“A MOST UNDISCIPLINED, PROFLIGATE CREW,”
BY J.K. MARTIN
During the past twenty years, historians have learned that there were at least two Continental armies, the first being the army of 1775-1776, which was mostly made of large land owners who were expecting a short conflict, untrained and undisciplined, the second Continental army was built out of the first but had more discipline, a more difficult training regime, and called for longer enlistments. The first Continental army believed the quality of their ideals and their honorable pledge to defend their homes against the British would be enough to defeat the British quickly. The first Continental army lost quickly to the superior numbers and training of the British offensive against New York. Although the army was very zealous, it was not enough to defeat the well-seasoned British army. The first Continental army gave the blue prints for the second Continental army. With these blueprints George Washington called for a “respectable army” in which there was no more short term enlistments, there was arduous training, and a great emphasis on command and control. The second Continental army had many problems, such as starvation, poor clothing and the men weren’t being compensated well for their struggles. These tussles lead to protests, mutinies and desertion. The second Continental army consisted mostly of the poorer class of society, servants of numerous kinds, and the unemployed, and the second Continental army also used land and financial incentives to recruit these lower classes. The second Continental army was much more abrasive with the civilian populace, than the first Continental army, but was also more cohesive and effective once properly trained and disciplined.
The Pennsylvania soldiers’ mutiny demonstrated that the veterans of the Continental army were being maltreated by their leaders who were not able to feed or cloth the soldiers accordingly and were not keeping to the contract stating the...
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