The First American Army: the Remarkable Story of George Washington and the Men behind America’s Fight for Freedom

Written by Bruce Chadwick
Review by Margaret Barr

Through their letters, memoirs and verses, the author presents the lesser-known actors in the American Revolution—teenaged volunteers, raw young officers, doctors, chaplains, husbands, and warrior-poets—whose stories expose appalling fighting and living conditions. Familiar names from history—Washington, Benedict Arnold—appear peripherally and always in relation to the regimental men. Their women also feature in this examination: an amorous bride always eager for her husband to return home on leave, the wife who had serial affairs with her husband’s fellow soldiers, concerned mothers. And in the aftermath of war, the victorious veterans suffer a difficult return to their former lives, their personal economies wrecked by their effort to secure freedom for themselves and their descendants.