Books

Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Grove Press

Washington’s Immortals

The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution

by Patrick O’Donnell

From a bestselling military historian, the story of the Revolutionary War told through a band of brothers whose actions at key battles from Brooklyn to Yorktown changed the course of history.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 480
  • Publication Date March 14, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2636-8
  • Dimensions 5" x 5"
  • US List Price $18.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 480
  • Publication Date March 01, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2459-3
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $28.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date March 01, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9071-0
  • US List Price $18.00

About The Book

In August 1776, little over a month after the Continental Congress had formally declared independence from Britain, the revolution was on the verge of a disastrous end. General George Washington found his troops outmanned and outmaneuvered at the Battle of Brooklyn. But thanks to a series of desperate charges by a single heroic regiment, famously known as the “Immortal 400,” Washington was able to evacuate his men and the nascent Continental Army lived to fight another day.

Today, only a rusted metal sign near a dilapidated auto garage marks the mass grave where it is believed the bodies of the “Maryland Heroes” lie—256 men “who fell in the Battle of Brooklyn.” In Washington’s Immortals, bestselling military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell brings to life the forgotten story of these remarkable men. Known as “gentlemen of honor, family, and fortune,” they fought not just in Brooklyn, but in key battles including Trenton, Princeton, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, and Yorktown, where their heroism changed the course of the war.

Drawing on extensive original sources, from letters to diaries to pension applications, O’Donnell pieces together the stories of these brave men–their friendships, loves, defeats, and triumphs. He explores their arms and tactics, their struggles with hostile loyalists and shortages of clothing and food, their development into an elite unit, and their dogged opponents, including British General Lord Cornwallis. And through the prism of this one group, which included rich merchants, tradesmen, and free blacks, he tells the larger story of the Revolutionary War. Washington’s Immortals is gripping boots-on-the-ground history, sure to appeal to a wide readership.

Praise

“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.” —Jonathan W. Jordan, Wall Street Journal

“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.” —Bill Hughes, Baltimore Post-Examiner

“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

“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.” —Joseph C. Goulden, Washington Times

“Compelling . . . Washington’s Immortals is well-researched and . . . lively.” —Meredith Jacobs, Fayetteville Observer

“A powerful narrative . . . a must-read for those with deep or casual interest in the American Revolution.” —Patrick H. Hannum, Journal of the American Revolution

“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.” —James A. Percoco, Washington Independent Review of Books

“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

“[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.” —Wilford Kale, Daily Press

“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

“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.” —Glen Edward, Library Journal

“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

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 best–a deeply moving, superbly researched page turner.” —Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter

“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

“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

“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

“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 achieved yet another milestone in his distinguished writing career. 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. His absorbing storytelling provides recognition—long overdue—of the Marylanders’ vital contribution to American independence, forged over a six-year period on battlefields from New York to South Carolina. Highly recommended.” —Joseph Balkoski, author of The Last Roll Call, and director of the Maryland Museum of Military History

“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

“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 able—or willing—to 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 story—a 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

“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

“I have read a lot of books on the American Revolution. Washington’s Immortals is one that will remain vivid in my mind. It is original, deeply researched and superbly written. It should find a prominent place on bookshelves across America.” —Thomas Fleming, author of The Great Divide: The Conflict Between Washington and Jefferson That Defined A Nation

“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 history—intimate, 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

Awards

An Amazon Best Book of the Month (History)
An Amazon Best Book of the Year So Far (History)

Excerpt

The remaining Marylanders and members of the Delaware Regiment circled around to hear the news. For days they had been fleeing Cornwallis. Now, they were halted, guarding a bridge, but the decimated units were showing the strain of so many recent lost battles. Major Mordecai Gist and Captain Smith had met with General Washington and “informed him that the [Maryland] Regiment and Delaware Regiment were reduced to 250 men, who were worn down with fatigue and guard duty.” They requested that they be relieved by another unit.

Washington’s reply would inspire the Marylanders through many hardships to come. “I can assign no other regiment in which I can place the same confidence; and I request you will say so to your gallant regiment.” On hearing these words, the men “gave three cheers and declared their readiness to submit to every fatigue and damper.”

The Marylanders had distinguished themselves as an elite unit and facilitated the retreat of the army on several crucial occasions. A core group of battle-hardened men, many of them close friends and original members of the Baltimore Cadets, were now helping hold the entire American army together.

Some later moved to other units, providing strength and leadership skills gained through experience. General Alexander McDougall later summed up the situation, saying, “Even the bones of a regiment are of great moment in the forming of one.”