Dr Richard Hall, CRAM member and lecturer in the Department of History at Swansea University, recently published his first book, Atlantic Politics, Military Strategy and the French and Indian War, with Palgrave. Dr Hall agreed to answer a few questions for the CRAM blog.
How did you become interested in this topic?
I had a passion for the French and Indian War stretching back to my school days and this continued through my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Having had something of a hiatus between my MA and PhD (when I was a primary school teacher), I returned to academia with an idea for a thesis that explored a gap I had found in the historiography of British military defeat during the preliminary stages of the French and Indian War. This I carried through with the guidance of my supervisor, Steve Sarson and, eventually, I managed to get the then completed thesis published (with help from Steve, Leighton James and others) as a monograph with Palgrave Macmillan.
What was the most rewarding aspect of the research?
Finding a different historiographical angle with which to approach a well-studied area of early American history. This period also introduced me to a range of works that provided considerable motivation for my own project and indeed those I plan to undertake in the future.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently undertaking preliminary research into the clash of military cultures in North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, building upon an expanding area of early American historiography. I am also exploring the possibilities of a collaborative project concerning fear and soldiers/warfare in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
‘1755 marked the point at which events in America ceased to be considered subsidiary affairs in the great international rivalry that existed between the colonial powers of Great Britain and France. This book examines the Braddock Campaign of 1755, a segment of the wider ‘Braddock Plan’ that aimed to drive the French from all of the contested regions they occupied in North America. Rather than being an archetypal military history-styled analysis of General Edward Braddock’s foray into the Ohio Valley, this work will argue that British defeat at the infamous Battle of the Monongahela should be viewed as one that ultimately embodied military, political and diplomatic divergences and weaknesses within the British Atlantic World of the eighteenth century. These factors, in turn, hinted at growing schisms in the empire that would lead to the breakup of British North America in the 1770s and the birth of the future United States. Such an interpretation moves away from the conclusion so often advanced that Braddock’s Defeat was a distinctly, and principally ‘British’, martial catastrophe; hence allowing the outcome of this pivotal event in American history to be understood in a different vein than has hitherto been apparent.’