Conference Program


85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky


Title: New Research on the Training, Professionalization and Experience of the British Army in War 1775-1853
Abstract: The British Army of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has been characterised as anti-intellectual, amateurish, and bereft of innovative thinking. Recent research has suggested that this is a gross exaggeration, with reality, as ever, being far more complex. This panels offers the latest research into the training, professionalization of the British Army from the American Revolutionary War through to the Crimean War. These papers illustrate that units within the British Army maintained a well-trained fighting force, that staff officer training helped inculcate an era of professionalism into the army by the early nineteenth century, and that this not only helped the British cope with diverse threats, but that this experience became the cornerstone of British imperial expansion in the first half of the nineteenth century.
 
Huw Davies, King's College London
Matthew Zembo, Hudson Valley Community College
Participant's Paper Title: The Training and Tactics of the British Army in Preparation for the Burgoyne Campaign and the Invasion of New York in 1777: The Case of the Battle of Fort Anne
Participant's Paper Abstract: Usually mentioned as a minor skirmish on the way to Saratoga, the Battle of Fort Anne was one of the fiercest fire-fights of the American Revolution as 190 British Regulars and Officers fought off the determined attacks of over six times their number of American Continentals and New York State Militia. Fort Anne is a superb example of the professionalism of the British Army and the effectiveness of the training and tactical adaptations that began during the Canadian Campaign of 1776 under the Command of British General Sir Guy Carleton. This presentation will discuss in-depth the training of the British Army in Canada over the campaign of 1776 and 1777 and the tactical and operational adaptations the British made in anticipation of fighting in the wilds of Upstate New York. Using Archeological evidence, archival material, and published and unpublished memoirs woven together the paper will discuss the Battle of Fort Anne as an excellent example of the success the British achieved in adapting to combat in North America and the bravery of the untried Americans in battle against such an impressive enemy. Influenced by events at Fort Anne and Hubbardton, Burgoyne would make the fatal decision to halt his offensive and consolidate his army for the final push to Albany. 
William Fletcher, King's College London
Participant's Paper Title: The First Professional Staff Officers: The Impact of British Army's First Staff College (The Senior Department of the Royal Military College, High Wycombe) on the Peninsular War (1808-1814)
Participant's Paper Abstract: The Senior Department of the Royal Military College, established at High Wycombe on 4th May 1799 can be traced as the first 'staff college' of the British Army. The concept of a college devoted to training British staff officers was the idea of the military visionary, John Le Marchant, who received the political backing of the Duke of York for his project. However, while the creation of this institution is of interest in itself, what is even more remarkable is the impact the college can be seen to have had on the conduct of the Peninsular War (1808-1814). This small, yet significant enterprise can be seen to have played an important role in how Wellington's staff conducted their business in the field. The college contributed to a move towards the 'professionalization' of the army's staff system at a time where the practises of the staff were fluid and ill defined. A new breed of 'scientific soldiers' would be produced with a new and highly relevant skill set; an understanding of what their specific role was, developed in an environment in which they would gain exposure to fellow officers who they would later find themselves working with during the Peninsular War. This paper will examine the link between the education these officers received at the college and the efficiency with which the staff system came to conduct itself during the Peninsular War. Not only can a great number of British staff officers serving in the Peninsula be traced to be alumni of the college, but the curriculum they studied can be shown to have been of direct relevance to the tasks they fulfilled and therefore to have had an impact on the conduct of the war.
Luke Reynolds, City University of New York
Participant's Paper Title: A Thousand Waterloos Writ Small? The Legacy of the Napoleonic Wars in British Imperial Service
Participant's Paper Abstract: The period from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the outbreak of the Crimean war in 1853 was marked in Europe by a remarkable period of peace, the first half of what some scholars refer to as the Pax Britannica. War was not, however, dispensed with, but merely moved overseas to the now expanding empire, as Britain sought to confirm the global hegemony that it saw as its rightful due after a quarter-century of European conflict. A large number of the men who oversaw and commanded the Empire, both in strictly military roles as well as governorships and other offices with purviews beyond just the armed forces, were veterans of the Napoleonic Wars. Many had fought across the Iberian Peninsula under the Duke of Wellington, while others had been involved in the satellite conflicts in North America and India. This paper will focus on the post-Waterloo careers of several notable Peninsula and Waterloo veterans, including Sir Harry Smith, Baron Seaton, Viscount Hardinge, and Charles Napier. By exploring the imperial trajectories of these men, this paper will examine what impact and legacy the Napoleonic Wars had on the style, tactics, and strategy of the "small imperial wars" that came after, and whether the lessons of the Peninsula and Waterloo were applicable in India, Burma, Afghanistan, Canada, and the Cape. It will also scrutinize how these imperial conflicts and the men who fought them affected the lasting legacy of Waterloo and Wellington himself at home and abroad.
Wayne Lee, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Hailey Stewart, University of North Texas
Participant's Paper Title: Hanover in British Foreign Policy
Participant's Paper Abstract: My paper examines George III's attitude toward policies involving Hanover in relation to and independent of Britain. In 1801, rumors circulated that Prussia intended to invade Hanover. George III sent his son Adolphus, duke of Cambridge to meet with Friedrich Wilhelm III concerning Prussian plans to occupy the electorate. Cambridge conveyed to the British ministers that Friedrich Wilhelm affirmed that Russia and France continued to pressure Prussia to annex Hanover. Friedrich Wilhelm informed Cambridge that he intended to seize Hanover to prevent a French attack. In 1803, a debate emerged regarding the British response to the threat of a French assault of Hanover. Robert Jenkinson, or Lord Hawkesbury, second earl of Liverpool, and acting British minister of foreign affairs, indicated that Britain's government declared that Hanover did not dictate the direction of policy. Scholars have effectively evaluated the relationship between Prussia and Hanover in 1803, most notably, the issue of Prussian neutrality. Regardless of the attitudes of the British ministers, studies cursorily examine George III's diverging views and his efforts to secure Hanover. As elector, George III sent Major Johann von der Decken to Berlin to encourage Prussia to invade Hanover so as to avoid French occupation. George III's attempts to persuade Prussia to act ultimately failed, and at the end of May 1803, General Édouard Mortier marched French troops into the electorate of Hanover unchallenged. On 3 June 1803, Hanover surrendered to the French.
Current scholarship largely accentuates the British ministers' apparent disinterest in the invasions of Hanover, as well as the general opinion that Hanover lacked a role in British policy. Further analysis of George III's thoughts, arguments, and actions regarding the 1801 and 1803 assaults on Hanover will provide a thorough understanding of the king's policy.
Kenneth Johnson, Air Command and Staff College



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