The Revolution’s 150-year Impact on Military Policy

Beyond the Classroom

March 15, 2013
by Todd Andrlik Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

For the enhanced e-version of Reporting the Revolutionary War, I filmed interviews with several of the book’s historian contributors.  My questions covered a lot of ground, including military strategy, print culture, politics, health, logistics, etc.  We finished with 100+ video segments totaling more than five hours of Q&A. Frequently, our conversations went off on tangents about topics that didn’t quite match the book’s focus and thus didn’t make the e-edition. One of those tangents occurred with military historian John W. Hall, who many may recognize from his part in the History Channel’s Revolution mini-series (2006-07). In this video (embedded below), Hall explains the American Revolution’s profound impact on American military policy for the 150 years that followed the Treaty of Paris. Enjoy!


  • I frequently notice threads or articles concerning myths of the revolution in which the idea of militia being the major factor (or perhaps an equal factor) in winning the American Revolution is ‘debunked’. I’m starting to think the real myth is exactly the opposite. That somehow the victory is all about Washington’s Continental Army and not about the militia who fought in almost every major engagement of the war. This is particularly true in the Southern Campaigns where no battles were won without substantial assistance from militia and a commander with sense enough to employ them effectively.

    The impact of militia is not limited only to the south. Its probably unfair to point out that Lexington and Concord, and Bunker Hill were total militia actions since no Continental Army yet existed. However, Benningfield, Freeman’s Farm, and pretty much most of the Saratoga Campaign represents a victory for the militia. Indeed, the Real Hero of Saratoga may very well have been the militia.

    To top it off, the Virginia Campaign that wore down Cornwallis and sealed off Yorktown so that Washington (the French actually) could come south for the kill was largely a militia campaign.

    In any event, time and again we find militia men at the heart of America’s victory in the revolution.

    1. The problem with american assumptions of the american revolution is based on nationalistic tosh. The fact is the British army was not defeated by superior american armies of the period. 9 out of 10 battles was won by the British army. The battle of Guildford court house is a case in point,. Every time the British win a battle the Americas always forget at the time it was the army that controlled the field who was considered the winner. The British won this battle but of course the Americans say oh they may have won, but it was costly, just like bunker hill, they make a defeat into victory. Both battles was a major lost for the Americans. who just melted out way. Greene’s army was some 4,500 and Cornwallis army was just under 2000. This was a remarkable victory for the British who were nearly fightings 3 times their number. The fact the British inflicted such a decisive defeat on the Americans they did not dare attack them again. So the idea that Americans caused the British to retire and hence eventually to York town is pure rubbish to, cover up this humiliating defeat. The question needs to answered if the Americans inflicted such heavy casualness on the British at the battle surely with superior numbers they could of pursued the British and finish them off and hence ending the war there with out need for Yorktown and the french. They did not because they got a good drubbing. The idea that the american Continental was the same caliber as the standard British regular is indeed questionable at most they with stood two volleys and that they ran. of course some individual regiments were very good but on the whole the continentals was very substandard. hence why Washington and other american commanders just kept retreating. The american army was really a gureilla force which just kept pecking at the British to wear them down, a bit like the viet gong did in Vietnam and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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