Under Alien Skies

Environment, Suffering, and the Defeat of the British Military in Revolutionary America

By Vaughn Scribner

Under Alien Skies

Approx. 256 pp., 6.125 x 9.125, 9 halftones, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8077-4
    Published: December 2024
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-8076-7
    Published: December 2024

Paperback Available December 2024, but pre-order your copy today!

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The Revolutionary War is often celebrated as marking the birth of American republicanism, liberty, and representative democracy. Yet for the tens of thousands of British and Hessian troops sent 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to wage war under alien skies, such a progressive picture, as Vaughn Scribner reveals, could not have been further from the truth. In Under Alien Skies , Scribner illustrates how foreign soldiers' negative perceptions of the American environment merged with harsh wartime realities to elicit considerable physical, mental, and emotional anguish.

Whether trudging through alligator-infested swamps, nursing a comrade back to health in a rain-sodden tent, or digging trenches in a burned-out port city, most who fought in America under the British army’s flag ultimately deemed themselves strangers fighting in a strange land. For them, Revolutionary America looked nothing like the "happy land . . . blessed with every climate" that Revolutionary republicans so successfully promoted. Instead, the War of Independence descended into a quagmire of anxiety, destruction, and distress at the hands of the American environment—a "Diabolical Country," as one British soldier opined, "which no Earthly Compensation can put me in Charity with."

About the Author

Vaughn Scribner is associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas.
For more information about Vaughn Scribner, visit the Author Page.


"With thorough research and a talent for vivid storytelling, Vaughn Scribner shows how British and German soldiers' encounters with the American environment were not just hazardous and frustrating but downright disabling to their minds and bodies. Full of terror and wonder, this nimble, humane account changes our understanding of the American Revolutionary War experience. "—Benjamin Carp, author of The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution

"Scribner's focus is novel: the American War for Independence needs environmental histories. This book is a pleasure to read, the scholarship is excellent, and it makes an important contribution to the historiography of the American War for Independence."—Ricardo A. Herrera, author of Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778