Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pontiac's Conspiracy In The Novel Unconquered

Author Neil H. Swanson's novel, Unconquered (a description of the movie version can be found here and here), is described as a novel about "Pontiac's Conspiracy." [See story line here] An interesting analysis of the the movie version is described as "an allegory of the Cold War mentality" here.

Swanson's preface states:

"Men create their own disasters. There are times with the 'accumulated consequences of their selfish acts' explode with all the violence of a phenomenon of nature." "The conspiracy of Pontiac was one of these man-made disasters. It was also a phenomenon of nature. Like the eruption of a volcano, it was an explosion of deep, pent-up forces."

"In writing Unconquered, I have returned deliberately to the dreadful summer of 1763 when, in a blow as sudden and disastrous as Pearl Harbor, the frontier was driven eastward from the Allegheny River almost to the Susquehanna." "...the Pontiac War did not burst upon the frontier without warning. The fact is that Sir William Johnson was warned repeatedly during the fourteen months preceding the massacre at Clapham's."

The characters are a mix of real and imaginary. "...even these (the imaginary) are of the essence of reality. They are composites...who appear--brief tantalizing glimpses--in old letters and dispatches, in the daily journal kept by one shrewd and observant trader in besieged Fort Pitt, and in the file of its commander's orders carefully preserved in London."

"The first teacher at the Forks of the Ohio kept school, just as Ten Eyck said, in Colonel James Burd's cabin. A Delaware chief blacked the eye of the king's deputy commissioner, George Croghan. And James Kenney, the young Quaker who kept store in Pitt's Town, amused himself by fetching home a sack of human bones from the old battlefield on Grant's Hill and tried fitting them together."

"If you doubt me when I say that Fort Venango was left open and defenseless by the lack of hinges for its main gates, you will find the proof in a dispatch from Major Robert Stewart, First Virginia Militia, written in that miserable stockade on December 20, 1760."

"If you are surprised to find Fort Pitt commanded by a British officer who speaks French much more easily than English, at a time when France was still at war with England, go to Captain Simeon Ecuyer's correspondence. He wrote his official letters in the enemy's own language."

"If Captain Steele's behavior seems implausible, my witness is Bouquet himself. Colonel Bouquet did not use so gentle a word as 'implausible' in dealing with the conduct of another office that summer--Ensign John Christie, who surrendered Presque Isle." "In dispatches to Captain Ecuyer at Fort Pitt and Captain Lewis Ourry at Fort Bedford, he used words that scalded--'infamous' and 'shameful conduct' and 'a lasting Blot.'"

The story begins in Cerne Abbas, England, and moves to London. Abigail, who after defending her brother, is tried for murder, found guilty and shipped to North America. The story unfolds throughout the various location listed above.

Footnote, page 64
"Historians may find fault with Christopher Holden's perverse notion that the Seven Years' War had lasted nine years. [Note: The American portion is known as the French and Indian War] Captain Holden was no historian; he was merely a participant. In his mind the war began in the spring of 1754, when Fort Prince George at the Forks of the Ohio was taken and destroyed by a French army under Pierre Claude de Contrecoeur."

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