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Crossing the River by Harold Titus

Crossing the River

by Harold Titus

414 pages
Redcoats attack minutemen at Lexington and Concord April 19, 1775.

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About the Book
700 elite soldiers of His Majestyís Foot march through Lexington to Concord, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775, to seize and destroy military stores stockpiled there by the provinceís illegally formed Provincial Congress. Nine militiamen are killed at Lexington, more death occurs at Concordís North Bridge, and the army retreats to Boston, suffering 75 soldiers killed and 174 wounded.

Crossing the River narrates the internal conflicts, hubris, stupidity, viciousness, valor, empathy, and sacrifice of many of the historical dayís participants. It investigates simultaneously the cause and consequence aspects of high-risk decision-taking.

Three characters among many stand out.

Corporal John Howe is the personal servant of an infantry captain chosen to lead a two-officer spy mission to locate the stockpiled stores. Howe demonstrates useful attributes. Commanding General Thomas Gage pairs him with Colonel Francis Smith to conduct another covert reconnaissance. Howe completes the mission alone.

General Gage orders Howe to alert prominent Tories north of Boston of the intended Concord raid and then to ride to Concord to report what he has seen on the roads.

Howe is conflicted by his regard for Gage, his desire to achieve officer rank, his disdain for Tories and brutish army life, and his growing respect for independent-minded provincials.

Acton schoolmaster James Hayworth musters in the yard of his life-long friend and neighbor, Minuteman Captain Isaac Davis. Davis is the first man killed at Concordís North Bridge. Enraged, Hayworth parallels the British armyís retreat, endeavoring to kill at every opportunity. Physically and emotionally spent, he rests beside a two-story, red-roofed house a mile west of Lexington.

The enormity of what he has committed overwhelms him. He longs for a return of normalcy. He wants to marry the remarkable young woman he covets. A looter leaves the house and disappears down the road. Leaving his place of safety to draw well water, James is challenged by a second looter.

Conniving Simon Winsett volunteers to be the third Lexington scout to ride down the moon-lit Menotomy road to locate General Gageís advancing force. Rejected by his family and distrusted by most of the townspeople, Simon needs to demonstrate his core goodness. He is captured by the armyís advance scouts but later escapes.

He accepts his half-brother Samuelís invitation to travel overland to fight the regulars two miles east of Menotomy. He, Samuel, and his brother John stop by the house of their fatherís no-account cousin, Jason Winsett. They discover that Jasonís wife, who has recently given birth, is desperate to have her wandering six-year-old daughter Prudence located and brought home. Simonís brothers search one side of nearby Spy Pond, where Prudence has likely strayed. Simon is told to search the other side. He discovers a deserted soldier hiding in a burrow.

Crossing the River is historically informative. Exploring human nature, it narrates the causes and consequences of individual decision-making.


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    September 1583. Ten months before the English appear at Roanoke Island. 17-year-old Alsoomse desires freedom to doubt, discover, aspire without tribal hindrance. Self-willed 19-year-old Wanchese seeks to become one of his mananatowick's essential men. Each abhors injustice, dangerously opposes it.


About the Author
Harold Titus graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in history. He taught intermediate school English, American history, and a drama elective many years in Orinda, California. He coached many of the school's boys and girls sports team. He lives with his wife on the central Oregon coast.



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