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Fire and Desolation
The Revolutionary War's 1778 Campaign as Waged from Quebec and Niagara Against the American Frontiers
By (author): Gavin K. Watt
9781459738584 Paperback, Trade English General Trade HISTORY / Canada / Pre-Confederation Canada Jun 10, 2017
$28.99 CAD
Active 6 x 9 x 1 in 400 pages 31 B&W illustrations, 8 Maps, Index, notes, Bibliography Dundurn
Following a disastrous campaign in 1777, the alliance between the Six Nations and the British Crown became seriously strained. Relations were made even more difficult by the hands-off stance of Quebec’s governor, General Guy Carleton, which led to the Native leaders developing their own strategies and employing traditional tactics, leading to a ferocious series of attacks on the frontiers of Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania, supported by Loyalist and Regular troops. Among these were two infamous actions, referred to as “massacres” by American historians — attacks on the Wyoming and Cherry Valleys. This destructive campaign prompted the Continental Congress to mount three major retributive expeditions against the territories of the Six Nations and their allies the following year.

In Fire and Desolation, Gavin Watt details individual historical conflicts, illustrates the crushing tactical expertise of the Senecas and their Loyalist allies, and provides a fresh perspective on Canada’s involvement in the American Revolution and the unfolding events of 1778.

  • A fresh perspective on Canada's involvement in the American Revolution
  • Examines the clash of British and First Nations diplomacy
  • Discusses France's entry into the war and how it threatened the security of Canada
  • Details individual historical conflicts and illustrates the crushing tactical expertise of the Senecas and their American loyalist allies
  • Reveals the tensions of the intense civil war among American frontier settlers and the acute dangers of misidentification
  • Author is a military historian who has written eleven books on Canada's loyalist military campaigns

Gavin K. Watt is the author of eleven books about loyalist military history, including Burning of the Valleys and Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley. He lives in King City, Ontario.

In 1845 Jeptha Simms published the heretofore definitive history of the “border wars” that raged across upstate New York in 1778 during the American War for Independence. He based his book on endless discussions with the surviving veterans and their families—hearing directly the last voices of that vicious civil war. Now renowned Canadian historian, Gavin K. Watt, gives us the new definitive history for our era: Building upon Simms’s pioneering interviews from 175 years ago, but also interrogating and integrating those oral histories with a vast array of military correspondence and bureaucratic records from archives that were essentially unavailable in Simms’s day. No one has told this “missing chapter” of the War for American Independence so vividly or so well. A splendid read. In Watt’s lively telling, the “forgotten year” of the Revolution in New York becomes a compulsive, all-night page-turner. - Nicholas Westbrook, Director Emeritus, Fort Ticonderoga

Examined in light of modern principles of coalition warfare and low intensity conflict, Mr. Watt’s superb examination of British and First Nations diplomacy and military operations in the critical year of 1778 will interest any military historian. But it is also an essential background for any study of relations between the Crown and First Nations, in a campaign where Native allies were truly partners essential to the preservation of Canada. Watt’s appreciation of the role of First Nations, of women, of marginalized loyalists and even of the internecine politics inside the British, Rebel, and First Nations war efforts is an outstanding contribution to Canadian history and the history of the American Revolution. - Christian Cameron, historical novelist

Now renowned Canadian historian, Gavin K. Watt, gives us the new definitive history for our era: Building upon Simms’s pioneering interviews from 175 years ago, but also interrogating and integrating those oral histories with a vast array of military correspondence and bureaucratic records from archives that were essentially unavailable in Simms’s day. No one has told this “missing chapter” of the War for American Independence so vividly or so well. A splendid read. In Watt’s lively telling, the “forgotten year” of the Revolution in New York becomes a compulsive, all-night page-turner. - Nicholas Westbrook, Director Emeritus, Fort Ticonderoga

A perfect snapshot of the complicated human dynamics that steered the course of the Revolution. - Journal of the American Revoluton

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