The Ghosts of Saratoga

Written by David Dampf David R. Ossont
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

It’s 1777, and 17-year-old Roland McCaffrey is a scout for General Schuyler, who leads the American militia in upper New York. His immediate superior, Sergeant Caleb O’Conner, has a habit of treating young Roland as a small boy, although their relationship is close and each respects the other.

The scouts are observing the British Army under General Burgoyne, who is leading a large army south from Canada, expecting to hook up with General Howe in Albany. Roland and Caleb find that Fort Ticonderoga is surrounded by the larger British force. The British are moving artillery up the highest mountain overlooking the fort. They notify the commander of Fort Ticonderoga of the imminent threat of those cannons. Escape and retreating south are the only alternatives that can save the lives of those American soldiers defending the fort.

This story is a well-researched novel for young adults that tells the story of the British army’s advance and ends with an American victory at Saratoga. Both young Roland and Caleb are skilled sharpshooters and, eventually, join Daniel Morgan’s riflemen. The authors flavor their narrative with just enough detail of the various battles fought between the British and American armies as they move towards Saratoga. The battle scenes are authentic with vivid descriptions, without describing all the gruesome details. The main characters, Roland and Caleb, are clearly defined, although the supporting characters in the story lack emotional depth. The novel was a pleasure to read.