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Possessing the West Indies in .NET
Possessing the West Indies
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Possession of the West Indies was critical to the economies of the major European powers, because the islands produced sugar in the large quantities required for the newly fashionable drinks of tea, coffee, and chocolate, as well
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8: O er the Hills and Far Away: Marlborough Country and Beyond
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as spices that had previously been obtainable only in the Far East These commodities produced enormous profits that national exchequers came to rely on When the nations eventually concluded peace treaties, they willingly gave up huge areas of land in exchange for the return of comparatively small islands The principal players in the Caribbean were Britain, France, and Spain, but the Dutch and even the Prussians had smaller fingers in the pie The key to the entire theatre of war was the British Royal Navy, which dominated the seas and landed the army just where it was needed to deprive other people of their islands In 1762 British Admiral George Rodney commenced an offensive against French and Spanish possessions in the West Indies The surrender of Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent followed Martinique s surrender on 12 February On 20 June a 10,000-strong British force, including no fewer than 22 infantry regiments and supporting artillery, landed on Cuba Commanded by George Keppel, Duke of Albemarle, it laid siege to Havana The 56th Foot (2/The Essex Regiment) stormed the principal fortification, Moro Castle, on 30 July and the town surrendered shortly after Included in the surrender were 12 warships and approximately 5 million in cash and merchandise, an immense sum at the time
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The French and Indian War, 1754 1763
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In North America, the French held Canada in the north and New Orleans in the south Their strategic object was to join the two with forts and settlements along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and in so doing stop the westward expansion of the British colonies lying along the east coast of the continent The British were determined to prevent this Both sides recruited native American allies, although the French were more successful in doing so In 1754 the French built Fort Duquesne on the site of present-day Pittsburgh They then attacked and took the British Fort Necessity, near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, which Lieutenant Colonel George Washington and a detachment of Virginia militia had held The British reaction was that they must throw out the French and establish a dominant British presence in the Ohio basin
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Braddock s disaster
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On 9 July 1755 Major General Edward Braddock was advancing through a forest near the Monongahela river to attack Fort Duquesne with 1400 regulars and 450 colonial volunteers, when a force of 900 native Americans with French officers ambushed him on a track The native Americans, invisible among the trees, fired into the rigid British line, and the British returned useless volleys at their unseen opponents until Braddock died and half his men were down, at which point the survivors fled George Washington, then just a colonel, rallied them and led them back to Virginia
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Part III: Wars of Succession, Independence, and Revolution
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Most of Braddock s command consisted of the 44th Foot (1/The Essex Regiment) and the 48th Foot (1/The Northamptonshire Regiment), which had only recently arrived in America and contained a high proportion of raw recruits They stood their ground longer than expected, but it was apparent that the tactics of the European battlefield were quite unsuited to close country (leading to new developments, outlined in the next section)
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Raising new regiments: Rifles and Rangers
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Not long after Braddock s defeat (see the preceding section), the British army raised the 60th Royal American Regiment, four battalions strong, at Governor s Island, New York, with the object of combining the qualities of the scout with the discipline of the trained soldier The new regiment s commanding officer was Swiss, Colonel Henry Bouquet, and at first most of the men were either German immigrants or Germans recruited in Europe Most of them had some experience of hunting and shooting in their day-to-day lives The 60th Royal American Regiment was drilled in open order (not shoulder to shoulder, but with spaces between the ranks and files), both in quick time (about 140 paces per minute) and double time (running); taught to load and fire quickly in the standing, kneeling, and lying positions; instructed in swimming, survival, self-sufficiency, and elementary field fortification; and generally required to use their personal initiative Their training included a period of several weeks spent in the woods during which, save for a small ration of flour, the men relied entirely on whatever game or fish they could shoot or catch The success in action of this, the army s first light infantry regiment, was such that it earned a permanent place in the establishment, becoming known in due course as The King s Royal Rifle Corps Captain Robert Rogers, a native of Massachusetts, raised an irregular unit of New Hampshire colonists Having lived the life of a frontiersman in his youth, Rogers had an ingrained knowledge of woodcraft as well as an understanding of Indians and their ways His unit was known simply as Rogers Rangers It specialised in the art of providing advance and rear guards, intelligence gathering, deep penetration patrols, raiding, and sabotage Today it would be classed as an elite special forces unit and was the first such to serve with the British army It earned itself a tremendous reputation, but was disbanded when the war ended in 1763 It was hardly a surprise that when the United States army decided to form its own commando units during the Second World War it chose to call them Rangers The success of Bouquet and Rogers s methods led to the widespread adoption of their light infantry tactics by British regiments in North America With this came a style of dress more suited to the environment: The brim of the tricorne hat was let down The coat was shortened by removing the turnback skirts The long gaiters were reduced to short leggings
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