One of the images Americans hold most dear is that of the drum-beating, fire-eating Yankee Doodle Dandy rebel, overpowering his British adversaries through sheer grit and determination. The myth of the classless, independence-minded farmer or hard-working artisan-turned-soldier is deeply ingrained in the national psyche.
Charles Neimeyer here separates fact from fiction, revealing for the first time who really served in the army during the Revolution and why. His conclusions are startling. Because the army relied primarily on those not connected to the new American aristorcracy, the African Americans, Irish, Germans, Native Americans, laborers-for-hire, and "free white men on the move" who served in the army were only rarely alltruistic patriots driven by a vision of liberty and national unity.
Bringing to light the true composition of the enlisted ranks, the relationships of African-Americans and of Native Americans to the army, and numerous acts of mutiny, desertion, and resistance against officers and government, Charles Patrick Neimeyer here provides the first comprehensive and historically accurate portrait of the Continental soldier.
"Neimeyer pushes to the next plateau the recent work of historians who have investigated the contributions of the Continental Army to the American Revolution. Because of his research and his synthesis of recent scholarship, the previously inarticulate common soldiers of the rank and file find their voices."-James M. Johnson,author of Militiamen, Rangers, and Redcoats: The Military in Georgia, 1754-1776
"Neimeyer demythologizes the Continental army and very effectively demonstrates that it was an organization that evolved from its original relatively homogeneous make-up into a volatile, multicultural force that included many recent immigrants, African Americans, and Native Americans. . . . A testament to the propertyless, inarticulate, marginal individuals who actually secured liberty for later generations." -Dr. David J. Fowler,The David Library of the American Revolution
"Thoroughly compelling. Neimeyer's research is superb, and his social history perspective has told us more than anyone about the origins of the Continental Army and the meanings soldiers attached to their service. This is a genuinely important book."-Mark Edward Ledner,co-author of A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic
"Fascinating."-Historical Journal of Massachusetts