ARMED FORCE IN COLONIAL NORTH AMERICA: NEW SPAIN, NEW FRANCE, AND ANGLO-AMERICA [Professor John Shy, Department of History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America]
Military history continues to struggle to make its way within the historical discipline. Professional historians of course find it impossible to ignore the fact or the importance of war, but they are quite able to ignore the military sector of human existence whenever it does not impinge directly on matters of immediate concern, and even when they deal with military questions they give much less attention to the technicalities of the subject than they would, say, to the technical aspects of economic growth, theological disputes, or democratic elections. There continues to be a problem: war is an unpleasant subject, and military affairs do not seem very attractive to just those who make history their profession. And yet they have devoted themselves to the close study of rebellion and revolution, and are now scrutinizing the history of crime and punishment, subjects with perhaps as little intrinsic appeal as armies, navies, and war. The problem obviously goes deep, and I cannot pretend to understand it fully.
But one part of the problem seems clear enough, and remediable, because it lies within the zone in which military history is practiced. Most published military history simply does not "connect" with general history, and few military historians make any effort to do so. Too often military historians confine their research to military records, and their search for explanation to military factors, as if the outcome of battle or the life of an army was wholly self-contained, unre- lated to environment. The fallacy is too apparent to deserve argument. But the continuing reluctance of so many military historians to bring their work into effective touch with the modern ideal -- shared by Marxists and non-Marxists alike -- of holistic history, all pieces complexly related to one another and affect- ing one another, is surprising. What we get instead from too many military histo- rians, aware as they are of the lack of respect among other historians for our spe- cialty, is programmatic pleas for the importance of our subject, cries for new approaches and syntheses that will incorporate the military dimension, but very little actual, substantive work that meets this high standard. Work that effec- tively integrates military and non-military sectors of life is usually done by scholars who would reject the label "military historian". What our apathetic and skeptical colleagues need is not programs and preaching, but performance; and it is with this need in mind that I have undertaken the task of this essay: to examine the projection of armed force by European states across the North Atlantic be- fore the technological revolution of the nineteenth century transformed the very nature of both armed force and its projection over long distance. 1
Superficially the historical projection of military power by England, France, and Spain into North America appears similar. At first, very small in- crements of armed force, operating beyond effective control of these European