The British Army, 'Military Europe,' and the American War of Independence

TitleThe British Army, 'Military Europe,' and the American War of Independence
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsConway, Stephen
JournalWilliam & Mary Quarterly
Pagination69 - 100
Date Published01/2010

If the eighteenth-century British and Irish looked west, into the Atlantic, they also looked south and east, to the neighbouring continent. They engaged widely and deeply with the rest of Europe, through strategic interests, extensive trade and investment, religious affiliations, a broadly shared high culture, and the movement of peoples for work and leisure. This article explores these connections to continental Europe and their consequences in colonial and revolutionary North America. The article investigates whether there was a European consciousness within the British army that fought in America during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783). The examination of the British army suggests that, in the military sphere at least, a European identificaton persisted through the years of imperial infatuation from the 1750s to the early 1780s. At the very time when British army was trying to assert itself within the North Atlantic world and unsuccessfully playing out an imperial role, it was revealing its fundamentally European character.  

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