Searching for Yankee Doodle
- Washington's Soldiers in the American Revolution
The people most responsible for achieving America?s independence by winning the Revolutionary War were George Washington?s foot soldiers?the men of the Continental Army. But exactly who were they, and what was it that inspired them to endure such appalling hardships throughout the conflict? What was their life like during and after the war? And what is their legacy today? In an effort to uncover the facts about these men, author and historian Bob Mayers has scoured through obscure documentary material and little known British, Hessian, and Loyalist records to unearth truths that challenge traditional beliefs about Washington?s soldiers. During the process he discovered that the image of the American soldier has been sanitized for more than two centuries. The fighting men and women of the Revolution were incorrectly portrayed as zealously patriotic citizen-soldiers, when in reality they were professionals dedicated to the American cause. This realization lies at the heart of the book, and propels the narrative along in a way that is entertaining and enlightening.A handful of these soldiers have been celebrated as a result of their exploits in battle, but the majority only appear as another name on muster rolls. The valiant Yankee Doodles have remained ghostly, elusive figures who emerge briefly in military records and then quickly vanish. When the war ended the marvelous Continental Army was disbanded and returning veterans were virtually disregarded, being neither honored nor rewarded. Many ended their lives in poverty with very few belongings and little to no money. Expanding on the topic, the author examines these soldiers? day-to-day lives, and describes the actual conditions under which they lived, the hardships and challenges, and occasional times of frolic and ?jollification.? Corroborated with excerpts borrowed from personal diaries and records, these men are brought to life once again, in a way that allows us to understand their personalities through their behavior and deeds. The rank and file are examined in close detail, exposing the fact that Native Americans, African Americans, and even women fought side by side in numerous battles of the war, all banded together by a desire for independence and freedom. Mayers goes on to study all aspects of the conflict, including the various outfits worn by the regiments, the treatment of the sick, the punishment of offenders, and training of the regiments. In the end the reader will experience a new familiarity with the war?s participants.What happened after the war to the members of the Continental Army? True to form, Mayers pulls from original records, and relates individual stories of soldiers. There are few studies devoted to unraveling the lives of the ?grunts,? ?doughboys? or ?GIs? of our most important war. For most of America?s history, little was known about the identities of these men, why they fought and how the war affected their lives. The author has filled this knowledge gap, and given us a more complete picture of what life was like for a Continental Army soldier. Skillfully designed, the book is fortified with over fifty images in twenty-two chapters, all of which is intended be enjoyed by the average reader, and not just the hard-core history fan. Included is a comprehensive chapter on researching individual Revolutionary War veterans, and four appendices?the makeup of a regiment, distribution of regiments by state, names and publication sources of diarists, and an actual muster roll?that provide useful supplementary information.With skill and certitude Mayers has given us an entirely fresh portrait of the foot soldiers of the American Revolution. His examination of their motivations, personal lives and experiences before, during, and after the war is a compelling story, one that should be familiar to every American.
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