what are the differences and similarities between militiamen and british soldiers?
what are the differences and similarities between colonial militiamen and british soldiers?
The soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783 decided the destiny of a nation. Although the British forces in the conflict are sometimes painted as efficient, red-coated dragoons while the American troops are cast as scruffy, starving rebels, the differences between sides may be much more subtle.
Numbers and Types
A substantial difference can be found between the two sides, not just in terms of the number of soldiers fighting on each side but in the type of soldiers each army commanded. The British forces were made up of loyalist colonists as well as British army soldiers from overseas. By the end of the conflict, around 57,000 soldiers had been deployed from overseas, according to the book "The British Army in North America," by Robin May. Loyalist numbers are tough to estimate, but the Redcoat website suggests between 30,000 and 35,000 were mobilized during the war. The American rebels, meanwhile, commanded the Continental army, which numbered around 35,000 men at its peak in 1778, according to the American Wars 101 website. Rebel forces also contained many militia men, but these could be unreliable, only mobilizing when British forces were nearby.
The British had a reputation as a well-trained fighting force, but this wasn’t necessarily the case. Officers lacked in zeal and refused to drill their soldiers properly and no standardized training system was in place, as suggested by the British Battles website. American forces started off in shambles, with some troops barely able to march in formation, but this changed when the Prussian officer Steuben was recruited by the rebels. Steuben regularized equipment among American troops and taught soldiers fighting techniques and battle tactics which were then passed on between regiments. Thus, the overall training of American troops improved while that of the British generally did not.
Soldiers differed in the way in which they were recruited. British troops were reinforced by enlisted men sent by London but British commanders also found themselves turning to the men of the colonies for fresh troops. Many Loyalists didn’t join up under threat of reprisals by local rebels so the British sent press gangs into settlements to force men to join up; unsurprisingly many of these recruits deserted. In contrast, many American troops consisted of volunteers, such as the farmers who worked a day job but fought for the militia when need arose. According to the Military History Online website, the American forces had little need to actively draft troops
The use of cavalry by the Americans changed as the conflict dragged on. While the British did deploy some cavalry, they didn’t have a huge amount, as noted by the British Battles website. The Americans retained only a few cavalry initially but later in the war began to introduce more cavalry regiments. For example, the Light Horse Troop were utilized by the rebels in patrolling the Atlantic coastline after the British defeat in Boston. At one point, the Americans retained as many as 500 mounted soldiers,