Was the Revolutionary War in the south winnable by the British?

The War Years (1775-1783)

October 10, 2016
by Ian Saberton Also by this Author


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A re-evaluation from a British perspective in the light of The Cornwallis Papers

cornwallispapersRelying mostly on inferences drawn from my commentary in The Cornwallis Papers,[1] I shall seek to demonstrate that Britain’s grand strategy for reducing the southern colonies was at least in part sound and it may well have achieved a lasting measure of success if only Clinton and Cornwallis had played their cards right.[2] I begin in June 1780, one month after the capture of Charlestown, as Clinton set sail from South Carolina for the north.

Admittedly, it was only natural for Clinton to be concerned about the arrival of the French expeditionary force and the threat to New York, but wars are won, not by cautious, hesitant commanders, but by those who are prepared to take risks. Instead of taking about 4,500 troops with him to New York, he should have left them with Cornwallis in keeping with the primacy of the southern strategy.[3] Well garrisoned with some 15,500 effectives, of whom some 10,000 were fit for duty, New York should have been able to hold out if attacked, and in any event till reinforced from the south.[4]

With such an accretion of force Cornwallis would ― perhaps at once, as seems inevitable ― have assigned it to the backcountry, maybe half to Ninety Six and half to the east of South Carolina, thereby providing badly needed support for the royal militia and deterring the revolutionary irregulars from regrouping. Of particular value would have been the Queen’s Rangers,[5] who were among the troops recalled to New York, though the shortage of cavalry was so abysmal that a wise decision would have been to supplement them and the cavalry remaining in South Carolina ― that is to say, the British Legion and a detachment of the 17th Light Dragoons ― with mounted troops formed from the infantry. Such an arrangement would have made it unnecessary to call up Lt. Col. John Harris Cruger’s and Lt. Col. Isaac Allen’s corps from Georgia, leaving the troops there to police the interior and perhaps add ― marginally ― to Lt. Col. Thomas Brown’s at Augusta, where, among other things, they would have provided more support for Col. James Grierson’s regiment of royal militia.[6]

Forming mounted troops from the infantry would have been one of the most important ways in which Britain could have met Robson’s critique that it was necessary to improvise and adapt to American conditions if the war was to be won.[7] Forming new, fully equipped cavalry corps was not the answer, dependent as they were on cavalry accouterments shipped from Britain ― accouterments that were expensive, very limited in number, and took months if not years to arrive. What was needed was not carbines, sabers, horse pistols and the rest, but simply getting the infantry with their firelocks mounted that they might meet the revolutionary irregulars on their own terms, given that it was impossible to force them to an engagement with infantry only. Equipped with horses and Pennsylvanian rifles alone, the revolutionary irregulars gave ample evidence of what a formidable force mounted infantry solely equipped with firelocks might be.

Yet a sufficiency of troops, many mounted, to police both provinces was only part of the equation. If pacification was to be maintained or ultimately succeed, those of the revolutionary persuasion had to be convinced that the consequences of taking up arms were greater than the alternative of remaining peaceably at home, where they would have to supply only a measure of provisions in lieu of their enrolment in the royal militia. So, inevitably, we come to the fact that, apart from allowing them to occupy their property peaceably, pacification ultimately depended on deterrence, first on effectively suppressing outbreaks of resistance, using if necessary the kind of tactics I have outlined, and second on imposing severe sanctions for either taking up arms or breaking paroles or oaths of allegiance ― but deterrence would work only if there were sufficient troops to ensure that most transgressors were caught and punished. Of course, whenever a nascent insurgency may develop, there is always a fine line to be drawn between obtaining the desired effect with deterrent measures and going too far with them, thereby provoking the outcome that they were meant to forestall. Yet, all in all, the option of effective deterrence had to be tried here, for there was no other besides lenity, which, as matters soon proved, stood no chance of success. As Robson aptly remarked of British strategy throughout the war, “The results of following the conciliatory point of view were generally disastrous.”[8]

What, then, were the severe sanctions available to the British? Short of using corporal punishment more widely, they were in fact few. In the absence of more prison ships ― in any event only a temporary expedient, long-term imprisonment was not an option, for the Provost in Charlestown was overflowing as were the small jails at Orangeburg and Ninety Six. In Georgia the position was even worse. In the case of those who revolted against the reinstatement of the King’s peace, but were not subject to paroles or oaths of allegiance, there was a measure available that has had a long pedigree. It was adopted by Major James Wemyss[9], as sanctioned by Cornwallis, when he burned the plantations of those to the east who had taken up arms. I say “a long pedigree” advisedly, for the destruction of homes in like circumstances was, for example, sanctioned by the British in Palestine, where the legislation was kept on the Statute Book by the State of Israel, which controversially uses it to the present day. Made under article 6 of the Palestine (Defence) Order in Council 1937, regulation 119(1) of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations 1945 says: “A military commander may by order direct the forfeiture to the Government of Palestine of any house, structure or land from which he has reason to suspect that any firearm has been illegally discharged, or any bomb, grenade or explosive or incendiary article illegally thrown, or of any house, structure or land situated in any area, town, village, quarter or street the inhabitants or some of the inhabitants of which he is satisfied have committed, or attempted to commit, or abetted the commission of, or been accessories after the fact of the commission of, any offence against the Regulations involving violence or intimidation or any Military Court offence; and when any house, structure or land is forfeited as aforesaid, the military commander may destroy the house or the structure or anything growing on the land.” As for breaking paroles or oaths of allegiance, the sanction of burning plantations remained an option, particularly if transgressors were not apprehended, but if they were, the ultimate sanction, on conviction by court martial, was sentence of death. Yet such sentences were at times commuted by Cornwallis,[10] lessening their deterrent effect, whereas Germain on the contrary, as evinced by his letter of November 9, 1780, appeared to favor their being generally carried out, seemingly convinced, as he was, of their deterrent value.[11]

If there was one British officer who above all others understood the need for deterrence, it was Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, commander of the British Legion. A charismatic leader of men, he gained a deserved reputation for severity in the south and indeed, when we read his letter of August 5, 1780 in which he speaks of fire and confiscation[12], he may be thought to have damned himself with his own pen. Yet underlying his words is a defensible approach to the war which has received scant attention from American writers, who, apart from Scotti and Piecuch, have superficially and uncritically followed revolutionary propaganda in demonising the man.[13]

Of the factors which formed the backdrop to Tarleton’s approach, two predominated. First, inevitably, was the paucity of British, Hessian, and British American troops, of whom, in early summer 1780, only some 5,000 were fit for duty in South Carolina and 1,300 in Georgia. Second, there was the nature of the war itself, where the constitution and, for those living in North America, one’s very sense of national identity were at stake. In such a contest it was unrealistic to assume that committed members of the revolutionary ― and indeed the loyalist ― party could ever be persuaded to change their views. Dissemble in public they might well be prepared to do, but in their heart of hearts they were as unlikely to forsake their allegiance as to sell it for a mess of pottage.

If we are to draw the correct inferences from Tarleton’s Campaigns,[14] it was considerations such as these which led him to conclude that the war in the south could not be won by lenity and conciliation. In Tarleton’s eyes such a policy, as practised by Cornwallis, would not succeed in winning over the committed. Instead, by minimising the consequences if they were captured, it served only to induce many to take up arms. Apart from the examples to which footnote 10 refers, such lenity and its pernicious effect were graphically described by Col. Robert Gray when he reflected on the war in March 1782: “… when the rebel militia were made prisoners, they were immediately delivered up to the regular officers, who, being entirely ignorant of the dispositions and manners of the people, treated them with the utmost lenity and sent them home to their plantations upon parole; and in short, they were treated in every respect as foreign enemies. The general consequences of this was that they no sooner got out of our hands than they broke their paroles, took up arms, and made it a point to murder every militia man of ours who had any concern in making them prisoners.” Gray contrasted British policy with that of the revolutionaries, who, having a better understanding of what was in part a civil war, treated their royal militia captives with severity: “… when ever a militia man of ours was made a prisoner, he was delivered, not to the Continentals, but to the rebel militia, who looked upon him as a State prisoner, as a man who deserved a halter, and therefore treated him with the greatest cruelty.”[15]

Like the revolutionaries, Tarleton understood that it was quite useless to try and reconcile political differences in a conflict in which they were so acute. As he might well have said, “A leopard cannot change his spots.” In such a polarised situation he, like them, had an intuitive conviction that a winning policy had no option but to rely primarily on deterrence. Indeed, as he saw it, the greater the deterrence, the sooner the restoration of peace and good government under the Crown. Accordingly, in his treatment of “malefactors” who disturbed the peace, as in his encounters generally with the enemy, he came down hard, so that, in the words of Clinton’s proclamation of May 22, 1780, he might deter “by the terror of example”. With so few troops in South Carolina and Georgia it seemed to him the only practical way to keep a lid on dissension there.[16] And as described in my commentary in The Cornwallis Papers, it was a policy which had been successfully practised on a much grander and severer scale by North Carolina revolutionaries during the past five years.[17]

As far as South Carolina’s white inhabitants were concerned, we should avoid exaggerating the impact of Tarleton’s approach. Although no reliable figures are available, perhaps only one third were committed revolutionaries, and of them only those who took up arms and came within Tarleton’s sphere of operations were affected. What is clear, however, is that Tarleton had the stomach for the deterrent and necessarily disagreeable measures involved in suppressing the rebellion, whereas Cornwallis had not. The Wickwires rightly conclude, “Cornwallis had no place in a civil war.”[18]

Perhaps the reason why Tarleton was so demonised in the revolutionary propaganda of his day was the fear that his approach to the war, if it had been generally adopted by the British high command, might well have afforded the surest means of pacifying the south. Akin in various respects to Lt. Col. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee (Pyle’s massacre),[19] he has ever since been subjected to double standards by American writers, who, if he had operated on the revolutionary side, would no doubt have lauded him down the generations. As I have asserted in my commentary in The Cornwallis Papers, it is high time that the man was reappraised in a sensible way.

So deterrence and the use of an adequate number of troops, suitably adapted to American conditions, were essential, but if pacification was to succeed, a firm grip had also to be taken by Cornwallis on plundering by his troops, alienating, as it did, his friends and propelling his enemies to take up arms.

Pacification would have taken a much longer period than Cornwallis was prepared to allow. As I have observed elsewhere, “Festina lente!” was the maxim for success.[20] If the measures I have outlined had been implemented, there seems a reasonable prospect that South Carolina and Georgia would have been eventually restored to the King’s peace in reality as well as in name, perhaps with the reinstatement of South Carolina’s constitution as favored by Germain. Only then should thoughts have turned to pursuing the overall strategy to the northward, but how?   Where were the troops to come from? It would have been folly to remove troops from South Carolina and Georgia, opening the door to the breaking out of an insurgency there, and none for a time would have been available from New York, assuming Clinton had not taken a material detachment with him when he left the south. The answer would have lain in the troop reinforcements arriving at New York in October 1780 and at Charlestown and New York in June and August 1781, together amounting to 8,500 men.[21] Instead of being frittered away on diversionary expeditions like Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s and Major Gen. William Phillips’[22] ― expeditions that had no effect whatever on the overall strategy of moving northwards from the south, they could have been consolidated for the invasion of North Carolina.

In a convincing memorandum of extraordinary strategic significance, one entirely overlooked by historians, Hector MacAlester explains why the invasion of North Carolina should be mounted, not from the south, which would not solve the problem of maintaining the troops in the back parts, but from the north ― from bases in Petersburg and Halifax, which would not only obviate that problem but force the Continental southern army to withdraw lest it be caught in a pincer movement.[23]

As to Virginia, it would remain, at least for the time being, a bridge too far.[24]

So how do I envisage the war ending? Well, as Clausewitz pertinently put it, “Not every war need be fought till one side collapses … in war many roads lead to success and they do not all involve the opponent’s outright defeat,” ― the most important of these being to wear the enemy down.[25] With North Carolina conquered, Virginia threatened next, and France and Spain vacillating about a continuance of the war, there was a reasonable prospect that the remaining colonies would have accepted an accommodation short of independence, one giving them all they had sought before hostilities commenced. So, responding to the question posed in the title of this article, I conclude ― like Mackesy, but for wider reasons ― that the answer was “Yes”.[26]


[1] Ian Saberton ed., The Cornwallis Papers: The Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Theatre of the American Revolutionary War, 6 vols (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 2010) (“CP”).

[2] For a summary of the strategy, see CP, 1: 3-4.

[3] The figure of about 4,500 is provided by Clinton in his The American Rebellion, edited by William B Willcox (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954), 191, footnote 6.

[4] What would have constituted the New York garrison if about 4,500 troops had not been brought from South Carolina is based on subtracting the latter figure from those for the garrison provided by Piers Mackesy in his The War for America 1775-1783 (reprint of 1964 edition, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993), 346, quoting CO 5/100(53) (Kew: UK National Archives).

[5] Like the British Legion the Queen’s Rangers was a British American corps, part cavalry, part infantry. Commanded by Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe, it was formed in 1777 and used for light and active service. It had taken part in the Charlestown campaign.

[6] For biographical notes on Cruger, Allen, Brown, and Grierson, see respectively CP, 1: 258-9, 271-2, and 2: 190.

[7] Eric Robson, The American Revolution in its Political and Military Aspects 1763-1783 (reprint of 1955 edition, New York: W W Norton & Co Inc, 1966), 99.

[8] Robson, American Revolution, 118.

[9] For a biographical note on Wemyss (pronounced “Weems”), “the second most hated man in South Carolina”, see CP, 1: 305.

[10] CP, 2: 19 and 20; Charles Stedman, History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War (London, 1792), 2: 214. See also CP, 3: 286-7.

[11] CP, 3: 45.

[12] CP, 1: 365.

[13] Anthony J Scotti Jr, Brutal Virtue: The Myth and Reality of Banastre Tarleton (Westminster MD: Heritage Books, 2007); Jim Piecuch, The Blood Be Upon Your Head: Tarleton and the Myth of Buford’s Massacre (Lugoff SC: Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution Press, 2010).

[14] Banastre Tarleton, A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America (London, 1787).

[15] Robert Gray, “Col. Robert Gray’s Observations on the War in Carolina”, The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 11 (July, 1910), 139-59, 144-5, previously published in the North Carolina University Magazine, 8, No. 4 (November, 1858), 145-60. For a biographical note on Gray, see CP, 1: 135.

[16] His motto might well have been , “Oderint, dum metuant!” ― “Let them hate, so long as they fear!” ― a saying attributed to Accius (170-c. 90 BC).

[17] CP, 1: 153.

[18] Franklin and Mary Wickwire, Cornwallis: The American Adventure (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 1970), 173.

[19] While marching to join Cornwallis at Hillsborough in February 1781, Dr John Pyle and his band of unresisting loyalists were inhumanly butchered by Lee’s Legion and Pickens’ men. The event took place near the Haw River, North Carolina (Joseph Graham, “Narrative”, in William Henry Hoyt ed., The Papers of Archibald D Murphey (Raleigh: Publications of the North Carolina Historical Commission, 1914), 2: 273-6).

[20]Festina lente!” ― “Make haste slowly!” (Suetonius, Augustus, 25); CP, 2: 32; see also Piers Mackesy, Could the British have won the War of Independence? (Worcester MA: Clark University Press, 1976), 19.

[21] References to the reinforcements, their numbers, and places of arrival may be found in Clinton, The American Rebellion, 219; and CP, 3: 38, 5: 297-8, and 6: 24.

[22] Those to Virginia in December 1780 and March 1781.

[23] CP, 4: 138-9. For a biographical note on MacAlester, see ibid., 139.

[24] In another compelling plan (CP, 6: 206-8) Hector MacAlester explains how a conquest of Virginia may be put in train. The troops should not of course have come from those invading North Carolina or possessing the provinces to its south, which it would remain a folly to remove, but rather from further reinforcements sent out by Britain ― a prospect, perhaps not at present, but certain if peace with France and Spain, which was on the cards, were concluded.

[25] Claus von Clausewitz, On War, edited by Beatrice Hauser (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 33-7.

[26] Of British historians, Robson and Wright conclude that the war had effectively been lost by the close of 1778, whereas Mackesy takes the view that peace with France and Spain, which was in prospect, would have ultimately led to an end of the war in Britain’s favor (Robson, American Revolution, 114; Esmond Wright, Fabric of Freedom 1763-1800 (London: Macmillan & Co Ltd, 1965), 128; Mackesy, Could the British have won? 23-4, 28). I on the other hand explicitly explain how the end may have come about.


  • WWII Field Marshal Montgomery had served briefly in Ireland. He is quoted as having said something to the effect that Oliver Cromwell or the Germans could have easily suppressed the Irish rebellion but it was politically impossible for the British in 1920 to be that ruthless. So an eighteenth century Cromwell instead of Howe, Clinton, Cornwallis could have won the Revolutionary War.

  • What Major James Henry Craig did in North Carolina during 1781 with a handful of British regulars and their loyalist allies was amazing. The guy thought outside the box a lot. If he’d gotten more troops, North Carolina may very well have been conquered.

  • In the analysis of how the British might have won the war in the south, there is an assumption that Cornwallis was lenient and patient with the southern rebels prior to cracking the whip upon them. If I understand your analysis correctly, the argument is that more troops, better use of mounted tactics, and a more severe attitude toward the civilian population would have resulted in victory. Specifically, the article focuses quite a bit on Ban Tarleton and favors his approach to the rebels.

    I see a major flaw in the assumption concerning British severity. Primarily, Lord Cornwallis never actually made any substantial attempt at leniency. While, in the general’s own mind, he may have been patient and easy going, the perspective of the citizens around Fishing Creek was quite different. The first introduction of British occupation in late May and early June of 1780 was not at all peaceful. The Loyalists saw opportunity for some payback and proceeded to go after their personal enemies. The pension files for John McClure’s original 32 men at Alexander’s Old Field indicate that much of their primary motivation for joining was personal safety. I.E. Cornwallis was allowing the Loyalists to do as they would in advance of the occupation which included a threat of murdering the men along with plundering their farms.

    The situation was made much worse by Tarleton’s actions at the Waxhaws. I realize there is disagreement on the subject of Tarleton’s personal responsibility for the massacre but what mattered most was perspective. The British had just provided an example of their leniency. This example was immediately followed with brutal tactics in the Fishing Creek area. Christian Huck leading expeditions to burn churches and burn out the inhabitants. This was done at the first sign of resistance, June 1780. There was no delay while Cornwallis attempted a lenient approach. Looking at the American sources, I can assure you that these tactics, particularly the burning of the Fishing Creek Church and hanging of William Strong made quite an impact on the minds of the back country inhabitants. What Cornwallis felt was patience seemed like immediate reprisal and brutality to the population of that area. And, as we know, the resistance was born there.

    In reading your articles, I was struck immediately by this assumption. I just don’t see the attempt at leniency that failed. Instead, I see men determined to pacify and awe the population at the point of a bayonet. But, unfortunately for them, your other observation is something I totally agree with. Cornwallis did not have enough men for an occupation and movement to North Carolina. He would need to concentrate first on SC with better tactics and more mounted infantry. Since he failed to understand those limitations, the southern strategy of building local militia was actually doomed before Nathaniel Greene came onto the scene. On the other hand, your ultimate conclusion is likely correct. If Cornwallis had been given more men, more horses, better equipment, and come down harder on the people, he may have been able to subdue the southern partisans. After all, they were not all that large of a group. Cornwallis was frustrated and convinced to leave South Carolina by what was actually a fairly small number of men. 

    I’m sure we should all remain grateful that Lord Cornwallis maintained enough morality not to allow Tarleton’s advice to sway him completely. Winnable? Sure. But at what cost? Were the British really willing to expend that much resource and resort to genocidal tactics against the back country inhabitants? I doubt it very much. The type and level of severity contemplated by young officers like Ferguson and Tarleton was simply not part of the British people.

  • Wayne, I shall, if I may, leave this article and the one uploaded to the JAR in September to answer fully your points. I have nothing to add to them, to our private e-mails, or to our public exchange of views aired on page 2 of the following website: http://historum.com/american-history/52283-southern-campaigns-british-cast-characters.html. However, you will no doubt be interested to read my article on certain revolutionary actors and events which will be uploaded to the JAR on December 6. Inter alia, it addresses the action at the Waxhaws and the fallacious conclusion, so prevalent in America, that it led to the barbarous conduct of the revolutionary militia. In reality the Waxhaws was a mere excuse for them to behave as badly as they did.

  • The problem with any counter-factual alternative history, such as presented here by the author, is that, while thought-provoking, any such arguments are un-falsifiable except by the actual facts of what actually occurred. An argument can certainly be mounted that a proposed “what if” scenario (more of this, less of that, etc. by the actors involved) can seem valid, or does not seem valid. But at the end of the argument, it is still un-falsifiable except by the actual facts of history, and is therefore unarguable, being just rhetoric.

    The author here suggests that if only Cornwallis and his team, both subordinates and his superiors, had applied more resources, and were more dedicated to more severe measures of suppression, the rebellion could have or would have been suppressed in the South, and the American insurgency ultimately would have been defeated. But that argument is easily countered with the great weight of historical evidence and logic to the contrary, in my opinion.

    A few counter-arguments in favor of factual history:

    1) The French were already in the war, and were in the process of getting their naval and amphibious forces aligned with rebel forces at that time. Ultimately the French proved decisive in their role in the defeat of Cornwallis’ forces in Virginia, after his ultimately useless campaign in the South. More effective suppression of rural Carolina-based insurgents would have made little to no difference in the Battle of Yorktown which turned on very different factors.

    2) More effective suppression can at best be a temporary and ultimately futile response in the face of cultural, deeply ingrained opposition to foreign oppression, even if the insurgency is supported only by a minority of the resident population (as if quite frequently the case with armed revolutions). The only way to fully subdue a continent of insurgents is by committing a continental sized military force, which the British were unable and unwilling to deploy to America in the face of their longstanding competition with the French on both sides of the Atlantic, and in Africa, India and other points east.

    3) The physical geographical reality of the American colonies made it virtually impossible for any European power to totally subdue its diverse and widely dispersed population of European colonists. At the very best, the Brits could only hope to play a temporary game of “whack-a-mole” with a determined insurgency that literally lived off the land, and which can be supplied easily with European products such as may be needed to supplement local production, via a virtually unlimited number of routes from the sea, and from land, in 360 degrees. Indeed, the underlying cause of the Revolutionary War was an American revolt against the Crown’s attempt to suppress free trade with non-British suppliers.

    4) In terms of sheer numbers, in 1780, the population of the United States was about 2.8 million, as compared to a total population in Britain of about 7.8 million. While this disparity sounds like a nominal strength of the Brits, the war was fought in America not in Europe; all 2.8 million Americans were situated within the theater of war, while British land forces in America, even with their German mercenaries, never exceeded even 100,000. Even if only 1/3 of Americans were revolutionaries, and even if only 10% of the American revolutionaries took up arms, that would be a theoretical force of up to about the same 100,000 fighters as the invader (actual American forces never numbered more than half that, though French forces provided many more by late in the war). Yet, in terms of fighting a war, it is obvious that fighting on your own turf, which you know exceedingly well and with very short supply lines, is a huge advantage over any invading foreign force, operating with supply lines stretching across the Atlantic Ocean. Most military experts presume that any successful invasion that is assured of success requires a minimum 3:1 advantage in attacking forces over the defenders, even if supply lines and knowledge of the terrain are equal, which they were not. The Brits were never going to invade in such numbers.

    5) The Brits actually tried the “more resources plus more brutal suppression” tactics in Ireland in response to the Easter Rising, and it failed miserably. The brutality of the execution of the Easter Rising leaders by the stupid Brits was what ultimately defeated the Brits in Ireland. Brit brutality finally united ordinary, non-radical Irish in their hatred of the British oppressors, and created a strong response in favor of the rebels who ultimately forced the Brits to the negotiating table. Prior the executions public approval of the Rising leaders was nil. Similar brutal actions in India created a similar reaction there in unifying the Hindu and Muslim leaders of a “nation” that the Brits had spend hundreds of years dividing and conquering. We saw much the same here in these United States with the attempted brutal suppression of black Americans by the racist leadership of the southern states, culminating in Bull Connor’s firehose-suppression of demonstrators. The result was of course the passage of the landmark civil rights and voting rights acts shortly thereafter.

    6) Ultimately, it was the American ideal of freedom and self-determination which defeated the British oppressors in our Revolutionary War. Superior ideas and motivations fultimately win out, over time. That is why British oppression as practiced throughout much of their empire ultimately failed … whether practiced in Ireland, the Americas, India, or Africa.

    If the British could not defeat the lowly Irish Republicans mere miles from their shores at the height of their military powers and Empire in the early 20th century, with the full might of the British Army and Navy and 700 years of unbroken oppression behind them, then what possible expectation could the British, no matter their resources and pride, have of suppressing the American Revolution in the late 18th century?

    None, I say. Anything argued to the contrary is simply counterfactual and illogical.

  • Duane, thank you, but I shall, if I may, leave readers of the JAR to compare this and my other articles in the journal with your comments and as ever form their own conclusions. Personally I do not consider your comments particularly relevant.

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