"SUSTAINING THE REVOLUTION: CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS, REPUBLICANISM, AND THE CONTINENTAL ARMY'S 1780 MORRISTOWN ENCAMPMENT"

Steven Elliott

Abstract


Established in 2012, the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance (NJSAA) Graduate Student Award recognizes excellence in graduate writing about New Jersey history. It is presented for a paper written by a graduate student that best represents significant research and writing about any aspect of New Jersey history. One of two 2012 awards went to:

Sustaining the Revolution: Civil-Military Relations, Republicanism, and the Continental Army's 1780 Morristown Encampment

By Steven Elliott

Abstract

This paper investigates how the nascent American republic prosecuted the War for Independence. Specifically, it looks at the problem of waging war under a Republican government distrustful of standing armies and incapable of implementing the sophisticated fiscal and bureaucratic structures used by other western military powers during the eighteenth century.  Here, I argue that it was the Continental Army itself that functioned as an arm of wartime national governance by intervening in the civilian sphere. Its authority manifested in various forms, from the intrusive confiscation of civilian property to more benign exhibitions of authority such as parades and social gathering. As a case study, this paper uses the Continental Army's 1779-1780 winter encampment at Morristown, New Jersey. Winter encampments are useful subjects of study since they most vividly and directly exhibit the interaction between military authority and civilian life, and highlight the important role armies played beyond the battlefield. The Morristown encampment provides a particularly useful study as it took place at a time when the stresses of waging a long war were beginning to have serious consequences for both military and civilian leaders. Indeed, thus study will show that the Continental Army's maintenance of positive civilian relations often came at the price of harming relations with the Army's own rank-and-file. Overall, this paper seeks to better our understanding of the intersection between military institutions and governance during the War of Independence, with a particular emphasis on how these relationships impacted the course of the war in New Jersey.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14713/njs.v1i1.17

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