Best Little Stories From the American Revolution, by C. Brian Kelly, with Ingrid Smyer, Cumberland House, Nashville, Tenn., 1999, $14.95.
C. Brian Kelly, editor emeritus of Military History, has done it again. Following his Best Little Stories series of books on World War II, the Civil War and the White House, he brings the American Revolution vividly to life with more than 100 well-chosen vignettes.
Among the tales Kelly tells are: the little-known action in Menotomy, Mass. (now Arlington), on April 19, 1775, right after the Battles of Lexington and Concord; Thomas Jefferson’s discomfort as the Continental Congress makes changes in his Declaration of Independence; Colonel Henry Knox’s Hannibal-like effort to haul a train of cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston in the winter of 1775-76; George Washington’s embarrassment and fury in dealing with Benedict Arnold’s hysterical and scantily clad young wife, Peggy Shippen, on the day Arnold defected to the British side; freed black slaves serving in both the American and Hessian ranks; and British troops getting Maj. Gen. Charles Lee’s horse drunk during a surprise morning raid on his New Jersey bed and breakfast.
An illuminating chapter by the author’s wife, Ingrid Smyer-Kelly, on such “founding mothers” as Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Lucy Flucker Knox and Catherine Green rounds out Kelly’s text, which includes a teenage Andrew Jackson being rescued from captivity by his mother, much to the Redcoats’ chagrin.
Accompanied by appendices and a chronology, Kelly’s latest work is a lively and scintillating slice of history.
Michael D. Hull