Shopping cart

The American Revolution through British Eyes

A Documentary Collection

American History, Diplomatic Studies, Military History


Description Eyewitness accounts of the War of Independence by British observers and participants

The letters in this collection were written mostly by British military officers and diplomats reporting directly to their superiors in London. Many of the writers were actively engaged in fighting the Americans from 1775 until 1783; others were colonial administrators traveling through North America assessing the progress of British troops.

Beginning with reports of the surprisingly violent American response at the battles of Lexington and Concord, these letters by British army officers and soldiers initially conveyed supreme confidence. Likewise, correspondents in the Royal Navy had no reason to doubt their ultimate victory, since they understood themselves to be the world’s most formidable commercial and military fleet.

As the Revolution proceeded, the colonists confounded the British by issuing Letters of Marque to the owners of privately held ships, which enabled them to supplement the modest colonial navy with privateers that attacked and disrupted British supply lines, cutting off needed reinforcements and provisions, including food that the colonists refused to provide. Other unorthodox tactics followed, causing increasing concern among the British, including the eventual fate of many Loyalists, some of whom had fought alongside British troops. What would befall these allies if America actually achieved independence?

The near-daily reports in this engrossing two-volume collection enable us to appreciate the familiar drama of American independence from a different standpoint, one not widely studied. Little-known details emerge, such as the fact that King George III seriously considered abdicating the throne at least twice should independence be granted to America.

The American Revolution through British Eyes is sure to captivate anyone with an interest in America’s struggle for independence.

Authors James J. Barnes is emeritus professor of history at Wabash College and—with his wife, Patience P. Barnes, a research associate at Wabash—the author of numerous publications. The English book trade, Anglo-American copyright, and Nazis in London are all topics the two have explored. The Barneses are the editors of the three-volume collection The American Civil War through British Eyes (The Kent State University Press, 2003).