A Few Bloody Noses: The American War of Independence
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Liberty against oppression, right against wrong - a clear message has come down to us about the origins of the American War of Independence, one of the founding events of the modern world. As with so many legends, the truth is somewhat different. In this revealing account, Robert Harvey overturns most of our assumptions about the causes of the war. Both Britain and America were divided over the struggle, America violently so, while in Britain many favoured independence if it would avoid bloodshed. The war itself was vicious and confused, and marked by incompetence and bad faith on both sides. When it was over the Americans pushed out their French allies, while the British, who had encouraged black slaves to revolt, and Indians to attack, abandoned both to their fate. Yet after four years of misrule the Constitutional Convention imposed its own conservative counter-revolution, and out of bloodshed and suffering, cunning, idealism and courage, there emerged the infant nation that was to become the most powerful the world has ever seen. In this extraordinary and intensely readable book Robert Harvey tells the whole extraordinary story of its birth.
with the gunboats; then followed the Royal George and Inflexible, towing large booms which are to be thrown across to points of land, with the other brigs and sloops following; after them the first brigade in a regular line; then the generals Burgoyne, Phillips and Riedesel in their pinnaces; next to them the second brigade, followed by the German brigades, and the rear brought up with the sutlers and followers of the army. The army was accompanied by some 225 women and 500 children, as well as
cannon to fire as their morning gun, so near to our quarter-guard that the wadding rebounded against the works. We have within these few evenings, exclusive of other alarms, been under arms most of the night, as there has been a great noise, like the howling of dogs, upon the right of our encampment; it was imagined the enemy set it up to deceive us, while they were meditating some attack … A detachment of Canadians and provincials were sent out to reconnoitre, and it proved to have arisen from
martial’. One sergeant reported that: It was not infrequent for thirty or forty persons, men, women and children, to be indiscriminately crowded together in one small open hut, their provisions and firewood on short allowance; a scanty provision of straw their bed, their blankets their only covering. In the night-time those that could not lie down, and the many who sat up from the cold, were obliged frequently to rise and shake from them the snow which the wind drifted in at the openings.
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against the British. Accordingly they produced a letter from James Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, seeking ‘direction and assistance’ in the armed struggle and recommending that a ‘powerful army’ be set up – and in particular that the Massachusetts militia be adopted as the embryo of an American army. From the start the Massachusetts men had a powerful new ally: Benjamin Franklin had returned from England. Initially from Massachusetts, he was an adopted resident of Pennsylvania.