School of Arts and Humanities
 

Document Type

Student Paper

Program Name

Military History

Publication Date

2014

Abstract

This study is a micro-history of the American War of Independence based on the experiences of Charles Hulett, who entered the war as a sixteen-year-old New Jersey militiaman. The study examines the political, social, and military milieu of colonial and revolutionary New Jersey, including the province’s demographics and religious denomination affiliations, which influenced the choices made by the residents to either support the British Crown or the Whig rebellion. The study traces Hulett’s career through the war as he experienced life as a militiaman in colonial New Jersey, a member of revolutionary New Jersey’s state troops, a conscripted drummer in the American Continental Army, and a British provincial soldier in the New Jersey Volunteers. The study demonstrates that in order to develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the Revolutionary War period, one must understand the impact of the war upon the life and choices of an ordinary American soldier. It differs from other micro-studies by highlighting that an individual’s choice between the Whig concept of liberty and loyalty to the British Crown often turned on pragmatic concerns and emotional ties, rather than upon lofty ideals. For Hulett, the choice to enlist with the Loyalist New Jersey Volunteers in 1780 followed compulsory service with the Continental Army as a nine-month draftee. His actions illustrate that in some cases, Americans made decisions based on the will to survive a long and brutal civil war, not on the resolution to pursue ideological goals.

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