Army and Empire: British Soldiers on the American Frontier, 1758-1775

Army and Empire: British Soldiers on the American Frontier, 1758-1775

Army and Empire: British Soldiers on the American Frontier, 1758-1775

Army and Empire: British Soldiers on the American Frontier, 1758-1775


The end of the Seven Years' War found Britain's professional army in America facing new and unfamiliar responsibilities. In addition to occupying the recently conquered French settlements in Canada, redcoats were ordered into the trans-Appalachian west, into the little-known and much disputed territories that lay between British, French, and Spanish America. There the soldiers found themselves serving as occupiers, police, and diplomats in a vast territory marked by extreme climatic variation- a world decidedly different from Britain or the settled American colonies.Going beyond the war experience,Army and Empireexamines the lives and experiences of British soldiers in the complex, evolving cultural frontiers of the West in British America. From the first appearance of the redcoats in the West until the outbreak of the American Revolution, Michael N. McConnell explores all aspects of peacetime service, including the soldiers' diet and health, mental well-being, social life, transportation, clothing, and the built environments within which they lived and worked. McConnell looks at the army on the frontier for what it was: a collection of small communities of men, women, and children faced with the challenges of surviving on the far western edge of empire.


Few men had greater firsthand knowledge of Britain’s army in America than its mustering agents. James Pitcher, “Commissary of the Musters,” and his two assistants were responsible for verifying the number of soldiers in each regiment. Theirs was important work; the musters, held twice a year, provided an independent account of the army’s strength, serving as a check of the monthly reports submitted by the regiments. Since pay and allowances were based on these returns, no part of the army could expect its allotment until Pitcher had verified the returns based on his department’s own inspections.

During the interlude between the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution, Pitcher and his men once again prepared for long, dangerous journeys from army headquarters in New York City; their travels would take them to every corner of Britain’s North American possessions as well as to the island garrisons located on Bermuda and the Bahamas. Pitcher headed for the Ohio Country, following Forbes’s Road west, to sprawling Fort Pitt. One of his assistants headed up the Hudson River on the first leg of a trek that eventually took him through the Great Lakes to distant Fort Michilimackinac at the confluence of Lakes Huron and Michigan. the other man traveled south by ship and cross-country, ending his trip in the new and sultry province of West Florida, where redcoats stood guard at the former Spanish and French forts of Pensacola and Mobile.

Altogether, 1765 these agents covered some 9,800 miles, much of it through the western periphery of British America, lands only recently attached to the empire. Indeed, their travels followed the course taken by British expansion during and immediately after the Seven Years’ War: over the Alleghenies to the upper Ohio valley, up the Mohawk valley to Lake Ontario, and around the Niagara portage to the upper Great Lakes—the pays d’en haut of New France and the heart of the French-Indian trading and alliance network. Much farther south, British troops clung to decayed outposts in West Florida, having arrived only two years earlier.

This new imperial frontier, however, was by no means fixed. in addition . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.