Warfare and the Provincial Soldier on the New England Frontier, 1689-1748
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright
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List of Maps
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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Historical research rarely proceeds in a straight line. The historian boldly pursues an embryonic thought or notion down a path filled with so many turns, forks, and dead ends that the final result often has little connection to the original destination. So it went with this project. John Shy’s provocative article “A New Look at the Colonial Militia” provided the...
Introduction: The New England Provincial Soldier: A Problem of Perception
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Scattered around northern New England are a few garrison houses that have withstood the attack of age and the elements. Altered by their various owners and hemmed in by modern construction, they nevertheless remind us of a time when Native-Americans and Europeans sought...
Part I: Warfare on the New England Frontier
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1. The Initiation of War and the New England Military System
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On the evening of Tuesday, September 29, 1691, Henry Dow, a member of the Committee of Militia for the town of Hampton, New Hampshire, wrote a few hasty lines to Major Robert Pike, the commander of the militia for the county of Norfolk, to inform him that war, with its death and destruction...
2. Garrisons: The First Line of Defense
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In the 1760s Thomas Hutchinson, reviewing the recent history of the Indian wars in New England, concluded that “the settlement of a new country could never be effected, if the inhabitants should confine themselves to cities or walled towns. A frontier there must be, and nothing less...
3. Provincial Forts: The Magnet
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Although garrisons provided a sanctuary and a modicum of protection for the inhabitants and the soldiers, forts symbolized a permanent military presence on the northern frontier. They not only provided a strong defensive structure, but also served as headquarters for the provincial forces...
4. Scouts: Patrols, Probes, and Raids
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Provincial forces did not remain stationary in garrison houses and behind fort walls. Units of provincial soldiers performed defensive patrols, intelligence-gathering probes, and offensive raids. The governments of northern New England referred to any armed force moving beyond the frontier line as...
5. Expeditions: The Anglo-American Partnership
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To critics of the New England provincial soldiers, nothing illustrates the chasm between the soldiers’ ineffectiveness and the superiority of the French more than the inability of the English to emulate their enemy and assault French communities. “They had no body of men,” wrote W. J. Eccles...
6. Stores of War: The Logistical Nightmare
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In order to wage war effectively, to fight battles and conduct sieges, soldiers not only require the basic human needs of food, shelter, and clothing, but they must also be provided with weapons and ammunition, the tools that define their profession and announce their intention. Throughout history...
Part II: The Provincial Soldier
7. Recruiting: Gone for a Soldier
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As in almost all military systems throughout history, the provincial governments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire employed both a carrot and a stick in their efforts to find soldiers for active duty. They attempted to encourage or entice volunteers with wages and special incentives tied to...
8. Officers: Chosen to Lead
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The ability of the provincial governments of northern New England to recruit soldiers and undertake military operations depended mainly on their officers. Despite the incentives, the propaganda, and the press, the soldier’s decision to serve often centered on who the soldier would serve under,...
9. Battle Drill and Fighting Spirit
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The military historian Richard Holmes wrote that military training “has two clearly identifiable functions. Its most obvious task is to instill exactly what its name suggests: an adequate level of training in such things as weapon handling and minor tactics. Its second, though by no means less...
10. Battle Experience: Facing the Enemy
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It has almost become a cliché to say that battle is the ultimate objective of soldiers.1 Soldiers exist in order to fight: combat defines their function. Despite the fact that battle is infrequent, so infrequent that many soldiers never experience enemy fire, its impact looms large. During battle, the...
11. The Wounds of War
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Beyond all considerations of higher taxes, food shortages, economic disruption, and political upheaval, the final cost of war is measured in the pain of wounds and the finality of death. As in all human conflict, provincial soldiers found that the immediate consequences of combat were dead...
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After suffering the disastrous defeats of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill, General Thomas Gage observed that the New Englanders “in all their Wars against the French, . . . never Showed so much Conduct, Attention, and Perseverance as they do now.”1 Because Gage, like most British...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2011