A question from Yahoo! Answers:
Why did the American Revolution not (generally) sink to bestial levels of brutality?
There were some atrocities committed (by both sides) in the Revolutionary War. But, by comparison with the French Revolution, or certainly with the much later Russian Revolution, atrocities committed by soldiers upon one another or upon civilians appear to have been relatively few in both number and scale. This despite the fact that propagandists such as Paine were spewing out inflammatory tracts that could only be interpreted as incitements to extreme brutality.
So, how was it that conduct between enemies in the Revolutionary War was so comparatively restrained?
Or am I simply wrong in judging it to have been restrained?
Brutality is rarely committed by soldiers or against soldiers; it is usually committed by paramilitary outfits (essentially, either armed civilians or secret police) against unarmed civilians. During the American Revolution, there were virtually no unarmed civilians on the British side. So, once the British army withdrew and the German mercenaries surrendered, there was no one against whom brutality could be committed; even the German mercenaries were eventually granted clemency and allowed to return home or settle in the new nation…