British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution

Overview


Nine Rare and Fascinating First-Person Profiles of Soldiers Who Fought for the British Crown
Much has been written about the colonists who took up arms during the American Revolution and the army they created. Far less literature, however, has been devoted to their adversaries. The professional soldiers that composed the British army are seldom considered on a personal level, instead being either overlooked or inaccurately characterized as conscripts and criminals. Most of the ...
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British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution

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Overview


Nine Rare and Fascinating First-Person Profiles of Soldiers Who Fought for the British Crown
Much has been written about the colonists who took up arms during the American Revolution and the army they created. Far less literature, however, has been devoted to their adversaries. The professional soldiers that composed the British army are seldom considered on a personal level, instead being either overlooked or inaccurately characterized as conscripts and criminals. Most of the British Redcoats sent to America in defense of their government’s policies were career soldiers who enlisted voluntarily in their late teens or early twenties. They came from all walks of British life, including those with nowhere else to turn, those aspiring to improve their social standing, and all others in between. Statistics show that most were simply hardworking men with various amounts of education who had chosen the military in preference to other occupations. Very few of these soldiers left writings from which we can learn their private motives and experiences.
British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution is the first collection of personal narratives by British common soldiers ever assembled and published. Author Don N. Hagist has located first-hand accounts of nine soldiers who served in America in the 1770s and 1780s. In their own words we learn of the diverse population—among them a former weaver, a boy who quarelled with his family, and a man with wanderlust—who joined the army and served tirelessly and dutifully, sometimes faithfully and sometimes irresolutely, in the uniform of their nation. To accompany each narrative, the author provides a contextualizing essay based on archival research giving background on the soldier and his military service. Taken as a whole these true stories reveal much about the individuals who composed what was, at the time, the most formidable fighting force in the world.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This study offers a new take on commonly accepted truths."—Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Americans typically have a very specific image of the British army that fought the Revolutionary War. They are typically seen as brutes from the dregs of society, often performing military service in lieu of jail time or through forcible conscription. Hagist's historical survey uses primary source narratives to counter these ideas, which he argues do a disservice to a well-trained, professional army. The stories he presents are from young men who were predominantly educated, middle class volunteers. Most of the voices heard belong to deserters, not because they were particularly common, but because they tended more often to be recorded, such as through the traditional final testimonies taken from condemned men. While Hagist's goal is laudable, his writing doesn't quite bring these soldiers to life. Readers who are not already deeply invested in Revolutionary War history will struggle to find much that's engaging in the soldiers' repetitive narratives. For readers who are interested in the period, however, this study offers a new take on commonly accepted truths. Though Hagist fails to make his debut engaging to laypeople, he knows his material well. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594162046
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/15/2014
  • Edition description: 1
  • Sales rank: 672,216
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


DON N. HAGIST is author of three books and numerous articles on the British experience in the American Revolution, focusing on the lives of the common soldiers. He is an engineer by profession and lives in Rhode Island.
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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 The Volunteer Soldier: 33rd Regiment of Foot John Robert Shaw 1

2 Volunteering for American Service: 20th Regiment of Foot William Crawford 57

3 Wanderlust and Roving: 65th Regiment of Foot Valentine Duckett 73

4 Literacy and Education: 23rd Regiment of Foot Thomas Watson 98

5 Free Time for Industry and Mischief: 33rd Regiment of Foot Robert Young 125

6 Unwilling Volunteers and Criminals: 88th Regiment of Foot Ebenezer Fox 150

7 The Pensioner: George Fox, 7th and 47th Regiments of Foot 182

8 The Faithful Soldier: Alexander Andrew, 44th Regiment of Foot 216

9 The Aspiring Soldier: William Burke, 45th Regiment of Foot 236

Epilogue 267

Appendix 1 The Poetry of Andrew Scott, 80th Regiment of Foot 273

Appendix 2 The Poetry of John Hawthorn, 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons 281

Notes 288

Bibliography 334

Acknowledgments 345

Index 347

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