About the Book
The Gentlemen of Gloucester is a non-fiction book about the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, the U.S. Army's oldest active cavalry unit. In movie terms, the story is a cross between Dead Poets Society and Platoon.
Founded in 1774, the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry is the only U.S. Army combat unit that elects its own officers and owns its own armory. By 18th-century tradition, men who would otherwise qualify as officers choose instead to enlist in the Troop as privates, forgoing their military pay. Each member undergoes U.S. Army Basic Combat Training, and drills with the Troop in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. In addition, he receives weekly horse riding lessons and has access to an international scholarship based on the old British custom of the "Grand Tour."
Since the American Revolution, the Troop has thus functioned as an ad-hoc leadership school for gentlemen. Of the nearly three thousand members who have served with the Troop since 1774, seventeen have attained the rank of general. Others have been entrepreneurs, diplomats, statesmen (with occasional ne'er do wells, savants, and rogues) ... and even the third astronaut to walk on the moon.
Today, the Troop still reflects its early cultural melding of Quaker humility and cavalier panache. Its members have recently deployed to Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Kuwait. Because of its romantic and ancient value system, the Troop boasts a crazy quilt of characters that defy description.
About the Author
G. Andrew Meschter grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania—a rural suburb of Philadelphia. He received his master’s degree in Modern British History from the University of Durham (England) and his BA from Millersville University (Pennsylvania). While working on a postgraduate research project about Eton College, he was impressed to learn about young men who joined the military during the world wars, sustaining disproportionately high casualties as a result. Feeling compelled to serve his own country in similar fashion, he joined the First City Troop. After passing through basic training, he served as enlisted man on combat and peacekeeping deployments in Iraq and Egypt. He worked in the insurance field for eight years before writing this book.