British Light Infantry in the American Revolution

British Light Infantry in the American Revolution

Elite 237
  • Author: Robbie MacNiven
  • Illustrator: Stephen Walsh
  • Short code: ELI 237
  • Publication Date: 18 Feb 2021
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About this Product

During the Seven Years' War (1755-63), a number of independent light-infantry outfits served under British command and dedicated light companies were added to the British Army's regular infantry battalions. The light companies were disbanded after the war but the prominent role played by light infantry was not forgotten, and in 1771-72 light-infantry companies were reinstated in every regiment in the British Isles.

Although William Howe formed a training camp at Salisbury in 1774 specifically to practise light-infantry doctrine, the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775 found the British Army wanting, and the light companies were no different. After evacuating Boston in March 1776, Howe began to remodel and drill his army at Halifax, standardizing lighter uniform and emphasizing more open-order tactics. He also brigaded his light companies together into composite battalions, which went on to fight in almost every major engagement during the American Revolution. They spearheaded British assaults, using night-time surprise and relying upon the bayonet in engagements such as Paoli and Old Tappan. They also matched their regular and irregular opponents in bush-fighting, and at times fought in far-flung detachments alongside Native American and Loyalist allies on the frontier. Featuring specially commissioned full-colour artwork, this book offers a comprehensive guide to the formation, uniform, equipment, doctrines and tactics of these elite light infantry companies and battalions, and considers how, over the course of the war they developed a fearsome reputation, and exemplified the psychological characteristics exhibited by crack military units across history.

Biographical Note

Robbie MacNiven is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, working on a thesis that deals with massacres and violence during the American Revolutionary War. He has an MLitt in War Studies from the University of Glasgow and an MA in joint History and English Language from the University of Edinburgh. Both his undergraduate and master's dissertations were on topics relating to the American Revolutionary (contemporary newspaper coverage of the conflict, and the battle of Waxhaws respectively). Outside of academia he also writes paid articles for the popular military history magazine, Military History Monthly, and spends summers working on the Learning Team for the National Trust for Scotland at their Culloden battlefield visitor centre. He has also had seven speculative fiction novels published, and is currently represented in fiction writing by Rob Dinsdale at Independent Literary.Stephen Walsh studied art at the North East Wales Institute and has worked as a professional illustrator since 1988. Since then he has illustrated a variety of books and games including Settlers of Catan. His projects for Osprey include such diverse subjects as the battle of Otterburn, the Chinese army from 1937 to 1949 and the US Home Front in World War II.


British Light Infantry on the Eve of the American Revolutionary War
Weapons, Clothing, and Equipment
Impact and Influence

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