Shadow Patriots

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In July of 1776, the American colonies are ablaze with passion. In the streets, those who would be free boldly read aloud the newly written Declaration of Independence. It is a cry of freedom, but it is also a time of critical confrontation, both on the battlefield and off as the people of a new nation choose between their king and an uncertain future.

It is a choice which is not easily made. As Commander-in-chief George Washington declares a major victory in New York, the rest ...

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Shadow Patriots: A Novel of the Revolution

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In July of 1776, the American colonies are ablaze with passion. In the streets, those who would be free boldly read aloud the newly written Declaration of Independence. It is a cry of freedom, but it is also a time of critical confrontation, both on the battlefield and off as the people of a new nation choose between their king and an uncertain future.

It is a choice which is not easily made. As Commander-in-chief George Washington declares a major victory in New York, the rest of the colonies separate into Patriots and Tories. Kate Darby never expected to be swept up in this political storm. The Darbys are Quakers who have pledged their allegiance to God first—but that soon changes. Kate's younger brother, Seth, can no longer deny his soul's cry against tyranny. Fleeing from his Loyalist parents' house to join General Washington's ragtag forces, Seth enters a life he never expected.

With the influx of British soldiers, Philadelphia soon becomes a temporary base camp for the English forces. When the Darbys find themselves forced to take in Major Jonathan Andre, Kate falls quickly for his charm.

Despite her warring affections, Kate finds herself drawn deep into the war. As she attempts to follow her brother, she risks her life and her family's reputation by becoming a spy for the patriot forces, a role which quickly transforms the once-timid Quaker girl. With a world of danger and political upheaval thrown before them, Kate and Seth face incredible danger in the hopes of shaping one of the single most important events in American history: the war for freedom.

Told with historical accuracy and incredible attention to period detail, Shadow Patriots recreates America at its youngest and describes with vivid intensity the men and women who bravely did their part to deliver it from tyranny.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There are so many ways to love this book: for its rollicking view of the American revolution, for the intrigue of spies in petticoats, for the lure of the period, or for Robson's spicy humor. Shadow Patriots is historical fiction that lets you smell the corn cakes in the oven as the muskets are loaded."—Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary to Presidents Reagan and Bush and bestselling author of Call the Briefing and Esther's Pillow on Shadow Patriots

"Shadow Patriots takes the reader into a little explored side of the American Revolution: how women felt about it and what they did as the war tore thier lives apart. Lucia S. Clair-Robson has written a superb book that may break up your heart in places but will give you a new understanding of the struggle that created out nation."—Thomas Fleming, bestselling author of Dreams of Glory on Shadow Patriots

Kirkus Reviews
Petticoat espionage in a decidedly stinky, dangerous Old New York. Few novelists working now have a better grasp of early American history than Robson (Fearless, 1998, etc.), who, among her other virtues, understands that not every colonist talked like a pirate and shuns outre and anachronistic dialect. In this spirited-and quite entertaining-confection, she turns her attention to a Quaker clan in a New York whose administration isn't quite working at the dawn of the Revolution, with all the mounds of uncollected garbage that entails. The likes of General Howe and suave spy Major Andre wish very much to see royal governance restored, and Rob Townsend hasn't been doing much to stop them; he "had watched the Continental Army straggle into the city four months ago, but this was not his fight. He was a Quaker, and he swore loyalty to no one but God." Hearing the Declaration of Independence proclaimed changes Rob's mind, and fellow Quaker Seth Darby and his 17-year-old sister Kate likewise opt for the rebel cause, all prepared to give their lives just as good Nathan Hale is about to do. Rob has a thing for Kate ("He clasped his hands behind his back so she would not see him trembling"). So does Major Andre, and Kate has, well, reciprocal views: "He did have the most beautiful teeth and eyes. Kate felt the usual flutter in her chest whenever he was near." Even Benedict Arnold, Andre's onetime bete noire and ally-to-be, notices Kate, and he's got his hands full with the tenacious Peggy Shippen, a figure nicely drafted out of real history to do duty here. Chests heave, flintlocks discharge, and history takes its ever unpredictable twists and turns as spy meets spy, George Washington tells fibsthat would make Parson Weems wince, Alex Hamilton takes offense at everyone and everything and the Revolution suffers its darkest hours. Wholly believable, confidently realized, attention-holding historical fiction.
Palm Beach Post
Historical fiction as it ought to be written and seldom is.
The Tampa Tribune
Robson proves herself a dedicated historian and strong storyteller.
The Roanoke Times
Historical fiction of the best kind… This masterfully drawn, historical backdrop moves a great and moving love story.
Former Presidential Press Secretary and bestselling author of Esther's Pillow - Marlin Fitzwater
Shadow Patriots is historical fiction that lets you smell the corn cakes in the oven as the muskets are loaded.
bestselling author of Dreams of Glory - Thomas Fleming
Shadow Patriots gives you a new understanding of the struggle that created out nation.
bestselling author of Philippa - Beatrice Small
A gritty, yet tender story of everyday people caught up in extraordinary times.
bestselling author of Storms of Destiny - A. C. Crispin
With meticulous historical research and vivid, fascinating characters, this book is a feast for anyone who loves history.
bestselling author of Sign Talker - James Alexander Thom
With her usual genius Robson reveals one of the most important but little-known aspects of the American Revolution.
Morgan Llywelyn
"Robson has thoroughly immersed herself in Revolutionary America in order to present us with a picture as vivid as today's news. The result is historical fiction of a high order."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765379252
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 526,536
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lucia St. Clair Robson was born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in South Florida. She has been a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela and a teacher in Brooklyn, New York. She has also lived in Japan, South Carolina and southern Arizona. After earning her master's degree in Library Science at Florida State University, she worked as a public librarian in Annapolis, Maryland. She lives near Annapolis in a wooded community on the Severn River. The Western Writers of America awarded her first book, Ride the Wind, the Golden Spur for best historical western of 1982 and it also made the New York Times Best Seller List.

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Read an Excerpt

Shadow Patriots


Wherein Robert Townsend sees more than he cares to; a tailor named Hercules spills the peas





AS THE WOMAN WRESTLED HER VAST HAT BRIM, TOWERING wig, and seven yards of hoopskirt out of the carriage, Robert Townsend saw the calamity coming. He should have shouted a warning, but he couldn't believe the goat would maintain a collision course on the crowded street. The wooden soles of the woman's high clogs reached the cobblestones. She gave her hoop a swing to one side, like a flagship dipping its colors upon arriving at anchor.

With perfect timing the goat ran under the lifted section of skirt and caught his horns on the hoop. The maiden screamed. The goat bleated. Passersby stopped to gawk.

The more she tried to shake him out of her clothes, the more his horns tangled in the folds of the velvet, and the greater the number of people cheering him on. She tottered on her high shoes, then toppled backward. Her skirt and petticoats, held aloft by the hoop, formed an arch above her. To no one's surprise and everyone's amusement, she wore nothing underneath. Rob was probably the only one embarrassed by the view. He turned away and headed for the dockside tailor shop of his friend Hercules Mulligan.

June of 1776 had settled like kettle steam on New York City. The stagnant sewers in the middle of the narrow streets demanded cat-agile footwork, knee-high boots, and an inferior sense of smell. Loose cobblestones made the streets even more treacherous. Benjamin Franklin said it best: "You can always tell a New Yorker by his gait, like a parrot on a mahogany table."

The city fathers had persuaded New Yorkers to dump their garbage into the streets instead of leaving it to fester in their dooryards and cellars. The theory was that what the pigs, chickens, goats, dogs, cats, rats, and crows didn't eat, the rains would wash into the Hudson and the East River for the outgoing tide to transport. That was the theory. In practice, servants dumped more slop in the streets than the animals could eat. The rain washed more of it into the rivers than they could carry out to sea. Much of the garbage ended up here at the lowest end of Manhattan Island. The mixture formed a scum-covered swamp around the maze of wharves jutting into the East River. In exile aboard one of the five British ships anchored offshore, Governor Tryon could smell the city as well as see it.

Rob Townsend had watched the Continental Army straggle into the city four months ago, but this was not his fight. He was a Quaker, and he swore loyalty to no one but God. As purchasing agent for his father's store on Long Island, Rob continued to go to the docks every day.

Before the rebel army arrived, most of those loyal to King George had begged, borrowed, or stolen every vehicle they could find. Horses and hand carts disappeared under trunks and sacks, spinets, mattresses, and the portraits of ancestors staring morosely from sumptuous gilt frames. Thousands had fled north up the Post Road, crossed the Harlem River over King's Bridge, and scattered into Connecticut. Others had loaded skiffs to the foundering point and rowed across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Many had crowded onto the ferry going to the hamlet of Brooklyn and dispersed into the Long Island countryside.

The loyalists who stayed behind pretended to side withthe rebels. If they were good at deception they avoided having the Sons of Liberty ride them around town on a fence rail that rendered their testicles unserviceable. People might be uncertain about which side of the political fence rail they preferred, but no one wanted to straddle it. New Yorkers had become adept at spying and lying, informing, avenging, and dissembling.

The city took on the look of a garrison town. Drums rattled the window panes. Soldiers crowded the narrow streets. Wagons, caissons, and artillery carriages loosened the cobblestones that had held firm thus far.

The first to venture back into business were the strumpets in the district known as the Holy Ground near St. Paul's Chapel. Taverns and gaming houses multiplied. Shopkeepers took the shutters off their windows and trebled their prices.

During the day the docks teemed with stevedores unloading supplies and ammunition. At night sloops and catboats ghosted out of New York's creeks and coves and smuggled provisions to the five British ships anchored out of artillery range. With oars muffled, British sailors came ashore looking for love and a tailor. They carried parcels and messages for Rob's friend, Hercules Mulligan. The word among them was that in a city of traitors, ingrates, rogues, roughs, and rebels, Hercules Mulligan remained loyal to the king. The parcels contained uniforms. The messages listed body measurements. No man wanted to fight a war in badly fitting breeches.

Hercules Mulligan's parents knew what they were doing when they named him. He stood taller than a pie safe, and almost as wide. His round face ended in a square chin that curved out like the butt of a carpenter's adz. He looked as though he should be felling oaks or carrying bales up a gangplank. Instead, with a bristle of pins in his mouth and the basting needle lost among the rugged promontories of his fingers, he circled the mayor of New York and the coat he was altering.

Mulligan always gave Mayor David Matthews wide seams because he knew he would be letting them out soon.Matthews liked to rub his paunch and announce that he was expanding his horizon. Mulligan wondered when the mayor had last seen his own feet, hidden below his equator like two sloops in the southern latitudes.

Mayor Matthews flinched when a pin stuck him. "I say, my good fellow, have a care."

"Beggin' your pardon, squire." Mulligan was deft at his craft, but now and then he liked to jab Matthews. He said he wanted to deflate him a little.

Rivulets of sweat, whitened by the flour used to powder Matthews's horsehair wig, ran down the sides of his face. The mayor lowered his voice to share a confidence.

"I hear that Mr. Washington has fathered a brat on his washerwoman's daughter."

Mulligan mumbled around the pins. "Has he now?"

"Yes. And I have it from reliable sources that he is in such reduced circumstances he has sold his brass buttons and must hold his trousers up with twine, like one of his darkies back in Virginia."

"The rebel army reminds me of a bird a gentleman killed." Mulligan's brogue grew more pronounced whenever he told a story. "His sarvant looked the bird up and down and said, 'By my soul, darlin', it was not worth the powder and shot, for the dear little thing would have died in the fall.'" He topped off the mayor's glass of whiskey.

Mayor Matthews laughed so hard that flour drifted from his wig onto his sloping shoulders. He had downed a lot of whiskey. If Mulligan had held up a candle, the mayor's breath would have set his own nose hair on fire.

"My good fellow, we shall need neither powder nor shot to bring down a certain treasonous bird."

"Will it be done with a snare then, your honor?"

"A snare, yes, indeed." He snorted merrily. "Our agents have bought several of Washington's own guardsmen. They were quick to accept the offer. The lads have not been paid since spring."

"Money is like muck," Hercules observed. "Not good except it be spread around."

"I myself was rowed out in the dead of night to see Governor Tryon, and he gave me the sum of one hundred pounds sterling to bribe them."

Mulligan wondered how much of that money Matthews had pocketed. He decided to overcharge him more than usual.

"So Washington's own life guards will kidnap him?"

"That's what they think. We told them that Lord Howe wants him captured so he can stand trial for treason." The mayor lowered his voice. "But he's slippery, he is. He could slip the noose. With the guards in our pay, a loyalist in the household could season his favorite dish with rat poison."

"What is his favorite dish?"

"Peas and lettuce stewed in butter and garnished with ham. The cook always serves him peas on Sunday."

The sun was squatting atop the city's westernmost roofs when the mayor held his glass aloft in a toast to King George and Sir William Howe, the king's commander in chief in the colonies. He hugged Mulligan, tears spangling his bulging blueberry eyes. The sweat and flour had dried like delta mud in the creases radiating out from them.

With his wig riding low on his forehead Matthews set a zigzag course for the door, as though tacking into a headwind.

"Pease porridge hot," he warbled as he tottered off down the crowded street. "Pease porridge cold. Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old."

Hercules went to the door hoping to witness Matthews break an ankle on the cobblestones. Instead he saw Rob approaching.

Rob followed Hercules inside. "The shipment of shagreen and baise arrived."

Hercules surveyed Rob's rumpled coat, with broad tails that reached the tarnished buttons at the knees of his faded brown breeches. His chestnut hair was unpowdered, pulled back, and tied with a string.

"Those Quaker duds are the color of mud, lad. Why do you not commission me to fashion you a bang-up costume from that shagreen?"

Rob shrugged. They had had this conversation before. "Ithink the cloth will be snapped up soon. I myself have bespoken six bolts."

"I shall call on the ship's captain tomorrow." Hercules tucked a pewter whiskey flask into the waist of his breeches. He put his tinderbox in his old wide-brimmed felt hat and settled it like a bird on the nest of his red hair. "I'm going to look for Alex at the Drunken Duck. Will you be coming along?"

"You do not need a flask and a tinderbox to drink at the Duck. You must be off on a piece of business."

Hercules raised a conspiratorial eyebrow, an invitation to join him.

Rob shook his head. "I will not entangle myself in your adventures."

"Ah yes. Those Quaker scruples." Hercules picked up a lantern, sauntered out after Rob, and locked the door behind him.

Rob set off for his lodgings nearby, and Hercules headed for Broad Way. He wished he had heard of the plot earlier. General Washington and his big white horse had visited the neighborhood this morning. Crowds had followed, eager for a glimpse of him. People had thrown flowers from the windows instead of the usual chamber pot contents.

Washington was taller than Mulligan, six feet three inches at least. He wore a buff-and-blue coat with gold epaulettes, a red waistcoat, and buckskin breeches that fit him as snug as chamois gloves on a card sharp. The general had tipped his tricorn hat to the cheering throng like a king on a royal progress.

Mulligan wasn't surprised that Washington had come here to shop. New York artisans made everything, from silk hose to soup tureens, and the general seemed determined to leave nothing for other customers. The shop boys loaded the general's wagon with army tents and camp stools. Servants staggered under packages of crockery, glassware, linens, bolts of cloth, and sewing notions for Mrs. Washington. So much for the rumor about the American commander in chief selling his trouser buttons to make ends meet.

Mulligan knew what was in the general's parcels because he made it his business to know everything that went on in town. Information passed along to the right people earned him an extra guinea now and then. He also knew where he would find the general. He and Mrs. Washington had taken up residence in the vacated country house of a loyalist. It was three miles north, in the wilds of the rural village of Greenwich. Once Hercules passed Chambers Street he would follow the narrow track among fields, streams, ponds, bogs, hills, forested ravines, and limestone outcrops. He could save himself the trip if he found his good friend and the general's favorite aide, Captain Alexander Hamilton.

The sun was setting behind the shops and three-story townhouses when Mulligan walked up Broad Way, climbing over the barricades the rebels had thrown up. Soldiers had moved into the mansions abandoned by their Tory owners. Mayor Matthews called General Washington's army "the dirtiest people on the continent." For once the mayor was right. They propped their mud-caked boots on the velvet sofas, and chopped up the oak paneling and mahogany banisters for their cook fires.

"'Od's ballocks! Leave off, you bottle-arsed rascal."

Mulligan heard Man-O-War Nance before he rounded a corner and saw the scuffle. The officer of the day and his detachment were trying to quell the disorder. New York's flocks of prostitutes had flourished with the arrival of the soldiers. New England's Puritan sons seemed particularly eager to make up for lost time when it came to wanton women and whiskey.

"Damn your blood." The big blonde balked as the captain prodded her along with his musket. She spotted Mulligan. "Hercules, me darlin', tell this brute that I am yer own dearly beloved, and no whore at all."

Mulligan grinned. "I ne'er laid peeps on the trull before."

"May God strike ye for a liar, ye shitten rogue." Nance pried a cobblestone from the street and heaved it at him.

Mulligan blew her a kiss. The soldiers herded the womenacross the weed-grown common toward the provost prison. Mulligan turned left onto Beekman Street and headed for the Drunken Duck.

Alexander Hamilton had lived with Hercules's family before British regulars and the highly irregular American militiamen took potshots at each other at Lexington a year ago. Hercules knew where he would most likely find Alex.

Alex Hamilton said that so many bastards drank at the Drunken Duck they did not mind one more. He said it with a West Indies lilt, and a smile that did not extend north of his mouth. He knew about the sly asides and the slanderous jests concerning his mother.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucia St. Clair Robson

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 4, 2013

    This book takes a look at the history you don't find in the mode

    This book takes a look at the history you don't find in the modern classroom. It focuses on those marginal characters, the ones not spoken about in history books but in vague and amorphous ways, because they are between the fences per-say. Like the Quakers during the Revolutionary war had a hard time of it to say things lightly. Their religious beliefs did not allow the to take park in armed warfare. If they choose a side any side they would be read out of the church. Kate and her family are caught between the warring factions hated by both sides taken advantaged by both sides. Their home quartering Loyalist troops at gun point. Her younger brother run off to join the rebels. Both her father and brother read out of the church. Their house burned, they are threatened by both sides constantly as Kate wanders between her father and her brother, just trying to keep the family together and alive. Her father leaves to attempt to salvage his business leaving Kate in the cesspool of the burned aftermath of New York. Her brothers capture allows the writer to express the contemptible circumstances of prisoners of war, and the personal devastation of the individual because of the war. Two things that stand out, are the chapter headlines, which have taken a lot of consideration by me personally.  I love how they elude to what is happening in the chapter, even though your personal predictions never match the events until you look back at the chapter... Kinda like history, you never get to the point until its all said and done. The second consideration is who 355 is, the historical adoration known only in history as the lady. I love the thought of trying to find who she was and what she meant to history, and the people who made it... All the better for the book...

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer


    Historically accurate story of a female spy for the American cause. Later caught and hung by the British general Clinton, spy #355, is a believable, sympathetic character.

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  • Posted August 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lucia St Clair Robson has written an excellent novel of the Amer

    Lucia St Clair Robson has written an excellent novel of the American
    Revolution, Shadow Patriots. It's filled with wonderful,
    well-researched history, some love stories and intrigue. Shadow
    Patriots is about the spy network set up by George Washington. The
    insight she shows about the interaction between the two combatant groups
    is eye-opening. For example, I had not thought about the fact that the
    people of the revolution and the British lived together in the towns and
    cities. Ms. Robson also describes the circumstances for both sides in
    vivid detail. ““The general and I will be billeting here should we
    find the house suitable.” Andre looked over Kate’s shoulder, taking in
    the walls laid in yellow milk paint, the plaster ceiling with its
    frescoes of fruit and flowers, the large paintings of landscapes in
    heavy guilt frames, the broad marble stairs. “I venture to say the
    general will find the accommodations quite to his liking.” He winked
    at her. Kate feared that between Captain Andre’s charm and General
    Grey’s menace she would swoon and fill the spot that Lizzie had warmed
    on the floor.” The novel deals with the politics and clashes
    between the two warring groups. The depiction of the way they had to
    live, the conditions in the jails and the food and clothing that they
    had to contend with is so well done that you will be glad you were not
    there, but you will be transported to the time and place in your mind’s
    eye. Siblings, Kate and Seth Darby are caught up in the fight for
    independence in spite of their Quaker upbringing. They become
    “intelligencers” or spies for the Americans, but both have conflicting
    loyalties to specific individuals from both sides. The interesting side
    story is the use of a woman as a spy in a time when women were not
    expected to understand the intricacies of war. The intrigue and danger
    were real and Ms. Robson tells it in all its pathos. Kate and Seth meet
    and marry their respective spouses during the conflict and intrigue.
    The romances are a strategy used to tell the story of a fascinating part
    of the American Revolution. Lucia St. Clair Robson was born in
    Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. She has
    been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Venezuela, a teacher in New York City,
    and a librarian in Annapolis, Maryland. She has also lived in Japan,
    South Carolina, and Arizona. She now resides near Annapolis, Maryland.
    She is the author of Ride the Wind, which made the New York Times best
    sellers list. It also won the Western Writers of America's Golden Spur
    Award for Best Historical Novel of the year and was included in the top
    100 westerns of the 20th century. Several of her other historical
    novels have won top awards.

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  • Posted August 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Days of the Revolution

    This book gave a detailed insight to life during the Revolutionary War. It wasn't full of violence or war scenes, but concentrated on the suffering that went on behind enemy lines, and the split of families and questionable loyalties of those who lived in American cities. It was a worthwhile read for the historical aspect, but I admit I wasn't completely drawn into the characters. The relationship between the main character and her brother was more moving than the relationship between her and her husband - therefore, this is not a romantic read. The ending was a bit too abrupt, and I felt her involvement with the war effort seemed shallow, but again, it was still a worthwhile read and a page turner with its plot twists.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2005

    A Great Novel of the Revolution

    Lucia Robson brings the American Revolution alive with Shadow Patriots. I have always loved the Revolution having been born and raised in the Philadelphia area. Shadow Patriots immerses the reader into the sights, sounds, and smells of America at the time of the Revolution. Shadow Patriots is a spy novel based on real life occurences with plenty of suspense. The book is alive with the characters' thoughts, feelings, and expectations. This is a page-turner that you will not want to put down until you are finished.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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