In the winter of 1777, the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, established winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. After losing the battles of Brandywine and Paoli, Washington and his army were demoralized and lacked discipline. Desertion and disease were rampant. The British under General Howe had captured Philadelphia earlier in the year, and the Continental Congress was forced to leave the city, finally establishing headquarters in York, Pa. This novel is not only about the trials of the Continental Army under difficult conditions, but it also tells the story of fictional characters Peter Wellsley, a Continental soldier from New Jersey, and Allen van Dorn, Peter’s neighbor, who served as a Loyalist with the British Army stationed in Philadelphia.
The second in the George Washington series, this novel mixes fiction with fact, introducing Baron von Steuben, who provided the leadership necessary to train the ragged soldiers into an army, along with General Anthony Wayne who supplied the troops with the much-needed food, clothing and building materials. On the British side, a key character is Captain John Andre, who befriends van Dorn in Philadelphia.
I have enjoyed the series and found the books to be factual in content and representative of how actual characters may have talked and thought, based upon historical evidence about the American Revolution. The authors’ writing style even helped me to feel the cold winds, sleet and snow the soldiers encountered during those harsh winter months of 1777 through 1778.