Myths of the Revolutionary War

Smithsonian “Castle”

I stumbled across this site while researching the years just prior to the Revolutionary War. It’s a Smithsonian site and deals ably with several myths about that war. I thought you might enjoy it–I did.

Here are the myths that historian John Ferling debunks:

“Great Britain did not know what is was getting into.”

“Americans of all stripes took up arms out of patriotism.”

“Continental soldiers were always ragged and hungry.”

“The militia was useless.”

“Saratoga was the war’s turning point.”

“General Washington was a brilliant tactician and strategist.” 

“Great Britain could never have won the war.”


One Response to Myths of the Revolutionary War

  1. Curtis Cook says:

    I disagree with point five. The author seems to have a different definition of ‘turning point’ than I do; you can’t have a ‘turning point’ at the beginning of any endeavor since a ‘turning point’ is when things stop going one way and start going another.

    There is a good argument for crossing the Delaware as a turning point, but in my opinion all it really achieved was to allow the war to continue.

    The appointment of Greene to lead the American southern army might constitute a turning point of the war as a whole; certainly it was THE turning point for the war in the south.

    Saratoga takes pride of place for me because it convinced France to contribute men, materiel and SHIPS to the cause. It also enduced other nations to recognize our independence, but the main thing was doubling the amount of artillery available to our forces and those wonderful ships that were nearly exclusively responsible for Cornwalis’ surrender at Yorktown. Without them Cornwallis’ force would’ve evacuated to New York and the war would’ve continued ad infinitum… unless the author was correct about war weariness making 1781 the ‘year of decision’ and us losing at a peace conference in Europe.

    Aside from my disagreement, I learned some things from the author’s discussion of points six and, to a lesser degree, seven. It’s always a good day when I learn things, so thank you for bringing this to my attention.

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