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The Minute Men: The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American Revolution (History of War) Mass Market Paperback – November 15, 2006
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A history from the first colonists' defense against Indian attacks to the firing of the "shot heard around the world"
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Galvin clearly shows the Americans in April of 1775 were prepared for war. They had trained, formed into companies and regiments, chosen their leaders, and followed those leaders into battle. They weren't farmers who happened to pick up a weapon and fight the military might of the British.
If one loves American history, this is a book that should be read thoroughly.
Galvin's well-researched book looks in great detail at the events of those early fights iof Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill but also at the evolution of the tradition of self-defense in 18th century New England colonies; traditions that are still at play today, and much misunderstood by most Americans.
My only drawback is that it was dry during some points. Not as bad as many histories but there was a lot of information which is better than having less.
The self-defense system of the colonial period was composed of two parts: the general militia, which could be considered regular troops, and the Minute Men, a special force of militia ready at a minute's notice and specially trained for rapid response, assault, and communication - much like today's Special Forces. Much of the battle on April 19, 1775 was fought by Minute Men, and it was they who fired the first American shots at the Concord Bridge.
Gen. Galvin spends a few chapters describing the evolution of the minute man concept - a council of war, ready at a minute's warning, with a decentralized command structure and integrated communications system, then proceeds into a detailed description of the battle. Despite their lack of technology, Minute Men were extremely adept at what they trained for, and highly capable - even if their enemy did not think of them as such. This difference in attitude is particularly well described, as Galvin shows not only that it takes training and equipment to be an effective soldier, but attitude as well. The Americans had the attitude of soldiers preparing for war, while the British Redcoats had an attitude of contempt towards their enemy's supposed inferiority.
Fred, of Fred's M14 Stocks, is fond of saying that April 19th, 1775 was the date when "marksmanship met history, and liberty was born". While this is true (the Americans were much better shots than the Redcoats) there were other aspects of the battle that played perfectly into the hands of the Americans. For instance, the British suffered not only from disunited command throughout the day, but also allowed the Americans time to assemble, reinforce, and prepare ambushes. Galvin's description of the battle is extremely detailed, omitting nothing.
For some reason, I wrote a lot of marginalia in this book, something I'm not prone to do. The text lends itself to that, with it's short and succinct chapters, well summarized ending paragraphs, and easy readability. A war college could easily adopt this as a text for a specialized class on tactics, or general study of the battles of the Revolution. If your interests cover either, you should pick this up, for it is well worth your time.