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"AWI" Topic

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Louisbourg Grenadiers Inactive Member28 Mar 2007 5:56 p.m. PST

Hello 18thC message board.

I have been reading with interest different threads on the AWI. My background is mostly Napoleonic and lately FIW. Being Canadian I always found the FIW interesting with North America being decided on the Plains of Abraham.

Back to AWI. How do gamers find the period? Is it a close offshoot of the FIW in flavor?

I have seen that a couple of companys are moving into 40mm. I perfer the bigger scales. I'm into collecting 54mm figures and the history that goes along with them. So for a wargamming experence 40mm looks cool.

For the AWI what sourcebooks would you recommend. I would like a couple of books that have the political background but also dive into the battles and campaign's.



doc mcb Inactive Member28 Mar 2007 6:07 p.m. PST

If you can find it, the standard operation history is Christopher Ward, THE WAR OF THE REVOLUTION, 2 vols. It's op, I think, but there's lots of old copies around.

doc mcb Inactive Member28 Mar 2007 6:09 p.m. PST

from an Amazon review: I pretty much concur.

Sixty years ago, Christopher Ward penned this gem of a history of the Revolutionary War.

In two volumes at almost 1,000 pages, this book is thorough. It presents a traditional military campaign history of the Revolution. What the reader gets are clear descriptions of battles and the ebb and flow of the war between the British and our side.

It's easy to read and well-organized format make this an ideal reference work, also. Although maps are simply drawn, they convey a clear picture of troop dispositions and identities at major battles.

There is a romance to this book that perhaps harks back to an earlier time. Although our side is portrayed faults as well as triumphs, Ward has a simple eloquence that imparts to reader a sense of wonder and patriotism at the perseverance of our troops and leaders. Richard Ketchum comes to mind as a comparison in his more recent accounts of Revolutionary War battles (although Ketchum makes more use of diary entries as he is focusing on single battles as opposed to the entire War).

This is out of print and will only be found on Z-shops or at antique bookstores.

Buckeye AKA Darryl28 Mar 2007 6:40 p.m. PST

For a great discussion of small unit tactics one could do worse than getting Lawrence Babit's A Devil of a Whipping, details the battle of Cowpens.

highlandcatfrog Inactive Member28 Mar 2007 7:25 p.m. PST

I heartily concur on the above mentioned titles and would add PAUL REVERE'S RIDE and WASHINGTON'S CROSSING by David Hacket Fischer, THE MINUTEMEN by John Galvin, and THE SPIRIT OF '76 by Comager and Morris. Start with Ward though. You ought to be able to find it on abebooks. I got real lucky – found a mint condition boxed set at an estate sale a year ago for $5.00. VICTORY IS MINE!!!!!

tiger g Inactive Member28 Mar 2007 7:30 p.m. PST

The Christopher Ward book has been republished in paperback and has been available at most of the major bookstores in the bargin books sections.

mikeah Inactive Member28 Mar 2007 7:51 p.m. PST

Christopher Ward's wonderful "The War of the Revolution" IS BACK IN PRINT!!!! It is now a single volume hardback ISBN: 1-56852-576-1. I got it in Waldenbooks.

But to answer your question, AWI is a unique war full of improbable events, memorable personalities and imposible victories. It's an infantry war, neither artillery nor cavalry playing a big part. The armies are small, yet even the smallest of battles had decisive results. If you ever wanted evidence of divine intervention, this is the war.

It has none of the grandure of Napoleonics, the fancy uniforms of the SYW or the scale of ACW. Yet, it is my favorite period to game, or to read about. The story goes way beyond the facts.

artslave Inactive Member28 Mar 2007 9:42 p.m. PST

I would agree with mikeah, and his view on the AWI as a mostly infantry war. Lessons were carried over from the FI, though, so much more thinking went into the still-evolving light infantry. Because of the size of forces and small contingents of horse, this makes a period well suited to larger figures. A friend does this in grand style with his beautifully painted 54mm. He uses Age of Reason, and just doubles the fire and movement ranges.

GiloUK29 Mar 2007 2:20 a.m. PST

Other good single volumes histories are:

"Redcoats and Rebels" by Christopher Hibbert.
"Rebels and Redcoats" by Hugh Bicheno.
"A Few Bloody Noses" by Neil Harvey.

There is also an Osprey "Essential History" and a couple of very good books in Osprey's "Campaign" series by Brendan Morrissey.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2007 6:04 a.m. PST

Once again, I must apologize for the paucity of AWI reference material at my desk at work. If I can remember authors, I will include them.

Although superficially similar, I find the FIW and AWI different in approach.
The FIW seems to me to be yet another dynastic struggle, with the AWI as a more "total" war. In the FIW, there is the background knowledge that things won could be given back at the peace conference, as happened too often in the past. The AWI is more black and white, and "for keeps".
In the AWI, to me at any rate, the guerilla war operates more in the background of the big battles, while in the FIW, it is the opposite. That is how I game them, at any rate, and I freely admit that my impressions could be held by none but me.

For a comprehensive history, I would recommend both the American Heritage "History of the Revolution" book, and Middlekauff's "The Glorious Cause".

For specific campaigns, I recommend Fischer's "Washington's Crossing" for Trenton and Princeton. However, this is much more than that, with an extensive analysis of the Hessians, and may be one of the best AWI campaign books around.
"The Road to Guilford Courthouse" by John Buchanan is really a history of the entire Southern campaign.
Anything by Richard Ketchum, particularly "Saratoga" is good.

I would not read the Osprey Campaign books in isolation, as Morissey has bees in his bonnet about certain things, like Sam Adams firing the first shot at Lexington. Interesting idea, but pure speculation.

There is unfortunately no comprehensive volumes on either flags or uniforms, and I should prpbably put parentheses around "uniforms".
Mollo is cheap, and as close to comprehensive as we can get, but it has its detractors in that it seems to put too much emphasis on deserter descriptions. Maybe, but it is cheap, with loads of nice color plates.
Troiani has a brand new book out, but it is more on uniforms that he can prove (not a bad thing) and that strike his fancy.
Use both books.
Richardson's "Standards and Colors of the American Revolution" is unfortunately OOP. It is fantastic for American, good for French, and cursory for British and German. Apparently Richardson knew nothing of the recently unearthed Tarleton flags, though.

The flag and uniform information in Funcken is all over the place, in the Lace Wars series for the British and some French and the American Wars for Americans, Hessians and some of the French. OOP, and usually available only in French, although English translations are available but scarce. I am vaguely uneasy about its overall accuracy, but use it when nothing else is available.

For novels, I like the old fashioned sprawling ones written by Kenneth roberts, particularly "Oliver wiswell" which is written from the Loyakist perspective. Louisbourg, you would probably like it, being Canadian.
Roberts also treats Arnold rather well in Arundel and Rabble at Arms.
For the Commie Leftist pespective, Howard Fast is always fascinating.
I don't like Shaara, as he is a very wooden writer, and seems to write novels about statues.

Dennis Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2007 6:46 a.m. PST

Chris Ward's 2 vol. history of the AWI is very good considering its age (pub in about 1952, IIRC), and has been republished in a one-vol paperback by, I think, Barnes & Noble's in-house publisher. It has also been republished as a one-vol hardback by Konecky & Konecky, a reprint publisher. Our local Half-Price Books has multiple copies of the Hardback version (maybe $10 USD +-) and I suggest you check there first.

Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause is, as John says, also very good for its treatment of the war as a whole. It was published as part of the Oxford U Press's History of the United States along with James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, and is very similar to it in layout and treatment. A second edition of the Glorious Cause was published a year or two ago and so copies of the first edition should be available cheap.

I also like Don Higginbotham's The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763-1789, but I haven't seen anyone else mention it so I'm not sure how it's generally viewed.


Louisbourg Grenadiers Inactive Member29 Mar 2007 9:33 a.m. PST

Thanks gents for your views. I went out to my public libery today and was able to find Middlekauff's 'The Glorious Cause'.

There were a couple of other titles there; '1776' by David McCullough and 'The First Salute' by Barbara W. Tuchman.

On a different note also checked out 'Culloden' by John Prebble. Different subject matter but my favorite army involed – THE BRITISH ARMY 1740-1783. I enjoy the British Army at this time, you have; WAS, 45', SYW, FIW and AWI. Oops, different thread!


Thomas Mante Inactive Member29 Mar 2007 1:28 p.m. PST


Good luck with Culloden, I read it some years ago. Prebble's book was used as the basis of the 1964(?) docu-drama (to use a modern term) by Peter Watkins. In fact Prebble was advisor on the film. Prebble however has a big agenda. Broadly speaking it is highlanders = good, everything else = bad.

A much better treatment is given in Stuart Reid's 'Like Hungry Wolves' and his military history of the '45 (I forget the title). Christopher Duffy, one of the best military historians writing in English at the current time, has also published a great fat book on the '45 which will proabably becoem the default standard history.

As this is really an AWI theme let me echo the recommendation of Ward's work and Hackett Fischer's 'Washington's Crossing'. I tend to shy away from Ketchum's books because he does not footnote and I like to think I could check stuff out if I wanted to. If you like Ketchum's work then you might like to try any one of a number of books by Thomas Fleming. Lawrence Babits' Devil of a Whipping' is as Darryl recommends a good place to start to get into detailed battle studies although many do not like his use of pension statements.

Louisbourg Grenadiers Inactive Member30 Mar 2007 4:43 p.m. PST

Hello Thomas

I have read the first few chapters of 'Culloden'. I see your point – "Broadly speaking it is highlanders = good, everything else = bad."

I remember seeing Hackett Fischer's 'Washington's Crossing' at Chapters – Canada's biggest bookstore chain.

Kevin F Kiley Inactive Member05 Apr 2007 7:36 p.m. PST

There is an encyclopedia of uniforms for the Revolution coming out in the near future, though I don't know the publication date yet. There will be about 350 uniforms illustrated including the US, Great Britain, French, assorted Germans, Spanish and Indians. The navies, colors, and kit are also covered. It is hardcover in a larger than normal format. I've seen quite a few of the illustrations and they are excellent and based on the best sourcing available. The artwork is also excellent and held to a very high standard.

Ward also wrote a book on the Delaware Continentals which I would also recommend. Further, there is an excellent uniform book done by The Company of Military Historians on the Revolutionary era, along with another by Phillip Katcher. Charles Royster is also an excellent author and his study of the Continental Army is one to get hold of. I would take anything written by Don Higginbotham with a very large salt pill. I had him as a professor in college and was not impressed.

Yngtitan09 May 2008 9:51 p.m. PST

I was interested in the comment that someone uses Aor for 54mm AWI. I also have been doing it. Does your friend have any pics posted for unit sizes etc. I used 4man stands on 3'x3' inch bases. Just curious. I have pics posted on the little wars yahoo group site.

sincerely, Dale Wood

historygamer10 May 2008 6:49 p.m. PST

The problem of gaming F&I is that you are largely reduced to skirmish gaming, so if you are looking for large field armies duking it out, F&I is not for you – seeing how there were only two real large open field battles (Quebec I and II).

Now if you are into skirmish gaming, then F&I is very good, and has a lot of similarities to AWI on that level, given the players, the weapons, and the small scale tactics.

Knight Templar Inactive Member10 May 2008 9:31 p.m. PST

I would never hazard to comment on this period without first consulting with John the OFM. My normal Templar impetuosity is dampened in his presence on this board.

Captain Crunch11 May 2008 8:08 p.m. PST

I second Knight Templar's comment about John the OFM. He turned me on to some great books and reference materials for this period.

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