About The Price of Freedom
Number 6 in the series of novels about the American Revolution
by Martin R. Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68)
The Price of Freedom is my sixth and final novel in a series on the American Revolution.
The first book, Cannons for the Cause, begins in the brutal winter of 1775 when the principal character, fifteen-year-old Will Stoner and his teamster father, are engaged to haul heavy cannons from Lake George, New York to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of Colonel Henry Knox’s “Noble Train of Artillery.” This last novel begins after the crucial victory at Yorktown in October 1781, and ends in the summer of 1784 in liberated New York City when Patriots and former Loyalists begin to overcome their wartime differences.
The underlying theme throughout the series is the important role ordinary people, including the “invisible minorities” — African Americans, women and Native Americans — played in our Revolution. It is also a tale of growing up in a time of turmoil, of falling in love, and of enduring friendships.
The Price of Freedom explores the immense sacrifices made by these people in the struggle for our independence. The war was actually a civil war with brutal and vicious raids and atrocities committed by both sides. It divided families and neighbors, and made it impossible for those from the losing side to ever return to their farms and towns. The novel also focuses on the fortitude of regular soldiers enduring the daily reality of limited rations, lack of clothing and pay and the horrific inhumane treatment by the British of American prisoners of war.
The characters are involved in the significant events following Yorktown — the mutiny of the Continental Army officers at Newburgh, New York, the disbanding of the Continental Army, the liberation of New York City, and the evacuation of more than 13,000 British troops, Loyalists, and freed African Americans from the city.
At the time, no one realized Yorktown was the last major battle of the war for independence. An assault to liberate New York seemed likely. The city, awash in corruption and war profiteering, was overwhelmed with refugees fleeing from vengeful Patriot neighbors sensing eventual victory, panic stricken African Americans fearful they would be returned to their Patriot slave owners, and resentful Loyalists forced to sell off their property and seek berths on British ships bound for London or Nova Scotia.
One of the main characters and several minor ones throughout the series, are African American soldiers in the Continental Army. Approximately, 5,000 African Americans and 1,000 Native Americans were soldiers serving in integrated Companies and Regiments. Free African American soldiers understood that the inspiring words of the Declaration of Independence — “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” — did not include black slaves owned by Patriots. The African American soldiers wrestled with the obvious injustice of fighting for independence and freedom from Britain knowing many of their black brethren remained enslaved and would continue to be slaves after victory.
Several women are major characters in the book, including a young spy in British occupied Philadelphia, and an African American slave who is a cook and servant at Valley Forge before becoming a free woman. In general, women played vital roles as spies and nurses and in many cases ran businesses and farms while their husbands were away. They raised money to pay for rations for starving soldiers, made or purchased clothing for the ill-clad soldiers and engaged in a lively correspondence amongst themselves and their husbands on political matters.
Native American characters make brief appearances in these novels. They appear, once to save General Lafayette from being captured outside of Philadelphia (it actually happened), and are members of a Loyalist band of raiders, led by a former slave, attacking Patriot farms and towns in New Jersey, and involved in a plot to kidnap General Washington (also a true event.)
Stephen Fry, the English actor, comedian and writer observed, “History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier.”
I believe thoroughly researched historical novels let the reader become intimately involved and imagine himself or herself as a character in the novel. They inspire and illuminate the human spirit and induce readers to recognize their own humanity in the players on the historical stage. All of the six novels include extensive “End Notes” with quotes and references to original sources and additional details for historical context.
At a lecture for the Alabama History and Heritage Festival in 1983, Harper Lee noted Americans have a bad habit of either erasing or romanticizing history. In The Price of Freedom, and the other books in the series, I hope I have corrected the omission of the invisible minorities and accurately depicted well-known historical characters, warts and all.
Novels of the American Revolution: the Series by Martin R. Ganzglass
All published by Peace Corps Writers