The Coercion used in Continental Army

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The Revolutionary War did not go easy on the common soldier. Combat could be ugly--a far cry from the splendid and neat uniforms f caricature--and everyday life harsh and miserable. Why did Americans, Continentals and militia, continue to serve Did they believe in the higher cause Did they fight, like modern soldiers, for their buddies Did they hope for reward, in the form f bounty money or land Or were they, at times, just too scared to quit Harry M.


Very little scholarly work had been done on military discipline and enforcement in the American army during the Revolutionary War. The neglect is not for lack f source material. Thousands f orderly books, manuals f instruction, court martial transcripts, and other primary sources exist in private collections and in local and national repositories, including the National Archives and the Library f Congress. Most f this material is readily available to researchers, and some f it, most notably in George Washington's papers, has appeared in print. Ward is the first historian to examine the primary sources in depth, however, and he has written a pioneering study f a very important element in the military history f the Revolutionary War.
Washington was no touchy-feely general. As Ward explains, he developed his understanding f military discipline from study and observation f British practices during the French and Indian War. Discipline during that war followed standard eighteenth-century practice. Penalties were cruel--from whipping and riding the wooden horse to public hanging--and intended to terrify rather than to correct. Washington was as enthusiastic as any other officer in applying this discipline, often more so. ...
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