Tuesday 19 February 2019

#NewRelease — SAVING WASHINGTON: The Forgotten Story of The Maryland 400 And the Battle of Brooklyn by Chris Formant #HistoricalFiction @cmforman


The Forgotten Story of The Maryland 400 And the Battle of Brooklyn

By Chris Formant

A few years ago, I accidently came across a single paragraph in a local newspaper announcing a wreath-laying ceremony near Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The ceremony was honoring the heroism of a small Maryland regiment at the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, 1776. The title of the article was, “The Maryland 400 Who Saved America.”

I had never heard of them.

I immediately Googled the Maryland 400 and my saga began as I peeled back the centuries of historic dust that covered this lost moment in American history. A moment described by historian Thomas Field in 1869 as, “an hour more precious to American Liberty than any other in history.” Compared at the time to the Spartans at Thermopylae, but rarely mentioned since.

I began visualizing a historical novel that brought to life these 400 heroic young men and their suicide mission against an overwhelming British opponent that bought George Washington and the Continental Army the time needed to safely escape across the East River. If not for their bravery, the American Revolution may have ended that day.

Why had I not heard of them before? What really occurred on that battlefield? What was their true motivation? Teenagers wouldn’t sacrifice themselves for taxes. That became the catalyst for my novel, Saving Washington: The Forgotten Story of the Maryland 400 and The Battle of Brooklyn (Permuted Press; February 19, 2019).

My research quickly led me to the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, where I brought decorated military leaders to tears as I described that somewhere beneath the bustling streets of Brooklyn lie the remains of perhaps America’s most important, yet most forgotten, citizen-soldiers whose heroic sacrifice galvanized the nation on the eve of its birth.

With Saving Washington, I have tried to craft a very special novel of historical fiction that transports the reader back to that moment in 1776 and deep into the emotion surrounding the escalating tension with the British. Seen through the eyes of two teenagers, one white and one black, the reader viscerally feels the colliding forces of personal freedom, taxation, American exceptionalism and Old Testament religion swirling the emotions of the boys and the colony as a whole. It is the illumination of the boys’ profound motivation that makes Saving Washington so important at this moment in history.

I used a cinematic style to blend fascinating real-life historical figures and events with colorful, richly developed fictional characters and modern dialogue. A multi-dimensional storyline weaves a world of intrigue and spies; romance and betrayal; friendship and comradeship; and ultimately survival and sacrifice. I tried to make the reader feel as if they were transported back in time to the streets and docks of Baltimore to the bloody, smoke-filled, muddy carnage of the battle in the summer of 1776.

Saving Washington is written to appeal to young adults as well as historical fiction fans. It has already captured the imagination of filmmakers and has been optioned by HBO’s Emmy Award winning producer of Big Little Lies and Deadwood.

The lost story of “America’s 400 Spartans”—an army of unexpected heroes who changed the course of history.

On a marshy Brooklyn battlefield on August 27, 1776, four hundred men from Baltimore, Maryland assembled to do battle against a vastly superior British army. Seemingly overnight, these young soldiers had matured from naïve teenagers to perhaps the most important, yet most forgotten, citizen soldiers in all of American history: “America’s 400 Spartans.”

Saving Washington follows young Joshua Bolton and his childhood friend Ben, a freed black man, as they witness British tyranny firsthand, become enraptured by the cause, and ultimately enlist to defend their new nation in a battle that galvanized the American nation on the eve of its birth. 

Chris Formant’s gripping tale blends real-life historical figures and events with richly developed fictional characters in a multi-dimensional world of intrigue, romance, comradeship, and sacrifice, transporting us two-and-a-half centuries back in time to the bustling streets of Baltimore and the bloody, smoke-filled carnage of battle in Brooklyn.


Courtesy of Permuted Press.

After the wake, she returned to her bedroom and shuttered the blinds. She lay back down and allowed the days to pass, not distinguishing morning from evening. She didn’t eat—she had no appetite whatsoever—only she did have a blurred recollection of Lydia coming and going with tea, which she had cajoled her into sipping.

Why Sam…why?

“Mary?” Lydia asked.

Mary didn’t realize she had uttered the words aloud and wasn’t aware of Lydia’s presence in her bedroom. She had no idea how long she had been hovering over her. “What do you want?” she snapped.

“It’s time,” Lydia answered, flinging open the blinds. The room instantly flooded with morning sunlight.

Mary, frozen on her bed, shielded her eyes with her arm.

Lydia had never seen her in such poor condition: She looked frayed and fragile, already shedding pounds from lack of sustenance. “Let me give you a hand…”

Lydia wasn’t about to give her any say in the matter. She took Mary by both hands and coaxed her into sitting up and then onto her feet. Lydia hardened her grip to help Mary as she waivered. Mary’s face flushed. “You all right?”

“A bit dizzy…but I’ll be all right,” Mary said, steadying herself on her own.

“We’d better get a move on; we’re a bit late,” Lydia said. “There’s quite a fuss out there already.”

Lydia helped Mary undress and hoist on an all-black dress with an embroidered matching shawl. She adjusted the silver brooch on Mary’s chest and then reached for a brush on the nightstand. Mary plucked the brush out of her friend’s hand. “No—I can brush my own hair, thank you very much.”

“Ah, good,” Lydia remarked, stepping back. “Returning to your wonderful old curmudgeon self, I see.”

Mary brushed out her knotted hair, wrapped it into a bun, and pinned it all together. Her color and strength were somehow returning to her all on their own.

“What are you going to say?” Lydia asked, handing her an appropriate black hat and thickly netted veil.

“I suppose I’ll know when I step out there,” she replied.

After a bit more primping, Mary announced, “Ready.”

They made their way through the house, opened the door, and paused together in the doorway, astonished at the sight in front of them: A stream of mourners dressed in black had gathered to pay their respects. Seeing Mary, they all began to remove their hats, out of respect. Further down the street, patriot supporters seethed with pent-up rage as they held protest signs and flags at their sides.

Mary felt her eyes become misty and gulped back tears. She was thankful to have the veil as a shield.

“Sam’s death has changed everything,” Lydia said, her voice quivering.

Mary smoothed the wrinkles in her dress with her hands and stepped forward into the mass of townspeople—whites and Negroes, men and women, merchants and dockworkers, city dwellers and local aristocrats in their finery—clapping in her honor. The reactions became deafening, engulfing her tiny frame.

When she reached the center of the crowd, she held up her pale hand and everyone fell silent. “Thank you all…for gathering here today,” she sputtered. “Sam…would have been honored by your presence.”

The crowd cheered. Mary could hardly believe that all of this fuss was for her husband, a reserved man who didn’t particularly enjoy being the center of attention.

“I was informed that my husband was killed four days ago…a senseless act of cowardice,” she said under her breath. “I have been trying to come to terms with it…to understand why. To know why the Lord would claim my husband…and why He did so in such a brutal manner. Sam was a moderate, religious, and peaceful man. He never harmed a soul…. He deserved nothing but honor and respect.”

Her surrounding audience responded with applause, but she would have none of it. She raised both hands and quieted them down with a voice that was unexpectedly strong and unbroken. “But that is not really the entire reason why you are all here, is it? It took me a long time—far too long—to realize that a terrible evil has infiltrated our land. They tax us with impunity. They force our businesses into debt. They march troops through our cities to the north. They treat us as if we are not worthy of their citizenship. Now they murder us in cold blood when we speak our minds. I say, ‘No more!’ There comes a time when even the lambs must fight against the wolves. I believe with all of my heart and with all my soul that the Lord is on the side of the lambs. We are the chosen ones who will be delivered!

The claps, whistles, and cries surrounded her with such force that she once again became unsteady. She could hardly believe such rebellious words had come from her lips. But she was not finished…not yet. When the crowd simmered down, she continued, “I know many people in our colonies remain loyal to the Crown. Until this week, I too had doubts about our cause. But I say to you now: Any sovereign who would tax, pillage, and murder his own subjects does not deserve our loyalty. We are God’s children, not the king’s!”

She gazed downward, exhausted. The crowd roared out of control, chanting and cheering. Lydia held her shoulders for support—and to assure her of how well she had spoken.
“That was the most inspiring speech I’ve ever heard in my life,” a patriot said to her.
“Bless you, Mary, bless you,” sobbed one of her female neighbors.

Greenwood, with his arm in a sling and his eyes wet with tears, somehow found his way to her for an embrace. “You do a great honor to Sam…and all of us.”

She heard a familiar voice from behind. “Mother…I’m speechless.”

Before this tragedy had occurred, Mary had ruminated over the lecture she would give her son the next time she saw him: a harsh combination of inducing guilt and scolding him for having treated his own mother and father with such disrespect. But now that Josh stood right there in front of her—his boyish face smeared with tears—she helplessly fell into his arms and wept.

Chris Formant

Novelist Chris Formant is a student of history. He’s a former top executive of a multi-billion-dollar global business and now technology company CEO. Formant is an unlikely author of historical fiction, but the heroic story of Maryland’s Forgotten 400 drove him to assemble an expert team to help him conduct painstaking research and then write his highly anticipated second book, SAVING WASHINGTON.

His debut novel, Bright Midnight, received lavish praise and has been dubbed the “Da Vinci Code for rock and roll fans.” In the thriller, Formant created a unique mystery in which he re-imagined the deaths of rock icons as murders. Chris divides his time between Baltimore, Maryland and Sedona, Arizona.

Connect with Chris: WebsiteFacebookTwitterLinkedin

1 comment:

  1. HI Chris,
    Thanks for sharing this amazing story.
    Keep informed.
    I found this today on twitter.
    Have a great day


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