Scars of Independence, America’s Violent Birth by Holger Hoock

Five Stars

Available at Amazon

I confess that the American Revolution is not a period of history I studied as well as I should. My interests were with the American Civil War, or second civil war as the author calls it, and World War II. Reading Professor Hoock’s book showed me a truism that the victors write the history. I have read several articles concerning the British prison ships and how Patriots were impressed into the Royal Navy both in the Revolution and the War of 1812. Unfortunately, I had read little about how Patriots treated Loyalists. For clarification, Patriots were supporting American independence and Loyalists were loyal to King George III.

This book highlights “man’s humanity against man.” The author says that psychological torment and physical violence played a far greater role in suppressing dissent during “America’s first civil war.” The Americans and British attempted to codify the rules of war to include how to treat prisoners. Although the code was in place, it was not always followed. Patriots were captured and kept in untenable conditions in prisons and on prison ships. Patriots threatened, intimidated, and assaulted Loyalists and, many times, those who didn’t actively support the fight for independence. Tarring and feathering was a popular form of torture that, sometimes, led to hanging.

The British organized a number of Loyalist brigades and much of the war, especially in the South, was fought American Patriot against American Loyalist. The British, as did Lincoln, attempted to free the slaves and many did make it to the Loyalist side where they fought for the King and a promise of freedom. The Scars of Independence made me realize how similar The Revolution was to the American Civil War.

Although this is a scholarly work, it is easy to read with facts and figures to substantiate the author’s assertion that the most violent action against each other may not have been on the battlefield but in the communities of Patriots and Loyalists. I would recommend a hardcopy version of this text because the several included maps were difficult to read on my Kindle Fire. No matter your version of the text, it is most important that it is read. The similarity between so many of the world’s most recent conflicts in places like Syria, Iraq, Niger, and Sudan is striking. Neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. The inhumane quality of man to each other continues to show its ugly head.