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. ...Show more