What Americans Used To Think of Invaders

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Astonishing, isn’t it, that so many Americans expect other nations to sit back and take it when Our Rulers invade. Those benighted foreigners should thank “our boys” for “liberating” them, jingoists moan, rather than obsess over the friends and relatives said boys slaughtered or the village they destroyed while establishing “democracy.”

But when the shoe was on the other foot, Americans objected — and violently — to invasion. Joseph Plumb Martin fought in the Continental Army during the American Revolution; a few years after one battle, his troop happened to bivouac again near the site. He described a ghastly hike over the field: “…I, with some of my comrades who were in the battle…took a ramble…We saw a number of the graves of those who fell in that battle. Some of the bodies had been so slightly buried that the dogs or hogs, or both, had dug them out of the ground…”

Then they came upon some “Hessian skulls as thick as a bombshell.” “Hessians” were the pitiful German farmers and shopkeepers their princes kidnapped and sold to King George III to fight his taxpayers in America. No matter that these men were as much victims of the imperial government as the colonists they killed: Americans loathed and feared them as invaders. “Poor fellows!” Martin continued. “They were left unburied in a foreign land. …But they should have kept at home; we should then never have gone after them to kill them in their own country.”

Amen. (Read more about the Hessians in my novel, Halestorm, available in paperback or for Kindle, NookiPad, Sony, or your computer.)

2:46 pm on September 30, 2012