Conference Program

85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky

Title: Forces of the American Revolution: Bureaucrats, Geographers, and the Weather
Christopher Rein, Army University Press
Cole Jones, Purdue University
Cameron Boutin, University of Kentucky
Participant's Paper Title: Adversary and Ally: The Role of Weather in the Life and Career of George Washington
Participant's Paper Abstract: George Washington may be best remembered as being the first president of the United States, but he was much more than that. Washington was also a frontier surveyor, a colonial soldier, a Virginia planter, and the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. All of these diverse positions were significant aspects of Washington's life, and they all involved continuous and intimate interaction with the environment, particularly weather and meteorological conditions. More than simply part of the backdrop of Washington's life, weather had a prominent role in shaping his experiences and the course of his career, both public and private. As a farmer, Washington's crop production was influenced directly by the vagaries of weather; as a soldier, he was regularly exposed to and had to endure a wide rangeof meteorological factors; and as an army commander, he saw his soldiers' health and morale, as well as their military operations and other activities, all affected by the weather. Torrential rain, extreme heat or cold, heavy snow, and thick fog were only some of the types of conditions that had a role throughout Washington's life. At times, the weather served as an ally for Washington by helping him in his pursuits, but the majority of the time, meteorological conditions were an adversary, inflicting hardships and disrupting or ruining his plans.
Timothy Hemmis, Texas A&M University - Central Texas
Participant's Paper Title: Mapping the Landscape of War and Peace: Reexamining the Work of Captain Thomas Hutchins, 1766-1789
Participant's Paper Abstract: In the eighteenth century, surveyors and geographers were a valuable resource for an army. The intelligence they provided were indispensable to both the British and Continental Armies during the War for Independence. Before the Revolutionary War, in 1766 Thomas Hutchins joined the British Army as an engineer, participated in an army expedition to survey the Ohio River Valley. Later, in 1772 the British sent Hutchins to the Southern department to record intelligence of Spanish Florida and the Gulf South. Hutchins spent five years gathering knowledge of the environment, the people (Native Americans and Spanish), and the fortifications in the region. Hutchins recorded his findings in journals and advanced the military and natural knowledge of these regions. Later, during the Revolutionary War, his superiors suspected Hutchins of espionage because of his business dealings with George Croghan and George Morgan?both patriots. In 1780, Hutchins traveled to London and resigned his Captaincy before escaping to France. Within a year, Hutchins joined the American cause and gained the title Geographer of the United States. For years, scholars have overlooked Hutchins military contributions, because he was a surveyor and geographer. Seemingly, his writings are just descriptive narratives about the environment and landscapes of peace. However, they provide detailed military intelligence that often included troop strengths and fortifications. My paper using his personal papers and publications aims to reexamine the life of Thomas Hutchins demonstrate that his work was the actual mapping of the landscape of war and peace in Revolutionary America.
James Gigantino, University of Arkansas
Participant's Paper Title: Becoming a Wartime Bureaucrat: William Livingston and the Transformation of Government in the American Revolution
Participant's Paper Abstract: William Livingston, New Jersey's first governor, experienced the American Revolution differently than most other revolutionaries. He managed a complex state government on the war's front lines. Livingston, as a wartime bureaucrat, played a pivotal role in a pivotal place, prosecuting the war on a daily basis for eight years. Although few historians have paid serious attention to these state-level executive operations before, during, and after the Revolution, second-tier founding fathers like Livingston actually administered the war and guided the day-to-day operations of revolutionary-era governments, serving as the principal conduits between the local wartime situation and national demands placed on the states. Using Livingston as a lens, this paper examines the complex nature of the conflict and the choice to wage it, the wartime bureaucrats charged with administering it, and the limits of that Patriot governance under fire. This paper therefore is more about the administrative position Livingston filled than about the man himself. Specifically, this paper explores Livingston's initial movement into his position as a wartime bureaucrat during the pivotal years of 1775-1776 as New Jersey prepared for and ultimately faced an invasion by British forces from New York. Key to Livingston's initial wartime administration was the relationship between the natural environment and military and political policies, especially the spaces of warfare. Geography became especially important to Livingston's transformation as a wartime bureaucrat as the contours of space between British positions in New York and Patriot positions in New Jersey created a complex interplay between Patriots and Loyalists that affected how the revolutionary government functioned. This paper therefore explores how Livingston navigated demands from revolutionary leaders in Congress and the Continental Army while mediating the constantly changing spaces of revolutionary violence on the ground in border regions of his state on the frontlines.

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