History 407
Guidelines for Paper #1: The Revolutionary War

The first paper assignment is a 5-7 page paper that answers some basic question about a particular aspect of the Revolutionary War.  You will select one of the questions below and then find scholarly books and journal articles that address that question.  Your paper will develop a THESIS which captures the answer (or answers) you discover in the secondary sources. The body of your paper should work to PROVE the THESIS with specific examples and quotations taken from those sources.  You must use and cite at least FOUR sources that are scholarly works published on the topic. This can include academic monographs (books by a single author on a particular topic), essays from edited collections, and journal articles. When you find one book that answers the question (the more current the better) you can look in the footnotes to find additional works that cover the topic. You may NOT use encyclopedia entries, citations from general reference works, or online sources like Wikipedia. Such reference sources can sometimes prove helpful in finding secondary sources. They often, however, will lead you to dated scholarship. I would also like you to rely more on recent scholarship so that you can get a sense of the current state of the field. To that end, beware of using Google books. It’s a great tool, but it largely includes materials which are in the public domain, which generally means old works that have almost always been superseded by new scholarship. That’s fine if your paper looks at changes in how historians have answered a question over time. It is not, however, a good thing for all your sources to be pre-1970s scholarship. If you disregard these directions and use inappropriate sources like reference works or all of your sources are dated, I will dock your paper at least one letter grade.

Your grade will depend on the secondary sources you compile and how well you use them to answer the question. I will grade your paper based on the quality of your sources, the clarity of your main thesis and individual points, the depth of your analysis, the strength of your evidence, your use of evidence, and the persuasiveness of your argument. I also expect you to use proper format for your citations and bibliography. If you do not properly footnote your sources and include a bibliography, you will lose points.

For those of you who find yourself shooting for the minimum page-length: the bibliography does NOT COUNT as page 5; nor does the title page count as page 1. And, this may come as a shock, but it’s obvious when students tweak the side margins, headers, and footers to make a 4 page paper look like a 5 page paper—or when they increase font size or word spacing or any number of other pathetic gimmicks.

Click here for Dr. Bouton's Advice for Improving Your Papers.

You will select the questions in class (I will pass around a sign-up sheet).  No more than six people will be able to sign up for any particular topic to ensure coverage of each question (and because there are limited sources for each question).

1)      At the start of the war in 1775, the colonies defeated Britain (or at least they claimed victories) at Lexington, Concord, Ticonderoga, and Bunker Hill. How did the colonies manage to win in 1775 against what appeared to be a superior military force?

2)      In 1776, the colonies seemed unable to win. Why were they suddenly losing so much?

3)      The tide of the war turned once again in 1777 to colonies’ favor. What explains the colonies’ success in 1777 and afterward?

4)      What was the militia? What were its strengths and weaknesses? Why did it succeed or fail? (Give specific examples to back your point)

5)      What was the Continental Army? What were its strengths and weaknesses? Who served as Continental regulars? How and why did kind of people who served in the army change over time?

6)      Despite performing better militarily in 1777, the colonies still faced serious problems waging war. What were the FOUR most significant problems?

7)      What were the FOUR most important mistakes Britain made during the war?

8)      What was Britain’s “Southern Strategy” that began at the end of 1778? How successful was it? Explain.

Citing Sources:
You MUST cite you sources according to the “History Style Sheet” on the History Department webpage.
This sheet provides examples of citations in the format used by academic historians. If you do not properly cite your sources, you will lose points.


Provide a bibliography at the end of your paper with the full citations listing all the sources you used. The bibliography MUST be in the proper format.

Starting Your Research:
For this paper, you will need to use books and/or journal articles. What follows is advice about using journal articles and list of books that will help you get started in your research. PLEASE NOTE THE LIST OF BOOKS ON RESERVE AT THE LIBRARY ON THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE!

Journal Articles:
Use the following database search engines to locate journal articles relevant to your topic (there are others you can use, but this one is most relevant).

America: History and Life

To use the databases, you must be connected to the internet on campus. If you are off campus, you can still connect by going through UMBC’s research port. To do this, go to http://researchport.umd.edu and then follow the links to UMBC and enter the information from your university ID. You can also use a VPN client. Here is a link to the library’s page about connecting to campus either through the research port or VPN client: http://aok.lib.umbc.edu/services/remoteaccess.php

To reach the databases, click here: http://aok.lib.umbc.edu/subjectguides/HISTGEN-SG/index.php

Searching this database (or any other database) will produce a list of journal articles, some of which will contain hyperlinks which you can click to download a PDF of the article. For the non-hyperlinked entries, you will have to check with the library’s serials holding to see if we carry paper copies of the journal at UMBC. To do this, click this link: http://aok.lib.umbc.edu/serials/serialsearch.php which will give you a search engine box where you can enter the name of the journal and check to see if UMBC has it on the shelves and, if so, the run of years we carry.

Use the following list as a starting point for your research for Paper #1. To find additional sources, I suggest looking up the following books and then searching on library shelves for nearby books that may deal with the same topic. I would also advise looking through the footnotes of these books to get references to additional books and articles.

PLEASE BE GOOD ABOUT SHARING THE BOOKS WITH OTHER STUDENTS WORKING ON THE SAME TOPIC. I have included a master list of who is working on what topic along with email addresses.

For an excellent short overview of the Revolutionary War, see James Kriby Martin and Mark Edward Lender, A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic, 1763-1789.

For the militia, see Mark V. Kwansny, Washington's Partisan War; Steven Rosswurm, Arms, Country, and Class; Don Higginbotham, Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman; Michael McDonnell, “The Politics of Mobilization in Revolutionary Virginia: Military Culture and Political and Social Relations, 1774-1783,” Journal of American History 85, no. 3, (1998): 946-981; Michael McDonnell, The Politics of War: Race, Class, and Conflict in Revolutionary Virginia; Paul David Nelson, "Citizen Soldiers or Regulars: The Views of American General Officers on the Military Establishment, 1775-1781," Military Affairs 43, no. 3, (1979): 126-132; Jeffry J. Crow and Larry E. Tise, eds., The Southern Experience in the American Revolution; W. Robert Higgins, ed., The Revolutionary War in the South: Power, Conflict, and Leadership; Robert Gross, The Minutemen and Their World.

For the Continental Army, see Charles Royster, A Revolutionary People at War; Charles Neimeyer, America Goes to War; James Kirby Martin, A Respectable Army; Benjamin Quarrels, The Negro in the American Revolution; Joseph Plumb Martin (edited by James Kirby Martin), Ordinary Courage; Hugh F. Rankin, The North Carolina Continentals; John Resch, Suffering Soldiers (first few chapters); Robert K. Wright, The Continental Army; Ronald Hoffman and Joseph Albert, eds., Arms and Independence; Sidney Kaplan, "Rank and Status Among Massachusetts Continental Officers." American Historical Review, 56 (January 1951), 318-326; Richard H. Kohn, "The Inside History of the Newburgh Conspiracy: America and the Coup d'Etat." William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., 27 (April 1970), pp. 187-220; Don Higginbotham, editor, Reconsiderations on the Revolutionary War: Selected Essays; Edward C. Papenfuse and Gregory A. Stiverson, "General Smallwood's Recruits: The Peacetime Career of the Revolutionary War Private," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., 30 (1973): 117-132.

For American problems during war, see E. Wayne Carp, To Starve the Army at Pleasure; E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse; Richard Buel, In Irons; James Kirby Martin, A Respectable Army; Erna Risch, Supplying Washington's Army; Ronald Hoffman and Joseph Albert, eds., Arms and Independence; Jonathan Gregory Rossie, The Politics of Command in the American Revolution

For the military history of the war, see Ronald Hoffman, ed., Arms and Independence; Don Higgenbotham, War and Society in Revolutionary America and The War of American Independence; Marshall Smelser, The Winning of Independence; Burke Davis, The Campaign that Won America; Jonathan Dull, A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution; Richard Buel, Jr., Dear Liberty; Piers Mackesy, The War for America; Richard Ketchum, The Winter Soldiers; Dave Palmer, The Way of the Fox: American strategy in the War for America; Willard Wallace, Appeal to Arms; James Kirby Martin, A Respectable Army

For British difficulties, see Paul David Nelson, "British Conduct of the American Revolutionary War: A Review of Interpretations," Journal of American History 65, no. 3 (1978): 623-653;R. Arthur Bowler, Logistics and the Failure of the British Army in America; Piers Mackesy, The War for America; James Kirby Martin, A Respectable Army; Paul H. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats: A Study in British Revolutionary Policy; George A. Billias, George Washington's Opponents; Ira D. Gruber, The Howe Brothers and the American Revolution

For the southern strategy see Ronald Hoffman, ed., An Uncivil War: The Southern Backcountry During the American Revolution; Ronald Hoffman, "The 'Disaffected' in the Revolutionary South," in Alfred F. Young, ed., The American Revolution, 273-316; Rachel Klein, Unification of a Slave State: The Rise of the Planter Class in the South Carolina Backcountry; Harry M. Ward, Between the Lines: Banditti of the American Revolution; Jeffry J. Crow and Larry E. Tise, eds., The Southern Experience in the American Revolution; W. Robert Higgins, ed., The Revolutionary War in the South: Power, Conflict, and Leadership. See also books on individual states during the Revolutionary War.

Of the sources that are listed above, the following are one 1-day reserve.

Bowler, Arthur. Logistics and the Failure of the British Army in America. Princeton, NJ. Princeton Univ. 1975.

Carp, E. Wayne. To Starve the Army at Pleasure. Chapel Hill. University of North Carolina. 1984.

Crow, Jeffrey J., Tise, Larry. The Southern Experience in the American Revolution. Chapel Hill, NC. UNC. 1978.

Ferguson, E. James. The power of the purse; a history of American public finance, 1776-1790. Chapel Hill, NC. UNC Press. 1961.

Hoffman, Ronald. An Uncivil war : the southern backcountry during the American Revolution. Charlottesville. Univ. Press of VA. 1985.

Kwasny, Mark V.. Washington's Partisan War, 1775-1783. Kent, OH. The Kent State University Press. 1996.

Martin, James Kirby. A respectable army : the military origins of the Republic, 1763-1789. Arlington Hts, IL. H. Davidson. 1982.

Mayer, Holly A.. Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Communit. Columbia, SC. University of South Carolina Press. 1996.

McDonnell, Michael A.. The politics of war : race, class, and conflict in revolutionary Virginia. Chapel Hill, NC. UNC Press. 2007.

Neimeyer, Charles Patrick. America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army. New York, NY. New York University Press. 1996. (On reserve for HIST 702)

Royster, Charles. A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Arm. Chapel Hill, NC. University of North Carolina Press. 1979.

Seymour, William. The Price of Folly: British Blunders. London, UK. Brassey's. 1995.

Rosswurm, Steven. Arms, Country, and Class, The Philadelphia Militia. New Brunswick. Rutgers University Press. 1987.