For Flashman Down Under and Flashman in the Opium War click HERE Balladeer’s Blog moves on to another Harry Flashman adventure referred to but never completed before George MacDonald Fraser’s death.
Projected Title: FLASHMAN AND THE KINGS
Time Period: The Taranaki War (1860-1861)
NOTE: The title refers to the Maori King Movement, which began during this period and whose descending line of a designated “King of Kings” has survived to this very day with the current Maori King in New Zealand.
From 1860-1861 the Maori Kings aka the Maori King Movement proved to be the most battle-savvy and politically shrewd opponents the British would face until the First Boer War of 1880-1881. If the native inhabitants of other regions around the world had been this proficient and coordinated, the Colonial Powers of the European and Muslim Empires might have been dealt such massive setbacks that the course of history would be fascinatingly different.
The Set-Up: As of the finale of Fraser’s Flashman and the Dragon we readers were left guessing exactly what Harry was being dragged into by blonde, luscious Phoebe Carpenter and her husband.
In Flashman and the Dragon the Carpenters were shown to be smuggling guns to the Taipingi rebels in China, so my speculation would be that they were also involved in smuggling guns to the Maori forces in New Zealand. The Taranaki War had been raging between the Maori and British colonial troops since March of 1860.
The Carpenters had been posing as Christian Missionaries as cover for their smuggling operation in FATD so they might well have been using that same cover for their dealings with the Maori King Movement. Flashman’s standing as a storied, active duty British Colonel could be exploited to their advantage through their extortionate hold on our antihero.
FATD ended in October of 1860. The Taranaki War lasted until March 18th of 1861 so Harry could be on hand for the last several months of the conflict. As usual he might well end up with undeserved military honors from his misadventures, caught up in the martial action while striving to free himself from his entanglement with Phoebe and her husband.
It has been definitively established that the Maori insurgents were buying black market weapons in Auckland, Waiuka and Kawhia on New Zealand’s North Island. Flashman, Phoebe and her husband could arrive in one of those port cities – preferably Auckland – with their contraband. Harry could give us readers a first-hand account of a clandestine meeting among some of the Kingite leaders and the Carpenters.
From there the Carpenters and their fellow fake Missionaries could transport their weapons to their Maori contacts, using Colonel Flashman as their “beard,” to vouch for their alleged authenticity to the unsuspecting British authorities. Harry’s excuse for accompanying them to the Taranaki District could be a supposed willingness to present himself for consultation purposes to General Thomas Simson Pratt.
General Pratt had replaced the disgraced Colonel Charles Emilius Gold and was gearing up for his major offensive against the Maori forces. Naturally he’d not only welcome a “consultation” with an experienced Colonial officer like Flashman but he’d draft him into his operation, much to Harry’s displeasure.
In real life Pratt was resented by the colonial settlers for his slow, meticulous and cautious campaign against the Maori. After some of the British humiliations in the field prior to his arrival, the General was determined not to underestimate his foes like his predecessor had.
Pratt was known to be at odds with New Zealand’s Governor Thomas Gore Browne over Browne’s treatment of the Maori in the Taranaki District. Rumors held that this was part of the reason for General Pratt’s slow and methodical offensive, since he supposedly was hoping for peace negotiations to work out before many more battles had to be fought.
Needless to say this would make Pratt Flashman’s kind of General. Reasonably portioned risk plus Harry would have a lot of free time between battles to romance assorted pretty ladies among the French and Portuguese settlers in the region. (One of the shrewd moves of the Maori Kings was preventing their troops from attacking or molesting any non-Brits. It was made clear that the Maori’s grievances were with the British alone. Maintaining discipline to prevent random violence against the other Europeans in New Zealand kept the Maori King Movement on good terms with those settlers. French and Portuguese families remained in the District even after British settlers were evacuated or their towns burned.)
While the roguish Harry whiled away the months in this manner – mostly drinking and humping – he would periodically encounter the Carpenters. Since both parties had dirt on the other he would have to avoid quick accusations about their real activities and just bide his time waiting for an opportunity to ruthlessly eliminate these two foes as he had so many others.
Some of the military actions Flashman would be on hand for:
*** General Pratt’s weeks-long sapping campaign against the Maori defensive line called Te Arei (“the barrier”).
*** The New Year’s Eve capture of the Pa (L-shaped Maori fortifications) at Kairau.
*** The January 23rd, 1861 British defense of Redoubt Number Three.
By the March 18th cease-fire partly negotiated by heretofore neutral Kingite Chief Wiremu Tamihana the British sappers had been facing day and night fire since late January.
If Flashman hadn’t already engineered the deaths of the Carpenters by war’s end we could have a climactic clash with them and their co-conspirators in Auckland (or maybe New Plymouth). Harry could manipulate events to make it seem like the couple perished in the chaos of him putting the kibosh on an illegal gun-running operation he’d “stumbled upon.”
Another real-life figure Harry could interact with in this tale would be Sergeant John Lucas, who won a Victoria Cross for his heroics in literally the final moments before the cease-fire on March 18th.
With this conflict over it would be back home to England and his wife Elspeth for Flashman. At least until his adventures in the U.S. Civil War beginning at some point in 1862.
FOR MY BONUS SIXTH PLACE FLASHMAN NOVEL CLICK HERE
FOR HARRY FLASHMAN’S ENCOUNTERS WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN THE NOVEL FLASH FOR FREEDOM CLICK HERE
FOR MY LOOK AT THE TOP SEVEN ROBERT LUDLUM NOVELS CLICK HERE
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