The dregs of history – General Diligence Dumphuk (1769 – 1809)

Diligence Dumphuk was a born follower who was thrust into a leadership role because of his aristocratic breeding. He came from a long line of Dumphuks who had, for centuries, provided fodder for cannons, arrows, spears and swords. His father, Admiral Sir Teddington Dumphuk, died during the American War of Independence when Diligence was only six years old.

The family legend is that Sir Teddington died heroically when fighting an action in Chesapeake Bay, when he was struck down by enemy grapeshot. Other sources, particularly his fellow admirals, suggest that he forced his crew on a joyride one night in an unsurveyed part of the bay and ran his ship, HMS Doubtful, onto rocks. The next day his crew could not find him and assumed he had fallen overboard. The fact that there were bloodstains on his cabin wall and his hat was found (with a bullet hole through it) some days later on a nearby beach, was not considered significant by the Admirals. They promoted second-in-command, First Lieutenant Horatio Hopkins, to Captain and he took control of the boat once it was repaired.

After attempting to keep Diligence out of harm’s way, the British High Command found themselves unable to prevent his promotion to a General once the aristocracy insisted that it was his right by birth. In 1809 he was posted to Asia Minor to fight the Ottoman Empire and found himself leading a rapidly diminishing number of soldiers.

His contribution to the literary world was, perhaps, the least motivational speech in history prior to what he thought would be his most glorious action. It turned out that he had already fought his last action. After some robust discussion with his senior officers group, all of whom suggested that there were some significant holes in his battle plans, he found that there were significant holes in himself. He then relinquished his grip on command and also his grip on life. His regiment retreated to safety.

Resolute Dumphuk, Diligence’s son, upon hearing about his father’s demise and then reading about his long line of ancestors who had suffered similar fates, changed his name by deed pole to Ronald Smith, sold the family estate for a fortune and emigrated to Australia. He was never heard from again.

Below is a reproduction of General Diligence Dumphuk’s final speech. In brackets are the muffled comments from Captain John Jones, his second in command at the time.

The Speech
Tomorrow we go into battle once more; our task is to take Slaughter Hill. It is defended by two hundred canons, elite cavalry units and two thousand infantry. We will attack from the front, directly uphill. It won’t be easy, but I know you won’t let me down. (It’s suicide you idiot).This is our last chance to regain some regimental pride. A chance to honour your fallen comrades from yesterday’s attack, all five thousand of them. Some may say that retreat would be wise, but I say onwards to glory! (Who the hell made you a general?)

It’s time to show valour and courage in the face of difficult odds. My family has never been found wanting in such circumstances. There has always been a Dumphuk ready to lead the charge into battle. So I will lead you with fearless resolve, from the front. (You’re mad. Did your mother ever drop you on your head?).

Onwards towards glory! Onwards towards immortality! (Does anybody else believe this drivel?)

Onwards towards grapeshot, red-hot cannonballs and razor sharp bayonets! Let them cower and run from the feel of our cold steel! (You’ll feel my cold steel if you’re not careful) Get some sleep. I’ll see you at dawn tomorrow. (No, you won’t).


Ths is an extract from The Complete Dregs of History is available here

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon). Real name Peter Tapsell...just started off writing under a pseudonym and kept going.

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