When we discuss the military history of the American War for Independence, we tend to focus on specific battles or details about the men who served in George Washington’s Continental Army.
Rarely do we take the opportunity to ask questions about the approximately 50,000 men who served in the British Army that opposed them.
Don N. Hagist, independent scholar and author of British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution, leads us on exploration of the “other” men who fought in the American War for Independence, the soldiers in the British Army.
This episode originally posted as Episode 010.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
In this episode, Don N. Hagist, author of British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution, leads us on an exploration of the British Army and the men who served in it during the American War for Independence.
Don reveals how many men served in the British Army; How they became one of the best fighting forces in the late eighteenth-century world; And whether some of the myths that we have heard about the British Army hold true, such as whether the men who served in it represented the dregs of British society.
What You’ll Discover
- How Don became interested in British soldiers during the American Revolution
- Whether the “dregs of British society” served in the British Army
- More about the background of the men who served in the British Army
- What historical sources Don uses to study the military history of British soldiers
- Whether the British Army stood as the most well-trained and well-disciplined army in the entire world after the French and Indian War (1754-1763)
- How British regiments recruited soldiers
- German soldiers who served in the British Army during the American War for Independence
- How Don selected the accounts of the 9 soldiers he writes about in British Soldiers, American War
- The story of Thomas Watson, common soldier in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers
- How many men served in the British Army during the American War for Independence
- How many men deserted the British Army during the American War for Independence
- Information about the Journal of the American Revolution
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Don N. Hagist
- British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution
- Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls: Advertisements for Female Runaways in American Newspapers, 1770–1783
- General Orders, Rhode Island: December 1776-January 1778
- The Revolution's Last Men: The Soldiers Behind the Photographs
- Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
- The Octo
- Doing History: To the Revolution! Series
- Episode 130: Paul Revere’s Ride Through History
- Episode 141: A Declaration in Draft
- “The Adverts 250 Project”
- “George Washington’s Bodies,” Nursing Clio
- Episode 081: Don Glickstein, After Yorktown: The Final Struggle for American Independence
- Episode 085: Bonnie Huskins, American Loyalists in Canada
- Episode 122: Andrew O’Shaughnessy, The Men Who Lost America
- Episode 126: Rebecca Brannon, The Reintegration of American Loyalists
What might have happened if regional recruitment had been a standard practice for the British Army? Would desertion rates have been lower? Would the better cohesion of regional army units have affected the outcome of the War for Independence?
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