Serving in the American Revolution
“The time is now near…” wrote Commander-in-Chief George Washington, which will “…determine whether Americans are to be Freemen or Slaves.” Over the course of the Revolutionary War, as many as 400,000 men from the ages of 16 to 60 fought against the British—about 25,000 gave their lives. Basic training was short, rations inadequate, and pay was poor. Some enlisted out of patriotism, some joined for the adventure, and others were drafted. Length of service varied from a few months to the duration of the war. Leaders like Washington soon discovered that instilling discipline and keeping an army of volunteers on the battlefield and off the wheat field (many soldiers were farmers who returned home during harvests without permission) was no easy feat. Despite all the obstacles, the colonists’ sheer dedication to the revolutionary cause enabled them to defeat the world’s most powerful military in five years.