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"Between Two Republics: American Military Volunteers" Topic


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©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2019 8:47 p.m. PST

…in Revolutionary France.

"Historians have long recognized the vital contributions of French soldiers and officers to the American colonists during the American Revolution. Without the assistance of the approximately one hundred French officers who enlisted directly in the Continental Army and the ten thousand French expeditionary troops dispatched to North America between 1779 and 1783, it is doubtful that the colonists would have triumphed in their rebellion against British rule.[1] In addition, the close contact with American republicanism that those French soldiers underwent likely played a role in disseminating revolutionary ideas in France when they returned.[2] Yet despite the vast body of literature comparing and contrasting the American and French revolutions and exploring the influences of the first on the second, scholars have afforded little attention to the natives of the United States who, bringing full circle the contributions of French soldiers to American independence, served in the armies of revolutionary France.[3]

To be sure, American military volunteers during the French Revolution comprised only a minuscule group, dwarfed in number by foreigners of other nationalities who bore arms for the French revolutionaries. Nonetheless, throughout the era natives of the United States enlisted in the French military on a variety of fronts. A majority were involved in French campaigns in North America, including most notably George Rogers Clark's effort to recapture Louisiana for France in 1793, as well as Ira Allen's project, endorsed by the Directory and only narrowly thwarted by the British navy, to invade Canada with Vermont militiamen serving under the French flag.[4] At the same time, a smaller number of Americans fought with French forces in Europe itself, including Eleazer Oswald, a printer from Philadelphia who despite a lack of French language skills commanded a company of artillery under general Charles-François Dumouriez in Belgium.[5] A handful of Americans were also present in Napoleon's Irish Legion during the early-1800s, and some served aboard French warships, though perhaps unwillingly…"
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