Tuesday, January 8

A letter to Mother Linden

A portion of a letter from Volunteer First Class Samuel Linden to his mother

“So many changes! Just as we are beginning to become accustomed to the new Captain more things have happened to topple the egg basket!

Volunteer First Class Samuel Linden
Most recent Mr. Baptiste was promoted to acting surgeon as Doctor Roberts was to be gone for some time on some particular circumstance. The Mids all thought it very peculiar, but Mr. Baptiste told me he has done similar in the past. That is true I suppose, but they had not prompted Mr. Baptiste before.

Then Mr. Baptiste seen in the Lloyd’s list that the ship the Doctor was to travel on did not make the rendezvous with the convoy it was to travel with, although it had plenty of time to do so. This seemed to disconfigure him greatly, as he was very attached to the Doctor.

Then Mr. Baptiste fails to return from an errand ashore – and word is he has shot a Marine Sargent in a duel! It did not kill the fellow, but he is under arrest just the same.

Then a NEW surgeon shows up! Which shows that the Admiralty did not intend to let Mr. Baptiste keep that post anyway. On top of that he is a Frenchman- which did not set well with the crew! Mr. Baptiste was a Frenchman, and the crew liked him well enough, but Mr. Apple explained to me that Mr. Baptiste was a Creole, which is what they call a Frenchman born in America. He said that Mr. Baptiste was more like a Jonathan that a real Frenchman. He called him a counterfeit Frenchman at best.

This new surgeon is an old man and seems sad. Mr. Mooney says it is because of what is happening in France. I suppose that would make sad also if I were French. Like the Doctor he is interested in Natural History. He must have a particular fondness for tortoises.  In his dunnage was a box containing nothing but tortoise shells and bones. He come to the mids and said he would pay anyone who could make some sketches of the shells for him, as he said he had no such skill himself. I may try to do this, as a bit of extra coin would be nice when I am sent ashore on errands.

But back to Mr. Baptiste. They are holding him under arrest, and I suppose they will most likely hang him. Dueling is illegal in addition to shooting a Marine. Rumor is that he was once a second in a duel for our former firebrand lieutenant. I suppose that his how he knew about how to go about it. It makes me sad to think of him hung, as he was my friend and was kind to me. Please say a prayer for him when you are in church.”

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