A People s Army is essentially Anderson s PhD dissertation converted to a book and published The theme is expanded into his great opus The Crucible of War This book is extremely useful for those who what to dig in to the data Anderson used to support The Crucible of War. A People S Army Documents The Many Distinctions Between British Regulars And Massachusetts Provincial Troops During The Seven Years War Originally Published By UNC Press In , The Book Was The First Investigation Of Colonial Military Life To Give Equal Attention To Official Records And To The Diaries And Other Writings Of The Common Soldier The Provincials Own Accounts Of Their Experiences In The Campaign Amplify Statistical Profiles That Define The Men, Both As Civilians And As Soldiers These Writings Reveal In Intimate Detail Their Misadventures, The Drudgery Of Soldiering, The Imminence Of Death, And The Providential World View That Helped Reconcile Them To Their Condition And To The War Please Note This is not going to be one of my better written or organized reviews I m trying to get down the essential points in a hurry to be used for an exam reference Reading this on the heels of Fred Anderson sThe War that Made Americawas a useful decision as that work provided an overview of the Seven Years War and this volume is a focused study of the provincial army from Massachusetts in contrast to the Britain s professional army who fought together in the war Despite the 21 year gap between the two works, Anderson remained consistent with his thesis and findings, and the volumes reinforce each other.Anderson s essential points are that 1 The Seven Years War is often misleadingly taught condensed down to be a forerunner to the American Revolution, but this is an entirely false The end of the Seven Years War was instead a highpoint of British loyalty among the colonists they were proud to be part of the mighty empire pg 223 No one saw it as a harbinger of future war, instead it was seen as the ultimate end to fighting with the French that had dominated the North American social political landscape for a century the residents of Massachusetts had been fighting with the French and various groups of Indians for generations This was just another chapter in that long and bloody history, but the first where they received any major assistance from the motherland With the French presence subdued and their eliminated, the British expected a thousand years of peace pgs 22 23 2 What the Seven Years s War did provide as seen inA People s Armywas a chance for the British and continental soldiers to observe and assess each other, not merely militarily, but in character and essentials to borrow a Jane Austin turn of phrase In short, neither side was happy with the character of the other, and that is the subject of this work.The Seven Years War transformed the attitudes of the young men who would grow up and less than two decades later be the leaders of the American Revolution Anderson writes that The veterans on the whole were less likely than their fathers to remember the war favorably and were unikely to be well disposed towards the redcoats with whom they had served The Seven Years War had been, in effect, the greatest educational experience in their lives It had transformed them from a mere group of contemporaries into a generation of men, whose common knowledge included a powerful set of lessons about themselves, about the British, and about war itself pg 25 Anderson s choice of using the Massachusetts provincial army as the counterpoint to the British regulars was not incidental The religious history of New England gives this region, and Massachusetts in particular, a very different cultural atmosphere than most of the other colonies Mass is a culturally distinctive region guided by extremist religious beliefs and tightly knit communities that operated under strategies that coped with limited economic resources New England was not a region of self sufficient farms, but rather of self sufficient farm towns pg 28 Anderson noted how the communities were defined by a lack of cash and thus contracts and bartering was the primary means of trade, not actual cash That doing a turn of service in the provincial army paid in cash, was the primary motivating factor for young men to serve it was one of the only means through which they could earn cash in order to help establish their own households, until the death of their father the division of the family estate pgs 37 39 For younger sons who would not inherit property, it was perhaps their only chance at being able to acquire cash for land But this cashless contractual society influenced men s service in other ways as well where as British regulars were used to being duped into service and being stuck there for an undetermined and fluid duration, the provincial men were used to working according to contracts When the contracts that they made to fight for the duration of a specific campaign or season were violated by British regular officers who did not hold contracts to be of importance either by extending the term of service or by not fulfilling the promised provision of food and equipment , the provincial men rebelled, most frequently by refusing to work or deserting Unlike solitary desertion where a soldier walked off anonymously, this was a very political desertion where the griefs had been presented to the superior ranking officer and when the men left, they did so en masse pgs 185, 192, 194 195 The Massachusetts men had a very different relationship with their officers than did the British regulars Where British officers ruled through dissociative fear and brutality, provincial officers were obligated to become personally acquainted and take an interest in the lives of each of their men That is if they weren t already known to them, and many were previously acquainted Many of the men who served together were from the same town, and through the rules of conscription, men signed up for service under a specific officer and many provincial soldiers within a unit were related Thus, officers and their men were often already acquainted, at least by reputation, which had a humanizing effect between the ranks of the provincial army pg 44 Anderson notes that personal loyalties and kinship shaped the provincial army and explain many of the behaviors that the British came to see as erratic pg 48 The British regulars did everything in their power to preserve the distinction of rank within their units Punishments doled out by the British were harsh and demeaning whipping, riding the wooden horse , if not deadly Many violations were subject to capitol punishment However, the British werewilling than Provincials to forgive men of the death penalty at the last hour, especially if they could then use the reprieve as a way to guilt them into conscripting to the military for life ps 121 123 The Provincial army rarely sentenced men to death for crimes, but they were very unlikely to grant a reprieve pg 126 This difference speaks to the distinctive roles of and purposes of leadership between the two groups Combined command in 1757, however, ended severely curbed the ability of provincial officers to grant leniency pg 131 For regular officers, creating good discipline was analogous to the teaching of good manners Provincials, who assumed conduct reflected character, tended to conclude instead that either men were good soldiers or they weren t If a man proved refractory and unresponsive to exhortation or repeated chastisement, provincial officers consequently preferred to expel him from camp, not to make a gruesome spectacle of him To hang or really beat an offender would not make the virtuousvirtuous, nor make the corrupt less corrupt pgs 130 131 Provincial disciplinary practices and the assumptions that underlay them reflected traditional New England ideals of community life that men ought to be knit together as one in the common pursuit of God s will Nothing could have been less consistent with British conceptions of military order, or less understandable to most Redcoat officers pg 135 The British tended to conclude that New Englanders made bad soldiers because they were deficient in courage and moral fiber That was a profoundly mistaken conclusion, but it was based on the indisputable fact that provincials often behaved unprofessionally sometimes acted in ways detrimental to the work effort pg 167 Other points of diversion included the Regulars propensity toward fighting deals of honor among the officers unheard of in NE , and regulars committing suicide, especially in the wake of wrongdoing pg 116 Regulars also had women camp followers who the provincials roundly viewed as whores and loose women never mind that someone had to do the laundry, and we know from the records that when the provincials were left to their own devices, they didn t pg 118 119 Regulars also observed holidays that NE ers did not, and these celebrations were seen as culturally quirky Most commonly commented upon in disgust by the Mass provincials was the proliferation of swearing and breaking of the second commandment done by the regulars pg 117 In NE these were offenses that would have had a person hauled before the local magistrate, that the regulars committed these sins so openly and ahem regularly led the provincials to view them as morally defective and not merely as culturally quirky pg 118 For religious NE ers, the moral defects of their British counterparts became cause for genuine concern Would an alliance with such morally corrupt individuals cause God to punish them, and thus their cause to fail pg Given that they ultimately won, I have to wonder how many of them chose to perceive the success despite the conditions sowThis book was a reformulation of Anderson s dissertation His primary source base consisted of a surprisingly large number of journals kept by soldiers during the duration of their service This in itself is an interesting point where as the bulk of British regulars were illiterate, NE was a highly literate society part of its religious distinctiveness good protestants needed to be literate to read and fully comprehend the Bible pg 66 The mostly young men who set off to fight in the war clearly saw it as a distinctive period in their lives, and while most did not keep a journal before or after their service, many did so faithfully as a way to remember and reflect upon their travels and this unique phase of their lives, no doubt to be brought home to their families and recount the tales of their travels pgs 69 72 Not that they were that disconnected from home Anderson notes that many men sent and received letters regularly from their families See pgs 108 109 Many of the men also used them in part to record religious devotions reflections observations of religious providentialsim seeing the hand of God at work in daily events pgs 196 197 I m left pondering the question, that while Anderson s overarching argument works for encounters between Mass and British regulars, can his argument that provincials and regulars met and didn t like each other be transposed to other colonies I would tend to think that while Virginians, say, were equally untrained they would have been farinterested in rank preservation and wouldn t have cared or been concerned over the cursing and perceived uncouth behavior of the regulars in the way that NE ers were Surely, they would not have been concerned in the same way or to the degree that an alliance with ungodly people would endanger their cause. For those interested in the individual experiences and perspectives of the provincial soldiers from New England who fought in the Seven Years War, Anderson s book is one of the best From extensive primary source research, he endeavors to analyze the impact the war had on provincial soldiers by reviewing their journals, letters, and demographics to uncover their experiences and perspectives at the individual level He then puts this analysis in the context of the wider British Empire, and even though they were all subjects of Great Britain, argues that colonial views on military service and war were incompatible with the traditions and policies of the regular British Army Anderson comments on the opinions regular commanders had of provincials riff raff, dregs of society, et cetera but spends most of his time analyzing the differences in recruitment, views on terms of service, class issues, and the daily challenges a provincial soldier endured Anderson also touches on the battles New England provincials participated in and provides some commentary on how they were used as support and auxiliary forces, but focuses mostly on reviewing the diaries and letters of soldiers to reveal the horrors they encountered in combat In the context of other historical works that examine the British forces in the Seven Years War, Anderson s book is notable given his use of quantitative data to explain the composition of provincial units, his comparative examination of the differences in policies between colonial and regular army officials, the portrayal of the individual soldier s experience, and ultimately, the impact the war had on New England society. Anderson s A People s Army is an excellent social history of the Massachusetts Provincial militia during the Seven Years War The only problem is that Anderson argues for New England exceptionalism by claiming that Puritan Christianity and especially the concept of a covenant with God decisively shaped why Mass men volunteered, choose to fight, and decided to mutiny or desert Too many of his claims seem less about Puritan steeped traditions than practical military methods of sustaining morale, helping soldiers cope with battle, and soldiers generally resenting any outside force or authority reneging on the terms of their military service He concludes that the Seven Years War confirmed New Englanders Puritanical beliefs and also fostered a sense of uniqueness among its veterans It s clear that chaplains appropriated Puritan doctrine in their sermons to help soldiers comprehend the war s chain of events, and this process probably contributed to a groundswell in renewed Puritan faith I m not sure that Anderson s scope can satisfactorily answer whether Puritan beliefs were renewed after the war because a he focuses specifically on the MA militia and not on all New England provinces and b He includes no data sets on church attendance before during after the war or other barometers of the Seven Years War generally confirming or renewing Puritan fervor I find the overlap between Fred Anderson and Robert Gross Minutemen and their World interesting because the latter mentioned almost nothing about the French and Indian War creating a veteran identity that fostered grassroots commitment to anti British Republican politics in the 1770s However, Anderson s throw away thesis in the final paragraph makes that claim He argues that veterans reintegrated into society with a shared set of reference points, a unifying groundwork of experience that knit their generationclosely together than any other in New England since the Great Migration 223 Because these veterans shared ideas about the British Redcoats authoritarian, immoral, aggressive, lewd from their firsthand encounters during the Seven Years War, Anderson concludes that these meneasily believed republican rhetoric emanating from Boston during the imperial crisis That s an argument that I believe has gainedcurrency among historians since the 1980s, but I may be mistaken Overall, a good book with many intriguing ideas It s also a classic example of the New Military History during the 1980s that eschewed tactics, strategy, generalship, etc and instead focused on reconstructing the social makeup of soldiers who served during the conflict. Fantastic blend of military history with social history methods looking at the demographics, practices, beliefs, and motivations of soldiers in the French Indian War, comparing the colonial troops with the British regulars Not only did the colonials have less training and worse equipment, but Anderson focuses on the moral superiority that colonists felt, casting themselves against what they felt were corrupt or disingenuous British regulars Anderson is arguing that this helps feed a sense of American exceptionalism and also contributes to a growing divide between the colonies and the mother country that later explodes into full revolution Because the war was a foundational event for an entire generation, he argues that the Revolutionary generation was shaped by this experience that helped develop a huge rift between the colonies and England Great read, and a good use of sources Does everything a great history book should do. Massachussetts soldiers in the French and Indian War A People s Army is great text on the social history of the French and Indian War, America s part in the Seven Year s War It was really a world war the likes of which was not seen again until World War I We see what it was like to be an American provincial soldier through excerpts from their personal diaries It was a harsh life as the soldiers were frequently underfed which left them weak and susceptible to disease It also documents the arrogance and brutal disciplinary procedures of the British Redcoats directed towards the American provincial volunteers The Americans learned to hate the Redcoats While no one envisioned that in 13 years they would be involved in a war of independence against Britain, but when the time came they remembered the lessons learned in this war and how to defeat the British. Fantastic read if you are at all interest in the build up to the American Revolution I know I am biased as being native to Massachusetts, but I do subscribe to the idea that the actual revolution was the 20 years before the war This books gives insight into that from the first actual meeting of the British and their colonial counterparts since initial colonisation Long before revolution we were two differant peoples.