ABC is developing a Rev War counterfactual

The network has a series in the works called The Thirteen, set in an alternate twenty-first century where America lost the war.  It’ll be interesting to see how precise they get about what actually happened differently in their fictional timeline, assuming the show actually goes into production.

This raises the interesting and question of what alternate event or series of events might have resulted in a British victory.  Howe manages to trap Washington in New York?  Burgoyne brushes aside the opposition in ’77 and the French decide America is a bad investment?  Cornwallis subdues the Carolinas and marches into Virginia unopposed?  Quite a few intriguing possibilities.



Filed under American Revolution

3 responses to “ABC is developing a Rev War counterfactual

  1. Howe destroying Washington’s Army would have been very bad for the Americans, but might not have knocked them all the way out. What it would have done is probably prevented the French from releasing the cargo ships that were being readied to send to America. Without those supplies the American victory at Saratoga would not have occurred.

    The Americans had to have French supplies to fight the war. That was the key. No supplies, no Saratoga, no British offer of reconciliation on American terms, no French alliance, no Yorktown. The entire south would have been British for certain. New York would have been British. Forget the Northwest Territory. That would have been Quebec. The middle colonies probably would have remained in British hands as well. That leaves Massachusetts and the New England colonies. Would they have suffered a massive invasion or not?

    Then wonder what would have happened to rebel leaders like Franklin, Washington, both Adams, etc. They hated Franklin with a passion. Would they have executed him and others? All interesting and of course very speculative ideas.

    • Michael Lynch

      It’s interesting how many times the American war effort managed to bounce back from disaster. They lost an entire army when Charleston fell, then had another army shattered a few months later at Camden, and still managed to thwart Cornwallis in the Carolinas.

      • All due to French support. You remove the French support and there were no weapons to replace the ones that were lost. There would have been no gunpowder to fire the balls. De Grasse would not have beaten off Graves and the British from resupplying Cornwallis and pounding the Americans (half the force at Yorktown!) with naval gunfire.

        You can have all the manpower you want. Franklin stated this very thing to the Howes before he left for France. America could replace manpower all day long. The problem was in equipping that manpower with weaponry with which to fight a war. The truth was America did not make its own war material and was very dependent on French support.

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