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From Bryan Fitzmartin: A Review of the American Battlefield Trust’s Revolutionary War Combat Video

December 28, 2019

I am a big admirer of the American Battlefield Trust. I think they do very important work, and as such they have also made some amazing (and informative) “cool” American History videos. Though I would compliment the work they do, and think this particular video about Revolutionary War Combat is great and worth watching, I disagree with the presenter on several key points. The video makes the argument that Revolutionary War combat tended to be the same on both sides, and that it’s a myth that the British always fought in “lines” and in reverse also a myth that the Americans always used gorilla-style combat. The idea is, or so it’s stated, that both the Americans and British fought in battle lines and that combat tended to be pretty “static” in that sense between the two sides.

That argument is slightly wrong. While it’s correct to say (for example) that the Americans used traditional 18th century style combat maneuvers during the battle to control New York City (for example, and that is correct to say), in some of the battles immediately preceding they did not and did not intend to use standard combat methods. The Battle of Lexington and Concord (also sometimes called the “Battle of April 19th”) is an example – that battle was won using guerrilla warfare. Also, at the battle of Cowpens (again, for example), not only did the Americans use a form of guerrilla warfare, but revolutionized and refined guerrilla combat as a tactic (one could argue), even legitimatizing it to an extent and a workable (though not necessarily respectable) strategy. There’s no doubt the video below is interesting, but keep in mind, the true nature of revolutionary war tactics, are still debated by Historians, and as such, the opinion in the video (though an interesting opinion), is just one of many on the subject.

Article by Bryan Fitzmartin

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