by Gabriele Esposito
Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2018. Pp. xii, 180.
Illus., maps, appends., biblio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 9781526725219
America’s First Soldiers
Esposito, an Italian military historian and uniform specialist, gives us a very nicely illustrated, excellent short look at the military history of earliest European settlements in North America, not only English and French colonies, but also the usually neglected Dutch and Swedish, and takes in the Native American side as well.
Esposito covers the initial settlements made by each country, some of which did not survive, and goes on to look at how, in about 25 years beginning in about 1605, the French were established at Nova Scotia and Quebec, the English in Virginia and Massachusetts, the Dutch in what is now New York and some adjacent regions, and the Swedes on the Delaware. He then looks at the expansion of the various settlements, which prompted conflicts between them and their sponsoring colonial powers as well as with Native Americans. In doing so, he demonstrates the frequent interconnections between European great power conflicts and developments in North America.
While the book is primarily organized chronologically, with military developments embedded in the unfolding accounts of the various conflicts, Esposito managed to cover trends in military organization, tactics, equipment, and the like quite well.
For so relatively short a work, Esposito also manages to include often insightful accounts of important figures – Wilhelm Kieft, Peter Stuyvesant, Nathaniel Bacon, King Philip, Samuel de Champlain, Benjamin Church, and more – most now largely forgotten, while examining a number of important campaigns and battles that helped shape the continent by the dawn of the eighteenth century.
Although in need of a better index, Armies of Early Colonial North America is a good overview of warfare in the early colonial era, particularly for those unfamiliar with the period.
Note: Armies of Early Colonial North America is also available in several e-editions