When the Fighting Starts

Popular portrayal of French and Indian War combatants

Popular portrayal of French and Indian War combatants

 

When states, nations, governments, insurgencies or revolutionaries are victorious in war, they invariably portray their “war heroes” in the image they want to see in the mirror.

This has always been the case in America, going right back to the very beginning of European colonisation there.

Go online, and try to find any painting or writing depicting the soldiers of the Seven Years War (aka the French and Indian War in the USA).

Then try the Revolutionary War.

Judging by most written accounts and artistic renderings, it would be normal to assume both wars were fought by, well, “white folks” only.

But when governments conscript men for war, the cooks, supply workers, common infantry, etc. are invariably drawn from the underclasses.

In America, the underclasses have always been the groups most likely to include people of non-European or mixed ethnicity, and people of color.

And when conscripts actually were “white”, they too tended to be drawn from the lower social and economic classes.

As the great Steve Earle once put it so succinctly in his song Copperhead Road (about Vietnam and Appalachia) back in 1988:

 

“I volunteered for the army on my birthday,

they draft the white trash first around here, anyway.”

 

I was pondering all of this while sitting at my keyboard at times over the past year, fingers always crossed for the people of Ukraine, but also imagining the hapless soldiers sent by Putin to do his dirty work – “Russian” soldiers from a country which has “absorbed” nearly 200 ethnic groups over the centuries in their own version of Manifest Destiny.

Buryats, Tuvans, and Dagestanis were among the first to be conscripted into service for the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the first of many minority groups drafted from within the Russian Federation.

“In Sakha Republic, there are small communities who live in rural villages. If you need medical treatment, you need to call a helicopter. They would never receive help because they are too far away. But with this mobilisation, the government flew to these villages to get men drafted.”

But back to America.  The document scan below gives a tiny indication of what we find when we read actual historical documents, instead of accepting the populist narrative.

Excerpt from list of deserters from French and Indian War (my highlights)

Excerpt from list of deserters from French and Indian War (my highlights)

 

“King George’s War” was part of what Americans call “The French and Indian Wars”, and what the French call the “Intercolonial Wars”.  It was essentially part of a wider European conflict, the part waged on North American soil from 1740 to 1748 in Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and Nova Scotia.

 

#beforewewerewhite #frenchandindianwar #whitetrash #cannonfodder

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