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


Taken prisoner along with the Hessians, he had been allowed by the rebels to help carry his brother back to their encampment. . .and held him as he died from exhaustion and pneumonia. By his side was their childhood friend, Peter Wellsley.

The following day, Peter took him to General Washington and appealed for his release in exchange for the sacrifice of his brother.

Allen was now one of the very few serving the crown who had accompanied Washington, talked with him, and taken a measure of the man. Though he could never embrace Washington's cause, he nevertheless could respect the man for his personal integrity. Washington readily granted Wellsley's appeal, saying that it was a fair exchange to a family who had lost a son that had served with valor.

Washington tried to press him for some details of British positions, which Allen respectfully refused to answer. The General immediately desisted, though he offered the opportunity to join their cause, which Allen refused as well. The General had then made him swear that he would reveal nothing of what he had seen or heard while within their ranks and then let him go.

A week later, when the rebels returned to Trenton, Allen left his family behind, rejoined the ranks, and reported to General Grey. Grey asked the same questions Washington had, and again he refused to answer, saying he had given his oath. Rather than enrage the supposedly hot blooded Grey, the General clapped him on the shoulder, saying he carried the proper honor of an Englishman and assigned him to his staff as a liaison to Loyalists.

So now he stood as a liaison, keeping careful watch on a terrified blacksmith who was in way over his head with this war. He had, without doubt, slipped through the lines to try and curry favor, assuming that in another day his village would be occupied. . . he had never bargained for this.

"For your own sake," Allen whispered, "you better guide us correctly. Are you sure you can do that?" "I grew up here, I know every field and woodlot like the back of my hand," the man whispered in reply, voice trembling.

"For God's sake, don't try to play false or run."

He nodded back to the regular British officer who was huddled with Grey.

"That man hates colonials and will run you through like a dog if you try to take off."

The terrified blacksmith did not reply. Andre stepped away from Grey to join the two.

"Forward, and you better lead us straight in," Andre announced.

"He will," Allen offered.

The three set off and seconds later he could hear the whispered command for the column to follow.

No matter how hard they tried, over a thousand men stepping off into an attack could not be totally silent. There was a clatter as someone apparently tripped or dropped his musket, muted curses, and the sound of boots scuffing across the stubble of the recently mown hay field.

Light infantry formed most of the column supported by a second column behind them, the famed and rightly feared Scottish Black Watch.

Crossing the open field, the farmer led them down into a hollow, fording a shallow stream a dozen feet wide and only several inches deep, the column slowed for a moment as the advance churned the ground into a morass, slowing the rear of the attacking force. They moved by the oblique to the right, angling across the next field and then several moments of confusion as the attacking force made its way through a farmer's woodlot which the blacksmith stated would conceal their advance.

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