Americans, even Americans who enjoy studying the American Revolution, don’t know much about the British soldiers. While British officers have left some written accounts of themselves and their experiences the private soldiers’ left very, very little.
Don Hagist has filled the knowledge void for the private soldier as well as it can be filled. Personal accounts of nine British soldiers are gathered together for the first time. Why only nine? Because, only nine soldiers left anything more than a few scraps of information. Through the writing of these nine men we see the men, not just the red coats.
Accompanying the soldiers’ own writing are comprehensive, well researched, essays expanding the background of the soldiers and their service. For the most part these men, and their companions, were professional soldiers who volunteered to join the army as a career. They were not the dregs of society, criminals forced into the military, draftees or victims of press-gangs as the myths would have us believe. It is often useful to demonize the enemy in time of war, however when looking at these men we find that they’re not demons but men much like their colonial adversaries.
Don Hagist, a true expert on the British army and its men, writes with authority and calls upon his vast knowledge to show us our enemy as I had never seen them before. The incredibly revealing look at the men, not just the legends, leaves me with an entirely new understanding of the British soldier. That understanding opens a whole new world of thought regarding the Revolutionary War. I wish that I had had this book 20 years ago.