When you read history (or in this case, historical fiction), you often learn something unexpected, and in The Fort, something not very pleasant about our country’s beginnings Cornwell unveils the virtually unknown military disaster of 1779, when a large force of American revolutionaries tries to dislodge a newly established British encampment on the coast of colonial Massachusetts (future Maine) It is not surprising that this battle has not been covered I can only shake my head and wonder how we beat the superpower of the day with such incompetence displayed here The book is not one of Cornwell’s most gripping stories There are only a few characters that are interesting or appealing but he does confine himself to using real historical characters in most of the story What slapped me upside the head was the portrayal of Paul Revere, he of the “midnight ride” The Paul Revere in this story is not the one most Americans are going to recognize He is not a hero in the only military operation he took part in He is not even just a regular guy, he is just shy of despicable…and maybe not even that good The American commander, Gen Lovell, is far out of his depth and he is a politician who schemes for glory back home rather than leading in battle There are a couple of interesting American soldiers and the British commander and one of his lieutenants, John Moore, are treated well John Moore will go on to have a famous and tragicallyended career in the British Army I used to hold Massachusetts and its citizens in highest esteem as the feisty leaders in our fight for freedom (only lamenting their descent into wimpy whiners as a modern devolution) This story, granted by a British author, shows a less admirable view of the state I’m giving the book 3 Stars for bringing a chapter of the Revolutionary War to light. Charles van BurenTOP 1000 REVIEWER5.0 out of 5 starsexcellent, history filled Bernard Cornwell novelMarch 8, 2019Format: Kindle EditionThis novel is based on a military action in what was then a part of Massachusetts but is now Maine The Penobscot expedition is not one of the better known battles of the American War of Independence Possibly because it was a major defeat and for many decades, the worst U.S naval defeat.Cornwell usually does his research and I noticed no glaring historical inaccuracies So This novel offers some interesting insights into Paul Revere beyond just his seeming inability to get along with people As with most Cornwell books, this one is well written with action and excellent character development There is, perhaps, a bithistory in this one than is usual.I received a copy of this novel as a gift. In Britain we had a brilliant cunning plan we shipped out convicts to Australia and our religious nutcases over to the newly discovered America In retrospect we are well aware that we should have left these two groups at home and shipped ourselves out to the paradise of Australia and the land of plenty that was America But I digress, let's roll forward to the point where America tired of British rule, British Kings and,importantly, British taxes Obviously an unreasonable attitude but the War of Independence was their way of kicking us out and this novel, based on fact, is set during that war Some spoilers here, but I'm not sure if they count in a factual novel In 1779 a force of Scottish infantry with limited support from the Royal Navy was ordered to hold a key peninsula in Maine (called Majabigwaduce) while the Americans were equally determined to take it back British author Cornwell tries very hard to be objective and portray both sides in this conflict with balance He obviously discovered an piece of American history that was not well known and decided to base a novel on it, partly because of the historical interest, but also because some key historical figures were involved, John Moore (later to become one of Britain's finest soldiers and leaders) and American Paul Revere (made famous by Longfellow's famous poem which gives him farcredit then he was actually due) There is no doubt that this is an interesting book, but here Cornwell has taken an event and placed his story in it, he normally takes characters like Sharpe with distinct personality and then places them in historical events It doesn't work like the Sharpe stories for this very reason as his main characters here were real and that does not allow him much to play with The Scots were inexperienced troops but had experienced and inspirational leadership and were regular soldiers who did this for a living There was joint strategy and effective communication with the Royal Navy but the position was still very weak Enter the Americans withtroops and a superior naval force, but with conflicting leadership and poor communications From Cornwell's telling the American troops varied from experienced and brave marines to conscripts and volunteers who really wanted to be farming, not fighting With naval and land commanders not agreeing on any strategy they delayed for so long that the Royal Navy turned up to reenforce the garrison and the Americans decided to retreat This was not from cowardice but, given that they no longer had the upper hand, was probably the best thing to do given the situation and that they had delayed for so long Having said that, they had the chance to regroup where the river narrowed but once again poor leadership meant that they didn't do so, and as a result the fleet was destroyed by their own hands or by the British in the biggest American naval disaster prior to Pearl Harbor Of most interest was probably Paul Revere who comes over very poorly here, lazy arrogant and self serving we Brits have hardly ever heard of him, but it may be hard for Americans to see a historical icon painted in a different light So this is an interesting book, but not a real page turner, it lacks tension because you know the outcome before you turn the first page Cornwell has shed light on a small but important bit of history but fails to make it into an enthralling read. This is not the usual Cornwell book in that there was no one central hero However, after battling through the quite slow (but necessary) first quarter of the book, I really started loving it Especially the introduction os Lt John Moore Growing up my great aunt would often read me my fav poem about the Scottish hero:THE BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE AFTER CORUNNAby: Charles Wolfe (17911823)Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,As his corse to the rampart we hurried;Not a soldier discharged his farewell shotO'er the grave where our hero we buried We buried him darkly at dead of night,The sods with our bayonets turning,By the struggling moonbeam's misty lightAnd the lanthorn dimly burning No useless coffin enclosed his breast,Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;But he lay like a warrior taking his restWith his martial cloak around him Few and short were the prayers we said,And we spoke not a word of sorrow;But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,And we bitterly thought of the morrow We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bedAnd smooth'd down his lonely pillow,That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,And we far away on the billow! Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,And o'er his cold ashes upbraid himBut little he'll reck, if they let him sleep onIn the grave where a Briton has laid him But half of our heavy task was doneWhen the clock struck the hour for retiring;And we heard the distant and random gunThe the foe was sullenly firing Slowly and sadly we laid him down,From the field of his fame fresh and gory;We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,But we left him alone with his glory. MINI REVIEW: This smoothly written book covers the mostly unknown Penobscot Expedition of the American Revolution According to some historians it was the worst naval war blunder since Pearl Harbor Paul Revere is shown to be an arrogant incompetent suffering court martial after the failed attempt against the British (but he appealed it under peculiar circumstances later); prickly Commodore Saltonsall is the fall guy in an attempt to have the other states cover the costs and General Peleg Wadsworth may be the only true hero of the upper echelon's land commanders WHEN READ: September to November 2010; CHARACTERS: A minus; STORY/PLOT POINTS: A minus; OVERALL GRADE: B plus to A minus. The Fort is Cornwell's look at the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 The British Secretary of State for the Colonies Lord George Germain, the 1st Viscount Sackville, and his UnderSecretary, William Knox, were responsible for the war effort and wanted to establish a base on the coast of the District of Maine (which until achieving statehood in 1820 was a part of Massachusetts) that could be used to protect Nova Scotia's shipping and communities from American privateers and raiders.The Massachusett's Congress decided to send a Massachusett's Militia force, backed by 44 ships from American privateers and the Continental Navy, to Penobscot to drive away the British What follows is a tragic comedy showing why militia forces are a joke A study of the military history of the Revolutionary war shows the relative ineffectiveness of militia forces, time and again The best of the militia leave to join the Continental Army, the dregs and detritus stay in the militia This will be patently obvious to anyone reading this As is the marked difference in quality, discipline and martial prowess of the Continental Marines comparative to the militia halfwits.I will not ruin the story for you, though it's history and not really a surprise Still, it is worth reading An exciting battle between the British and the American rebel forces It is rather tragic, from an American side, to see the sheer idiocy and amateurishness of the socalled leaders of this mess General Lovell comes under a pall of incompetence, and rightly so, while Cornwell does try to explain why Commodore Saltonstall of the Navy didn't bring his forces forwards The lack of combined arms is laughable All Americans should thank God for the Continental Army and Marines (plus a nod of appreciation for the Prussian von Steuben for teaching the Continental forces Prussian drill) for if the Revolutionary War were left to the militias and civiliansthen we'd be drinking tea, eating fish and chips and worrying about Brexit.Well written, interesting and highlighting a relatively obscure conflict zone Cornwell writes another excellent historical fiction Highly recommended to anyone who likes a great story or loves historical fiction. Disappointing An OK read but expected better from Cornell especially given the time period First Cornell book that I've not enjoyed. Summer : a British force of fewer than , Scottish infantry were sent to build a garrison in the state of Maine But Massachusetts was determined to expel the British, and they sent a fleet to 'captivate, kill and destroy' the enemy Told from both sides of the battle, this story features real figures from history The Fort is the story of a very little known conflict during the Revolutionary War The battle took place in Upper New England at Penobscot Bay The battle took place on both land and sea, but is best known as the greatest naval disaster in American History prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.The English, in an attempt to establish a base of operation, sent a small expeditionary force of both men and ships to build a fort and naval base The force consisted of less than a thousand soldiers and three small sloops.The State of Massachusetts sent a fleet of over forty vessels and about the same number of soldiers as the English The were to captivate, kill, or destroy the English invaders The American Patriots should have easily overcome the English garrison but the two ranking American officers, Commodore Dudley Saltonstall and BrigadierGeneral Solomon Lovell, were at odds with each other in how to conduct the battle The indecision, ineptitude, and irresolution of these two men led to the defeat of the Patriots.One of the main characters of the book, Paul Revere, a man revered (sorry for the play on words) in American History is shown to be anything but a hero Altough he did ride to warn of the British invasion, he was put a small player on a larger stage His claim to fame was due to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere The poem was to instill patriotism during the Civil War; not an accurate telling of an historical event, in fact, Revere never finished his mission.At the end of the book, Cornwell details the lives of the main characters after the battle Some went on to greater things, while others suffered for their actions, or inactions as it may be.Paul Revere faced courtmartial for cowardice and disobedience Commodore Saltonstall was courtmartialed and relieved of his command.Bernard Cornwell, once again, proves that he may well be the best writer of historical fiction Although written as fiction, I would dare say that most of this book is factual history. Bernard Cornwell is widely known as Britain's storyteller The Sharpe novels, the Grail Quest trilogy, Stonehenge, the Warlord Chronicles, and the Saxon Tales are all steeped in the legends and lore of Britain and western Europe True, with the Starbuck novels and Redcoat Cornwell has written a bit about America, but in general his prolific pen has focused on matters on the east side of the pond.With The Fort, his latest novel, Cornwell balances the score a bit The Fort focuses on the illfated Penobscot expedition where an overwhelming Continental force combining naval, infantry, and artillery forces on a grand scale completely failed in its objective to oust a small British force from its spot at the mouth of the Penobscot River in what is now Maine This is a painful novel for Americans to read, as in addition to the military defeat our forces suffered, Cornwell also uncovers a longforgotten tale the story of the cowardice of Paul Revere.Yes that Paul Revere the guy in the poem It turns out that in reality, the only time Paul Revere faced the British in arms he was a complete skunk As an officer leading the American artillery, Revere neither knew his business nor led his forces with anything approaching dispatch, initiative, bravery, or duty Instead, in a welldocumented event, Revere actually fled on a barge to preserve his personal baggage rather than save American sailors from capture by a British ship When you add this to his utter incompetence as an artillery officer who wasconcerned with a hot breakfast than hot cannon, you get one damning indictment of an American hero.All in all, this expedition was marred by bad luck and appalling leadership Cornwell spreads the blame around the infantry commander Lovell and the naval commander Saltonstall also disgrace themselves on numerous occasions Choose your poison, and the Continental leaders and soldiers from it: indecision, pride, sloth, a failure to read terrain or the enemy, and an embarrassing unwillingness to fight Combine those failings with poor communication and you've got an incompetent army.Cornwell illustrates these failings as only he can excellent characterizations of real historical figures combined with bloody action scenes The Fort may not be Cornwell's greatest book, but there's too much competition for that title anyway This is a thrilling, exasperating book about a tale that should be wellknown, and not just by military historians Check it out.