Chains Across the River

Written by Bevis Longstreth
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

This is the story of Thomas Machin, an engineer of somewhat flawed character who enlisted in the British Army and was posted to Boston, where he saw action at Breed’s Hill before deserting to join the Rebels. George Washington then ordered Machin to the Hudson River in order to envision and design ways to block the British Armada gathering in New York Harbor, an important strategic position.

This well-researched novel will introduce many to Machin, a lesser-known revolutionary war hero and brilliant engineer. Machin’s friendship with William Knox plays a large part in the novel and is instrumental to the plot. General George Washington figures prominently in this story as well. There are occasionally some paragraphs that read more like a history book than a novel, but the information provided is compelling and has been meticulously researched.

The characters, real and fictional, blend well together in a fascinating tale based on true events. Life as a British enlisted man in the 1770s and the class system in Britain at that time are described in depressing detail, and the reader gets some idea of why Machin decided to desert. There are two women in this novel who figure prominently in the outcome of events. There are also some sexual situations that suggest that women of that time were more adventurous and in control than one might think. Recommended for fans of fiction and history books about the American Revolutionary War.