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Washington's Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution Hardcover – March 1, 2016
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Winner of the Daughters of the American Revolution National Excellence in American History Book Award
Named one of the “100 Best American Revolution Books of All Time” by the Journal of the American Revolution
Finalist for the 2017 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award for Nonfiction
An Amazon Best Book of the Year So Far (History)
What makes Washington’s Immortals different from most Revolutionary War accounts is its seamless blend of tactical acumen and human drama . . . O’Donnell admirably blends a story of ardent farmers, merchants and mariners with a combat story of sharp, bloody engagements . . . [He] makes fluid use of letters, diaries, pension affidavits and early histories to bring home the carnage of war as the foot soldier saw it . . . Washington’s Immortals is an example of combat writing at its best.”Wall Street Journal
A powerful narrative . . . a must-read for those with deep or casual interest in the American Revolution.”Journal of the American Revolution
Well-written, and superbly researched . . . [A] compelling story of the Maryland Regiment . . . Intimate and often inspiring . . . O’Donnell is at the top of his game . . . A must-read for Revolutionary War and Maryland history buffs alike.”Baltimore Post-Examiner
Gritty . . . a boots on the ground’ account, with great storytelling verve . . . For readers who enjoy well-researched military history, this is the book for you.”Washington Independent Review of Books
“[Washington’s Immortals is] nothing short of remarkable . . . O’Donnell has put together, with beautiful transitions, the compelling story of the Revolutionary War through the eyes of the regular soldier . . . You don't have to be a military history devotee to appreciate the book . . . It put[s] the whole Revolutionary War into sequential perspective.”―Daily Press
Compelling . . . Washington’s Immortals is well-researched and . . . lively.”Fayetteville Observer
A boots-on-the-ground account that . . . personalize[s] brave men whose names have fallen into the crevices of history . . . A strong point of Mr. O’Donnell’s book is his adept skill in describing military tactical maneuvers.”Washington Times
O’Donnell writes about war from the soldiers’ weary, battle-scarred perspective . . . At the same time, he describes and analyzes the strategic and tactical elements of battle with an even-handed regard to the wisdom and errors on each side . . . Through his vivid prose, we smell the sulfur in the gunsmoke and hear the fierce and often final cries of the combatants . . . Reveal[s] an important and little-known part of the sprawling history of the Revolution.”American Spirit
An incredible book . . . I encourage all of you to get out and purchase this . . . I love the book . . . if you like military history, this is a great book.”Rick Crandall, Breakfast Club, KEZW 1430 AM
“O’Donnell does a fantastic job telling the story of these men and their role in the war . . . A rich and compelling narrative . . . Definitely recommended . . . You don’t need to be a scholar of the Revolution to enjoy the book.”―Historia Militaris
O’Donnell deploys a fusillade of fact and fresh research in a Revolutionary War history rich in irony and event . . . Readers will admire O’Donnell’s exhaustive research, skilled organization of the material, and the high readability of the writing . . . With a firm grasp of tactics, strategy, and the sociopolitical landscape, O’Donnell captures the horror and absurdities of the war better than most.”Kirkus Reviews
Using primary sources from both sides of the Atlantic, O’Donnell effectively traces the story of Maryland’s immortals, describing their battles authentically along with the precariousness of the American cause. This book will be of interest to both general readers and scholars interested in the military aspects of the American Revolution.”Library Journal
O’Donnell . . . [spent] five years researching the Marylanders’ exploits, visiting every battlefield where they fought from New York to South Carolina and combing through archives in the U.S. and Britain. What he learned prompted him to dub those patriots America’s original band of brothers, men who continued the fight despite overwhelming odds and constant lack of food, clothing and equipment.”Associated Press
“An epic story of heroism and devotion that begins with the formation of the unit in Baltimore during the winter of 1774”―Breitbart
Washington’s Immortals tells the extraordinary story of the most important band of brothers, forgotten men who changed the course of American history. This is O’Donnell at his very besta deeply moving, superbly researched page turner.”Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter
Patrick O’Donnell has pioneered the pursuit of dogged research and the collection of revealing oral histories to produce moving accounts of key moments in American history. Now he’s set his sights on the Revolutionary War. Washington’s Immortals is a fascinating story about an important and largely overlooked Maryland unit in that war. It will definitely keep you turning pages.”Douglas C. Waller, New York Times bestselling author of Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors Who Fought for Wild Bill Donovan and Wild Bill Donovan
Washington’s Immortals is an amazing tale of pluck and devotion among one of the U.S. Army’s first elite outfits, the Maryland Line. O’Donnell expertly brings the valiant citizen-soldiers to life with vivid prose and meticulous primary-source research. Highly recommended.”Joseph Balkoski, author of The Last Roll Call, and director of the Maryland Museum of Military History
Patrick O’Donnell is blessed with a rare gift for storytelling and a keen empathy for the realities of soldiers in combat. He walks in the footsteps of his subjects like few other historians are ableor willingto do. In this impressively researched, well written book, he brings the world of the American Revolution to life with an immediacy that almost defies belief. By focusing on one group of stalwart soldiers who sacrificed so much for the sake of their ideals, O’Donnell sheds important new light on the motivation and actions of America’s most effective revolutionaries. Washington’s Immortals is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the American combat soldier, regardless of the era.”John C. McManus, Curators’ Professor of US Military History, Missouri University of Science and Technology; author of The Dead and Those About to Die, D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach, and Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience
Patrick K. O’Donnell’s newest work is not so much a forgotten page of our history as it is a truly untold storya story that takes us into the lives of a unit caught up in a world-changing struggle to throw off the shackles of colonialism. The reader will learn things here about the American Revolution that were never taught in high-school history classes. O’Donnell’s admirably researched and gripping narrative is a tribute to these forgotten patriot-warriors, and a must-read for students of American military history.”Will Irwin, Senior Fellow, Joint Special Operations University, author of The Jedburghs and Abundance of Valor
Patrick O’Donnelll has written what portends to be the definitive history of the famous Revolutionary War era Maryland Line.’ Long considered by historians as George Washington’s Continental Army shock troops, O’Donnell tells a thoroughly entertaining and highly readable story. From Brooklyn Heights to Yorktown, O’Donnell clearly shows why this particular band of brothers earned the title of Washington’s Immortals.”Charles P. Neimeyer, Ph.D., Director and Chief of Marine Corps History, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia
Through a long war that was frequently on the verge of disaster, soldiers from Maryland repeatedly played a pivotal role in the Continental army’s narrow escapes and surprise victories. Washington’s Immortals is a soldiers-eye view of the Marylanders who fought in the Revolution’s most desperate clashes. O’Donnell weaves together first-hand accounts, many from archival sources never before published, to reveal the struggles and triumphs of this remarkable regiment and the men who were part of it.”Don N. Hagist, author of British Soldiers, American War
“Patrick O’Donnell has written one of the most extraordinary books on the American Revolution that I have read. Every page brings unexpected personal stories and other historical treasures to vivid life. It’s unique!”―Thomas Fleming, author of Liberty!: The American Revolution
Patrick O’Donnell brings us into the Revolution through the experiences of the officers and men of a crack Maryland unit that was in it from beginning to end. This is splendid historyintimate, immediate, sweeping, inspiring. You should, and you will, honor these men.”Richard Brookhiser, author of Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, American
General George Washington honored the soldiers of the 1st Maryland Regiment of the Continental Army for their service and sacrifice by calling them the men of the old line.’ In continuing tribute to them, Maryland still proclaims its nickname as The Old Line State.’ In Washington’s Immortals, noted military historian Patrick O’Donnell has written a gripping account of the men and units that made up the Maryland Line during our War for Independence who first earned that glorious nickname, and which the soldiers of the Maryland Army National Guard’s 175th Infantry continued to do so at places with names like Gettysburg, Normandy, and Iraq.”Glenn F. Williams, author of Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era
Perhaps no war in American history has been more difficult to see through soldiers’ eyes than the Revolutionary War. Patrick O’Donnell brings their experiences to life for twenty-first century readers in a way that no other historian has managed to do, accomplishing for the Revolutionary War what Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers did for World War II. The 1st Maryland Regiment participated in some of the most important battles of the war, gradually progressing from ordinary to elite status. Its story is the story of how the people of the United States became free.”Edward G. Lengel, Editor-in-Chief of The Papers of George Washington and author of Inventing George Washington
About the Author
Patrick K. O’Donnell is a bestselling, critically acclaimed military historian and an expert on elite units. He is the author of ten books, including Beyond Valor, Dog Company, and First SEALs. He served as a combat historian in a Marine rifle platoon during the Battle of Fallujah and speaks often on espionage, special operations, and counterinsurgency. He has provided historical consulting for DreamWorks’ award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers and for documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, Fox News, and Discovery.
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Some of Gist’s handwritten correspondence survives to the present day on microfilm. Quotations from those pages are cited by the author, providing historical context for what he and many of his contemporaries were thinking when they decided to take up arms. They, like many others in their day, believed in principled destiny. If the defense of their liberties meant starting a new country—then, so be it!
O’Donnell’s narrative blends portrayals of period combat with a historical overview of events leading up to 1776 to give the reader a sense of method and motive before rebellion began. Tools and tactics of the day are explained in a way that bridges time, showing how present-day soldiers are using similar approaches based on past practices. The idea of Americanism was unacceptable to crown loyalists who sided with Britain. They formed “Tory” combat units that make appearances through the book.
This well-researched account includes several surprises. Time and time again, elements of this elite outfit are called on to fight desperate holding actions that allow General George Washington to make the most of his situation, which included going over to the attack when he could. When it was called for, they improvised fortifications that once included building a siege tower—just to make some high ground. Battles you’ve never heard of changed our future because they bought priceless time for scattered forces to move or reinforcements to arrive. Sixty minutes of defiance during the retreat from Brooklyn saved the revolution. Another instance of bravery during the second battle of Trenton is a shocker when it paves the way for victory at Princeton.
“Immortals” is not all blood and guts, though the showdown at Guilford Courthouse reads like an epic denouement. Opponents are presented in some detail. Howe, Tarleton, and Cornwallis (among others), are given their due as British officers rather than as villains. Nathaniel Green, Daniel Morgan and “Mad Anthony” Wayne each made hard choices during the Southern campaign that resulted in success at a high price.
We take it for granted that Patriots fought Redcoats, but we don’t truly-genuinely understand what they did or why. Opening chapters demonstrate how colonial opinion was influenced by the French and Indian Wars before various tax acts went in to effect. That “lack of representation” we’re all so familiar with was more than a matter to dispute through channels for men like Gist, it was a matter of honor that had to be dealt with after decades of increasing authoritarian rule. Times have changed and our vision society may be different than that of our ancestors, but we still have a lot in common with them: our choices do make our future. For the benefit of that reminder, Washington’s Immortals is worth your time to read.
Washington's Immortals offers meticulous and original research into an elite regiment that formed in Maryland, under the leadership of Mordecai Gist in the early days of the Revolution, and fought its way through to American independence. Compiled largely from personal diaries, correspondence and pension applications of the men who fought -- on both sides of the conflict -- O'Donnell (as with all of his works) makes the experiences of the men about whom he writes both very personal and very immediate. He has created a virtual oral history from the voices of soldiers long since dead. Although gone, they are not forgotten and the reader really does hear their stories through their own voices.
Students of the American Revolution will largely know what happened during the conflict, but most will never have discovered the contribution that these Marylanders made to the cause of American independence, the sacrifice they made at the Battle of Brooklyn, the strategic advantages that their sacrifice gave to Washington in fighting the larger cause, or what typical combatants experienced while all of these things were happening. Readers of Washington's Immortals will discover all that and more.
This is a must-read work that belongs in the library of every student of American history or military history. Indeed, readers who seek a good story will appreciate O'Donnell's effort even if they have never read a history book.