The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom
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.
They will promise them that they will give them so and so and after they have got them to enlist they are cheated out of one-half they ought to have by one or another of the officers.” He was particularly mad at a government official whom he sneered sat “with his great wig” who said that soldiers sometimes were not owed what they believed. He added that those owed money would get it, but that these things took time. “You are wrong for accusing me and talking as you do,” he scolded Fisher, who
Boston wrote that “Boston harbor swarms with privateers and their prizes.” America had gone privateering mad, crazed with the profit and wealth that privateering promised. And the British knew it. The London Chronicle reported in 1777 that American privateers terrorized Scottish officials. “Our seas so full of American privateers that nothing can be trusted upon this defenseless coast,” one said.8 A British writer commented in 1778 that commercial British ship owners now had to employ a fleet of
campfire and burned to death.17 The enlisted men shared many of the same hardships and complained about many of the same things that soldiers since the Persian wars had done and would do in the years to come. They all seemed to know short people who made up for their lack of height by trying to seem authoritative, sergeants with deep voices, happy drunks, and men who had apparently slept with every woman on the Atlantic seaboard. All had met bullies. Most were witness to a fistfight in camp.
Memoirs of Rear Admiral John Paul Jones, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd Publishers, 1890, pp. 80–81. 18. John Barnes, ed., Fanning’s Narrative: Being the Memoir of Nathaniel Fanning, an Officer of the Revolutionary Navy, 1778–1783, New York: New York Times-Arno Books, 1968, pp. 194–195. Chapter Twenty-seven 1. David Ludlum, History of Early American Winters, 1604–1828, Boston: Boston-American Meteorological Society, 1966, pp. 120–121. 2. Diary of Colonel Israel Angell, New York: New York
successive volleys from the Americans. The Hessian said that he ordered his men to fire but in the process was “passed by several battalions” of Americans. He knew right away that they were the victims of a sneak attack and, with his men, fled into the town with the Americans firing after them. Rall, still sleeping as the Americans moved into position, never feared an attack. He had been told by his men that the Americans they saw rowing in the river over the last few weeks, or walking on the