The American Revolution reshaped the political map of the world, and led to the birth of the United States of America. Yet these outcomes could have scarcely been predicted when the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. American rebel forces were at first largely a poorly trained, inexperienced and disorganized militia, pitted against one of the most formidable imperial armies in the world. Yet following a succession of defeats against the British, the rebels slowly rebounded in strength under the legendary leadership of George Washington. The fortunes of war ebbed and flowed, from the humid southern states of America to the frozen landscapes of wintry Canada, but eventually led to the catastrophic British defeat at Yorktown in 1781 and the establishment of an independent United States of America. The Improbable Victory is a revealing and comprehensive guide to this seminal conflict, from the opening skirmishes, through the major pitched battles, up to the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Impressively illustrated with photographs and artwork, it provides an invaluable insight into this conflict from the major command decisions down to the eye level of the front-line soldier.
Read an extract of The Improbable Victory: The Campaigns, Battles and Soldiers of the American Revolution, 1775–83
Table of Contents
Introduction PART 1 BIRTH OF A NATION Chapter 1 Sparks of Revolution Explanation of the root causes of the American Revolution, and the outbreak of hostilities in battles such as Concord, Bunker Hill and Lexington. Chapter 2 Washington Takes Over, 1775–77 George Washington takes charge of the Continental Army in June 1775. The rebels are driven back under brutal British offensives against New York and Philadelphia, but the British also suffer in Canada under Burgoyne.
Chapter 3 International War, 1778–80 The war goes international as France and Spain side with the Americans; others soon come on board the revolutionary cause. The war intensifies into a major conventional conflict on land and at sea, with both sides experiencing victory and defeat.
Chapter 4 The British Defeat, 1781–83 The British capacity to prosecute a war so far from home is steadily ground down by major battles and by the growing American expertise in irregular warfare. At Yorktown in the autumn of 1781, the British suffer a final defeat that forces them to the treaty table. PART 2 ARMIES AND NAVIES Chapter 5 American land forces A detailed study of the diverse American land forces, from regular cavalry and line infantry to irregular scouts and light infantry, looking at how they evolved from militia to war-winning army. Chapter 6 British land forces This chapter explores the life of the great British 'redcoat', plus the many other regular and specialist elements of the British Army, and looks at how they coped with the experience of combat and survival in the North American theatre. Chapter 7 The French, Spanish and American-allied forces Foreign forces made a critical contribution to the campaigns of the American Revolution. This chapter looks at the other major forces in the war, and the types of soldier they deployed.
Chapter 8 Rival navies This chapter assesses the warships and crews of the British, French and American navies, examining how they operated in both coastal waters and in blue-water contexts. Bibliography and Further Reading Index