A Social History of Military Life in the Revolutionary Period
Author: Sylvia R. Frey
Publisher: University of Texas Press
In her investigation of the social history of the common British soldier in the era of the American Revolution, Sylvia Frey has extensively surveyed recruiting records, contemporary training manuals, statutes, and memoirs in an attempt to provide insight into the soldier's "life and mind." In the process she has discovered more about the common soldier than anyone thought possible: his social origins and occupational background, his size, age, and general physical condition, his personal economics and daily existence. Her findings dispel the traditional assumption that the army was made up largely of criminals and social misfits. Special attention is given to soldiering as an occupation. Focusing on two of the major campaigns of the war—the Northern Campaign which culminated at Saratoga and the Southern Campaign which ended at Yorktown—Frey describes the human face of war, with particular emphasis on the physical and psychic strains of campaigning in the eighteenth century. Perhaps the most important part of the work is the analysis of the moral and material factors which induced men to accept the high risks of soldiering. Frey rejects the traditional assumption that soldiers were motivated to fight exclusively by fear and force and argues instead that the primary motivation to battle was generated by regimental esprit, which in the eighteenth century substituted for patriotism. After analyzing the sources of esprit, she concludes that it was the sustaining force for morale in a long and discouraging war. This book is a contribution to our understanding of the eighteenth century and should appeal not only to military historians but also to social and economic historians and to those interested in the history of medicine.
Prisoners of War and the Politics of Vengeance in the American Revolution
Author: T. Cole Jones
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Contrary to popular belief, the American Revolutionary War was not a limited and restrained struggle for political self-determination. From the onset of hostilities, British authorities viewed their American foes as traitors to be punished, and British abuse of American prisoners, both tacitly condoned and at times officially sanctioned, proliferated. Meanwhile, more than seventeen thousand British and allied soldiers fell into American hands during the Revolution. For a fledgling nation that could barely afford to keep an army in the field, the issue of how to manage prisoners of war was daunting. Captives of Liberty examines how America's founding generation grappled with the problems posed by prisoners of war, and how this influenced the wider social and political legacies of the Revolution. When the struggle began, according to T. Cole Jones, revolutionary leadership strove to conduct the war according to the prevailing European customs of military conduct, which emphasized restricting violence to the battlefield and treating prisoners humanely. However, this vision of restrained war did not last long. As the British denied customary protections to their American captives, the revolutionary leadership wasted no time in capitalizing on the prisoners' ordeals for propagandistic purposes. Enraged, ordinary Americans began to demand vengeance, and they viewed British soldiers and their German and Native American auxiliaries as appropriate targets. This cycle of violence spiraled out of control, transforming the struggle for colonial independence into a revolutionary war. In illuminating this history, Jones contends that the violence of the Revolutionary War had a profound impact on the character and consequences of the American Revolution. Captives of Liberty not only provides the first comprehensive analysis of revolutionary American treatment of enemy prisoners but also reveals the relationship between America's political revolution and the war waged to secure it.
Visual Culture and the North Atlantic World, 1660-1830
Author: Geoff Quilley
Publisher: Manchester University Press
'An Economy of Colour' analyses visual culture in the context of British and French colonial activity in the North Atlantic from 1660 to 1830, and is a response to the omission in current art history of visual imagery relating to colonialism, Atlantic slavery and the development of racial ideology.
This work offers an account of the Saratoga campaign of 1777 through the lives of its opposing generals - John Burgoyne, the British commander, and Horatio Gates, the American (but British born) commander. The book portrays the two men and the events that developed around them. It covers both the American and British dimensions of the campaign, the only engagement in the Revolutionary War in which an all-American army captured a major British force.
Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence
Author: Ken Miller
Publisher: Cornell University Press
In Dangerous Guests, Ken Miller reveals how wartime pressures nurtured a budding patriotism in the ethnically diverse revolutionary community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During the War for Independence, American revolutionaries held more than thirteen thousand prisoners—both British regulars and their so-called Hessian auxiliaries—in makeshift detention camps far from the fighting. As the Americans’ principal site for incarcerating enemy prisoners of war, Lancaster stood at the nexus of two vastly different revolutionary worlds: one national, the other intensely local. Captives came under the control of local officials loosely supervised by state and national authorities. Concentrating the prisoners in the heart of their communities brought the revolutionaries’ enemies to their doorstep, with residents now facing a daily war at home. Many prisoners openly defied their hosts, fleeing, plotting, and rebelling, often with the clandestine support of local loyalists. By early 1779, General George Washington, furious over the captives’ ongoing attempts to subvert the American war effort, branded them "dangerous guests in the bowels of our Country." The challenge of creating an autonomous national identity in the newly emerging United States was nowhere more evident than in Lancaster, where the establishment of a detention camp served as a flashpoint for new conflict in a community already unsettled by stark ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences. Many Lancaster residents soon sympathized with the Hessians detained in their town while the loyalist population considered the British detainees to be the true patriots of the war. Miller demonstrates that in Lancaster, the notably local character of the war reinforced not only preoccupations with internal security but also novel commitments to cause and country.
Travel writing has, for centuries, composed an essential historical record and wide-ranging literary form, reflecting the rich diversity of travel as a social and cultural practice, metaphorical process, and driver of globalization. This interdisciplinary volume brings together anthropologists, literary scholars, social historians, and other scholars to illuminate travel writing in all its forms. With studies ranging from colonial adventurism to the legacies of the Holocaust, The Long Journey offers a unique dual focus on experience and genre as it applies to three key realms: memory and trauma, confrontations with the Other, and the cultivation of cultural perspective.
The Battle of Saratoga in 1777 ended with British general John Burgoyne’s troops surrendering to the American rebel army commanded by General Horatio Gates. Historians have long seen Burgoyne’s defeat as a turning point in the American Revolution because it convinced France to join the war on the side of the colonies, thus ensuring American victory. But that traditional view of Saratoga overlooks the complexity of the situation on the ground. Setting the battle in its social and political context, Theodore Corbett examines Saratoga and its aftermath as part of ongoing conflicts among the settlers of the Hudson and Champlain valleys of New York, Canada, and Vermont. This long, more local view reveals that the American victory actually resolved very little. In transcending traditional military history, Corbett examines the roles not only of enlisted Patriot and Redcoat soldiers but also of landowners, tenant farmers, townspeople, American Indians, Loyalists, and African Americans. He begins the story in the 1760s, when the first large influx of white settlers arrived in the New York and New England backcountry. Ethnic and religious strife marked relations among the colonists from the outset. Conflicting claims issued by New York and New Hampshire to the area that eventually became Vermont turned the skirmishes into a veritable civil war. These pre-Revolution conflicts—which determined allegiances during the Revolution—were not affected by the military outcome of the Battle of Saratoga. After Burgoyne’s defeat, the British retained control of the upper Hudson-Champlain valley and mobilized Loyalists and Native allies to continue successful raids there even after the Revolution. The civil strife among the colonists continued into the 1780s, as the American victory gave way to violent strife amounting to class warfare. Corbett ends his story with conflicts over debt in Vermont, New Hampshire, and finally Massachusetts, where the sack of Stockbridge—part of Shays’s Rebellion in 1787—was the last of the civil disruptions that had roiled the landscape for the previous twenty years. No Turning Point complicates and enriches our understanding of the difficult birth of the United States as a nation.