Review: British Officers and Irregular Warfare in Europe and America

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Russell, Peter. "Redcoats in the Wilderness: British Officers and Irregular Warfare in Europe and America, 1740 to 1760." The William and Mary Quarterly Third Series, Vol. 35, No. 4 (1978): pp. 629-652.

It has often been thought and taught in school that the European powers, such as Britain and France, were unfamiliar with unconventional or guerrilla warfare and it was not until the French and Indian War (1754-1763) that the British and French regular soldiers realized that the traditional tactics do not apply in the American colonies, but this article proposes and reinforces with many primary resources from the time that the European regulars had known of and actually practiced unconventional warfare in junction with their traditional tactics before coming to the American colonies.

Peter Russell’s article, "Redcoats in the Wilderness: British Officers and Irregular Warfare in Europe and America, 1740 to 1760," utilized a vast amount of resources, both primary and secondary, such as Thomas R. Phillips translation of “Frederick the Great Instructions for His Generals, in Roots of Strategy.” Russell also reinforced his idea with Jay Luvaas’s translation of “Frederick the Great on the Art of War.” Richard A. Preston et al., “Men in Arms. A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society,” and Walter L. Dorn’s “Competition for Empire, 1740-1763, The Rise of Modern Europe,” were some of the secondary sources that Russell used in conjunction with the primary sources to show that the idea of Europe not knowing of or using unconventional warfare is one pretty much based entirely off of a few battles in the American colonies.

It was pretty shocking to me, being the history “buff” that I am to hear that the European powers of the time period utilized guerrilla warfare and unconventional tactics before making it to the American colonies. In no way did I think that these countries were completely oblivious to the idea of unconventional warfare,...
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