Saturday, June 09, 2007

"Those are regulars, by God!"

June 14th is the US Army's Twohundred and Thirtysecond Birthday

Battle of Chippawa  US Army picture

Chippewa, Upper Canada, 5 July 1814. The British commander watched the advancing American line contemptuously, for its men wore the rough gray coats issued those untrained levies he had easily whipped before. As the ranks advanced steadily through murderous grapeshot he realized his mistake: "Those are regulars, by God!" It was Winfield Scott's brigade of infantry, drilled through the previous winter into a crack outfit. It drove the British from the battlefield; better still, after two years of seemingly endless failures, it renewed the American soldier's faith in himself. Center for Military History

While the Battle of Chippewa is notable as one of the few battles the US won in that misbegotten war, it was not of major tactical or strategic importance. But the endorsement from an army that had just defeated Napoleon's forces in the Spain and Portugal and would soon defeat Napoleon himself at Waterloo has echoed through the Army's history. Not just a frontier constabulary, but an Army that could stand with best.

Be All You Can Be


El Jefe Maximo said...

Isn't the story of Chippewa interesting ? As much as it pains a Napoleonaphile like me to admit it...the French infantry never ever beat the British past 1800. . .but the Americans did, heh, heh, heh.

Even allowing for the better British commanders being in Europe (i.e. Wellington), that's quite an achievement.

The interesting question is, for us Napoleonic War students. . .is why. Why were the British so good in Europe, but why did they run into such trouble over here, at New Orleans, on the road to Baltimore,and at Chippewa (and, tactically, at least), at Lundy's Lane ? Yes, there's Bladensburg, but that involved an inept US commander with 90 percent militia, up against the British first team.

A good post, and a spiffy pic.

hank_F_M said...

Why? Logistics. The problem was much more difficult.

The militia at Blandensburg was drafted militia – i.e. the ‘train companies” that all able-bodied males were presumably members and nominally drilled four days a year, not the “volunteer militia” that provided most of the units called out by the governors in wartime. There may be an exception I don’t know about but except for home guard duties drafted militia lost.

Here is link to an archive page with with two posts on the militia. I suspect most of your readers would object, mine did.

Source of the picture, And of course they are in the public domain.

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