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Civil Wars (American)

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20078.  Fri May 13, 2005 9:30 am Reply with quote

Q: At the Battle of King’s Mountain - considered one of the turning points in the American War of Independence (aka American Revolution) - how many British officers were present?

A: One.

King’s Mountain was largely a fight between pro and anti-independence Americans, and is therefore emblematic of the war as a whole. The “Revolution” was actually a civil war (unlike the US Civil War, of course, which was a war of imperial conquest, in which an advanced capitalist nation annexed a backward feudal neighbour).

About 20-30% of the white population of the colonies were Loyalists (those who wished to remain in the British Empire), as were the great majority of the American Indian and black populations. The Patriots were also a minority - a great chunk of the population was in the don’t know/don’t care category.

As always in America (though it’s rarely admitted) class played a great part in choosing sides: “in Maryland, Delaware, the Hudson Valley in New York, and the back country of the South, poor farmers turned the Revolution inside out when they became loyalists to rebel against the patriot elite.”

At the end of the war, around 100,000 Loyalists - about 4% of the entire population of the US - emigrated, rather than stay and face reprisals. Washington said a Loyalist was “a man with his head in Britain, his body in America, and a neck that ought to be stretched.”

This was also, historians often say, the first “world war,” since all the great powers of the time took part in it: Britain, France, Spain and Holland; also, because it was fought in so many theatres: America, the West Indies, Europe and India. There were times when an invasion of Britain itself seemed imminent.

Source: Articles by historians Richard Holmes and Ray Raphael, in a BBC History Magazine supplement distributed with the Independent newspaper (undated).

20090.  Fri May 13, 2005 11:13 am Reply with quote

We're likely to have a question on American declarations of war, and this might make an interesting supplementary:

Q: Who did the Americans fight in the War of Independence?
A Each other.

But there must have been some redcoats involved as well, I suppose.

20091.  Fri May 13, 2005 11:17 am Reply with quote

I can't lay hand on it at the moment - or memory on it, really! - but somewhere i've read that there were far fewer redcoats than we'd expect, because the British used mostly German mercenaries. The British Army was very understaffed at the time.


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