Saturday, April 22, 2017


I have always been interested in the Revolutionary War. Growing up in New Jersey, right by the George Washington Bridge, near Fort Lee and across the river from Fort Washington, perhaps it was inevitable. I also have a more personal connection with the Revolution. My father's family, the Casterline family, were Huguenots who'd fled religious persecution in France in 1690 and come up the Delaware River to New Jersey. Consequently, by the time the Revolution began, they had been citizens of the colony of New Jersey for almost a century. Several Casterlines fought in the war which raged all across New Jersey for years. We know this because their widows received war pensions.

Also, above, I have a copy of the New Jersey Journal from 1779, when the war was still being fought and outcome undecided. The Casterline's owned a tavern and had a subscription to the Journal. Many of the issues have been preserved and passed down in our family.

Until reading Washington's Immortals, I had no idea how severe conditions were for the American Army, the incredible hardships they endured, the way the British and Hessians usually gave no quarter and slaughtered the American soldiers rather than take prisoners, as the American Army did. In plain truth, these Washington Immortals, the Maryland and Delaware regiments, were nothing short of superhuman in their fighting spirit, endurance, unbelievable courage and determination.


Now, of course, Patrick K. O'Donnell's book is far more scholarly and has mature content not suitable for young people, but I think he would not be offended to be included in a post that also mentioned the Walt Disney Swamp Fox movie about the Revolutionary War exploits of Francis Marion which was made for 1959 Disney's Wonderful World of Color starring Leslie Nielsen. I happened to find a few of those terrific old TV shows on Youtube. They were the kind of videos where the focus swims around and you feel you're watching them on a ship at sea. Nevertheless, they taught me a great deal about the Swamp Fox's exciting Army Ranger style exploits in South Carolina to help win the war. Much of what I saw on those shows was brought to mind again as I read about Washington's Immortals.

Sadly, I'm sure my son went through an entire public school education and never heard of the Swamp Fox. But I have nothing good to say about public schools these days, so I won't say anything at all. But I wish somebody who was proud of America would do a film or documentary series about Washington's Immortals. Patrick K. O'Donnell has loaded his book with thrilling stories and very personal events from the lives of these men who fought so hard for freedom.

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