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British forces drive George Washington'’s Continental Army from New York. He formally but secretly organizes a small intelligence unit that he hides within one of the Continental Army’s newly formed dragoon regiments. The action shifts from New York to New Jersey and finally to Pennsylvania, as the Yankee Doodle Spies become key players in Washington’s surprise attack on Trenton, saving the revolution from an early demise.


Chapter Excerpt




The Cavalier Spy

military historical novel


S. W. O'Connell





Despite its narrow defeat at the battle of Harlem Heights on September 16th, 1776, Lord William Howe's army of British and German professionals consolidated its stranglehold on General George Washington's Continental Army, now firmly entrenched on the high ground at the northern extreme of the Island of New York (Manhattan). As soon as the wind and tide at the treacherous Hellegat (Hell Gate) channel provided an opportunity, Howe, the British general commanding in North America, launched a series of amphibious landings along the coast of the Bronx. His goal was to threaten the American line of supply from Westchester to New England. An initial thrust at The Frog's (Throg's) Neck on October 12th was stopped by a few regiments of expertly positioned American riflemen. This forced the British to re-embark and land farther north, at a place called Pell's Point.

Washington maneuvered his forces a few miles north to block Howe. However, Howe's maneuver forced Washington to withdraw. He moved his army north along the Bronx River positioning it in the central Westchester hills to protect his line of supply to New England and New Jersey.

On the 28th of October, Howe launched a surprise attack on the Americans, whom he caught before they could properly position themselves near the village of White Plains. Despite the small tactical victory achieved against the Americans, Howe once again failed to exploit his success. Instead, he turned south and moved to invest Fort Washington, a powerful defensive position at the northern end of the Island of New York, otherwise known as Manhattan.

Washington realized that he would have to abandon the Island of New York before the British could trap the American defenders there. However, his most capable officer, Brigadier General Nathaniel Greene, convinced him that Fort Washington could still be defended with a few thousand men, allowing the rebels to maintain a foothold on the island. Although conflicted, Washington finally acceded to Greene's suggestion. He left the small garrison to fend for itself and moved the remainder of the army across the North River to the highlands of New Jersey.

Howe now had the initiative and all the advantages of eighteenth century warfare: interior lines; control of the waters; and overwhelming force. Washington's strategy now was to avoid defeat, keep his army intact, and continue to threaten the British while maintaining communications between New England and the Middle Atlantic states. The erstwhile "war of posts" had also become a war of waiting. but waiting for what?

Chapter 1

Harlem Heights, New York, September 1776

Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed slept fitfully. It was that sleep which comes when one is far past being overtired, and one's best efforts result in a certain numbness of both mind and body. The young officer's bed was a makeshift pile of pine needles with a piece of canvas tenting spread across them. The canopy of orange and red leaves from a tall oak tree provided protection from the heat of the morning sun, this being a particularly warm Indian summer. Creed rested his head on his saddle, which, covered by a worn gray woolen blanket, formed his pillow. Not far away, his horse, a light brown gelding named Finn, nibbled at the sweet autumn grass on the gentle hillside. While Creed slept, Privates Jonathan Beall and Elias Parker, Creed's companions and members of his very small command, had cooked a batch of dough balls in a small pan of used bacon grease. To them, the smell and crackle of the meager repast had the makings of a great feast. For the last three days, they had nothing to eat but hard tack biscuits and deer jerky purchased from one of the many suttlers that supplemented the Continental Army's woeful commissariat. During that time, Creed and his men had been constantly on patrol or in combat. Their ordeal ended with the burial of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton, leader of the elite ranger unit to which they had been attached during the battle for Harlem Heights.

After Knowlton's simple burial, a saddened Creed had a confrontation with Colonel Robert Fitzgerald, the commander-in-chief's intelligence advisor. Officially just another of Washington's many staff officers, Fitzgerald assisted Washington in one of the most critical of matters facing the army: figuring out what the British would do while also cloaking American actions from the British. This was no easy feat, as there was no American intelligence service to speak of. Washington took a personal interest in such things, both for reasons of security and practicality. However, the commander-in-chief had many other issues facing him and relied on his advisor to attend to all but the most sensitive matters. Fitzgerald worked tirelessly to establish a system of intelligence and counterintelligence that was less dependent on leadership from the headquarters. But when young Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed asked to return to normal service with his regiment, the First Maryland Continental Line, the outcome was never in doubt. Fitzgerald, over a strange combination of whiskey and chess, convinced Creed to become the first official intelligence officer in the Continental Army.

"So, Elias, do we have any salt left? We should really try to add some flavor," Jonathan Beall spoke sarcastically.

Meager and humble as the concoction was, the smell of the dough balls crackling in the bacon fat was driving him wild.

"I added the last crumbs of burnt bacon to the mix so there will be flavor enough for the likes of you, but I will gladly take your portion if it is too bland for your mountain boy's taste!" Elias Parker laughingly replied.

After weeks of campaigning and more than a few life and death experiences, the two were closer than brothers. But like brothers, they chided each other mercilessly when not covering each other's back. Both men were in their mid-twenties and sturdily built. Beall came from a small farm town in the Maryland piedmont, a place called Frederick, situated at the edge of the verdant Catoctin Mountains. Parker, partly of Indian extraction, was a waterman from fishing stock in Maryland's tidewater region.

"Should we wake Lieutenant Creed yet?" Beall asked, although he already knew the answer.

"Seeing as every time we wake him it leads to a patrol or some other comfortless duty I would say no," Parker retorted, only half joking.

Unlike Beall, Parker was not an original member of Creed's former unit, the Light Company, First Maryland Continental Line. During the Battle for Long Island, First Maryland's acting commander, Major Mordecai Gist, transferred Parker from a line unit along with several other stalwart Marylanders. Since that day in August 1776, his life became one of constant fatigue and danger. During the ensuing weeks of patrolling and skirmishing, most of the original command of more than thirty men had been killed or wounded. Parker and Beall were the only active members left and now they were permanently reassigned from the First Maryland to the commander-in-chief's Escort, also called his Life Guard.

"Wonder when we'll get a chance to escort His Excellency now that we are escorts," Beall said.

Parker suspected their future would not involve much escort work. "I don't care where we serve, or what we do, so long as it helps end the war. I want to get home to my family. I miss my wife Marie and our newborn, little Meg." Parker held a small charcoal sketch his sister had drawn. "Have you seen anyone more beautiful?"

Marie, like Parker, was part Indian and little Meg showed it, as well.

"Must take after her mama," Beall said.

Parker smiled. "Sure does. My Marie has the same copper skin. And just look at that head of shiny dark hair. Hoped to have a miniature of them made before I departed with the regiment, but there was no time. Thank God this charcoal sketch came with my last letter before the fight on Long Island."

Despite the longing for home, Parker was proud to be working with Creed and to be on "the Escort," as they sometimes referred to it. And he was proud to be serving His Excellency. This was heady stuff for a humble sailor and fisherman from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

When Creed had returned from his last meeting with Colonel Robert Fitzgerald, he seemed a changed man. There had been a new intensity added to his normal Irish good humor. And there was something odd in his comment to them before turning in to sleep.

"Well boys, Colonel Fitzgerald has convinced me that the only way to checkmate a king is to keep him in check until he has no options. And the best tool for that is the knight-in this case a 'White Knight.' Ah, but we shall talk of all that later."

The bacon grease sizzled and a piece of burned bacon rind and dough splattered and seared Beall's wrist in one of those intense but fleeting burns. "Damn! Damnation!"

Beall had taken to swearing since he joined the army back in the spring. His exposure to toughs from the backwoods, Chesapeake watermen, Baltimore laborers and Annapolis stevedores provided exposure to a wide assortment of expression and habits-some good, but most bad. He had promised himself he would break this one habit before he returned home.

The sounds of the sizzling fat and Beall's loud expletive stirred Creed. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. The pain in his head and the rawness on his tongue were not strangers, but a just few cups of whisky never had this effect before. Creed reckoned he was getting old. He was barely twenty-two.

"Cannot let a man sleep in peace for long, can ye? Just as well, but you will now pay the price and share those victuals with your victim."

Creed grinned despite the stiffness he felt in every joint and the dull pain in his head. He stood up, pulled on his boots, and excused himself to perform his morning ablutions. Creed's routine, whenever possible, included a plunge into the closest body of water and a shave. In this case, he took advantage of a nearby well in the garden of the Morris Mansion, General Washington's headquarters. The garden, once a picturesque combination of flowers and fruit trees, was now part of the commander-in-chief's headquarters, replete with the tents and equipment of his personal Life Guard, aides de camp, couriers and an array of cooks, servants, and transient officers. He returned fifteen minutes later and dug into his share of the repast: a half dozen of the "belly sinkers," a mug of black coffee, and a couple of large, freshly plucked pears.

"Quite good stuff, lads."

"How is the coffee, sir?" Beall asked

Creed replied. "As you well know, I favor tea, but I have accustomed myself to the American and Dutch penchant for the Arabica bean. It often proves more bracing, if not more refreshing than tea."

Parker snickered. "Even after a third time boiling! I swear we live lower than field hands."

Creed smiled and nodded. "Too true, but often a necessity in this army of ever dwindling supplies."

He finished eating and helped himself to a second tin full of the bitter black brew. "Now, in a bit, lads, I shall have to meet again with the good Colonel. Before I do, we must talk. When I am finished I will ask you to either join with me or return to the First Maryland and forget our discussion and everything we have done in the past several weeks. Fair enough?"

Beall and Parker both nodded, almost mindlessly. Neither could tell whether Creed's comments were a form of trust, distrust, or humor, but since neither of them had any intention of leaving his command after all they had been through with him, they heard him out patiently.

Creed looked intently at them as he spoke, his eyes narrowed and his voice lowered both for security and for effect. He needed for them to understand the gravity of the situation.

"My discussions last evening with the good Colonel were sobering, although they took place with no insignificant amount of whisky."

Beall thought he saw the mildest trace of the Creed smile form for a fleeting second, then disappear as his eyes narrowed again. "We played a game of chess. Somewhere in my kit I have a set. Does either of you lads play? Well, never mind that now. The point is this: both he and I are agreed that this war will be long and difficult. We face a brutal and stubborn monarch who commands the greatest forces in the world and commands its commerce through a powerful navy. This king can march or sail his army at will, at least wherever there is sufficient water."

Beall thought he saw Creed's eyes lighten for a fleeting moment.

"So, ye see, the initiative belongs to 'His Majesty.' General Washington cannot likely hope for a great victory to end this conflict quickly and to our advantage. So his strategy has got to be one of avoiding defeat. Nibble away at the British until they are worn down and are forced to concede our freedom and independence. However, to do this the Continental Army needs to survive and it must present a threat to the British until... well..."

"Until what, sir?" Beall interrupted like a school boy.

Creed glanced left and right. "Well, there is considerable speculation that Congress can perhaps gain us allies to force the British hand. This is as much a political fight as a military one. In that sense we have some advantages."

"Now what might those be, Lieutenant?" Parker asked skeptically. Parker was a simple fisherman and seaman but a shrewd and practical man in his own right. He for one could find no advantages in the army's, or the nation's, situation.

"Well, the cause itself, of course. And the people as well. Certainly, there are many Americans who are loyal Tories, but most are not. Many are still undecided. However, so long as there remains a General Washington and a Continental Army there remains hope. Where the British Army does not occupy, the patriot cause, the American cause, lives. We are closer to our people and to their sentiments. And where we are not, strong measures need be taken. We know the land and can draw people and sustenance from it. Many in England, Scotland, and Ireland are favorably disposed to the colonies and their grievances, so perhaps we shall have a political solution over the objections of King George. But there is one ingredient essential to the successful outcome of this enterprise."

"Good food and dry powder!" Parker said sarcastically.

"Yes, indeed!" Creed answered reflexively. "No, what I meant was information. That is, intelligence. This war will turn on that to a great deal. Colonel Fitzgerald has asked me to take part in that aspect of the enterprise. With no small amount of reluctance, I have agreed. I am not yet fully sure what that means, but gather he wants to form a unit to collect information on the British and Loyalists, to assist General Washington."

"Are we to be spies?" Beall asked.

"In a manner of speaking, yes. And we must detect spies, too. The way the good Colonel and His Excellency see it, failure to collect intelligence could lose a battle, but failure to detect a spy could lose the war, and thus the nation. So, if you follow me, when, not if, we are caught it shall be a swift journey to the gallows. if we are lucky. Do ye lads understand what I am saying?"

Beall and Parker looked at each other. They did not fully grasp everything Creed had said.

"Not everything, sir. But it makes no matter to us. You are our leader and we trust your judgment." As Parker spoke the words a sickening feeling told him he would not see his family again.

After a pause, Beall spoke. "Sir, I joined the regiment to support the cause and to be with Simon. If he were here, he would stand with you sir, so now I fight for two!"

Creed fought to hold back the tears welling in his eyes. "Good lads! You are most honorable. I am proud to be among you."

* * *

Creed arrived at Fitzgerald's office in the Morris Mansion. It was a clean, bright room, not large. But it contained a nice bed and had a large desk covered with Fitzgerald's many papers and a map. In the corner there stood a small chest of drawers. On it sat a small wash basin of elegant but not elaborate white porcelain. For the first time, Creed noticed the room was decorated with fine wallpaper instead of paint. This must have been a lady's room, he thought, perhaps a daughter.

Fitzgerald offered Creed a glass of port. Creed declined as he still felt some of the effects of the previous night. Fitzgerald pushed away stray strands of his hair, which he had tied back in a queue and strangely enough, powdered white.

"Well, Jeremiah, His Excellency has need of your services once more. Your task is both complex and dangerous."

"Not unlike previous engagements, sir." Creed smirked.

Fitzgerald ignored the witticism. "Worse, I am afraid. He would like you to find our lost spy."

"Beg your pardon, sir?" Creed thought he had misunderstood him.

"Find our lost spy. As you know, we sent a young captain of the unfortunate Colonel Knowlton's battalion to spy behind British lines on Long Island. But now he may well be in New York. His name, I can finally reveal, is Nathan Hale. From Connecticut. A place called Coventry, I believe. Seems so many of our bravest lads come from Connecticut."

As a Marylander, Creed bristled at the remark but Fitzgerald went on. "Hale was to advance across Long Island and find the rear of the British Army. To obtain information on unit strength from patriots and unsuspecting Tories. Also to report on their morale, supply, and if possible, British plans."

Creed winced. "Perhaps you should have asked him to capture Lord Howe to boot."

Fitzgerald nodded. "I know. It seems foolish now and it was, urumph, is. Truth be told, I advised against it. Nor am I in favor of sending you after him. But His Excellency insists we try. However, I am adding to your woes with a secondary mission, although between us it is, in actuality, your primary mission."

Creed cocked his head slightly and placed his index finger against his cheek. "My God, sir, just two missions behind British lines? Hardly worth the trip, should I say?

Creed's feigned English accent had the desired effect of annoying Fitzgerald.

"Please refrain from sarcasm, my dear boy. These are desperate times. The curtain is closing on the City of New York, and perhaps the entire island. We may not have another opportunity to infiltrate someone there for many months. Once the British consolidate their gains and establish forces loyal to them, access to the city may well be hopeless, and it most certainly will be dangerous. What I want is for you to contact one of the men given up to our late departed British spy, Jan Braaf."

Jan Braaf, a lawyer and active Whig politico in Brooklyn, had spied for the British and betrayed the American army, helping cause its defeat on Long Island. He died from a wound received while trying to get to New York under Creed's protection. Dying, he had confessed his treason to Creed and Fitzgerald, who obtained the valise provided by his British spymaster, Major Sandy Drummond. The valise contained "spy paraphernalia" which included codes, special chemicals for secret writing, and the names of contacts, one of whom had access to a bank account for Braaf. Posing as the escaped murderer of British soldiers, Braaf was supposed to obtain a civilian post near or with the rebel army, and report on its activity.

"We were fortunate Braaf took a bullet on that boat ride with you, Jeremiah. And a British bullet at that."

"I daresay, sir, we were more fortunate that he had some semblance of a conscience and confessed his sin before he died."

"I believe it was more from good questioning and his eternal connivance. I believe he wanted to keep his family out of future trouble. Well, it worked to our advantage, but now we must follow up."

Creed frowned. "What do you mean, sir?"

Fitzgerald swirled the remaining port in his glass. Its ruby color reflected the sunlight that radiated through the open window. They were on the second floor so nobody could eavesdrop, at least not very easily.

"I mean, the 'spy Braaf' must try to contact the British of course. Since you deftly hid his body there is no corpus delecti, so we can assume they do not suspect his demise. But they must surely expect contact from him."

"So soon?"

"Of course, young man, we are at war. But the contact will be perfunctory. Just enough so they know he is active and has successfully placed himself near the American camp. By doing so I hope to buy us some time until I decide how best to pursue this case. And in any event, we may delay them sending another in his place."

"And I suppose I should find this Captain Hale while I am at it?"

Fitzgerald grinned complacently. "That is correct. His Excellency would be most pleased with the return of his spy. Captain Hale by all accounts seemed a very decent and honorable officer, not really spy material at all."

Creed once again ignored the barb. With a coy wink, Fitzgerald downed the last drop of port and smacked the glass on the desk. He then removed some papers from the "treasure trove" of codes and contacts taken from Braaf. It provided the name of two men established by the British as Braaf's contacts in the city.

The older officer pulled another wisp of his white hair away from his pale Irish face and looked intently at Creed. "Now here is what I propose..."

* * *

When Creed returned from his meeting with Colonel Fitzgerald the concern on his face was obvious. He removed his tri-cornered hat and ran his fingers through his dark hair. He then took a deep breath and sat under one of the pines.

"Why so glum, sir?" Beall asked.

"Not glum, Jonathan, concerned. We have a hard task ahead. get through British lines, find a lost spy, and convince the British that our friend Braaf is alive and well. Oh yes, and return alive of course."

Creed went over the plan in detail. When he finished, his men questioned him. "Do we rehearse this one, Lieutenant?" Parker asked.

Creed shook his head. "Not this time, much as it disturbs me to say. We have no time. We depart immediately."

"Right now?" Beall asked.

Creed nodded. "We must gain entry to the city before the British restore order and tighten security."

Parker looked incredulous. "You mean they haven't, sir?"

Creed replied, "Not fully. I hope to exploit the chaos that always ensues when one army supplants another in an area of occupation. Many Whigs and Patriots have already fled the Island of New York."

"So most of the Americans who stayed in New York will be hostile to the patriot cause," Beall said.

Creed nodded. "Or neutral and indifferent. We shall have to rely on our guile and the occupation's initial confusion to get through."

Beall knew there was something else. "Sir, we have done more than this before. You seem disturbed by something. Something more than this."

Creed lowered his head. "Our orders, the part that disturbs me, are stark. Should one of Braaf's contacts become suspicious, I am to kill him."

Beall's eyes widened. "Just like that?"

Creed nodded. "His Excellency was staking much on deceiving the British, and Fitzgerald wants nothing to frustrate the effort. We are also authorized to reveal the existence of the other spy, Hale, to help establish Braaf's credibility, proof of his validity as an agent."

Parker interjected, "Now let me get this straight, sir. We are to save this spy, Captain. Hale? While using knowledge of his existence to convince the British that Braaf operates in the American camp. Makes no sense at all, sir!"

"Precisely my initial thought." Creed grinned and scratched himself on the lobe of his ear.

"However, after some reflection, I realized there is a devilish madness to this. General Washington wants his man back, but he also wants to use Braaf against the British. He sees this war now as an intelligence struggle as much as a military struggle. And he may well be correct. Our forces need time to bring themselves to where they can face the British on equal terms. That day will come, he is convinced, but until then he must preserve the army and keep the British off balance. Intelligence will be indispensable to the success of this strategy. We are merely pawns in all this."

Beall corrected him. "You mean knights, sir, do you not? White Knights, to be exact."

Creed laughed and grabbed Beall firmly by the shoulder. "Yes indeed, Private Beall. Thank-you so much for remembering that for me. 'Tis the White Knights we are now."


Chapter 2

Harlem Heights, New York, September 1776

Everything was ready by nightfall. Creed remembered the cowboys he and his men had encountered while trying to escape the British invaders and reach safety along the Heights of Harlem. He now decided that posing as Loyalist cowboys would provide a useful way to cloak their mission. Since the outbreak of the struggle for independence, armed bands from both sides variously called "cowboys," "skinners," and sometimes "pirates," roamed between both armies in a struggle for control of the no man's land. Skinners were patriot irregulars. Cowboys were Loyalist irregulars. However, many worked for both sides and had little difficulty switching allegiance as the situation dictated. They were in reality mere plunderers, brigands, and thieves. As was the case with the other rogue gangs, Creed and his men carried no papers. It was a simple matter to declare themselves if caught-by either side. As cowboys, Creed's men could carry weapons without attracting too much attention. Normally, brigands were hanged on sight, but in the chaos of the British occupation, Creed reckoned that mere thieves would be a lower priority with the authorities than Whigs, patriots, or spies.

* * *

They headed south in the darkening twilight. After a half mile of tramping through the dark brush they reached a glade faintly lit by the last rays of light. Scattered about, they could see a dozen or more bodies strewn across the sloping field. They had been stripped of all belongings, and strangely the animals had not yet fed on the corpses, which were dark and bloated, and stiff.

Beall nearly choked on the smell. Parker chortled, "Not your first sight of corpses, farm boy. Brace up. We've just begun."

Creed signaled silence, and dismounting, crouched behind a rock looking for signs of sentries or a patrol. After a few moments he mounted and spoke softly to his companions. "Enemy must be nearby. Otherwise the creatures of the night would have left us bare bones by now. We'll be in need of a guide, I would think. Let us see if our young friend Thomas is available."

Parker gave Creed a skeptical look. "I am sure Thomas has long moved on, sir. Might have even stayed on with Miss Emily."

Creed's heart skipped a beat at the mention of Emily Stanley's name, but he kept a blank face and just stared straight ahead down the darkening trail. They rode along a path that ran east from the American defense works on the Harlem Heights. Creed was familiar with the route, since he had led a patrol in the area shortly before the battle fought on the Heights. Although only three days ago, it seemed to Creed and his men more like three years.

Beall chimed in, almost gushing, "Yes, surely he remained with Miss Emily."

Emily Stanley ran the Stanley boarding house for her father, Dr. Reginald Stanley, a staunch Tory who was serving with the British Army. Her father had come to America with the British to fight the French some twenty years prior and then stayed on in America. Emily's mother died during her birth. She was raised by a series of "aunts," the last of whom left when Emily was sixteen, supposedly after a falling out with her father.

Now a beautiful young woman of nineteen, Emily long ago realized these "aunts" were nothing more than mistresses who spent little time with her, attending more to social events, soirees, dinners, and balls, then to her upbringing. She had tutors since the age of seven, and learned more from the various servants of the house, who brought her a sense of reality, the need for hard work, and the harshness of life. She became very adept at the running the boarding house and stable. Partly in rebellion to her father, she also secretly read many of the political treatises of the day and, in silent opposition to his Tory and Royalist sentiments, became a Whig.

The Stanley boarding house was just north of the city, several miles to the south of their current location, with thousands of redcoats between them. Creed and his men had stayed at the Stanley House during the American occupation of New York. In the brief time he spent there, Creed and Emily became very close. At great personal risk, she helped him evacuate the mortally wounded spy, Jan Braaf, to the Heights of Harlem.

Creed was both distraught and relieved when Emily suddenly returned home. Although unsure that he would, or could have said the right things to her, the thought that he might somehow see her again sent a chill down his spine. It was a two-edged thrill: that of a young man's dreams of a beautiful girl and the dread that his return might harm her.

Creed snapped a gruff, out-of-character response, "We shall check the post house in Yorkville first."

Beall realized he had touched on a sore point. He and Parker were aware of Creed's affection for the young woman and of her devotion to him, so they avoided further mention of the subject.

After a silent hour of riding, they arrived at the post house. It was pitch dark, and strangely, along the way they did not encounter any British forces. Not even a patrol or sentry. However, that changed at the post house.

Situated just off the main Post Road near the northern end of the island, the post house held a strategic position. It sat back off the Post Road and provided a vantage point from which to observe the comings and goings of traffic on the main artery connecting New York to Westchester and New England. Creed and his men led their horses through the thick woods just north of the post house, avoiding any of the many deer trails that covered the woods and forests in the area: if the British had patrols out, they would certainly use the paths and trails to avoid breaking new ground through the thick underbrush.

Creed's precaution was justified. To their left, they heard the shuffle of a squad of men heading north. Sentries are a bit late in getting out tonight, Creed thought. Well, even the most professional enemy made mistakes. The trick was to recognize those mistakes and exploit them. Creed hoped to do just that. They could now make out the silhouette of the post house highlighted against the night sky, with dull candlelight cascading from its windows. Suddenly, they heard British voices to their front.

Creed placed two fingers over his lips and whispered, "Patrols sent out, the British commander and his staff are probably settling in for a night of drinking. Perhaps they would like some company."

Creed was not far off the mark. Inside the house, a captain of infantry had just finished an evening meal of mutton and potatoes. His two subalterns were settling in to begin their meals, as they had just dispatched the last patrol. They had no further business until it returned at midnight. The patrol comprised eighteen veteran infantrymen, nearly half the company. It would be gone for almost four hours. Another nineteen men were already fast asleep in tents hastily raised behind the stable. In the stable itself, the officer's horses were now under the care of the young black groom whom they had found was the post house's sole occupant. The groom called himself Thomas Jeffries and claimed to be a freeman. Well, all of these dark rogues claimed to be free, thought the officer. He would serve his rightful king now, regardless of his status.

Creed gathered his men in closer so as not to alert the British, and then quickly formulated a plan of action. "Thomas, if still here, is likely in the stable. Elias, utilize your Indian heritage to good effect. Go to the stable and retrieve our young man. Jonathan and I will watch over you in case the British have a stray sentry or two."

Parker did not hide his sarcasm. "Easy enough to do Lieutenant, but supposing he refuses to come? Not everyone enjoys skulking behind enemy lines for little pay and less food."

Creed answered casually, "If the lad declines to join us, you may thank him for his previous efforts on our behalf, and wish him well. We shall then make our way south without his assistance."

Parker found Thomas in the stable. When he saw Parker, the young man's eyes widened with disbelief, fear, and confusion. Thomas had been torn and conflicted when he escorted Emily Stanley back across the no man's land between the British and American forces. He had intended to stay with Creed after helping him find Emily and Parker and rescue them from a band of cowboy thugs. But when Emily decided to return home, he offered to guide her back to the Stanley boarding house. Unfortunately, once there, it was too dangerous to attempt another trip through the British lines. So Thomas returned to the only home he had ever known, the lonely Yorkville post house.

"Mister Parker! How'd you get in here? You join the British?" Thomas blurted when he saw Parker emerge from the shadows.

"We need a guide, Thomas, and Lieutenant Creed prefers experience."

The young man's eyes widened and his face broke into a wide grin. "Lieutenant Creed? He's here too?"

"Not far. Where are the rest of the British? And why haven't they posted sentries?"

"Not sure. They was up all day and night. Maybe they're just too tired. They ordered me to clean all the officers' tack, boots, and weapons. Suppose they got big work tomorrow. The way it looks, I will be up all night doing this."

Parker cut him off with a wave of his hand. "Not if you come with us, right now. Lieutenant Creed promises us great hardship, greater danger, little pay, and no guarantee of a return. You interested?"

"Yes, sir!" Thomas could not believe his luck.

"Then get your gear and pick out and ready the best horse for yourself. I shall work on their tack and weapons."

Parker drew a long, serrated fisherman's knife from his belt and began to slice the leather straps of the officer's tack just enough that, although unnoticeable to the casual eye, they would be sure to rip at the most inopportune time. When this was completed, he took their pistols. Each officer had two. They were good quality and might come in handy later. He then snapped their saber blades in half. By the time all this was done, Thomas had the best post relay horse saddled and bridled, and had his few belongings tied fore and aft of the saddle. This included a long leather whip, with which he was expert from years of driving horses. Parker had bundled the pistols in a gunnysack and placed it on the horse. Noiselessly, they led the horse from the stable.

An English voice cried out from the wood line unexpectedly. "Where are you going with that fine horse, lad?"

A British corporal had decided to relieve himself and was just exiting the outhouse. "And who is that with you? Are you selling one of His Majesty's horses to this rogue?"

Thomas responded coolly, "This gentleman just arrived here from headquarters looking for the Captain."

The corporal, dressed only in breeches and a white shirt, approached Thomas, his eyes straining to make out the visitors uniform and rank. "Now, I say, why would headquarters send a civilian here to see the Captain? State your business, sir!"

Before either could answer that very logical question, Parker's knife was in the corporal's chest. Inside of twelve feet, he rarely missed. Parker sprung on him in an instant, but as he twisted the knife from the dying man's breastbone, the corporal let out a loud and final death rattle; loud enough to alert the British. In the dim moonlight, they saw a band of soldiers running out of the trees behind the stable. Parker wiped his blade on the unfortunate corporal's shirt, sheathed it, and then led Thomas to Creed and Beall.

By time they arrived at Creed's position, shouts and cries from the British were echoing through the dark forest. A soldier had discovered their dead corporal, whose white shirt was now stained a dark red that looked especially frightening in the moonlight. A panicked British voice bellowed for help. "Murder! Murder! To arms! To arms!"

Soon the cries for revenge reached fever pitch as angry redcoats scrambled to find the killer.

A scattering of shots tore through the woods, but Creed and his band were already moving south along a little known trail that ran parallel to the Post Road.

* * *

City of New York, September 1776

Creed's band arrived at the edge of the city before dawn. Thanks to Thomas they were able to ride most of the way along a little used trail that ran parallel to and finally intersected the Post Road at a point just north of Kip's Bay. The young post rider knew most every back trail and road on the eastern half of the island. Creed recognized Kip's Bay when they passed by. The shallow inlet was the site of the British landing on the island of New York several days earlier where Creed had played no small part in saving the commander-in-chief from capture.

Several times during the trip they had to bolt into a wood, orchard, or farmer's field to avoid detection. Despite the early morning hour, Howe's forces were indeed imposing their will up and down the island, and patrols seemed to be everywhere.

After one near run-in, Creed whispered to his men, "'Tis indeed a wonder there are any forces to face our lads, as so many of these red coats seem to enjoy occupation duty."

"Well, sir, that just adds another complaint against them and their oppression," Beall answered.

During the trip south, Creed briefly explained to Thomas the importance of their work and their need for his skills to guide them through the British lines. Thomas promised to do his best, but countered that while he was an expert on the roads and by-ways along the Post Road and the upper reaches of the island, he knew little of the area around the city.

They made camp in a small potato field shortly before dawn. The field was bordered by the type of stone fence so often seen in the northeast. The fences, low stone walls actually, were less than a mile apart in some areas.

Creed's men sat resting with their backs along one such wall. "Now remember, Thomas, we are not in uniform. To anyone we meet, we are Loyalist cowboys, just like the rascals we tangled with a few days ago."

Creed affected his version of an American back-woods accent-somewhat grating to the ear, but surprisingly passable. "If anyone asks, my name is Roland Scruggs, but- I go by Burns, 'Root Hog' Burns. Private Beall will go by 'Hammer Head' and Private Parker is 'Fish Belly'."

Thomas broke into a wide grin. His white teeth were bright and impressive.

"So who am I?" The sixteen-year-old asked impishly.

Parker chimed in, "Little Colt."

"Where'd you learn to talk like that, sir?" Beall asked.

"'Tis a skill I learned at school, but perfected later. But it's not important now. We must all try to play our roles or we risk discovery."

Creed looked at Parker, who was nodding and grinning. It was settled. They went from White Knights to cowboys that quickly.

They reached the northern reaches of the city just as the sun began to rise, casting its faint glow from the direction of Long Island. Creed had not planned going near the Stanley House, primarily for fear of Emily's safety. However, his three companions convinced him that seeking a place to stay there would be logical, even for cowboys. The Stanley House was at the north edge of the city, near a key junction on the Post Road. It would make sense to leave the horses there and conduct city business on foot. Creed put his reservations aside and reluctantly agreed.

* * *

Emily Stanley was alarmed to see a most frightening gang of ruffians enter her premises. Their leader wore a beaver skin hat with three tails hanging down the back, with shirt and trousers of dun colored home-spun. He walked with a familiar step, although his scruffy appearance marked him as a backwoodsman from somewhere west or north. His companions were similarly dressed in various shades of brown with old wool blankets slung across their shoulders. The man she failed to recognize as Parker wore an old broad brimmed cap, although the face beneath it had a familiar look. Their faces were blackened with stubble, soot and road dust.

Emily saw their weapons and coarse cowboy attire and realized the ruffians were not simply vagabond refugees, but something worse. Thousands of stragglers were now coming and going in and around New York amidst the chaos of the occupation. Most were Loyalists fleeing the Continental Army or seeking redress from the reestablished Royal government. Others were Whigs attempting to flee Loyalist retribution or British oppression. The former Royal Governor of New York, William Tryon, was back, as was the despicable William Cunningham, the loyalist Provost Marshal. Cunningham, a notorious figure even among Tories, hated Whigs and patriots even more than they hated him, if that were possible. Tormented by Whig mobs in 1775, Cunningham had fled the city with the British, but he vowed vengeance and returned intent on having it.

Emily addressed the vagabonds with a polite but business-like voice. "I believe you gentlemen are looking for one of the ordinary houses. They are in the city, near the docks, although there are a few right on Broadway."

Creed tried his new found American accent on her. "Well, miss, we ain't your fine Britishers but we be loyal fighters for the King and can pay well as any men, I reckon."

She became alarmed. These men actually intended to stay at the boarding house. If they could pay, they must be thieves, brigands such as those who kidnapped her near Harlem Heights. She replied nervously and with great trepidation, "I am sure that is true gentlemen, but you see, these rooms are reserved for..."

Her turquoise green eyes suddenly widened as if she saw a ghost. "Jeremiah?" She asked softly.

The ruffian before her broke into a wide grin, and she threw herself into his arms and hugged him as she covered his face with kisses. Her affection was obvious, as was his. They held each other longer than would normally be appropriate. She finally broke free from his embrace and warmly grasped the hands of each of his three companions.

She led them into the barn behind the house where they could talk in private and unobserved from the lane. She finally could no longer contain herself. "What on earth are you doing here? Why those clothes? Have you left the cause?"

Creed demurred. "I can only admit to being on unfinished business for Colonel Fitzgerald."

Emily arched her eyes and gently scolded him. "Jeremiah Creed, I am as guilty of treason to His Majesty as any of you, perhaps more so. If there is something I can do to assist your efforts, you know I will. I must."

Creed knew she was right. Her assistance with the dying spy, Jan Braaf, had been invaluable. At first unaware that he was a spy, she knew there was some sort of nefarious business about that had General Washington's personal interest. Her father was a Loyalist, but she was not. She just prudently withheld her political leanings from him, which were decidedly patriot.

Emily Stanley was in fact a spy-more so than Creed. Recognizing a potential occupation of New York by the British, she volunteered her services to Colonel Fitzgerald shortly after the Continental Army arrived on Manhattan. Fitzgerald gave her a cover name-"Mister Smythe."

As Mister Smythe, Emily began sending information to Fitzgerald through the services of another spy, whose identity she did not know, but who Fitzgerald referred to as "Mister Jons."

Emily's boarders, now for the most part British officers, provided her a trove of knowledge, all of which she carefully noted each night when she worked on her diary. In an even greater twist, she delivered the packets of information under the escort of the young and not so young officers she would invite for a picnic along the river. Most of her drops off points were in the thick bushes along the various coves and inlets around New York. Emily correctly surmised Mister Jons had some connection to the water.

Creed decided she deserved to know something. "Very well, I can tell you we are searching for two men. One is an American officer sent behind the lines by His Excellency to report on British activities. Since New York is now in British hands, his services in that enterprise have ended. As for the other gentleman, I must merely pass on a message to him. The latter business is the more urgent and compelling."

"Who is this man?" She asked breathlessly. Now wondering just how many spies Fitzgerald had engaged on the island.

Secretly, almost unbeknownst to herself, she marveled at Creed's rugged good looks, apparent despite his disheveled mountain man hair, facial stubble, road dust, and grime.

"As you are aware, I know most of the distinguished society of New York," she said.

"A Mister Neeley. He is one of two men Braaf intended to meet in New York. That is all I can, all I should say." Creed replied, gazing intently into her green eyes.

"Well, I suspect I know the rest." She grimaced and unconsciously placed her slender arms across her breasts. Creed was enthralled as ever at the sight of her. She wore a bright housedress and had her hair tied up in the back with curls the color of dark honey at her temples.

Creed smiled. "Let us hope not, Emily."

She frowned and closed one eye impishly. She loved his humor, but tried not to let on too much. "There is a Neeley Apothecary near the docks by Whitehall Slip. Father does some business with him, but I have never met the man."

Creed was surprised at his own luck. "Then I must meet him. This very evening. Until then, my band of cowboys needs a place to sleep."

"I can make up some rooms, Jeremiah and..."

"Emily, so long as we are here behind redcoat lines, call me Root Hog, and no, the barn is more fitting to our station. I suspect I shall need to return here in the future. The barn is also more convenient to our comings and goings... and more secure."

She thrust her delicate hands into his. "I will bring food at two this afternoon, Jeremi... uh, Root Hog." They both laughed.


Chapter 3

British Headquarters, New York, September 1776

That afternoon, General William Howe, now ensconced at the Beekman House just a few miles north of New York, received an urgent communication. It came from the man he had placed in charge of security on Long Island, Major "Sandy" Drummond. Drummond, a dragoon officer of some notoriety, had distinguished himself with an aggressive reconnaissance against the Americans, which led to the nearly bloodless capture of Brooklyn and the American defense works. However, what now esteemed Drummond most to Howe was that he also excelled in the recruitment of informants-that is spies, and in so doing had already advanced the British cause. One of Drummond's trusted soldiers, a sergeant named Digby, delivered the letter. Digby waited in the anteroom while Howe read it. Once alone, the British commander-in-chief furtively opened the letter.

Brooklyn, September 20th, 1776

My Lord,

I have the pleasure to inform you that through a most fortuitous set of circumstances, we have captured a Rebel Agent, who entered behind our lines, in civilian clothing, with the obvious intent to spy upon His Majesty's Forces. One of my trusted Agents identified a solitary person landing on the shore of the Long Island Sound, near a Village called Huntington in the early morning hours of the 17th. Acting on the tip from said Agent, our own Major Robert Rogers and his Loyalist band from the Queen's American Rangers, pursued the individual and, by no unimpressive bit of Skullduggery, obtained his full Admission of his Crimes.

The Spy purports of course to be an American officer, a Captain Nathan Hale - of Connecticut. Naturally, we refuse to recognize the privileges of his Status-neither as an Officer nor as a Combatant.

With your Lordship's kind permission, I am sending this Rogue to you forthwith and request you pronounce the Sentence appropriate to a nefarious Spy.

I Remain, As Ever -

Your Humble and Obedient Servant

S. Drummond

Howe wrote a short response in his own hand approving Drummond's proposed action. He called Digby back in and handed him the letter. Digby saluted and exited the headquarters at the double. Howe was elated, not only in catching a spy, but that it was Americans catching Americans, precisely as he viewed the key to the conflict. Drummond was one of the few officers who agreed with Howe's view that more Americans were for the King than against, and that the whole mess could be resolved as a family quarrel rather than as mortal struggle between the Crown and its subjects.

* * *

Creed awoke just before noon. His men were sleeping comfortably, so he decided to let them have another hour's rest. They would need it. Slowly, so as not to disturb them, he pressed open the barn door and slipped out quietly. He left most of his weapons with the rest of his gear, taking only a tomahawk and one of the British pistols for protection.

The smell of the midday meal wafted across the yard from the Stanley kitchen. Creed paused a moment to enjoy the aroma of the chicken dinner being prepared. Emily was certainly happy to see them, he thought to himself with a warm smile.

Creed had decided he would do a short walk-about the city in the hope of overhearing rumors of the American spy and pick up whatever other nuggets he could. Along the way he would learn the lanes and back alleys between the Stanley House and the city proper. As he slipped by the side of the Stanley House, he glanced through the open kitchen window and saw Emily directing the activity of three servants. He resisted the temptation to get her attention and steal a moment with her. His mission was difficult enough without mixing in affairs of the heart. He sighed, then squared his shoulders and moved on to the street.

* * *

It was more than half-past two when Creed returned to the Stanley House. He had to work his way through the crowds of refugees, soldiers and other flotsam of an army in flux. He managed to make a cursory check of some of the taverns and coffee houses near the East River. Creed limited his search to the east side of town. He reckoned it the most likely place for Hale to turn up if the spy made it over from Long Island. Fitzgerald's description of Hale was simple: tall, very handsome, and with piercing eyes. Fitzgerald also revealed Hale's cover-an itinerant schoolmaster. As Root Hog he told folks the teacher owed him money and he needed to find him before heading north to help the British finish off the rebels.

No one on the docks or in the various establishments he visited knew of any such teacher. Nor had seen anyone matching Hale's description. Most laughed when Root Hog told them a "teacher-man" had dunned him of money.

One fat tavern keeper had belly-laughed at the idea of it. "So, Root Hog, this teacher borrowed a goodly sum from ye and bolted? Did ye not take any collateral? Not even a Latin book?"

The rest of the patrons in the dark, smoky room laughed along.

Creed feigned embarrassment and not a little annoyance. "Well, see now, he looked real honest like and such. Well, a teacher now, who would think him a crook, ya see?"

Better to play the ruffian and rube to keep their suspicions away.

A wiry patron joined in the fun. "Say mountain man, did you walk into town or ride in on a turnip wagon?"

And so it went until he gave up and returned to the Stanley House. There was no chance of finding this lost spy in a city thrown into the turmoil that war-torn New York was experiencing. Tories were on the rampage. Refugees choked the streets. Troops marched through the thoroughfares in columns and swarmed the back streets when off duty. Supply wagons, barges and pack horses all moved north and south as supplies and food followed the march of the British Army.

When he arrived back at the Stanley House, Creed found Emily waiting pensively at the front gate. When she saw him, her face went from a mild grimace to a gracious smile that warmed his heart and set his blood a boil. She accompanied him into the barn where his men were finishing the fried chicken and bread. She made sure they had saved him a princely portion.

When Creed finished the meal, he revealed his plans for the evening. "Lads, the city is in chaos. Swarms of people coming and going. The Tories are already organizing citizens groups. If there are any patriots left, they dare not reveal themselves for fear of reprisal."

Beall wiped grease from his mouth with his sleeve. "Reprisal sir? Reprisal for what?"

Emily, who had spent the entire time watching Creed eat, provided a gentle response to his naïve question. "Why, Jonathan, this poor city has seen nothing but atrocity and reprisal for over a year. The Tories and Whigs vied for power and treated each other mercilessly with beatings, burnings, tarring, and feathering. It was awful to see such wanton violence. When they controlled the city before, the Loyalists rampaged against the Whigs. After they left and the Continental Army occupied the city, the Whigs went rampant. I am sure the Tories will now take their vengeance."

"This is a test of will then, as much as of arms, is it not?" Parker said.

Creed nodded. "Indeed."

It pleased him that his men took an interest in the politics of their cause. He looked over at Thomas, who having finished his meal had started grooming the horses.

"As for tonight, we shall go into town. I pray this Neeley is our man, or at least has a kinsman or two he can point out to us."

Beall responded with a sly smile. "We shall rely on your good Irish luck to assist us, Lieutenant."

Creed smiled as he gazed at Emily who lowered her eyes. "Yes, we shall indeed. But call me Root Hog!"

Everyone laughed.

When Emily returned to the house, Creed turned to the mission at hand. "The less Miss Stanley knows of our mission, the safer she shall be. We will depart at six sharp. Now here's what we must do..."

After he went over the plan, Creed left his men to rest. He wanted to reacquaint himself with the area around the Stanley House, the site of their first bivouac in New York. Nobody noticed him dart through the garden and make his way across the sunken lane to the orchard. He decided to pick a handful of apples for him and his men to munch. As he picked the fruit, he took note of the travelers along the road. Most traffic headed south into the city, although a few wagons rolled north to supply the British lines. An occasional file of green-jacketed Loyalists marched north to some appointed mission or another.

Creed suddenly saw a figure among the trees moving towards him at a casual, almost languid pace. The trim figure of Emily soon reached him. They embraced without exchanging a word. He kissed her fervently and stroked her face. Her arms circled his back, and her soft hands seemed to probe every muscle. After what seemed both an eternity and an instant, they paused. For a moment, they just stared at each other as if nothing else mattered and for that brief moment nothing else did.

Finally, Emily spoke in a soft rasping voice. "My most ardent wish has been granted. I thought I should never see you again, Jeremiah."

Creed stroked her hair. "It would likely be better for us all if you didn't. By Jesus, I am glad I came this way. But I won't do it again. I fear I have put you at grave risk already."

She could not tell him her past actions already put her at grave risk and had no connection to him. "I would risk a hundred scaffolds to see you, Jeremiah. Besides, this place has many strange persons coming and going. It is in fact a suitable lair for you and your men."

Emily kissed him and he returned it.

She placed her head on his chest and whispered. "We have an hour before I need to be back. Let me show you the rest of the orchard."


Chapter 4

New York, September 21st 1776

From New York's Old Battery General Howe watched the sun set over the North River. The autumn sun's gentle rays caressed the Jersey Highlands behind the Sandy Hook. He could already tell it would be another steamy New York evening. How different all this looked when he compared it to the harbor on the Thames River back in London, completely crammed with stone and half-timbered buildings, large warehouses, dockyards and the denizens of the world's largest and greatest city. New York was just a poor provincial city in comparison.

Howe's powerful black horse stomped the ground to avoid the swarm of flies swirling around its legs and hindquarters. "I love America but do detest its extremes of weather, especially the summer humidity and its attendant mosquitoes, flies, and whatnot."

"The extremes are part of its charm, Milord," replied Major General Charles Cornwallis. "Of greater concern is that New York remains in chaos"

"I have dispersed soldiers throughout the lower half of the island to ensure the city's safety and security; at least until more local Loyalist units can be organized."

"News from Long Island is good. Sandy Drummond has organized the locals," Cornwallis said.

Howe nodded. "Drummond's steady hand is now required on the Island of New York, as well."

"But what of Cunningham?"

"William Cunningham is doing fine work as Provost Marshal, but I want the assurance brought by a solid British officer at my side."

"But you are famously a Whig. A friend to loyal Americans."

"Indeed I am, Milord. And overall, New York is loyal to the Crown and I intend to keep it that way. I am heading back. Join me, Charles?"

"No milord, I have a mind to double check the garrison here," Cornwallis replied.

Howe turned his horse about and headed north at a canter, the dust swirling up behind him like a whirling dervish before dissipating into the evening sky. If he hurried, he could arrive at the Beekman House and change in time for his evening assignation: his tryst with Mrs. Elizabeth Loring. The stunning beauty, who was the wife of a Loyalist office seeker, had settled in nicely as his mistress. Howe's affection for the Americans had its carnal as well as its political side.

* * *

By dark, Root Hog and his three companions had entered their fifth tavern in less than three hours. Ironically, this one had a patriotic name-Liberty Arms. Creed knew the place as he had taken a meal there just before his regiment, the First Maryland, deployed to Long Island. Situated at the end of Princess Street, Liberty Arms was a two-story wooden building freshly painted white with bright blue shutters. The proprietor was a notorious Whig and patriot. The previous venues Creed and his men had visited were Tory to the core. Creed thought he would see what the situation was in a patriot establishment. The Tories and Loyalists would soon begin their purge of all things patriotic, and such places soon would be closed or renamed.

Creed's plan was working well, or so it seemed. He had found Neeley's Apothecary in the late afternoon and convinced the clerk he must meet the proprietor that evening. The clerk, a tall thin man in his early thirties, was well dressed, with fine long fingers and an almost effeminate way of moving. He talked in a low voice and made it obvious he was revolted by Root Hog.

The clerk rolled his eyes as he spoke. "Mister Neeley will be here at nine this evening but I am sure he will have no time for the likes of you, sir."

Creed ignored the insult and stayed in character. "Well you be sure and tell him Root Hog Burns has money for him. More'n that, tell him, he has information. Information from a friend. A friend in high places. He's been told. He knows."

"How should he know whether you are lying or not?" The clerk stammered.

"Well if he don't know, he'll soon know. Root Hog ain't no liar."

The clerk drummed his long fingers on the counter top. "Certainly Mister Neeley would have little or no interest in your... information and..."

Creed grabbed the clerk by his frilled silk cravat, pulled his head an inch from his own and glared into the man's eyes. He stroked the clerk's powdered hair, which was tied back in a fashionable queue. He tugged gently, then firmly on the queue to the point where the clerk whined from the pain.

"Now you hear me well, fancy city boy. If you look down, you'll see a tomahawk tucked in my belt. 'Side that's a pistol. You tell your boss man Root Hog been sent here by a friend who's risking his neck for the King. This friend, he needs get a message to Neeley. So you have him here or you will be a traitor to the King, and we reckon there is an open season on them."

Creed kneed the clerk in the groin and pushed him so hard he slammed against a shelf full of jars containing liquid chemicals of various types. The jars fell forward and rained glass and chemicals on the hapless man. As they departed, they could hear him crying. Creed turned sick to his stomach at the brutal charade. Killing men in combat was one thing, but hurting men, brutalizing them, to achieve even a just cause, he found much more difficult. But he realized the stakes were now too high to do otherwise.

The Liberty Arms was almost deserted. A group of sailors waiting to ship out that evening were well into their cups. Two well-dressed gentlemen sat quietly in the corner, finishing a meal. The tavern keeper, a cynical man named Stone, viewed them with justifiable suspicion. As a Whig and patriot, he knew his time was almost up. He had sent his family across the river to the village of Elizabeth Towne, in New Jersey. They would be safe there, for a while at least. Stone needed to stay until he could turn the tavern's operations over to someone who was neutral and would not be subjected to retribution. He placed one ham fist into another and cracked his big knuckles as Root Hog and his cowboys entered. The evening wind had begun to pick up from the south, blowing the door wide open and almost extinguishing a candle near the entrance.

"I will thank-you to close the door, gentlemen. Quickly please!"

Stone exaggerated "thank-you" and "gentlemen," and his tone was unpleasant, almost icy. He had years of experience with all kinds of riff raff and these cowboys looked like trouble.

"Beggin' your pardon, bar man," Creed answered politely, but not too politely. "Bring us each a tankard of ale."

"My name is Jonas Stone, not bar man."

"Then here ya go, Jonas." Creed slapped a coin onto the bar, and the tavern keeper swept it into his apron sleeve with a flourish, not taking his eyes off the cowboy leader. Then Stone poured the drafts. As he did, Creed changed his manner, although playing the ruffian. He had sized up the tavern keeper as a hard-boiled proprietor who would react better to a kinder line of discussion. The tavern keeper wiped the top of each gray pewter tankard with a large, flat knife, clearing the foamy head, and spilling the froth down the tankards' sides.

Creed suspected the knife was a warning to the cowboys to behave rather than an attempt at hospitality. "We will be on our way in no time, sure 'nuff. But we don't like the look of your placard out front, 'cause we stand for King and country."

The tavern keeper replied in a voice surly but even, and just polite enough. "That will change in good time. The placard that is."

Stone did not want to give these Loyalist thugs an excuse to rob him or destroy his property. Rumors of Loyalist vengeance were already spreading up and down the island. On Long Island there was little rape, theft, or destruction when the British came. But the Island of New York was a tinderbox of chaos. Angry and bitter Loyalists had reemerged to begin taking back what was once lost to the rebels.

Creed smiled devilishly. "That's a good thing, pardner. Tomorrow, if we come back, we want to see a more royal sounding name. Somethin' we can all be proud of, you know?"

Stone chortled. "Well, as a matter of fact, I have already painted a new placard. Drying out back. Come tomorrow we shall be the 'Royal Luck.' How does that suit you?"

Creed grinned again, his angular jaw made more distinctive by the darkness from his stubble and the coal rubbings. "Not me you have to suit, Jonas. We are Loyalist but not politicos. Watch out for them Tory boys though, they are hell bent for trouble."

Stone seemed amused. "You cowboys, not political?"

Creed slammed his hand on the bar. "We are loyal! But we're here on business. Money makin' business, not political. Looking to get a contract to buy horses up north and bring them down south. For the army, now. King pays hard currency, we hear. Root Hog Burns and his cowboys are businessmen, and that is all."

Creed spoke loudly, so the businessmen and sailors could hear as well. He wanted to establish firmly who they were and why they were in the city. The businessmen sniggered to each other, and then quickly turned away from the unruly gaggle at the bar. The sailors, in their state of inebriation, hardly noticed.

After an hour of banter, the cowboys left the tavern. They only consumed a single mug of ale each, but to the tavern keeper it seemed like a riotous revel. They made noise and boasted of nonsensical exploits against Indians, patriots, and other rival gangs.

* * *

Darkness had enveloped occupied New York. There was no moonlight and a light cover of clouds moved quickly across the low sky. A strong wind was blowing north from the lower New York harbor. People of all types still filled the streets and alleyways. Refugees had poured into the city from the north. Some came to extract advantage or revenge; others merely sought safety in the bosom of the British. Still others were trying to leave the city, sometimes with only the clothes on their backs. A few sailors and merchant seaman roamed the streets and alleys in search of drink and doxies. British soldiers and German mercenaries patrolled the streets looking for rebels and patriots. Others had taken leave, authorized or not, in search of the basest pleasures of the city, most of which were concentrated near the Holy Ground, the city's infamous red light district north of Saint Paul's Church and close to King's College. Root Hog and his band of cowboys blended right in with the mass of distressed and confused humanity that always seemed to show itself during times of crisis, disaster or war. The city of New York now faced all three of these calamities at once.

They pushed through the throng, trying to look like so many other refugees and displaced persons. Beall whispered to Creed, "Do you think your friend from the apothecary carried the message, Lieutenant, uh, I mean, Root Hog?"

Creed grinned. "Good question, Hammer Head. Suppose we'll soon have the answer."

"Could be a case of mistaken identity, Root Hog." Parker tried to play his role.

"Could be, Fish Head, but I am bettin' not. Only hand to play right now."

They worked their way up Broad Street until they reached the narrow east-west lane called Wall Street. A small British regimental band was playing at the square. The occupation plan called for maximum exposure of the British Army, and its music was meant to impress the locals. In great measure it worked. A small crowd had gathered around the band, which numbered no more than eight musicians. The band played a lively tune and everyone seemed pleased, except for Creed who spit on the ground unexpectedly.

Creed cried out, in his anger he reverted to his real voice. "Why, the scoundrels are playing 'The White Cockade'!"

"The what?" Beall asked.

"'Tis a Jacobite tune," Creed muttered, almost to himself. "How strange, to entertain vanquished rebels with the song of earlier rebels."

"What are Jacobites?" Beall asked.

"Supporters of King James and his son Bonny Prince Charlie. Butchered by the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden, in Scotland back in 1745, and ending the cause, although not the hope, of Scottish independence. So now, Scots regiments are at the forefront of ending American independence."

Parker anxiously interjected, "We get yer point, Root Hog, but we need to stick to business."

Creed smiled, pleased and amused that one of his men had the sense to cut him off and get his mind back on his new persona.

Still, the irony was not lost on Creed.

They turned west onto Wall Street, leaving the disturbing yet enchanting music to fade in the cacophony of the New York evening. It was completely dark when they arrived at the apothecary. The moon had not yet risen, and in the confusion of the day's events, the night watch had not made their usual rounds to light the street lanterns. A few homes and businesses emitted faint light from their shuttered windows. Other than that, all was shrouded darkness.

Creed spoke in a whisper. "Fish Belly, you and Little Colt best walk around the building and make sure we have no unwanted visitors. Then cover the entrance here. Hammer Head and I will go in and wait for our man, Neeley."

An hour later, Creed and Beall heard a key work furtively at the tumbler, finally unlocking the door of the apothecary shop. A figure obscured by the darkness of the room moved with an instinctive knowledge of its layout. He re-locked the door, then moved swiftly across the room and lit first one, then a second, and a third lamp. As the third went from spark to glow to light, Neeley looked up to see the menacing visage of Root Hog Burns.

"You Neeley?" Creed confronted the man with a grimace he hoped would awe the man to better control of the situation. Control was key.

"Who else would I be? And who wants to know?" Neeley's answer was cold, unimpassioned, and completely unimpressed by the strange figure confronting him. Creed was expecting a fat, soft burgher-type, but Neeley, although short, was muscular and robust, with a barrel chest and thick arms and legs. He wore a simple dark green surcoat with dun-colored breeches stained with various colors. Obviously, he worked without a smock or apron.

"Well, you ain't King George. You're too short. And a'hm Root Hog, Root Hog Burns, sent here by someone who moved from Brooklyn to this island."

Neeley seemed interested. "Why didn't he come see me himself, then?"

"Cause he's stranded some miles north of here. He can't get through rebel lines, so he asked me to come instead. Said you would know. Said you'd pay us too."

"He did, eh? How much does he have in mind?" Neeley asked, his face twisted in a suspicious glare.

"Needs five guineas," Creed replied calmly.

"Five guineas? Where the bloody hell does he get off demanding five guineas? Furthermore, I have no guarantee who he is or who you are."

"You callin' me a liar? I could get five guineas lot easier than riskin' my neck this way. He said tell you his friend was staying put. They like things where they are, least so far."

Creed had no idea what Washington's plans were, but he thought it likely he would move the army soon. So his subterfuge, although risky and unauthorized, seemed reasonable.

"So you say?" Neeley changed his demeanor. His face shook back and forth while his eyes narrowed to dark little slits. Then his voice softened just a bit. Creed knew he had him.

"Just did. Like I said, Root Hog's no liar."

"What else did he say? Your friend? Does he still have the book? Is anyone suspecting of this?"

Neeley's mouth closed. He realized his questions were already revealing more than these brutish backwoodsmen needed to know.

"He said I should give ya this." Creed handed him a sealed envelope. It was opaque and had no addressee. Creed had no idea what was in the note Fitzgerald provided him. They mutually agreed he should know only as much as Root Hog needed, in the event of capture and interrogation by the British or the Tories.

Neeley glowered, the shadow on his face giving him a menacing look. "Very well. Wait here."

Neeley exited through a door that led to a small back office. It was dark. He lit a candle, then a second. Creed could not see much but a small table and stacks of papers and shelves with more chemicals, both liquid and powder. Neeley fumbled through his pockets and removed a key. He unlocked the table's small drawer and removed a notebook. He cut open the envelope with trembling hands. Despite his bravado, he was new at this business and nervous. Slowly and deliberately he translated the five-line coded message. In response, he wrote out a short coded note, very carefully choosing his words, as he was transposing from the simple codebook. It was almost half an hour before he was finished. But Root Hog waited patiently.

Neeley emerged with two envelopes, also opaque. He cocked his head and squinted with one eye. "This should do it. Deliver both if you know what is good for you, Mister.Root Hog. Five guineas is a handy sum in these troubled times."

The apothecary eyed Root Hog with interest as much as suspicion. Perhaps these simple backwoodsmen do make for good couriers. They are unambiguous, straightforward, and not too curious. In this shadow world, that was a good thing.

* * *

They took a circuitous route back. Creed wanted to make sure Neeley did not have them followed. The encounter with the clerk might have given him cause for concern. Creed walked with Beall, who positioned himself to Creed's left. Both moved with a feigned swagger, deliberate, not too fast, but not too slow. They tried not to appear too hurried or anxious, just confident enough. The city's population was suspicious of everyone, but especially strangers. As cowboys they were feared. Therefore, most folks, even Tories, stayed away from them.

More people roamed the streets than earlier. There was rumor of a curfew. The authorities delayed a formal proclamation, enabling the British to arrest anyone should they decide to enforce it. So the main streets still had a good number of soldiers and sailors, some on duty, some off duty, all looking for whisky and women. Most of the taverns and coffee houses remained open, and the tumult of sounds emanating from within cut the windy night air.

Creed decided on their route back. "All right boys, let's make our way through the Holy Ground."

"Jorns used to speak of that," Parker said. "Do you know where it is, Root Hog?"

"Believe it's just north of Trinity Church. This way..."

Beall looked appalled. "Are you sure, Root Hog?"

Creed laughed. "Hammer Head, this Holy Ground is a good place for us. tonight. Someone following us will have a time of it there. And most folks there are Loyalist. We'll fit right in."

The Holy Ground was almost a city to itself. That night it was full of activity, with its alleys, taverns, and brothels densely packed by doxies who plied their trade to sailors, businessman, itinerants, and the occasional student from King's College. In a city that was mostly Loyalist, the denizens of the Holy Ground were decidedly so. Music and laughter filled the air. Curses of men and women and many a bawdy song, mostly off-key, clashed with the night wind.

Parker and Thomas walked some thirty paces to their rear and on the opposite side of the street from Creed and Beall. In the event of ambush, Parker and Thomas would come to their aid or in the worst case, make their escape and continue the mission. Parker's other task was to make sure they were not followed.

Creed spoke softly to Beall as they walked. "Once we double back and come around, we'll head north, just past the church. If anyone is following us, we're sure to lose them in the Holy Ground. Unfortunately, there will be no time for a benediction."

He smiled at the humor, which was lost on Beall, who, although Catholic, had little exposure to the practices of the faith. Growing up on the western frontier of Maryland, they were lucky to have a priest visit once every month or so.

Thomas suddenly emerged from the dark street behind them and tugged urgently at Creed's elbow. "Root Hog, we're being followed."

"How many?" Creed's eyes narrowed as he kept looking straight ahead.

"Least six men. m...maybe more," Thomas stammered.

"Don't look back, Hammer Head." Creed kept walking forward with his eyes ahead.

"How long?"

Thomas stammered, "P...Past five minutes. Thought they were just folks, at first. But they turned with us two times already."

Creed saw the fear in Thomas's eyes. These people would hang a young black man just for sport, and hang the rest of them for business. He steadied Thomas with a clap of the forearm. "Not to worry Little Colt, the advantage is ours."

Beall's eyes widened. "It is?"

Creed smiled grimly. "Yep, cause they don't know our next move."

Thomas looked reassured. In fact, Creed had no idea what he would do next. He decided to improvise. They kept moving along the street, trying to act casual as the group of men closed on them. Thomas remained with Creed.

"Where's Fish Belly?" Creed asked.

"He dropped back as soon as he saw us being followed. Ducked into a dark doorway, till they passed him."

"I'm sure he's following our pursuers discreetly," Beall said.

Creed nodded his head. "Good man, that Fish Belly. We'll turn here and head west, toward the North River. Maybe we can lose them among the warehouses and docks. If they confront us, Fish Belly's presence in their rear will add to their discomfort."

They turned west onto Stone Street, then north onto Lumber Street. Sure enough, the group, a bit noisier now, had closed the gap to twenty-five paces or so. Dropping any pretense at discretion, they tramped their feet in unison, making an eerie sound that sent a chill through Thomas and Beall. But Creed knew the tramping was meant to instill bravado in the stalkers as much as frighten the quarry.

"In here," Creed whispered, and he and his two companions suddenly darted left into an alley on Lumber. The alley was just a bit wider than a man's shoulders and its darkness offered the three of them little comfort.

The alley led to a courtyard, actually a small gravel-strewn quadrangle shared by several warehouses. The darkness numbed their senses. Creed and his companions moved along the wall to their left, their hands guiding them in the inky darkness in the hope of finding a door or window. As they felt their way along, they could hear the tread of their pursuers' hob-nailed shoes scraping along the gravel. Creed tried the first two doors, but they were bolted tight. He tried a window, but it was nailed shut from the inside. Finally, he found a third door, locked as well. Creed, desperate for a way out, pushed hard with his shoulder. The old lock snapped open with a screech.

Creed staggered forward with the broken latch in his hand and nearly fell on his face. Thomas and Beall pushed their way in behind him in a mad rush. Beall tried to close the door quietly, but he ended up slamming it, with the sound echoing through the dark alleyway like a thunderclap.

Creed muttered a last desperate command, "If they confront us, we'll meet them here. Empty your pistols first, then we take them with the tommyhawk."

Beall's annoyance with Creed's mispronouncing the word tomahawk went unnoticed in the darkness. Light suddenly painted the quadrangle. They could see their pursuers now standing in a gaggle. Several brandished torches, some had muskets slung across their backs. Their dark, flat shadows reached to the top of the warehouse walls and danced erratically in the torch light. There were six of them, but the silhouettes along the quadrangle wall made them appear like an army of ghouls.

Creed peered through a dirt-encrusted window. "They're in some sort of uniform, but as far as I can tell, they're not British or German."

The figures fanned out across the quadrangle, checking doors, windows, or for other escape venues. Creed strained his eyes for a way out of the warehouse, knowing they would be found in seconds.

"Root Hog, this place is full of wooden barrels that contain some sort of liquid," Beall whispered.

Creed smelled the aroma, a distinct and potentially deadly aroma-stacks and rows of tar, turpentine, and other naval stores.

"Stay away from the barrels. Check your flints. Once we fire, get at them quickly. This warehouse is full of spirits, very explosive. One spark will blow us all to heaven... or hell."

Creed's men each carried a pistol taken earlier from the British officers. Generally inaccurate at long range, at ten paces flintlock pistols were deadly. The heavy wooden door swung open, filling the room with a burst of light. Several men entered the room, each brandishing a torch. Creed and his men held their pistols steady as the six fanned out along the wall, less than ten paces from them.

Creed challenged them in a gravelly voice, "You boys been followin' us for some time now. Who are you?"

One of the men stepped forward, "Provisional New York Constabulary Militia, Mister Root Hog. You, sir, are under arrest."

The leader was a tall thin man with long, dark hair tied back in a queue.

"On what charge? We've done nothin'!" Creed knew these so-called provisional constabulary were little more than Loyalist vigilantes, no better than a gang. They were a city version of the skinners and cowboys that plied their trade between the armies. Just like their patriot counterparts, these were violent zealots. Most were hell-bent on vengeance and would just as soon kill any suspected patriots. In the torch light Creed could make out the face of the man standing next to the leader. He was short and squat, with a thick neck, broad shoulders, and a nose broken more than once.

Beall whispered to Creed, "Root Hog, that fat one is one of the businessmen from the Liberty Arms."

Creed nodded. "The tavern's name a ruse to draw patriots and Whigs so they could be identified and marked for reprisal."

"But we gave them no cause," Beall whispered.

"Don't matter. Strangers like us make an easy mark for those seeking the King's gold. This man is paid a bounty for victims and few questions are asked. I should have guessed as much."

This was happening throughout the city and up and down the Island of New York. The presence of the British Army provided such Loyalists the cover they needed to exact their brutal reprisals, settle old scores, or turn a profit.

The squat informer spoke before the group's leader could respond to Creed. "The charge is treason, of course."

"Now pardner, why would you think we's patriots? We's loyal subjects of King George. Who sez otherwise?"

The squat, ugly man chimed in again for the leader. "We care not a whit for your declarations, Root Hog. Nor your politics."

"Well good then, we will skeedadle back to..."

The tall leader cried out in a voice as deep and cold as an ice tunnel. "Enough! Around here, the Crown's men deal only with us. We control everything between King Street and the docks. Now, give up your weapons."

Rogues, criminals, were all these men really were. Not far different from the thugs in Frederick, Maryland whose brutal assault brought him into this war. Creed realized the men had no inkling of his mission. Their hate-filled and greed-besotted minds gave them no reason to fathom such things. They were going to be killed and brought in to the British as bounty. Creed felt some relief that the mission, and more importantly Emily, were not at risk.

"Root Hog recognizes no authority here but the King. Come back with a warrant, a magistrate, or his men."

There was laughter from the along the wall. Creed could see more torches light the quadrangle. There were more of the bastards, he thought.

"We need no warrant and we need no King's men. We have men enough to take all three of you!"

They were unaware of Parker lurking somewhere behind them, Creed realized. Well this bounty, if collected, would be hard earned.

Creed commanded with a firm voice, "Fire, now boys!"

The sound of flints striking firing pans, then the sizzle of sparks, and finally a muffled whoosh-bang echoed through the warehouse and into the quadrangle. Three balls of lead tore through the line of men. The leader went down first, clutching his breast, sinking to his knees, and staring at the blood staining his vest. The businessman with the broken nose took a round in the eye from Beall's pistol. Thomas's round went wide of its mark but hit a third man in the hand, causing him to drop his torch, which ignited the sawdust on the floor. The flames exploded along the floor and slowly but surely moved toward the barrels.

The other three stood along the wall, momentarily stunned as Creed and his men leapt over the barrels and cut into them with their tomahawks. Creed's blow split one man's skull down the middle. His dying eyes stared intently and widely as if to will this not to be happening. It happened. The remaining two bolted for the door. As they attempted to escape, more militia members forced their way in. The jumble of men now struggled with one another. Creed, joined by Beall and Thomas, hacked at them with their tomahawks. Two more collapsed with shoulders separated from their bodies. The remaining four thugs ran out into the quadrangle and tried to un-sling their muskets.

As they struggled with their weapons, Creed and his companions threw open the door and rushed them. They dropped their torches to the ground and frantically pulled the leather slings while grabbing at the hammerlocks to get them to fire. Creed and his men needed ten paces to reach them before they could discharge their muskets. Meanwhile, the flames from the militia torches began spreading along the wooden walls of the quadrangle.

Suddenly, one of the militiamen cried shrilly and bowled forward, his musket clattering to the ground. A second twisted and fell backwards, landing at Creed's feet and nearly tripping him. A third militiaman fired his musket, but the shot went high as he stumbled forward. He hit the ground with a hollow thud, his lungs gurgling up a pool of warm blood that went unnoticed in the chaos and the darkness. The last militiaman dropped his musket in an attempt to flee, but as he turned, he screamed at the demon before him. The last thing the thug saw was the grim face of Elias Parker wiping his blood from a large knife. In less than twenty seconds the stalwart Marylander had dispatched the last four of their assailants. Taking them from the rear was not noble warfare, but it was work necessary to their mission and their survival.

Creed whispered hoarsely as he pulled himself up from the ground, "Elias?"

"I was trailing them all the way, lieutenant. I just knew they were scoundrels out to get us."

In the dark, Creed could hear his panting. Killing four men with cold steel took nerves that few possessed. Few could have done so as quickly and efficiently as Elias Parker.

Creed recovered his composure once more. "Good work, Fish Belly. Now let's go. Each of you, take one of their muskets with some powder and ball. We might need em."

Creed barely finished his sentence when a muffled explosion rocked the warehouse. They looked back to see a fireball burst, and then wrap its fingers around the old building, engulfing it in a conflagration that spread to the dried-out wooden walls of the other warehouses near the docks.

"Fire mixed with spirits and dry wood. This is just the beginning, I fear. Tonight's wind and these wooden shanties will combine to make this an awful fire."

As Creed spoke, the heat of the fire ball reached them, and they could see the white-hot flames licking their way rapidly along the roofs of the warehouses like some primeval dragon's tongue. In a few minutes, the quadrangle would be engulfed. They ran back up the alley toward the street just as the secondary explosions of turpentine and pitch began hurling flaming pieces of barrels, wood planking, crates, and roofing skyward like a volcano. They paused for a moment and looked back in awe. None of them had ever witnessed such a fire. And for a moment they stood, mesmerized by the ever expanding fire spreading rapidly across the roofs of the quadrangle's other buildings.

In the glow from the flames Creed's men could see a wry smile cross his face. "Lads, it seems we have a nice diversion for our enterprise. No one should question our motives now, as we are escaping the flames of hell from a man-made Vesuvius - before they engulf the entire city..."

Creed and his men turned east, away from the storm of fire, and then turned north. To their surprise, the flames seemed to follow them, leaping across narrow lanes and burning through row after row of buildings. From buildings and alleys, crowds of refugees ran frantically to escape the living hell that had descended on them. Drums beat and bells rang as the British began to rally soldiers from their billets and sailors from the ships to fight the fire.

"Halt!" A sergeant shouted to them. "All able bodied men must assist."

"Not tonight pardner," Creed replied. "We have other business to attend."

"What? Arsonists! Seize them!"

A file of sleepy infantry surrounded Creed and his men.

"No, sir, we saw your arsonists, though. They wuz drinking and ran back to the Liberty Arms."

The British sergeant hesitated as he thought about Creed's story.

But Creed did not hesitate. He and his men formed a V and bludgeoned their way through the file of soldiers and made their way up Broadway, disappearing into the smoke. They did not get far before they saw a band of Loyalists in a rage. About thirty strong, they had tied up six patriots and in a chain of men began to toss their bound bodies into the flames.

"Noooo! Please, noooo!"

The first patriot was thrown into the flames. The crowd jeered and cheered. His screams grew shrill, but soon the intense crackling of the flames silenced him as they scorched him to death.

"Damn rebels! Feed the fire you started!" Someone shouted.

The crowd echoed the sentiment. "Evil rebel bastards! Meet the devil while you live!"

The next two were tossed, shrieking and screaming.

"Sir, we must stop this!" Jonathan Beall said.

Creed nodded. "Check your flints."

Moments later, Creed and his men unleashed a volley into the Loyalist crowd. Men dropped screaming and clutching as musket balls tore through flesh and bone.

"At them with the tommyhawk!" Creed ordered.

In minutes the band had dispersed, leaving three men dead and dying.

Parker cut the remaining three patriots free of their bonds. "Get out of here. Get your families out of this city if you value your lives."

The men needed no encouragement.

"Sir, we need to move the wounded Loyalists before the flames get to them," Beall said as a tongue of fire licked at them.

Suddenly, shots pierced the darkness.

"Stop! Arsonist!" A British voice exclaimed.

Creed looked at the bodies struggling in the flames and turned away. "Nothing we can do for them now. The lobsters are organizing. We need to keep moving or we'll be caught with the rest."

Footsteps and a line of British soldiers running up Broadway confirmed Creed's fears. The men moved north and west as fast as they could.

* * *

Fanned by blustery winds from the expansive bay to the south, the great New York fire spread quickly northwards from Whitehall Slip through the docks and warehouses along the North River. It took with it a large portion of the city west of Broadway. The flames engulfed hundreds of homes and shops, and completely scorched the Holy Ground. Trinity and Saint Paul's were not spared. British and Loyalist efforts to contain the fire had largely failed. The fire proved itself an enemy more devastating than the rebel army waiting expectantly on the Heights of Harlem. As the great conflagration erupted, anarchy spread across the city almost as quickly. Tory vigilante groups, in their thirst for vengeance, rounded up anyone deemed suspicious. Many they hung on the spot. In most cases these arsonists were looters; some, however, were political opponents and in a few cases simply men found in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Patriots and Whigs blamed the British occupiers for starting the fire, while the British and the Tories pointed at the Whigs or the agents of Mr. Washington. The fire provided both sides useful propaganda to agitate their followers.




The Cavalier Spy Copyright © 2015. S. W. O'Connell. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.




Author Bio

S. W. O'Connell holds degrees in History (Fordham University) and International Relations (University of southern California). He is a retired US Army intelligence officer who spent the majority of his service in the field of counterintelligence. Most of his time was spent overseas but he does admit to a tour in the Pentagon and a stint at the John F. Kennedy Center for Special Warfare at Fort Bragg.

A native New Yorker, S.W. O'Connell settled in northern Virginia when he returned from his last overseas tour. His long held love of history made it only natural that he would turn to the historical novel when he finally succumbed to a decades-long urge to craft fiction.

The Cavalier Spy is his second novel in the "Yankee Doodle Spies" series.

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The Cavalier Spy is a finalist in the War & Military category for the Foreword Reviews 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.








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