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Lexington and Concord: What if British Army in Boston destroyed?

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  • Lexington and Concord: What if British Army in Boston destroyed?

    What if at the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the British Army in Boston was even more severely damaged than it was. What if when the British Rescue detachment and the detachment that went to Lexington and Concord were overwhelmed? It is not that hard to imagine, since the largest battle of the day actually took place in Arlington (between Lexington and Cambridge) when the rescue detachment came out. Many minutemen from outlying areas did not get to the battle until it was over. If they got there earlier, and/or the battle went longer, they may have overwhelmed the British.

    My gut feeling is Britain would have come to terms with the colonists, granting some of their demands, and the colonies would have (more or less) gone back to status quo. The US may not have ever formed, since there would not have been the unifying force of the federal army and the states would not have had to cooperate as they did.

    Any thoughts on what would have happened, either militarily or politically?
    Last edited by lakechampainer; 13 Jan 10, 16:59.

  • #2
    Interesting. IMO I think if the British would have been overwhelmed they would have come back even stronger - bent on "revenge". Don't forget that the King and the generals for the most part thought of the colonists as ingrates and knowing nothing in the ways of warfare. I think the British's contempt for the colonies would have made them even more determined to bring us to our knees instead of making some sort of concession.
    "War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for..."
    -- Harper's Weekly, December 31, 1864

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Twitter3 View Post
      Interesting. IMO I think if the British would have been overwhelmed they would have come back even stronger - bent on "revenge". Don't forget that the King and the generals for the most part thought of the colonists as ingrates and knowing nothing in the ways of warfare. I think the British's contempt for the colonies would have made them even more determined to bring us to our knees instead of making some sort of concession.
      Agreed. Added to this, I believe the British would have treated this disaster with the true gravity it deserved and as a full blown rebellion, rather than a small, easily quashable military incident of little regard. The year was young and there was plenty of time to rush large amounts of fresh British troops into the threatened seaport cities to rout the rebellion and put things aright.
      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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      • #4
        JohnBryan - Do you think this event would have led to the British giving more attention to the matter in terms of men, supplies, money? Or, do you think they would have been quicker to strike with what they had in country first? I've read a lot about the RW war, but have to admit this is the first that I have thought about this "what-if". I find it pretty interesting.
        "War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for..."
        -- Harper's Weekly, December 31, 1864

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Twitter3 View Post
          JohnBryan - Do you think this event would have led to the British giving more attention to the matter in terms of men, supplies, money? Or, do you think they would have been quicker to strike with what they had in country first? I've read a lot about the RW war, but have to admit this is the first that I have thought about this "what-if". I find it pretty interesting.
          IMHO, had the British Crown Government been forced to confront the fact that the entire Boston Garrison had gone into the bag and been captured by a ragged pack of "upstart colonials" then, I believe they would have treated the entire rebellion much differently, while quickly responding with much more military force and far more ruthlessly than they actually did. Had the British responded quickly enough, in 1775, they could have brought alot more Loyalist forces into their ranks to fight towards bringing down the rebellion, than were actually enlisted.

          Lastly, offering Royal Army Commissions to to the officers of Loyalist Units would have brought far more men to the colors. These conditions could have caused a much different end to the Revolutionary War.
          "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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          • #6
            Thanks guys for your comments. After reading them and thinking about it I think you are right, I think Britain would have reacted more strongly/more quickly then they did. I think I was also forgetting how long it took news and instructions too make a round trip in those days.

            A wild card I'll throw out there, although I don't think it would have been a game-changer, is the invasion of Quebec, led by Arnold and others, which may have been successful. New England may have put more into this effort than it did, and the British may have been weaker. Based on the history, where the colonists got caught in bad weather, MAYBE if they left earlier they would have been more successful.

            Added later:

            However, I think the mission was going to fail almost no matter what, as the colonists felt/expected they would be welcomed as liberators by the French settlers, which of course they were not. Not the last time the US would make that mistake. That being said, I think the invasion of Quebec was important to the eventual winning of the war, as it showed the colonists were able to launch an attack over a tremendous distance, and it caused the British to tie down resources in Canada in what was really a peripheral theater.

            Probably most importantly, the British were not able to make their big push which culminated in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, rather than in 1776.
            Last edited by lakechampainer; 14 Jan 10, 15:50.

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            • #7
              Hmmm... this area is not my expertise, but...

              1. The Declaration of Independance was not proposed or written until 1776. Until it was clear Lord Norths government had a unyeilding colonial policy many of the 'rebel' leaders hoped or expected to negotiate a better colonial policy from the Crown. The idea of complete separation was not yet under serious consideration. That occurred as it became apparent the government would stick with the failed policies of the previous two decades.

              2. A significant part of the British leadership outside of Lord Norths government was in sympathy to the colonists grievances. If I understand the politics of the time correctly the Tory party supported the long running colonial policies, the Whig party included a lot of English leaders who favored a change.

              So a severe defeat of the Crowns army in Boston in 1775 might lead to Norths government losing power. "See, they are incompetent". Were the Whig party to take power a policy of reconciliation and negotiation could be attempted. That is what the majority of the rebel leaders hoped for in 1775. The reduction of power of the Crowns govenors, reduction of monoplistic trade licenses, local input to tax policy, amoung many things.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                Hmmm... this area is not my expertise, but...

                1. The Declaration of Independance was not proposed or written until 1776. Until it was clear Lord Norths government had a unyeilding colonial policy many of the 'rebel' leaders hoped or expected to negotiate a better colonial policy from the Crown. The idea of complete separation was not yet under serious consideration. That occurred as it became apparent the government would stick with the failed policies of the previous two decades.

                2. A significant part of the British leadership outside of Lord Norths government was in sympathy to the colonists grievances. If I understand the politics of the time correctly the Tory party supported the long running colonial policies, the Whig party included a lot of English leaders who favored a change.

                So a severe defeat of the Crowns army in Boston in 1775 might lead to Norths government losing power. "See, they are incompetent". Were the Whig party to take power a policy of reconciliation and negotiation could be attempted. That is what the majority of the rebel leaders hoped for in 1775. The reduction of power of the Crowns govenors, reduction of monoplistic trade licenses, local input to tax policy, amoung many things.
                Not with King George III exerting all of his influence on Parliament to chastize the upstart Americans. I don't believe that reconciliation or negotiation with the colonies would be possible especially after such a calamitous defeat of such epic proportions. I would think that you would have as much a chance for British reconciliation with the colonies, as the Japanese would have at negotiating a peace treaty with the US after Pearl Harbor. Blood had been spilled and national honor besmirched. Spilled blood and sullied national horor had to be avenged.
                "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                • #9
                  I'm not the expert on British politics of the era. My thought was based on what a Brit had told me about the balance of power between the Tory & Whig parties of the era and his remarks on the ammount of sympathy with the colonists cause or rather the antipathy towards the colonial policys of the decade leading to 1775. Perhaps I was misinformed there.

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