The remarkable untold story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military assistance provided by France and Spain, and places the Revolution in the context of the global strategic interests of those nations in their fight against England. In this groundbreaking, revisionist history, Larrie Ferreiro shows that at the time the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord the colonists had little chance, if any, of militarily defeating the British. The nascent American nation had no navy, little in the way of artillery, and a militia bereft even of gunpowder. In his detailed accounts Ferreiro shows that without the extensive military and financial support of the French and Spanish, the American cause would never have succeeded. France and Spain provided close to the equivalent of $30 billion and 90 percent of all guns used by the Americans, and they sent soldiers and sailors by the thousands to fight and die alongside the Americans, as well as around the world. Ferreiro adds to the historical records the names of French and Spanish diplomats, merchants, soldiers, and sailors whose contribution is at last given recognition. Instead of viewing the American Revolution in isolation, Brothers at Arms reveals the birth of the American nation as the centerpiece of an international coalition fighting against a common enemy.
The American Revolutionary War was anything but a lonely struggle, as it is widely believed. In fact, the fight for independence was multi-faced, fought on many fronts, and almost of global proportions.
In an interview with Readara, historian and author Larrie D. Ferreiro pierces the popular myth and explains the global magnitude of those turbulent eight years of international coalition. Ferreiro’s authoritative account is based on original research conducted using personal papers and official documents in several languages.
At the end of the Seven Years’ War, France and Spain were ready to take revenge on Great Britain, which was expected to easily crush the rising rebellion in the American colonies. France was eager to help the recently proclaimed United States and ready to shift the balance of power in its favor in Europe, and so was Spain.
Ferreiro details with meticulous precision the vast sums of money in loans (between five and ten billion dollars in today’s currency) and ammunition made available by King Louise XVI, the endless drive of the Prussian Baron von Steuben to professionalize the continental army, as well as the Dutch merchants’ efforts in providing high-quality gunpowder to the revolutionary forces.
Larrie D. Ferreiro is a naval architect and historian. He trained and worked as a naval architect in the U.S., British, and French navies and the U.S. Coast Guard, and has served as technical expert for the International Maritime Organization. He has a Ph.D. in the History of Science and Technology from Imperial College, London.
Ferreiro teaches history and engineering at George Mason University in Virginia and the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. He is the author of Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition That Reshaped Our World and Ships and Science: The Birth of Naval Architecture in the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1800. He lives with his wife and their sons in Virginia.
“Remarkable. . . . Brothers at Arms is one of the most important books on the American Revolution published in this decade.”
[I]n his wide-ranging study . . . [Ferreiro] draws attention to people and events that George Washington and the other eminent founders routinely overshadow. The result is a familiar story told from a new vantage point. Revisionist in the best sense, Mr. Ferreiro’s book deftly locates the war within the rivalrous 18th-century Atlantic world. . . . . Impressive.”
“Engaging and informative, Ferreiro’s Brothers at Arms refutes the widely-held view that the Marquis de Lafayette alone represented France until Vicomte de Rochambeau and Admiral de Grasse sealed the fate of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. . . . Ferreiro is a skillful storyteller. His experience in the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Department of Defense, and as an exchange engineer in the French Navy, is on display in his descriptions of battles on land and at sea. Brothers at Arms is filled with telling—and titillating—details. . . . In the end, however, the enduring importance of Brothers at Arms is Ferreiro’s accurate (and perhaps humbling) reminder that when Brig. Gen. O’Hara, representing Cornwallis, emerged at Yorktown to surrender, and turned toward Rochambeau, he was acknowledging that the victory was as much France’s as it was America’s. And when Rochambeau wordlessly pointed him across the lane toward Washington, he was ‘well aware to whom belonged the moment.’ After all, as Ferreiro concludes, ‘the American nation was born as the centerpiece of an international coalition.’”