British Marinesduring The Amer Revolution Term Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Military Type: Term Paper Paper: #65852547 Related Topics: The War Of 1812, War Of 1812, Boston Tea Party, French Revolution
Excerpt from Term Paper :

In regard to the naval force of the British, these frictions affected in particular the effective number of the marines that made up the fleet, despite the fact that the threat of the American uprising was looming and that the British strategists were well aware of the fact that the English power relied mostly on the naval forces. Therefore, once this aspect of the military force was weakened, the eventual failure of the naval operations was obvious. The internal situation in the Empire also led to a lack of consideration for the treatment of the sailors who had constantly rebelled against the negligence and the mistreatment they had been throughout the years subject to. (Trevelyan, 1962) Even more, following the actual clash with the American revolutionaries, the state of the navy was, according to Trevelyan, "a deplorable one (as) its ships were being evicted from the Mediterranean Sea, where the Spanish has allied themselves with its enemies."(Trevelyan, 1962)

The outbreak of the Revolution was marked by the incidents that took place in the Boston Harbor, the so called "Tea Party." (Jenkins, 1997) in fact, it was the last sign of the colonists' revolt against the continuous financial pressures the British had imposed on the Americans in the last century. The response of the Empire was, by most historians, the miscalculated one. (Trevelyan, 1963) the British decided to send a naval force that would occupy Boston in the perspective of poising the rebellion, without however acting more decisively. The command was given to Major General Sir Thomas Gage. (the American Revolution, 2006) This measure though demanded a strict allocation of funds and financial resources that had not been taken into account. At the same time, it offered the Americans the possibility and time to organize themselves and backfire in what would be known as the American War for Independence.

The first battles fought in the war, from Concord and Lexington, offered a clear radiography of the general state of the two sides. On the one hand, there were the disciplined troops and forces of the British stationed outside Boston. On the other hand, there were the underequipped, ill trained people of the New England Army, as it would later be called. However, while the British were little motivated in terms of patriotic sentiments, the Americans were driven by the constant desire to break apart from the British rule, a motivation that proved in the end to be decisive in the entire economy of the war.

The first naval clashes between the two sides were limited in action; they focused more on the British defending their ships in the Boston Harbor. However, they gave the reason for the American strategy to defeat the fleet, as John Adams was being proposed on September 22, 1775, "a plan for making the investment of Boston complete and so forcing the capitulation of the besieged British army." (Gardner, 1913) Although the results did not match the desires of the American captains, it offered the incentives for the colonies to organize themselves in a manner that would ensure their success in the battle against the British.

Due to the historical context that determined the American Revolution, the British Navy was, in the beginning, a force for backing the operations on the ground, as the rather poor state of the ships and the naval personal could not support a massive offensive action. (Boatner, 1966) Moreover, the American side had limited naval possibilities for countering the power of the British fleet stationed along the coastline. Therefore, it made use of ground forces which engaged in a technique of harassment of the British ships, which soon gave in to such practices.

The tradition of the British...


This was due in large part to the lack of coordination between the different American commanders in chief. For instance, it was not only until December 1775 that a relatively unified Continental Navy took shape under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins. Even so, the first major naval action of the Americans came under his command, at Nassau. In April 1776, however, they were defeated by a much stronger British force. Relevant for the general evolution of the conflict are the battles of St. Laurence or the Great Lakes which offered the Brits a leading role. On the other side, the Americans grouped their forces and attacked Cumbria and Whiteheaven. The British, following the surprise attacks began a fortification of all major ports to prevent that from happening again.

Despite the split in victories, the British and the Americans had been both helped by the weaknesses of the other side. In this sense, on the one hand, the Americans had a limited experience in waging naval war, largely due to the limited experience in waging war altogether. The Continental Forces that took upon themselves the defense of the colonies were not united under a single command that would enjoy the legitimacy of the entire population. therefore, a gap in the management of the forces, and of the naval forces as well, was created, an element that benefited the British to a certain extent. (Jenkins, 1997) Moreover, Gardner remarks, "the Americans never possessed a regular naval force capable of acting offensively against the enemy in any effective way. The Continental navy, therefore, naturally resorted to the readiest means of injuring the enemy, that is, by preying upon his commerce. The state navies and privateers were of course engaged in the same pursuit; and this, with convoy duty upon occasion, formed the chief occupation of the entire sea force, public and private, of the country. Engagements with regular British men-of-war were exceptional and commonly accidental." (Gardner, 1913) Therefore, from the American perspective, the naval issue did not represent the center piece in their overall operations.

On the other hand, the British were indeed a force to be reckoned with. Nonetheless, they had a number of disadvantages that limited their naval impact. Thus, the situation of the naval forces was rather precarious in terms of financial support; the stationing of the ships in Boston had proven to be rather expensive and the commanders in chief became eager to demand additional funds that were proving to be insufficient. An important element that intervened in the economy of the war was the entrance in the battle of France and Spain. Their support for the American cause was translated by the British as an attempt to wage war against the Empire. Nonetheless, the French and the Spanish changed the force ration in favor of the Americans. Finally, there was the matter of fighting on a far away from home territory and the supplies needed demanded a lot of time to reach their target. Therefore, from this point-of-view it can be said that both fleets had their shortcomings and that the major aspects of the war remained related to the offensive on land.

The 1812 war between the British and the Americans was in some aspects a continuation of the military showdown between the two sides, in different conditions however. The year 1812 was still under the auspices of the wars Napoleon had carried out for almost 15 years. The British were playing center stage in their evolution and thus its attention was somewhat diverted from the rest of the issues unfolding in North America. On the other hand, the Americans were focused on trying to capture the Canadian soil from the British influence.

The clash of these two interests reached its peak in 1812 when the sides confronted in a disproportionate manner because on the one side there were the small, less numerous ships of the Americans, and on the other hand, there were the large, heavy, better equipped British frigates.

Although the Americans relied on the similar technique used in the Independence war, that of harassment, the British managed to impose a blockade that would eventually ensure the safety of the ships coming and leaving from Halifax. Nonetheless, they suffered great losses at the expense of the Americans.

Some major battles of this war included the battle in the Boston Harbor on June1, 1813 when the British, following previous defeats at the hands of the Americans, redressed their troops and captured the frigate USS Chesapeake, whose captain was killed by the Brits.

A proof of the difference in tactics from the Independence War was the new strategy of the Royal Admiralty following the defeats in 1812. Up to that point the general guidelines for the movement of the Royal ships was limited to the defense of commercial ships and the rejection of the harassing techniques used by the Americans.

Even so, the strength of the attacks was rather strong; therefore the Royal Navy shifted its tactics in such a way as to ensure its victory in the eventuality of engaging in battle.

One of the most resounding successes by following this line of though came in 1814 when the British managed to…

Sources Used in Documents:


Boatner, Mark M. (1966) Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. New York: D. McKay & Co.

Gardner, Allen. (1913) a naval history of the American Revolution. Boston, Houghton. Retrieved 30 May 2007.

Halsall, Paul. Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Penguin: New York, 1982. Internet Modern History Sourcebook. Retrieved 30 May 2007

Jenkins, P. (1997). A history of the United States. New York: Palgrave.
Klos, Staney. (2006). Official British Account of the Capture of Washington D.C. Retrieved 30 May 2007
The American Revolution. (2006) the American Revolution: First Phase. American Retrieved 30 May 2007

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