Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence

Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence

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Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence

Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence

Read

FREE for a limited time

Synopsis

In this gripping chronicle of America's struggle for independence, award-winning historian John Ferling transports readers to the grim realities of that war, capturing an eight-year conflict filled with heroism, suffering, cowardice, betrayal, and fierce dedication. As Ferling demonstrates, it was a war that America came much closer to losing than is now usually remembered. General George Washington put it best when he said that the American victory was "little short of a standing miracle."
Almost a Miracle offers an illuminating portrait of America's triumph, offering vivid descriptions of all the major engagements, from the first shots fired on Lexington Green to the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, revealing how these battles often hinged on intangibles such as leadership under fire, heroism, good fortune, blunders, tenacity, and surprise. The author paints sharp-eyed portraits of the key figures in the war, including General Washington and other American officers and civilian leaders. Some do not always measure up to their iconic reputations, including Washington himself. Others, such as the quirky, acerbic Charles Lee, are seen in a much better light than usual. The book also examines the many faceless men who soldiered, often for years on end, braving untold dangers and enduring abounding miseries. The author explains why they served and sacrificed, and sees them as the forgotten heroes who won American independence. Ferling's narrative is also filled with compassion for the men who comprised the British army and who, like their American counterparts, struggled and died at an astonishing rate in this harsh war. Nor does Ferling ignore the naval war, describing dangerous patrols and grand and dazzling naval actions.
Finally,Almost a Miracletakes readers inside the legislative chambers and plush offices of diplomats to reveal countless decisions that altered the course of this war. The story that unfolds is at times a tale of folly, at times one of appalling misinformation and confusion, and now and then one of insightful and dauntless statesmanship.

Excerpt

October 18, 1776. Captain William Glanville Evelyn, resplendent in his British uniform, stood tall in a coal-black landing barge, the first orange rays of daylight streaming over him and glistening on the calm waters of Pelham Bay above Manhattan. Men were all about him, in his craft and in countless others. They were soldiers, part of an operation that had begun hours earlier during the cold, dark night. Evelyn and his comrades could not have been happier to see the sun. Their feet and hands were numbed by a cruel autumn chill that penetrated even into their bones. As it grew lighter with each minute, the men, swaying gently in their landing boats, squinted toward the coast, searching for signs of the enemy. They saw nothing. The beach was deserted, and night still clung to the motionless trees in the interior.

The men were British regulars and their German allies, some four thousand strong. In each amphibious craft several soldiers struggled with long oars, grunting occasionally as they strained to row toward the coastline. In the center of most vessels, between the oarsmen, sat two lines of men facing one another, shivering and thinking anxiously about what might lie ahead. Now and then someone coughed nervously, and every so often muskets jostled together with a clatter, but otherwise all was silent. Officers stood fore and aft. Often one was an ensign, a young man likely still in his teens. Sometimes the other, like Evelyn, was a captain, a company commander. Evelyn, forward in a barge that carried men from the Fourth Foot, the King's Own Regiment, was a thirty-four-year-old veteran soldier. He had fought in Europe in a previous war, and in Massachusetts and on Long Island in this conflict.

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