Saving Washington: The Forgotten Story of the Maryland 400 and The Battle of Brooklyn

Written by Chris Formant
Review by Diane Scott Lewis

At nineteen, Josh Bolton joins the Maryland militia in 1776. His best friend, Ben, a freed black man, joins with him. They soon discover the militia won’t be policing the colony from the invading British, but they’ll be part of the fighting forces assisting General Washington. Josh and Ben are brave soldiers, intent on freeing America from the horde of redcoats and abusive British taxes. Undertrained and underfed, the young men are sent to New York where they must help in a decisive escape for Washington and his troops. Will their commander sacrifice the Marylanders in this Battle of Brooklyn so Washington can slip away, across a river, to Manhattan?

This young adult novel explores the part the Maryland militia, or America’s Spartans, also known as the 400, played in an important battle that turned the tide for the American Revolution. The author uses contemporary language—along with four-letter swear words—to make the novel relatable, though there are other anachronisms. Clipper ships and zippers weren’t around in the 18th century.

I’d have liked to know, in this time of slavery, how Ben and his family obtained their freedom. The battle scenes are realistic, the hardships, and the atmosphere of swamp and fog well shown. Told from the British side as well, this is a good introduction to the American Revolution and the sacrifice of the brave men from Maryland.