The American Revolution’s Starving, Barefoot, Heroic Troops

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tags: military history, Revolutionary War

Memorial Day is a day to remember and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice given by men and women who have served in our armed forces. Far and away, the Civil War was the deadliest conflict in American history. After that is World War II.

Way down the list is the American Revolutionary War, with “only” 4,435 battle deaths, according to Veterans Affairs. Though few in number, these soldiers bore a unique sacrifice — for, unlike other soldiers throughout our history, these heroes had to fight off the would-be British conquerors without sufficient support from their own government.

On an absolute scale, the American Revolution was a relatively modest affair. However, judged in light of the tiny American economy of 1776–83, it was an enormous undertaking. As a percentage of GDP, the Revolutionary War cost the United States about as much as World War I did (and remember that, before the absolutely massive conflict of World War II, World War I was known as “the Great War”).

For such large-scale conflicts, financing usually comes through issuing public debt. It is just too much to pay via taxation on the citizenry. And indeed, if you look through the government propaganda of World Wars I and II, you will see a relentless emphasis on purchasing war bonds. The problem for America in the 1770s and 1780s was that debt financing was largely unavailable. Domestic wealth was tied up in land, which cannot be quickly turned into cash. And while foreign governments did loan some money to us, none of them lent enough to finance the entire conflict.

Read entire article at National Review

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