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Re: [Revlist] What good are the French?

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  • John Welsh
    Powder, yes, but that s not all that France contributed to the war effort. This was in a world war, in effect the last conflict of the Seven Years War with
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 30, 2003
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      Powder, yes, but that's not all that France contributed to the war effort.
      This was in a world war, in effect the last conflict of the Seven Years War
      with France and Britain squaring off again. France isolated Britain
      diplomatically without allies, and brought a reluctant Spain into the
      equation. France provided the US Congress assistance as early as 1775,
      including 50,000 muskets and uniforms, and contributed three naval fleets
      totalling 63 battleships of the line, two army corps in America totalling
      over 7,000 men at Yorktown not counting the 22,000 sailors and marines in De
      Grasses' fleet. But globally, there were some 1000 officers and 15,000
      soldiers directly employed in the war, of which 2,112 lost their lives in
      the American cause. Forty regiments were imployed in North America and the
      West Indies alone. Altogether some 220,000 professional soldiers and 35,000
      officers were on a war footing in the global struggle. The Marine Royale
      (Navy) included 72, 500 sailors and 2500 officers. The annual budget of the
      Navy was about $470 million. Historians have estimated that the overall cost
      of the war in the French budget was about $5 billion in today's currency.
      The government directly provided the US Congress 40 million livres in
      financial aid. A quarter was in outright grants, the remainder in loans
      which were never repaid. One of the most influential naval actions in naval
      history was the battle off the Chesapeak, De Grasse's victory which made the
      victory of Yorktown possible leading to diplomatic negotiations which gave
      America her cherished independence and sovereignty formalized in the Treaty
      of Paris in 1783. Rochambeau had 37 years of military service behind him,
      and Yorktown was his 15th siege. I think this may have made a difference in
      the ultimate outcome, if some initial engagements seemed equivocal at the
      time. I hope this is helpful.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Patrick J OKelley" <goober.com@...>
      To: <Revlist@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 2:06 PM
      Subject: [Revlist] What good are the French?


      > Howdy,
      >
      > >Use the blood of American rebels to
      > >protect the gardens of Versailles?
      >
      > They definately screwed up about every land operation with the US
      > forces. At Savannah they pushed Lincoln to do an attack that got a lot
      > of men killed. Then they screwed up the attack by delaying for time, so
      > that they could get their units into a seniority position for attack.
      > I don't know that much about Rhode Island, but I know they
      > screwed it up too.
      > They had a relief fleet sailing for Charleston, but they screwed
      > up and arrived late.
      > However...
      > The one thing I know that we did need the French for, more than
      > anything else, was powder. Lots of it. I don't remember the percentages
      > exactly, but something like 80% of our powder came through St. Eustatius
      > and from France.
      >
      > Patrick O'Kelley
      > goober.com@...
      > 2nd Regiment of the North Carolina Line
      > http://www.2nc.org/
      >
      >
      > Visit the RevList Homepage, which includes a list of sutlers, RevList
      member photos, FAQ, etc., at
      >
      > http://www.liming.org/revlist/
      >
      > TO UNSUBSCRIBE: please send a message to
      > Revlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      > with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
      >
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      >
      >
      >
    • turf12001
      ... It may go beyond screwing up, Pat. Some historians believe they deliberately dragged their feet at times, playing the war for their advantage, not ours.
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 1, 2003
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        --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, Patrick J OKelley <goober.com@j...> wrote:
        > They definately screwed up about every land operation with the US
        > forces.

        It may go beyond "screwing up," Pat. Some historians believe they
        deliberately dragged their feet at times, playing the war for their
        advantage, not ours. For instance, the American-French alliance was
        signed in the spring of 1778 -- March, I think. D'Estaing set sail
        for the States in April. It took him an unheard of three months to
        get here. As a consequence, all British ships in the Chesapeake Bay
        and Delaware River basin escaped to New York when the British
        abandoned Philadelphia in June. Was it intentional that Monmouth was
        an all-American affair?

        Then the next month, D'Estaing refused to aggressively pursue an
        attack on New York City. It's been speculated that the reason for
        this was that the French were afraid a successful attack on New York
        might bring about a peace between the rebels and British (the Brits
        had recently lost an army at Saratoga, been forced out of
        Philadelphia, and mauled at Monmouth). If the rebels made a separate
        peace, then France, only in the war for a few months, would be left
        facing Britain alone, without the rebels they wanted to kill
        Englishmen and drain English resources.

        Then D'Estaing screws up at Newport. Then he goes to Savannah and
        demands the British surrender to the French King, not us. He sails
        away and leaves Lincoln in the lurch and opens the way for Clinton to
        sail south and open a front there. For the next several years,
        American rebels are fighting a guerilla war, suffering through Camden,
        fighting at King's Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford and tons of skirmishes.
        It was Americans that forced Cornwallis north to where even the
        French might be able to handle him.

        > However...
        > The one thing I know that we did need the French for, more
        > than anything else, was powder. Lots of it. I don't remember the
        > percentages exactly, but something like 80% of our powder came
        > through St. Eustatius and from France.

        And I've read that the majority of the arms used at Saratoga came from
        the French. But I say "big deal" to that. In WWII, the U.S. provided
        scads of supplies to the Russians, but you'll never hear me say the
        Russians owe us gratitude for that. Those Ruskies did the fighting.
        It was their men that paid with blood. Those guys get the credit.

        We had some good Frenchmen fighting with us -- Lafayette, De Fleury,
        Mauduit, etc, etc, but the idea that France, the corrupt monarchy, was
        some type of great and valuable ally needs to be re-examined honestly
        now that we don't need to flatter them.

        Cheers.
        Dave McKissack
        Cohee Mess, Culpeper Militia -- BAR
        2nd NC -- CL

        "...those dear ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the
        admiration of future ages." Colonel John Laurens, KIA, Combahee Ferry,
        SC, 27 Aug 1782.
      • John Welsh
        There s an ancient expression. Success has a thousand fathers; failure is an orphan. Not every battle fought, is a battle won. But the end result at Yorktown
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 1, 2003
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          There's an ancient expression. "Success has a thousand fathers; failure is
          an orphan." Not every battle fought, is a battle won. But the end result at
          Yorktown was a total victory for the Americans and their French allies once
          they agreed on a strategic plan and secured the disposition of the French
          Carribean fleet. The French army landed at Newport in 1780 only to find
          exhausted American forces at their lowest ebb, the economy shot, and the war
          in a statemate. Yorktown capitulated one year later, turning the whole thing
          around. The French should be credited for much of this. "Some historians"
          may speculate on someone's intentions, but it's the facts that count. The
          intentions of the French court in sending the Congress the enormous aid in
          funds and materiel, as well as the active participation of the French army
          and navy tying British forces down globally as well as confronting them
          directly in North America, must speak for itself. (By the way, after WWII
          France repaid the US for the loans extended to it during the conflict by the
          early 1950's on schedule. Mention of WWII is really not relevant here.)
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "turf12001" <turf1@...>
          To: <Revlist@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 5:11 AM
          Subject: [Revlist] Re: What good are the French?


          > --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, Patrick J OKelley <goober.com@j...> wrote:
          > > They definately screwed up about every land operation with the US
          > > forces.
          >
          > It may go beyond "screwing up," Pat. Some historians believe they
          > deliberately dragged their feet at times, playing the war for their
          > advantage, not ours. For instance, the American-French alliance was
          > signed in the spring of 1778 -- March, I think. D'Estaing set sail
          > for the States in April. It took him an unheard of three months to
          > get here. As a consequence, all British ships in the Chesapeake Bay
          > and Delaware River basin escaped to New York when the British
          > abandoned Philadelphia in June. Was it intentional that Monmouth was
          > an all-American affair?
          >
          > Then the next month, D'Estaing refused to aggressively pursue an
          > attack on New York City. It's been speculated that the reason for
          > this was that the French were afraid a successful attack on New York
          > might bring about a peace between the rebels and British (the Brits
          > had recently lost an army at Saratoga, been forced out of
          > Philadelphia, and mauled at Monmouth). If the rebels made a separate
          > peace, then France, only in the war for a few months, would be left
          > facing Britain alone, without the rebels they wanted to kill
          > Englishmen and drain English resources.
          >
          > Then D'Estaing screws up at Newport. Then he goes to Savannah and
          > demands the British surrender to the French King, not us. He sails
          > away and leaves Lincoln in the lurch and opens the way for Clinton to
          > sail south and open a front there. For the next several years,
          > American rebels are fighting a guerilla war, suffering through Camden,
          > fighting at King's Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford and tons of skirmishes.
          > It was Americans that forced Cornwallis north to where even the
          > French might be able to handle him.
          >
          > > However...
          > > The one thing I know that we did need the French for, more
          > > than anything else, was powder. Lots of it. I don't remember the
          > > percentages exactly, but something like 80% of our powder came
          > > through St. Eustatius and from France.
          >
          > And I've read that the majority of the arms used at Saratoga came from
          > the French. But I say "big deal" to that. In WWII, the U.S. provided
          > scads of supplies to the Russians, but you'll never hear me say the
          > Russians owe us gratitude for that. Those Ruskies did the fighting.
          > It was their men that paid with blood. Those guys get the credit.
          >
          > We had some good Frenchmen fighting with us -- Lafayette, De Fleury,
          > Mauduit, etc, etc, but the idea that France, the corrupt monarchy, was
          > some type of great and valuable ally needs to be re-examined honestly
          > now that we don't need to flatter them.
          >
          > Cheers.
          > Dave McKissack
          > Cohee Mess, Culpeper Militia -- BAR
          > 2nd NC -- CL
          >
          > "...those dear ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the
          > admiration of future ages." Colonel John Laurens, KIA, Combahee Ferry,
          > SC, 27 Aug 1782.
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Visit the RevList Homepage, which includes a list of sutlers, RevList
          member photos, FAQ, etc., at
          >
          > http://www.liming.org/revlist/
          >
          > TO UNSUBSCRIBE: please send a message to
          > Revlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          > with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
          >
        • J. L. Bell
          Dave McKissack wrote:
          Message 4 of 10 , Oct 1, 2003
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            Dave McKissack wrote:
            <<D'Estaing set sail for the States in April. It took him an unheard of
            three months to get here. As a consequence, all British ships in the
            Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River basin escaped to New York when the
            British abandoned Philadelphia in June. Was it intentional that Monmouth
            was an all-American affair? >>

            How could a European government do anything "intentional" in timing the
            arrival of its fleet in North America? Communications in the eighteenth
            century were too slow and travel too chancy for delicate planning. The
            French commanders had no way of knowing that they'd find in North America:
            a collapsed American cause, a bottled-up British army, the Royal Navy in
            full strength, many friendly ports, none at all? Given that
            unpredictability, how could the French government or D'Estaing in the
            middle of the Atlantic have any rational intent to delay his arrival?

            Why would the French military not see benefits in destroying the British
            army and navy in North America? I see no possible way that could harm
            French interests. Of course, no commanders want to lose their forces in a
            too-risky action, and the balance of risk and reward for the American
            government differed from that for the French. The two militaries therefore
            behaved differently, just as the countries behaved differently in World War
            I, where the situations were reversed.

            Of course the French monarchy was no ideological friend to republicanism.
            We've known that since 1789--when that monarchy started to crumble because
            of debts incurred in supporting the U.S.A.

            It stikes me that this message's picture of French policy depends on
            interpreting every action or inaction by that country's military as
            intentional and calculated, with no consideration of people's lack of
            information, mistakes, or luck. Why would anyone find such an unrealistic
            portrayal of historical events appealing?

            Unfortunately, the answer seems all too clear. I recall no one on this
            forum belittling French contributions to the American side of the
            Revolutionary War before a year ago. Some comments in past months have been
            frankly racist, assigning personality traits to a nation of millions.
            Others have lumped together a variety of French governments over more than
            two centuries (and France has had a lot of governments) as if they were all
            the same. And we see comments like the title of this thread, "What good are
            the French?"--turning what's ostensibly discussion of the past into a
            comment about the present.

            It's obvious that the real motivation behind all this newfound criticism of
            French contributions to the American Revolution lies in current
            geopolitics, with an odd hostility fueled by cognitive dissonance and, I
            suspect, free-floating resentment. France was the U.S.A.'s main ally and
            support in the Revolutionary War. French supplies, men, and naval support
            were crucial to how the war turned out. That's undeniable. Attempts to
            argue the contrary have become increasingly embarrassing to read.

            J. L. Bell JnoLBell@...
          • Walter M. McIntyre
            Mr. Bell & Esteemed Liste, I have nothing to document this, especially in the context of the discussion at hand, but I m sure all high ranking officers whether
            Message 5 of 10 , Oct 1, 2003
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              Mr. Bell & Esteemed Liste,

              I have nothing to document this, especially in the context of the discussion at hand, but I'm sure all high ranking officers whether Generals or Admirals were given orders reflective of the government's and/or King's "wishes. I feel that these officers were given certain "lattitude" in responding to events as they unfolded, in keeping with those wishes. So, some of the speculations that David made could have actually happened, and not been orchestrated directly from France which was so far distant.

              But, I can speak for my Friend David McKissack. David is one of the most tolerant, friendly people I know and was merely speculating based on information gleaned over several years of research. David does not take his posts lightly and has sparked many good discussions on this list. He also knows the difference between 18th century politics and current politics, and how to keep them separate.

              Walter McIntyre
              wmm@...
              Col. Locke's Militia Co./Kingsbury's NC Artillery Co.
              www.angelfire.com/nc/Lockes

              Much of our time is employed in raising men, making Cannon, muskets, and merely finding out ways and means of supplying
              our troops with Cloathes, provisions, and ammunition. We appear to have everything we want. We resolve to raise regiments.
              resolve to make Cannon, resolve to make and import muskets, powder and cloathing, but it is a melancholly fact that near half
              of our men, Cannon, muskets, powder, cloathes, etc., is to be found nowhere but on paper.

              Joseph Hewes, 17 May, 1776


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Walter M. McIntyre
              Mr. Bell & Esteemed Liste, I have nothing to document this, especially in the context of the discussion at hand, but I m sure all high ranking officers whether
              Message 6 of 10 , Oct 1, 2003
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                Mr. Bell & Esteemed Liste,

                I have nothing to document this, especially in the context of the discussion at hand, but I'm sure all high ranking officers whether Generals or Admirals were given orders reflective of the government's and/or King's "wishes. I feel that these officers were given certain "lattitude" in responding to events as they unfolded, in keeping with those wishes. So, some of the speculations that David made could have actually happened, and not been orchestrated directly from France which was so far distant.

                But, I can speak for my Friend David McKissack. David is one of the most tolerant, friendly people I know and was merely speculating based on information gleaned over several years of research. David does not take his posts lightly and has sparked many good discussions on this list. He also knows the difference between 18th century politics and current politics, and how to keep them separate.

                Walter McIntyre
                wmm@...
                Col. Locke's Militia Co./Kingsbury's NC Artillery Co.
                www.angelfire.com/nc/Lockes

                Much of our time is employed in raising men, making Cannon, muskets, and merely finding out ways and means of supplying
                our troops with Cloathes, provisions, and ammunition. We appear to have everything we want. We resolve to raise regiments.
                resolve to make Cannon, resolve to make and import muskets, powder and cloathing, but it is a melancholly fact that near half
                of our men, Cannon, muskets, powder, cloathes, etc., is to be found nowhere but on paper.

                Joseph Hewes, 17 May, 1776


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • turf12001
                Hello Liste: First, thanks to my friends and others for their support. I was waiting for a personal attack on this from someone, but was relieved we seemed
                Message 7 of 10 , Oct 2, 2003
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                  Hello Liste:

                  First, thanks to my friends and others for their support. I was
                  waiting for a personal attack on this from someone, but was relieved
                  we seemed to be sticking to the issue of the value of the French
                  alliance. While I know I sometimes have an irritating way (to some)
                  of expressing myself, I'd hoped I was adding to what Pat called "an
                  interesting thread." Reasoned argument is the breath of knowledge.

                  --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "John Welsh" <jbwelsh@c...> wrote:
                  > There's an ancient expression. "Success has a thousand fathers;
                  failure is an orphan."

                  Maybe John, but in this particular case, the aphorism I prefer comes
                  from my granddaddy - "Son, watch out for men pissing on your boots and
                  telling you its a rainstorm."

                  If you want to "give credit" to the soldiers in those French regiments
                  who fought for American Independence, that's OK by me (though I gather
                  most of the regiments in America contained Irish, Alsacians (sp?),
                  Germans, and Italians). But I disagree with lauding the French
                  government. Even on its face, the idea that a French Catholic monarchy
                  would embrace a democratic rebellion by English Protestants doesn't
                  hold water. No, the French government was acting in its own
                  interest. Here's a few lines from historian Page Smith's "People's
                  History of the American Revolution" that expresses my point.

                  "Since the French were far more interested in whittling down the
                  military power of England than in American independence, they plainly
                  preferred a ware of attrition in which the resources of Great Britain
                  would be gradually- or even better, rapidly - exhausted. Vergennes
                  and the French ministers wished to use the Continental Army as the
                  principal instrument in this attrition. For their purposes it was
                  necessary that the American army should fight as often and as fiercely
                  as possible. It was for this reason that they provided large
                  quantities of supplies and substantial amounts of money."

                  Nothing wrong with this. Every nation's first priority is necessarily
                  its own interests. My argument arises with the notion that the French
                  were our noble allies with only our best interests in mind. Maybe
                  Lafayette was our true friend, but not the French monarchy. Maybe
                  that's why the American Colonel said, "Lafayette, we are here,"
                  instead of, "Hello Marie, where's the cake?"

                  Speaking of Lafayette, he wrote a letter to Vergennes in January 1781,
                  describing, as you've mentioned, the desperate straits in which the
                  rebellion had fallen. Nevertheless, he stated that even if the
                  British completely controlled all cities on the eastern seaboard,
                  there were not enough soldiers in all Britain and Germany to conquer
                  and occupy the United States. Interesting that Lafayette and
                  Wellington agreed on this.

                  In the same letter, Lafayette wrote, "Since the arrival of the French,
                  their inferiority has never for one moment ceased, and the English and
                  Tories have dared to say that the French wished to kindle, rather than
                  extinguish the flame. This calumny becomes more dangerous at a period
                  when the English detachments are wasting the south."

                  Was this a subtle hint that Lafayette, even though he was across the
                  ocean in America, saw through Vergennes' strategy of using the
                  Americans to atrit English power? Or just the cry of a young
                  Frenchman embarrassed at his country's ineffectual contribution to the
                  war effort?

                  Whatever, Lafayette knew how to make an argument Vergennes would heed.
                  He further pointed out that the French had better get serious if, in
                  Page Smith's words, "the war was not to drag on for years and in the
                  end prove more injurious than helpful to France. Indeed, the only
                  clear advantage that the French had lay in their ability to make use
                  of the Americans for the attrition of British military forces and the
                  exhaustion of the British treasury. At the point where active
                  American resistance virtually ceased, the full weight of the war would
                  fall upon France, and the calculations of profit and loss would
                  doubtless tilt sharply in favor England."

                  So, to my mind, "the facts" do not support the idea that the French
                  were noble allies standing shoulder to shoulder with America during
                  our revolution. Nor that their help was indispensable to American
                  independence. That idea was something born of the geopolitical
                  developments in the 20th century. It's ancien' history.

                  Cheers and Viva La Difference,
                  Dave
                • John Welsh
                  1. The drafts of French men-of-war were deeper than British ships. French admirals did not believe that their battleships could clear the bar at the entrance
                  Message 8 of 10 , Oct 2, 2003
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                    1. The drafts of French men-of-war were deeper than British ships. French
                    admirals did not believe that their battleships could clear the bar at the
                    entrance to New York's harbor. Even British ships took a long time
                    maneuvering in order to get across the bar one at a time. Hence New York
                    could not have been successfully besieged, despite the hopes of some
                    American land lubbers.
                    2. French fleets carrying critical cargos usually took circuitous routes to
                    avoid the British fleets searching to intercept them before they arrived in
                    America. Both De Grasse and De Barras went "round Robins's barn" to reach
                    their objectives in Chesapeake Bay. The result was that Graves' fleet coming
                    from the Carribean following De Grasse, and then after Barras fleet, arrived
                    at Chesapeake Bay before them and then just sailed away. British ships were
                    faster because they were sheeted with copper. Not all the French ships were
                    coppered at that time, and went at the speed of their slowest ships. Only
                    after De Grasse had disembarked the French infantry corps from the Carribean
                    at Yorktown, did he sally forth from the Chesapeake to challenge Graves. He
                    outnumbered Graves, but only the vans got into action due to the winds, so
                    it was practically an even affair. The French had more casualties; and the
                    British lost only one battleship, but Graves needed extensive repairs in
                    order to continue the fight. Realizing his priniciple duty to occupy the
                    strategic bay to solidify the siege, De Grasse doubled back at night
                    abandoning Graves, who then set for New York for needed repairs in order to
                    challenge De Grasse again with a larger fleet. It sailed from New York,
                    loaded with Clinton's army intending to rescue Cornwallis, on the very same
                    day as his capitualtion at Yorktown. Much attention is being devoted
                    recently to the travails of American and French forces operating in America.
                    The successes achieved there notwithstanding, British counter- measures
                    seemed to heap the bulk of bad luck, missed opportunities, poor judgment,
                    and at times, sheer incompetence. No wonder George III was going mad.


                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "turf12001" <turf1@...>
                    To: <Revlist@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 5:11 AM
                    Subject: [Revlist] Re: What good are the French?


                    > --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, Patrick J OKelley <goober.com@j...> wrote:
                    > > They definately screwed up about every land operation with the US
                    > > forces.
                    >
                    > It may go beyond "screwing up," Pat. Some historians believe they
                    > deliberately dragged their feet at times, playing the war for their
                    > advantage, not ours. For instance, the American-French alliance was
                    > signed in the spring of 1778 -- March, I think. D'Estaing set sail
                    > for the States in April. It took him an unheard of three months to
                    > get here. As a consequence, all British ships in the Chesapeake Bay
                    > and Delaware River basin escaped to New York when the British
                    > abandoned Philadelphia in June. Was it intentional that Monmouth was
                    > an all-American affair?
                    >
                    > Then the next month, D'Estaing refused to aggressively pursue an
                    > attack on New York City. It's been speculated that the reason for
                    > this was that the French were afraid a successful attack on New York
                    > might bring about a peace between the rebels and British (the Brits
                    > had recently lost an army at Saratoga, been forced out of
                    > Philadelphia, and mauled at Monmouth). If the rebels made a separate
                    > peace, then France, only in the war for a few months, would be left
                    > facing Britain alone, without the rebels they wanted to kill
                    > Englishmen and drain English resources.
                    >
                    > Then D'Estaing screws up at Newport. Then he goes to Savannah and
                    > demands the British surrender to the French King, not us. He sails
                    > away and leaves Lincoln in the lurch and opens the way for Clinton to
                    > sail south and open a front there. For the next several years,
                    > American rebels are fighting a guerilla war, suffering through Camden,
                    > fighting at King's Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford and tons of skirmishes.
                    > It was Americans that forced Cornwallis north to where even the
                    > French might be able to handle him.
                    >
                    > > However...
                    > > The one thing I know that we did need the French for, more
                    > > than anything else, was powder. Lots of it. I don't remember the
                    > > percentages exactly, but something like 80% of our powder came
                    > > through St. Eustatius and from France.
                    >
                    > And I've read that the majority of the arms used at Saratoga came from
                    > the French. But I say "big deal" to that. In WWII, the U.S. provided
                    > scads of supplies to the Russians, but you'll never hear me say the
                    > Russians owe us gratitude for that. Those Ruskies did the fighting.
                    > It was their men that paid with blood. Those guys get the credit.
                    >
                    > We had some good Frenchmen fighting with us -- Lafayette, De Fleury,
                    > Mauduit, etc, etc, but the idea that France, the corrupt monarchy, was
                    > some type of great and valuable ally needs to be re-examined honestly
                    > now that we don't need to flatter them.
                    >
                    > Cheers.
                    > Dave McKissack
                    > Cohee Mess, Culpeper Militia -- BAR
                    > 2nd NC -- CL
                    >
                    > "...those dear ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the
                    > admiration of future ages." Colonel John Laurens, KIA, Combahee Ferry,
                    > SC, 27 Aug 1782.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Visit the RevList Homepage, which includes a list of sutlers, RevList
                    member photos, FAQ, etc., at
                    >
                    > http://www.liming.org/revlist/
                    >
                    > TO UNSUBSCRIBE: please send a message to
                    > Revlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                    > with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
                    >
                    > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    >
                    >
                    >
                  • J. L. Bell
                    Patrick O Kelley wrote:
                    Message 9 of 10 , Oct 2, 2003
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Patrick O'Kelley wrote:
                      <<Actually there has been quite a bit of French bashing before
                      there ever was a war in Iraq. Do a search in the archives with France or
                      French, and you'll see hundreds of hits. This is because the bashing of
                      the French was a very 18th century thing to do. >>

                      Please find me one message predating October 2002 that argued that the
                      thirteen American colonies would have won the war without France's support
                      in material, soldiers, and ships. One message, that's all.

                      This isn't a matter of playing Monty Python, a time-honored tradition
                      indeed, or joshing among people who reenact different armies. And it isn't
                      a matter of pointing out the deficiencies of the French military at a
                      particular battle, or how the French government had self-interested reasons
                      for joining the fight.

                      It's a matter of how just after the U.S. administration and some of the
                      U.S. media decided to demonize current French foreign policy, we started
                      seeing jokes about the French as a nation, analyses of French military
                      performance in the 19th and 20th century, and, most recently, messages
                      titled "What good are the French?" That question's in present tense even
                      though the history we're supposed to discuss took place in the past. But I
                      don't need to explain that to you since you introduced that subject line.
                      So let's have no silly denials about this not being a trend pushed by
                      current events. That would be even more embarrassing.

                      Joseph Ruckman wrote:
                      <<Whatever else they may be, racist isn't on the list since "French" is not
                      a race, though they were considered to be a separate race in the 18th
                      century.

                      Regards,

                      Joseph Ruckman
                      Who, when asked his race, always replies "human.">>

                      If you're going to define "race" in these two different ways, I can only
                      hope you'll allow me similar leeway--especially since, as you acknowledge,
                      the French have been labeled as a separate race, and not just in the 18th
                      century.

                      Walter McIntyre wrote:
                      <<I have nothing to document this, especially in the context of the
                      discussion at hand, but I'm sure all high ranking officers whether Generals
                      or Admirals were given orders reflective of the government's and/or King's
                      "wishes. I feel that these officers were given certain "lattitude" in
                      responding to events as they unfolded, in keeping with those wishes. So,
                      some of the speculations that David made could have actually happened, and
                      not been orchestrated directly from France which was so far distant.>>

                      The speculations were based on how the French commander arrived after a big
                      battle, didn't try to storm fortified towns, was on the losing side of some
                      battles, was away from other major actions, and contributed less than
                      completely to the decisive Southern campaign until he arrived at Yorktown.
                      And that was to show that the French government didn't actually want to
                      defeat the British military? By that standard of evidence, the American
                      commander-in-chief didn't want to defeat the British military, either.

                      The notion that the French government sent its fleet and soldiers into a
                      war three thousand miles away and then didn't want to do as much damage as
                      possible to the British Empire is an extraordinary conjecture. It demands
                      extraordinary evidence--evidence like the "orders reflective of the
                      government's and/or King's wishes" that you speculate might exist. We saw
                      no such evidence. We saw no acknowledgment of the detailed list of French
                      contributions that John Welsh posted in message 56783. We didn't even see
                      logical conjectures.

                      <<But, I can speak for my Friend David McKissack. David is one of the most
                      tolerant, friendly people I know and was merely speculating based on
                      information gleaned over several years of research. David does not take
                      his posts lightly and has sparked many good discussions on this list. He
                      also knows the difference between 18th century politics and current
                      politics, and how to keep them separate.>>

                      We all have different experiences. I know David McKissack only from what
                      I've seen him write over the years.

                      In his latest message, for example, he wrote:
                      <<If you want to "give credit" to the soldiers in those French regiments
                      who fought for American Independence, that's OK by me (though I gather most
                      of the regiments in America contained Irish, Alsacians (sp?), Germans, and
                      Italians).>>

                      Even while allowing praise for the French army's troops, Mr. McKissack
                      brought up the question of those soldiers' nationalities or, to use older
                      terminology, their races. What bearing do those men's ethnic backgrounds
                      have on how they did or didn't contribute to the American victory?

                      Mr. McKissack then continued, <<But I disagree with lauding the French
                      government.>> Yet after claiming to distinguish "the French government"
                      from the French people, he reverted to criticizing "the French" as a whole,
                      as in: <<My argument arises with the notion that the French were our noble
                      allies with only our best interests in mind.>> Perhaps in such statements
                      he really meant the French monarchy and not the French people. But if so,
                      why did he use the plural, and why did he try to separate out Irish,
                      Alsatians, Germans, and Italians?

                      And for the life of me I can't figure out whose statements Mr. McKissack is
                      arguing against. Patrick O'Kelley didn't claim that French policy-makers
                      were "our noble allies with only our best interests in mind"--he claimed
                      the opposite. So, as far as I can recall, has every other member of this
                      list who's written on the topic. So did Page Smith, whom Mr. McKissack is
                      citing.

                      The French monarchy is long gone, leaving no one to claim it had high
                      principles. So what could motivate Mr. McKissack erect this straw-man
                      argument and then knock it down? Why the need now to criticize Louis XVI?
                      Or, to be accurate about the words Mr. McKissack chose, why this urge to
                      belittle "the French"?

                      Perhaps this is some form of "tolerant, friendly" behavior that I'm not
                      aware of. Perhaps writing <<And as long as the Hun and Ivan were powerful
                      in the 20th century, we needed to continue playing that game. But now its
                      200 years later and we can talk honestly.>> was keeping 18th-century and
                      current politics separate, as you say. But I don't see it.

                      And as for "information gleaned over several years of research," I can't
                      fit that evaluation with this claim from Mr. McKissack:
                      <<... that their help was indispensable to American
                      independence. That idea was something born of the geopolitical
                      developments in the 20th century. It's ancien' history.>>

                      This is simply false. The notion of France as America's crucial
                      Revolutionary ally goes back to Revolutionary times. It was part of the
                      argument between the Federalists and Jeffersonians in the early republic.
                      It was proclaimed when Lafayette made his return visit in the 1820s. It was
                      stated in histories published in the 19th century, and in biographies of
                      Franklin because he was, of course, one of the American ministers to
                      France. There may well have been arguments to the contrary, and the
                      popularity of the idea no doubt waxed and waned under the influence of
                      contemporary events, but it's simply not a 20th-century invention.

                      People can debate endlessly about who or what was "indispensable" in
                      historical movements. Those debates are endless because the human race gets
                      to run each big experiment only once. Could the thirteen American colonies
                      have won independence in the 1780s without the French government's money,
                      arms, soldiers, and ships? Well, the French government didn't let the world
                      find out. That's called history.

                      J. L. Bell JnoLBell@...
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