Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763

Available as hardback or paperback from Amazon US or Amazon UK or Amazon CA. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge and New York, 2002, paperback edition 2005.)

Recent scholarship has highlighted the significance of the Seven Year’s War for the destiny of Britain’s Atlantic Empire. This major study offers an important new perspective through a vivid and scholarly account of the regular troops at the sharp end of that conflict’s bloody and decisive American campaigns. Fresh sources are employed to challenge enduring stereotypes regarding both the social composition and military prowess of the ‘redcoats’.

The book shows how the humble soldiers who fought from Nova Scotia to Cuba developed a powerful esprit de corps that equipped them to defy savage discipline in defence of their ‘rights’. It traces the evolution of Britain’s ‘American Army’ from a feeble, conservative and discredited organisation into a tough, flexible and innovative force whose victories ultimately won the respect of colonial Americans. By providing a voice for these neglected shock-troops of Empire, Redcoats adds flesh and blood to Georgian Britain’s ‘sinews of power’.

Reviews of Redcoats

” . . . an outstanding combination of historical scholarship and robust prose.” Times Literary Supplement

” . . . perhaps Brumwell’s main achievement is to bring to life the personnel of the army – an achievement made possible not simply by his meticulous research but also by his vivid and engaging prose. This is a book that deserves to be widely appreciated.” History

“. . . an excellent, challenging book, convincingly argued through many vivid stories and original research.” Spectator

“Redcoats is an extremely well-written book which conveys a vivid picture of Britain’s army in North America during the Seven Years War.” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research

“This is an excellent example of military history, that will at once be of value to scholars working on eighteenth-century Britain and also to those interested in the struggle for empire…. throughout this is an important and worthwhile study.” Albion

“Stephen Brumwell does justice to his subjects’ remarkable achievements through a lively presentation of many soldier testimonies, exhaustive research in the army archives and thoughtful analysis. The end result is a valuable contribution to military history.” New York History

“…the best book to date on how the humble ‘bloodybacks’ of Georgian Britain went about securing the destiny of England’s overseas empire… Redcoats is a pleasure to read with its lucid and anecdotal prose, copious footnotes and is a must for any professed student of 18th century military warfare in North America.” Osprey Military Journal

“In a fascinating, judiciously researched and well-written study, Stephen Brumwell offers a nuanced reassessment of the British soldier in the critical period of the Seven Years’ War … This important book will enjoy a wide readership among specialists, students, and the general public.” The Historian

” … Redcoats is a significant and innovative work which makes an important addition to the literature not only of the British army, but also of eighteenth-century Britain and North America.” War in History

“… The American schoolbook British soldier relentlessly marches through battle after battle presenting himself as a stationary target conveniently marked by his brilliant scarlet uniform. Stephen Brumwell alludes to this popular view of the ‘redcoat’ of the British Army as the origin for his own childhood interest in the subject. Fortunately for us, Brumwell grew up and wrote this meticulously researched and beautifully written study of exactly who wore those ‘redcoats’ and how they became a formidable force.” Canadian Historical Review

“A fine work of social history that recovers the voices of the previously unheralded and unheard common soldier through a thorough mining of personal papers and official records, this study makes a notable contribution to our understanding of the [Seven Years’] war that scholars will find of interest. Sophisticated and sound in argument, presentation and research, Brumwell’s work offers an important addition to the historiography of eighteenth century warfare and colonial-imperial relations. Moreover, Redcoats is highly readable, filled with the kind of lively detail and engaging prose that will appeal to undergraduate students as well … A sustained and substantive work of scholarship, Redcoats merits a wide readership.” Eighteenth-Century Studies