Soldier in Paradise, Louise Collis, Micael Joseph, London, 1965. No ISBN.
Subject: [Mil. History] Campaigns Against The Rebels [1773-1777]
This posting deals with the problems of that time when a superior force was fighting 'rebels'.
Captain John Stedman ( a member of the Scotts Brigade) had volunteered for service in Suriname to fight the rebels. He soon found out that the 'enemy' was fighting for freedom from oppression and from tyranny. The weather, sickness and inhospitable jungles and swamps made it the more difficult to defeat the 'enemy'. At the end of a long frustrating campaign chasing rebels Captain Stedman asked the question ...'What was to be done ?...One could not march for ever round and round between the Cottica, the Commewijne and the Suriname Rivers.'
On his first military expedition in 1773 Stedman was promised a tent boat. The boat never arrived as the colonial authorities decided to save thirty shillings a tent boat would have cost. Luckily, Stedman gets a boat from four American captains, who had anchored in the river. They offer to provide him and his troops a boat and sailors, free of charge, all the way to the Wana Creek. After two days rowing they arrived at a plantation and from there on a plantation owner will provide them with a tent boat.
The rebels like Bonni, Joli-Coeur and Baron conduct a scorched earth tactics because when the expeditionary forces approaches they set their villages on fire and escape under cover of the smoke and confusion. At night the rebels would return and insult the 'Black Rangers'. They would sing victory songs on both sides, sound horns and noise makers. It was impossible for the men to sleep. as the sun rose, the jungle was silent again but everyone in the camp was exhausted because of lack of sleep.
Most of the rebel groups were supporting each other with arms and supplies. Reports from the field about the enemy were often conflicting. The expeditions were frustrating especially since most of the soldiers were delerious with fever and not ready for an engagement.
Despite the misery, Captain Stedman was of the opinion that 'paradise' was perhaps situated in the haunted country of Suriname. He gets that feeling as he gazes over the savannas, the creeks, the flowers and smells their fragrance.
In the end, Captain Stedman realized he was not in paradise. The military expeditions in his time were not only about meeting the enemy but also about remaining alive and on your feet.
Met dank aan Albert Buys