1776 by David McCullough

Enjoyable easy read about the critical year that Washington led a ragtag army of 'rabbles' that miraculously defeated the greatest military machine that the world had ever seen - to date.  

Washington's elite roots came through with his private frustrations and disgust with the "New Englanders" who were all poor and extremely unsophisticated.  In fact, most of the Americans were volunteers who came from rural farms that knew nothing of war much less fighting or firing a gun.  Their clothing was inadequate for the Boston climate and their daily behavior reflected their roots more than their ambitions.  

Washington dealt with daily defections to the enemy (and vice-versa) and daily desertions of soldiers who just got tired of waiting around and doing nothing. After 11 months, the siege ends with the Americans executing a daring capture of Dorchester Heights which forced the British to retreat (to Nova Scotia) for safe harbor.  

The encouraged but still ragtag Americans march to New York (Brooklyn and Manhattan Island) to await the next confrontation with the British.  What stood out to me was General Howe and his desire to reconcile with the Americans to avoid bloodshed (on both sides).  No, Howe was not offering a better deal - but subjugation to the King - of which the Americans had no interest in accepting.

Throughout the countryside and even in the midst of New York, American Loyalists were everywhere - for the most part - keeping out of the way of the war. In fact, many rural Americans (both Loyalists and Rebels) were happy to "let them fight" while they went on with their lives.  

Ultimately, the British defeat the Americans on Long Island.  After accepting the losses, Washington does a daring, overnight retreat from Brooklyn across the East River into Manhattan.  The retreat was nothing short of miraculous considering the fakery and the ruses required to trick the British army into thinking that the entire American army were still camping.  As daylight was cracking, enough to expose the Americans to the British of their retreat, a fog creeps in to give them enough cover to escape.  

The book ends with the final battle that Washington musters by secretly crossing the icy waters of the Potomac river on Christmas Day and severely defeating the Hessian army.  It was the battle that turned the tides of both the American's outlook and the British resolve. The war would continue for another seven years before resolution in 1783.  


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