War, Demobilization and Memory: The Legacy of War in the Era of Atlantic Revolutions


Recent historiography emphasizes the importance of the transatlantic dimension in the history of the period from 1775 to 1830. Rather than constituting a barrier, the Atlantic was a highway for exchange not only of peoples and commodities, but also of ideas and of political and cultural practices. Improving literacy and the spread of the printed word meant that the public in both Europe and the Americas was made aware of events from across the ocean. This was most clearly seen in the American and French Revolutions and in the Wars of Liberation in Spanish America. To date, however, this transatlantic perspective has yet to be applied to the legacy of war in this age of revolution.

Such considerations justify the parameters of the present project: in chronological and geographical terms, they are set broadly; thematically, however, the focus is tightly on the challenge which both Europeans and Americans eventually confronted, namely the need to make the transition from armed conflict to peace. This transition, which post-war societies on both sides of the Atlantic needed to make, has rarely been studied beyond the local and national framework. The scale of the challenge confronting post-war societies was unprecedented, not least because of the vast scale of the conflicts that had ended. States and societies were ill-prepared to deal with the consequences of a style of warfare that was arguably now ‘total’. One obvious consequence was the need to demobilize armies and navies, and re-integrate large numbers of ordinary combatants into civilian life. Beyond this, they had to deal with the economic consequences of warfare: the destruction of towns and villages, of fields and forests. Especially painful was the re-adjustment of the Atlantic economy following the dismantling of blockades and counter-blockades, the collapse of mercantilism and the abolition of the slave trade by several of the leading slaving nations. It was in this unpropitious context that communities and families needed to accommodate unprecedented numbers of physically and psychologically scarred veterans. Similar processes took place in the cultural sphere, which had been militarized during wartime through the celebration of heroism and martial virtues. Culture and the arts, which had been widely used as an instrument of war mobilization, had to adapt to an environment in which large-scale armed conflict was at an end and where bellicose rhetoric was no longer useful. This cultural aspect of demobilization cannot be detached from the political and social. Rather, it had an integral role to play, as culture influenced narratives and memories, which were themselves contested by groups struggling to find a more advantageous social and political position in the new post-war order.

The volume brings together an international team of scholars whose research offers the basis for a comparative exploration of how the peoples of the Atlantic World confronted the challenge of peace. In so doing, it not only sheds light on an aspect of this period that has been characterized by relative neglect; it also offers the potential for further comparison between demobilization in this age, and similar demobilizations following later ‘total wars’.



Part I.   Rethinking Postwar: The Legacy of War in in the Era of Atlantic Revolutions

1.      Alan Forrest, Karen Hagemann and Michael Rowe
Introduction: Rethinking War, Demobilization and Memory

2.      David Bell
The Birth of Militarism in the West, 1789–1815

Part II.   Demobilizing Armies: The Military and Cultural Legacy of War

3.      Christine Haynes
Making Peace: The Allied Occupation of France, 1815–1818

4.      Leighton S. James
The Experience of Demobilization: War Veterans in the Central European Armies and Societies after 1815

 5.     Janet Hartley
War, Economy and Utopianism: Russia after the Napoleonic Era

6.      Rafe Blaufarb
Arms for Revolutions: Military Demobilization after the Napoleonic Wars and Latin American Independence

Part III.   The Aftermath of War in Politics and Political Culture

7.      John R. Maass
North Carolina and the New Nation: Reconstruction and Reconciliation Efforts in the 1780s

8.      Michael Rowe
The Issue of Citizenship: Jews, Germans and the Contested Legacy of the Napoleonic Wars

9.      John A. Davis
The Costs of War: The Impact of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in Italian Postwar Politics

10.      John Bew
The Challenges of Peace: The High Politics of Post-war Reconstruction in Britain, 1815–1831

11.      Catherine Davies
The Gender Order of Postwar Politics: Comparing Spanish South America and Spain, 1810s–1850s

Part IV.   Restoring Postwar Economies and Reordering Societies

12.      David Todd
Remembering and Restoring the Economic Ancien Régime: France and its Colonies, 1815–1830

13.      Katherine B. Aaslestad
Postwar Cities: The Cost of the Wars of 1813–1815 on Society in Hamburg and Leipzig

 14.     Sarah Chambers
Rewarding Loyalty after the Wars of Independence in Spanish America: Displaced Bureaucrats in Cuba

15.      Cassandra Pybus and Kit Candlin
Enterprising Women and War Profiteers: Race, Gender and Power in the Revolutionary Caribbean

Part V.   Postwar Cultures and Contested War Memories

16.      Gregory T. Knouff
Seductive Sedition: New Hampshire Loyalists’ Experiences and Memories of the American Revolutionary Wars

17.      Alexander M. Martin
Moscow after Napoleon: Reconciliation, Rebuilding, and Contested Memories

18.      Andrew Lambert
Creating Cultural Difference: The Military, Political and Cultural Legacy of the Anglo-American War of 1812–1815

19.      Matthew Brown
Creating National Heroes: Simón Bolívar and the Memories of the Spanish American Wars of Independence

20.      Karen Hagemann
Celebration, Contestation and Commemoration: The Battle of Leipzig in German Memories of the Antinapoleonic Wars of 1813–1815

21.      Alan Forrest
Contrasting Memories: Remembering Waterloo in France and Britain


 22.     Lloyd Kramer
The Transatlantic History of the Era of Democratic Revolutions in the Perspective of Post-colonial Studies

Selected Bibliography

Mark Hay
Bibliography: The Legacy of War in in the Era of Atlantic Revolutions