American History


that wracked Europe after the Reformation saw armies casually slaughter noncombatants and fanatics assassinate kings and commanders of the wrong religion. By the mid-17th century, however, a wearier—and perhaps wiser—continent began to professionalize its warrior class and regulate conflict. These reforms carried over to fighting in the New World, at least when the combatants were white. Captors treated officers held prisoner with courtesy; grunts, not so much. Even in battle, armies thought it rude to target enemy officers. On the eve of an action at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania, in September 1777, Major Patrick Ferguson of the British army observed two American officers, one in a large cocked hat, reconnoitering ahead of their front line. Ferguson, a crack shot,

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