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©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 8:25 p.m. PST

Of possible interest?


link

Amicalement
Armand

doc mcb22 Feb 2021 8:40 p.m. PST

Yes, a very useful reference.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2021 11:09 a.m. PST

Happy for that my friend! (smile)

Amicalement
Armand

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 7:01 a.m. PST

A valuable asset.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 10:47 a.m. PST

Interestingly, both the National Museum of American (Smithsonian) "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War"
and the National Park Service: "American Revolution- Timeline" omit reference to Long Island/Brooklyn & Manhattan, Brandywine & Germantown, Monmouth CH, Camden.

The latter does mention the "costly British victory" at Guilford CH.

Big up for Saratoga and Charleston.

However, in the Smithsonian site's "Myths of the American Revolution," Prof John Ferling' includes interesting observations on the belief that "IV.The Militia Was Useless.

After reflecting on egregious examples of the militia's failure in the New York campaign of 1776 and at Camden on 1780, Prof. Ferling continues:

"Yet in 1775, militiamen had fought with surpassing bravery along the Concord Road and at Bunker Hill. Nearly 40 percent of soldiers serving under Washington in his crucial Christmas night victory at Trenton in 1776 were militiamen. In New York state, half the American force in the vital Saratoga campaign of 1777 consisted of militiamen. They also contributed substantially to American victories at Kings Mountain, South Carolina, in 1780 and Cowpens, South Carolina, the following year. In March 1781, Gen. Nathanael Greene adroitly deployed his militiamen in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse (fought near present-day Greensboro, North Carolina). In that engagement, he inflicted such devastating losses on the British that they gave up the fight for North Carolina.

The militia had its shortcomings, to be sure, but America could not have won the war without it. As a British general, Earl Cornwallis, wryly put it in a letter in 1781, "I will not say much in praise of the militia, but the list of British officers and soldiers killed and wounded by them…proves but too fatally they are not wholly contemptible."
link

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 11:02 a.m. PST

"…not wholly contemptible."
Such a British turn of phrase. grin
It's almost Churchillian!
It reminds me of the time way back when, when a far superior football team was beaten by Norte Dame. Their coach was whining about how they should've won, had more total yards, more first downs, etc.
Knute Rockne replied that the next World Series should be decided by how many men were left on base.

(Me Da was an Irish Catholic from Scranton, a true "subway alum of Notre Dame. I grew up on those stories.)

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 11:58 a.m. PST

Even excellent historians can err…

If the Continental Line could have been recruited even close to authorized strength there would be little use for militia with the main army.

Both the militia and the state lines took available recruits away from Continental service.

And generally speaking, militia without Continentals to back them up could not stand up to the British on anything like even terms.

And it was the Continentals at Guilford Courthouse, for example, that inflicted the most losses on the British, fairly ruining two British battalions, the 33d Foot and the 2d Battalion of Guards, killing their commanders to boot. The North Carolina militia in the first American line did not perform as they were asked to do and left the field somewhat in a hurry.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 12:27 p.m. PST

Thanks Kevin!


Amicalement
Armand

Bill N04 Mar 2021 12:27 p.m. PST

A link to good sources is always valuable. This is one that I frequently go to that I don't recognize from the list. https://founders.archives.gov

I have given up participating in the great militia continental debate for Lent.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 1:40 p.m. PST

What made a rag-tag "unit" of men suddenly become Continentals, rather than mere militia? Washington had a bunch of "Continentals" surrounding Boston, but no one could ever consider them Regulars.
As for not being able to stand up to British regulars, were the militia and Minutemen at Concord and the road back to Boston Continentals? They nearly destroyed that column.
Bunker Hill? It was the fractured, or non-existent American command structure that failed there. Not the militia.

What forced Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga? Merely all the militia in the world showing up all over his flanks and rear.

How many Continentals were at Kings Mountain?

Militia had to be led and handled well. What did Morgan do with his militia at Cowpens? He knew their tendency to skedadfle. What did he do? He GAVE THEM PERMISSION TO SKEDADDLE! "Give me two fires, and then fall back (skedaddle) right there, and wait for my word where I'll need you next!" A good friend of mine, a retired Marine officer, once told me that was one of the finest preparations for a battle in American military history.

Washington's army at Trenton, Assunpink and Princeton could hardly be called "regular". They were the guys who had stuck around. They had done their bit, but were willing to do a bit more.

I would argue that you couldn't realistically refer to these units as Regulars until Valley Forge. There they got the training they needed, because there, for the first time, they actually had the time to train.

One final question. Were Marion and Sumter insignificant merely because they weren't Continentals?

doc mcb04 Mar 2021 8:12 p.m. PST

IF the militia had not existed they could not have recruited the Continentals. We have had this out multiple times. But it is the political aspect that you ignore. Thirteen separate and historically inimical colonies became 13 sovereign states. The cooperation that they DID manage, through the Congress and its army, was remarkable. With serious potential for inter-state conflict; who did Ohio belong to? Remember that Congress sent a Va regiment and a Pa regiment to occupy jointly disputed territory. The chance that they would have created and relied completely upon a regular professional "new model" army under a central authority was ZERO. As in NO CHANCE. Anyone who knows the political situation understands that. Lift your eyes from the battlefield and consider the political realities.

doc mcb04 Mar 2021 8:19 p.m. PST

So Kevin, how did the second line of Virginia militia do at Guilford?

doc mcb04 Mar 2021 8:31 p.m. PST

Let us not, as well, forget George Rogers Clark and the Illinois Regiment of Virginia State Forces. You'll not find a unit of Continentals that accomplished more at tougher odds.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 8:35 p.m. PST

I have given up participating in the great militia continental debate for Lent.

Understandable. We all give up the pleasures during Lent.
I've given up chorus girls.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 8:15 a.m. PST

In any study of the Continental Army, there are two references which I have found to be indispensable.

The first, The Continental Army by Robert Wright, is an organization study of the army which clearly demonstrates how the army came into being, how it was organized and reorganized, and how it developed into a first-class combat organization (with the appropriate supporting arms and services) based on the British Army.

The second, A Revolutionary People at War by Charles Royster, is an excellent volume that clearly demonstrates the reasons behind the army's purpose and development.

An excellent volume to add to the two above is The Book of the Continental Soldier by Harold Peterson.

Both volumes clearly explain how the army was recruited and formed, and where the recruits came from. Both also clearly demonstrate that the militia was not used as a major base for recruitment, but that volunteers were found, men convinced to serve in the Continental army, that the states drafted men into the army and that substitutes were found by those who ‘chose' not to be drafted.

The Continental Army was created by Congress on 14 June 1775 and the first regiment was the 1st Contintental Regiment which was a rifle regiment recruited from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Daniel Morgan was one of the first company commanders.

In the first two years of the war, the Continental regiments were recruited for one year's service which was found to be unsatisfactory and in 1777 this changed to three years or the duration of the war.

The Continental Army was not created merely by 'converting' militia units to Continental units.

The following information from orders of battle, show the preponderance of Continental units over militia units in major actions up to and including Freeman's Farm in September 1777.

Trenton:

This is the total of American troops in New Jersey as of 1 December 1776:

3 Continental Infantry brigades.
New Jersey militia.
Additional American troops as of 25 December 1776:
5 Continental Infantry brigades.
1 brigade (Pennsylvania Associators)
3 militia brigades.
Philadelphia City Troop of Light Horse.
1 Troop of light dragoons.
Knox's artillery regiment.
Information taken from Appendix A of The Battle of Trenton by Samuel Smith.

Princeton:

US Troops in New Jersey as of 1 January 1777:

4 brigades of Continental infantry.
2 militia brigades.
2 brigades of Continentals and militia.

Brandywine:

12 Continental Infantry Brigades (including one light infantry brigade).
2 Pennsylvania Militia Brigades.
1 Light Dragoon Brigade.
Artillery Brigade: 1 Continental Regiment, 1 Pennsylvania Regiment, 1 Massachusetts Regiment, 2 New Jersey companies, 2 New York companies, 1 Pennsylvania company, 2 artillery companies.

-Information taken from Appendix A of Brandywine by Michael Harris.

Germantown:

7 Continental Infantry Brigades.
1 Militia Brigade.
1 Cavalry Brigade: (4 Continental Light Dragoon Regiments, one ‘corps' of North Carolina Light Dragoons).
Artillery Brigade: 1 Continental Artillery Regiment, Portions of 2 Continental Artillery Regiments, 3 Continental artillery companies, 3 New Jersey artillery companies, 1 Pennsylvania artillery companies.

-Information is contained in Appendix A of Germantown by Michael Harris.


Freeman's Farm:

Morgan's Corps: Morgan's Rifle Corps, Dearborn's Light Infantry Battalion.
Poor's Brigade: 5 Continental Regiments, 2 militia regiments.
Learned's Brigade: 4 Continental Regiments
Glover's Brigade: 4 Continental Regiments, 3 militia regiments.
Nixon's Brigade: 4 Continental Regiments.
Paterson's Brigade: 4 Continental Regiments.
1 Troop 2d Continental Light Dragoons.
Independent Battalion of Continental Artillery.
Detachment of Quartermaster Artificers.

The Northern Army at Freeman's Farm had 6,043 Continental infantry and was superior to Burgoyne in regular infantry.
-Information is taken from John Elting's The Battles of Saratoga, Appendix V.

‘The battles of Freeman's Farm and Bemis Heights were fought primarily by Continentals.'-Royster, 175.

John Stark definitely differentiated the troops who volunteered to fight with him in the Saratoga campaign from militia. Stark's troops were disciplined and well-commanded and -led. The usual militia call-ups were not.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 8:16 a.m. PST

Guilford Courthouse:

From Long, Obstinate, and Bloody by Lawrence Babbits and Joshua Howard, 57-58:

‘Continental service, depending on the state of enlistment, could range anywhere from nine months, to three years, to the duration of the war. Examinations focusing on the social history of the Continental Line have demonstrated that while Continental officers were often second and third sons from good families who proudly indentified themselves as gentlemen by their rank, enlisted Continentals were generally men from the lower classes. In the early months of the war, a period some historians have argued was a rage militaire, men from all levels of society joined the Continental army. By 1781, the ranks were composed of men who typically did not own land and were generally less economically advantaged than those in the militia. Muster rolls of Continental units from various states, and specifically those of the South, indicate a large number of farm laborers but also include men from all walks of society, including large numbers of tradesmen whose livelihoods were circumvented by the war, Most of the Continentals serving with the Southern Army under Greene and Morgan were veterans of nearly five years of service who had proven themselves on numerous battlefields.'

Morgan to Greene: ‘If they [the militia] fight, you will beat Cornwallis; if not, he will beat you, and perhaps cut your regulars to pieces, which will be losing all our hopes.'
Regarding former Continentals serving in militia units, Morgan made a recommendation to Greene: ‘I think it would be advisable to select them from among the militia and put them in the ranks with the regulars…put the riflemen on the flanks, under enterprising officers who are acquainted with that kind of fighting, and put the militia in the center with some picked troops in the rear with orders to shoot down the first man that runs…If anything will succeed, a disposition of this kind will.'

Of the North Carolina militia commanders at Guilford Courthouse, 5 of the 9 battalion commanders were veterans of the Continental army. None of the brigade commanders were. Only 2 of the nine majors and lieutenant colonels were Continental veterans. Only 6 of the 66 company commanders were Continental veterans.

Of the Virginia militia in the second line at Guilford Courthouse, both of the brigade commanders were veterans of the Continental army. 2 of the 7 battalion commanders were Continental veterans. 3 of the 9 majors and lieutenant colonels were continental veterans. 4 of the 47 company commanders had Continental service.

Of the two rifle commands attached either to Washington or Lee, Lynch did not have prior Continental service, while Campbell did. 4 of the 7 company commanders under Lynch had prior Continental service while 2 of the 9 company commanders in Campbell's command had prior Continental service.
‘Overall, 14 percent of the North Carolina militia officers had regular army experience, compared to 20 percent of the Virginians.'-See Babits and Howard, 58.

The two Virginia militia brigades, commanded by Lawson and Stevens, did well in the wooded and broken terrain against the advancing British regulars, Stevens' brigade overall performing better than Lawson's. The Virginia militia fought in open order, not in line, based on the terrain. Stevens had something to prove as his Virginia militia had broken and run at Camden. He also took the precaution of placing picked men behind his line to shoot anyone who ran. He was wounded in the action.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 8:18 a.m. PST

‘Partisan strokes in war are like the garnish of a table. They give splendor to the army, and reputation to the officer, but they afford no substantial national security…You may strike a hundred strokes and reap little benefit from them unless you have a good army to take advantage of your success. The enemy will never relinquish their plan nor the people be firm in your favor, until they behold a better barrier in the field than a volunteer militia, who are one day out and the next at home.'-Nathaniel Greene to Thomas Sumter.

It should be noted that both Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter were former Continentals.

‘…the militia are brave men, and will fight if you let them come to action in their own way.'-General William Moultrie.
‘Put the militia in the center, with some picked troops in their rear, with orders to shoot down the first man that runs.'-Daniel Morgan.

‘Regulars alone can insure your safety. Men will not yield to the hardships of a camp, nor submit to the severity of discipline, without a certain line of duty prescribed as something professional.'-Nathaniel Greene to Thomas Nelson.
‘…they complained they were imposed upon and said they were cheerfully willing to spend their hearts blood in defense of the country. Yet they would suffer death before they would be drafted 18 months from their families and made regular soldiers of.'

‘…the militia of Virginia were very averse to turning out and most of the young men had retired to the mountains. Some had even resisted with arms those who attempted to force them.'-a British intelligence report.

‘Militiamen repeatedly refused to serve beyond the time for which they had been called up and even insisted on marching for home weeks enough in advance to be at home and not with the army when their terms expired. Sometimes they scattered and headed home early. Militiamen decided to stay or go to suit themselves, not according to the need for their services or the threat to their homes. Militiamen would fight-under conditions to their liking, for an agreed number of months-but they would not submit to the discipline of Continentals. They often cut a path of plunder wherever they went; they took an army supply shipment if they got to it first; they wasted public stores…Greene believed that Southerners' willingness to stop short of full effort by sending the militia undercut the safety of the South to serve the ease of individuals.' -Charles Royster, A Revolutionary People at War, 325.

The nine-month draft of men for the Continental regiments became known as ‘nine months' abortions' according to one Continental officer.-Royster, 325-326.

‘Early in the war some revolutionaries argued that the militia, which had proven its competence at Lexington and Bunker Hill, could sustain a large part of the resistance to the British. By late 1776 little attachment to this idea remained. The states continued to send militia instead of recruits to augment the Continental Army for brief periods. Some declarations about citizens defending their homes accompanied these detachments, but the use of militia during the war came more from necessity than from libertarian or egalitarian theory. People in every state preferred and urgently requested the presence of the Continental Army when they felt threatened. But the states never managed to recruit a regular army as large as their delegates in Congress had legislated; so they continued to call out the militia for regular fighting as well as sudden defense.'-Royster, 37.

‘Would any man in his senses, who wishes the war may be carried on with vigor, prefer the temporary and expensive drafts of militia, to a permanent and well appointed army!'-Samuel Adams to James Warren, 1780.

From With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring:
‘…it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, by the end of the war, the best of the rebels' regular corps were tactically every bit the equals of their British counterparts.'-279. I'd go one step further in this assessment. That tactical proficiency of the Continental Army putting it on a par with the British army began in the field in 1778.

‘The resilience of the Continental Army was central to Britain's eventual failure in America…while battles like Bunker Hill, Freeman's Farm, Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs were all unquestionably British tactical victories, they were simultaneously strategic reverses…'-279.
‘…[the militia] are, moreover, trained four times in each year, so that they do not make a despicable appearance as soldiers, though they were never yet known to behave themselves even decently in the field.'-Lord Percy.

‘Throughout the American War, militiamen's tendency to come and go as they pleased (often taking scarce equipment with them) caused senior rebel commanders much frustration, and their inability to stand up to British regulars in the open field contributed to a number of disastrous rebel defeats, most particularly the battle of Camden.'-15. In short, American militia not backed up by Continentals were too frequently worthless in combat.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 8:55 a.m. PST

Kevin. Answer the questions that were asked, instead of ignoring them and building up yet another Wall O'Text that you are so good at.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 9:25 a.m. PST

I answered the questions regarding Trenton and Princeton as well as the Second Line at Guilford Courthouse.

Perhaps if you actually read the material you might understand that.

MiniPigs07 Mar 2021 9:56 a.m. PST

Kevin. Answer the questions that were asked, instead of ignoring them and building up yet another Wall O'Text that you are so good at.

Oh right, like people habitually stay on topic around here.huh?

I for one found his posts informative.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 10:05 a.m. PST

My whole question revolves around at what point do you regard a rag tag mob as Regulars.
You seem to believe that simply giving a mob the title of "Continental" somehow makes them equivalent to Regulars.
A bunch of regiments at Trenton had the title of "Continental", but when did they have the time to train. Sure, they were tough and resilient veterans, but Regulars?

I brought up the militia and Minutemen on the road back from Concord to Boston because you had said earlier that militia could not stand up to British Regulars. I think they succeeded admirably. It would be interesting to see what the results of Bunker Hill would have been had the Americans had ANY kind of command structure. As it was, the militia held up against British Regulars quite well until their command failed them.

You mention Camden. One could argue that that was every bit as much a command failure of Gates as was Tarleton at Cowpens. Both Gates and Tarleton ran their troops ragged in the lead up to the battles, and the failures were more their fault than the troops.
And the militia at Cowpens did exactly what Morgan asked them to do. No command failure there.

All accounts of Eutaw Springs have the militia performing credibly, while it was the Continentals who stopped to plunder the British camp.

EDIT: According to Boatner's Encyclopedia, "gorging and swilling themselves were not only the militia of Pickens, Malmedy, and Marion, but also the Cont'l regiments-with the exception of Howard's-…"
My bad. The dog had to go out before I got to finish. grin
I'll go back and check Ward if you'd like.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 10:32 a.m. PST

Have you read any of the books mentioned?

So you understand that the regiments listed were recruited and raised as Continentals?

Fighting from behind cover and not standing up in line of battle is quite different.

And if you don't agree, show some evidence and sources to back up your 'suggestions' and opinions.

That you don't or cannot speaks volumes of both your ignorance of the subject and your opinionated prejudices.

In short, put up or shut up.

MiniPigs07 Mar 2021 10:42 a.m. PST

What kind of dog?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 11:01 a.m. PST

Australian shepherd.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 11:01 a.m. PST

By the way, Kevin. Isn't telling someone to "shut up" a DH offense?
Check the faq.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 11:04 a.m. PST

Speaking of "opinionated prejudices", answer my question about Concord.
Yeah. The British really handled the militia well there, didn't they? TRAINED Regular British light infantry. Wasn't that their job?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 11:52 a.m. PST

The following might be helpful for Eutaw Springs:

link

link

I believe we have addressed who stopped to loot and eat during the American attack before. If I remember correctly, you quoted Ward and I quoted one of the two above referenced books on Eutaw Springs. However, since it has been awhile, I might be incorrect here.

The best book on Lexington and Concord that I have found is:

Lexington and Concord by Arthur Tourtellot:

link

As usual, you have left no references only unsourced opinion.

Regarding Concord, according to the above reference, the British light infantry were outnumbered two-to-one at the bridge and its immediate environs. See pages 159-166 of the recommended volume. The British fired first at the American advance, the Americans second, inflicting more than they lost. The British then turned and ran. The Americans did nothing to follow up their advantage.

MiniPigs07 Mar 2021 12:03 p.m. PST

By the way, Kevin. Isn't telling someone to "shut up" a DH offense?
Check the faq.

He didnt really say that though, rather he said "Put up or shut up" which is a long running expression and not considered rude but merely a way of asking to see whether someone is bluffing or actually has a hand to play.

Sounds like you have a nice dog.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 1:36 p.m. PST

Maddie is awesome. I consider her a rescue dog. My buddy took her away from his ex who had her in a cage 24/7 and gave her to me.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 1:54 p.m. PST

Getting back to Eutaw Springs.
Ward, p 830:
"The militia in Greene's front line stood up to their work manfully, advancing without hesitation and firing steadily, although they were receiving the fire of the whole British line, double their number. Greene said their "conduct would have graced the veterans of the great King of Prussia." They fired seventeen rounds before they showed any sign of weakening."

Ward p 832:
"But in that moment of almost complete victory the discipline of the Maryland and Virginia Continentals blew up and vanished. They and the militia halted in the British camp and fell upon the spoils of a victory not yet fully achieved. In utter disorder, complete confusion, they looted the stores, ate the food they found, and drank the liquor until many were drunk."

As an aside, and as a gamer, this is on my to-do list. As a GM, I love to annoy the players. "OK, the first unit has reached the tents (I have 25mm tents). Roll a D20. Oh dear…"

Note that this is not to disparage the Maryland Continentals. Many when writing about this incident ask what Greene must have thought seeing his steadiest and solidest unit throwing this victory away.
My intent is to show how well militia (who also participated in the looting; same militia units?) could fight in the line of battle.

Kevin. You seem intent on showing how the militia was universally useless in battle. I've tried to show they could indeed be quite useful.
As docmcb points out, you also seem determined to ignore their political utility.
Ask yourself how great the popular support would be if every single farmer or artisan in the militia was required to "enlist" as a Continental. Who would gather the crops to feed the army?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 2:01 p.m. PST

Regarding Concord, according to the above reference, the British light infantry were outnumbered two-to-one at the bridge and its immediate environs. See pages 159-166 of the recommended volume. The British fired first at the American advance, the Americans second, inflicting more than they lost. The British then turned and ran. The Americans did nothing to follow up their advantage.

You seem to be saying that it was the British who couldn't stand up to the militia, not the reverse. grin
As for not following up their advantage, the highest ranking American officers in the field that day were the respective town captains. Their was no higher command structure. The TV movie "April Morning" actually shows this quite well. As the militia and Minutemen showed up, they gave battle, killed some British, err Regulars, and then went home.
Wishing for a higher command structure to coordinate the various towns and villages is ignoring the antipathy to a standing army. They did quite well.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 2:07 p.m. PST

So you understand that the regiments listed were recruited and raised as Continentals?

And trained? How well trained were they from the very beginning?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 2:15 p.m. PST

You seem intent on showing how the militia was universally useless in battle. I've tried to show they could indeed be quite useful.

That is not correct. What I find objectionable are those who are busting a gut to show the militia how they were not. The evidence, most of it primary, has shown that the militia was not a war-winner (among other things).

The Continental Army is what won the Revolution despite the repeated failures of the militia. Without the Continental Army, the war would have been lost.

Have you read any of the sources that I posted? If not, then I can't see how you can understand the historical record.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 2:17 p.m. PST

And trained? How well trained were they from the very beginning?

The Maryland and Delaware Regiments, two in 1775, were both well-trained and smartly uniformed.

Perhaps you could actually read the sources posted and find some others that were also?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 3:20 p.m. PST

For a current (2017) version of the looting of the British camp at Eutaw Springs, the following is provided (page xii of Eutaw Springs by Robert Dunkerly and Irene Boland:

'Perhaps the most enduring issue is the looting by the Continental troops at the battle's climax. Has it been exaggerated, or did contemporaries downplay it? Greene does not refer to it at all. Lee alludes to it, but only Col Otho Williams's account makes much of this aspect of the affair. Out of more than one hundred accounts by battle participants examined during research for this work, only two Americans mention the looting: Williams and LtCol Samuel Hammond. No British accounts refer to the enemy's plundering the camp, a significant point since it was their camp in question and the looting supposedly saved their army at the point of collapse.'

'The first generation of historians to write about Eutaw Springs, which includes William Johnson and David Schenk, placed the blame for Greene's army's coming up short on the looting. Lee's son, Henry Jr, insisted in his account of the battle, The Campaign of 1781 in the Carolinas (1824), that the looting of the camp was proof of American victory following the retreat of the British and the camp's capture. Johnson, apparently with Williams's account as his source, wrote in his
Sketches of the Life and Correspondence of Nathaniel Greene (1822) that 'the men, thinking the victory secure, and bent on the immediate fruition of its advantages, dispersed among the tents, fated upon the liquor and refreshments they afforded, and became utterly unmanageable.' According to Otho H Williams, the camp 'presented many objects to tempt a thirsty, naked, and fatigued soldiery.' Lee Jr and Johnson both assigned the greater blame to the looting for the American retreat than did the participants.'

'With the publication of these two antebellum works, the dominance of the looting in the battle's story was established. Nearly every subsequent history of the battle has accepted and repeated it. The looting did occur, but only in combination with other factors did it lead to the American retreat.'

And it should be noted that the militia, some of whom panicked under fire and broke and ran, never reached the British camp. Their attack 'lost its steam' (page 52) and were ordered out of the attack being replaced in line by the North Carolina Continentals.

So, saying that the Continentals and not the militia looted the camp is technically correct, but it is also disingenuous as the militia was pulled out of the fighting before anyone had reached the British camp.

From page 70 of the above reference:

'This is the point at which the looting of the British camp becomes a factor in the battle. While it clearly did occur, the extent of the looting seems to have been exaggerated by many histories of the battle. It was probably not as widespread, or as decisive an event, as is commonly thought. The evidence indicates that pillaging alone was not responsible for the breakdown in Greene's ranks.'

Nathaniel Greene's report on the battle to the President of Congress dated 11 September 1781 in contained in Voices of the American Revolution in the Carolinas, edited by Ed Southern, pages 237-242.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 3:42 p.m. PST

I'm going with Brechtel for the win on this thread. Well documented and supported answers.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 4:48 p.m. PST

Well, Ward and Boatner have guided me well through my gaming years. The only thing "the latest research" will affect is the number you need to roll on a D20.

By the way, "the latest research" has never meant to me that I was suddenly compelled to drop everything I had known up until now. Sure, I will consult it, but to me it's "just another source".

And let's all hold off on this "keyboard nerdage" until docmcb chimes in, shall we? grin
I've said what I have to say, and my mind hasn't been changed by the sheer weight and lineal yards of someone else's bookshelf.

MiniPigs07 Mar 2021 6:30 p.m. PST

Maddie is awesome. I consider her a rescue dog. My buddy took her away from his ex who had her in a cage 24/7 and gave her to me.

In a cage, eh? Why I oughta…

Does she participate in AWI games?

Treat her to a tricorne hat laced with gold, let her command the British and if she fires into her own troops, well, who is to say what her reasons might be?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 6:36 p.m. PST

She fully participates in our games mostly by mooching the cheese and kielbasa.
Nobody consults her for tactical advice.

MiniPigs07 Mar 2021 6:48 p.m. PST

Nobody consults her for tactical advice.

She'd make an excellent Cornwallis!

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 6:59 p.m. PST

Without the Continental Army, the war would have been lost.

And when have I ever denied that?

I'm only arguing that for POLITICAL reasons, the militia was vitally important. Equally? That's for nit-picking scholars to debate.
And they could also be handy in a battle, if handled properly. At Eutaw Springs, Greene felt confident enough to put them in the front line. Did they "falter" after taking and dishing out 17 volleys? Who wouldn't? After all, Ward says the British outnumbered them 2:1. I'm not a reenactor, so the exact number of cartridges in the pouch is not a number I'm familiar with. That would wear down any troops. They absolutely needed to be relieved, and Greene did so.
I can confidently say that the militia at Eutaw Springs did good work.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 3:41 a.m. PST

What you and others are attempting to do by what you are posting is blowing way out of proportion what the militia actually did and accomplished.

And I don't see many references being used at all. For example, your postings on Eutaw Springs are incorrect regarding the militia.

In hard-fought battles, casuualties can be very heavy, and the contribution of units in those battles can usually be determined by their casualties-not always, but many times that is an accurate assessment as to time of engagement and what they were up against.

Greene put the militia in the first line because that was his usual practice. He did at Guilford Courthouse and Morgan did it at Cowpens.

The US losses at Eutaw Springs are as follows, using the material on page 112 of Eutaw Springs by Dunkerly and Boland:

Maryland Brigade: 26 KIA, 78 WIA, 9 Missing. 113 out of 400.
Virginia Brigade: 17 KIA, 32 WIA, 4 Missing. 53 out of 350.
North Carolina Brigade: 48 KIA, 96 WIA, 10 Missing. 154 out of 350.
Delaware Regiment: 2 KIA, 6 WIA, 2 Missing. 10 out of 80.
Lee's Legion:
Infantry: 4 KIA, 12 WIA, 1 Missing. 17 out of 60.
Cavalry: 5 KIA, 11 WIA, 1 Missing, 17 out of 100.
Washington's Cavalry: 11 KIA, 15 WIA, 3 Missing. 29 out of 80.
Washington's Artillery: 0 KIA, 12 WIA, 3 Missing. Strength Unknown. 15 total casualties.
South Carolina State Troops: 13 KIA, 43 WIA, 0 Missing. 56 out of approximately 350.
South Carolina Militia: 6 KIA, 39 WIA, 8 Missing. 53 out of approximately 820.
North Carolina Militia: 6 KIA, 31 WIA, 0 Missing. 37 out of approximately 253.

Out of 138 KIA, 12 were from the militia units, 13 from the State Line. The rest were Continentals.

Out of 375 WIA, 70 were from the militia, 43 from the State Line, the rest were Continentals.

Total casualties for Greene's army was 555. 90 were from the militia, 56 from the State Line. The remainder were from the Continental units, with the Maryland Brigade suffering over 25% and the North Carolina Brigade over 40%. The militia suffered less than 10% casualties.

American officer casualties were very heavy with 22 killed, 41 wounded, 2 wounded and captured, and 3 captured. Heavy officer casualties contributed to the problems with the capture of the British encampment. Combined with heavy musician losses, the loss of command and control was a critical element combined with the British counterattack. The commander of the Virginia Continental Brigade was killed, and the commander of the 2d Virginia was wounded. The commander of the Maryland Brigade along with the commander of the 1st Maryland were both wounded.

Greene conducted the difficult passage of lines when the militia assault 'ran out of steam' (Dunkerly and Boland, 52). Some broke and ran others 'held firm' (Dunkerly and Boland, 52). The North Carolina Continentals relieved the militia in the attack, the militia 'retired behind them' falling back 'in good order' (Dunkerly and Boland, 52). Their casualties were not high at all, especially when matched against their numbers in the field.

So the question then is, who did most of the fighting and dying?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 6:48 a.m. PST

Let us not, as well, forget George Rogers Clark and the Illinois Regiment of Virginia State Forces. You'll not find a unit of Continentals that accomplished more at tougher odds.

And exactly what were 'the odds?'

And to quote Robert Dunkerly and Irene Boland in Eutaw Springs, page 110, regarding state lines:

'Each state formed state troops, who were the equivalent of Continentals in training and experience. State troops served for longer periods than militia and often had discharged Continentals in their ranks.'

So it appears that the bottom line for the quoted comment above is 'what's your point?'

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 6:51 a.m. PST

But it is the political aspect that you ignore.

And which 'poltical aspect' is that?

I'm only arguing that for POLITICAL reasons, the militia was vitally important.

And which 'poltical reasons' are those to which you are obliquely referring?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 6:55 a.m. PST

What forced Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga? Merely all the militia in the world showing up all over his flanks and rear.

That is grossly incorrect.

What 'forced Burgoyne's surrender' was St Leger being defeated at Fort Stanwyx, Stark winning overwhelmingly at Bennington (with something much more than mere militia as has already been mentioned). Losing very heavily at Freeman's Farm and being defeated at Bemis Heights. And most of the fighting and heavy lifting was done by Continentals, not militia.

Militia did pour in after Freeman's Farm, but most of the fighting was done by Continentals, not militia.

And there were also Continental units at both Bennington and Hubbardton.

See The Battles of Saratoga by John Elting.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 7:21 a.m. PST

Burgoyne was contemplating falling back and retreating. The militia that showed up after the fighting blocked any line of retreat.
Once again you insist that fighting in a battle was the only determinate of the usefulness of militia.

As for the political aspects, I refer you to a post docmcb made on this very thread on March 4. Did you bother to read it?

As for Eutaw Springs, I quoted Ward about the quality of the militia. He then quotes Greene who favorably compares them to the soldiers of Frederick the Great. Since this whole argument is about the quality of the militia, by your insistence in battle, I defer to General Greene. After all, he was there.
Who looted the camp and when and in what numbers is relevant in that it shows that the Continentals let Greene down.
Eutaw Springs is relevant because it shows both militia performing well, and Continental units behaving poorly.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 7:22 a.m. PST

Another useful reference, from the 'bookshelf'(the snarky comment directed at a useful reference library is duly noted), is Campaign to Saratoga by Don Troiani and Eric Schnitzer.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 7:38 a.m. PST

Eutaw Springs is relevant because it shows both militia performing well, and Continental units behaving poorly.

Bags of bull. I suggest you reread what I posted on Eutaw Springs and who did most of the fighting and dying. It wasn't the militia. And Greene in his after-action report said nothing about the Continentals 'behaving poorly.'

In short, you are wrong (again).

From Greene's after-action report, previously mentioned:

'…The firing began at three miles from the English camp. The militia advanced firing, and the advanced posts of the enemy were routed. The fire redoubled; our officers behaved with the greatest bravery, and the militia gained much honor by their firmness. But the fire of the enemy, who continued to advance, being superior to ours, the militia were obliged to retreat…'

'…We continued to pursue the enemy, after having broken them, until we attained their camp. A great number of prisoners fell into our hands, and some hundreds of fugitives escaped towards Charles Town; but a party having got into a brick house, three stories high, and others took post in a pallisadoed [palisaded] garden, their rear covered by springs and hollow ways, the enemy renewed the fight…'

'I think I owe the victory which I have gained to the brisk use the Virginians and Marylanders, and one party of the infantry, made of the bayonet. I cannot forbear praising the conduct and courage of all my troops.'

However, no mention of Frederick the Great…nor did Greene mention anything about the British camp being looted…

'after all, he was there'

MiniPigs08 Mar 2021 7:51 a.m. PST

Bags of bull

This actually exists:

https://www.thebullbag.com

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 8:08 a.m. PST

As for snarky comments, I confess I must bow to you, the Master.

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