Contingency and Chance in Scottishrnand American Historyrnby Jeremy BlackrnWhy did the Americans win and the Jacobites lose? Thernclassic answer is that the Americans represented thernfuture, a future of liberty, freedom, secularism, and individualism.rnThe Jacobites were the past, reactionary and religious, thernproducts of a hierarchical society motivated by outdated dynasticrnloyalty. This difference was supposedly reflected in theirrnmilitary methods, in a way that explained their respectivernsuccess and failure. Thus the mass charge of the Scottish Highlandersrnwas seen as anachronistic, bound to fail before therndisciplined firepower of British infantry, while, conversely, thernindividually aimed shooting by American riflemen was seen asrnsuperior to the mindless, mechanistic methods of disciplinedrnBritish and Hessian soldiers. This contrast reflects potent nationalrnmyths, but it is flawed. It expresses an arrogant hostilityrnto the Jacobites, and particularly the Scottish Highlanders, thatrnis misleading. The analysis also adopts an inaccurate teleologicalrnreading of the American War of Independence.rnA short article is not the place to offer a rewriting of two wars,rnbut several comparative points are worth underlining. First, thern18th-century British state controlled a formidable war machine,rnarguably the strongest in the world at that point, andrnJacobite failure is no more discreditable or evidence of anachronismrnthan is George Washington’s inability to regain New York.rnBritain controlled the largest navy in the world, had the bestrnsystem of public finance, was the strongest commercial power,rnand had recent experience of successful transoceanic operations.rnSecondly, Britain had a good record in defeating internalrninsurrections and winning civil wars. Aside from defeating thernJacobite risings in 1715-16 and 1745-46, the British state hadrnalso crushed Monmouth’s rising in 1685 and Irish opposition inrn1690-91, and was to smash the Irish rising of 1798.rnThe American Revolution, therefore, was the only successfulrnrising within the 18th-century British world. This was notrnthanks to French participation alone, for the French intervenedrnto assist Scottish and Irish rebels without bringing victory to eijeremyrnBlack is a professor of history at the University ofrnDurham, England.rnther. Nor was the factor of distance necessarily crucial. ThernBritish had managed to conquer Canada in 1758-60 and werernable to act effectively in India, which was then far more distant.rnIndeed the factor of distance helped the British in one importantrnrespect. However unsuccessful they might be in NorthrnAmerica, there was no danger of the Americans seizing Londonrnas the Jacobites threatened to do in December 1745. Thanks tornBritish naval strength, the American threat could be contained,rnas it was again to be in the War of 1812. The American privateersrnwere irritants, but no more. The flow of British suppliesrnand soldiers to North America was not cut.rnThe Continental Navy was a failure. Thus, when the ice onrnthe St. Lawrence broke in early 1776, the British were able tornrelieve Quebec without hindrance, and in 1778, when Clintonrnwithdrew from Philadelphia, he was able to sail to New Yorkrnfrom the New Jersey shore after the battle of MonmouthrnCourthouse. Indeed, the inability of the Americans, the Jacobites,rnand the Indian opponents of Britain to mount an effectivernnaval challenge was crucial to Britain’s power and helps tornexplain the importance of French intervention.rnIn America, Britain’s opponents could trade space for time,rncrucially so in the middle colonies from 1778 and in the Southrnfrom 1780. The Jacobites and the Irish lacked that space for retreatrnand maneuver. America was also a more prosperous andrnpopulous society, better able to support the strain of protractedrnconflict than the often harsh terrain of Ireland and Scotland.rnYet, it is clear that victory for the Americans was no more inevitablernthan it was for the royal army in 1745-46. The heavyrncasualties that the Americans suffered were a testimony to thernseverity of the conflict. Although American deaths in battlernamounted to about 6,000, the number of probable deaths inrnservice was over 35,000, as a result of casualties in camp andrnamong prisoners. This was 0.9 percent of the population inrn1780, compared to near 1.6 percent for the Civil War, 0.12 forrnWorid War I, and 0.28 for Worid War II.rnThese heavy casualties reflected the fact that there were twornstages to the War of Independence. Driving the British out inrn1775-76 proved relatively easy, not least because the Britishrn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn