Originally posted on International History:
Richard Middleton. The War of American Independence, 1775-1783. Modern Wars in Perspective series. Harlow, England: Pearson Education, 2012. ISBN 978-0-582-22942-6. Maps. Notes. Appendix. Bibliography. Pp. xvi, 351. $44.00 (paperback).
Dr Richard Middleton provides a superb up-to-date synthesis of published primary works and modern historical studies focusing on the political, military, naval, and diplomatic aspects of the American War of Independence (1775-1783). Middleton is an independent scholar and a former Reader in American History at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is the author of The Bells of Victory: The Pitt-Newcastle Ministry and the Conduct of the Seven Years War, 1757-1762 (1985), Colonial America, A History, 1565-1776 (Third edition, 2002), and Pontiac’s War: Its Causes, Course and Consequences (2007).
Middleton depicts the origins, course, and outcome of the War of American Independence. The author focuses on the leadership of the Britain, the Patriots and Loyalists, France, and Spain. He emphasizes British strategy (when it existed) over tactics in his narrative. The study covers military operations from Lexington and Concord (1775) to the battle and British surrender at Yorktown (1781). Middleton is outstanding in bringing in the naval dimensions of the conflict. Moreover, the work is valuable for his discussion of the international aspect concerning the Franco-American alliance (1778) and Franco-Spanish operations against British interests. Britain had to contend with a possible Franco-Spanish invasion of the British Isles, the siege of Gibraltar, and threats to the British West Indies. The lack of an ally, the opposition of the League of Armed Neutrality, and the outbreak of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) contributed to British difficulties. British military, naval, and financial resources were stretched thin. In fact, financial difficulties endured by Britain, the Patriots, France, and Spain encouraged an end to the conflict. Middleton continues his narrative after the surrender at Yorktown to discuss operations in the Caribbean and Gibraltar leading up to the Treaties of Paris and Versailles (1783), ending with the British recognition of American independence and an end to the British conflict with France and Spain. In his conclusion, the author stresses the importance of France in the outcome of the War of American Independence. He writes: “After six campaigns, Britain and the United States were like two exhausted boxers. Neither was able to inflict a decisive blow on the other . . . . It required a third combatant, France, to end the stalemate, a fact too often neglected by American writers . . . .” (p.321). Middleton stresses that France and Spain set the war’s agenda after 1778 forcing Britain to respond to the actions of the Bourbon powers.
Originally posted on International History:
Daniel A. Baugh. The Global Seven Years War, 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest. Modern Wars in Perspective series. Harlow, England: Longman, 2011. ISBN 978-0-582-09239-6. Maps. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xv, 736. $53.20 (paperback).
This is a study of the Seven Years War, including the French and Indian War, which was fought on a global scale between Britain and France from 1754 to 1763. Dr Daniel A. Baugh, Professor Emeritus of History at Cornell University, is a well-known authority on British maritime history in the eighteenth century, and is the author of British Naval Administration in the Age of Walpole (1965), editor of British Naval Administration, 1715-1750 (1977), and has published many articles on British naval history in scholarly journals.
In this massive, definitive study, Baugh thoroughly examines Anglo-French politics, diplomacy, strategy, as well as military and naval operations in the global conflict called the Seven Years War. In this struggle, Britain, under George II, was allied with Hanover (ruled by George II) and Frederick II of Prussia against France, Austria, and Russia. The author explores the origins of the conflict in North America and Europe. He then focuses his narrative on the Anglo-French struggle in North America (French and Indian War), Europe, India (Third Carnatic War), West Africa, West Indies, Central America, along with action on the high seas. Baugh examines the political and military issues in Britain and France that played a role in the development of strategy and the conduct of military and naval operations. But, as Baugh points out, there were few Anglo-French land battles with just a small number of troops involved. Moreover, the naval war saw only six fleet engagements, including three in the Atlantic and Mediterranean along with three in the Indian Ocean. The author stresses the preparation for mounting expeditions and carrying out lengthy campaigns. As he writes: “This was a war in which strategic and operational planning, careful logistical preparation, and adaptation to unfamiliar campaigning conditions were absolutely necessary for success” (p.xi). Moreover, Baugh points out that Britain’s financial system allowed British forces to continue the war beyond the financial strains experienced by other powers involved in the Seven Years War.