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by Kathryn Watkins

Guest speaker for the November meeting of the Gilmer County Genealogical Society was Sally Sue Bradley. Mrs. Bradley is a member of the Sequoyah Daughters of the American Revolution. Through her lecture she provided insight into the Revolutionary War regarding the British Army in America.

Britain had been fighting the French in Europe, India, West Indies and Canada. This left Britain with considerable debt. The British government thought the American colonies should contribute to the reduction of that debt. This was one of the main problems that started the Revolutionary War.

Georgia was founded fifty years after the other colonies. The purpose of the colony were an opportunity for the unfortunate poor to begin a new life, a refuge for the persecuted protestants and a military presence between the English colonies and Spanish Florida. Georgia received money from the British Parliament to get it started. The governor was appointed by the King and supported by Parliament. Slavery and the import of alcohol was initially forbidden. Lawyers were not allowed in the colony because the British did not want the settlers to control their own government. The colonist were not happy with the restrictions placed on them. The Georgians wanted to be able to have alcohol, and slaves and to be able to participate in their own government. They demanded land reform so they could own more than 500 acres. Oglethorpe convinced the trustees to allow their demands. Alcohol was allowed in the colony because it was thought that this importation would improve trade. Initially there was strong opposition against slavery from some people, but since they were in the minority, Georgia became a slave colony in 1749. In 1752, freemen, except Catholics, were given the right to vote and the people elected and assembly. Colonist were divided over which side to support in the war. The patriot's had the support of about 40-45 percent of the colonial population. Fifteen to twenty percent of the population supported the British Crown and were know as Loyalists{or Tories}.

Britain suffered many misfortunes during the war. General Washington had invited Steuben, a Prussian officer to Valley Forge in February 1778 to devise a training system for the American regiments. The British army was decades behind the Prussian's in the education of their officers. And training of their soldiers. The British officers didn't work well with average soldiers. British officers did not get involved in the daily life of the soldiers because it was said to be ungentlemanly. Recruiting was always a problem. The Ministry of London hired 10,000 Germans soldiers mainly from the principality of HesseKasel {thus they were known as Hessians}.When the German's came to American, two military culture collided.

Needless to say the Germans and British did not work well together. The biggest problem was communication since the British did not speak German and the German's did not speak English. There was no formal education for officers and efficiency varied widely between regiments. There was a shortage of cavalry. Supplies were often in short supply. The British were also surprised at the vastness of the size of America and how long it took to get from place to place. Lack of adequate food was also an issue for the British troops The British government underestimated the strength and determination of the American colonist. They thought the war would end in a short period of time. The Georgia heat was an issue for the British. The hot middle hours of the day were spent resting and foraging for food. A meal was usually cooked around dusk, followed by a few hours sleep. The British were forced to march from midnight to early morning. Quite a few British officers complained about "dressing the hair" in battle. The wigs would cause the scalp to break out in scabs and ulcers. As the war waged on the British uniform changed to looser, shorter uniforms with black felt hats. The American long rifle was also a problem for the British. It was more accurate than the muskets used by the British. The Revolutionary War started on April19th, 1775. The total loss of life resulting from the Revolutionary War is unknown. As typical in wars of the era disease claimed more lives than battle. The war took place in the context of a massive smallpox epidemic in America that probably killed more than 130,000 people. It has been suggested that Washington's decision to have his troops inoculated may have been the commander-in-chief’s most important strategic decision.

The formal end of the war occurred when the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3rd
• 1783. The U.S. congress ratified the treaty on January 14th
• 1784. The last British troops left the New York City on November 25, 1783.

The Gilmer County Genealogical Society meets the second Thursday of each month at 2 p.m., at the Gilmer County Library. Contact information for membership/program is gcgs@etcmail.com.


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