It is simply amazing how a simple inquiry can open doors to new learning: how pulling a single thread can reveal a wonderful tapestry.
In working on Gideon Hawke #4: A Constant Thunder I found myself wanting to learn just a little more about a very specific place and time. While trying to discern British General Howe’s intentions in early August, 1777, General George Washington ordered Daniel Morgan’s Provisional Rifle Corps to Maidenhead, New Jersey. There the Corps had a few days’ respite from marching, before the pivotal order that sent it north to Saratoga and into history.
In weaving the narrative of the Gideon Hawke story it seemed this interlude would be a great opportunity for Gideon and the lads to take care of a few pressing matters, and perhaps to get in touch with their Creator. “Where’” I wondered, “would they go to church?” A little Google magic took me to the website of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville (formerly Maidenhead). The website itself was incredibly informative, but then I had the courage to contact the pastor! A few emails later and I was introduced to a small brick church building that in 1777 stood on the highest point around, along the Princeton-Trenton Road. Even better, I was introduced to Reverend Elihu Spencer: writer, missionary to Native Americans (fluent at least in the Oneida language), veteran of the French and Indian War (Chaplain to the New York Troops), rebuilder of congregations in the Carolinas, and pastor of the flocks in Trenton and Maidenhead during the Revolution. I also learned quite a bit about the toll the 1776, Princeton, and winter forage campaigns had taken on Maidenhead. Wow! Suddenly a fleeting thought had become a haunting reality, thanks to the efforts of a few good-hearted history buffs.
In researching and writing A Constant Thunder I have met some wonderful people: Douglas Bicket, Park Ranger at the Saratoga Battlefield; David Manthey, expert on Mohawk and Hudson River bateaux; and Reverend Jeff Vamos and Bill Schroeder of The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Not only are these folks truly passionate about their historical interests, but they have been incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise. Gideon Hawke #4 will be a much better reflection of history thanks to them.
Now, I must admit a bit of trepidation: a truly great writer could weave a beautiful tapestry of words with the kind of input I have received; I’m not sure I can do justice to the material at hand. I am, however, determined to try. My work may fall short of greatness, but if one person reads A Constant Thunder and takes away a better appreciation of the cost of war, and the magnitude of the American victory at Saratoga, it will at least have been a worthwhile effort.
Now…back to writing!
History of The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville: https://pclawrenceville.org/our-history/
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