The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom

The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom

Bruce Chadwick

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 1402205066

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is the first book that offers a you-are-there look at the American Revolution through the eyes of the enlisted men. Through searing portraits of individual soldiers, Bruce Chadwick, author of George Washington's War, brings alive what it was like to serve then in the American army.

With interlocking stories of ordinary Americans, he evokes what it meant to face brutal winters, starvation, terrible homesickness and to go into battle against the much-vaunted British regulars and their deadly Hessian mercenaries.

The reader lives through the experiences of those terrible and heroic times when a fifteen-year-old fifer survived the Battle of Bunker Hill, when Private Josiah Atkins escaped unscathed from the bloody battles in New York and when a doctor and a minister shared the misery of the wounded and dying. These intertwining stories are drawn from their letters and never-before-quoted journals found in the libraries belonging to the camps where Washington quartered his troops during those desperate years.

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military success but a significant public relations coup. The British had evacuated Philadelphia on June 15, 1778, and were forced to retire from Monmouth when Washington’s army attacked them there on June 28. That battle, plus the freeing of Newport, would not only rally the Americans to the cause but add fuel to the growing fire against the war among many residents of England, who would read about it in the increasingly antiwar British press. Washington ordered an all-out campaign against the

exposed to all the inclemency of storms and severe cold. They are badly clad and some are destitute of shoes. We are frequently for six to eight days entirely destitute of meat and then as long without bread. The soldiers are so enfeebled from hunger and cold as to be almost unable to perform their military duty or labor in constructing their huts.”19 No one realized this more acutely than George Washington. He rode through the snow to Jockey Hollow from time to time to visit the camp and

Bennington: Anthony Haswell, 1809; reprinted by New York Times-Arno Books, 1969, p. 34. 10. Lewis Beebe, “Journal of a Physician on the Expedition Against Canada,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. LIX, No. 4, October, 1935, p. 328. 11. J. J. Henry, Arnold’s Campaign Against Canada, Albany, Joel Munsell, 1877, pp. 134–139. 12. James Gibson, Dr. Bodo Otto and the Medical Background of the American Revolution, Springfield, Ill.: Charles Thomas, 1937, pp. 96–97. 13. Frye

nuns kneeled down, and the priest stood and read a sentence and then the nuns a sentence and so they went on some time; then the priest prayed by himself; then the nuns, and then the priest again, then they read all together a spell, and finally the priest alone; then the priest stroked the man’s face and then they took away their candles and tables and the man died.”2 The parents of those who passed away were not angry, but proud. Matthew Patten, of Bedford, New Hampshire, said of his son John,

that in return for the cakes he had presents for her daughters. Sensing that she could trust the young soldier, she asked her daughters to come down. The first, Sally, descended halfway down the stairs, saw the American soldier and halted, too scared to continue further. “Sally, come down, here is a present for you,” said the young sergeant as he walked to the bottom of the staircase and held up a fine petticoat. The mother nodded and the daughter walked down to the bottom of the stairs and

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