Freckle-faced fifteen and sixteen year-old uniformed sentries no longer stand guard at the summer camp's main entrance, .30 caliber rifles slung over their shoulders. The roar of artillery drills, once rattling the window panes of nearby cottages and the frayed nerves of summer vacationers, is silent. The bugle calls piercing the stillness of dawn and dusk on the river are no more.
Over a century ago, the civilian-backed Junior Naval Reserve established its first summer station in Uncasville, Connecticut. The river camp sought to prepare our nation's youth for service in the navy or merchant marine. Youngsters were taught the lore and lure of the sea along with a heavy dose of military training: rifle practice, artillery drills, saber tactics, marches and bivouacs, and battle formations.
The heart of this tale lies with Henry Cameron, a fifteen year-old struggling to find a place for himself in a world torn apart by war. Emboldened by a thirst for adventure, Henry enrolls and embarks on an eventful summer journey, one shaped by those he meets along the way: a war-weary but wise cavalry lieutenant, a puzzling uncle, a summer sweetheart, and an untamed bully set upon tyrannizing the entire camp.
This is an imaginative story capturing a forgotten piece of Connecticut military history. As a historical novel, it offers a seamless blend of fact and fiction and a thought-provoking portrait of junior midshipman training during WWI.