Barbarians and Brothers: Anglo-American Warfare, 1500-1865


The most important conflicts in the founding of the English colonies and the American republic were fought against enemies either totally outside of their society or within it: barbarians or brothers. In this work, Wayne E. Lee presents a searching exploration of early modern English and American warfare, looking at the sixteenth-century wars in Ireland, the English Civil War, the colonial Anglo-Indian wars, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War.

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Barbarians and Brothers: Anglo-American Warfare, 1500-1865

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The most important conflicts in the founding of the English colonies and the American republic were fought against enemies either totally outside of their society or within it: barbarians or brothers. In this work, Wayne E. Lee presents a searching exploration of early modern English and American warfare, looking at the sixteenth-century wars in Ireland, the English Civil War, the colonial Anglo-Indian wars, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War.

Crucial to the level of violence in each of these conflicts was the perception of the enemy as either a brother (a fellow countryman) or a barbarian. But Lee goes beyond issues of ethnicity and race to explore how culture, strategy, and logistics also determined the nature of the fighting. Each conflict contributed to the development of American attitudes toward war. The brutal nature of English warfare in Ireland helped shape the military methods the English employed in North America, just as the legacy of the English Civil War cautioned American colonists about the need to restrain soldiers' behavior. Nonetheless, Anglo-Americans waged war against Indians with terrifying violence, in part because Native Americans' system of restraints on warfare diverged from European traditions. The Americans then struggled during the Revolution to reconcile these two different trends of restraint and violence when fighting various enemies.

Through compelling campaign narratives, Lee explores the lives and fears of soldiers, as well as the strategies of their commanders, while showing how their collective choices determined the nature of wartime violence. In the end, the repeated experience of wars with barbarians or brothers created an American culture of war that demanded absolute solutions: enemies were either to be incorporated or rejected. And that determination played a major role in defining the violence used against them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In Barbarians and Brothers, Wayne Lee has taken on a daunting challenge -- nothing less than a history of over three and a hald centuries of Anglo-American warfare. He succeeds admirably, and the resulting work makes significant contributions, especially in the fields of early American and military history... Lee's work is informed by the larger overall trend toward anthropological, ethnographical approaches to violence. The conclusions rest on sound research conducted in archives on both sides of the Atlantic, and the extensive notes demonstrate Lee's familiarity with wide-ranging literature on violence and warfare in divergent cultural contexts... The book excels are connecting military affairs to larger societal concerns at almost every point... Lee has produced a fine work that should receive wide scholarship." --The North Carolina Historical Review

"Wayne Lee satisfies a long-overdue need in military history, by imposing an Atlanticist rationale to the conduct of warfare in the English Old and New Worlds. Renaissance and early modernists will rightly marvel at his fluency in the primary record." --Renaissance Quarterly

"Readers with a wide range of interests--including the cultural aspects of warfare and the debates about the value of the concepts 'limited' and 'total' war, the military revolution, and the 'American way of war'--will find Barbarians and Brothers rewarding reading." --Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Engaging and rewarding . Lee's framework for the study of war and culture, and his original exploration of the idea of restraint, will inform and enrich all future discussions." --Journal of British Studies

"[An] insightful book...Wayne E. Lee has produced a sound study bolstered by solid statistical and colorful anecdotal evidence, a skillful blend of old-fashioned narrative with nuanced analysis." --Journal of American History

"Wayne Lee's account of rapacity and restraint in warfare captures the reader while offering profound insight. His revealing case studies come from the English-speaking world of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, but the lessons he draws from them should be taken to heart by historians studying any region or epoch. Lee establishes that the severity of troops on campaign-their 'frightfulness,' in his terminology-reflected their own sense of identity, the degree to which they perceived their enemy as alien or similar--barbarians or brothers--and the moral limits or license regarded as appropriate in dealing with such adversaries. Lee's argument emphasizes the cultural contexts of warfare and the need to study it from the bottom up, as something consistent with the conscience of the rank and file, not simply as something commanded by the officers who led them." --John A. Lynn, Northwestern University

"Wayne Lee's Barbarians and Brothers, with its rich source base and immersion in the scholarly literature, demonstrates how much we lose by skipping over the actual conduct of war as most historians do. Lee's elucidation of the kinds of careful distinctions and regulations those in authority made in the apparent chaos of war, especially as changing military technology required more recognizably modern discipline, shows how all of society was affected by military matters." --Karen Ordahl Kupperman, New York University

"Barbarians and Brothers is a sophisticated, readable, and most important history of 'frightfulness' in Anglo-American war from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. Lee makes clear that the level of violence in war-particularly the treatment of prisoners and civilians-was not just a matter of how soldiers and states perceived their enemies. Englishmen were more restrained in fighting brothers (other Englishmen) than barbarians (Irishmen or Native Americans). But violence also depended on complex and shifting relationships among the size of forces, the development of the state, the influence of international law and social norms, and the extent to which civilians were drawn into the fighting. This is an unusually rich and rewarding history." --Ira D. Gruber, Rice University

"Wayne Lee's innovative and masterful book tackles a vast scholarship, woven together to form a well-written and conceptually daring work. This book should be essential reading for students of early modern Ireland, early modern Britain, and colonial America and deserves to be read by anyone interested in how the United States has come to wage war." --Vincent P. Carey, State University of New York, Plattsburgh

"A book about martial conduct and etiquette, in combat and on campaign, is timely for military historians, as it is for cultural historians and lay readers. The cultural, intellectual, and legal implications that Lee draws from the battles and expeditions covered in Barbarians and Brothers are truly original and thought provoking, especially when considered in the context of ongoing American conflicts around the globe, with their messy and inconsistent efforts to determine whether enemies are potential brothers or barbarians."--Guy Chet, H-Net

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199376452
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/11/2014
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 567,272
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Wayne E. Lee is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lee served in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1992. He is the author of Crowds and Soldiers in Revolutionary North Carolina: The Culture of Violence in Riot and War and the general editor of the Warfare and Culture series.

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Table of Contents

Notes on Style

Part 1: Barbarians and Subjects: The Perfect Storm of Wartime Violence in Sixteenth-Century Ireland
1. Sir Henry Sidney and the Mutiny at Clonmel, 1569
2. The Earls of Essex, 1575 and 1599

Part 2: Codes, Military Culture, and Clubmen in the English Civil War
3. Sir William Waller, 1644
4. The Clubmen, 1645

Part 3: Peace Chiefs and Blood Revenge: Native American Warfare
5. Wingina, Ralph Lane, and the Roanoke Colony of 1586
6. Old Brims and Chipacasi, 1725

Part 4: Gentility and Atrocity: The Continental Army and the American Revolution
7. "One Bold Stroke": Washington in Pennsylvania, 1777-78
8. "Malice Enough in Our Hearts": Sullivan and the Iroquois, 1779
Conclusion: Limited War and Hard War in the American Civil War


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