Victory at Yorktown: A Novel

Free Victory at Yorktown: A Novel by William R. Forstchen, Newt Gingrich

Book: Victory at Yorktown: A Novel by William R. Forstchen, Newt Gingrich Read Free Book Online
Authors: William R. Forstchen, Newt Gingrich
Tags: War
of the king. He reined in, and Peter did the same.
    “Fine then, they will see us through, you can go back now.” The first light drops of rain were beginning to fall, chilled, the cold seeping into him.
    “Allen?” Peter looked at the man who had been his childhood friend. “Allen, I am, indeed, sorry. He was an honorable man.”
    “Yet your bastards hung him anyhow,” he snarled, his anger surfacing at last. “For God’s sake could you not have shown him the dignity of a firing squad? He was an honorable soldier.”
    “I will not argue that with you now,” Peter replied.
    “But I will not forget.”
    Allen hesitated, as if struggling with a comment, and then it spilled out.
    “At least keep your promise to look-in on Miss Elizabeth if you can. Tell her I love her and always will.”
    At this moment, Peter’s own feelings regarding that were buried. Peter nodded an assertion and extended his hand. Allen glared at Major Peter Wellsley of the Continental army.
    “Thank you Peter for doing that. But as for us, for you and me? War changes all things,” he snapped, turning away, and spurring his mount back to the safety of his own lines.
    It was a contemplative ride back for Peter, barely noticing the salutes as he passed through the picket lines, then whispering a dismissal to the escorts who had kept watch over him and Allen. Their lieutenant saluted and drew closer.
    “Tragedy, nothing but damn tragedy, all of it. I wish I could have voiced condolences to your friend.”
    “My friend?” Peter asked.
    “Yes, that British officer. It was obvious to all of us. Heard you and he knew each other before the war.”
    Peter looked at him blankly. Then just rode on. He passed where the gallows had already been knocked down, the grave freshly piled and even smoothed over, a guard placed on it so it would not in any way be defiled. He rode on, at last turning the bend in the road that led to Washington’s headquarters, where he felt he should make a brief personal report on his conversations with Allen over the last day.
    “Major Wellsley?”
    He was startled out of his thoughts by the sight of Nathanial Greene riding toward him, a cold mist swirling about them. Peter reined in. Nathanial Greene brought his mount around and motioned that the two of them turn aside from the headquarters road and continue to ride up to the heights of West Point. They rode on in silence for several minutes until finally it was Greene who spoke.
    “Hard day for you, young man,” he said softly.
    Peter simply looked over at Greene. Here was the man who had emerged as Washington’s most trusted officer and comrade in the wake of these last few tumultuous weeks. It was a rank and honor well deserved. A Quaker by birth and upbringing, he had nevertheless picked up the sword even before the Revolution, enlisting as a private in a Rhode Island militia company; within months he was a general.
    Gallant, audacious, he had led one of the assault columns at Trenton and had even urged a midday pressing on to Princeton after their triumph, which Washington had to rein in. He had stood by his general’s side at Brandywine, was credited by Washington with saving the army from starvation when he took over as quartermaster general at Valley Forge, but had repeatedly begged to be return to field command. He managed to slip another battle in at Springfield, New Jersey, in which he handily turned back a British and Hessian raiding column while still serving as quartermaster general, supposedly foraging for supplies in that much contested state when the British attacked. Peter had been at that battle, taken impromptu command of a militia unit on the flank along what the locals called the “Mill Burn,” and Greene had personally cited him in dispatches for his rallying of the troops and coolness under fire.
    “I want you to know, Major, I would have preferred a different outcome to this morning.”
    “Sir?”
    “It is obvious to me and others that

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