The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search

War of Independence

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Allies and Enemies

British Troops

In 1775, 8,000 British troops were stationed in America; by war’s end, there were 56,000—more than half the king’s army. Persistent recruiting shortfalls meant that paupers and felons often filled the ranks; upper-class gentlemen served as officers.

British regiments were drilled and beaten into disciplined fighting units. Grenadiers—so named because they once lobbed hand grenades with lighted fuses—were the regiment’s elite, proud that they “knew no doubts or fears.”

Related Artifacts

British Officer's Sword
British Grenadierís Bearskin Cap
Brown Bess Musket

British Seamen

In 1775, 15,000 men sailed aboard a royal fleet of 340 ships. By war’s end, more than 100,000 men were at sea on 617 ships worldwide. Crews aboard British warships were often impressed into service against their will. They endured conditions that ranged from squalid to terrifying. In broadside engagements, they faced thundering cannon, sharpshooters firing from the rigging, and boarding parties wielding axes, cutlasses, pistols, pikes, and scattershot weapons.

Related Artifacts

English Naval Cutlass
Boarding Axe
English Sea Pattern Pistol

German Soldiers

Britain hired close to 30,000 German soldiers, many from the principality of Hesse-Cassel, to augment its forces in America. Infantry troops and elite fusilier units participated in almost every campaign of the war. Nearly 550 Germans were killed in action; another 6,500 succumbed to disease. More than 5,000 deserted and settled in America, joining many other Germans who had come as colonists.

Related Artifacts

Hessian Miter Cap
Hessian Musket

Continental Troops

Soldiers in the regular Continental Army served long-term enlistments. Many signed on for the duration of the war or reenlisted several times. Most were infantry, armed with muskets and bayonets. They were trained and practiced in conventional open-field warfare. During the course of the war, about 100,000 men served in Washington’s armies or in state militias.

Related Artifacts

Rappahannock Forge Musket
Newport Light Infantry Miter Cap
Nicholson Over and Under  Pistol

French Troops

More than 5,000 white-coated French troops under the command of Comte de Rochambeau arrived in America in 1780, more than two years after the Treaty of Alliance. Another 3,000 troops from the French West Indies joined them during the siege of Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.

Related Artifacts

French Charleville Flintlock Musket
French Officerís Sword

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