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The Regulars are Coming Out_April 19th, 1775

One of the enduring myths about the American War of Independence is that Paul Revere and William Dawes rode through the New England countryside shouting, ‘the British are coming, the British are coming.”

Had they done so it would have been incomprehensible to to the average colonist who thought themselves British and indeed they were. According to Revere what he did say was, “the regulars are coming out.”

British Redcoat Regulars advancing in the movie the Patriot.

British Redcoat Regulars advancing in the movie the Patriot.

The regulars were part of the British Army’s garrison of Boston and “regulars” meant professional soldiers as opposed to the militia companies of the colonists.

Ordinarily there would not have been anything unusual about the regulars coming out. For training purposes and as a reminder to the colonists the King’s troops did often come out for route marches through the countryside. The intent of these marches was peaceful but at the same time meant to convey a show of strength to the more militant of the colonists.

By April, 1775 most of New England and especially Massachusetts was ripe for rebellion. The colony was home to Sam Adams and John Hancock and others, often described as hotheads, who stirred up the countryside against the King and his visible representatives, especially the red coated regulars.

The redcoats during their marches through the countryside endured much by way of insult from the population. The British officers, even though many held the colonists in contempt ordered restraint. General Gage in Boston commander of the garrison had no desire to create the circumstances that led to an incident similar to the “Boston Massacre” of 1773 where the regulars opened fire on a colonial mob.

As things continued to spiral out of control and King George III refused to negotiate with his rebellious subjects the American militia companies of the area began to stock pile more and more military supplies with the idea there would be an eventual fight with the redcoats. Orders came from England that Gage should seize these military stores which included cannon to disarm the rebellion before it began.

Another part of the redcoated mission was to seize Adams and Hancock and remove some of the more militant leadership of the imminent rebellion.

The red coated regulars of the time period were organized into regiments of ten companies. Rarely at full strength each company probably mustered between 30-40 men. Eight of the companies were known as “hat men” or battalion companies or center companies because of their position in a battle line. They wore the familiar three cornered hat which is why they were called hat men.

The other two companies of a regiment were something of an elite within the regiment. One company was the grenadier company and the second was a light infantry company.

British Grenadiers-a reenactment group at Lexington Green. http://mcnsclips.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/playing-the-redcoat/

British Grenadiers-a reenactment group at Lexington Green. http://mcnsclips.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/playing-the-redcoat/

The grenadiers were selected from the tallest and bravest of the regiment while the light infantry came from smallest men of the regiment but also from the best shots. The grenadiers were lead assaults while the light infantry were supposed to be the regiment’s skirmishers a talent that would be much in demand in the broken terrain of North America. Grenadiers were distinguish by their tall bearskin hats which made them appear even taller and more imposing than they already were. The light infantry wore a type of cap developed during the preceding French and Indian War. It was a roundish affair faced with rigid front plate of leather than was inscribed the regiment’s badge. Both types of companies thought of themselves as elites as did the colonists who faced them.

It was British practice to group the grenadier and light companies from the various regiments into provincial battalions to provide that extra punch during an expedition’s mission. Such was the case on April 19th, 1775 when the redcoats matched to Lexington to seize the military stores. The 700 regulars that set off from Boston were the men of grenadier and light companies. They were commanded by Lt. Colonel Francis Smith. A second group, sent to reinforce the first after hostilities broke out would consist of the “hat men” companies commanded by Brigadier General Hugh Percy.

Lexington Common, 19th of April 1775. Painting by Don Troiani. Parker had 77 minutemen compared to 250 British Regulars-that they stood their ground is quite remarkable.

Lexington Common, 19th of April 1775. Painting by Don Troiani. Parker had 77 minutemen compared to 250 British Regulars-that they stood their ground is quite remarkable.

 

The British historian Mark Urban is his excellent book, “Fusiliers” (the history of the 23rd Foot, Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the Revolutionary War) makes the case it was the redcoats that fired first in Lexington. His argument is based on surviving documents that show that at least on that occasion the usually disciplined redcoats were not. Urban’s argument seems to have merit given the hap hazard retreat back into Boston when harassed by thousands of irate American militia. Whatever the case the British Regulars soon regained their prowess and won more battles in America than they lost.

 

Captain Parker's words are no less meaningful today than they were in 1775. The Redcoats were coming to disarm the militia in much the same manner as our current government seeks to disarm law abiding citizens.

Captain Parker’s words are no less meaningful today than they were in 1775. The Redcoats were coming to disarm the militia in much the same manner as our current government seeks to disarm law abiding citizens.

 

 

 

 

 

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We Call Him Chesty

Bruce:

Have not had much time to blog recently so thought I’d reblog from one of my favorites. Excellent blog on Chesty Puller, US Marine General.

Originally posted on :

In my younger years, conventional parents and teachers encouraged boys and girls to read stories written about famous Americans.  I recall reading about William Penn, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Kit Carson, George Custer, Ulysses Grant, and Robert E. Lee.  They weren’t academically vetted manuscripts, of course —they were intended for elementary aged children, after all.  It is also true that some of these stories contained as much myth as fact, but it was the reading of these stories that gave children heroes —people who were, according to pre-communist educators, worthy of emulation.

VMI 1917I am not alone, apparently.  Another young man was exposed to these kinds of stories.  His name was Lewis Burwell Puller.  He was born in West Point, Virginia on 26 June 1898 —making him a little more than 8 years younger than my grandfather.  He grew up reading the same kinds of…

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A Brief History of the American_British Alliance

I’m not a particular fan of Twitter. I guess I don’t like counting characters.

One of the things I do like is the incredible array of historical pictures one can find there through your follows.

This one below popped up in my feed today.

King George V decorates an American Doughboy, WW1

King George V decorates an American Doughboy, WW1

The picture symbolizes (to me anyway) the alliance the US and Great Britain have had since World War 1.

Many people may think it was always that way since both countries speak the same language and our systems of government have similarities. But that’s not really the case.

The US fought two wars against Great Britain (Revolutionary War and War of 1812) and nearly a third during the American Civil War. During the Civil War the Confederacy sought European help from Great Britain and France. The upper classes in Great Britain favored a divided US on the basis of a united US was too big of a trade rival. A number of instances resulted in saber-rattling and Great Britain actually reinforced the garrison of Canada either to invade the US in case of war or to defend Canada should northern forces invade it.

Cooler heads prevailed, the Confederacy lost their bid for independence and the US and Great Britain remained at peace but not exactly close friends.

In fact when the US did join the fighting in World War 1 General Pershing (commanding US forces) announced upon arrival in France, “Lafayette we are here” thus alluding to the more historical alliance between the US and France during the Revolutionary War.

American troops in London awaiting deployment to France. http://www.famhist.us/2011/03/28/wwiamerican-troops-in-london/

American troops in London awaiting deployment to France. http://www.famhist.us/2011/03/28/wwiamerican-troops-in-london/

Things were changing as symbolized by the picture. For the most part American forces served along side the French but it was British propaganda that propelled the US into the war.

Unrestricted submarine warfare that disrupted US shipping to Britain and France was the material cause of our involvement in the first war but the British has prepared the ground well with their depictions of the “hun” and the rape of Belgium as well as making hay out of the sinking of British ships that carried Americans. The US newspapers as a whole favored the British probably for more reasons than I just stated.

On the other hand Germany had no such propaganda machine active in the US probably because of the problem of common language. In fact, the Germans were somewhat clumsy even as they became desperate.

In 1917 the Germans offered a proposition to Mexico known as the Zimmermann note. The proposal was for Mexico to join the Central Powers in the event that the US join the Allied powers, a real possibility at the time. The note promised a restoration of the lands lost to Mexico during the Mexican War of 1847-48, The Mexicans wisely did not bite but when it became known the Germans were “scheming” Americans were outraged and by April, 1917 the US was all in.

War fever seized the US and the only reluctance to join in came from German-speaking communities in Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cincinnati and other communities that had significant German populations. The reluctance did not come from a sense of loyalty to the Kaiser but a reluctance to fight against one’s own relatives (at least that was true in my family)

The US was not prepared for war (we rarely are) and as a result much equipment came from France and Great Britain. The picture of the doughboy above is evidence as he has a distinct British appearance. His helmet is British and his rifle appears to be a British Enfield rather than our own Springfield which were in short supply.

Most historians believe that at the conclusion of WW1 the US emerged as a major contender on the world stage-a super power in the making, although it would take another world war to make that clear.

In the inter-war years it seems the alliance between the US and Great Britain grew, the old distrusts finally forgotten. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and Britain declared war President Roosevelt was unabashedly and actively pro-British (clearly a good thing given the horrors of Nazism).

Within a short period of time the US turned over 50 WW1 vintage destroyers to the Royal Navy to help ensure that Britain would not succumb to the WW2 version of unrestricted submarine warfare. Our own Navy helped escort convoys at least part way to Britain. A German submarine sunk an American destroyer (Reuben James incident) and the US nearly declared war on Germany months before Pearl Harbor.

During WW2 American planes, tanks, trucks, and all types of war material known as lend-lease flooded Britain and the Soviet Union in the war against Hitler. The alliance between the US and Britain would endure after the war as allies in the Cold War as both countries stationed large armies in W. Germany to stare down the Soviet bear.

It also worth pointing out that out of all our allies it has been Great Britain that has provided the most troops to Desert Shield, Desert Storm and the War in Afghanistan.

And it all began in WW1 when the two countries made common cause.

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The Hero Who Refused His Medal

Bruce:

Great post from one of my favorite bloggers.

Originally posted on KapyongKorea:

Ola Mize could have stepped right out of a Hollywood movie. Except he was no actor, to put it mildly. He was the real deal.

Mize came from the humblest of backgrounds and went on to become one of his nation’s great heroes.

Col Ola Mize

Despite the adulation showered on him, he remained an anti-hero, so utterly un-Hollywoodlike; so foreign to the celebrity-centric universe of today’s pop culture. Mize was modest, quiet-spoken, selfless and unbelievably brave.

Born the son of a sharecropper in poor northeastern Alabama he left school in grade nine to support his family. Hoping to better himself, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army, but was rejected because of his puny, 120 pounds. So he put on weight. Then he had to cheat on an vision test when Army doctors discovered he was blinded in one eye in a childhood accident. Mize enlisted in the famed 82nd Airborne in 1948…

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The Red Baron_Movie Review

We have Netflix and in my queue I have a lot of war movies. I keep them there in reserve so-to-speak for when my wife wants to watch something I have zero interest in. I can then break open the laptop put the head phones on and take a chance on a war movie I have not seen. A couples of nights ago I fired up a movie titled The Red Baron.

Manfred von Richthofen

Manfred von Richthofen, credited with 80 aerial victories. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manfred_von_Richthofen

Arthur Roy Brown, the Canadian ace credited with shooting down the Red Baron. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Brown_(RAF_officer)

Arthur Roy Brown, the Canadian ace credited with shooting down the Red Baron. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Brown_(RAF_officer)

I confess that I did not research the film prior to watching it. Please note that some spoilers will follow.

I knew that the Red Baron was Manfred von Richthofen and that he had shot down 80 allied airplanes in the First World War. The baron was the highest scoring ace in that war. I also knew prior to watching the movie that Captain Roy Brown, a Canadian is credited with shooting him down although it is widely disputed. I also knew that Richthofen flew the famous Fokker Triplane for a relatively short time and had achieved most of his victories in various Albatross models. I knew that Richthofen had a brother named Lothar who was also an ace who achieved the impressive score of 40 planes. I also knew that a cousin, Wolfram, would gain fame in the Second World War by leading an air fleet on the Russian Front.

Albatross DIII. Some of the planes in the movie had a similar paint scheme.

Albatross DIII. Some of the planes in the movie had a similar paint scheme. http://www.aviatia.net/wwi-aircraft/albatros-d-iii/

Beyond all that all I had was a mixture of legend and fact.

I had the perception that Richthofen was the quintessential knight in the sky-the German version of the noble knight who was a gentleman. This aspect of the baron was portrayed in the movie when Richthofen and his mates do a fly over of a British funeral. Richthofen had shot down a British ace named Hawke (true) and during the fly over of the man’s grave he drops a wreath that reads “a friend and an enemy.” It was a well done scene with four German planes flying low over the funeral in a type of salute.

As a boy I would have thought of Richthofen as a hero of mythic proportions representing my ancestry prior to the Nazi holocaust and reminding me of a time when all Germans were not bad Germans.

WW1 was horrible war but it differs from WW2 in a number of ways especially when it comes to exactly who the bad guys were. Perhaps the British had the best stated motives as they were sworn to protect Belgium and so declared war on Germany when Germany invaded Belgium. On the other hand the  British and Germans were vying for mastery of the seas and each had a colonial empire (Britain’s being vast) and all that meant rivalry and competition. Finding pure motives in any war is a bit tricky. (Augustine’s theology of a just war makes for an interesting read.)

Having said all that I watched the movie with low expectations since I never heard of it which is no surprise because the movie is a 2008 German production filmed in English. I gave the movie 3 stars on Netflix which is “I liked it.”

I liked it first because it told a story. The story is not historically accurate on many levels but I didn’t know that and so could not complain too much about the producers getting this or that wrong. I can be annoying that way when I watch a war movie.

I was skeptical about the sub-plot involving Capt. Brown and the baron. The film went way beyond the theory that Brown shot down Richthofen.

At one point in 1916 Richthofen shoots Brown down and saves his life turning Brown over to “Kate” who nurses Brown back to health and  later becomes Richthofen’s love interest. First and second red flag.

Later in the movie Richthofen and Brown meet in no-man’s land and have a chat (third red flag). Richthofen learns that Brown had escaped from a POW camp (4th red flag).

The chat is friendly-two knights on opposite sides who respect each other, friends and enemies is the line used at least twice. After Richthofen is killed it is Brown who gets “Kate” through allied lines so she can visit the baron’s grave (5th red flag).

I was skeptical of the whole sub-plot and later discovered that not any of it had a basis in fact. My red flag meter worked just fine. I imagine that the producers gave so much time to this sub-plot is because 1) they wanted an anti-war sub-theme and 2) wanted female viewers who could identify with Kate the nurse.

The anti-war sub-theme is how the fictional “Kate” opened Richthofen’s eyes to the horrors of war and chastised him for thinking it was a game or joust in the sky. By the end of the movie Richthofen seems almost the pacifist to the great annoyance of his brother Lothar (and an arrogant German General) who still believes in the righteousness of the German cause. I at least found that sub-plot plausible since 4 years of horrible warfare would be enough to turn almost anyone into a pacifist.

The Kaiser makes two appearances in the film. His notable line to Richthofen is when Richthofen is frank with him about the futility of the war and the butchery. Richthofen mentions “killing people” and the Kaiser says indignantly  was “my soldiers do not kill people, they destroy enemies.” I like Richthofen’s response who says in return, “it amounts to the same thing.” It never happened but was a good scene in my opinion.

British soldiers "go over the top." All sides lost millions of young men in fruitless charges like this across no-man's-land. It was enough to turn almost anyone into a pacifist.

British soldiers “go over the top.” All sides lost millions of young men in fruitless charges like this across no-man’s-land. It was enough to turn almost anyone into a pacifist. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205021984

There is also a scene with Kate after Richthofen turns pacifistic that I also found plausible. He tells the fictional Kate that he continues to fly because he has the choice to fly. Earlier in the movie Kate takes him to field hospital and shows him the horrors of combat as German soldiers litter the hospital with their broken bodies. Kate tells him they don’t have a choice because they are not nobility like he is. This stuns Richthofen but it opens his eyes to the idea he owes it to  those who have no choice to lead them and do his best for them.

While the incident itself is fiction it says something about a soldier’s sense of duty and why they fight. They usually fight not out of sense of patriotism although that is a background motive. Soldiers fight because they do not want to let their comrades down. Their units become like family and that provides an esprit de corp and motive to fight even if they no longer believe in a cause.

I thought the idea of camaraderie was well represented in the movie as Richthofen loses one good friend after another in aerial combat. Scenes involving his squadron mates illustrated the bond soldiers tend to have within their units and the sense of loss when the “old timers” are lost. I thought the actor who played Richtofen’s best friend did a great portrayal of Werner Voss, an ace of 48 victories before he was killed.

Another aspect of the camaraderie was the inclusion of a German-Jewish flyer who is killed. The flyer’s plane was painted with a six-pointed star. At the end of the movie it is admitted the character is fictional but the producers wanted to give credit to the large number of German-Jews who served in the German WW1 air squadrons. I believe this was done to help purge the Nazi image and remind viewers of a Germany that existed prior to Hitler. (Most European countries of the period were anti-Semitic although it varied in intensity from country to country.)

The famous Fokker Triplane flown by Werner Foss and Richthofen in the later part of WW1

The famous Fokker Triplane flown by Werner Foss and Richthofen in the later part of WW1

The best parts of the movie to me were the airplanes and the dogfights. They were well done and the part that featured the Flying Circus was especially fun to see as each pilot in Richthofen’s command seemed to outdo the other in wild paint schemes! If anything, the dogfights were underplayed as compared to the love story. Nevertheless, the dogfights were well done.

Dogfight, like Battle Cry and Broadside used plastic miniatures. In dogfight you got 6 Fokker D7's and 6 Spad XIII's. Included in every game was a historical booklet. In Dogfight the booklet was about WW1 aces. I was about 10-years-old when I first met the Red Baron in that booklet.

Dogfight, like Battle Cry and Broadside used plastic miniatures. In dogfight you got 6 Fokker D7′s and 6 Spad XIII’s. Included in every game was a historical booklet. In Dogfight the booklet was about WW1 aces. I was about 10-years-old when I first met the Red Baron in that booklet.

The period sets seemed accurate, featuring vintage autos, horse-drawn wagons and period uniforms. I got the feel of a 1916-18 WW1 setting as the producers seemed to go out of their way to get those things right.

I found out later that the historical production aspect of the film received the highest praise while for the most part the movie was panned in Germany. The reason stated for the poor reviews in Germany is that modern Germans have little knowledge of their pre-WW2 history and anything that smacks of patriotism is shunned. The movie is about Imperial Germany and pre-Hitler, yet it seems most Germans (and others) would paint the eras with the same wide brush.

The movie was marketed as a biopic but as already noted there was much license taken in exploring who the Red Baron really was and what he was like. If you were expecting a documentary you’d be disappointed. If however you were expecting a story that has at least plausible elements to it you might come away giving it three stars like I did.

 

 

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Battle of the Chippewa, July, 1814- when Cousin Jonathan finally received some respect

This coming Christmas Eve the United States and Great Britain will be celebrating the end of the War of 1812. It was on December 24th, 1814 that the two powers signed the Treaty of Ghent that ended the conflict.

It is unclear at this point whether President Obama and PM David Cameron intend to mark the occasion with a grand ceremony. I doubt it. In fact, I bet that many Americans or Brits are even aware that 200 years ago the two countries fought a bitter little war that lasted about 30 months.

While barely remembered in Britain and the US the event has been extensively celebrated in Canada who see it as a type of independence day-an independence not from Britain but from the US because the US took the occasion of the war to invade Canada more than once in an attempt to make it part of the US.

Theater of operations, War of 1812. The Battle of Chippewa was in new York and can be seen on the map. http://www.historyguy.com/war_of_1812_links.html#.UvK9ZbSKKHM

Theater of operations, War of 1812. The Battle of Chippewa was on the New York-Canadian border and can be seen on the map. http://www.historyguy.com/war_of_1812_links.html#.UvK9ZbSKKHM

The war party in Washington thought it was a good idea to invade Canada because it was the only way they could “get at” the British. In this they underestimated Canadian loyalty to the crown. Ontario had been partly settled by a large number of American loyalists who were driven out of the US at the completion of the Revolutionary War. They and their descendants were still bitter after 30 years. They supplied militia to support the few British regulars stationed in Canada. The Canadian militia units gave a good account of themselves in every battle they fought in.

American Regulars in the War of 1812 were clothed like their British counterparts except that their coats were blue. Blue coats were not available for Winfield Scott's brigade so they wore grey at the Battle of the Chippewa. This is why West Point Cadets dress in grey.

American Regulars in the War of 1812 were clothed like their British counterparts except that their coats were blue. Blue coats were not available for Winfield Scott’s brigade so they wore grey at the Battle of the Chippewa. This is why West Point Cadets dress in grey. wiki public domain photo

This was in direct contrast to what transpired on the American side. The US regular army was small and as untrained as the more numerous militia-a militia that showed little enthusiasm for invading Canada (or even leaving their home state) often refusing to cross borders to support the regular army on campaign.

Americans had until fairly recently a distrust of big government and of large standing armies. This led to an over reliance on the fickle militia. It was believed they would be sufficient should an emergency arise. It was also believed that during the Revolutionary War the militia had bested the king’s armies rather forgetting it was a long war and the British won most of the battles.

The British held the Americans in such contempt that they didn’t significantly reinforce Canada until after they were victorious against Napoleon’s armies in Spain. In other words they never really feared losing Canada since the Americans were so inept.

According to the National Museum of the US Army the British called their American counterparts, “Cousin Jonathan” a pejorative meaning the Americans lacked discipline and skill. The term originated during the Revolutionary War. Loyalist Americans during that war were called “Brother Jonathans.” The terms are reflective of the fact that in both wars there was a dimension of civil war as people of the same language and heritage fought each other.

The British Army in Canada during the War of 1812 looked exactly like the regiments that faced Napoleon's Army in Spain. This picture of reenactors shows a British Light Company firing a volley. The green cockade on the shako shows them to be the light company of a royal regiment. British regiments had different colored facings. Blue designated a royal regiment, possibly the 1st Royal Scots which were at the Battle of the Chippewa.

The British Army in Canada during the War of 1812 looked exactly like the regiments that faced Napoleon’s Army in Spain. This picture of reenactors shows a British Light Company firing a volley. The green cockade on the shako shows them to be the light company of a royal regiment. British regiments had different colored facings. Blue designated a royal regiment, possibly the 1st Royal Scots which were at the Battle of the Chippewa. picture from http://dosmagazine.com/en/about-the-commemoration-of-the-war-of-1812/

Another group of reenactors, this time American militia. http://currierhouse.com/blog/special-holiday-for-sarah/local_militia_war_of_1812/

Another group of reenactors, this time American militia. http://currierhouse.com/blog/special-holiday-for-sarah/local_militia_war_of_1812/

To make matters worse most American officers were not professionals and had little knowledge of their craft. The combination of amateur officers and an untrained army made for a series of defeats that culminated in the burning of Washington D.C. by a tough, veteran British Army in 1814 after the Battle of Bladensburg. The burning was in retaliation for the burning of York, Canada by American forces.

Some American officers began realize that at some point the US Regulars had to match the British Regulars in a stand-up fight if they were ever to win a major battle.

One junior officer who got the message was Winfield Scott. It was Scott who won the respect of the British at the Battle of the Chippewa and who put to rest the “Cousin Jonathan” pejorative.

A young Winfield Scott during the War of 1812. Scott's career would last until the first years of the American Civil War.

A young Winfield Scott during the War of 1812. Scott’s career would last until the first years of the American Civil War.

Winfield Scott was a book-worm and his favorite subject was military history. He was bright, a thorough professional soldier (at a time when the US had few) and usually of sound judgment. On the other hand he could be given to impetuosity and he was argumentative. Scott’s career would eventually span into the American Civil War. Over all those years he managed to fight and argue with just about everyone.

Previous to the Battle of the Chippewa Scott served under Brigadier-General James Wilkinson in an ill-conceived expedition to seize Montreal from the British.

Scott was present at the Battle of Chrysler’s Farm during the Montreal campaign. Chrysler’s Farm was another American disaster against the redcoats. Scott was horrified at the performance of the US Regulars at the battle and the experience convinced Scott that what the US Army needed was training that equaled that of the British.

Wilkinson was replaced after the battle by a an unusual militia officer by the name of Jacob Brown. Brown was unusual because he realized the short comings of the militia but he also had the ability to get the most out of them and that included getting some to actually cross the border to support the regular army. Brown thought the war a hair-brained idea but he faithfully did his duty which says something about his character. Brown selected Scott as his second in command.

Brown and Scott seemed to get along well and had in common not believing the popular notion that the militia had won the American War of Independence. By 1814 folks in Washington were starting to wake up to the idea as well and so gave the two new commanders leeway in organizing and training their new army that was called the “Left Division.”

Brown left the drilling of the regulars in the hands of Scott who was firm but fair. He drilled them endlessly and turned them into units that had pride. Recognizing the importance of uniforms Scott noticed their old uniforms were worn out and the men a bit ragged. When he tried to get new blue uniforms he discovered he could get only gray. He made do and thus created a unique brigade of US Regulars who had their own special gray uniform.The Corps of Cadets at West Point wear gray uniforms to commemorate the brigade of US Regulars who fought at the Battle of the Chippewa.

West Point Cadets in their Dress Gray Uniforms.

West Point Cadets in their Dress Gray Uniforms.

Scott was also concerned about the men’s health and was ahead of his time when it came to sanitation and personal hygiene. He reduced sickness and death from disease for the soldiers under his care.

President Madison was negotiating with the British in the spring of 1814 and there was a sense of urgency regarding the negotiations.

When the British were tied up fighting Napoleon the US had little to fear since Britain could not afford to send many troops to North America. But now that the war in Europe was winding down Madison (probably luke warm on the war in the first place) felt the need to end it before the British poured their veteran army into North America. Although the British never intended to reclaim their lost colonies, at the time many people thought it a possibility, hence the urgency to end it.

Royal Scots-54mm-Military Miniatures. Not mine unfortunately.

Royal Scots, War of 1812-54mm-Military Miniatures. Not mine unfortunately.

It was thought that an American victory on the Canadian side of the border would strengthen the American hand at the bargaining table.

So with that in mind the War Department ordered a limited action on the Canadian side of the border that would involve the capture of a fort and an advance upon the Chippewa River.

So, in early July, 1814 Brown and Scott launched an expeditionary force of about 5000 men into Canada from New York. About 2300 were regulars and the rest militia.

American Regulars War of 1812. Traditional blue coat. Except for the color of the uniform the British and American Infantry looked the same.

American Regulars War of 1812. Traditional blue coat. Except for the color of the uniform the British and American Infantry looked the same.

Scott commanded most of the regulars in his First Infantry Brigade which consisted of the 9th, 11th, 22nd and 25th US Infantry.

When the expedition reached the place where the Niagara and Chippewa Rivers came together they found a British Army of about 2400 there to oppose them.

Although the Americans outnumbered the British on paper the British were not intimidated. Their order of battle included the 1st Royal Scots, the 8th King’s Regiment, the 100th (a line regiment later becoming the Royal Canadians) and two Canadian militia regiments of extraordinary quality having been recruited from among the descendants of loyalists who had been kicked out of the US at the end of War of Independence.

The British had little reason to fear the American’s numerical advantage realizing that the militia was next to useless and the regulars probably were as well. The British were commanded by Major-General Phineas Riall, a competent officer but not of the quality of Wellington’s Peninsular veterans.

What usually happened in battles between the British and Americans in this war and the previous one was that the more disciplined British would give a volley or two and charge with the bayonet. The Americans would rarely stand to meet the charge and a rout would ensue. When Riall spotted Scott’s brigade initially in their grey coats he dismissed them as “Buffalo Militia” believing that the American force would soon melt away as they usually did.

The battle heated up and Scott maneuvered his brigade into action under heavy fire. The regulars did not flinch and performed as if on parade. Riall, in observing them declared, ‘why, these are regulars.’

Although Riall was impressed, at that point he wasn’t worried because in the past regulars only stood just a little longer than the militia before routing.

Scott closed his brigade to within 100 yards of the two British Regiments opposite of them and delivered a volley that appeared to stagger their advancing line. The British recovered and advanced another 50 yards to return the fire. What followed was a stand-up, eye-ball to eye-ball musket fire fight at suicidal range with both sides reloading and firing with the precision of well-drilled troops.

Print of the US Regulars at the Battle of the Chippewa. There are at least two inaccuracies. The uniform of the Americans is post War of 1812. The second is the dress of the British casualties in Highland dress. Although the 1st Royal Scots were there they did not wear the the uniform of a Highland Regiment. They were dressed in the uniform of the line regiments of the British Army.

Print of the US Regulars at the Battle of the Chippewa. There are at least two inaccuracies. The uniform of the Americans is post War of 1812. The second is the dress of the British casualties in Highland dress. Although the 1st Royal Scots were there they did not wear the the uniform of a Highland Regiment. They were dressed in the uniform of the line regiments of the British Army. http://1-22infantry.org/history/chippewa.htm

The American fire (assisted by some American artillery) was so intense that the British officers could not fill the gaps in their lines quick enough in order to launch their customary bayonet charge. Eventually the American artillery moved up and began to shatter the 1st Royal Scots with canister shot, the artillery pieces acting like giant shotguns.

It was more than flesh and blood could endure and the British began to give ground. The Americans pursued but were in turn halted by British artillery fire.

The battle ended in a rare American victory. It was followed by the Battle of Lundy’s Lane which the British won. Scott’s brigade in that fight had been reduced to the equal of one regiment because of the casualties at the Battle of the Chippewa.

The war itself would fizzle out by year’s end and about the only thing the Battle of the Chippewa proved was that American Regulars were no longer a “Cousin Jonathan” and could win a stand up fight with the British professionals.

After the Battle of New Orleans, fought after the war ended, the two nations would never go to war with each other again, although it almost happened during the American Civil War, but that’s a story for another day.

For reading further I recommend Bryan Perrett’s excellent Impossible Victories, Chapter Two, The Battle of the Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane, July, 1814. I drew much of my summation from Perrett’s excellent account.

Other useful links

National Museum of the US Army

22nd Infantry link

Wiki-Battle of the Chippewa

Niagara Parks Link Battle of the Chippawa

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Wars and Rumors of Wars

Bruce:

Cross post from my other blog

Originally posted on Church, State, Faith and Culture:

I don’t know why anyone is surprised that Russia has gobbled up the Crimea. Just because Russia is not officially communist anymore does not mean they do not have national ambitions for territory. It amazes me that our current President seems to think that making statements about international law would deter an aggressor.
Russian Armored Personnel Carriers in the Crimea.

Russian Armored Personnel Carriers in the Crimea.

And that this occurs at the same time that the western democracies decrease their military forces strikes me as short-sighted and naive.

From a BBC story that says it means there will be no global US-UK. partnership like we've seen in the gulf wars. But it's not just the UK cutting back. It's the US as well as the Secretary of Defense recently stated. He wants to cut the US forces back to pre-WW2 levels. The Soviet Union, the Chi-Coms and other potentially hostile nations have no such plans.

From a BBC story that says it means there will be no global US-UK. partnership like we’ve seen in the gulf wars. But it’s not just the UK cutting back. It’s the US as well as the Secretary of Defense recently stated. He wants to cut the US forces back to pre-WW2 levels. The Soviet Union, the Chi-Coms and other potentially hostile nations have no such plans.

It…

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