bradygirl_12 (bradygirl_12) wrote,

Fic: Mr. & Mrs. John Moore (aka Miss Sara Howard Moore) V: Time-Honored Tradition (1/1)

Title: Mr. & Mrs. John Moore (aka Sara Howard Moore) V: Time-Honored Tradition (1/1)
Author: BradyGirl_12
Pairings/Characters: John/Sara, mentions of various characters
Fandom: The Alienist (2018)/The Alienist: Angel Of Darkness (2020)
Genre: Drama
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Spoilers: For The Alienist (2018)/The Alienist: Angel Of Darkness (2020)
Summary: When John reports on the Spanish-American War for The New York Times, he and Sara exchange letters.
Date Of Completion: August 18, 2020
Date Of Posting: September 7, 2020
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, TNT does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 3221
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: The entire series can be found here.

Time-honored tradition,
Writing of letters
Between those at war
And those at home.

Heartfelt and spare,
Sweet and trembling,
The hope for safe return
Is always present.

William Stanford
“War Letters”
1863 C.E.

June 13, 1898

Dear John,

It was with trepidation that I saw you off to war last week amid all the drum-beating and flag-waving. I know The Times assigned you as a war correspondent, but you are still in the line of fire.

I vividly remember the night you came home and told me of your new assignment. I could tell you were ambivalent, not thrilled with the prospect of live bullets but yet excited all the same. That made me angry. War is not a game! Your generation missed the Civil War and a small part of you regrets that, just like the other men who are running to sign up.

I am sorry for these feelings, in a way. I know you have a job to do. I am proud of you. I am just so frustrated with this war. Are the Spanish truly guilty of the atrocities attributed to them? Or are the stories simply tales woven by men like Hearst and Pulitzer? I know you will find out the truth.

I eagerly await your first letter.

Your Devoted Wife, Sara

& & & & & &

June 16, 1898

Dear Sara,

I understand your anxiety over my assignment. I admit to some trepidation myself.

You are right about my mixed feelings. I am wary of going into battle, even as an observer, but the old tales of my grandfathers in the Mexican War and Father in the Civil War are always in my mind. I suppose it might be a rite of passage. Laszlo could probably elucidate all the psychological reasons. I just received a letter from him. He is most keen to read my observations.

So far the weather is our biggest topic. The heat slams into you like a prizefighter’s fist as soon as you arrive in the Caribbean. The Northern boys are miserable, and even the Southerners find it oppressive. The heat may present a problem.

Cuba itself is quite lush: bright green, and there are magnificent flowers of striking hue. The birds on this island are colorful. Not even Audubon could have imagined such splendor.

Poverty is contrasted by the fine houses on the sugar plantations. The harvesting of sugar cane appears to be hard work, much like picking cotton in the American South.

The Cuban rebels are mixed in their feelings toward us: glad to have such a powerful ally against the Spanish but wary about our intentions. There are people back home with the same wariness.

If I am not melted, I will eagerly read your next letter.

Your Faithful Servant, John

& & & & & &

June 19, 1898

Dear John,

I eagerly read your last letter. You paint such a vivid picture! I should like to see Cuba someday.

Here the war fever is at a high pitch. People are predicting a swift victory, but didn’t they say the same thing after the First Battle of Bull Run in the last war? Laszlo says it is the American psyche: hurry toward war, often ill-prepared, go in boasting with full confidence, and seem shocked when it turns out to be a long haul. He says it might have something to do with our armies and navies being made up mostly of citizen-soldiers in wartime instead of regulars, or professionals.

My agency continues to be busy. Crime does not stop for war.

Karen Stratton and I are meeting for lunch tomorrow. Perhaps I will find out the status of her relationship with Laszlo. I will pass along any information, unless Karen asks me to keep it confidential.

I think of you every minute and hope that you remain well and safe.


our Loving Wife, Sara

& & & & & &

June 21, 1898

Dear Sara,

The Cuban rebels tell some hair-raising tales of Spanish atrocities, but one fellow did admit that some of it was exaggeration. The Spanish are evidently contemptuous of the Cubans they have ruled for so long. Since they lost so much territory in North America, they are clinging desperately to their remaining colonial possessions.

The Cubans say that the Spanish are weakened by yellow fever. It is endemic down here. We already have a few cases in the Army.

The cafes are doing a booming business. Our troops are enjoying what the Cubans have to offer. It is a colorful scene.

There are a diverse group of soldiers down here: the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, the 71st New York, the 1st North Carolina, Theodore and his Rough Riders and the Colored Buffalo Soldiers, 10th Cavalry. It could be that this war may further heal the North/South divide. Nothing like uniting against a common foe.

The Buffalo Soldiers are a fascinating story. Their members were originally from the Union Army’s Colored Troops and fought in the Indian Wars, too. The 10th Cavalry has always collected many medals and citations for valor, including the Medal of Honor. I spoke with some of the soldiers and learned of fathers and uncles who served in the Civil War.

I must conclude this letter and put it in the mail pouch. Until next time,

Your Loving Husband, John

& & & & & &

June 23, 1898

Dear John,

I found the more detailed story you wrote for The New York Times about the Buffalo Soldiers to be fascinating. Joanna and I talked about it at length. She is planning to do more research on the topic and may persuade her editor to do a follow-up story. Your story has created quite a stir.

People are being very patriotic. Flags are everywhere. They will fly proudly on Flag Day and every day.

I keep myself busy by working my cases. They are interesting but not dangerous. I am gaining valuable experience every day, and so is my staff.

Laszlo is ‘laying low’, as the criminal class says. He does not wish to curry controversy during wartime as passions are always extra-inflamed, he says.

Karen has spoken of a posting in Vienna. I don’t know if Laszlo will go with her. He prizes his work at his Institute but may feel that a change is warranted, even for only six months or so.

I miss you, John. I have grown accustomed to marriage and you by my side. I pray that all goes well for you.

Your Loving Wife, Sara

& & & & & &

June 25, 1898

Dear Sara,

The first battle has been fought. Las Guasimas was the setting. Despite the Spanish being weakened by yellow fever, they are professionals, so the confrontation was not easy. I was able to observe from a hill using field glasses, and the rhythm of war can be quite shocking.

All the pictures taken by men like Mathew Brady in the Civil War show the aftermath of battles. Illustrators showed the battles as they remembered them, but now there are moving-picture cameras taking pictures of the action. Future wars will become much more immediate for those back home.

What I saw through those field glasses shook me. War is not glorious, just messy.

We attacked a rearguard of the Spanish and were ambushed by them, who won the battle by inches, but they made their planned retreat to Santiago. The dead and wounded were numerous. Yellow fever is beginning to make inroads into our troops, which is troubling. Perhaps our American boys will be home by Christmas, as the prediction is always made at the start of wars, but it was not an auspicious start. Let’s hope we can outrun the yellow fever, though in this devilish heat I would not bet the house on it.

I miss you, too, Sara. I am thinking of you every day.

Devotedly Yours, John

& & & & & &

June 28, 1898

Dear John,

The war is getting considerable press coverage, which of course is not surprising. I hear newspaper circulation has risen all across the board, and your dispatches from the front are keeping The Times on top. Hearst must be grinding his teeth.

The shallowness of the stratum of society we call home is truly extraordinary. I heard Harriet Goodwin speak of ‘the fabulous opportunities’ to stage balls for the war effort. She is not even aware of the issue of Cuban independence, I daresay. All she can do is parrot, ‘Remember the Maine!’

I have heard the rumor that you have been attached to Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Is this true? I have mixed feelings if it is so. I like the idea of you there with a friend, but Theodore can be reckless. Just be careful. Impulsive behavior can be useful in certain situations, but I am not sure a war is one of them.

Bitsy is going out so I shall send this missive with her.

Your Loving Wife, Sara

& & & & & &

June 30, 1898

Dear Sara,

The rumors are correct. I am attached to Theodore’s Rough Riders. He requested me, and I am flattered. Theodore never forgets his friends.

He is also a man made for war. I have never seen one more suited to it. He takes charge with his characteristic vigor and has capably prepared his men. His eyes sparkle and his trademark smile gleams. Despite the heat he is of good cheer.

Last night by the campfire we spoke of the case of 1896 that brought us all together to catch a killer. He is delighted to hear about the Isaacson brothers’ continued success, and of your agency. He followed the baby-kidnapping case last year with a keen eye while in Washington. He said you deserve all the accolades thrown your way.

He has little use for Hearst and Pulitzer and all the other yellow journalists. He believes this war is important for America’s place in the world. He says that we should take our rightful place on the world stage. He supports the war in the Philippines. We argued about that. I pointed out we are helping the Cubans fight for their independence, and so we should do the same for the Filippinos. He just nodded his head and smiled.

Well, we are on the move to Santiago. Perhaps this war will end quickly after all.

Your Loving Husband, John

& & & & & &

July 3, 1898

Dear John,

I read of the heroics of the Rough Riders through your dispatches in The Times. It certainly sounded thrilling, though I suspect it was a little bloodier that you let on. I worry about you. I know pursuing the story is paramount, but I still worry.

I have been having strange dreams. The stars twinkle far up in the sky while fires burn below. I suppose I ought to reread Freud’s writings on dreams, but I doubt they would tell me anything. Dreams, I think, are very subjective despite what alienists say. They can be a bit stuffy, can’t they? The alienists, not the dreams.

I hope this battle will hasten the end of the war. A short war would suit me just fine.

Your Loving Wife, Sara

& & & & & &

July 4, 1898

Dear Sara,

Well, it was quite a charge up San Juan Hill. Theodore was in his element. Bullets were flying and the Spanish had good position, but truly the heroism of our troops prevailed. The Battle of El Caney was also impressive. General ‘Black Jack’ Pershing led the 10th Cavalry in dashing fashion. He and Theodore were men in the right place at the right time.

It was a glorious sight, flags flying and swords gleaming. Unfortunately, there were the bullets, too. Over 200 of our men died, and nearly 1,200 were wounded. As always, the dubious glories of war came with a steep price.

The battles outside Santiago could be the key. Unfortunately, our advance has halted. The Spanish have dug in, defending Fort Canosa. It will be a gruelling campaign to oust them, but our troops are not giving up. I feel that we will prevail.

I will never complain about winter in New York again. I would welcome some cool snow right about now!

Devotedly Yours, John

& & & & & &

July 9, 1898

Dear Sara,

That charge up San Juan Hill is getting much coverage back here in the States. Theodore is being hailed as a hero.

I ran into Edith yesterday at China Violets, that clever little tearoom on 72nd. She says that Theodore will be quite full of himself. We both laughed and she said that he had been writing long, informative letters home. He is particularly impressed by the Buffalo Soldiers. He said every manjack of them is an exceptional soldier.

My days continue to be busy with my agency business, a good thing, otherwise I would spend all my time worrying about you. I miss you terribly, my dear. I miss your smile over breakfast, your laughter over lunch, your hand in mine.

It is easier to write such things than say them, as you well know. Just know that I love you.

Devotedly Yours, Sara

& & & & & &

July 16, 1898

Dear Sara,

It was with great pleasure that I read your last letter. As a writer, it is easier for me to write my feelings, too. The words flow on paper as opposed to from my lips. I think it is our training as a gentleman and lady that inhibits us. Raw emotion is frowned upon, considered a flaw of the lower classes.

But there is raw emotion everywhere here, from the camps to the hospital tents to the battlefields. The Siege of Santiago is going on, and it is tedious, indeed. Our troops man the parapets the Cubans dig for them, all while under the sniper fire of the Spanish. The casualties are piling up.

Sieges are always slow. Remember Vicksburg in ’62 and Paris in ’71. Nothing to report on our front.

I have received letters from Grandmother. She worries about me, but she is also proud. She just has to couch it in euphemisms. She is always amusing. I love her dearly.

So how go your cases? Any more news on the romantic front?

I must go. Theodore is in a loquacious mood.

Your Loving Husband, John

& & & & & &

July 19, 1898

Dear John,

My cases are going well. Your grandmother would say ‘swimmingly’.

I was very on top of things. The Lawler case was particularly intriguing. Bitsy was the one to come up with a key insight on that one. She is learning more every day.

Yes, sieges are long and test everyone’s patience. I am sure General Grant felt that way during Vicksburg.

The Philippine branch of the war is going well. Admiral Dewy sailed into Manila Bay back in May and it was all over, or so the reporters said. At the very least, it made good copy in the States. You should appreciate that.

Right now the war is viewed favorably, but I wonder if the sentiment would remain the same if it dragged on like the Civil War or the American Revolution. We managed to muddle through, but endless war can sap will. Perhaps we will get lucky with the war we are fighting now, but it is basically a two-front war: Cuba and the Philippines. Cuba is close enough, but the Philippines are on the other side of the world! I fear it may stretch our resources too far.

Are you getting enough to eat? I know sleep must be difficult to come by. You will be brown as a berry by the time you come home.

Your Loving Wife, Sara

& & & & & &

July 21, 1898

Dear Sara,

The siege is finally over. It was brutal and costly, but it is done.

A naval battle in Santiago Bay was the final nail in the Spanish coffin. Our Navy took care of the Spanish ships with élan. The Cubans are finally free! Good thing, because I don’t think we could have lasted long. Our casualties were mounting, and so are the yellow fever cases. Heat exhaustion is also a factor.

When I get home, I want an ice bath! The heavy air just clings to your skin and clothes and you end up lethargic. It is quite a miracle that our soldiers were able to fight at all. Remember the stories about camp sickness in the last war? A good portion of Civil War dead were victims of disease, not bullets. That will be the same in this war.

Has Harriet Goodwin got her fill of parties and balls yet? She may be disappointed that the war may be short after all.

Your Loving Husband, John

& & & & &

July 23, 1898

Dear John,

The romantic news you requested is quite amusing. Bitsy and Lucius are still in that stage of courting which entertains no thought of the details of engagements and weddings. They should consider themselves lucky. I remember the chaos surrounding our engagement and wedding. Such a fuss!

Karen has told me that Sigmund Freud has offered her a definite position in Vienna, and Laszlo has decided to go with her. They plan to leave at the end of September. Imagine, Vienna! They will probably stay at least through New Year’s. Christmas in Vienna ought to be a wonderful experience.

Marcus is still on leave. They may permanently retire him if he does not improve. Thank heavens Goo-Goo Knox’s shotgun hit him in the leg instead of someplace vital, though his wounded leg is serious. He consults with Lucius, but is in considerable pain. Bitsy says Marcus is brave about it, but it tears Lucius up. Poor dears.

I am worried about yellow fever in Cuba. During the heat of summer seems to be the worst time for it. Oh, well, you know better than I what it’s all about.

I dreamed of you coming home last night. Now for it to come true!

Your Loving Wife, Sara

& & & & & &

August 1, 1898

Dear Sara,

With the yellow fever raging among our troops, Theodore and other officers are petitioning to bring us home. I have heard rumors that the Buffalo Soldiers will be left to perform occupation duty, due to their race’s reputed stamina in the heat, particularly if they are from the Southern states. Whether or not any of that is true, we shall see what is decided.

Theodore has confided in me that he is going to run for Governor of New York this fall. Since he resigned as Undersecretary of the Navy in order to join this expedition, he has been thinking about his next step. He thinks if he can cut the right deal, Mark Hanna of the Republican Party will leave him alone. An influential man like Hanna distrusts Theodore’s progressivism. He ought to. If Theodore becomes Governor, he will shake things up. Just look at what he did as New York City’s Police Commissioner.

The Cubans were glad we came down to help them, but some are worried that we may not leave, and they have just traded one conqueror for another. I have to wonder about that myself.

I know that our men are just interested in going home. Weeks of heat, mosquitoes and bullets have tempered their taste for war’s glories.

Be well, and I hope your dream will come true soon, too.

Your Loving Husband, John P.S. (August 8) We are coming home! Your dream was quite prophetic. I will see you before the leaves begin to turn.

Much Love, John

This story can also be read on AO3.</br> </br></br>
This entry has been cross-posted from Dreamwidth. Comment on either entry as you wish. :)

This story can also be read on AO3.
Tags: john moore/sara howard moore, mr. & mrs. john moore (aka sara howard m
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