Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

2023 Harry M. Ward Book Award Winner!

The winner of the Harry M. Ward Book Award for 2023 is Steven Elliott for Surviving the Winters: Housing Washington's Army During the Revolution.

This is the first full-scale study of the role the Continental Army’s winter encampments played in the waging and eventual winning of the War for Independence. That role was critical. As Elliott explains, the patriot army spent relatively few days in actual combat, and the war’s “off-season,” especially the long winter months, presented other challenges—many of them as formidable as the British army. Camp sicknesses, cold, hunger, and difficult terrain were often deadly and debilitating threats as well. Thus camp construction and management were critical to the army’s ability to sustain itself through the winters and to emerge combat-ready in the spring. Elliott looks in depth at the Continental winter encampments at Morristown, Valley Forge, Middlebrook, West Point, and New Windsor, examining how the army gradually mastered issues of camp hygiene, environmental difficulties, and logistical challenges. He shows as well how camp locations close to Philadelphia and New York allowed Washington to keep an eye on British activity without risking major engagements, “thus neutralizing a numerically superior opponent while husbanding his own strength.” Surviving the Winters is a novel approach to an often overlooked but critically important subject.

There were two honorable mentions:
Friederike Baer, Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War (Oxford University Press)

Christian M. McBurney, Dark Voyage: An American Privateer's War on Britain's Slave Trade (Westholme Press)

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