Think being a soldier during the Revolutionary War was an exciting life? Think again. More often than not, soldiers’ lives were lonely, dangerous, and hard. Especially if you were a redcoat.
- During the American Revolution, American soldiers (patriots) were not professional soldiers. Most were farmers or tradesmen. They fought in the war because they believed in the cause. They were paid to fight, but payment was slow in coming, and couldn’t be a primary motivation.
- British soldiers (the redcoats) were professional soldiers. Most of them had joined the army because they needed work. Some of them believed in their cause, but most didn’t really care.
- They were called redcoats because of their red uniforms. They looked nice, but the uniforms were very uncomfortable. The jackets were made of wool. They were itchy and hot. The white pants had to be put on while they were wet because they were so tight.
- The soldiers had to pass inspection each day. The soldiers braided their hair and powdered it with white flour. The end of the braid was dipped in animal grease. Yuck!
- Shoes were polished, as well as buttons and buckles. Any soldier with a dirty uniform was whipped.
- The redcoats were paid about two cents a day. To supplement their income they worked for farmers and storeowners.
- They were unaccustomed to the rugged American frontier with its dark forests, cold climate, and hostile Indians.
- The colonists hated them. They called them “Lobster backs” because of their red coats, taunted them, and sometimes threw things at them.
- Sometimes the soldiers brought their families with them. Their wives cooked, cleaned, and nursed the wounded. Their children often witnessed bloody battles. Most soldiers left their families behind in England.
Patriot: Colonial soldier
Redcoat: British soldier
Questions and Answers
Question: Why did the soldiers stay if life in the army was so bad?
Answer: Soldiers who left the army, or deserted, were executed if they were caught. In this situation, the soldier might stand in front of a coffin while a firing squad shot at him.
Fear of punishment was a good reason to stay. Just the same, some escaped and joined the American army, even helping train the men. The American army said it had better pay, better food, and better conditions.
Watch a video about how the American army tried to convince British soldiers to come to its side.
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Declan, Tobin. " Redcoat Facts during the Revolutionary War ." American History for Kids, Nov 2020. Web. 30 Nov 2020. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/being-a-redcoat/ >.
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Tobin, Declan. (2020). Redcoat Facts during the Revolutionary War. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/being-a-redcoat/