from the dust jacket of the 1950 Little, Brown first edition
The Proud and the Free
This is the simple and moving story of Jamie Stuart, of the 11th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line. The Eleventh was one of the "foreign" regiments of the Continental Army, so-called because its ranks contained many Scottish, Irish, English, and Germans with a sprinkling of Negroes, Poles and Jews. Jamie Stuart, bound to be a cobbler, had run away to join the army at seventeen. Now as a man of twenty-two he was chosen one of the Committee of Sergeants who, on that New Year's Day of 1781 when open revolt seemed the only way to justify the principles for which they fought, organized and held the Line together against its officers. Jamie was in charge of the discipline of the men, which history tells us was phenomenal during the extraordinary march from Morristown to Princeton.
With the collapse of the revolt, the inevitable reaction sent Jamie and a friend on a wild spree in Philadelphia, and back home for a period of sober reflection with his love, Molly Bracken. But Jamie's love for Molly, the pastor's daughter, was hard to reconcile with what he had learned in the Line, and he enlisted again, to see his friends massacred at York and the Line cut in half by its charge at Yorktown. At last he returned to Molly, but never to forget during a long life the lesson of the Line.
Telling this story in the great tradition which seeks to preserve the natural pride of Americans in their heritage, Howard Fast has again exhibited the superb writing skill which enables him to match rhythm and idiom precisely to his subject. His previous novel, MY GLORIOUS BROTHERS, resounded with the intonations of the Old Testament. The language of THE PROUD AND THE FREE is as perfectly attuned as folk song to early America.