March 21, 2013
Summary of “Foot Soldiers of the Revolutionary Army”
In the essay “Foot Soldiers of the Revolutionary Army” by Gary B. Nash, the authors of the book tell of a Private Joseph Plumb Martin that kept a diary that details the life and hardships that the soldiers endured. Martin writes, “The army was now not only starved but naked. The greatest part were not only shirtless and barefoot but destitute of all other clothing, especially blankets.” (Gary Nash 124) The blacks were involved given the chance to receive freedom, which did not follow through completely. Although the colonies needed men for the army, these two simple sentences exposed the truth that people didn’t know at the time and even now.
The leadership of the army knew this would be the case, which is the main reason that the terms of enlistment were so short during the war unlike the minimal 8 years contract in the army now. Although the life in the army improved the soldiers had to endure such environment as, “shivering with cold upon bare floors without a blanket to cover them, calling for fire, for water, for suitable food, and for medicines- calling in vain.” Having to withstand all these misfortune, the soldiers were anything but humble in their conception of rights. The soldiers warned the generals of desertion if they were not properly taken care of, so the “severest Punishment” was placed to counter threat the soldiers. However, this did not last as “even in Washington’s handpicked Life Guard, eight soldiers deserted during the war.” As the war dragged out, eventually, Washington reopened the Continental army to free blacks with congressional approval. Slaves were still forbidden, yet five hundred free black men served in the war. It started with Massachusetts than to Rhode Island. Even with the blacks joining, Mother Nature did not see lightly of them, “By early 1778, the regiments were close to disintegration, their pay in arrears,