• No Contemptible Commander: Sir William Howe and the American War of Independence, 1775-1777

      McLay, Keith A. J.; Gaunt, Peter; Smith, David (University of Chester, 2013-10)
      This thesis examines the period in command of British land forces during the American War of Independence of Sir William Howe. The previously untapped resource of a draft of Howe’s famous narrative to the House of Commons underpins the original contribution made by this thesis, which also draws original conclusions from more familiar documents. Howe’s command is considered in the light of four major factors: his relationship with subordinate officers; the composition and quality of his army; his relationship with the American Secretary, Lord George Germain; and his personal qualities and experience. These four factors are then combined to consider key tactical and strategic decisions made by Howe while in command of the British army in North America. No attempt has been made to examine every decision or event during Howe’s period in command. Rather, those most contentious and controversial events, and those that can be reconsidered using new evidence and new interpretations of existing evidence, have been focussed on. This thesis does not (nor was it intended to) systematically counter the prevailing opinions of Howe set down over more than two centuries of historical works. However, it can be seen that Howe had more reasonable grounds for some of his most contentious decisions than has previously been argued and his overall strategy for 1776 was more coherent than he is generally given credit for.