Fusiliers Eight Years with the Redcoats in America PDF

Fusiliers Eight Years with the Redcoats in America From Lexington Green in 1775 to Yorktown in 1781 one regiment marched thousands of miles and fought a dozen battles to uphold British rule in America the Royal Welch Fusiliers With a wealth of previously unused primary accounts Mark Urban reveals the inner life of the regiment and through it of the British army as a whole as it fought one of the pivotal campaigns of world history With his customary narrative flair Urban describes how British troops adopted new tactics and promoted new leaders and shows how the foundations were laid for the redcoats' subseuent performance against Napoleon Fighting in the climactic battles of the Revolution in the American South the Fusiliers became one of the crack regiments of the army They never believed themselves to have been defeatedMark Urban's bestseller Rifles was an account of the campaign of a brave band of men which had remained untold for too long Bernard Cornwell said of it if you like Sharpe then this book is a must whle for Frank McLynn in the Daily Express it was deeply researched beautifully crafted and captivating Now that searing and completely original account is joined by Fusiliers sure to delight all readers of the best military history and adventureJacket illustration Angus McBride

10 thoughts on “Fusiliers Eight Years with the Redcoats in America

  1. Mike Kershaw Mike Kershaw says:

    The story of the 23d Regiment of Foot in the American Revolution which in some form or fashion fought in almost every major engagement from Lexington and Concord to Yorktown obviously missing the Saratoga Campaign while in New Jersey with Howe I found this a neat complement to the Macksey book The War for America in that is a much detailed and tactical discussion of an Army trying to fight a counterinsurgency given the instructions it received from its government subject of Macksey's book The British Army in spite of its excellent reputation was relatively inexperienced at the outset of the war hobbled by some false assumptions and an inadeuate organization It clearly adapted to its circumstances and seemed to be close to extinguishing the rebellion on at least two occasions in 1776 and 1780 In fact in a military sense in spite of setbacks at Trenton and Saratoga and the French entry into the war it appeared to some in 1780 to be winning the war Arnold's defection surrender of Charleston largest of war and what appeared to be a decisive victory at Camden And of course Yorktown doesn't really end the war; the fall of the British government does For the British Army its experience in America while not transformational certainly provided a significant milestone for the Army that will participate in the defeat of Napoleon

  2. Chris Wray Chris Wray says:

    I enjoy Mark Urban's writing style which is lively and vivid but this book falls somewhere between being a history of the War of Independence a history of the 23rd Regiment of Foot during the late 18th and early 19th Century and an analysis of the evolution of British infantry tactics in the same period In the end it doesn't do any of those things exhaustively and is therefore slightly disappointingThat being said it is still an enjoyable and informative read One thing I appreciated was seeing how the 23rd changed from a sleepy regiment assigned to garrison duty with all its boredom and frustration to a lean honed and deadly effective light infantry unit Common to warfare in all ages this was due to a combination of leadership tactics and experience As the war in America began many of the officers and some of the men in the 23rd had seen action at Minden during the Seven Years War but little had happened for them since In an era when a wealthy and well connected officer could aspire to a lieutenant colonelcy by the age of 25 most of the regimental officers of the 23rd were aging in their rank and deeply dissatisfied with their careers The men on the other hand had a smattering of Minden old hands but were mostly very young and totally lacking experience of active service That would all change when the revolutionary spirit in North America broke out into armed rebellion against the crown with the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord and the subseuent battles at Bunker hill and Brandywine Creek Our view of the red coated British army is often coloured by its 19th Century incarnation but it is mistaken to assume that the redcoats fighting in 1775 were any better trained than their Continental Army opponents and were eually inexperiencedThe high ranking leadership of the British army in America with the exception of Earl Cornwallis was indifferent and ponderous at best In particular Howe's strategy was predicated on the misplaced assumption that threatening the rebels capital Philadelphia would produce a decisive battle and that taking it would provide a deadly blow to the prestige of the revolutionary leaders This proved to be wildly mistaken and although he captured the city in September 1777 his failure to thereby smash the rebellion led to Howe's offensive petering out through the rest of 1777 and his recall by the end of the year following the debacle of Saratoga Experience and tactics were also important as Howe relied heavily on his composite light and grenadier battalions and largely neglected his line regiments who did not initially adopt the light infantry tactics that were suited to the broken ground on which North American battles were being fought Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga proved to be a watershed moment as it created a sense that change was imperative either a general peace or a new system of warFollowing that a new generation of younger officers led the regiment from 1778 who were willing to perform their duty with energy and diligence and to lead their men from the front Interestingly several of these younger officers had strong religious convictions and there were also a few loyalist Americans among them The result of this was that the 23rd's cadre of officers serving in the field were younger mostly in their teens and twenties and were fortified by strong beliefs They were markedly different from the group of disappointed and disaffected middle aged men who had been leading the regiment in 1775 In Cornwallis the southern army had an energetic aggressive and intelligent general and the experience borne out of years of campaigning along with suitable tactics comfortable clothing looser infantry formations that were only 2 deep and a system of fire and manoeuvre all contributed to the 23rd and its sister regiments being a much effective instrument of warfare At Camden a British army far inland defeated a far larger American enemy a transformation made possible by having experienced troops new tactics and superior leadership at least at the local levelIn the end of course Cornwallis had to surrender at Yorktown and the war was lost I think it's fair to say that this was due to the ineffective senior leadership of the British Army in North America and the changing political realities at home rather than the battlefield tactics employed on the ground Clinton headuartered in New York was unable to grasp that the American desire for independence transcended the ability of the British to win on the battlefield and that ultimately it was impossible to impose British rule with cannon and bayonet The distance from Britain and the escalation of the war into a global conflict with the entry of France Spain and Holland on the American side also meant that battlefield defeat was inevitable whatever the tactics experience and leadership the British could bring to bearFollowing defeat in North America most of the lessons learned were lost as the army adopted Prussian style infantry tactics with their emphasis on elaborate drill and complicated battlefield movements The ineffectiveness of these on an actual battlefield were demonstrated when the British army was embarrassed in the Low Countries in 1794 and finally when the Prussian army itself was shattered by the French At that point the American veterans particularly Cornwallis and Harry Calvert were able to exert much influence and reintroduce the lessons learned on those North American battlefields 15 years before This was to lay the basis of the army that would eventually defeat Napoleon perhaps the most effective army that Britain has ever fielded The epic victories of Wellington's army in the peninsula have long riveted British readers but Urban amply demonstrates that an understanding of the carnage of Bunker Hill and the triumph at Camden is a vital prereuisite to understanding why the redcoat did so well against Napoleon's armiesIt was also interesting to read a book on the War of Independence written from a British perspective It was certainly a bitter war fought between neighbours and was often ruthlessly and mercilessly prosecuted However in reality most atrocities were carried out and terror imposed by the Patriot militias and the Committees of Public Security while British troops were relatively restrained in how they interacted with the civilian population Since the war forms the foundation of the American national myth it is difficult to separate the truth from the propaganda desire to portray the Redcoats as vicious devils and brutalised robots marching on inept orders and the patriots as idealistic freedom fighters American historians also tend to overestimate British military efficiency at the beginning of the war and underestimate it at the endIt is poignant to reflect on the similarities from the British perspective between the War of Independence and the recent wars in Ira and Afghanistan The ability and duty placed on British soldiers to fight an unpopular war with dignity and honour are striking in both cases and that is perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from the American War of Independence for today

  3. Malcolm Malcolm says:

    Though ostensibly about the Royal Welch Fusiliers Urban takes their narrative and spins a fantastic story about the entire military history of the American Revolution The 23rd was everywhere from Lexington to YorktownMuch of the book expounds on the inner feelings of the British soldiers and it reveals a very conflicted group It humanizes the Redcoat and helps soften the image he receives in film and television

  4. Justin Justin says:

    Mark Urban’s “Fusiliers” was a really interesting perspective on the American Revolution It followed the Royal Welch Fusiliers through the war from Lexington to Yorktown the Regiment fought at both battles and lots in between and I have to say it destroyed a lot of myths and misperceptions I had First the British actually fought pretty successfully and applied some pretty sound counter insurgency doctrine – they just never had the force density to hold onto what had been gained But the lessons learned fighting in America led on to Britain’s success in the Napoleonic Wars Some fairly literate soldiers too which was slightly unexpected – lots of diaries and letters from the common soldiery And the American rebels were by far the brutal side regularly hanging deserters unlike the British – even with the many deserters who ended up fighting on the rebel side and committing atrocities against the Loyalists Actually on desertion it seems American women did to win the war for the rebels than anything else – far British soldiers deserted to marry American women than were ever lost in battle against American men The proportions were ridiculous; off the top of my head a battalion of about 100 small by modern standards would lose about 10 20 soldiers to desertion every time it moved off after being stationed somewhere – all soldiers who had fallen in love with local women This was compared to surprisingly few battle casualties – in the order of 4 or 5 killed in a battle All in all very readable and very interesting with some thoroughly enthralling accounts from the time

  5. Ian Taylor Ian Taylor says:

    It's a great book Simply put it follows the Royal Welch Fusiliers from Lexington and Concord to Yorktown It follows their engagements their enlistment system the purchasing of ranks uniforms etc I think this is what military history really needs to do of Take a look at all the gaps that have yet to be filled in history We don't have much on the British side of the American Revolution It's a sliver in proportion to American literature on the conflict But Mark Urban plowed through letters and diaries hidden in attics in England to construct the saga of the Welch Fusiliers And it's told using primary sources and at the level of the common soldier I can't recommend this book enough for students of counterinsurgency history buffs and military reenactors

  6. Eva Eva says:

    I wanted this to be a book in which I heard the voices of British soldiers during the American Revolution but the author spent a great deal of time discussing battle mechanics and telling anecdotes about how people were promoted I suspect he's uite good at that but it's not my interest Baby induced sleep deprivation won and I gave up a few chapters in

  7. Nathan Albright Nathan Albright says:

    This book was a deeply interesting one  I'm not going to say that I necessarily approve of the author's perspective or share it but the author does provide at least a good reason why a partisan of the British side during the American Revolution would wish to cheer on a regiment of redcoats that had a generally successful record during the entire war despite the ultimate lack of success of the British efforts overall  The author manages to impressively figure out from a fragmented but interesting body of documentary writing including some unpublished letters and memoirs the general actions that the regiment took and how it was that they fared in various battles  And someone who is less of an American patriot than I happen to be may even find a reason to cheer on the successful role of the 23rd Welsh Fusiliers regiment of the British army in the Battle of Camden or mourn their losses due to illness in South Carolina as well as battles from Lexington to Yorktown  I personally am not among the mourners or celebrators of this regiment but I can at least respect the author's solid historiography in bringing the record of this regiment to light in an interesting wayThis particular book is a bit than 300 pages long and is divided into 24 fairly short chapters some of which focus on individuals in the course of the war based on the author's research  And so after a list of illustrations and a preface we have a discussion of the March from Boston on April 19 1775 1 the regiment at the beginning of the war 2 the fight at Lexington and Concord 3 Bunker Hill 4 and the siege 5 and evacuation 6 of Boston  The narrative picks up in the fight for New York 7 in the summer of 1776 as well as the campaign of that year's conclusion 8 and the opening of the next year's campaign 9 and the march on Philadelphia 10 and the surprise at Germantown 11 and the wintering in Philadelphia 12  The author explores British grenadiers 13 and the specter of the world at war 14 and the divisions within England 15 as well as the move of the war South 16  The rest of the book focuses on the southern theater of the war with a look at the Battle of Camden 17 the move into North Carolina 18 the Battle of Guilford Court House 19 the move into Virginia 20 Yorktown 21 going home 22 home service 23 and the army reborn 24 against Revolutionary France after which the book closes with notes on sources a bibliography and an indexThe author makes the oft repeated claim that history is written by the victors but then contradicts it through an effort at making the 23rd Fusiliers appear to be victors in a war that the British lost  This victory may not be the crushing of the American Revolution but the author certainly finds other people to be responsible for that loss and this book is little involved in the grand strategies that led Cornwallis to be trapped in Virginia or led the British army into a war of posts that was one post too far in Trenton and Princeton or that led that same army to attack Philadelphia and leave Burgoyne to his fate at Saratoga  This book is about the bravery and skill and success of the 23rd in various battles and manages to do a good job at recording what that regiment did and how it influenced the success of British arms in the Napoleonic war through some of lessons learned in fighting against the Americans  As a regimental history it is certainly an accomplished one and one that deserves to be read by those who are interested in an unusual perspective of the American Revolution

  8. Surya Surya says:

    I enjoyed reading this bookI know little about the American War for Independence In any war there are multiple fronts and it us difficult to keep a track of them all especially for someone reading about the war for the first time This book however is not about the War It is about the experience of a single British regiment in that war Only one front matters at any point of time that in which the 23rd Royal Welch Fusileers is fighting This made the war easy to comprehend for someone like me a noob The inclusion of maps also helped in comprehending battles as well as campaigns The author sometimes uses language that appears to fit in the period in which the story is set Nice touchMy favourite bit was the Siege of Yorktown The description of the travails of the besieged was effective in making me gloomy It comes close to Anthony Beever's description of what the 6th Army went through in his book Stalingrad Of course Stalingrad was far epic and Beever described the months long siege for the better part of an entire book Urban only makes it last for a chapterThe book can sometimes feel thicker than it is by bringing up many names and many personal stories However on finishing the book I can see why the author included them This book and the Siege of Yorktown can be adapted to the screen

  9. Erin Britton Erin Britton says:

    In Fusiliers Urban has chosen to tell the story of the 23rd Regiment the Royal Welch Fusiliers a unit that saw action throughout the American War of Independence from Lexington Green in 1775 to Yorktown in 1781 Despite being regular line troops rather than a special operations regiment like that depicted in Rifles the Royal Welch Fusiliers were central to most of the important battles of the war and as such the 23rd are an excellent choice of subject since their story can serve to illustrate the conflict as a whole Fusiliers is a very well balanced account of war and although the book concentrates on the actual battles and campaigns of the American War of Independence Urban does not shy away from recounting the numerous atrocities that were committed by both sides during the conflict Eually interesting is the way Urban demonstrates that far from being bogged down in tradition and incompetence the British army actually began adapting their military techniues from the minute their faults were revealed during the march from Concord to Bunker Hill so that the beginnings of a modern fighting force can be seen

  10. Justinian Justinian says:

    2009 05 Fusiliers The Saga of a British Redcoat Regiment in the American Revolution Author Mark Urban 400 pages 2008I picked this book up at the library while I was actually looking for a different title The bulk of this book is devoted to chronicling the saga of the 23rd Infantry Regiment The Royal Welch Fusiliers The saga of this unit provides a good example of the British Army in the American Revolution Parts of the unit were there at Lexington and Concord and the unit soldiered on through the main force engagements Bunker Hill Siege of Boston Refit in Nova Scotia New York City of Long Island Brooklyn Heights Harlem Heights White Plains and Fort Washington Danbury CT Rhode Island the Forage Battles in New Jersey Brandywine Germantown Monmouth Connecticut ports of New Haven Norfolk Greenfield and Fairfield Charleston SC Camden SC Guilford Courthouse Yorktown Parts of the unit is the operative phrase The bulk of the unit soldiered on in most of the battles listed above without its grenadier and light infantry companies These elite units were off fighting separate from the main force I was aware of this concept from previous readings but the constant separation for the majority of the war did surprise me It is hard to think of the 23rd as a coherent unit given these forces separations The notion of coherence is further tested when you follow the saga of the unit’s commanders and senior officers who were often detached from the unit preferring the sick bed staying in England getting a lucrative staff position or just playing the system Command control patronage and promotions in the 18th century British military system are baffling and strange to the modern reader Notions of meritocracy education or ability and the good of the unit come a distant second or worse to issues of class cash patronage and personal interest The scope of the book is focused almost exclusively on the unit and it people This may disappoint some readers who are looking for a rounded picture of the British Army and its toils and tribulations The author tells the story chronological telling concurrently the tales of the main unit the detached units the detached individuals and a very brief contextual positioning If you lack a than very basic grasp of the conflict you may read the book as an adventure tale with narrow tunnel vision If your knowledge is broader regarding the conflict or the 18thcentury modes of warfare you will understand of what is being relatedThe author has been accused of unneeded bias in his opinions or narration which weaves together the primary source and secondary source documents Understand that when understanding an action or incident second hand from a primary source that you are limited to what that person saw or experienced and this is usually about ten meters left and right and maybe 500 meters to the front Focusing in on one unit will narrow your vision and hence your statements if you have any affection for your topic Granted the author is a British patriot but objectivity or balance is not his goal rather telling the story of those who acted is The reader will though gain a great appreciation for how this war and its causes affected those who were fighting in it Many of the 23rd’s leaders were men of Whigish tendencies who had no desire beyond that of doing their duty to persecute the conflict their political sensibilities being allied to the Americans This was balanced out by the strong desire among some to apply the lessons learned in Scotland a few decades earlier These contradictions this fighting in a conflict you may not support merely out of a sense of duty was a very serious issue for the British Army in these campaigns It does make one think of the importance of loyalty to comrades and unit as opposed to nation or idealIn the end you gain a sense that the British Army which left America for the most part in 1783 was an army very much akin to that American Army which left Vietnam in 1973 It felt itself un beaten that though the war was lost the battles had been won That they had done their duty even when that duty proved politically unpopular They seemed to have felt that the politicians limited their abilities They returned home to a public and to a military establishment which held them in no esteem and denigrated their experiencesThis leads to probably the best part of the book the experience of these men and units upon their return to England until well into the Napoleonic Wars The British Army relegated the American experience to the dustbin undoing much of what was gained The hard work and thought of making the uniforms and euipment soldier friendly the tactics loose and initiative driven was removed from the main force and a tightened form of Fredrick the Greats’ Prussianism was instilled Eventually thanks to the likes of Cornwallis and others this would change and the hard learned lessons of the American Campaign would be allowed to permeate and affect the British leading them forward to victory From 1773 to 1783 about 1250 men had been enumerated on the rolls of the 23rd serving in North America In 1783 the number of men on the rolls of the 23rd who were going back to England was 247 soldiers 193 men had deserted fully 15% of those who served The 23rd lost in combat 80 men and about 395 men to disease or other illness during the war It is said that the single greatest loss of soldiers was caused by the affections and attachments of soldiers and American women That the daughters of America removed far men from the rolls of the 23rd then the sons of liberty did is an interesting tale This is a good book well written It has a narrowed focus and should not be viewed as a standalone text on the life and time of the British forces in the American Revolution but rather serve as a component of a greater whole

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