The summer of 1777 proves to be a difficult and discouraging time for General George Washington and his poorly equipped and undisciplined Continental Army. Campaigning along the eastern seaboard, they are pitted against General William Howe and his superbly trained and better provisioned British forces. The inspired Americans make a good showing at the battles of Brandywine Creek and Germantown, but in the end they absorb two disappointing defeats. The atrocities suffered by the Americans in the "Paoli Massacre" and the political machinations of the ambitious American officers Horatio Gates and Thomas Conway set the stage for the darkest hour of the entire Revolution--the heartbreaking story of Valley Forge.
Suffering from disease, hunkered down in crude huts and struggling to survive the bitter winter weather, the downtrodden American soldiers lack everything needed to sustain life, especially food. In a letter addressed to Congress, General Washington decries the government's failure to provide relief, describing his men as occupying "a cold, bleak hill," sleeping "under frost and snow without clothes or blankets."
Into this deplorable setting comes the flamboyant Baron Friederich von Steuben. With Washington's blessing, the eccentric German officer instills a measure of military discipline and pride in the ragtag American army. Then, having survived the terrible winter and now better equipped and fed, the rejuvenated Americans march out of Valley Forge in June 1778, a new and inspired army.
Continuing to follow the personal fortunes of the now familiar characters Billy Weems, Eli Stroud, Mary Flint, and Caleb Dunson, author Ron Carter extends his vivid portrayal of the hardships, disappointments, struggles, and triumphs that were part of the epic struggle to win freedom and liberty for America. [publisher blurb]