Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles along the Great Warpath That Made the American Way of War

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Overview

Americans often think of the Civil War as the conflict that consolidated the United States, including its military values and practices. But there was another, earlier, and more protracted struggle between “North” and “South,” beginning in the 1600s and lasting for more than two centuries, that shaped American geopolitics and military culture. Here, Eliot A. Cohen explains how the American way of war emerged from a lengthy struggle with an unlikely enemy: Canada.

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Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles along the Great Warpath That Made the American Way of War

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Overview

Americans often think of the Civil War as the conflict that consolidated the United States, including its military values and practices. But there was another, earlier, and more protracted struggle between “North” and “South,” beginning in the 1600s and lasting for more than two centuries, that shaped American geopolitics and military culture. Here, Eliot A. Cohen explains how the American way of war emerged from a lengthy struggle with an unlikely enemy: Canada.

In Conquered into Liberty, Cohen describes how five peoples—the British, French, Americans, Canadians, and Indians—fought over the key to the North American continent: the corridor running from Albany to Montreal dominated by the Champlain valley and known to Native Americans as the “Great Warpath.” He reveals how conflict along these two hundred miles of lake, river, and woodland shaped the country’s military values, practices, and institutions.

Through a vivid narration of a series of fights— woodland skirmishes and massacres, bloody frontal assaults and fleet actions, rear-guard battles and shadowy covert actions—Cohen explores how a distinctively American approach to war developed along the Great Warpath. He weaves together tactics and strategy, battle narratives, and statecraft, introducing readers to such fascinating but little-known figures as Justus Sherwood, loyalist spy; Jeduthan Baldwin, self-taught engineer; and La Corne St. Luc, ruthless partisan leader. And he reintroduces characters we thought we knew—an admirable Benedict Arnold, a traitorous Ethan Allen, and a devious George Washington. A gripping read grounded in serious scholarship, Conquered into Liberty will enchant and inform readers for decades to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cohen, among America’s leading defense analysts and military historians (Citizens and Soldiers: Dilemmas of Military Service), combines his skills in this comprehensively researched, well-written analysis of the international conflict that more than any other shaped the U.S. way of war. That conflict was between the colonies that eventually formed the U.S. and French, then British Canada. For a century and a half, through six global conflicts, the north-south axis between Albany, N.Y., and Montreal was the “great warpath”: “ts battles fought with tomahawks and flintlock muskets, its supplies laboriously hauled by bateau and oxcart.” Focusing on specific engagements, from the 1690 raid on Schenectady, N.Y., to the Battle of Plattsburgh in 1814, Cohen describes lessons that endured. The warpath schooled Americans in a spectrum of combat, from skirmishes fought by irregulars to operations conducted along state-of-the-art European lines. The warpath taught pragmatism and flexibility. It demanded enterprise and ingenuity. It required concern for both logistics and operations. Even issues of contemporary concern, the problems of conventional forces facing irregular opponents and the belief that an adversary can be “conquered into liberty,” were first confronted in these battles, as Cohen demonstrates in this original and illuminating study. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“Master strategist Eliot Cohen analyzes nearly three centuries of conflict, recounting battles both familiar (Ticonderoga, Fort William Henry) and perhaps obscure (Schenectady, St. Johns, Hubbardton). His account, at once both sweeping and fresh, offers strategic ‘lessons learned’ over three centuries on the Great Warpath that coalesced into the American way of war and peace.”
—Nicholas Westbrook, Director Emeritus, Fort Ticonderoga

"This fascinating book reminds us of the long history of antagonism in North America and how it could so easily have been different. The values, self belief and dynamism of the United States have been shaped by this story, so often one of war. Eliot Cohen is exceptionally well qualified to make clear the relevance for today."
—Sir John Scarlett, Chief MI6 2004-2009

“Conquered Into Liberty provides an innovative approach to the telling of military history that helps the reader better understand the present. [The book] has a valued place in the library of anyone who wishes to understand the development of the United States and its approach to war.”
New York Journal of Books

Conquered into Liberty is a labor of love. Yet Cohen brings to this project far more than a history buff’s enthusiasm. He has spent lifetime writing about military affairs, and the results of his research and reflection are evident on every page of a narrative that does not hesitate to invoke modern comparisons to put the struggles of the past into perspective. [Conquered into Liberty] will serve to acquaint a new generation with some of the lesser-known battles that did so much to shape the early Republic.” —Max Boot, Commentary Magazine

“A fine, thoughtful treatment of a period of American history that rarely receives much attention.”—Seattle Times

“Impressive. . . Conquered into Liberty excels in its demonstration of the ways in which important components of the American military tradition emerged. . . The stories that Cohen recounts are valuable not only instrumentally—as keys to the origins of the American way of war—but also intrinsically. Simply put, the book contains much interesting . . . history that is likely to be unfamiliar to most readers. . . Conquered into Liberty deserves a wide readership that should certainly include anyone interested in American history or military history.” —The Weekly Standard

“Broad in scope and gripping in its narrative, Conquered into Liberty is as informative as it is captivating.” —ARMY Magazine

“A fine, thoughtful treatment of a period of American history that rarely receives much attention.”—Seattle Times

“Engaging...fast-moving prose—this book is a page-turner especially when it describes battles…Cohen fills the mind’s eye with vivid landscape.” —Walter Nugent, Parameters

“Conquered into Liberty is a good read for anyone interested in a fresh perspective on the particular wars it covers and the development of the American military tradition.” Strategy Page

Kirkus Reviews
Cohen (Strategic Studies/Johns Hopkins Univ.; Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, 2005, etc.) turns his youthful fascination with the writings and stories of Francis Parkman, Kenneth Roberts and others into an engaging account of the wars fought on the "Great Warpath." These were the trails, especially around Lakes George and Champlain, which marked a kind of western border for early settlers. The author recounts the eight major battles in those successive campaigns. He includes two naval battles: Plattsburgh, during the War of 1812, and Valcour Island in 1776, both of which he presents as decisive but underrated contributions to securing the young republic from foreign threat. The victory at Plattsburgh transformed the position of America's diplomats negotiating the Treaty of Ghent and led the Duke of Wellington to insist to the government of the day that "you have no right from the state of the war to demand any concession of territory from America." Unable to control America's inland waterways, Britain could no longer sustain a troop presence in Canada. Valcour Island was Benedict Arnold's victory as naval officer. Cohen contrasts the treatment accorded Arnold (the "monster of treachery") with the tribute paid to officers who transferred their allegiance and talents to the Confederacy. The author supplements battlefield accounts with discussions of the origins of America's characteristic "small group" fighting unit and its contrast with British fighting formations, as well as the role of professional versus volunteer soldiers. A delightful-to-read piece of American history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743249904
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Eliot A. Cohen is Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University and founding director of the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies. From 2007 to 2009 he was Counselor of the Department of State, serving as Secretary Condoleezza Rice's senior advisor on strategic issues.

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Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae xi

Author's Note xvii

Prologue: The Great Warpath 1

Chapter 1 The Schenectady Raid, 1690 17

Chapter 2 Fort William Henry, 1757 41

Chapter 3 The Battle on Snowshoes, 1758 71

Chapter 4 Fort Carillon, 1758 95

Chapter 5 St. Johns, 1775 129

Chapter 6 Valcour Island, 1776 165

Chapter 7 Hubbardton, 1777 197

Chapter 8 Phantom Campaigns, 1778-83 233

Chapter 9 Plattsburgh, 1814 267

Chapter 10 Rumors of War, 1815-71 305

Legacies 337

Abbreviations Used in Notes 343

Notes 345

For Further Exploration 373

Acknowledgments 381

Map Sources 385

Index 387

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a wonderful book!

    This is a wonderful and it can be used to help educate parents, caregivers and some educators. I love where it discussed the three types of learning styles. (Visual Learner, Auditory Learner, Kinesthetic/Tactile Learner) All children do not learn the same way nor at the same pace. This is an excellent resource to be used in schools, churches, and homes. I encourage everyone to purchase and read the book. This book provides helpful information and strategies that can be used to help sharpen your child's skills. Elementary School Teacher Tuscaloosa, Alabama D.R.

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  • Posted January 14, 2012

    Conditionally Recommended

    The book is a well written account of early American and Canadian history starting well before the Revolutionary War, when the French were still in Canada. However, with that said, the book is essentially without maps of any kind. There are only a few reproduced drawing from historical documents, most of them of specific battles and almost none of them readable. I believe this is a serious deficiency in any history book attempting to depict campaigns and battles over a period of time.

    In short, unless you have your own atlas of the NE United States and SE Canada in sufficient detail to follow what takes place in the this book I cannot recommend it for purchase.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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