Sep 27, 2013

Dispatch on the Phantom Regiment, 1901

To Lord Aisling STOP Initial reports true STOP Van Vuuren assembled squad of self-decapitating soldiers STOP Impervious to gunfire STOP Rush into battlefield unarmed STOP



Corporal Bridges wanted to feel his way in the dark, but the bounds of his confinement receded; through an oval of light the battlefield shone and men screamed and fell but Bridges heard nothing. The corporal waded against the odorless molasses of a fetid murk without stars. Where was he?

NOTES

Between 1899 and 1902, the British Empire and the independent Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State fought the Second Boer War in South Africa. After a hundred years of mutual hostility, war broke out over control of the Witwatersrand gold mines – not discounting other causes, obviously.

The British won, and annexed both Boer republics. The Boers had been badly outnumbered from the start (88,000 troops to the Brits’ 450,000). In an alternate universe, who knows, they might have used magic to tip the scales in their favor.

Boer means farmer in Dutch and Afrikaans.

The Witwatersrand basin is roughly contemporary with the Vredefort crater, the largest impact crater on Earth, formed about 2.023 billion years ago.


Aerial view of the Vredefort dome in South Africa




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