An Atlas of the Battles and Campaigns of the American Revolution, 1775–1783 (From Reason to Revolution)
“Well done atlases are invaluable tools for studying history and this volume hits all the right notes, providing not only a wealth of information but a concise and well written narrative . . .”
Maps are vital part of studying history, and a good atlas can be very helpful when studying a conflict as diverse as the American Revolution. The American Revolution was fought not only across the entire North American continent east of the Mississippi River, but it also became a global conflict that saw major battles between European powers in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas and even on the Indian subcontinent.
This new volume includes all the major battles and campaigns of America’s first war, as well as numerous smaller skirmishes that occurred between Britain and their American colonists and their allies. The authors begin with a quick background to the conflict and then outline the strategic situation at the beginning of each year or major phase of the war. This background is very useful to readers trying to follow the ebb and flow of the conflict as well as understand the competing strategic plans and their resulting battles. Based on the author’s narration, the campaigns of 1776 and 1777 really stand out as missed opportunities for the British.
The New York campaign of 1776 was a total debacle for the American Army, as George Washington found himself continually outmaneuvered by superior British generalship and the ability of the Royal Navy to deliver British troops anywhere in the waters around New York City. His remarkable escapes, first from Long Island and then from Manhattan Island, followed by his withdrawal across New Jersey, showed that retreating was about all the American Army learned that year. But Washington had good strategic instincts and his masterful decision to attack the Hessian forces at Trenton at Christmas 1776 literally saved the American cause.
The British strategy in 1777 also could have won the war, as the overall concept of conquering the Hudson River valley and separating the New England states from the rest of the colonies could have been a major strategic victory that might have kept the French from entering the war. But infighting among the British high command short-circuited this strategy and both the Saratoga campaigns and the British capture of Philadelphia are masterfully described, the first as America’s most crucial victory of the war which brought France into the war, and the second as a sign that even if the American capital was captured, the fight would go on as long as Washington’s army was in the field.
The battle and campaign maps are well laid out and the authors provide a detailed movement timeline to show how each battle played out. For the larger campaigns, they also tie together the movements of the forces to contract and demonstrate how the outcomes of particular battles affected the eventual course of the campaign. But what makes this book really stand on its own as well as being a useful reference is the author’s narration that accompanies each map. The author’s break the most important battles down to multiple pages, explaining each phase of movements and providing a detailed order-of-battle for each side, something that serious students will find a useful reference.
But the authors don’t end with the Yorktown Campaign and the Treaty of Paris. The British continued battles with the Spanish over Gibraltar and the French in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean regions. A lot of readers may not be as familiar with the global aspects of America’s War for Independence and its noteworthy the authors show that the final peace between all the combatants did not occur until several years after Americans won their independence.
Well done atlases are invaluable tools for studying history and this volume hits all the right notes, providing not only a wealth of information but a concise and well written narrative, allowing it to stand as its own history of this critical conflict.