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The untold story of the “Black Boys,” a rebellion on the American frontier in 1765 that sparked the American Revolution. In 1763, the Seven Years’ War ended in a spectacular victory for the British. The French army agreed to leave North America, but many Native Americans, fearing that the British Empire would expand onto their lands and conquer them, refused to lay down their weapons. Under the leadership of a shrewd Ottawa warrior named Pontiac, they kept fighting for their freedom, capturing several British forts and devastating many of the westernmost colonial settlements. The British, battered from the costly war, needed to stop the violent attacks on their borderlands. Peace with Pontiac was their only option—if they could convince him to negotiate. Enter George Croghan, a wily trader-turned-diplomat with close ties to Native Americans. Under the wary eye of the British commander-in-chief, Croghan organized one of the largest peace offerings ever assembled and began a daring voyage into the interior of North America in search of Pontiac. Meanwhile, a ragtag group of frontiersmen set about stopping this peace deal in its tracks. Furious at the Empire for capitulating to Native groups, whom they considered their sworn enemies, and suspicious of Croghan’s intentions, these colonists turned Native American tactics of warfare on the British Empire. Dressing as Native Americans and smearing their faces in charcoal, these frontiersmen, known as the Black Boys, launched targeted assaults to destroy Croghan’s peace offering before it could be delivered. The outcome of these interwoven struggles would determine whose independence would prevail on the American frontier—whether freedom would be defined by the British, Native Americans, or colonial settlers. Drawing on largely forgotten manuscript sources from archives across North America, Patrick Spero recasts the familiar narrative of the American Revolution, moving the action from the Eastern Seaboard to the treacherous western frontier. In spellbinding detail, Frontier Rebels reveals an often-overlooked truth: the West played a crucial role in igniting the flame of American independence.
In a world rife with conflict and tension, how does a great power prosecute an irregular war at a great distance within the context of a regional struggle, all within a global competitive environment? The question, so pertinent today, was confronted by the British nearly 250 years ago during the American War for Independence. And the answer, as this book makes plain, is: not the way the British, under Lieutenant General Charles, Earl Cornwallis, went about it in the American South in the years 1778–81. Southern Gambit presents a closely observed, comprehensive account of this failed strategy. Approaching the campaign from the British perspective, this book restores a critical but little-studied chapter to the narrative of the Revolutionary War—and in doing so, it adds detail and depth to our picture of Cornwallis, an outsize figure in the history of the British Empire. Distinguished scholar of military strategy Stanley D. M. Carpenter outlines the British strategic and operational objectives, devoting particular attention to the strategy of employing Southern Loyalists to help defeat Patriot forces, reestablish royal authority, and tamp down resurgent Patriot activity. Focusing on Cornwallis’s operations in the Carolinas and Virginia leading to the surrender at Yorktown in October 1781, Carpenter reveals the flaws in this approach, most notably a fatal misunderstanding of the nature of the war in the South and of the Loyalists’ support. Compounding this was the strategic incoherence of seeking a conventional war against a brilliant, unconventional opponent, and doing so amidst a breakdown in the unity of command. Ultimately, strategic incoherence, ineffective command and control, and a misreading of the situation contributed to the series of cascading failures of the British effort. Carpenter’s analysis of how and why this happened expands our understanding of British decision-making and operations in the Southern Campaign and their fateful consequences in the War for Independence.
An easily accessible resource that showcases the links between using documented primary sources and gaining a more nuanced understanding of military history. • Covers benchmark documents in U.S. diplomatic and military history from 14 conflicts • Utilizes document introductions and scholarly analysis to help students understand the primary source materials • Supports document-based teaching and learning strategies • Ties into Common Core critical thinking guidelines commonly used in high school history courses for document analysis • Helps students understand the difference between original source material and unsourced claims made on the Internet
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