J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Hagist on Britain’s “Noble Volunteers,” 15 Nov.

On Sunday, 15 November, Fort Ticonderoga will host an online presentation by Don N. Hagist about his new book, Noble Volunteers: The British Soldiers Who Fought the American Revolution.

Don has been researching the enlisted men of the British army for decades, collecting their rare individual accounts and analyzing their collective data. Noble Volunteers promises to be a definitive study of that subject.

Along the way Don has also published other books and helped many researchers, including myself, as well as editing the Journal of the American Revolution.

This online talk through Fort Ticonderoga is part of its Virtual Author Series. Its event description says: “Who were the people who wore red coats and fought to suppress a rebellion in Britain’s American colonies? And why would a book about them be called Noble Volunteers? Author Don N. Hagist will talk about his new book that brings to life the wide array of common soldiers that formed the British army during the American Revolution.”

A longer description from the publisher says:
Redcoats. For Americans, the word brings to mind the occupying army that attempted to crush the Revolutionary War. There was more to these soldiers than their red uniforms, but the individuals who formed the ranks are seldom described in any detail in historical literature, leaving unanswered questions. Who were these men? Why did they join the army? Where did they go when the war was over?

In Noble Volunteers: The British Soldiers Who Fought the American Revolution, Don N. Hagist brings life to these soldiers, describing the training, experiences, and outcomes of British soldiers who fought during the Revolution. Drawing on thousands of military records and other primary sources in British, American, and Canadian archives, and the writings of dozens of officers and soldiers, Noble Volunteers shows how a peacetime army responded to the onset of war, how professional soldiers adapted quickly and effectively to become tactically dominant, and what became of the thousands of career soldiers once the war was over.

In this historical tour de force, introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson, Hagist dispels long-held myths, revealing how remarkably diverse British soldiers were. They represented a variety of ages, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and many had joined the army as a peacetime career, only to find themselves fighting a war on another continent in often brutal conditions.

Against the sweeping backdrop of the war, Hagist directs his focus on the small picture, illuminating the moments in an individual soldier’s life—those hours spent nursing a fever while standing sentry in the bitter cold, or writing a letter to a wife back home. What emerges from these vignettes is the understanding that while these were “common” soldiers, each soldier was completely unique, for, as Hagist writes, “There was no ‘typical’ British soldier.”
Books on the Square in Providence is the exclusive seller of preordered signed copies of Noble Volunteers, available for the holidays.

The Fort Ticonderoga event starts at 2:00 P.M. The site asks people to register for it by noon. The cost is $10, free to Fort Ticonderoga members.

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