Geopolitics And The American Revolution

I cannot resist in dropping some history on my readers……I have studied geopolitics for many years and it is the stuff legends are made of…..and so it was with the Revolutionary War….

All of us Americans know the story of the revolution and its aftermath…..we know taxation was an issue…..we know that George (both the 3rd and Washington) were the leaders of the armies…..and we know we won the final battle at Yorktown and we were on our way to becoming the leader of the Free World……

Actually there is a bit more to the whole episode than that simplistic drivel…..

The image is clear, the message obvious. Across a sun-kissed meadow, dappled with shade, lines of British soldiers, resplendent in red, move slowly forward, while brave American Patriots crouch behind trees and stone walls ready to blast these idiots to pieces. Frequently repeated on page and screen, the image has one central message: one side, the American, represented the future in warfare, and one side, the American, was bound to prevail. Thus, the war is readily located in both political and military terms. In each, it apparently represents the triumph of modernity and the start of a new age: of democracy and popular warfare. The linkage of military service and political rights therefore proved a potent contribution. Before these popular, national forces, the ancien régime, the old order, with its mercenaries, professionals, and, at sea, unmotivated conscripts, was bound to crumble, and its troops were doomed to lose. Thus, the political location of the struggle, in terms of the defining struggle for freedom, apparently helps locate the conflict as the start of modern warfare, while, considering the war in the latter light, helps fix our understanding of the political dimension. Definition in terms of modernity and modernization also explains success, as most people assume that the future is bound to prevail over the past.

In making the war an apparently foregone conclusion, this approach has several misleading consequences. First, it allows most historians of the period to devote insufficient attention to the fighting and, instead, to focus on traditional (constitution-framing) and modish (gender et al) topics, neglecting the central point about the importance of war in American history: no victory, no independence, no constitution, no newish society. Second, making the British defeat inevitable gravely underrates the Patriot (not American, as not all Americans fought the British) achievement. Third, making British defeat inevitable removes the sense of uncertainty in which contemporaries made choices.

 
There is always more to the history than Americans are taught……
 
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6 thoughts on “Geopolitics And The American Revolution

  1. However, their stupid formations prevailed in Napoleonic Wars but Napoleon racked up the victories with such formations prior to Waterloo. Battle of New Orleans really demonstrates British folly. It would seem you try to kill the other side’s soldiers rather than setting up your own for the same and create strategies to accomplish that. .

  2. Almost 500,000 Americans loyalists supported the British during the Revolutionary War. The guerrilla tactics employed by some American units early in the war were considered to be ‘cowardly’ by their opponents.
    However, it is interesting to note that the biggest American victories were actually fought using the same old-fashioned tactics and formations, supported by large numbers of regular French troops, fighting in an identical way to the opposing British.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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