A Royal American: A New Jersey Officer in the King’s Service During the Revolution – by John Frederick

A Royal American: A New Jersey Officer in the King’s Service During the Revolution – by John Frederick

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Mystery surrounds James Ricketts, a New Jersey officer in the King’s service during the American Revolution. Unable to return home because of the war, he leaves his first posting in the West Indies for Scotland to rendezvous for his marriage to Sarah Livingston, daughter of a prominent New York patriot. Their hosts include a British general. From then on they become entangled in disturbing plots. A duel to the death develops between James and an archenemy, the venomous Peter Cartwright. After training recruits at St Augustine, James comes to grips with slavery on the family sugar plantation in Jamaica. Transferred to New York, his career increasingly centers on the bitter struggle between loyalists and rebels. Taking refuge in London, James and Sarah encounter some of his former foes with surprising results.

The story is ground-breaking in opening up an ignored chapter in American history – the persistent connections maintained with Britain by many Americans, including some who enthusiastically espoused the cause of independence. Family connections make it possible for James and Sarah to marry under the protection of the Montgomeries of Eglinton Castle in Ayrshire. The British general who is their host had served in the French and Indian Wars and knows America well. This relationship proves to be a mixed blessing since the general is obliged to put James to a test of his loyalty to the Crown. How James handles that predicament and the unforeseen results for the couple, running up unavoidably against a renegade Scot who loathes the Hanoverian dynasty on the British throne, is one of the intriguing aspects of the story.

James also has the mission of searching out the intentions of a fellow New Jersey officer of the 60th Royal Americans. How he honorably copes with this officer, Thomas Hutchins, later Geographer of the United States, reveals more of the complex character of James.

James’s loyalty in another respect is tested by an increasing entanglement with a troubled and irresistible woman of Savannah, where James serves during the successful defense of that city against the Franco-American siege of 1779. Plots interweave in that Cartwright has a hold over the lady, putting James in danger – a danger which dogs both James and Sarah throughout their three-year stay in New York with Army headquarters. What will the British departure from the city mean for the family? What outcome awaits their unexpected meetings with former enemies?

John Frederick is an Anglican priest who went to Princeton. He is a recognized authority on the lineage of the British Army and served in the New Jersey Army National Guard, and was once Governor of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New Jersey.

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