How America Fought Its Wars: Military Strategy from the American Revolution to the Civil War

By Victor Brooks; Robert Hohwald | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The Response to Military
Confrontation

British and American Strategies and
Resources in 1775

Soon after the arrival of the official reports of the armed confrontations in Lexington and Concord, the London Morning Chronicle declared that "the sword alone can decide the dispute, we must prevent the ruin of the British empire." Captain John Bowater, stationed with Gage's forces in Boston, wrote to Lord Denleigh in London concerning the role of colonials in a future British empire. "I every day curse Columbus and all the discoveries of this diabolical country—the natives are such a levelling, underbred, artful race of people that we can not associate with them. Throughout America they are a sad set of Presbyterian rascals, their words come up so slow that I frequently long to shove a soup ladle down their throats. I think nothing but a total extirpation of the inhabitants of this country will ever make it a desirable object of any Prince or State." The realization in Whitehall and Westminster that colonial demonstrations and protests had now transformed into open armed hostilities initiated a major policy debate on how to force the submission of the rebels within a single military campaign. American insurgency between the Stamp Act crisis of 1764 and the Spring of 1775 had called for the use of troops in a form of police action designed to overawe disaffected subjects with the military might of the British empire. This strategy was based on the belief that most of the trouble was the fault of a few recalcitrant individuals who unfortunately seemed to command a measure of sympathy in some parts of Massachusetts. Now the ministry officials were beginning to realize that the rebels had control over fairly well organized military units and that George III's insistence on the subordination and submission of the Colonials toward the mother country would have to be enforced through some level of armed conflict.

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