Excerpt: 'Valley Forge' by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

Photo: Book Cover: Valley Forge: George Washington and the Crucible of Victory
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Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has partnered with William R. Forstchen to write "Valley Forge: George Washington and the Crucible of Victory."

The book is a novelized account of a key moment in American history, and is the sequel to "To Try Men's Souls: A Novel of George Washington and the Fight for American Freedom."

Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

PROLOGUE

NEAR PAOLI, PA 10PM, SEPTEMBER 20, 1777

(BATTLE OF PAOLI)

"Fix bayonets!"

The order was whispered hoarsely. Lieutenant Allen van Dorn, a loyalist from Trenton, of the rebellious colony of New Jersey, was in a column of more than a thousand British light infantry, arrayed in a formation of company front by column. He could hear the order echoing softly behind him, followed by the cold chilling sound of long bayonets pulled from scabbards, then locked on to the muzzles of Brown Bess muskets.

He caught a glimpse of General Charles Grey as the blanket of clouds, concealing the moon, parted for a moment. Tall, slender, and supremely fit, Grey's presence was sensed - even in the cover of darkness. His whispered words carried self confidence and command. The battle plan was his. This fight would be his, and Allen sensed that this man reveled in the moment.

Allen, serving as one of the scouts for the attack, observed Grey from a respectful distance. With soldierly ardor, the general addressed the knot of officers surrounding him.

"I want every man checked yet again," Grey hissed sharply. "Flints are to be removed from all weapons except officer's side arms. If any enlisted man disobeys and fires his weapon I will personally flog him. If any of you discharge your pistols before the attack is well joined, by God I will not only flog you, I will see you broken from the ranks and sent back to England in disgrace.

"Do we understand each other?"

There was a muffled chorus of assents.

"Rejoin your commands and await the order to advance. Once this column begins to move, guide on the unit in front of you. Keep the formation tight. Do not lose contact with the line in front of you. Once the attack is launched, fan your men out as we discussed earlier and then in with the bayonet and finish the bastards. No one is to escape. No one!"

"Rejoin your men."

The officers scattered and dispersed into the blackness. One of them tripped; the clattering of his sword sheath broke the unnerving stillness.

"Who is that?" Grey snarled.

There was a momentary pause.

"Captain Neilson, sir."

"You are relieved of command, sir. Stay to the rear. I will deal with you tomorrow."

There was no reply.

"Officers, drop your sword sheathes," Grey added.

The order had been given earlier, but some were reluctant to comply, the scabbards of some were inlaid with gold and worth a pretty penny. Neilson would pay far more in terms of shame.

Grey turned to face the men gathered around Allen

"You men know your orders."

Each man quickly whispered his orders, to deploy to the left of the flank, to the right, to move ahead and secure the several farmsteads in their path of advance. Finally, it was Allen.

"I am to stay with the prisoner, sir, to insure he does not try to escape."

"And if he gives false directions?"

Allen hesitated.

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