Claude Walker | Bicentennial-By-Buttons

Some of the fantastic weapons and tactics created and used by Paul Turtle.  They include the Sugar Cane Tornado, Lightning Spears, Purple Haze, Sweet Orange Eye-poppers, Vomit Fog, Sleepy Bombs and Spanish Moss Suits.

The Sugar Cane Tornado  "So Choc came up with a bellows design resembling a teardrop-shaped pine coffin. He put compartments on the top for stone weights that would push the air faster. He put eight handles on the sides so four operators - two on each side - could yank it upwards in unison. The skin of the bellows would be cowhide sewn and tacked into the lid of the bellows, then strapped onto the bottom part of the coffin on-site.

"The snout would pass through a metal smoke-box with a self-contained furnace where the smoke of choice would be brewing. The smoke would be pushed through a series of bamboo pipes first, then through sluice gates into smaller cane pipes and into the soldiers' tents.

"A sweet distribution system, Choc remarked. Paul grinned. They spent hours discussing, analyzing, joking. Paul was concerned about how to secure the bamboo and cane. Choc said they could be cut to fit each other, male and female, then bound with cowhide straps. How portable would it be, Kundiata asked. Choc figured it could be assembled on the battlefield by four people in five minutes and dissembled in less time, depending on the length of the pipeline.

"'This new Smoke Wind," Choc said. 'What shall we call it?' They all thought for awhile, trying out names such as the Aqueduct of Death and Choc's Big Lungs before agreeing, laughingly, on The Sugar Cane Tornado.

"Within the day, carpenters were building the pine coffin. Boys went deep in the forest to find bamboo. Kundiata and two other women began sewing cowhide to Choc's specifications. Paul dispatched another scout to draw a detailed map of the soldiers' campsite, including the exact location of each of tent and its opening flap. Choc began working up the recipe for the diarrhea smoke."

Lighting Spears (hollow sugar cane poles filled with resin, turpentine & gunpowder)  "Back at the scene of the attack, Choc lingered, gazing at the smoldering Lightning Spears he had designed and built. He assessed the battleground with satisfaction. The flaming sugar cane projectiles had worked perfectly. The boys threw with accuracy, the flames weren't extinguished in the air, and small brushfires were spreading on the rim of the ditch, between the boys and the soldiers.

"As Choc admired his pyrotechnic masterpiece, a soldier suddenly appeared in his path, raised his rifle and yelled, 'Halt! You halt right now!'"

Sleepy Bomb  "The San Pedro Bastion was only steps from Osceola's window, so to begin the escape, Paul was hoisted up to the ledge, removed the iron bar and tossed a sleepy bomb up onto the San Pedro Bastion. Made of the slow-burning 'sleepy root' and morning glory seeds wrapped inside damp Spanish moss, it blended in with the fog once lit. The southwest sentry was soon in the land of dreamy dreams..."

"Fog was rolling in from the Atlantic. He lit the other 'sleepy bomb' and flung it up with the accuracy of the old stickball player he was. He stealthily crept to the rope dangling from Osceola's window. Once the San Pablo sentry stopped appearing, Paul gave the 'Go' sign."

Vomit fog   "As the slaver and Waycross boys rounded one especially tight turn, they rowed smack into a thick fog that came out of nowhere. They had never experienced a fog like this, a pinkish hue, moving fast, a strange odor. The pursuers began vomiting simultaneously, wretchedly retching over the side of the rowboat, inside the rowboat and all over each other. Violently.

"They floated out of the pink fog almost as quickly as they ran into it. For 15 minutes, the slaver and his boys just sat there, too drained and nauseous to continue rowing. They saw the dugout flotilla far ahead. The runaways had opened up a wider gap - more than a mile - during the vomit attack. He thought of the bounty and the status and new farm and got his boys moving again."

Purple Haze  "In the commotion, Kundiata spied a bamboo pipe slowly inching through the broken window. As if on cue, the front door slammed shut from outside and the low-ceilinged room filled with a blinding purple smoke, pushed into the room from outside with a whoosh. Kundiata immediately recognized Paul's work and knew it was a concoction he and Choc brewed up long ago."

Sweet Orange Eye-poppers  "Paul knelt at the base of the outhouse. He methodically mixed pine shavings, peat, turpentine and chiles, another Choc recipe. He packed it into a gourd, lit the slow-burning fuse and slowly slid it under the outhouse. There were no flames, only a sweet, orange smoke that lazily wafted upwards into the fine pine cube."

More Purple Haze  "Paul snatched three palmetto fronds lying under a tree. He snapped the belt from his trousers, which he deftly used to connect a chunk of canvas around the rear vent of the bread oven. He unscrewed a kerosene lamp, poured the fuel into a pan, and threw in the chili pepper seeds and other herbal ingredients he had been hoarding."

Zip-lines and the first known combined air-sea-land assault on American soil  "At first, no one noticed the blue fog billowing across their campsite. To their right, panthers began screaming. To their left, a wall of fire erupted, flames shooting straight up. Six Seminole warriors - clad in Spanish moss - zipped down from high in the cypress trees on vines, firing away, forcing the unsuspecting soldiers toward the river.

"Another 10 warriors - mostly women and teenage boys - had been submerged using bamboo breathing tubes; they arose simultaneously with spears and tomahawks. The surviving Virginians broke ranks and fled up the riverbank, where a final group of Seminoles waited."

Spanish Moss Suit, psy ops  "Paul developed a miles-long communication system in which smaller warriors and older boys hid in treetops wrapped in Spanish moss. American soldiers often marched directly beneath Paul's scouts without knowing it. The scouts reported the precise location of the army and whistled a series of birdcalls on bamboo flutes to signal the Americans' movement. Other members of Paul's troop kept the Americans up all night with panther screams."

Prison breakout  "After surveying the camp for two nights, Choc and Paul improvised a souped-up version of the Sugar Cane Tornado which pumped a black, oily smoke made of pitch and turpentine into the compound, blinding guards and guarded alike. Then, like shadows of night, Abiaka's warriors strangled the sentries and stormed in, as Osceola and a dozen more warriors sped in from another direction."

Another prison breakout  "During the outside forays, Paul made more sketches and maps showing precise sightlines from the guard towers in the aging coquina fort. He measured the distance from the fort's wall to the moat which had been drained so cattle could graze. His already-precise street map of adjacent St. Augustine got even better. He memorized every route from the fort into the town and then out of town. After two weeks of fasting, the prisoners had lost enough weight to start the plan."

Swamp sunrise


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