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American Revolution Qualities of the British and Patriots The British troops were called “redcoats” because of their uniforms. They were disciplined, well trained, and well equipped. One of the major advantages of the British army was that it was one of the most powerful and experienced armies in the world. Compared to the British troops, the Continental Army was inexperienced and poorly equipped. Throughout the war, it struggled to keep its recruits and pay their wages. Although more than 230,000 men served in the Continental Army at various times, it rarely numbered more than 20,000 at any one time. With a professional army of about 42,000 troops at the beginning of the war, British forces greatly outnumbered the Continental army. The British had the strongest Navy in the world and the American colonist had no navy. The army was plagued by shortages. Guns and gunpowder were so scarce that Benjamin Franklin suggested arming the troops with bows and arrows. Food shortages forced soldiers to beg for handouts. Uniforms were scarce as well. In winter, one could track shoeless soldiers by their bloody footprints in the snow. The British forces were well supplied, as well. Unlike the pitifully equipped Continental army, they seldom lacked for food, uniforms, weapons, or ammunition The British and the Patriots had very different fighting styles. The British marched in lines and waited for a command to "Ready, Aim, Fire!" This was the standard way to fight at the time. They fought in traditional European manner. There were rules to war that the British thought everyone should abide by. Many lives were lost that way because reloading their guns took so long. While one side would reload, the other side was taking their shot at the opposition. The Continentals took a different approach to fighting. They knew they had little chance of defeating the mighty British Army by standing in lines and taking turns shooting each other. Instead, the Continentals hid behind trees and used the lay of the land to help them surprise the British. The Redcoats didn't know where the bullets were coming from and didn't know how to defend themselves against the hidden soldiers. The Patriots ambushed British troops and supply wagons, then they disappeared. This kind of fighting is called guerrilla warfare, and it is very difficult to defeat. Commander George Washington was a strength for the Patriots. General Washington was more than an experienced military leader. He was also a man who inspired courage and confidence. In the dark days to come, it was Washington who would keep the ragtag Continental army together. General Thomas Gage was the Commander of the British army in North America

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