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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Revolution

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American Revolution 1763-1789 The birth of a new nation - to commence at the Proclaimation of 1763 to the end of the Articles of Confederation.

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  #61  
Old 31 Mar 12, 09:47
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‘So true. Gates put militia on a line with expectations they would stand up to the bayonets from the right and center of a British Infantry assault. Wasn't gonna happen. For one thing, they didn't have bayonets. Not only untrained to use them, rifles wouldn't accept a bayonet and they generally didn't have one. Militia would never make a direct assault either. They needed to be used such as Morgan at Cowpens or Sumter at Blackstock. And also, the way Gates did at Saratoga.’

How did Gates use the militia during the Saratoga campaign?

Actually, militia did make ‘direct assaults’ during the war if used properly. Two instances where they were successful in conjunction with Continentals: Harlem Heights, or the Hollow Way if you prefer, in 1776 during the New York campaign, and at Eutaw Springs in 1781.

Sincerely,
M
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  #62  
Old 31 Mar 12, 09:48
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‘For some reason, he got stupid about them at Camden. Those particular militia had never seen a British assault. His mistake seems incomprehensible.’

Gates was not a good commander, refused to listen to his more experienced subordinates, and probably didn’t realize that it was the Continentals who did the majority of the fighting and dying in the battles of the Saratoga campaign and was the reason why Burgoyne was defeated. Without them, it was a ‘no go.’

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M
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  #63  
Old 31 Mar 12, 09:48
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‘Gates was a real piece of work. He thought whatever troops he had under command would obey as when he was in the British Army. My Military History teacher told us that he saw that food was scarce but there was a lot of molasses on hand. He then ordered the troops should be given several measures of that molasses instead of bread or meat. The night before the battle an American officer rode into camp and complimented Gates on how vigilant his men were. He said there seemed to be a man behind every tree. There may have been, but their pants were on the ground! The molasses gave just about every man diarrhea! They stayed up most of the night and then tried to fight the next day. When Gates saw his men break, he jumped on his horse and set a speed record back to the Charlotte area!’

There are definite reasons why the Continentals called him ‘Granny.’

Sincerely,
M
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  #64  
Old 31 Mar 12, 09:49
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‘One other problem with Militia is the British would charge with bayonets, breaking their morale and then often set the Cavalry on them. Militia had no problems outrunning British Infantry. Horses were too much.’

The problem with the militia is that they were not trained properly, were usually badly led, and that they were a logistical burden on the Continentals. Further, as has already been said, they took prime recruits away from the Continental regiments where they would have done much more good.

Sincerely,
M
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  #65  
Old 31 Mar 12, 09:49
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‘Having studied the subject length I can honestly say that the reason for victory are complex and manifold. French involvement was certainly a huge factor; the stalemate at the Battle of the Capes between the French fleet and the Royal Navy set up the victory at Yorktown for example. Washington's leadership was also crucial. The forging of a professional army at Valley Forge was also vital to success, but it comes down to many other factors frankly too long to list in this forum.’

Interesting posting that actually says next to nothing. The factors for the US victory are not ‘too long to list in this forum.’ And the Battle of the Virginia Capes was not a stalemate or a draw. Tactically, the battle wasn’t noteworthy; strategically it was a decisive, if not the decisive naval victory of the war. Battles should be examined from both a tactical and a strategic viewpoint.

Sincerely,
M
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  #66  
Old 31 Mar 12, 09:50
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‘I think the argument that the militia was a poor instrument and the Revolution would have been better served if they had instead been channeled into the Continental Army misses the point.’

That isn’t what was said, at least not in my postings. What was stated was something quite different. The emphasis put on the recruiting of the militia and state regulars, interfered with the recruiting for the Continental regiments in each state. The Continentals were the ones who bore the brunt of the war, did most of the fighting, and suffered the most casualties. Those facts are being overlooked in most of the postings in this thread. The contributions of the Continentals are either being overlooked or ignored because of the ‘rebirth’ of the militia myths of the Revolution.

Sincerely,
M
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  #67  
Old 31 Mar 12, 09:51
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‘Support for the Revolution was'nt that strong and the militia would have largely stayed home if given the choice between 3 years enlistment in an uncertain venture far from home versus staying with their familes and communities. You fight wars with what you have- not what you want...If a draft were tried, you'd have ignighted a real civil war in the colonies.’

No one is suggesting a draft-that is a strawman argument. And sometimes you have to create what you want to fight a war-Washington created the Continental Army and fought the war with it. Congress gave it an authorized strength which if the states had supported it, would have given an immense advantage to the United States. If you look at all the Continental Army achieved with what it had, imagine what it could have achieved in a much shorter time span if Washington had received all that he asked for.

Sincerely,
M
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  #68  
Old 31 Mar 12, 14:36
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Originally Posted by Massena View Post
‘The realities of the day were that only x number of Continentals could be maintained in the field. The militia contribution wasn't really optional.’

And what ‘realities of the day’ were those? You’ve already been given the reasons why the Continentals could not reach their legal quotas of men in the field, and that is because of the generous bounties and much shorter enlistments of the militia. That is one of the main reasons why the Continentals were usually understrength.

Sincerely,
M
No, I have been given your speculative opinion concerning what might have happened. In your haste to disparage the miliitia and deny them any credit for assisting in the victory, perhaps it might be good to emphasize again. The US did win. All you are doing is speculating about how much better things might have been if everything was to go down the way you think it might have should there have been no militia. There has been no evidence offered to support your thesis. No showing of an ability by Congress to raise and support the army you describe. Regardless of militia activity in the area.
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Old 31 Mar 12, 14:38
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Originally Posted by Massena View Post

How did Gates use the militia during the Saratoga campaign?

Actually, militia did make ‘direct assaults’ during the war if used properly. Two instances where they were successful in conjunction with Continentals: Harlem Heights, or the Hollow Way if you prefer, in 1776 during the New York campaign, and at Eutaw Springs in 1781.

Sincerely,
M
Without the militia at Bemis Heights Morgan and the Continentals would not have been able to protect the flank with enough strength.
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Old 31 Mar 12, 14:39
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Originally Posted by Massena View Post
‘Actually, militia did make ‘direct assaults’ during the war if used properly. Two instances where they were successful in conjunction with Continentals: Harlem Heights, or the Hollow Way if you prefer, in 1776 during the New York campaign, and at Eutaw Springs in 1781.

Sincerely,
M
Not really certain of the details at Harlem Heights but the militia at Eutaw Springs were, as I pointed out earlier, very experienced and had been with Greene for a long time at that point.
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Old 31 Mar 12, 14:42
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Originally Posted by Massena View Post
‘The Militia's best fight was at King's Mountain. Probably the best way they were ever used was at Cowpens.’

In actuality, the US forces at Kings Mountain were not militia per se, but volunteers and riflemen-they were a different type of soldier altogether. Two groups of them, under Campbell and Lynch, fought at Guilford Courthouse, brigaded with Continentals, and did very well there. Not your hometown-type of militiaman.

Sincerely,
M
How very convenient for you to simply classify them away. per se

Militia also did very well at Bennington under Stark. I believe Elting referred to it as the turning point of the Saratoga Campaign. Or, perhaps they were volunteers and riflemen also?

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  #72  
Old 31 Mar 12, 14:46
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Originally Posted by Massena View Post
‘Yes, the old myths are alive and well. Right here in this conversation.'

I agree-and you're the one helping to perpetuate them.

'Bottom line, without substantial contribution from both militia and Continental Army, the War of Independence may have been lost.’

Without the Continental Army, the war would have definitely been lost. Without the militia, and therefore a larger, stonger Continental Army, the war might have actually been shorter. Have you read The Continental Army by Wright?

Sincerely,
M
No, I haven't. Is your refusal to acknowledge contribution by the militia coming from it?

Maybe the war would have been shorter. But only if everything falls just as you say. again, speculative. I thought the subject was who did what? not, who might have done better if?
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  #73  
Old 31 Mar 12, 21:29
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‘No, I have been given your speculative opinion concerning what might have happened. In your haste to disparage the miliitia and deny them any credit for assisting in the victory, perhaps it might be good to emphasize again. The US did win. All you are doing is speculating about how much better things might have been if everything was to go down the way you think it might have should there have been no militia. There has been no evidence offered to support your thesis. No showing of an ability by Congress to raise and support the army you describe. Regardless of militia activity in the area.’

That is a bogus assessment on your part and is something of a strawman argument. I have supplied quite a bit of information and postings that point towards what you are talking about here. Further, you didn’t answer my question about reading Wright’s book on the Continental Army.

You are also forgetting that the Continental Army had to be made basically from scratch, as no American or US Army was in existence in 1775. All that Congress did to raise the army that Washington wanted and required is outlined quite succinctly in Wright’s book, along with the tables of organization for the various evolutions of the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and ancillary services.

‘Without the militia at Bemis Heights Morgan and the Continentals would not have been able to protect the flank with enough strength.’

Source?

You haven’t shown that to be an accurate assessment and tend to ignore the fact that the Continentals did most of the fighting and dying in the battles of Saratoga.

‘Not really certain of the details at Harlem Heights but the militia at Eutaw Springs were, as I pointed out earlier, very experienced and had been with Greene for a long time at that point.’

You should look up Harlem Heights. The action is also known as the Hollow Way. Thomas Knowlton was killed in action there. I’m not surprised, though, that you haven’t heard of it or know little of it.

As Greene’s three battles in the Carolinas took place between March and September 1781, the comment about ‘a long time’ is somewhat optimistic and premature.

‘How very convenient for you to simply classify them away.’

I looked it up and researched it for the upcoming study I’m doing on Guilford Courthouse, which I’ve been working on for a number of years. It isn’t my classification. You ought to do a little research before becoming sarcastic. The riflemen who fought at Kings Mountain were not run of the mill militia-and all or most of them were volunteers. They also had 'natural' skills in the use of arms, which much of the militia did not.

‘Militia also did very well at Bennington under Stark. I believe Elting referred to it as the turning point of the Saratoga Campaign. Or, perhaps they were volunteers and riflemen also?’

If you had looked at the material that I posted, you would have seen that I had already mentioned Stark, et al. Bennington is an exception to the usual militia rule, and Stark had quite a lot to do with it.

‘No, I haven't. Is your refusal to acknowledge contribution by the militia coming from it?’

Where have I refused to acknowledge any contribution from the militia? You actually don’t understand what I’ve been posting, do you?

How can you argue anything about the Continentals without reading one of the best works on the subject. Have you read the Book of the Continental Soldier or Ward’s The Delaware Continentals? Royster has also done excellent work on the Continental Army, and there is also an excellent book on the North Carolina Continentals by Rankin. Seems to my you’re only read one side of the discussion/argument. Perhaps you should hit the books?

The militia has been given credit when they deserve it. They have also been criticized when they deserved it-and the latter outways the former by a great deal. What you’re trying to do is give the militia credit for what they haven’t done, and that is historically inaccurate.

Maybe the war would have been shorter. But only if everything falls just as you say. again, speculative. I thought the subject was who did what? not, who might have done better if?
It isn’t speculative at all. And I’m not the only person that has written about it. Royster, Col Elting, Wright, Peterson, and a host of other historians have said so before I have. And we have talked about who did what, and also who failed to do what-and the last can largely be laid at the door of the militia.

Sincerely,
M
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  #74  
Old 01 Apr 12, 00:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Massena View Post
‘No, I have been given your speculative opinion concerning what might have happened. In your haste to disparage the miliitia and deny them any credit for assisting in the victory, perhaps it might be good to emphasize again. The US did win. All you are doing is speculating about how much better things might have been if everything was to go down the way you think it might have should there have been no militia. There has been no evidence offered to support your thesis. No showing of an ability by Congress to raise and support the army you describe. Regardless of militia activity in the area.’

That is a bogus assessment on your part and is something of a strawman argument. I have supplied quite a bit of information and postings that point towards what you are talking about here. Further, you didn’t answer my question about reading Wright’s book on the Continental Army.

Actually I did answer you. Got misinterpreted as going to something else. "No, I haven't. Is your refusal to acknowledge contribution by the militia coming from it."



You are also forgetting that the Continental Army had to be made basically from scratch, as no American or US Army was in existence in 1775. All that Congress did to raise the army that Washington wanted and required is outlined quite succinctly in Wright’s book, along with the tables of organization for the various evolutions of the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and ancillary services.

You might consider that I have in no way failed to acknowledge the contributions of the CA. However, I am continuing to maintain they did not do it alone. We owe victory to the militia also.

‘Without the militia at Bemis Heights Morgan and the Continentals would not have been able to protect the flank with enough strength.’

Source? Elting. He provided the number of Continentals available as about 4500 which consisted of the units Gates sent to protect the flanks. IE Freeman's Farm. Without the militia providing numbers for the defensive works, the efforts at Freeman's could not have been as strong. I applied some independent thought to the situation as presented.

You haven’t shown that to be an accurate assessment and tend to ignore the fact that the Continentals did most of the fighting and dying in the battles of Saratoga.

Not at all. Simply saying the regiments available for the battles at Freeman's Farm may have been lessened and the situation simply not as favorable without the 7000+ militia and state troops who provided numbers for the defensive works. However, I continue to assert that you refuse to acknowledge that militia also had a strong hand at Saratoga. I realize you claim otherwise but, in truth, your overall assessment is such as to deny the militia claim to having a role in the victory of the AR.

‘Not really certain of the details at Harlem Heights but the militia at Eutaw Springs were, as I pointed out earlier, very experienced and had been with Greene for a long time at that point.’

You should look up Harlem Heights. The action is also known as the Hollow Way. Thomas Knowlton was killed in action there. I’m not surprised, though, that you haven’t heard of it or know little of it.

As Greene’s three battles in the Carolinas took place between March and September 1781, the comment about ‘a long time’ is somewhat optimistic and premature.Not really. Many of those men had been in the field for years. Even the latecomers with Pickens (who also had prior experience as Indian fighters) started in December 1780. By Eutaw Springs (the battle you mentioned) they would have been involved in several battles over several months.

‘How very convenient for you to simply classify them away.’

I looked it up and researched it for the upcoming study I’m doing on Guilford Courthouse, which I’ve been working on for a number of years. It isn’t my classification. You ought to do a little research before becoming sarcastic. The riflemen who fought at Kings Mountain were not run of the mill militia-and all or most of them were volunteers. They also had 'natural' skills in the use of arms, which much of the militia did not.

So, by definition, militia consists of men without military skill while men with military skill are 'volunteers'. hmmmm, I am not familiar with that particular definition. Are you aware of how many of the King's Mountain fighters were 'overmountain men' as opposed to local SC or NC or GA militia units in the area? I think I'll stick with the scarcasm on this one.

‘Militia also did very well at Bennington under Stark. I believe Elting referred to it as the turning point of the Saratoga Campaign. Or, perhaps they were volunteers and riflemen also?’

If you had looked at the material that I posted, you would have seen that I had already mentioned Stark, et al. Bennington is an exception to the usual militia rule, and Stark had quite a lot to do with it.

Just checking to make sure you weren't ready to redefine Stark as well.

‘No, I haven't. Is your refusal to acknowledge contribution by the militia coming from it?’

Where have I refused to acknowledge any contribution from the militia? You actually don’t understand what I’ve been posting, do you?

Actually, I read English reasonably well. Sorry you didn't notice this was, in fact, the answer to your question about the Wright book.

How can you argue anything about the Continentals without reading one of the best works on the subject.

Being well versed in the militia and the revolution overall certainly doesn't require adherence to a single author. I have read a few books along the way. However, again, I didn't deny that it would be nice to have a huge professional army to do our fighting in the AR. I simply recognized the very strong contributions to our nation's independence made by the various militia. Some strong, some weak. I feel quite confident I admitted that militia did not always do well. Did you ever admit to any shortcomings in the Continental Army or the possibility that your wish list is a bit aggressive given the country's economic state at the time?

Have you read the Book of the Continental Soldier or Ward’s The Delaware Continentals? Royster has also done excellent work on the Continental Army, and there is also an excellent book on the North Carolina Continentals by Rankin. Seems to my you’re only read one side of the discussion/argument. Perhaps you should hit the books?

Perhaps you might consider that those with opinions that differ from your own might also be coming from a place of study and reflection. I may look at these texts at some point but am currently interested elsewhere.

The militia has been given credit when they deserve it. They have also been criticized when they deserved it-and the latter outways the former by a great deal. What you’re trying to do is give the militia credit for what they haven’t done, and that is historically inaccurate.

Actually, I would suggest you have been quite stingy about giving the militia much credit. Which is, in my opinion, incorrect. We owe much to their contribution.

Maybe the war would have been shorter. But only if everything falls just as you say. again, speculative. I thought the subject was who did what? not, who might have done better if?
It isn’t speculative at all. And I’m not the only person that has written about it. Royster, Col Elting, Wright, Peterson, and a host of other historians have said so before I have. And we have talked about who did what, and also who failed to do what-and the last can largely be laid at the door of the militia.

Speculative history remains speculative even when good folk engage in it. I enjoy it myself. However, I like to remember that history is what did happen. Speculation is what might have been. Something that is not proveable. After all, I believe you will find a host of historians who agree with me that the militia deserve part of the credit for winning the American Revolution.

Sincerely,
M
E

Last edited by Elijah; 01 Apr 12 at 00:23..
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Old 01 Apr 12, 11:11
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Real Name: Kevin F. Kiley
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Location: Jacksonville
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‘You might consider that I have in no way failed to acknowledge the contributions of the CA. However, I am continuing to maintain they did not do it alone. We owe victory to the militia also.’

Actually, if you study the Continental Army and the War of the Revolution a little more deeply, you’ll find that the US won despite the militia. The militia caused too many problems and from my study of the war, lengthened it. The militia’s contribution did not equal that of the Continental Army.

‘Source? Elting. He provided the number of Continentals available as about 4500 which consisted of the units Gates sent to protect the flanks. IE Freeman's Farm. Without the militia providing numbers for the defensive works, the efforts at Freeman's could not have been as strong. I applied some independent thought to the situation as presented.’

So, you’re speculating without any hard evidence. The militia emplaced in the works were undoubtedly capable of that mission, though they were unopposed, but were undoubtedly not fit to go toe to toe with the British and Germans, as the Continental Army did-and these Continental units did not have the benefit of von Steuben’s training yet.

‘Simply saying the regiments available for the battles at Freeman's Farm may have been lessened and the situation simply not as favorable without the 7000+ militia and state troops who provided numbers for the defensive works. However, I continue to assert that you refuse to acknowledge that militia also had a strong hand at Saratoga. I realize you claim otherwise but, in truth, your overall assessment is such as to deny the militia claim to having a role in the victory of the AR.’

I don’t agree that the militia had a strong hand at the battles of Saratoga-nothing like Stark got out of them at Bennington.

Further, you’re employing speculation again, something you have repeatedly attempted to take me to task for. Isn’t that somewhat self-serving and hypocritical?

‘As Greene’s three battles in the Carolinas took place between March and September 1781, the comment about ‘a long time’ is somewhat optimistic and premature.Not really. Many of those men had been in the field for years. Even the latecomers with Pickens (who also had prior experience as Indian fighters) started in December 1780. By Eutaw Springs (the battle you mentioned) they would have been involved in several battles over several months.’

Evidence? Can you cite source material to support your conjectures?

'So, by definition, militia consists of men without military skill while men with military skill are 'volunteers'. hmmmm, I am not familiar with that particular definition. Are you aware of how many of the King's Mountain fighters were 'overmountain men' as opposed to local SC or NC or GA militia units in the area? I think I'll stick with the scarcasm on this one.'

If that is your opinion, then support it. If you cannot, then it is just an opinion and one that I believe is unsupportable from your viewpoint. Are you aware of how the numbers were distributed for Kings Mountain and how many of the Americans were actually armed? Do you have any good sources on Kings Mountain? I’d be interested in seeing your list.

‘Just checking to make sure you weren't ready to redefine Stark as well.’


Oh, please, give it, and your ‘sarcasm’ a rest-that is nothing more than a baiting comment and quite useless in a historical discussion, unless you are attempting to begin the ad hominem nonsense.

'Being well versed in the militia and the revolution overall certainly doesn't require adherence to a single author. I have read a few books along the way. However, again, I didn't deny that it would be nice to have a huge professional army to do our fighting in the AR. I simply recognized the very strong contributions to our nation's independence made by the various militia. Some strong, some weak. I feel quite confident I admitted that militia did not always do well. Did you ever admit to any shortcomings in the Continental Army or the possibility that your wish list is a bit aggressive given the country's economic state at the time?'

I haven’t provided any ‘wish list.’ Further, noone is recommending 'adherence to a single author' which is why I have provided you with a few that are essential reading for any substantial understanding of the question at hand.

You obviously have at least two problems in your 'analysis' of the Continental Army and the American militia-you haven’t studied the period, especially regarding the Continental Army, and I would guess not the British Army and the German auxiliaries either. You also don’t cite evidence from any pertinent publications, though plenty of source material has been given to you.

Have you read the Book of the Continental Soldier or Ward’s The Delaware Continentals? Royster has also done excellent work on the Continental Army, and there is also an excellent book on the North Carolina Continentals by Rankin. Seems to my you’re only read one side of the discussion/argument. Perhaps you should hit the books?

‘Perhaps you might consider that those with opinions that differ from your own might also be coming from a place of study and reflection. I may look at these texts at some point but am currently interested elsewhere.’

So, in short, you haven’t studied the Continental Army in any detail and therefore you cannot compare/contrast with the militia, with whom you have an exaggerated admiration for. I can support my position historically and factually, and have done my master’s thesis on that very subject. By your own admission, your opinion is based on material on the militia and not by any actual study of the Continental Army. You’re relying on myth, it seems to me, and not fact.

What books have you used for reference?

The militia has been given credit when they deserve it. They have also been criticized when they deserved it-and the latter outweighs the former by a great deal. What you’re trying to do is give the militia credit for what they haven’t done, and that is historically inaccurate.


The enduring myth of the ‘embattled farmer’, which you apparently have completely bought into, unfortunately colors the interpretation of what the militia actually did accomplish. You’re definitely overestimating their performance/contribution.

‘Maybe the war would have been shorter. But only if everything falls just as you say. again, speculative. I thought the subject was who did what? not, who might have done better if?

It isn’t speculative at all. And I’m not the only person that has written about it. Royster, Col Elting, Wright, Peterson, and a host of other historians have said so before I have. And we have talked about who did what, and also who failed to do what-and the last can largely be laid at the door of the militia.’

And who belongs, besides John Shy, to this ‘host of other historians’ to whom you refer?

‘Speculative history remains speculative even when good folk engage in it. I enjoy it myself. However, I like to remember that history is what did happen. Speculation is what might have been. Something that is not proveable. After all, I believe you will find a host of historians who agree with me that the militia deserve part of the credit for winning the American Revolution.’

I agree that some of the militia deserve partial credit for their service in the War of the Revolution (the actual title by the way, the American Revolution actually lasted from 1763-1789, beginning with the Proclamation of 1763 and ended with the adoption of the US Constitution). I have never stated otherwise.

My objection is the credit given the militia, by you here and others elsewhere, that is blown out of all proportion and cannot be supported historically. The militia was not one of the reasons the US won-the US won in spite of all the inherent problems with the militia.

Finally, you might want to take a look at the book Citizens in Arms: The Army and the Militia in American Society to the War of 1812 by Lawrence Delbert Cross. That and Wright’s Continental Army bring out the problems with the militia as well as why the Continental Army had recruiting problems in the War of the Revolution.

Sincerely,
M
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