I do re-read them, yes, and had the pleasure of writing forewords for the whole series when they were reissued a few years back. I’ve never been tempted to let them meet, mainly because there could be copyright problems with the Forester Estate. Probably not, but why give a lawyer a chance?
Research first! And you hope some story ideas spring out of that research. But it would be almost impossible to start writing a story without a fairly solid groundwork of research (though I admit I get bored doing it and tend to start writing long before it’s all finished).
Well, odd to say. But our commanders were, on the whole, more competent than their commanders! It’s not a war in which you find high levels of military competence on either side. I think there are two things. The Americans knew they could always trade space for time, and they did it again and again, just as the Russians did to Napoleon. The country was simply too big and the British only ruled those few patches they actually occupied. If the rebels massed somewhere else the redcoats had to abandon one patch to capture the next, and the rebels moved in behind them. The second thing is the surrender at Saratoga, which really was a shocking defeat to the British and, of course, that defeat was directly responsible for bringing the French and the Spanish into the war on the rebel side. The man who made that victory possible was, possibly, the most competent commander on either side – Benedict Arnold, and there’s an irony for you! During the war of 1812 the Duke of Wellington was offered command of the British troops in America which he turned down on the grounds that you simply couldn’t win there, at least not unless you raised an army ten times bigger than the one he had marched through Spain. So, could it have been won? Yes, possibly, if Saratoga had not happened and if the British had scored a crushing victory at the outset, but even crushing victories like Brooklyn and Germantown (and dozens of others) made no difference