By Christopher Miskimon


Daniel Shays spent his life as a landless farm laborer, enthusiastic for the occasional militia training days. After the American Revolution began, he rose to captain in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment. Shays fought in the Battles of Lexington, Bunker Hill and Saratoga, proving himself a brave and clever officer in action. Unfortunately, he suffered wounds and had to leave military service in 1780, with the fledgling United States owing him much back pay. Upon his return home, he received a court summons for his unpaid debts; Shays even had to sell an ornamental sword given to him by General Lafayette to pay the worst bills. This created a sense of dissatisfaction and resentment toward the government. When Shays realized many of his fellow veterans and local farmers had the same problem, he got involved in the growing protests, which soon evolved into an uprising. Taking a position of leadership, Shays led an unsuccessful foray against a federal armory but was soon on the run, indicted for treason. Eventually, however, cooler heads prevailed, and he was pardoned in 1788. His failed rebellion was soon forgotten.

Shays’ Rebellion is but one of the obscured, little known American conflicts covered in this new book. It covers some twenty of the small conflicts which dot American history from its founding until the dawn of the 20th Century. It is well-researched and written, revealing some popular misconceptions about each conflict which survive to the modern day.

America’s Forgotten Wars, From Lord Dunmore to the Philippines (Ian Hernon, Amberley Publishing, Gloucestershire UK, 2022, 337 pp., photographs, notes, bibliography, index, $32.95, hardcover)

More Military History Book Reviews for Spring 2023