Author Recalls Brave ‘Maryland 400’ In New Book
2/15/2019, 6 a.m.
A few years ago, Baltimore author Chris Formant happened upon an announcement in a local newspaper describing a ceremony that was taking place in Brooklyn, New York, to honor the Maryland 400, the Revolutionary War regiment that fought in the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776. Now, Formant has written “Saving Washington: The Forgotten Story of the Maryland 400 and the Battle of Brooklyn.”
The 320-page historical tome that weaves in literature and fiction reveals that the soldiers were untested in battle, many only teenagers. However, by the end of the vicious and bloody Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, 1776, the Maryland 400 would turn the tide of the Revolutionary War and ensure the birth of a new nation.
After reading the newspaper clipping, Formant recalled that he went to Brooklyn so that he could find out more about the lives of those soldiers whom historians said were vastly outnumbered and who suffered heavy losses in the first and biggest battle of the war as they tried to hold off the British while Gen. George Washington’s army regrouped.
“I had never heard of them before,” said Formant, who also authored “Bright Midnight,” a book that one reviewer said weaves Formant’s vast knowledge of rock history in with “a page turning thriller” to provide his version of the deaths of legendary rock stars like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.
“This book wasn’t something that I planned on doing but I immediately googled the Maryland 400 and there was very little information about them,” Formant said.
After he discovered more details, Formant said the little-known military engagement, and the citizen soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, counted as the inspiration for his novel.
“Saving Washington” follows two young merchants-in-training, Joshua Bolton, who swears to avenge his father’s murder by British forces, and his best friend, Benjamin Wright, a free black man. Enlisted in the Maryland militia as part of the Maryland 400, they marched to New York with only minimal training.
“Their mission: to prevent the British from taking Brooklyn Heights, which will turn into a battle for the survival of the Continental Army and General George Washington,” Formant writes.
The book’s publisher notes that the novel seamlessly blends real-life historical figures and events with colorful, richly developed fictional characters and crisp dialogue in a time of unknown loyalties, intrigue, spies, romance and betrayal, friendship and comradeship, survival and sacrifice.
Transported back in time to the docks of Baltimore and the muddy carnage of the battlefield, the publisher says the book counts as an enthralling opportunity to be an eyewitness to the dawn of the United States of America.
“Four hundred citizen soldiers from Maryland— bravely stood up to a superior British Army in order to allow George Washington and the Continental Army time to escape,” Formant said. “It was a true suicide mission, only six weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that saved the young country and its revolution. They were America’s 300 Spartans.”