rusquen (rusquen) wrote in little_details,

Military in the field - ID issues

This is a fantasy story set in a secondary world. The army in question is vaguely reminiscent of the Napoleonic army, but the country it belongs to is definitely and defiantly a republic (so - no nobles pulling rank).
What I'm looking for here is less historical information (though that's more than welcomed, too!) and more of "common sense" advice from anyone who's familiar with any sort of military. What would a seasoned soldier consider a reasonable course of action?

Here's the situation.

It's peacetime, but a war is expected to break out any day. Everyone's on edge.
A general gets attacked by unknown assassins while travelling from point A to point B in the republic's peaceful backwater. Point A is a military outpost he's just visited with a surprise inspection, point B is a small outpost he was going to pass by without stopping, so nobody here and now really knows he's in the area. Nevertheless, he gets ambushed right outside Point B.
He's travelling without retinue, accompanied only by three adjutants (because it's peacetime and they're in a hurry, because it was a surprise inspection, because nobody knows their itinerary anyway, and because, if worst comes to worst, the general is an authority-equals-asskicking level of magician who doesn't usually need bodyguards).
Still, that's a really good ambush designed for this specific general. Two of the adjutants get killed right away, and the general is partially incapacitated, but he and the remaining adjutant put up a fight. In the process they realize, through a bunch of clues, that the attackers very likely belong to their own army or at least trained with it.

Meanwhile at Point B, Lieutenant S notices the commotion, takes a squad and goes to investigate. The attackers make a half-hearted attempt to fight him, too, then flee - and S also recognizes them as most likely his own.

Now. We have Lieutenant S with a squad, in the middle of nowhere but not far from Point B they're supposed to be protecting. A war is looming. They've just been attacked by strangers who fought like they were their fellow soldiers (though out of uniform), and now they face four more strangers, IN uniforms (two dead and one wounded) who are all oddly high-ranking but have no escort. To top it off, the general looks about thirty years younger than he should (because magic, but S doesn't know it's possible), and isn't supposed to be in the area. He's also lightly injured plus appears to be having something like a heart attack (consequences of magic S isn't familiar with, so he can't tell how real it is). The surviving adjutant is demanding to be let into Point B for medical help (for the general) asap.

Yeah, I didn't realize just how suspicious the whole thing looks from S's point of view when I was plotting it.
So then, questions.

Question 1: Does it make sense for Lieutenant S to let them into Point B, or should he start demanding proof of the general's identity? Also, can he even do that?
I googled what seems like every variation of "can a lieutenant ask for a general's ID" and "how do officers prove their identity", but Google seems to think I'm asking about police pulling drivers over. "Military etiquette" produced a guide for rendering salute, but that's not quite it either.

Question 2: Supposing S does want proof of the general's identity. Considering that photo ID doesn't exist in this world (and ignoring magic for a second), would further proof of identity be even possible, apart from finding someone who knows the general by sight? Frantic googling yielded something called "dog tags", which apparently have been in use since Spartans. But the general is already wearing a rather hard-to-obtain uniform. Would having a metallic disk with his name on it be any more convincing?

Thanks in advance and I appreciate any suggestions!
Tags: 1700s (no decades given), 1800s (no decades given), ~assassins & hitmen, ~espionage, ~etiquette & manners, ~history (misc), ~military (misc)

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