Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Young Historian Spotlight: Andrew Warren

Andrew (left) in his interpretive role at Fort Ticoderoga
(Photo Credit: Fort Ticonderoga)
Today, we are continuing with the second of a series of interviews with a number of young historians. By the time this series concludes in early November, we will have heard from Jack Weaver, Andrew Warren, Ben Olex, Casey Hill, Samantha Sproviero, and Davis Tierney. All of these individuals are broadly interested in the Kabinettskriege era, and have been selected as a result of recent promotion, impending graduate school applications, or work recently begun in graduate school or at a historic site. Today's young historian is Andrew Warren, a rising star in the world of public history. Andrew has worked at a number of historic sites, including Colonial Williamsburg and Fort Ticonderoga.  

Alexander Burns : What drew you to study the history in this era? In 2018, much of popular memory of military history in the United States is focused on World War 1, World War 2, and the Vietnam War. What about the history of the 1688-1815 era do you find so compelling?

Andrew Warren[1]: While I had some interest in military history, my predominant focus had always been on other subjects, namely domestic service and male fashion. The latter in particular is part of what drew me to historic interpretation and living history, wishing to dress in period clothing. Through a circuitous series of events, I ended up at my first interpreter job, a seasonal position at Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Working there for four summers drastically expanded my interest and knowledge in military history. While the focus of that fort was 19th century, the sister fort on the mainland portrayed the 18th century, and over the years I became increasingly interested in that period. This culminated in me eventually getting a position at Colonial Williamsburg, long a dream of mine. As I became ever more devoted to this period, my research skills also drastically improved, and it so happened that I became close friends with a number of the military interpreters there, including Mr. Davis Tierney. Partly through him I began doing reenactments as a hobby, and I found my niche combining my primary historic passion, domestic servants, with military history by focusing my research on officers’ servants and portraying that oft-neglected aspect of the armies of this period.

AB: Is there a particular person, conflict, event, or geographical setting which draws you to this era?

AW: As it pertains to military history, I am most focused on the American War for Independence. In particular, I have a keen interest in presenting more nuanced perspectives to modern Americans, for whom the war has often been taught in a completely black and white fashion. One of my favourite ways of achieving this is portraying, or discussing, the loyalist perspective, whether in a civilian or military context. I think there is great poignancy in what was truly a civil war, and the many stories of broken families, friendships, towns, etc. In a broader sense, my interest has always been on England, for I am rather a devout Anglophile. But I’m fascinated by the effects, good and horrifically ill, of Britain’s colonization of North America, and the overlap in cultures that existed here, particularly in contrast to the differences between our nations today.

AB: How do you plan to continue your research into this era? You’ve worked a number of great historic sites, including Fort Ticonderoga. Why have you chosen your particular path?

AW: I am digging ever deeper into the role of officers’ servants, bringing my knowledge of servants in general and keen interest in the subject to spot references that others have missed. I have spoken with my bosses about possibility publishing an article on the fort’s website on the subject, or even possibly doing lectures at some point in the future. Over this winter, I will be delving far more into the French army of the Seven Years’ War than I have previously in preparation for next year’s season at the fort. At the risk of being redundant, I intend to particularly try to understand the role of servants in that context. On a more everyday basis, I hope to, in the words of Freeman Tilden, provoke guests - particularly children - into developing a passion for history, just as I was inspired many years ago. Sharing my passion, and seeing enthusiasm reflected in our guests is truly why I do this, far above anything else. Meeting so many wonderful people, from all over the world, and knowing that I am part of the reason they have traveled so far is humbling and a true honour, and I hope not only to teach them, but to learn from them, and their perspectives.

Andrew Warren in his interpretive role at Colonial Williamsburg

AB: Andrew, have you ever thought about publishing your research on domestic service, or writing about  it in a formal way? You clearly have a lot to offer on the topic!

AW: I’ve thought about it. A number of people have suggested it over the years, especially recently. I’ve tried to find small outlets for some of my knowledge, whether it be in public history or talking with other professionals and reenactors, but the idea of making it more formalized is on my mind. I’m not sure what that will look like in the end (if anything!), and I hesitate a bit due to my lack of formal academic credentials. That said, part of me feels it to be something of a duty to share my knowledge, especially as it’s a subject that’s relatively under-examined, particularly in our period.

AB: How does your particular line of research or interpretation style share your topic, not just with fellow historians and researchers, but with the public in the United States?

AW: I will add that with my role in particular, not only doing school programs at the fort but also often traveling to schools, I have a unique ability to reach children who may not have even considered attending a museum. Again, to cite Tilden, understanding how to connect each individual or group with something that they will understand is key to fostering their interest, and helping them to comprehend sometimes abstract, broad concepts. As far as sharing my research with others in the field of history, I have been humbled by the number of people who have approached me to either portray a servant or give them information pertaining to them, and what began as my own personal passion and interest has become something of a duty, ever since realizing how little focus is put on this subject.

AB: What have you been reading, recently? Could you recommend one book on your topic of interest, or any recent work on the era?

AW: Lately, I’ve been reading more primary documents in the course of my research. In that vein, one of my favourite works is British Soldiers, American War by Don Hagist. It’s a rare glimpse into enlisted soldiers of the British Army fighting here in America, backed up with a good deal of additional research to contextualize it, a nice middle ground between primary and secondary sources. Needless to say, the chapter based around a letter written by an officer’s soldier-servant to his master’s wife is particularly fascinating to me. But given my penchant for portraying the British perspective on the war, it’s far more than that. But if I can step away from modern texts and military history for a moment, two of my favourite period accounts are the journal of John Harrower, a Scotsman who became an indentured servant in Virginia in the 1770s, and wrote many fascinating everyday details often missing in journals, as well as a book published in 1790 entitled “Travels in Various Parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa” &c., republished in the 20th century as “Memoirs of an 18th Century Footman”, by another Scotsman, John MacDonald. MacDonald was a servant for about 25 years, to 28 different masters (including some military men), and was narcissistic enough that what he published as a travelogue became a memoir of his life. It’s the only memoir of a servant from this period I know of, and the number of masters he served shows the wide spectrum of experiences for those in roles of service. Finally, on a slightly different note, I want to highlight Freeman Tilden’s Interpreting Our Heritage. I still believe that his work, which outlines the basic principles of good interpretation, holds up despite its age, and is a good starting point for anyone in public history to understand how to connect your topic with the wide variety of backgrounds, prior knowledge, and interest that each guest brings.

AB: I love your response! Is there a particular anecdote or moment in the account of John Harrower which appeals to you?

AW: Harrower is kind of a unique case, because he was indentured as a schoolmaster, so a different role than most bond labourers. But one detail that really stuck out to me - I wouldn’t say appeals exactly - is that at one point, he writes about how his mistress got angry at him for whipping their youngest son, and a few days later the master hears that same child crying and wonders why Harrower wasn’t whipping him for it. When Harrower told his master that his wife had remonstrated him for it, the master got upset at his wife. I was surprised at the idea of an indentured servant being allowed, and indeed expected, to whip his master’s children, though again it’s a bit unique to his position as schoolmaster for the family. He also shares some fascinating details of the ship’s journey to Virginia, for example a very windy night where amongst those on board “there was some sleeping, some spewing… some daming, some Blasting their leggs and thighs, some their liver, lungs, lights and eyes, And for to make the shene [scene] odder, some curs’d Father, Mother, Sister, and Brother.” And his descriptions of what he calls the “soul drivers” is harrowing (no pun intended): “they are men who make it their business to go onbd. all ships who have in either Servants or Convicts [indentured or convict servants, respectively] and buy sometimes the whole and sometimes a parcell of them as they can agree, and then they drive them through the Country like a parcell of Sheep untill they can sell them to advantage”.

AB: Thanks Andrew! It has been great talking with you, I look forward to seeing where your work takes you!

If you enjoyed this post, or any of our other posts, please consider liking us on facebook,  or following us on twitter. Finally, we are dedicated to keeping Kabinettskriege ad-free. In order to assist with this, please consider supporting us via the donate button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. As always:

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

[1] Andrew Warren has been the School & Youth Programs Interpreter at Fort Ticonderoga since October 2017, and his duties involve leading programs for school and scout groups at the fort. His career as an historic interpreter began at Fort Mackinac in 2012, working there seasonally for four years, before taking a full-time job at Colonial Williamsburg doing primarily school group tours and youth education, but a variety of other tasks besides. Andrew has never attended college, making him an extreme outlier in this field, but in addition to his extensive and varied experience in historic interpretation, he has devoted much time to his own research. He particularly enjoys the "experiential learning" that comes with living history, and has acquired various historic skills along the way, such as shoemaking, cooking, &c. Andrew's true passion, however, is in sharing his love of history with others, hopefully inspiring them to develop their own.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Young Historian Spotlight: Jack Weaver

Two reenactors portray men from the German Regiment,
the subject of Jack Weaver's excellent senior thesis at W&M.

Today, we are going to begin the first of a series of interviews with a number of young historians. By the time this series concludes in early November, we will have heard from Jack Weaver, Andrew Warren, Ben Olex, Casey Hill, Samantha Sproviero, and Davis Tierney. All of these individuals are broadly interested in the Kabinettskriege era, and have been selected as a result of recent promotion, impending graduate school applications, or work recently begun in graduate school or at a historic site. Today's young historian is Jack Weaver, a bright young Revolutionary-era historian currently applying for graduate school. Jack  has previously written for Kabinettskriege. 

Alexander Burns : What drew you to study the history in this era? In 2018, much of popular memory of military history in the United States is focused on World War 1, World War 2, and the Vietnam War. What about the history of the 1688-1815 era do you find so compelling?
Jack Weaver[1]: I grew up around it. When I was a child, my parents would always take me and my brother to important historic sites, especially over times like spring break in elementary and high school. My dad is interested in the Revolutionary War, so we ended up going to a lot of Revolutionary War sites -- I visited Boston, Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Mount Vernon all before I went to high school. My interest continues because even though this period is critical to American history, it is not well understood by many people. In addition to the World Wars and Vietnam, popular memory also focuses on the American Civil War, which is an interesting and worthwhile topic, but it seems to be the earliest event in American history to which the public at large has an easy time connecting, even though earlier periods are just as interesting and just as important.

AB: Is there a particular person, conflict, event, or geographical setting which draws you to this era?

JW: While the earlier part of the period does hold interest for me, I am most interested in mid-eighteenth century America and the early Republic. The work I have done so far focuses on German-Americans during the Revolutionary War, but their impact spreads much further than that. Germans were involved in many of the conflicts which defined British North America. For example, many cities organized German companies of militia, and there were Germans in places of reasonably high leadership. Conrad Weiser was one of Pennsylvania’s leading Indian Agents in the eighteenth century, and his son was a captain in the Continental Army. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, the son of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (the leader of the Lutheran Church in America) became a general in the Continental Army, and his brother, Frederick Augustus Conrad, was the first speaker of the US House of Representatives.

AB: How do you plan to continue your research into this era? You have been employed in a public history setting, and are currently applying to graduate programs. Why have you chosen your particular path?

JW: I spend most of my time at Fort Niagara talking about the French in the French and Indian War and the British in the American Revolution, even though they are not my direct topic of research. There are a few historic sites which explore the role of Germans in Colonial America, but not that many which directly deal with German-Americans in the Revolutionary War. As far as accessible scholarship goes, there are many books available about Germans in Colonial America, many of them actually written by Germans, but there are few which discuss the role of Germans in the Revolution itself. For example, one book in my reading list is Citizens in a Strange Land: A Study of German-American Broadsides and Their Meaning for Germans in North America, 1730 -- 1830, by Hermann Wellenreuther, which certainly deals with the American Revolution and its implications, but that is not its direct topic.

AB: What have you been reading, recently? Could you recommend one book on your topic of interest, or any recent work on the era?

JW: My reading lately has been pretty eclectic, and I have not had much time for it as I would like. Starting from about a year ago and moving forward, I the books relevant to this time period I read were Crucible of War by Frederick Anderson, Heart of Europe by Peter Wilson, and The Civil War of 1812 by Alan Taylor. I am currently reading Dunmore’s War by Glenn Williams, and I am going to start reading The Divided Ground, also by Alan Taylor, when I’m done with that. There are two books I would most recommend. The first Charles Royster’s A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775 -- 1783, a definitive work on the American Revolution, and even though it is ageing a bit, if you want to understand the United States in the war that gave it independence, that is the one to read. The other one is a primary source: the memoir of Joseph Plumb Martin, a Connecticut soldier in the Continental Army which sometimes goes by the name Private Yankee Doodle. Plumb Martin was present at many of the important events of the Revolution, such as the encampment at Valley Forge and the Siege of Yorktown, and his memoir has an excellent dry wit, despite the dreary circumstances in which he often found himself.

AB: Jack- what do you think of Dumore’s War? Do you agree William’s argument that the colonists fought this conflict as a defensive war?

JW: It really depends on the definition of “defensive war.” I suppose it is in the sense that in 1774, Native Americans along the frontier aggressively invaded Virginian land, but the raids they conducted were in response to massacres perpetrated by white settlers. I am not all the way through it yet, though, so I cannot write about William’s argument intelligently.

AB: Thanks so much Jack! Good luck applying for graduate school, we looking forward to following your career as it continues!

If you enjoyed this post, or any of our other posts, please consider liking us on facebook,  or following us on twitter. Finally, we are dedicated to keeping Kabinettskriege ad-free. In order to assist with this, please consider supporting us via the donate button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. As always:

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

[1]Jack Weaver is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he majored in History and minored in German Studies. His Honors Thesis: 'A Corps of much service: the German Regiment of the Continental Army,' received the Ellen Monk Krattiger Award for outstanding work in the study of Colonial North America. He has worked as English Teaching Assistant with Fulbright Austria, and is employed as a Historic Interpreter by the Old Fort Niagara Association. He is currently applying to graduate school for history.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hochkirch: 260th Anniversary

Dear Reader,

260 years ago this Sunday, October 14th, 1758 the Prussian and Austrian armies fought the famous Battle of Hochkirch during the Seven Years War. We have focused on Hochkirch before on Kabinettskriege, so I am not going to dwell long on the specifics of the battle, but rather share some photographs which I took during a weekend of my research trip to Europe this summer. I have included an image of a map below, it comes from Christopher Duffy's excellent Army of Frederick the Great, and may be helpful as a reference while viewing the images.[1] 

As you can see from the map above, the Austrian attack at Hochkirch employed new operational ideas. The Austrians approached in multiple columns via different roads and avenues of approach. Frederick II of Prussia was taken completely by surprise.  

In the early stages of the battle, the Austrians approached in the early morning from multiple directions. Directly above, the image shows the view towards Loudon's approaching column, looking southwest from near the Prussian positions. 

Above we see the view east from the same position, looking towards the approach of O'Donnell's brigade, a command which largely consisted of cavalry forces. 

Above, as we look to the northeast, the church spire at Hochkirch peeks over a ridgeline. This view shows the perspective that the Loudon and Forgach's Austrians would have gained after taking the first Prussian defenses southwest of Hochkirch. Below, a set of images show the modern village of Hochkirch. 
The view south from the north part of the village.This road was the
avenue taken by the Itzenplitz Regiment during their bloody counterattack.
Looking south, the church is directly out of frame to the right. 
The view south from directly north of the church, the church tower is under construction

The view north/east from the same location

Below, we see the view southeast from north of the village of Hochkirch. In the foreground, the Prussians made an initial stand after being pushed from the village, in the background, Austrian columns under Colloredo would have approached from the east.

Below, the image looks west towards high ground that the Prussians used to make another stand near the village of Pommritz. 

The final two images show fighting positions later in the battle, as the Prussian army broke away from the battlefield. 

Looking north from the border of the Drehsaer-Grund. Prinz von Wuerttemberg's
cavalry charged across the image from right to left, checking O'Donnel's Austrians. 

Finally, we see the position of Saldern's Prussian rearguard, west of Wuerschen
The battle of Hochkirch provided yet more evidence that the Austrian army was increasing its military proficiency, and that the Prussians would continue to fight, even if in a disadvantageous position. The battlefield, and how the combatant's used it, has many lessons for understanding eighteenth-century warfare today. 

If you enjoyed this post, or any of our other posts, please consider liking us on facebook,  or following us on twitter. Finally, we are dedicated to keeping Kabinettskriege ad-free. In order to assist with this, please consider supporting us via the donate button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. As always:

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[1]Duffy, Army of Frederick the Great, (2nd Edition), 283. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Et sans résultat! Wargame Ruleset Review

Dear Reader,

What is a wargame? To some, it is a game, a way to see friends, roll dice, and enjoy a fun competition. To some, it is a simulation, scientifically calculated in a detailed manner as possible. For others, it is a way to connect with a particular period of the past, carefully reproducing uniforms and weapons in miniature. All this to say, wargaming is not one thing, it is many things. It is as much art as science, and as the recent passing of my friend Dean William West has reminded, art can be lost if it is not passed on and remembered.

Today, we are going to examine a particular ruleset, David Enteness'  Et sans résultat!, published by The Wargaming Company, LLC. You can find this product at The Wargaming Company website, and the UK and EU at Magister Militum. David is  attempting to follow the Flames of War/Games Workshop model of wargaming in the Napoleonic Era, in order to make this era more accessible to younger gamers. We here at Kabinettskriege wish him all the success in the world in that regard.

ESR (Et sans résultat!) is a rather unique wargaming platform, as it eschews much of the tactical level simulated detail in order to place the player specifically at the level of the division, corps, and army commander. It is thus, as it claims on the front cover, a "highly playable, perspective based wargame." Before evaluating ESR too carefully, I want to discuss the format of the ruleset, and then move from there into critiques and praise.

150 yard quick reference guide

The image above is the 150-yard scale quick reference guide. It gives a breakdown of the turn, and also gives you an idea of the high quality production value which goes into ESR products. Each turn is broken down into the Command, Movement, Artillery & Skirmish, and Combat phases.

A French Commander mulls over his options

In the Command phase, players (representing generals) Activate Orders, Issue Orders, and perform Leader Actions. In many ways, this is the most important phase. On the first turn, players issue orders. These include Attack, Defend, Support, Move and Reserve orders. An Attack order will move a formation directly towards its target (usually a terrain piece) at full speed. A Defend order will keep a formation in place. A Support order will keep a formation behind or alongside another friendly formation. A Move order will move a formation (at variable speed, with some latitude) towards an objective, while a Reserve order will keep a formation in place, and enable it to quickly transition into another task.

Once these order have been issued, there are dice rolls to activate them on the following turn, and orders may be delayed a few turns. Leader Actions allow the player to personally intervene with a number of special actions, such as committing an artillery battery, creating a detachment, or taking personal command of a body of troops. All of these are achieved by a dice roll which is relatively easy at the beginning of the game, but becomes increasingly difficult as formations take damage (or Fatigue, to use the ESR specific term.)

ESR Troops on the March

The Movement phase is obviously when movement occurs, but also when formations ploy and deploy. During the phase, the steps are Order Conversions, Movement, Ploy and Deploy, and Fatigue Recovery. Order conversions allow certain types of troops to launch fast attacks. Deployment is a very critical part of the game, as all formations usually begin ployed, or in a column of march. It takes time and effort to deploy troops for battle, (as it did historically!) and a division can usually deploy about 3-4 battalions per turn, or twenty minutes.  Formations which are attacked while ployed suffer a severe disadvantage, and will usually retreat. Fatigue Recovery is when troops shed Fatigue and become more combat effective.

The Artillery & Skirmish is the first of two battle-related phases. The phase consists of  Artillery & Skirmishing, Leader Fate, and Assessments. In this phase, forrmations can bombard and skirmish with one another, attempting to inflict Fatigue (damage) and Assessments (morale checks) on the enemy. Factors such as the types of guns firing, weather, and intensity of the assault influence the Artillery phase, while the skirmish phase is impacted by whether or not your army possesses an effective skirmishing doctrine. This is also the phase of the game where "officer casualties" are resolved, during the Leader Fate segment.

An ESR Battle in full swing

During the Combat Phase, brigades and divisions battle one another for control of the field. Compared with many rulesets, combat is streamlined, consisting of numerous opposed 2d6 rolls with modifiers added. For example, if a battalion of Landwehr was opposed to the Middle Guard Infantry, the French would add 6 to their dice, and the Prussians would add 3 to theirs. This is also impacted by the quality of commanders. An exceptionally good division commander might allow you to add 3, an average one might allow you to add 1. The goal is to beat your enemy by greater than 4, allowing you to breakthrough further into his formation. After combat, the formations who took part perform an assessment, once again a 2d6 roll which can result in the formation taking Fatigue, retreating, or breaking in a rout.

I will close out this review with a bit of analysis, describing features which players may or may not enjoy regarding the game, and then evaluating it as a historian. This basic maneuver units are the battalion/regiment and squadron. Units of that size are represented on a single base, or stand. The ruleset is designed for fast play and large armies. If you want to wargame the Napoleonic Era on a large scale, seriously consider this ruleset. Battles of 20,000-30,000 men per side routinely take 3 hours. It is possible to game larger battles in a reasonable amount of time, something that is usually not offered by highly detailed, simulation-type wargames. It is quite possible to be charged by a division of French Cuirassier, and resolve their charge in real time.

The battlefield awaits!

In order to achieve this quick-play time, ESR dispenses with much tactical detail. Indeed, this is almost a wargame set at the operational level. Battalions fight, but do so in base contact. Hussar squadrons make take an enemy regiment in the flank, but receive no bonus for doing so, unless not just the squadron, but the whole maneuver element outflanks the enemy. In example: a Polish Uhlan Squadron charging a Russian infantry battalion on the flank would receive no bonus, while a French Cuirassier division charging a Russian infantry division on the flank would. There are absolutely tactical aspects to the game (deploying batteries, launching intense skirmish assaults) but focusing on them misses the point of the game. Your goal is not to destroy the three enemy regiments in your front, your goal is to push back the three enemy Corps in your front. I was initially rather horrified by this idea: after all, wrecking enemy battalions is one of the more enjoyable aspects of games such as Johnny Reb III, Final Argument of Kings, and Warfare in the Age of Reason. It isn't the goal in ESR, and ESR makes no bones about that fact.

As a historian, I find ESR to be a breath of fresh air. The ESR Campaign Guides come with selections for further reading, it would be interesting to see that included in future versions of the ruleset as well. It is clear that David has done a great deal of research into this era of history. ESR has carefully identified what it was possible (and not possible!) for commanders to do on Napoleonic battlefields. The game does what all wargames should try to do: present the player with the role of a commanding officer in that era. If you want to discover what it was like to be in the 21eme regiment d'infanterie de ligne, go be a reenactor, or even better, read the extensive literature on common soldiers which has grown up on the Napoleonic era. If you want to be faced with some of the choices which plagued Napoleonic commanders on the battlefield, try ESR.

If you enjoyed this post, or any of our other posts, please consider liking us on facebook,  or following us on twitter. Finally, we are dedicated to keeping Kabinettskriege ad-free. In order to assist with this, please consider supporting us via the donate button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. As always:

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book Review: On Gladsmuir Shall the Battle Be!: The Battle of Prestonpans 1745 By Arran Johnston

Dear Reader,

Today, we are going to examine a book by Arran Johnston, describing the key battle of Prestonpans during the 1745 Jacobite uprising. In this detailed battle study published by Helion & Co's "From Reason to Revolution" series, Johnston argues that the Jacobite army won an astounding victory at Prestonpans. He also indicates that previous historians have undervalued the battle, placing it only as part of a narrative which leads to final Jacobite defeat at Culloden.  Johnston sums up this sentiment near the end of the book, stating, "Hindsight makes us blind, but in 1745, nothing was certain. In fact after the Battle of Prestonpans, after victory at Gladsmuir, nothing seemed impossible at all." [1] Thus, far from a simple campaign and battle narrative, Johnston presents a call for understanding contingency in history, one which many historians would do well to heed.

The book is roughly 220 pages, with copious maps and black and white illustrations of key figures. On Gladsmuir breaks down into eight chapters, with one describing the geographic setting, two giving background information on the Jacobite movement in Scotland, two describing the operational movements before the battle, and three on the battle and its aftermath. The heart of the book is absolutely the final three chapters, where Johnston treats the battle in fine detail. The book also contains two appendices, detailing forces at the battle, as well as a letter from British Colonel Witney describing how best to fight the Jacobite army.

Johnston writes well throughout the book, but chapters four and seven are especially strong. Chapter four, "The Race to the Capital" depicts the attempt by both the Jacobite and British forces to concentrate on Edinburgh, and suggests that popular support, and weather enabled the Jacobites to occupy the capital before Cope's army could arrive.[2] The chapter describing the actual fighting at Prestonpans, chapter seven, is especially strong. Johnston suggests that Jacobite fire wounded Lt. Colonel Shugborough Whitney, who commanded the 1st Squadron of Gardiner's Dragoons, at a pivotal moment in the battle.[3] With their officer wounded and temporarily unable to command, the Dragoons took flight, setting of a costly chain of retreats for the British. Johnston uses previously unseen sources to provide details on this part of the fight.

The book's bibliography is a bit small for a work of this size and detail, but Johnston has conducted archival research in both London and Edinburgh, and at the Derbyshire Records Office. With that said, the work contains many quotations, particularly block quotations of correspondence, which really allow the reader to place themselves in the historical narrative. This book will be of great interest to both military historians of Britain and military history enthusiasts. It has much new information to offer reenactors and wargamers of the '45, and the maps are particularly good.

Arran Johnston knows how to write in an interesting manner, and is an excellent storyteller. The book's title, On Gladsmuir Shall the Battle Be! actually comes from a medieval prophecy.The author has spent a lifetime researching this battle, and is able to weave the history of Scotland, military history, and the history of the '45 together in a book ostensibly about a single battle. I highly recommend this book.

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns


[1]Arran Johnston, On Gladsmuir Shall the Batlte Be!: The Battle of Presontonpans 1745, 212.
[2]Ibid, 95.
[3]Ibid, 164.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Sgt. Thomas Sullivan Describes the "Forage War" of 1777

Reenactors portray British Soldiers (not of the 49th Regiment)
Dear Reader

Sgt. Thomas Sullivan of the 49th Regiment of Foot served through much of the American War of Independence before 1778. For a man from the ranks, he leaves surprisingly detailed descriptions of combat. Except to improve clarity, I have left the original spelling and punctuation.  This entry is his description of skirmishing around Brunswick, New Jersey, in the opening days of 1777:

"January 4th [1777]....

Our Army's leaving Trenton and Princetown greatly animated the Enemy, so that they crowded from all Parts of the Country two our suburbs, and drove the Waldeckers from Elizabethown to Amboy, where the 4th Brigade [of] British lay. They made an attempt to surprise that Town twice but in Vain, in order to cut off the communication with Brunswick by land.

The 33d. and 42d Regiments with a Battalion of the 71st Regiment, and some Companies of Light Infantry were stationed at Bonumtown and Piscataway, to keep that communication open, for the River was frozen up, so that the Provisions could not be brought from Amboy to Brunswick by water, the most part of the winter.

January 21st. A Detachment of 100 British Grenadiers, 100 Light Infantry, 200 Hessian Grenadiers, and a Squadron of Light Dragoons, with 2 three pounders, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Abercrombie, went from Brunswick to Forrage, with all the waggons of the Army, about 9 miles from the town, towards the Bridge that was on the Rariton river above Hillsborough,. Major Dilkes with 100 British Grenadiers marched in the rear of the Forragers, and took post in the skirts of the wood on their left, having the river on the right.

There were about 4,000 of the Rebels that mustered out of the woods, that attacked the front of the Waggon line, and drove off 24 of the English Waggons with four horses each, before the Grenadiers could come up. Major Dilkes with his party engaged them with two field Pieces, and kept a continual fire up, untill they expended all their Ammunition, at the rate of 60 rounds per man. Then they retreated to the second Party of Grenadiers from whom they got more Ammunition.

During this interval, the Hessian Grenadiers with their two pieces of cannon attacked the enemy upon their flank, and kept them in continual Play, untill the British Grenadiers and Light Infantry joined them. The engagement began very hot, but with their united force & usual bravery they repulsed the Enemy, driving them across the Bridge which they defended for some time.

The Forragers threw their Forrage away mostly, and made the best of their way home. Our loss in that action did not exceed 12 men killed and wounded.

January 23rd. The 28th and 35th Battalions with a detachment of the Royal Highlanders, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Prescott, went to cover the Provision waggons, being near half-way between Brunswick and Amboy, where a large party of the Rebels advanced from the woods upon them, with three pieces of Cannon. The Highlanders being drawn up and advanced to them in front; on the other side the 28th Battalion advanced under a heavy fire from the Enemy, and engaged their Flanking Party, which they drove to their main body. The Highlanders observing that the Rebels wound not advance out of the wood, made a charge upon them, which was always a terror to the Rebels, and put them to an immediate rout. The Enemy could never endure to stand for any time to the Bayonet, but if the King's Troops kept at a distance, they stood firing with Musquetry long enough."[1]

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Alex Burns

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

[1] The original journal resides at the American Philosophical Society, and has been published and republished a number of times. The most recent priniting is From Redcoat to Rebel: The Thomas Sullivan Journal, edited by Joseph Lee Boyle.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Fiction and the ‘45: Occupied Scotland before the Last Jacobite Rebellion

You could just as easily replace Randall with Tavington.
Dear Reader,

The scene is ingrained into the consciousness of much of the English-speaking world: Barbarous red-coated soldiers, acting under the direction of their effete noble officers, brutalize or kill innocent people in an effort to spread their "law and order." Fictionalized depictions of this kind are common in the United States, Ireland, and Scotland. Usually, witnessing this type of violence cements ideological resistance to the redcoats in some hero-figure. In these narratives, red-coated barbarity is the justification for acts of rebellion and war. Compared with these fictionalized portrayals, events are somewhat less dramatic. This post argues that Scotland was relatively peaceful just before the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

British Grenadier, Morier, 1740s/1750s
Writing about violent imperialism is never an easy task, as it is often one of heightened emotions for all parties involved. Suggesting that Scotland was peaceful before 1745 does not mean that British troops committed no crimes, simply that it was peaceful compared with the bloody atrocities which followed the rebellion, as well as portrayals of the pre-rising era in fiction and film. Challenging this narrative vital, as it has been constructed in order to make the rebellion appear justified in the face of English Imperialism. Whether or not the rebellion was justified need not detain us, nor is any resolution likely on that score. Furthermore, regardless of the justification of the rising, the repression after the rising was questionable as a matter of deterrent, as Christopher Duffy has recently argued in his magisterial Fight for a Throne: The Jacobite '45 Reconsidered.  With that rather weighty disclaimer, let us turn to the fictional portrayal of Scotland on the eve of the '45 rebellion.

Outlander portrays a harsh occupation by a large British Army before 1745. 
In both Chasing the Deer, and Outlander, the British military presence in Scotland on the eve of '45 rising seems quite significant. Chasing the Deer shows Brian Blessed's character drilling troops, while Outlander portrays a fictitious low-intensity war raging between British dragoons and highland rebels (in 1743!). In both media, the British Army of red-coated troops seems to be everywhere, and it follows that ordinary people in Scotland would have seen them on an almost daily basis. It may come as a surprise, then, that the British Army maintained a very small footprint in Scotland until after the '45 rising.

On the eve of the '45, there were just under 4,000 British Army soldiers deployed in Scotland.[1] Large parts of the country were entirely beyond their reach. Indeed, Scotland was one of the least militarized places in Europe, with perhaps 1 soldier per 315 civilians.[2] By comparison, the ratios for Prussia, France, Austria, and Russia are all greater than 1 soldier per 150 civilians.[3]  The Hessian allies of the British had military to civilian ratios as high as 1:14. The British Army did indeed increase its force in Scotland after the rebellion and for 10 years almost 11,000 troops were deployed in the region.

The number of British Garrisons
exploded only after the rising
The Stennis Historical Society has recently compiled a map of the garrison locations, but remember, this is after Culloden. For those interested in the occupation after the rebellion, the Stennis Historical Society has also made transcriptions of archival troop cantonments available. Troops local to the highlands, the Royal Highland Regiment, had been moved to continental Europe to fight in the War of Austrian Succession. Interaction with army also helped teach the Scottish highlanders English, so that in the eighteenth century, English-speaking highlanders often possessed less of a "Scottish" accent than lowlanders did.[4]

Samuel Johnson observed:
Those Highlanders that can speak English, commonly speak it well, with few of the words, and little of the tone by which a Scotchman is distinguished. Their language seems to have been learned in the army or the navy, or by some communication with those who could give them good examples of accent and pronunciation. By their Lowland neighbours they would not willingly be taught; for they have long considered them as a mean and degenerate race.[5]
So, if there were 4,000 British troops in Scotland in 1744-45, what was their task? In fiction, these troops are portrayed as violent butchers, conducting raids, murders, rapes, and mass executions. Once again, this is a fictional viewpoint.

A portion of a mass-execution sequence in Outlander
The British government did not conduct any mass executions before the 1745 uprising, indeed, there were only 38 executions in Scotland between 1740-1749.[6] This figure does not include executions after the '45 rising, but only 80 Scottish Jacobites were executed in the wake of the rising (when you remove the 40 executions of Manchester Regiment deserters.) A far larger number of men were likely murdered by the British Army during bloody reprisals directly after Culloden. Before the rising, British soldiers certainly committed unsanctioned acts of violence against Scottish civilians. However, these acts took place outside the law, and soldiers were frequently found guilty, punished, or even executed for committing them.[7] Before the '45, the British Army was not conducting executions, nor was it spending most of its time destroying the countryside by fire and sword.

What was it doing, you ask?

Hunting smugglers. The army was indeed engaged in a low-intensity war, not against Jacobites, but smugglers. Anti-smuggling operations were quite common, and sometimes, smugglers were suspected of being Jacobites. However, it runs a bit contrary to fiction that the British Army would not have been most familiar with the highlands, but with the coastal regions traveled during anti-smuggling police work.

A 19th-century depiction of the Porteous Riots
This work could sometimes lead to violence, as it did during the Porteous Riots of 1736. In this event, public outrage over the looming execution of two smugglers caused the crowd to hurl stones at British soldiers, who eventually opened fire, killing between 5-10 individuals. Captain John Porteous, the commander of the soldiers, was placed under arrest. During the next few days, 4,000 people assembled to demand Porteous' execution. Despite a jury finding Porteous guilty, the mob believed that the judicial system was taking too long, and lynched the unfortunate man. This episode demonstrates that British soldiers were not figures of terror, but individuals who could be held accountable by the Scottish public.

The Tay Bridge, constructed by Marshal Wade's troops in 1735, photo by
Dr. Will Tatum
In addition to hunting smugglers, soldiers spent a great deal of their time building roads. Between 1730 and 1745, Marshal Wade constructed 250 miles of road in Scotland.[8] 500 men of the army in Scotland were consistently employed in roadbuilding during this era, and these soldiers were offered extra pay for their work.[9] These were undoubtedly roads designed to carry English imperialism into Scotland, but, in my mind, building roads is a far less nefarious activity than conducting armed patrols of the countryside à la Vietnam. In Scotland, men like William Blakeney, Edward Cornwallis, and James Wolfe gained valuable road-building experience which would continue to serve them in other parts of the British Empire.[10] Rather than attempting to intimidate the Scottish population by overwhelming force, imperialism and brutality, the British Army deployed a small number of men relative to the Scottish population, constructed roads in Scotland, and punished some of its own men who did commit acts of violence. 

David Morier, "Culloden"

This lack of violence makes sense if we acknowledge the fact that there were no bloody reprisals after the most recent Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1719. Rather, after these risings:
a policy of reconciliation and had been pursued by the moderate whigs-- typified by John Drummond of Quarrel, MP, who used his extensive commercial contacts to find posts for a large number of the defeated Jacobites, and so reintegrated them into Scottish society and public life.[11]
The clemency after these uprisings resulted in a relatively peaceful Scotland for twenty-five years, but it failed to prevent the '45 itself. When viewed through this lens, the Government response to the '45 becomes more understandable, if perhaps not forgivable. The 'highland army' of '45 was rebelling not only against the King, but against the peaceful Scotland created by government clemency in the 1710s and 1720s. Describing the situation in Scotland, Norman MacLeod wrote in July of 1745 about the prospect of a renewed uprising, "I've heard nothing... but peace and quiet, I think you may entirely depend on it, that either there never was such a thing intended, or if there was, that the project is entirely defeated and blown into the air."[12] The prospect of rebellion was so inconceivable to MacLeod as a result of the relative peace which Scotland had enjoyed for over twenty-five years.

For all its historical and costuming flaws, Outlander drives at the generational
 differences which caused support for the '45.
That, then, is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the '45. Rather than a national uprising full of righteous indignation at the barbarities of the English, the rising was a rebellion against compromise. It was a rebellion against the middle-aged men who had made their peace with the Hanoverian Succession in the wake of '15 and '19. In the words of Christopher Duffy, "It was the revolt of a generation against the compromises and hesitations of fathers, uncles, and elder brothers... remarkable was the initiative taken by youthful Lords Lewis Gordon and David Oglivy, Archibald Roy Campbell of Glen Lyon, Young Clanranald, and the representatives of the MacDonald cadet branches[.]"[13] Ironically, this is something that Outlander captures almost perfectly, as the compromising leadership of Colum MacKenzie is challenged by his Jacobite younger brother Dougal, and nephew James Fraser. This complexity is what makes the '45 truly a tragic drama, one which deserves to be remembered in story and song.

If you enjoyed this post, or any of our other posts, please consider liking us on facebook,  or following us on twitter. Finally, we are dedicated to keeping Kabinettskriege ad-free. In order to assist with this, please consider supporting us via the donate button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. As always:

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns


[1] Christopher Duffy, Fight for a Throne: The Jacobite '45 Reconsidered, 38-39; 
[2]Alexander Webster, Account of the Number People in Scotland in 1755. 
[3] Duffy, The Army of Frederick the Great, 73-4.
[4] Duffy, The '45, 96.
[5] Samuel Johnson, A Journey through the Western Islands of Scotland, 75.
[6] Rachel Bennet, Capital Punishment and the Criminal Corpse in Scotland, 1740–1834, Chapter Two, Table 2.5.
[7] Victoria Henshaw, Defending the Union, 66-67, 77-78.
[8] Duffy, Fight for a Throne, 36.
[9] Victoria Henshaw, Defending the Union, 78.
[10] See Geoffrey Plank, Rebellion and Savagery, 6.
[11] Duffy, Fight for a Throne, 482.
[12] More Culloden Papers, Vol IV, 12.
[13] Duffy, Fight for a Throne, 482.