recent recap (4 of 6) of the recent American Revolution Reborn conference at Penn, Liz Covart covers the session on violence and the American Revolution. The panel featured Michael Zuckerman, Zara Anishanslin, Denver Brunsman, and David Hsiung. Here is a taste of Covart's coverage:
Biggest Takeaway: The
American Revolution is a compelling story that never goes away. However,
scholars need to find ways to work the violence of the Revolutionary
War into their narratives.
Biggest Question: How can historians get at and understand the violence of the American Revolution?
Anishanslin urged historians to grapple with how colonists
experienced, saw, and witnessed the Revolution. Anishanslin believes
that material culture offers the best way to understand and interpret
the violence of the war; most Americans get their history from historic
sites not archives. Americans will better understand that the War for
Independence was a bloody, violent civil war if historians and museums
can discuss how material culture contains the violence of the war.
Brunsman found that the British Royal Navy impressed tens of thousands
of men and yet experienced a low rate of desertion: 7% during the
Napoleonic wars. Impressed men stayed in the Navy because of naval
discipline, the danger of the high seas, and the fact that sailors took
pride in their work. However, the American Revolution caused desertion
rates to double to 14%; most sailors deserted within the first year of
their service. Brunsman attributed higher desertion rates to longer
periods in American ports & ideology; sailors did not want to fight
their American brethren.
Read the rest here.