Revolutionary War: Who's Your Military Favorite (To Love or Hate)

Feb 2019
Pennsylvania, US
Because there isn't really a British side. For them it was a complete sideshow and mainly a minor embarrassment.
I mean they were also having major problems with other colonies in the Caribbean at about the same time... #EmpireProblems. Even at that it lasted 8 years. You'd think they'd have doubled down and protected their interests, if only to get colonists to contribute indirectly through tariffs to the costs of the French war (French and Indian war) that the British fought partially on their behalf. It seems like a waste of resources and future revenue to let a war drag on without a definite will to win... but I guess it came down to the choice of trying to keep colonies North or Colonies South?
Feb 2019
Pennsylvania, US
"I rejoice that America has resisted." William Pitt
England so unenthusiastic over this war that they had to hire a bunch of Hessians to fight.
View attachment 18023

I thought Britain had small numbers of standing troops and needed to hire Hessians to bolster numbers when stretched over too many conflicts? But you also have to figure that Hess-Cassel was Europe's most militarized state at the time, with large numbers or well-trained soldiers. I guess some German princes saw it as an opportunity to "make bank"... but for all their terrifying reputation, apparently the Hessians had little love for the British with their harsh treatment of colonists, their destruction of property and needless executions (particularly when German Americans were the object of the actions). I know not far from where I live, they had held Hessian prisoners in rather relaxed "camps", where locals and prisoners spoke the same language and interacted rather amicably. Some say they would be given beer in town.

Does anyone know what the relationship between William Pitt and his brother-in-law George Grenville was like? They were both Whigs, though Pitt seems to be more sympathetic to the colonies and Grenville was basically the author of the Stamp Act... I would love to have been a fly on the wall to hear what their conversations were like when they were together at family gatherings.
  • Like
Reactions: sailorsam
Oct 2016
I thought Britain had small numbers of standing troops and needed to hire Hessians to bolster numbers when stretched over too many conflicts? But you also have to figure that Hess-Cassel was Europe's most militarized state at the time, with large numbers or well-trained soldiers.
as I recall King George's family had Hesse contacts, hence their hire.
lots of Hessians deserted, helped by local German-Americans. forefathers of the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch).
Feb 2019
Pennsylvania, US
Personally not a big fan of Joseph Brant, I think he was very self serving and embellished his personal accomplishments in battle. He also attacked and nearly killed Simon Girty while they were drinking around a fire, attacking him from behind with a sword. Simon Girty is one of my favorite characters of the time. Raised by the Senecas, he and his brothers were widely respected by the natives and widely despised by the Americans. Simon Girty was the most hated man on the frontier and many falsehoods were told about him, in reality, he helped many people who were captured by the tribes. He was very adept at native languages and acted as an interpreter at numerous important treaties and meetings. Girty was not a die-herd loyalist, but was pushed towards the British after being accused of treason and passed over for important positions, his true loyalties were more towards the Native Americans and helping the British was most beneficial to the Seneca. To learn more about Smon Girty, I recommend "Simon Girty, turncoat hero" by Phillip Hoffman.
I'm a bit fascinated with Brant, mainly because my great, great (etc.) grandfather survived an ambush orchestrated by Brant and (well, well!) Girty, where they killed or captured the entire expeditionary force of continental solders and Pennsylvania militia... without loosing a man. It was known as Lochry's Defeat / the Lochry Massacre. My relative, Matthias Fisher, was one of a handful of men who returned home to report what had actually happened - his account was more detailed as he was there when Lochry died. Lochry was caught alive and basically tomahawked in the head in front of Matthias... the rest of the captives were either "adopted into the tribe" (not as nice a thing as it sounds) or sold to the British. Matthias was held on an island off Nova Scotia and managed to escape (it was easier to escape the British than the Indians, obviously) and walked all the way home to Pennsylvania. His family thought he was dead, and when he came home, they didn't recognize him due to the abuse and privation he had suffered.

It was right after Lochry's Defeat that Brant and Girty had their falling out, I think... it may have been on account of Brant boasting about the victory and both men being rather drunk.

So, I have an odd sort of respect for the guy who nearly killed my greatx grandfather (apparently he held back his men from killing more) - even though, Lochry was being rather careless, having a fire burning on the bank of the river in a dangerous area... daft. But I guess he had to feed his men and horses.

I don't know much about Girty... I'll have to find that book by Hoffman.
Aug 2018
Southern Indiana
Simon Girty is a larger than life character, when he was imprisoned in the block house in Fort Pitt for treason, he escaped that night, slept in a cherry tree in the middle of town and then came back to the gates the next morning saying that "if I were really guilty, would I have come back?", they released him.
Apr 2019
I'm just interested to hear who everyone favors when it comes to Revolutionary War combatants - whether American or British. I find I am often more captivated by the ones that were rotten, prideful, cruel, contradictory or useless than the ones that were exemplary... they just tend to be very interesting... For example:

* Charles Lee: ineffective to the point that his capture is almost a blessing in disguise - until you learn he may have been helping his British captors plot against the Continentals, and when exchanged back to service, faced court-martial for generally being a bit of a pansy (disobedience, shameful retreat, etc).

* John Simcoe: used light infantry in an impressive manner, favored bayoneting rebels (in their sleep or otherwise). AMC's Turn made him out to be a psychopath - the real character is equal parts intelligent and ruthless (though I suppose it still falls under what is acceptable in warfare at the time), with no pity for patriots or their property during the war and afterward showing incredibly sound moral judgement when it comes to slavery.

* Joseph Brant: wore his traditional Mohawk dress while visiting Britain (must have been amazing to see), his raids were often described as "massacres" (in 2-3 cases, killing hundreds, taking few prisoners, with shockingly low cost to his own force) with sometimes killed non-combatants.

So, I'm curious, which individuals are your favorites and why? Does anyone here have a better criteria for picking their favorites (i.e. anyone here not as lurid as I am)?
Im from Alabama, so as far as military tactician I would go with The Swamp Fox, Francis Marion. As far as inspirational leaders, I would say Thomas Paine. I know he went kind of radical there toward the end but without an example of how a true democratic republic would work I kind of understand.
  • Like
Reactions: Niobe

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
The rubbishing of the Hessians as mere mercanaries is long-standing.

However Britain’s alliance the Brunswick (half the Hessians were Brunswickers), Hesse Kassel, Hesse Hanau and Waldeck was old, they’d fought beside each other through the Seven years War and even earlier.

They were mainly used as garrison or camp troops, to let the British do the fighting, Grenadier battalions and jägers excepted (who were considered amongst the best British units)... I think there was a valuable Brunswick dragoon unit aswell, much needed due to the lack of mounted troops in theatre.

The British found them brave and proffesional but doggedly clinging to European drill... which made them slow at marching and manoeuvre... the British adapted to the war in America with loose files and quicker marching pace.

Hanoverians were also used, but they were mainly sent to Gibraltar where they helped resist a French and Spanish seige not to the Americas.
  • Like
Reactions: Niobe and sailorsam