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Old March 9th, 2012, 01:28 AM   #1
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Slightly Different American Revolution


I've always been under the impression that the French Army during the Napoleonic Era was better then the British, of course the British Navy being their strong point even the fields. Now imagine, instead of the U.K., the Revolutionary Army fought the French instead. Now I know the war of independence was before Napoleons time but it was only about a decade so shouldn't matter much. It doesn't have to be too deep like the French colonized Jamestown instead of British or stuff like that, just switch the Red Coats with the Grande Armée right the onset of the revolution. How would the founding fathers fare against arguably the best army of Europe at the time? The French can only allocate around as much Troops and resources as the British did during the war(historical one) as they were preoccupied.

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Old March 9th, 2012, 01:38 AM   #2

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The problem as I see it is that the French, just like the British, would have to wage a war from across a vast ocean in someone elses backyard in a time when transportation was still very very slow. Also, France may have had a better army, but I believe their finances were even more constrained than of the British, especially after losing profitable colonies following their defeat in the Seven Years War. Under those conditions, they would have real difficulties waging any kind of war of any scale or duration.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 01:59 AM   #3
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Also, France may have had a better army, but I believe their finances were even more constrained than of the British
Since it's a what if scenario of the Revolutionary Army Vs. French Army, let's not confine them to monetary problems, if they had the same amount of troops and resources and the British Army did?
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Old March 9th, 2012, 02:15 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by Sceonn View Post
Since it's a what if scenario of the Revolutionary Army Vs. French Army, let's not confine them to monetary problems, if they had the same amount of troops and resources and the British Army did?
They still didn't have the navy to transport the troops here. Massive supply lines, a very resistant frontier people fighting foreign invaders. The Brits after all were cousins, countrymen actually, the French, not so much. Keep in mind that about a third of what were then colonists did not want to leave Britain. Many fought on Britain's side. The French would have found no such comfort here.
The late 1960's American Military was far superior to the Napoleon's Army. We also had the world's best navy and something non existent in the 1770's, air power. That did not stop a determined Vietnamese guerrilla army from putting up a strong resistance to us. The French would have been defeated.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 03:01 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sceonn View Post
I've always been under the impression that the French Army during the Napoleonic Era was better then the British, of course the British Navy being their strong point even the fields. Now imagine, instead of the U.K., the Revolutionary Army fought the French instead. Now I know the war of independence was before Napoleons time but it was only about a decade so shouldn't matter much. It doesn't have to be too deep like the French colonized Jamestown instead of British or stuff like that, just switch the Red Coats with the Grande Armée right the onset of the revolution. How would the founding fathers fare against arguably the best army of Europe at the time? The French can only allocate around as much Troops and resources as the British did during the war(historical one) as they were preoccupied.
I think the best analogy would be Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. There were some military triumphs, but ultimately the French failed because the population opposed them and it was too difficult to support the troops from across the Mediterranean Sea and because of more pressing problems back in Europe.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 03:43 AM   #6
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I think the best analogy would be Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. There were some military triumphs, but ultimately the French failed because the population opposed them and it was too difficult to support the troops from across the Mediterranean Sea and because of more pressing problems back in Europe.
Yeah, thanks to an incompetent admiral the whole french fleet was just sitting there as pounding bags for the British without much of a fighting at all cutting Napoleon from France...
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Old March 9th, 2012, 03:52 AM   #7

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The French would probably have no scruples fighting British colonists, the war would turn brutal very quickly, think Peninsular War but in 1770's America. Who would win? Probably the same result, because quality of troops had little to do with it; logistics and domestic politics played major roles.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 05:16 AM   #8

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One factor of fighting in this 'new' war, were the combatants and colonial unity.
Being rebels and wanting to break away from the crown, and remaining loyal or not
comes into play, but the Revolution of American vs British was more in line with the
same religion, the same language and customs. Making the other half of this donnybrook
French, and then the colonies become greatly more united in one concerted effort.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 05:32 AM   #9

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We're missing something here. A large part of the reason for the success of the AR was that the American colonists had French support. So if France is the enemy, then does Britain step in to fill that vacuum?
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Old March 9th, 2012, 07:56 AM   #10
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It's arguable that france probably didn't have quite the naval power to keep an army supplied in North America long enough, which Britian struggled to do with a much larger navy. However on the question whether the French army would be more successful; I think they would have faced exactly the same problems as the British forces, which I will explain in detail:
One of the main problems for British field armies in North America was lack of cavalry, the American War of Indpendence can be classed as an infantryman’s war because there was very little use of cavalry and the battles were so intimate. The lack of cavalry was due to the distance across oceans which British forces had to travel, which meant that the horses would simply die at sea, and the lack of suitable terrain to field large numbers of cavalry was also a contributing factor. So when Generals like William Howe won victories, he could not finish his opponent completely because many times he had to rest and resupply his large army of infantry before moving on. This problem was tackled by using small units of light cavalry and non-linear infantry formations which focused on bayonet rushes, rather then fighting stalemate battles with volleys of musket fire. Howe‘s army after 1775 is described by historian Matthew H. Spring in his book "with zeal and with bayonets only" as ‘an army of light infantry‘, because it had to move across ground so quickly because the lack of cavalry. In the southern campaign, General Cornwallis infamously fielded large numbers of light cavalry also, however the basic problem of not being able to completely destroy the enemy army was still there. To find out whether the French army would have been more successful, you need to look at their early battles in the war fought against the British army, and they were not actually that successful. The French army suffered notable reverses against British infantry at Battle of Rhode Island - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Morne de la verge Capture of St. Lucia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
Siege_of_Savannah Siege_of_Savannah
, Jersey
Battle_of_Jersey Battle_of_Jersey
. The main reason for these reverses was their lack of experience in the rigeurs of colonial fighting, linear formations simply did not work. Cornwallis' final defeat at Yorktown came after months of gruelling fighting in which his battered army was reduced by disease and lack of supplies, some of that Cornwallis’ own fault for the practice of burning his own supplies to make his army move more quickly (again because of the lack of cavalry). The main French expertise was in siege warfare, which paid off at Yorktown, however many of their early battles which I noted against veteran British forces in non-linear colonial warfare suggest they would not have fared any better then the British army in dealing with the rebellion
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