Very interesting…

Stormbringer has a neat look into the British view of the Revolutionary War.

Sean asks, how did the ragtag Continental Army defeat the British? Well, aside from having the home field advantage, one overwhelming factor was the Brit’s ongoing fight with the French. Without the distraction of having to face the huge continental power of France, the Brits would have been able to focus their efforts on the rebellion and overwhelm our forces. But because France and Britain were always at one another’s throats, the Brits had no choice but to fight an economy-of-force campaign in North America.

26 thoughts on “Very interesting…”

  1. Home field advantage …. not necessarily so. From my understanding of history (albeit from a Canadian perspective), 1/3 were loyal to the Revolution, 1/3 were loyal to Britain, and 1/3 were neutral. When the Continental Army became victorious, what was then Canada became flooded with refugees from the colonies.

    The British and their allies lost the war for the same reason that all losing armies/sides lose in a war …. lack of political will, inadequate resources, bad Generals and officers, and an unwillingness (in this case) from the British to continue the fight against their “distant cousins”.

    This was not the case when the war of 1812 broke out. Even though the British were heavily engaged in fighting Napoleon, forces in Canada easily repelled an American invasion of Canada in 1812 and the British were successful in burning the White House in 1814. But with Napoleon ultimately gone … the reason for a continuation of the war became mute.

    Today …. our battles are now confined to the hockey rink and the Olympics. So …. Go Canada Go.

  2. By “home field advantage” I meant more that they operated on interior lines of communication, and weren’t at the end of a 4000 mile chain of command. Fighting on their own ground gave a sense of urgency to the Americans that the British command just didn’t have.

    And for the Brits, losing the colonies could be survived. Losing to the French could not.

    For the Americans, losing wasn’t an option either.

  3. That’s why Saratoga was such an important battle: Without that victory, the British are still viable in the upper Colonies, the French don’t jump in to the fight on the Rebel side (why yes, I am Canadian, why do you ask? 🙂 ) and the French fleet isn’t there to block Cornwallis’ relief at Yorktown.

    And Burgoyne’s “gloomy prospects” after the Bunker Hill got even worse after Dochester Heights, but the Brits turned things around in a big way at the battle of Brooklyn.

    The takeaway? Each side in a war is utterly convinced they are losing to the battle, right up to the point where one is proven wrong.

  4. As much as I like bragging about the sack of Washington, the fact is, it was in retaliation for you Yanks sacking York (aka Toronto).

    Now, as someone born and raised in Alberta, I can’t completely condemn that action, but… 🙂

    The fact is, when it comes to military matters, we Canadians punch above our weight: No army in the world does so much with so little as the Canadians.

  5. For the “rebels” …. losing wasn’t an option. But the same can also be said for many of the colonists who were loyal to the crown …. losing was not an option for them but losing is what happened.

    The American Revolutionary War was not a war against Americans and the British, it was a “civil-war” among people who lived in the 13 colonies …. divided among those who believed in the crown and those who were disgusted with it …. with the British military (at the beginning) finding themselves in the middle of it, and even London being completely clueless on what was happening.

    Benjamin Franklin’s son supported the crown, and never talked to his father again. Almost all of the Indian tribes supported Britain, as well as many African-American slaves in the South.

    Even John Adams was always looking for some accommodation and reconciliation to be preferable than revolution and the bloodshed that it would unleashed. His loyalty to the Crown (and many of the others at the Second Continental Congress) only changed when the British Crown called them traitors and sentenced them to death. If an olive branch from the Crown was given out instead …. or some accommodation offered …. the Revolutionary War that we remember would never have happened.

    In the end Adams, Jefferson, Franklin …. they all understood that to win the war they had to win it politically …. and being the masters that they were, they did it brilliantly …. with a little help from George Washington.

    On a side note …. I only recently discovered this blog. Kudos to the webmaster …. this is an excellent blog and it is now on my “to read everyday” list.

  6. ExurbanKevin …. you are right about the sacking of York …. I forgot about that. Bastards. One more reason to boo the US Olympic Hockey team when they play against Canada on February 21 in Vancouver.

  7. WNU, It’s just little old me blogging here. There’s a subscribe button on the right.

    And while there is some truth to the “civil war” argument, it’s always amazed me the level of support the New England states gave to the Revolution. They were deeply dependent on trade with England for their livelihood. Support from the South was greater (hence all the Virginians among the Founding Fathers), but without at least some genuine support from the Northeast, there would have been no independence.

  8. Kevin, I’ve always liked the land component of the Canadian Forces. Too bad you guys don’t have an army anymore.

    Of course, you’d get an argument from your cousins the Aussies and the Kiwis as to who were the real shock troops of the Empire.

  9. Don’t get me started on the pathetic state of the Canadian Armed Forces. When Denmark, DENMARK!!! is pushing your Navy around, you know you don’t really have a military.

    Funny thing is, my 3-gun rifle is a 20″ barrel AR with an ambi safety,railed top and a folding buttstock. Without meaning to, it seems I accidentally built myself a Diemaco C7A2. 🙂

  10. Peter Worthington from the Toronto Sun has a splendid article on what the Canadian military is all about …. especially when compared to the arm forces of other countries, that link is the following …

    The best line in his story is found near the end of his article and is reflective of his experience when he served during the Korean war ….

    …. A favourite memory is that behind our front lines was the U.S. 2nd Division. Driving to Seoul, you’d pass their units, all of which seemed to boast the motto “Second to None.” On leaving their area was a small Canadian postal unit in a stucco hut that displayed the sign: “We are None.” ….

    Nuff said.

  11. I have always read that the American Revolution was like any other Civil War, 10% loyal to the Crown, 10% Reveloutionary, and the other 80% just wanted to be left alone.

  12. The RN always claims the credit for breaking the back of the U-Boot Waffe, but it was the Canadian Escort Groups that did the heavy lifting west of the MOMP. YAY RCN! I wish you were still around!

  13. Not to knock the RCN, but most of the time, when the RN talks about the RN in WWII, they mean all the Crown fleets.

    Having said that, no single Navy can take credit for it. The Battle of the North Atlantic was pretty much the longest, most widespread campaign of the war. And the battle swayed back and forth several times. It wasn’t until 1943 that it became apparent that the U-boats wouldn’t sever the supply line.

  14. Yes, that is true. Let us also not forget that it was USN Hunter Killer CVE groups that hunted the milch cows down. It was a combined effort that won the day.
    What apity that the USN did not go with the Sea Control version of the BRISTOLs rather than the DEs, since the BRISTOLs were already in production, we could have seen large numbers of Escort Destroyers by the mid to late 1942 time frame, rather than the mid 43 arrival of the DEs.

  15. Scott, I saw you pounding this drum over at CDR Sal’s, and I hate to tell you, but you’re wrong.

    The reason the BRISTOL mod wasn’t built is simple. There was no spare capacity to build them. Every slip that could build one was filled with a FLETCHER.

    In fact, the real production limiter wasn’t slips, but gearcutting. There wasn’t enough capacity in the first half of the war to make enough reduction gears to build as many ships as the Navy might like.

    That limit on the available sets of reduction gears is why the early DEs were Diesel powered (tho there were great limits on the available numbers of Diesel powerplants).

    There was also something of a shortage of 5″/25s, which were mostly phased out in favor of 5″/38s, which is one reason the early DEs had 3″/50s.

  16. The 5″/25 was only used on pre war capital ships, the ones that were going to be used on the DE conversions would have come, I suppose, from stock made available by thier replacement with 5″/38s. The 5″/25s used on subs were new production.

    I quite agree with you about the gear cutting problems, but I understand that the idea was that the DDs that were completed as BRISTOL DDs would have been completed as sea control DDEs, with one less boiler, for more range, like the escort versions of the V & W RN DDs, and the 4 pipers becoming 2 pipers in our Navy. So the gears cut for DD BRISTOLs would have gone into DDE BRISTOLs. But the point really is moot, as the Navy went with the DEs. Don’t get me wrong, my favorite escort ship of WWII is the JOHN C BUTLER class DE. But they only got into full production after the war was basically already won, because of the gear cutting problems you point out, hence the RUDDEROWs, basically a BUTLER with a BUCKLEY power plant.

  17. But as I said at Sal’s I don’t have access to my Friedman right now, and operating off of what I can recall on the subject, so I will concede the subject to you right now, as I may have my information wrong.

  18. Well, at that time, there was a severe shortage of DDs, especially in the Pacific.

    Making DDEs instead of DDs probably wouldn’t have saved much time or generated many more hulls.

    Sure, the Butler’s were the best of the DEs, but that’s because by the time they came around, we could afford the luxury of building them.

  19. But it was policy to concentrate on the ETO. The poor Asiatic Fleet was expected to take on the IJN with 4 pipers, for heaven’s sake! Planning ahead is not an American virtye, is it?

    As it was, the BRISTOLs shedding a 5″, and gaing depth charge stowage wound up being the sea control version, for all practical purposes. We just might have gotten them all Atlantic ready earlier. Of all the DDs we have made since the Bainbridge, back around 1900, the FLETCHERs are my favorites. There is just something right about them. Yeah, the SUMNER/GEARINGs were better armed, but I still love the FLETCHERs!

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