My Brother Sam is Dead
By: Christopher Collier & James Lincoln Collier
This book begins with Sam Meeker, Tim Meeker's admired older brother, arrives in uniform at the Meeker tavern one rainy April evening in 1775. "We've beaten the British in Massachusetts," Sam exclaims, beginning a fight with Father, who is staunchly loyal to the English government and king. Sam explains to the people around the table how the Minutemen lay a surprise attack on the British "Lobsterbacks" in Lexington. Sam basks comfortably in all the attention. Father asks him a series of skeptical questions, including who fired the first shot. Sam does not know who fired first. The dinner guests, the minister Mr. Beach and several farmers, all support England, and they take Father's side, arguing with Sam about the cause, questioning whether the loss of thousands of lives is worth saving a few pennies in taxes. Tim explains the religious background of the town of Redding. People built their houses according to the church they attended, either Anglican or Presbyterian. Tim's family lives in Redding Ridge, which signals that they are Anglicans and therefore loyalist. Tim does not feel he is particularly tied to the loyalist or Rebels, which worries him. Tim speaks of the effects of the war on his home life. He had thought the war would bring battles and great change to his quiet Connecticut village, but it has not. There are no marching armies, no cannons, and no food shortages. There are just lots of talk about the war, as there always was. Occasional the arguments get heated, as when Father throws a man out of the tavern for subversion, by which he means criticism of the British army. Betsy often stops by to listen to conversations, but Tim's mother always shoos her along. Tim racks his brain to think of an excuse to get away so he can visit Sam. As he chops wood, Tim sees a troop of Rebel soldiers clad in...
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