the border between the separate states now, overwatching the great Mississippi river, as the President considers invasion strategies to bring the rogue Roosevelt to justice. It is unknown to me at this time whether I will be involved in this. Many of the men in my command, a trustworthy bunch but swarthy with the remnants of enlistment hanging about them as a cloud of flies, are jocular and ill mannered, especially about my absence of a wife. It is odd o them that my convictions in this war as a soldier and a patriot may be stronger than my need to sire a family or continue my family’s Christian name.

On most days, the command is not a difficult one. We observe men (and occasionally women!) out of our rifle range, examining the bank of the river opposed us, occasionally raiding ill-prepared longboats from our naval companions. It is with great sadness that I am forced to observe the poor organization and discipline of my naval cohorts. Constant idiocy seems to plague their command as well as improper training and poor timing. Truly a comedy of errors were we not at war with a rogue politician.

I have the feeling that these agents on the other bank are not members of the standing army of Roosevelt’s, but independent agents of some kind. Neither endorsed nor coerced by our opponents. In as much, I do not think I have seen agents of the former Vice President’s as of yet. It is impossible to tell as we do not know if they wear any particular uniform, but these attacks, while effective, are fueled by an amateur tactic. We know that Roosevelt is not an amateur, so I can surmise I have not seen the face of this war, I have not seen the horrors that await us. The waiting, truly, is the most difficult part.


OCTOBER 18, 1899

In this upcoming time of Thanksgiving, we provide two viewpoints from our political scholars in Washington. The first that the Times of New York has chosen to run is from Doctor Kyle MacKenzie of Carnegie-Melon University. He is an accomplished scholar of political history as well as a legal counsel for the new American Office of Special Services.

It is of my opinion that the root of the issues between the separated states is one of ignorance and maleducation. The people who have settled the West have long been known as an independent bunch, a people of resources and compunctions from beyond the conception of the older, civilized nationals of the Eastern seaboard. However, we can see now that they do not respect nor understand the necessity as of the working man in the organization of our nation. We must instruct them on why we must relinquish the land to Mexico, why our women must be kept at home, and why Peace, as well as Security, is more important than false elements of Liberty. In such a manner the men of the West must be instructed on why they harm the Union and the institutions it stands for with their childish cries of freedom. There is a reason that the magnates of business, such as the young Henry Ford and the revered inventor Thomas Edison have assisted in the war needs of the East. It is the educated, the powerful, that properly understand the needs of the American continent and its peoples. It is up to the poor to yield to their stewards, for they are too poorly educated to understand what they require to survive.”

In Response – we have gathered a statement from Doctor Walter Samuelson of Harvard University, a Constitutional Scholar and former political aide to President Hobart

Two years ago, our Nation awoke to startling, troubling news. Our President lay dead, killed in cold blood and without recourse. We, to this day, do not know his assassin. In his wake, a once great man ascended to the mantle of Presidency, his fine opponent and once friend Mister Garret Hobart. President Hobart was a fine man at the beginning, doing his best to eradicate the problems of the lower classes here in our large urban centers. However, the sweatshops still churn out our fine clothing, the factories still pollute our air, the metapackers still dump their waste in our rivers. Does this promote the health of our country? Or do we just sweep this under the rug of our collective consciousness? Theodore Roosevelt stood up for the protection of the working man, the man who settled in the West and was unknown in the District of Columbia, the man who had no voice. He also found support for women and minorities, such as negroes and natives to our great land, as he heard the voice of the downtrodden man. Now that he has stood up to defend these poor and common folk, to champion their needs, he is turned into a heretical monster by his opposition. If this continues, the only outcome shall be war between the two halves of America. The poor shall rise up as the slaves did, and truly with the wages they are paid the white man is once again enslaved, and shall put down the rich and powerful as if they are hogs to the slaughter.”

It is far too quiet tonight. It has been two weeks since the Navy vessels that patrol the Mississippi stopped being harassed by the locals that live on the Western banks. Tonight we heard the steam whistles, the gears, the grinding noises of a mechanized force. We are unsure what to do. We have enough supplies to outlast a siege but it has been rumored that they can breach fortifications without difficulty. My men whisper about ghosts moving in the night, shades of men who wear death as a cloak in the darkness. It has them spooked when they should be of resolve. It has me spooked when I should be steady as steel.

Last week we stopped receiving communication from our forward scouts. While this has happened before, once when they lost a radio, it has been more worrisome with the hidden menace of the Western forces amassing across the river. They are out of sight, but I can hear, I can feel, them moving through the reeds along the river. I can hear their heartbeats in my ear and it frightens me. Dear God, it frightens me.

It sounds as if the men have seen something from the wall. I shall take up my pen once again when I discover what is to come of this night.


JUNE 4, 1900

President HOBART has officially declared war on the CALIFORNIA PROTECTORATE COUNCIL. This morning he launched the world’s first GREAT AIRSHIP, manned with four-hundred of our bravest soldiers to volley from the air and mount cannon against the foes of the UNION. This has been necessary in response to the actions of ROOSEVELT’s soldiers on the Mississppi with the fall of Fort Grant, as well as many other forts and steamships along the great river.

In the interests of balance, we have also provided the following. California leader TEDDY ROOSEVELT has released this statement this morning –

OUR world is not one fashioned by the mighty to exploit the weak. We are not to stand aside and allow the powerful and the wealthy to sell the lives and livelihoods of the downtrodden and unseen of the plains and deserts. Our Founders knew the values of personal liberty, personal awareness, and personal strength. It is our role in this world to provide a space where all men and women may live, may flourish, and may advance our species in a way that God intended in his Grand Design. To this end, we cannot allow the manipulation and degradation of the people of America to continue. Mexico has been pushed back from their coup of the Western states through the power of technology and the applied genius of Nikola Tesla. Now we fashion a Governance system that does not allow the Politician nor the Trust to dominate the lives of the downtrodden peoples of the land. A system that allows a Man or a Woman to speak thoughts on matters complex and simple without punitive distinction. A place where the color of skin is of much matter as the color of hair when considering the stature, intelligence, or cravenness of a man. We shall bring not only our warriors and our soldiers to the seat of the elite classes in Washington, but we shall also bring our philosophy and our science. The world shall tremble as it does whenever a new order is birthed but, the truth is the enlightenment, not the pain.”

The next shot finally breached the wall and our Fort fell. My men died in droves and I could do nothing to stop it.

Wrapping a scarf around my mouth, I dove through the smoke, looking for injured men and assisting them wherever I could. The small hallways were a mixture of oppressive heat and blindness, dust from the destroyed stone edifices sprayed from each shot that Roosevelt’s men lobbed against our walls and smoke poured from every fire caused by the explosions. Tears filled my eyes from the pain, the smoke, the fear. It was almost a welcome relief when I felt the heavy butt of a gun strike my head and my world went black. Now I find myself bound to a horse so that I may not escape, led by a woman of unknowable countenance and the capability of killing a man at three hundred paces. I believe we are headed West, but what I shall find there, I can only speculate. When I next have time to write, I shall include my thoughts on the West for anyone who may find this journal.


3 Responses to “War of the Century”

  1. Aly Hughes Says:

    I really liked your use of the newspaper clippings with the journal entries, I thought that was very clever with this story! It would be a great find to actually uncover someone’s journal with newspapers and entries of how it affected them along with it.

    I’m also just starting to get into Steampunk, so I definitely enjoyed that aspect too. Although, on that front, I think Tesla was a bit out of place for steampunk, mostly because he’s known/remembered for his work with electricity. Let’s face it though, the man was a genius and could have worked miracles with steam mechanics just as well as electricity.

    Overall I really liked it, and I definitely would not object to reading a follow up to this one. 🙂

  2. Luarien Says:

    Thanks! While steampunk is normally seated more toward the late 19th century rather than the turn of the century, there is still the presence of electricity in the “feel”. The technological line I draw is at the mass produced engine. Electricity is there but it’s still this wild and dangerous thing, one that Tesla was truly experimenting with in earnest in the time frame of the story (AC was introduced at the World’s Fair in New York, I think, in 1893). But you’ll never see a car from me in a steampunk story – that’s way more dieselpunk.

    Aaanyway, I’ve been planning a followup to follow the kind of “band of five” style story with the principle character, the bounty hunter, and some ‘lawless Westerners’. I’m sure you can guess who my story’s heroic side is.

    • Aly Hughes Says:

      haha, I wouldn’t dare get into the intricacies of various steampunk related genres, too complicated! For me, as a reader though, that was just the impression I got, but hearing you explain it does make sense to me.

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