All Canada in the Hands of the British
General Jeffrey Amherst and the 1760 Campaign to Conquer New France
Douglas R. Cubbison
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 2014, 283 pages
Book Review published on: January 16, 2017
Douglas Cubbison’s exploration of Gen. Jeffrey Amherst recognizes an important fact—that most successful British Army officers seamlessly transitioned from leadership on conventional battlefields to leadership of population-centric style counterinsurgencies. Too often those two activities are posed as antithetical, but All Canada in the Hands of the British illustrates campaigns marked by successful command and control and a population-centered strategy. He argues that Amherst’s use of three columns placed his force in the best position to defeat the French Army and to control the population.
Much of Cubbison’s text focuses on the campaign of Amherst subordinate James Murray. Murray excellently secured the French population: “Murray’s progress was slow and deliberate, as he landed strong detachments ashore at every parish (or township), swore the inhabitants to neutrality, and disarmed the Canadian militia, on which the French depended for resistance.” Long before great military thinkers and strategists codified military treatises, Cubbison reveals officers who excelled at nested modes of warfare—traditional combat and nonviolent activities.
What is most impressive, however, is Cubbison’s integration of illness and disease into the exploration of a well-led military campaign. While it is not a major theme in the book, Cubbison’s attention to illness and fatigue is impressive. Scholars like Jared Diamond and Alfred Crosby have made military commanders look like nonfactors, who luckily gained victory solely because of disease, while Cubbison joins authors such as Elizabeth Fenn and John McNeil, who place a higher emphasis on how commanders managed disease. The merger of meticulous campaign analyses written with a mind for operational language, extensive primary source research, and a substantive argument that should influence Seven Years War historiography places Cubbison in a class by himself and makes his book a must read for military professionals. It portrays eighteenth century leaders whose capability as leaders should still impress today’s Army.
Book Review written by: Joseph Miller, Orono, Maine