Type of Document Dissertation Author Schwamenfeld, Steven Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-11132007-112402 Title The Foundation of British: National Identity and the British Common Soldier Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title jonathan grant Committee Chair edward wynot Committee Member michael cresswell Committee Member patrick o'sullivan Committee Member Keywords
- British Army
Date of Defense 2006-12-04 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
The goal of this dissertation is to convey the importance of patriotism for British common soldiers serving during the period 1775-1837. The writings of these soldiers repeatedly express both strong national feeling and a belief in the uniqueness of British national character (“No other troops in the world would have endured, for so long, so terrible a struggle ”); in addition they contain even more numerous expressions of patriotism’s disreputable relation, xenophobia. The ubiquity of these expressions and the similarity of views of the soldier-memorialists serving in widely diverse environments justify a belief in their significance.
In addition to first-hand accounts written by soldiers (and accounts written by officers depicting their men) a wide variety of documents have been utilized including Inspection reports of individual Regiments, Summaries of Courts-Martial and Returns of Desertions for units deployed on stationed throughout the British Empire. The most significant conclusion to be drawn from these documents (as related in chapters 3, 6 and 7) is that desertion was least common in stations that were both physically and culturally alien to Britons. The only foreign station in which desertion posed a serious threat to military cohesion was North America. Here an English-speaking, culturally familiar, if politically hostile, neighboring nation actively provided enticements for deserters from the British army. However, despite the comparatively high incidence of desertion, British troops serving in North America still exhibited voluble devotion to their country as the story of the “Convention Army” (chapter 2) and the account of Sgt Lamb clearly demonstrate. The Redcoats active loyalty remained “the foundation of British strength. ”
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