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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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  #1  
Old 24 Jun 06, 19:39
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Question What was the biggest British mistake committed in prosecuting the Revolutionary War?

What was the key mistake the British committed that caused them to lose control of American North America?

Off hand, I'd say that it was treating the rebellion like a minor affair and one that could be easily overcome by the application of existing force. If I had been the Governour General of North America, after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, I would have made every attempt to enlist the aid of ALL Loyalist people, raising Regiments that were on equal pay and rank status and entitled to all the perks of the established British Regular Army Regiments that were sent to North America to quell the rebellion.

During the Revolutionary War, only one Loyalist Regiment was elevated to the Status of "Regular Army", the 84th Regiment of Foote, Royal Highland Emigrants. The British should have raised dozens of Loyalist Regiments to that status and done so at the earliest opportunity. It could have proved the critical difference in that war. They really missed the boat.
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  #2  
Old 25 Jun 06, 22:03
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Not producing the Ferguson Rifle in large numbers. Not only would it have defeated the American Rebellion, it would've in all likelyhood avoided the Napoleonic Wars too.....................

Arguably one of the most important weapons in all of history who's technology wasn't capitalized on.

In a side (but simular) thought........learning too late to respect the American rifleman. The Revolution was the first "snipers war".................................
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Old 26 Jun 06, 16:23
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Wellington in 1812 argued correctly that the major blunder was to occupy the cities. The Duke noted that the US was not urban. The people and the army could simply melt away into the countryside to regroup and fight again. Which of course they did.
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Old 26 Jun 06, 16:46
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The British, although this might have been seen as an act of piracy or something like that, should have used their navy to launch preemptive strikes on French ships in port. This would have reduced the French ability to use that navy to trap Cornwallis's troops at Yorktown.

I think the greatest mistake they made was that they never learned to respect their enemy. Regarding them as farmers with pitchforks and little else did not do justice to the fact that the Continental Army had learned what they had to...they learned to fight as a regular army. If you don't respect your enemy, he will force that respect out of you.
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Old 26 Jun 06, 17:30
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To paraphrase modern times: attempting to engage a 2nd generation warfare opponent using 1st generation doctrine and tactics.

They were expecting to wage classical warfare against a European type of opponent on a classical field of battle.
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Old 26 Jun 06, 18:29
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Not giving George Washington a commision as a regular officer in the British Army as requested by him, but instead left him as a discontented Col in what today would be regarded as a National Guard unit.

Would this have changed the outcome....I doubt it as other leaders would have stepped forward and the outcome would have probably been the same but maybe taken a lot longer.

Just think if the war had gone the other way you guys, (USA), would get to celebrate a few days early ..1 July Canada Day .....

per ardua ad astra
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Old 26 Jun 06, 19:04
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Old 26 Jun 06, 19:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lance Williams
Not producing the Ferguson Rifle in large numbers. Not only would it have defeated the American Rebellion, it would've in all likelyhood avoided the Napoleonic Wars too.....................

Arguably one of the most important weapons in all of history who's technology wasn't capitalized on.

In a side (but simular) thought........learning too late to respect the American rifleman. The Revolution was the first "snipers war".................................

I've seen a Ferguson rifle used on the range and it's a beautiful piece of construction. To open the breech, the trigger guard assembly swings open 3/4's of a turn and the screw breech drops opens, enabling you to load the musket ball and powder charge via the top of the musket. Returning the trigger guard assembly closes the breech. Then, all you have to do is to prime its pan, bring the hammer to full cock and away you go. My guess is that you could get alot of aimed rounds off in one minute, rather than the three per minute that you could get off with a Brown Bess Musket.

Supposedly, several hundred of the muskets were returned to England after the end of hostilities. I'd like to think that they are still standing in some forgotten, dusty, room of a castle armoury, somewhere in Blighty.
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Old 28 Jun 06, 18:57
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Another mistake that the British made in the prosecution of the Revolutionary War was not shipping enough Regular Cavalry Regiments to North America. This was partially because of the fact that horses did not travel well aboard ship for long sea journeys and a large number of them would sicken and die from "Shipping Fever."

However, had the British posessed several Regiments of Cavalry during Washington's retreat through New York and New Jersey, they could have done what cavalry did best in those days- ride down enemy infantry and bring them to ground, to allow the pursuing British infantry to bring them to a destructive end battle.
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Old 28 Jun 06, 20:47
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Firstly, not giving the colonists a say in Parliament was bad enough. Once the Revolution got momentum they were in real trouble because of the long distance it took to ship supplies, men, and orders from England to America. The British also should have taken advantage of the huge number of Loyalists in the United States. Only around a third actively supported the Revolution, a third were Loyalists, and a third were unsure. Making a greater use of slaves would have helped as well. As Wellington pointed out, the British should have first secured the major cities, than advanced into the countryside making great use of their native allies to find the enemy.
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Old 28 Jun 06, 21:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napoleon
Firstly, not giving the colonists a say in Parliament was bad enough. Once the Revolution got momentum they were in real trouble because of the long distance it took to ship supplies, men, and orders from England to America. The British also should have taken advantage of the huge number of Loyalists in the United States. Only around a third actively supported the Revolution, a third were Loyalists, and a third were unsure. Making a greater use of slaves would have helped as well. As Wellington pointed out, the British should have first secured the major cities, than advanced into the countryside making great use of their native allies to find the enemy.
You're right! I forgot about the use of slaves as possible soldiers.
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Old 29 Jun 06, 06:06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnbryan
You're right! I forgot about the use of slaves as possible soldiers.
Wasn't going to happen. England had not ended slavery in the rest of the Empire at the time of the Revolution. Whether he liked it or not King George was waging a politically unpopular war. It is unlikely that any serious polititian in Britain would have advocated using "African" slaves against English colonists. Even if they had wanted to they could not have dared to enrage the West Indian colonists, large financial interests and traders at home, or the English public.

Even if the extremely unlikely event of this action being taken to help the war against the colonist was made it would have led to the the loss of control of parliment. That would have led to a conclusion of the war on terms favorable to the colonials making it a poor move both politically and militarily.
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Last edited by Widow Maker; 29 Jun 06 at 06:13..
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Old 29 Jun 06, 14:10
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Actually, the British did raise units with ex-Slave volunteers before the war was over. They also transported runaways to somewhere else. This was a pain, but it hurt the Rebels more than the British. Remember the British wanted a compliant set of colonies, not some that were turned upside down, as radical steps would have done.

One reason the British were slow to raise regular regiments of Colonials is once you raise a regiment it becomes the property of the Colonel, so to speak. As a retirement system, the officers could sell their places. The King is then obliged to add the officers to the retirement system and pay for equipment, etc. It was really cheaper to hire German Mercenaries. The Germans came already trained and were not part of the British Army systems.

Colonials were not good for use anywhere besides the North American Forests (with apologies to the 60th Foot, the Royal American Regiment).

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Old 29 Jun 06, 15:33
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Biggest Mistake

The biggest British mistake was they're inability to grasp that there could not be a miltary victory without a political solution of the issues which caused the war in the first place. Basically to me that means that the colonists demanded a new relationship with the Crown and England. A relationship that was more of equality rather than subjects and King. IMHO the specific issues tea, taxes, troops in houses etc. were all just a covering for a smoldering resentment which exploded into war. Had England recognized this and made liberal changes in the realtionship perhaps we would be part of the Commonwealth today.
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Old 29 Jun 06, 15:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt
Actually, the British did raise units with ex-Slave volunteers before the war was over. They also transported runaways to somewhere else. This was a pain, but it hurt the Rebels more than the British. Remember the British wanted a compliant set of colonies, not some that were turned upside down, as radical steps would have done.

One reason the British were slow to raise regular regiments of Colonials is once you raise a regiment it becomes the property of the Colonel, so to speak. As a retirement system, the officers could sell their places. The King is then obliged to add the officers to the retirement system and pay for equipment, etc. It was really cheaper to hire German Mercenaries. The Germans came already trained and were not part of the British Army systems.

Colonials were not good for use anywhere besides the North American Forests (with apologies to the 60th Foot, the Royal American Regiment).

Pruitt
Colonials who were on the British Regular Military Establishment were trained and performed as such. They took their place in the line amongst the other Regulars and fought using linear tactics in the same type of set-piece battles in North America that they would have fought in anywhere else in the Empire.

The 84th Regiment of Foote did quite well wherever it was posted. In fact, years later they were once again called up and used during the Napoleonic Wars. They were later officially known as the York and Lancaster Regiment. The descendants who settled around Windsor, Ontario became the founding members of Canada's Essex-Kent Light Infantry Regiment.
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