HIST 2040 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Guerrilla Warfare, Maxim Gun, Walled Villages Of Hong Kong

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10 Aug 2016
Modern Warfare October 8th, 2015
Imperial Wars: From the Seven Years War to the First World War – page 94-
Imperialism has proved a subject of significant historical controversy
From its earliest period, imperial warfare was considered a hazardous and difficult enterprise
Although in the Americas Europeans advanced inland almost from the beginning, their
conquest was facilitated as much, if not more, by an avant-garde of disease as by military
superiority per se, and even then, Amerindian hostility meant that frontier outposts like
Montreal maintained a precarious existence
In the East and in Africa, Europeans remained sea-bound, clutching a tenuous lifeline to the
homeland, content to export spices, gold, and slaves from coastal ‘factories’
3 things caused this change over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries political instability
in Africa and Asia, European rivalries played out in the wider world, and officers and officials
driven by patriotism and personal ambition, eager to claim vast stretches of territory for the
While these challenges remained difficult, over time European soldiers mastered them to the
point that imperial conquest came to be regarded as hardly more than a technical problem to
be solved
As in all warfare, European expansion had kindled a competition between European and
indigenous forces, a process in which each attempted to respond to the challenges of new
foes and conditions, a competition which, over the course of the 19th century, the Europeans
clearly won
At home, indifference, even hostility, formed a first constraint on imperial expansion, for the
benefits of distant conquests were not altogether apparent to Europeans
As a Continental power, France could never muster sustained interest in its Empire after the
death of Colbert, a principal reason why it forfeited its ‘old’ Empire to England in the Seven
Years War
This popular indifference, which might easily slip over into opposition, imposed several
constraints on imperial expansion, the most obvious being that governments were reluctant to
commit to expensive imperial expeditions
To restrain costs and the requirement to draw extensively on European garrisons, the French
and British recruited large numbers of indigenous forces, a tradition which persisted to the
end of the imperial era
The traditional British aversion to a large standing army extended to the colonies where, in
the 18th century, loyal Americans and Hessian mercenaries supplemented British regiments
in North America, while India was maintained largely by sepoys in the pay of the East India
In the 19th century, imperial expansion was the province principally, although not exclusively,
of the Indian Army, formed in the aftermath of the 1857 Mutiny, to which in times of crisis, like
the Boer War of 1899-1902, were joined colonial volunteers
German colonies were maintained by what was hardly more than a police force; Russians
and Americans, dealing basically with continental expansion, relied on their regular armies as
instruments of conquest
A second constraint placed on imperial conquest was that the Europeans could not always
press what should have been their strong suit technology
Until the mid 19th-century, Europeans, seldom more advantaged in this area than had been
Cortes, were often only equal, even disadvantaged, against an indigenous enemy able in the
East to produce his own muskets and artillery
The British had no qualitative technological advantage over their French or American
opponents in North America in the 18th century
The situation began to change in the 1806s as European organizational ability, combined
with technology, began to give the imperial invaders an edge however, the change was not
a sudden one, and indeed, organization and technology often cut both ways
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