George the Drummer Boy, by Nathaniel Benchley ISBN 0064441067
Five out of five stars
This story takes an unusual perspective for a book published in the United States, it presents the opening battles of the American Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord from the British perspective. The main character is George, a drummer boy in the British military units stationed in Boston. On the fateful night of the famous ride of Paul Revere, his unit is one that departs from Boston on small boats and then marches to Lexington. Their goal is to find ammunition supposedly hidden in Concord and Lexington is on the way.
Most modern readers will not know that back then the phrase “drummer boy” should be taken literally. The youngest known drummer in the British Army was nine and the youngest in the American Army during the Revolutionary War was seven.
While George’s age is not given, there is the clear impression that he was at most in his early teens. Therefore, the battles are described from his perspective, he more than the older soldiers, had no real idea why the two sides were fighting. There is no mention of glory or achievement in this narrative, just the rendition of a military defeat and returning to base cold, wet, hungry and tired. It is an excellent story, presenting the history of a very famous battle from the side of the defeated. They are not evil redcoats, just men that managed to survive a long day.