Washington's Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution, by Patrick K. O'Donnell
We will be leading another exciting discussion of the first 2016 Book Club selection, Washington's Immortals, on Saturday, April 23rd at 11am.
Attend the March 24, 2016 taping of Pritzker Military Presents with Patrick K. O'Donnell and his discussion on Washington's Immortals and get your own signed copy of the book for the PMML Book Club discussion.
Can't make the Saturday book club discussion? There is also a weekday discussion on Wednesday, April 20 at 12:00 p.m.
In August 1776, little over a month after the Continental Congress had formally declared independence from Britain, the revolution was on the verge of a disastrous end. General George Washington found his troops outmanned and outmaneuvered at the Battle of Brooklyn. But thanks to a series of desperate charges by a single heroic regiment, famously known as the “Immortal 400,” Washington was able to evacuate his men and the nascent Continental Army lived to fight another day.
Today, only a rusted metal sign near a dilapidated auto garage marks the mass grave where it is believed the bodies of the “Maryland Heroes” lie—256 men “who fell in the Battle of Brooklyn.” In Washington’s Immortals, bestselling military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell brings to life the forgotten story of these remarkable men. Known as “gentlemen of honor, family, and fortune,” they fought not just in Brooklyn, but in key battles including Trenton, Princeton, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, and Yorktown, where their heroism changed the course of the war.
Drawing on extensive original sources, from letters to diaries to pension applications, O’Donnell pieces together the stories of these brave men—their friendships, loves, defeats, and triumphs. He explores their arms and tactics, their struggles with hostile loyalists and shortages of clothing and food, their development into an elite unit, and their dogged opponents, including British General Lord Cornwallis. And through the prism of this one group, which included rich merchants, tradesmen, and free blacks, he tells the larger story of the Revolutionary War. Washington’s Immortals is gripping boots-on-the-ground history, sure to appeal to a wide readership. - Grove Atlantic
-Here in the U.S., there have been more military history books written on World War II and the American Civil War than have been written on the American Revolution. Why do you think that is true? What era of U.S. or world military history do you prefer to read?
-What other works by Patrick K. O’Donnell have you read? How would you describe his style? How would you rate his research abilities? His storytelling abilities?
-In your opinion, what qualities or factors make a unit “elite”? Do those qualities change per era, as the technology and tactics change or are those factors consistent through different eras?
-During the American Revolution, the population was bitterly divided between those who remained loyal to the Crown, those who rose up against the Crown (and those who supported them) and those who wished to remain neutral in the dispute. Does the author give you adequate context to understand why some chose to remain Loyalists or revolt against the Crown and join the Patriot cause? Elaborate.
-Does the author provide insight into understanding the Patriot viewpoint of the degree of oppressiveness the Crown’s laws and measures that led the men of Maryland and Delaware to revolt? Can you envision any laws being enacted, measures or factors which would cause you to risk life and property to rise up against the established government?
-What hardships did the men of the Maryland and Delaware units face in camp and in battle? Describe the logistical difficulties of maintaining these units in camp and in battle?
-The author has written about other eras of military history with different weaponry and tactics. In the author’s descriptions of skirmishes and battles, what struck you about the late 18th century way of war as practiced by the British and Hessian forces? As practiced by the Patriot units?
-In reading this story, were you drawn into the narrative in such a way that you cared about the characters? Which characters stood out to you and why? Did you have any sympathy for the Loyalist characters in the story?
-The author, in telling the story of the Maryland and Delaware units, mentions a number of women. Discuss their many roles in this narrative.
-Did the author successfully make his case that the Marylanders serving in the Continental Army changed the course of the Revolution? Specify how was their contributions to the cause were so critical for success of the Patriot cause? Is there a single identifiable point in which the Marylanders role was decisive, or was it a number of events throughout the war?