November 18, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence

Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence

Jack Kelly

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1137278773

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Band of Giants brings to life the founders who fought for our independence in the Revolutionary War. Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin are known to all; men like Morgan, Greene, and Wayne are less familiar. Yet the dreams of the politicians and theorists only became real because fighting men were willing to take on the grim, risky, brutal work of war. We know Fort Knox, but what about Henry Knox, the burly Boston bookseller who took over the American artillery at the age of 25? Eighteen counties in the United States commemorate Richard Montgomery, but do we know that this revered martyr launched a full-scale invasion of Canada? The soldiers of the American Revolution were a diverse lot: merchants and mechanics, farmers and fishermen, paragons and drunkards. Most were ardent amateurs. Even George Washington, assigned to take over the army around Boston in 1775, consulted books on military tactics. Here, Jack Kelly vividly captures the fraught condition of the war―the bitterly divided populace, the lack of supplies, the repeated setbacks on the battlefield, and the appalling physical hardships. That these inexperienced warriors could take on and defeat the superpower of the day was one of the remarkable feats in world history.

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began digging a second ditch, this one only a few hundred yards from the enemy fortifications. To complete this line, on the night of October 14, American and French troops launched assaults against two detached redoubts at the outer end of the British works. Washington gave the eager Alexander Hamilton a chance to lead the four hundred veterans who would storm one of the forts. The men vaulted over the walls and used bayonets, spears, and axes in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle with the British

board on a flotilla of small ships for a dash up the coast. Before embarking, they staged a grand parade through town. Amid the cheers, the reality of the great task began to sink in. It dawned on one twenty-two-year-old volunteer that “many of us should never return to our parents and families.”4 Munching on the ginger that Arnold, the former apothecary, had thoughtfully provided, the men still succumbed to seasickness as they scudded 140 miles along the stormy coast. Yet in a few days they

minds became taut wires through which they could hear the hum of the stars. The mountains and clouds, trees and rocks, as light as their bodies, seemed to float dreamlike in the cold. The aroma of pine and moss became intense. “We are so faint and weak, we can scarcely walk,” one man noted. Another said, “That sensation of the mind called ‘the horrors,’ seemed to prevail.”12 * * * While Morgan and Arnold struggled through Maine, Richard Montgomery and the force marching along the western route

asserted that he would set his troops in motion when ready because “I really think our Chief will do better with me than without me.” The word “indecision” must have bitten Washington as deeply as the evidence that his trusted secretary had criticized him behind his back. Indecision, his indecision, had cost the army at every step. The recalcitrant Lee was writing in private letters that “the present crisis” required a “brave, virtuous kind of treason.”22 He stationed his force in Morristown,

pass the midsummer hours, Sullivan debated theology with his officers. A deist and even an atheist earlier his life, the general had become a believer “by fair and impartial reasoning.” He was inspired to write a lawyerly thirty-page treatise “to prove the existence of a Supreme Being.”16 Meanwhile, his troops consumed the provisions intended to sustain them in the wilderness and time slipped by. * * * While Sullivan prepared, British general Henry Clinton saw an opportunity. He sent troops

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