Lectures by Don N. Hagist

I have several talks that I give on a regular basis that have proven popular with all sorts of audiences, from those with a general interest in history to subject-matter experts. Each of these talks is designed to last about 45 minutes, and is supported by illustrated PowerPoint slides. They can be tailored to meet different needs (shorter or longer, outdoor venue, etc.). Other topics can be developed on request. For details about how to contact me, see the "About me" page.

The British Soldiers who marched to Concord, April 19, 1775
When 700 British soldiers marched out of Boston on the night of April 18-19, 1775, there was no war in progress. Their mission was to destroy military stores stockpiled in Concord, Massachusetts. Who were these soldiers, who had enlisted in a peacetime army only to find themselves at war before the day was over? This talk gives an overview of their ages, places of origin and other attributes, as well as introducing several individuals who were on the march that day.

Demographics of British Regiments in the American Revolution
A personal look at the nationalities, ages, trades, and military experience of British soldiers, presenting generalities as well as individual biographical sketches of actual soldiers. Versions available for the Boston garrison in 1775, the Rhode Island garrison in 1778, the Monmouth campaign in 1778, the Springfield expedition in 1780, and the siege of Yorktown in 1781.

Sober, Industrious Women: Wives of British Soldiers and their Role in the Army
When British regiments were deployed overseas, many soldiers brought their wives and families with them. The women filled vital roles in the military infrastructure, including nurses, sutlers, washer women, and others. This talk explains the rationale for having families accompany the army, the roles they fulfilled, and the challenges they faced.

Sparing the Lash: Corporal Punishment and it's Effect on Soldiers' Careers
The use of corporal punishment, particularly lashing, in the British army is well-known, but rarely is it looked at in the context of the individual soldiers who did, and did not, receive such punishments. This talk presents information from British regimental records to reveal the proportion of men who actually received corporal punishment, and the effect it had on their subsequent careers.

Ravaging the Ranks: The Toll of Illness on Two British Battalions
It is often observed that illness took more lives of soldiers than battle, but seldom are details provided. This talk presents hospital records from two British military organizations to illustrate exactly what illnesses their soldiers suffered, which ones were fatal, the differences made by season and location, and other details.

James Simpson, British Soldier
This talk looks at the life of one British soldier who served in the American Revolution, placing him in context of the overall demographic, with a surprise about the importance of this information.

The Battle of Rhode Island
One of the wars biggest battles was the culmination of a major campaign, the first attempt at military cooperation between the United States and France. And yet, the events are almost forgotten. This talk gives an overview of this important but neglected campaign in 1778.

Newspapers Respond to the Stamp Act
When Great Britain attempted to generate tax revenue from the American colonies, the scale of resistance was dramatic and unexpected. This talk looks at how the Stamp Act crisis was reported in newspapers in America and Great Britain, and the surprising way that the press attempted to provide unbiased coverage of this legal dispute.

Timekeeping and Time Pieces in the British Military
During the American Revolution, the soldiers rose at appointed times, armies marched at appointed times, and complex battle plans depended upon coordinated timing. How did soldiers know what time it was? This talk discusses the ways that the British army kept time and the timepieces that they used.

Cracking the Code: Understanding Regimental Markings on British Muskets
The primary weapons carried by British soldiers during the American Revolution were distinctively marked for identification purposes. It has always been clear that these markings allowed an individual weapon to be identified, but it is possible to trace them to an individual soldier? This talk shows what we know, and what we don't know, about correlating these weapons to the men who carried them.

Book talks

Noble Volunteers: the British Soldiers who fought the American Revolution
Learn why men joined the British army, how they trained, what their lives were like, and what became of them after they left the army. Published in 2020, this book is the first modern study of soldiers' motivations, career paths, and day-to-day activities on campaign and in garrison while on service during the American Revolution.

The Revolution's Last Men: The Soldiers Behind the Photographs
This 2015 book was intended to be a simple revision of an 1864 work featuring photographs and biographies of six Revolutionary War veterans, but it grew into a much more diverse and interesting work. This talk tells how the project evolved from a simple update to a landmark study.

These Distinguished Corps: British Grenadier and Light Infantry Battalions in the American Revolution
In most major battles and campaigns, British grenadiers and light infantry were in the forefront. These elite troops were detached from their regiments and organized into temporary, wartime-only battalions. This is the first detailed study of these organizations that were so critical to the army's tactical success.

British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution
Very few British soldiers who served in America left their own writings. The book presents nine of these rare accounts, along with extensive research to put each man's experience into context. The talk is about the development of the book, showing the diversity of experiences that soldiers had and the diversity of data used to discover and verify their stories.

Wives, Slaves and Servant Girls: Advertisements for Female Runaways in American Newspapers, 1770–1783
In an age when people could be owned or contractually bound to others, but before there were photographs, textual descriptions were used to advertise runaways. These advertisements give remarkably vivid images of people who would otherwise be entirely forgotten. This talk looks at the type of information and insights in this collection of runaway ads from the Revolutionary War era.

A British Soldier's Story: Roger Lamb's Narrative of the American Revolution
Roger Lamb left the most extensive writings of any British soldier who served in the American Revolution. Twice he was taken prisoner, and twice he escaped and returned to his own army. This talk puts his experiences into context, showing the extent to which they were typical of British soldiers in America. Note that this book is currently out of print.

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