Below is the rough draft of the journal for my character, Robert Cassidy. I enjoyed writing it up, and hope the inspiration clings. Some of this was backstory; the session began in mid-march trying to join the wagon train. Much of the writing prior to St. Louis was finding the character's voice and explaining backgrounds and flaws. Hopefully, a lot of flavor came through.
The Journal of Robert Cassidy
December 17, 1874; Nashville, Kentucky
I have resolved to take up my Uncle's proposal and establish our family on the western shores of this great continent. My time with the United States Postal Service may be drawing to an end. The last two years have been valuable; I have managed to acclimate to the different culture that is Nashville in the United States. I am glad to see that the tax burden is less crushing here; I think my pa could make it if he was paying only New York's imposts, not lying under the Richmond tyrant's lash. The mechanical commonplaces of this nation are fascinating, and much less dear-- they don't cross the wide ocean from Britain or France.
I will build a farmstead that can reward my knowledge and hard work. I know that in a land less burned out, I can manage a rich farm for myself and my family. From what I've studied, the state of California has rich soil, though I bear them a great deal of distaste for their role in provoking the war of southern independence.
January 22, 1875; Nashville, Kentucky
My father's letter reached me today. I think he appreciates the idea of staking our family's claim on the fertile soil of the pacific. The Cassidys will continue our family's tradition of leading the way west. Uncle Job explained the homesteading laws of the United States to me. I will be able to claim 160 acres if I improve the land, build a 12'x14' house, and farm the land or plant trees-- for a small fee. Many men don't make it the five years they need for the papers to come clear; it'll take gumption to keep my claim.
I understand the bears of California are delicious due to the abundance of wild berries and honey. Tonight's dinner will be pork from the smokehouse, apples from the barrel, and wild rice.
January 29, 1875; Nashville, Kentucky
On my route today, Della told me about her cousin. He left for the west twelve years ago. California was already crowded then. I hate to imaging wasting my efforts on the poor land that remains.
Della tells me that Indians harassed her Uncle's party. After dinner [roast partridge with cranberry sauce], Uncle Job presented me with a shotgun. My rig is ready; I know my mules well-- they are ready for the rigors of the trail.
February 16, 1875; Nashville, Kentucky
Wagon trains are gathering in Saint Louis, Missouri, in anticipation of this year's season. The journey to Saint Louis is just over 300 miles; some of the federal roads are good, even in winter. That's one advantage of the fortifications and troops along the CSA border-- good roads were built to keep supplying the... forces of Kentucky and union. I depart tomorrow for the young state of Missouri, thence to the capacious lands of the Oregon Territory.
I presented perhaps the finest feast I have ever attempted tonight. For the last week I have been working with Martha and Elizabeth. Uncle Job had seventy guests for his final feast and it came off splendidly. I was particularly proud of the buffalo; it meshed well with the toasted leeks.
February 22, 1875; Louisville, Kentucky
The city is immense; it is hard to imagine the travails of war ever affecting this city. More than one hundred thousands souls called this city home as of the last census; it is teeming and immense. I find it hard to imagine more bodies pressed into a region. Prices seem dear to my country expectations.
I am told that Saint Louis has triple the souls of this vast city; I find it hard to imagine. It must sprawl for miles along the Mississippi. Fortunately, the road connecting these two is used to the vast traffic; even in winter travel should be fair travel unless a blizzard descends from the north.
March 14, 1875; St. Louis, Missouri
Illinois offered a little shelter from the worst of the snow storms, but no large cities along my route. It was hard to endure the cold wind from the north. The drifts grew deep in places, and even the mules shuddered under their blankets. I was fortunate for their sure feet; several times only their lively response prevented disaster.
This day I applied myself to the streets of this vast city. A great deal of activity relating to the migration is gathered to the west of the city, as if they strain to depart. I listened to the wisdom of the people; many spoke about the expeditions westward which depart so regularly. Many rumors and much advice was dispensed; I wet my throat in many a tavern this day.
The greatest advice concerns the date of departure. Spring storms and flooding on the rivers are important-- leave too early and storms can mire you, leave too late and you risk snow in the mountains. The last week of March, or the first of April has proven historically best for the trek. There are several trains gathering; tomorrow I will seek the details of the various trains. Then I must gather supplies for the trail.
March 15, 1875; St. Louis, Missouri
Two caravans depart the week beginning March 28th for the Oregon Territory. The first was a very professional organization, organized much as a stage coach line. Pay one hundred and fifty dollars and they will issue you all of the supplies, rent you a wagon, and so forth. The professionalism was impressive, but their fee is a great deal more than I can afford to pay. Additionally, I have a wagon, a trusted team, and a great deal of supplies necessary to transport for the improvement of a property.
The second company is a more slapdash affair. The leader is an experienced hand who had made the trip before, James Caldwell. The expedition leaders, three reverends, hope to minister to the natives and introduce them to God. After the leaders spoke amongst themselves, they suggested that I speak with others journeying west. Providence favored me. Malachai Jones, of the Independence Cattle Company, has a budget for transport of goods west. He is an experienced cattle hand, a true voice of the west; truly an exemplar of this new era after the war.
He's also short and touchy about it. He's pretty thin too, but he put me in charge of buying trail rations for both of us and the boy riding drag on his herd. Thin is something I will quickly put to rights.
March 16, 1875; St. Louis, Missouri
Had an early dinner tonight. Afterward, I went to the evening gathering of the expedition. This is the community I'll have around me for months; they are mostly good folks. The expedition's departure date is firm: we leave April first.
It looks like we have a good balance of people for starting the new town. It will be small-- a bare hundred souls are starting off together on this trail-- but we seem to have many skilled builders and smiths in the company. The preachers seem focused so far on their Indian flocks in the territory. I worry about them competing over the good Christians of our expedition. The seem like good men; perhaps they will each preach in turn, in harmony and alignment with our lord's great plan. I hope so.
April 1, 1875; St. Louis, Missouri
Our journey began today. I haven't had much time for writing; arranging for the last minute supplies and laying hands on the spices and other rarities this season proved more time consuming than I had imagined. The earlier wagon trains, taking the Santa Fe route to the Californias, seem bent on departing much earlier, chasing the last of the snows if all breaks well. They must fly across to beat the terrible heat of the great southern desert. Unfortunately, they picked over the supplies at hand, and I had to rely on promises that further supplies would arrive by rail before our own departure. It was nervy, and involved several trips back to check our orders.
The salesmen are greedy this season; I know that I have paid more than a fair price on certain essentials. They know their market and what it will bear.
The day was damp and took a great deal of patience to endure. I put forth a great deal of effort on tonight's meal; blackened fish fresh from the Mississippi, early spring salad and wild rice. The chocolate biscuits contributed a welcome aroma as they baked over the fire in my dutch oven; a smell that doubled everyone's hunger even while they ate. Ol' Malachai perked right up, and most of the womenfolk came by my cookfire to see the source of the dinner smells. We exchanged some friendly chatter, after, while Malachai's boy scrubbed the pots.
I share a tent with Malachai and his boy, the odd scout out, Mr. Cain, and the caravan's Doctor Brown. The scout and doctor draw their supplies from the caravan supply. After smelling our meal they applied to join us for the biscuits. They'll provide me with their daily supplies in the raw, and I'll use them to make a meal for five after each day's journey. I only hope the caravan supplies are up to snuff.
April 2, 1875; Missouri
This afternoon my curiosity got the better of me. Mr. Lucien Brown, so standoffish, has a nervous twitch about him. His eyes always track his wagon; he's an anxious sort of man. This afternoon Malachai distracted him while I took a peek in his wagon, jus' fer a sec. His wagon was well and cleanly arranged, making the presence of two great lead bars a bit surprising. I heard Malachai rattling on, keepin' his attention, so I applied the edge of my buck knife to one of the great bars, and saw a glint of gold beneath a thin layer of paint. Hoo!
I wonder if he's only traveling with us for safety, part of the way out to the coast. He may slip away from the wagon train some night to return to a secret mine. If he does, I'll know it wasn't injuns in the night. I'll be sure to have our cartographer, Mr. Cain, mark the spot on his map-- that could be valuable information.
I couldn't hold my tongue and shared what I seen with Malachai. He got a sharpish look. I hope he's no tale teller.
April 3, 1875; Missouri
This whole day I thought and thought about that gold. While I was doin that, Malachai invited Mr. L Brown to dinner. I guess his curiosity is getting the better of him too.
I thought back to the newspaper tales-- there were no great bank heists recently, so at least we're not traveling with a murderer. An trickster, maybe-- there was a story in the Dispatch before we left about the Atchinson Offices losing thousands of dollars to an embezzler.
Dinner was quite a success. We may have to invite other families around our fire in turn, to socialize and make a good impression on our neighbors early. Talk over dinner was dicier. Mr. Lucien Brown started telling some tall tale about fighting in the war, but Mr. Cain called him out. He's got a head for maps and learned at Westpoint all about the war. He challenged Lucien about the facts of the unit. Lucien grew red as a beet and admitted that it was his brother's tale.
It looked like things were going to simmer there, but Malachai had to put his oar in the choppy lake. He sneered that Lucien and his brother both had trouble with the truth, if his brother filled his ears with such nonsense. Lucien couldn't take that; he got spitting mad and drew a knife. Malachai moves quick; like a flash he was rollin away and grabbin for his pistol...
Trackbacks are disabled.
- John Williams on Recent Media 4/17
- John Williams on Kingmaker Session 5
- Scott on Kingmaker Session 5
- Kingmaker Session 5 « Scott’s Corner on Kingmaker Arndor Background
- Kingmaker Session 4 « Scott’s Corner on Kingmaker Arndor Background
- Ancient Links
- Board Games
- FATE Games
- Game Group
- Gift Coordination
- My Game Ideas
- Shop stuff