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History Happy Hour

Episode 108: Cornwallis

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of Empire, Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy I love this book. A terrific analysis of the strength’s-and very great weaknesses-of senior British commanders in North America in the 18th Century. What makes this book so good, is that it correctly points out that the British were not doomed to defeat in North America but that the loss of the colonies was the direct result of commanders-among them Cornwallis-making poor decisions.

Noble Volunteers: The British Soldiers Who Fought the American Revolution, Don Hagist Hagist does a magnificent job of explaining what sorts of men made up the British Army in North America-who they were, how they trained and fought and what they thought of fighting a civil war so far from home. Highly recommend this book.

To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan, Andrew Waters Charles Cornwallis had a long military career and fought in several campaigns. Waters account of this critical campaign in the Southern Theatre of the American Revolution is a useful way to study Cornwallis’ command style in detail and to see traits and habits of this controversial British Commander in a specific operation. Insights gained reading Waters’ book can then be applied to considerations of his effectiveness overall.

With Zeal and Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775-1783, Matthew Spring. This is another book that should be required reading by all American historians studying military operations during the war. What Hagist does for the individual British soldiers in Noble Volunteers, Spring does for the British army as an institution in With Zeal and Bayonets. Spring clearly shows that far from being a stayed and hide-bound organization that was doomed to defeat, the British army was a highly adaptable and efficient military force that posed real challenges to George Washington.

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