Below is a brief description and an advanced copy of the first chapter for your reading pleasure.
Bloodied footprints in the snow attest to the perseverance of the Continental Army, steadfastly encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1778. As with the first book in the Tewkesbury Chronicles, When Revolution Calls, our heroes and heroines continue their sacrifice in the fight for liberty, exacting a toll that would turn their world upside down. In Revolution Rising, Rebecca White and Oliver Tewkesbury find each other again, but not under the best of circumstances. Revolution Rising is an adventurous story of perseverance in the face of formidable odds, and the depth and meaning of genuine compassion in human relationships.
Chapter 1 (Advanced Copy)
Oliver crouched in the corner of the dark, abandoned church sanctuary, his hands wracked with pain from the sub-freezing early-January temperatures. Several hours of holding his position had left his legs stiff and numb. He occasionally stood to stretch and catch glimpses of this particular Philadelphia roadway intersection buzzing with British occupation.
I’m a Tewkesbury. I can do this, he thought over and over. Although his father, if he were still living, would surely condemn him for his spying activities as would the rest of his family and acquaintances back in Brookline, Massachusetts. the Tewkesburys were considered upper class gentlemen farmers who prided themselves on noble and socially proper conduct. Spying would be viewed as conduct unbecoming.
But Oliver now knew the realities of war outweighed philosophizing about war. Since leaving his home state two years earlier, the realities of war had altered his perspective considerably. During that time, he had seen unimaginable suffering, dismemberment and death that told him war was hell.
Oliver’s hike from Valley Forge to Philadelphia was treacherous, much more so than his fall travels from home to the winter encampment of Washington’s army. He had forded the frigid Schuylkill River twice at knee depth to avoid being seen by his own troops, loyalists heading into Philadelphia to sell their produce, or British soldiers scouting the area. Arriving in the city under cover of darkness, he found the Old Pine Presbyterian Church provided a temporary safe haven and a visual vantage point of the city.
He had come upon Old Pine quite by happenstance; as he made his way between buildings along Pine St. and saw a church’s side door agape and slipped inside. Seeing no signs the building was occupied, he decided it would be a suitable hiding place, perfectly situated in the middle of the city.
As he surveyed the cavernous sanctuary, it was evident the church had been completely desecrated by the British. Oliver assumed all of the missing pews had been ripped out and burned as a heat source for General Howe’s 15,000 occupying troops, who were quartered throughout the city and in encampments along its fringes. He explored the second-story lofts to find they were vacant of pews as well. After careful consideration, he decided to station himself on the ground floor, in case it became necessary to make a quick escape.
Stinging Oliver’s nostrils was an unbearable stench of urine and feces. At one end of the sanctuary, British soldiers had cut several holes in the floor to use as latrines, their excrement dropping into the basement below. At some point, the church had also used to stable horses, their dung left behind adding to the stink. It was no wonder the building had been left vacant. Oliver considered he might have to burn the dried cakes of dung to provide his own warmth. But he dared not risk alerting the British of his location unless death by freezing was imminent.
Briefly his thoughts drifted back to his stay months before in Granville, Connecticut and to the fair Rebecca White who twice nursed him back to health—once from smallpox and once from pneumonia. Their parting words echoed through is mind.
“Promise me, Oliver, that you will take care. Promise me that you will come back to Granville, even if severely wounded like Jacob,” Rebecca had pleaded, holding his hand against her cheek. Her younger brother, Jacob, had returned home missing his left arm from the elbow down, a wound he survived from the Battle of Brooklyn Heights.
“Would that I could, Rebecca. Know that my survival will be utmost on my mind,” he said with a smile on his face to ease the tension of his leaving. “And know that my intent to return to you burns within me.”
The memory of the last time he held her and of their last kiss, over four months ago, burned within and sustained him now.
--to make his way undetected into the belly of
Philadelphia to gather as much intelligence as possible about troop numbers, movement, condition, provisions, and health. Along the way he witnessed loyalists heading into Philadelphia, their wagons
loaded with poultry, root crops, cheeses and meats for sale to the British. He cursed under his breath to see such abundance when he and his comrades were half starving at Valley Forge.
Oliver rose to take another good look through the corner of one of the eight-foot windows that adorned the east side of the church when he heard a slight creak of floorboard behind him. He froze in place. Someone else was in the building. This revelation came too late as Oliver was quickly seized from behind, a dagger held to his throat.
“Well, look what we have here,” his assailant breathed into his left ear. Oliver could not see who had hold of him, but his British accent immediately gave him away. “Shall I kill you now, or wait and hang you later to entertain the troops,” the man sneered.
Oliver dared not grapple with his attacker, the knife already piercing his skin from the Brit’s hold. “I think I shall do it now and be rid of you vermin on the spot.”
“I think you shall not!” Oliver heard a loud voice exclaim from across the sanctuary.
His captor spun around in alarm and surprise, shoving Oliver out of his way to accost the intruder. He stood motionless in the darkness, no doubt weighing his options, for no more than five seconds when a rifle shot plowed through him causing him to careen against the wall in the very spot Oliver occupied not two minutes earlier. His body slid down the wall to a sitting position, then toppled to the floor.
Oliver was astounded, shaking his head in disbelief that he had come so close to being killed, then saved by…
He peered into the darkness to get a glimpse of his savior as the man stepped forward, smoking musket in hand, a man he immediately recognized.
“I’ve no time to explain now, Oliver,” Gabriel said as he lifted the fallen Oliver by the forearm. “The shot will have alerted any nearby troops who will be here in no time. It’s best we move quickly.”
The two men sprinted across the church sanctuary and swiftly exited through the side door into the cover of the moonless night.
MY BOOK HAS BEEN RATED 5 STARS BY PAUL JOHNSON OF READERS FAVORITES. READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW BELOW:
It’s a time of turmoil in the colonies. The revolt against British rule is growing. Oliver Tewkesbury is a patriot willing to give up everything to answer the call to serve his fledgling country.
As he stumbles, near death, into the town of Granville, Connecticut, things are about to change for all. Once healed, Oliver and two young locals set off to join up with Washington’s forces in New
York where they will face many harsh realities and an uncertain fate. Back in Granville, Rebecca White awaits Oliver’s return, even though she knows he is already betrothed to another.
As the battles soon grow more intense, things don’t go as well for Washington’s army with many casualties and skirmishes lost. Back in Granville, the townspeople rebel against their officious loyalist minister and run him from town. Things change even more for Tory and Whig alike as the hardships of war take their toll. Will Oliver and his two young friends weather the storm of battle? Only time will tell.
As a lover of period or historical fiction, I looked forward to reading this book set in New York and New England during the time of the American Revolution. Jo Gillespie's research on the period is outstanding. Within this setting, she has created compelling characters and realistic dialogue. The plotting is simple but enjoyable and shows another side to what historians have labeled a dark time in American history. The ending leaves the reader wanting more, like the first of any series should. I look forward to reading sequel after sequel.
Jo Gillespie, Author and Owner of
A Page in Time
My first two novels, When Revoluton Calls, and Revolution Rising, have received 5-star ratings from Readers' Favorites. Awesome!
My books are now available for local purchase at:
Bank Square Books
53 West Main Street