Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence
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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.
as Washington’s principal adviser and troubleshooter. Now the heavyset man with the mangled hand would direct the most critical operation of the war. The guns Knox would be firing at Yorktown were not the manageable field pieces that heaved 3- and 6-pound iron balls. Siege artillery needed the power to wreck enemy fortifications from long range. These would be 18- and 24-pounders, each gun weighing close to three tons. A great effort was needed to drag the tremendous cannon into position along
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when the Indians asked for guarantees respecting their own claims to the Ohio Country, he was typically blunt: “No Savage Should Inherit the Land.” Most of the Indians departed for good.14 * * * Studying bad maps back in London, British officials believed that the trek from Fort Cumberland, Braddock’s base, to Fort Duquesne, the French bastion at the Forks of the Ohio, was about 15 miles. The actual distance was 120 miles over mountainous, forested terrain that no English bureaucrat could
guns pounded the American line. Only darkness brought an end to the shrieking madness. Carleton’s ships and gunboats pulled back and formed a line across the mouth of the channel. For a time, Arnold could make them out in the light of the flames that had engulfed the Royal Savage. Then all faded to blackness. An autumnal fog unrolled a deep quiet over the water. * * * Arnold called his captains to a war council in his cabin. A makeshift surgery during the fighting, the room still reeked of
British force in Virginia. He was still smarting from his blistering encounter with Greene’s troops at Guilford Courthouse. Another 1,500 reinforcements from New York brought the total British force in Virginia to 7,200. Even with his militiamen, Lafayette had fewer than half as many troops under his command. He could do nothing but retreat, allow the British their way in the state, and hope for reinforcements of his own. Cornwallis sent Tarleton’s Legion galloping west to Charlottesville, intent