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Unlikely Allies Hardcover – February 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bruce Mowday, former managing editor of the Daily Local News of West Chester, Pennsylvania, has written several other books, including September 11, 1777: Washington's Defeat at Brandywine Dooms Philadelphia (1-57249-328-3).

Dale Fetzer has worked as the lead historical interpreter for Fort Delaware State Park and has also served as an advisor for numerous films and documentaries, including Gettysburg, Glory, and Andersonville. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1st edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811718239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811718233
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,331,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chef Scott VINE VOICE on August 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
With stories of men dying of disease, succumbing to the elements and living life from mouthful to mouthful one would think that Fort Delaware was indeed the "Andersonville of the North". In its heyday over 16,00 men were held prisoner on this lonely island known as "Pea Patch" with more than 30,000 Confederates passing through its gates in just over three years. Yet, the true story of life behind the stockade walls was lost to history, until Mr. Fetzer and Mr. Mowday came together and published "Unlikely Allies". By using newly found primary source material the reader gains insight into the lives of those who had to eke out an existent on the island.
Prior to the 1760's no written account indicated that there was any stretch of land in the middle of the Delaware River. However, around the same stretch of time, local legend has it that a sailing vessel loaded with peas ran aground on an uncharted shoal and spilled its contents into the Delaware. These peas found the small mud flat to their liking and took root upon the shoal and pea patches began to sprout. As they continued to grow so did the island, giving rise to the local name Pea Patch.
During an expedition to the area, Maj. Pierre Charles L'Enfant, chief engineer of the U.S. Army looked out over the Delaware River and settled his gaze upon the small bit of exposed mud and sand, he came to call "Pip Ash" Island. After his brief exploit to the island he wrote on 16 May 1794 to the secretary of war: " . . .went to the Pip Ash a bank forming an island opposite Eagle and Reedy Points. This pass should be well armed . . . I recommend a fort on Pip Ash, and batteries at New Castle . . .." He further noted, " . . .
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was absolutly amazing. I am very interested in the Civil War, and only knew some basic facts about Fort Delaware. I have visited the fort, which is open to the public as a Delaware State Park, and was amazed. I met Mr. Fetzer and he is an incredible man, as are the rest of the reenactors there. The book is an extension of the knowledge I recieved during my visit. The way the book was orginized was ingenious. I am amazed at all the fascinating things that went on at Fort Delaware, as I am with the different kinds of relationships and personalities the officers had. The island became a city, and it is amazing to me the circumstances which the people on Pea Patch Island during the Civil War had to deal with and the events that occured. This is an absolutly wonderful book. I read it several weeks ago and have since reread it several times. I have reccomended it to my own friends. I am sure you will enjoy this book as I have. My complements to Mr. Fetzer as well as Mr. Mowday.
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By J. Keith Jones on April 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
Unlikely Allies is a very thorough history of the famed POW camp on a tiny island in the Delaware River. It begins with the survey of the simple little mud flat known initially as “Pip Ash” Island by Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the famed first chief engineer of the United States Army. Pea Patch Island which had previously been used as a bird hunting preserve had value for its strategic location to protect the Delaware River from enemy invasion.

Skillfully crafted by Fetzer and writer and journalist, Mowday, this history tells the story of this important federal fort in a readable and accessible format. From the time that L'Enfant surveys and reports on the island through the scramble to outfit it as a full artillery battery and the erection of barracks for use as a busy prisoner of war camp. Fort Delaware quickly becomes a full operational community and one of the most famous northern POW camps of the war.

Being the commandant of a POW camp is a thankless and often no-win proposition. The authors do an excellent job of covering the commanders and the various military outfits and their key officers who manned the fort. In every case most of the men would have preferred other duty. This tiny island would be home to many famous guests throughout the war. Not only were there high ranking Confederate officers, but one of the primary uses of the prison was for “prisoners of state.” That is the political prisoners confined there for a number of infractions in the north deemed to be treason. Some of these were as blatant as spying or colluding to commit actual acts of insurrection, but most were for less overt actions.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chris Delorenzo on April 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having lived in Delaware all my life I was surprised to see a book about Fort Delaware during the Civil War - there has never been one and I truly thought Fort Delaware was a back water facility. I received this book as a birthday present and, frankly, am not what you consider a history buff. But when I started I could not put it down. It was fascinating - I had no idea that all this stuff happened in my own back yard. The book is obviosly well researched and extremely well written. This information is also new...the authors really went out for the research and tell a story of hope and survival and compassion. I think that everybody should read this book. I consider it a ground breaking study...I truly hope more books will be written by Mr. Fetzer and Mr. Mowday.
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