Soldiering in the American War for Independence Essay

Soldiering in the American War for Independence Essay

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Soldiering in the War for Independence was more than men merely wearing colorful uniforms and marching in open line with bayonets gleaming in the sun. Those armies had to be recruited, equipped, trained and successfully commanded. Since that the Continental Army had its origins in the British Army, there could be found many similarities. That being said, they were also quite different being shaped by their differences in society, economy and longevity. The Continental Army had few professionals or experienced soldiers. The fact that the British Army preferred to use men and units from England to fight the French and Indian War unintentionally brought this about.
What were the motivations for service?
There were as many reasons as there were men for serving as a soldier during the American War for Independence. Logically, every soldier’s story was unique and individual but, there were common themes too. On the American side, Congress had authorized the raising of 80,000 men spread out over 88 battalions [regiments]. With a desire to defend what was felt as rightfully theirs, patriotism or higher sense of purpose, was a common driving factor. Men would either volunteer for their local militia or sign contracts for a period of one year’s service within the Continental regulars. Not all men were volunteers though. As counties and towns found themselves unable to raise the numbers of men and units as mandated, drafts would be created.
While each of these reasons provided much needed men, it did not provide enough. The Continental Army would never fully realize its approved end strength. Along with a shortage of men, the means in which they were recruited and assembled created further problems. Militias, being of part-time...

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...e American Army was at a definite disadvantage in the beginning by having neither the industrial economy nor the longstanding military traditions. It would struggle to overcome these factors through changes in policies and creation of standards and would eventually achieve much needed victories over a much larger enemy.

Brown, Wallace. The Good Americans: The Loyalists in the American Revolution. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1969.
Milsop, John. Continental Infantryman of the American Revolution. Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2004.
Peterson, Harold L. The Book of the Continental Soldier. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1968.
Rid, Stuart. British Redcoat 1740-93. Oxford, UK: Osprey, 1996.
Von Steuben, Frederick W. Baron von Steuben’s Revolutionary War Drill Manual: A Facsimile Reprint of the 1794 Edition. New York: Dover, 1985

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