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(Cracked)   George Washington is perhaps the most well-known founding father. He was either lucky at times or a pure genius, here's why   (cracked.com) divider line 74
    More: Interesting, George Washington, Continental Army, Sounds Good  
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13794 clicks; posted to Main » on 05 Jan 2013 at 6:48 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-05 03:58:05 PM
He married a rich broad when he was broke, and acquired all her land in the deal?

He became President when he was flat broke, and was set for life (all two years after leaving office)?

Washington sure was broke a lot.
 
2013-01-05 04:53:40 PM
CSB time:

My degree is in military history. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a week in a series of seminars run by the late great John Keegan. During one of the closing sessions, one of the moderators asked him who he thought was the greatest general of the last 500 years. Like everyone else, I expected one of the usual suspects: Napoleon, Mannstein, Wellington, Moltke, Lee, Frederick the Great - someone famous, right?

However, much to my surprise and the surprise of everyone else in the room, he replied 'Washington'.

The moderator asked him to explain - after all, Washington was nothing more than a mediocre tactician, he lost more battles than he won, and he relied on others for his training and battlefield leadership. He didn't even have a degree, much less a former commission in the British Army.

Keegan's reply was instructive, and it has stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler, et al, he won his war.
2. And he did it against the British Empire.
3. Which had never lost  meaningful war. Not against the Spanish Armada, not against the Dutch, not against the French, not against the Germans. None of them. The  onlyperson to decisively and permanently defeat the British was Washington.
4. And he did it with no army, no money, no fleet, no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training, and only limited assistance - yes, French ships, guns, and men helped close the deal, but only after he had done most of the work setting things up.

In conclusion, Washington was a rank amateur who took on something that had defeated the best efforts of every professional for 1000 years, and he won. And he did it without resorting to dictatorship, a bloody guerilla war, or any of the other problems that have so often plagued revolutionary leaders.

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military historians who has ever lived, made Washington the best general of the past 500 years. 

He convinced me.
 
2013-01-05 04:57:00 PM
He has Connor and Haytham Henway to thank for that.
 
2013-01-05 06:34:30 PM

FirstNationalBastard: Washington sure was broke a lot.


He was a war veteran, comes with the territory.
 
2013-01-05 06:45:20 PM
He'll save children

/But not the British children.
 
2013-01-05 06:53:04 PM
Cause Martha had a big fat bowl waiting for him when he got home from work?
 
2013-01-05 06:58:16 PM

whistleridge: CSB time:

My degree is in military history. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a week in a series of seminars run by the late great John Keegan. During one of the closing sessions, one of the moderators asked him who he thought was the greatest general of the last 500 years. Like everyone else, I expected one of the usual suspects: Napoleon, Mannstein, Wellington, Moltke, Lee, Frederick the Great - someone famous, right?

However, much to my surprise and the surprise of everyone else in the room, he replied 'Washington'.

The moderator asked him to explain - after all, Washington was nothing more than a mediocre tactician, he lost more battles than he won, and he relied on others for his training and battlefield leadership. He didn't even have a degree, much less a former commission in the British Army.

Keegan's reply was instructive, and it has stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler, et al, he won his war.
2. And he did it against the British Empire.
3. Which had never lost  meaningful war. Not against the Spanish Armada, not against the Dutch, not against the French, not against the Germans. None of them. The  onlyperson to decisively and permanently defeat the British was Washington.
4. And he did it with no army, no money, no fleet, no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training, and only limited assistance - yes, French ships, guns, and men helped close the deal, but only after he had done most of the work setting things up.

In conclusion, Washington was a rank amateur who took on something that had defeated the best efforts of every professional for 1000 years, and he won. And he did it without resorting to dictatorship, a bloody guerilla war, or any of the other problems that have so often plagued revolutionary leaders.

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military historians who has ever lived, made Washington the best general of the past 500 years. 

He convinced me.


This
 
2013-01-05 07:03:54 PM
When I want to learn more about American history I immediately turn to cracked.com and look for articles submitted by kids majoring in engineering.
 
2013-01-05 07:04:18 PM
So you think he's our
www.freakingnews.com
Most Valuable President?
 
2013-01-05 07:07:01 PM
i3.kym-cdn.com
 
2013-01-05 07:08:12 PM
3 reasons that were key to helping Washington defeat the British;

Daniel Morgan (Introduced the British to guerrilla warfare)
Ben Franklin (brought the French over to bail us out)
Thomas Paine (His writings inspired Washington's troops not to run for the hills)
 
2013-01-05 07:08:40 PM

He should have died of Small Pox at Valley Forge, except that he'd taken a biatching Spring Break trip to Barbados as a teenager, and got a light (survivable) case there which gave him immunity.


What teen George Washington in Barbados might have looked like:

encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com
 
2013-01-05 07:09:31 PM

Evil Twin Skippy: no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training


You said no training twice. You must like training. ;)
 
2013-01-05 07:10:51 PM

Evil Twin Skippy: whistleridge: CSB time:

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military historians who has ever lived, made Washington the best general of the past 500 years.
He convinced me.

This


Seconded. The man was facinating, and the right man at (for?) the right time not only as a general but as a president. Consider that he could have been another King and yet he stepped down, setting precedent for every future president. Not an intellectual slouch by any means, but surrounded by some of the giants of their time and he held his own, often making more level headed decisions than some of his peers lobbied for.
 
2013-01-05 07:13:01 PM
George Washington was in a cult, and the cult was into aliens, man.
 
2013-01-05 07:15:47 PM

whistleridge: CSB time:

My degree is in military history. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a week in a series of seminars run by the late great John Keegan. During one of the closing sessions, one of the moderators asked him who he thought was the greatest general of the last 500 years. Like everyone else, I expected one of the usual suspects: Napoleon, Mannstein, Wellington, Moltke, Lee, Frederick the Great - someone famous, right?

However, much to my surprise and the surprise of everyone else in the room, he replied 'Washington'.

The moderator asked him to explain - after all, Washington was nothing more than a mediocre tactician, he lost more battles than he won, and he relied on others for his training and battlefield leadership. He didn't even have a degree, much less a former commission in the British Army.

Keegan's reply was instructive, and it has stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler, et al, he won his war.
2. And he did it against the British Empire.
3. Which had never lost  meaningful war. Not against the Spanish Armada, not against the Dutch, not against the French, not against the Germans. None of them. The  onlyperson to decisively and permanently defeat the British was Washington.
4. And he did it with no army, no money, no fleet, no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training, and only limited assistance - yes, French ships, guns, and men helped close the deal, but only after he had done most of the work setting things up.

In conclusion, Washington was a rank amateur who took on something that had defeated the best efforts of every professional for 1000 years, and he won. And he did it without resorting to dictatorship, a bloody guerilla war, or any of the other problems that have so often plagued revolutionary leaders.

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military historians who has ever lived, made Washington the best general of the past 500 years.

He convinced me.


That's not terribly convincing.  For one, the Brits were engaged in three major theaters of war, and the colonies were the least important theater.  All the other examples were Britain's PRIMARY theater of war.

Now, a reason why he might be considered great is that he apparently ordered the boats to cross at Yorktown to box-in Cornwallis 6 months ahead of time.  If true, that's some pretty damn good foresight.
 
2013-01-05 07:18:46 PM
whistleridge [TotalFark]


Smartest
Funniest

2013-01-05 04:53:40 PM

CSB time:

My degree is in military history. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a week in a series of seminars run by the late great John Keegan. During one of the closing sessions, one of the moderators asked him who he thought was the greatest general of the last 500 years. Like everyone else, I expected one of the usual suspects: Napoleon, Mannstein, Wellington, Moltke, Lee, Frederick the Great - someone famous, right?

However, much to my surprise and the surprise of everyone else in the room, he replied 'Washington'.

The moderator asked him to explain - after all, Washington was nothing more than a mediocre tactician, he lost more battles than he won, and he relied on others for his training and battlefield leadership. He didn't even have a degree, much less a former commission in the British Army.

Keegan's reply was instructive, and it has stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler, et al, he won his war.
2. And he did it against the British Empire.
3. Which had never lost meaningful war. Not against the Spanish Armada, not against the Dutch, not against the French, not against the Germans. None of them. The onlyperson to decisively and permanently defeat the British was Washington.
4. And he did it with no army, no money, no fleet, no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training, and only limited assistance - yes, French ships, guns, and men helped close the deal, but only after he had done most of the work setting things up.

In conclusion, Washington was a rank amateur who took on something that had defeated the best efforts of every professional for 1000 years, and he won. And he did it without resorting to dictatorship, a bloody guerilla war, or any of the other problems that have so often plagued revolutionary leaders.

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military ...



Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Mihn!
 
2013-01-05 07:22:11 PM
That headline reads like the beginning of a bad 8th-grade essay. It's also misleading, since George Washington, though enormously famous in his own time, was infamous for being someone even his closest friends and associates didn't feel they really knew.
 
2013-01-05 07:33:04 PM

Evil Twin Skippy: whistleridge: CSB time:

My degree is in military history. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a week in a series of seminars run by the late great John Keegan. During one of the closing sessions, one of the moderators asked him who he thought was the greatest general of the last 500 years. Like everyone else, I expected one of the usual suspects: Napoleon, Mannstein, Wellington, Moltke, Lee, Frederick the Great - someone famous, right?

However, much to my surprise and the surprise of everyone else in the room, he replied 'Washington'.

The moderator asked him to explain - after all, Washington was nothing more than a mediocre tactician, he lost more battles than he won, and he relied on others for his training and battlefield leadership. He didn't even have a degree, much less a former commission in the British Army.

Keegan's reply was instructive, and it has stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler, et al, he won his war.
2. And he did it against the British Empire.
3. Which had never lost  meaningful war. Not against the Spanish Armada, not against the Dutch, not against the French, not against the Germans. None of them. The  onlyperson to decisively and permanently defeat the British was Washington.
4. And he did it with no army, no money, no fleet, no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training, and only limited assistance - yes, French ships, guns, and men helped close the deal, but only after he had done most of the work setting things up.

In conclusion, Washington was a rank amateur who took on something that had defeated the best efforts of every professional for 1000 years, and he won. And he did it without resorting to dictatorship, a bloody guerilla war, or any of the other problems that have so often plagued revolutionary leaders.

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military historians who has ever lived, made Washington the best general of the past 500 years. 

He convinced me.

This


He was also a ginger.
 
2013-01-05 07:35:18 PM
The reason is clear.

farm3.staticflickr.com
 
2013-01-05 07:36:37 PM

MurphyMurphy: George Washington was in a cult, and the cult was into aliens, man.


i841.photobucket.com
 
2013-01-05 07:38:12 PM

whistleridge: CSB time:

My degree is in military history. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a week in a series of seminars run by the late great John Keegan. During one of the closing sessions, one of the moderators asked him who he thought was the greatest general of the last 500 years. Like everyone else, I expected one of the usual suspects: Napoleon, Mannstein, Wellington, Moltke, Lee, Frederick the Great - someone famous, right?

However, much to my surprise and the surprise of everyone else in the room, he replied 'Washington'.

The moderator asked him to explain - after all, Washington was nothing more than a mediocre tactician, he lost more battles than he won, and he relied on others for his training and battlefield leadership. He didn't even have a degree, much less a former commission in the British Army.

Keegan's reply was instructive, and it has stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler, et al, he won his war.
2. And he did it against the British Empire.
3. Which had never lost  meaningful war. Not against the Spanish Armada, not against the Dutch, not against the French, not against the Germans. None of them. The  onlyperson to decisively and permanently defeat the British was Washington.
4. And he did it with no army, no money, no fleet, no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training, and only limited assistance - yes, French ships, guns, and men helped close the deal, but only after he had done most of the work setting things up.

In conclusion, Washington was a rank amateur who took on something that had defeated the best efforts of every professional for 1000 years, and he won. And he did it without resorting to dictatorship, a bloody guerilla war, or any of the other problems that have so often plagued revolutionary leaders.

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military historians who has ever lived, made Washington the best general of the past 500 years.
He convinced me.


Well, obviously he is (and you are) more knowledgeable in that field than I am, but naming Washington "greatest general" on the basis of the reasoning above seems a bit like declaring a major lottery winner "greatest investor." This greatest investor started with practically nothing, turned it into a huge fortune in a very brief period of time, made a killing by putting money into something that is rarely profitable, and did it all with absolutely no help from business partners or financial advisors. Which seems sort of reasonable on the surface but doesn't really mesh with my understanding of the question.
 
2013-01-05 07:38:32 PM
An American Cincinnatus, pretty boss.

/His teeth were made of wool
 
2013-01-05 07:41:01 PM
SPOILERS I'M NOT THERE YET IN AC3 XD
 
2013-01-05 07:41:54 PM
vygramul:
That's not terribly convincing.  For one, the Brits were engaged in three major theaters of war, and the colonies were the least important theater.  All the other examples were Britain's PRIMARY theater of war.

This. So much this. I think Washington was a bad dude, but the idea that he was fighting the British Empire is laughable. He was fighting mercenaries. England had more important things to worry about.
 
2013-01-05 07:47:36 PM

Tenor Reaper: SPOILERS I'M NOT THERE YET IN AC3 XD


+1. I'm in the sequence with the (spoiler?) Boston Tea Party. Very impressed, much more so than I was with ACII, which was also incredibly awesome.
 
2013-01-05 07:50:20 PM

Darth_Lukecash: He'll save children

/But not the British children.


Killed his sensei in a duel and he never said why.

/stuck in my head now, thanks
 
2013-01-05 07:51:59 PM

hundreddollarman: Tenor Reaper: SPOILERS I'M NOT THERE YET IN AC3 XD

+1. I'm in the sequence with the (spoiler?) Boston Tea Party. Very impressed, much more so than I was with ACII, which was also incredibly awesome.


It's possibly the only time one looks badass throwing tea. XD
 
2013-01-05 08:06:50 PM
From an interesting article at : www.historyhouse.com/in_history/washington/ (copy and paste)

Getting Fat for the Winter
To say the least, Washington was resplendent in gastronomic finery. Some of this business extended into the infamous 1777-78 winter spent in Valley Forge. That winter, some 9,000 troops lacked shoes or coats. Many sat next to the fires all night for want of blankets; starvation and sickness were rampant. Of course, Washington didn't have to suffer through all this. He was too busy chowing down on mutton and fowl. He also hired a band to play on his birthday (we speculate he took Monday off). However, it is important to note that, despite enjoying himself, he worked extremely hard to keep the army from dissolving entirely. The fledgling government owned sufficient supplies in Boston and Newport; they sat molding in warehouses due to problems in military distribution. Washington must have paced in disgust and thrown up his hands. He wrote to another General:

The Army, as usual, are without Pay; and a great part of the Soldiery without Shirts; and tho' the patience of them is equally thread bear, the States seem perfectly indifferent to their cries.
Indeed, in an effort to keep his troops happy, the General staged a play. Of all the outlandish purchases he stiffed Congress with, however, this was the one uniquely singled out by his Puritanical superiors as being work of the devil: "Any person," Congress subsequently decreed, "holding an office under the United States, who shall attend a theatrical performance shall be dismissed from the service." Too bad that wasn't enforced when Lincoln was President.

A Weighty Problem
Fortunately, the Valley Forge winter eventually let up, and Washington was again free to indulge himself. He did so, without reservation, until July 1, 1783, some six months after the Peace of Paris had been signed in early February. In those eight long years of belt-tightening war, Washington himself had put on nearly thirty pounds. All of his close cronies, who dined with him frequently, weighed over 200 pounds each; General Henry Knox won the fat man prize at 280. In comparison, Brigadier General Eben Huntington, not a close associate of Washington's, tipped the scales at 132 pounds dripping wet at war's end. When Washington's account was closed, though, he was not chastised for living extravagantly. The auditors accepted every claim, and we mean every claim. One entry for $20,800 read, "the accounts were not only irregularly kept, but many of them were lost or mislaid, & some of them so defaced as not to be legible, that it is impossible for me to make out a statement of them." Put simply, George lost the receipts. Or maybe he never had them. Did Congress blink? Of course not. Instead, they lauded for his exacting arithmetic, and gratefully signed over the requested amounts.

So, in the end, how much did Washington spend over his eight years of service?

$449,261.51, in 1780 dollars.

Taking into account 220 years of inflation that'd be worth over $4,250,000.00 today.[5]Four million dollars' worth of "expenses", and, after going over the account with a fine-toothed comb (at one point he was corrected for undercounting 89/90 of a dollar), Congress approved the lot of it.
 
2013-01-05 08:07:23 PM
 
2013-01-05 08:08:54 PM

Darth_Lukecash: He'll save children

/But not the British children.


I would have seen your post, but his crystal horse got in the way
 
2013-01-05 08:22:08 PM
FTFA: So to be clear, not only did Washington not seem to understand the almost certain death he had just ass-raped, but he had the balls to assert that they would win the ensuing battle, a claim that he had no grounds to believe were true. Except they totally won.

My, my, my. That is what I call erudition.
And here I thought frat boys at Cracked.com got jobs for their buddies.
 
2013-01-05 08:25:23 PM

Mark Ratner: Cause Martha had a big fat bowl waiting for him when he got home from work?


I heard he grew fields of it cause he knew it would be a good cash crop
 
2013-01-05 08:51:19 PM
signaljammer
Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Mihn!

Vo Nguyen Giap is probably the guy to point to. Bonus: Still alive.
 
2013-01-05 09:15:11 PM

whistleridge: a bloody guerilla war


Uh, ya, that's actually sort of verbatim how the Americans won the war, was guerilla warfare. You're a military historian you should know that.
 
2013-01-05 09:20:09 PM
I highly recommend the book "Washington's Crossing" by David Hackett Fischer.
It changed my mind about Washington.

Reading about the female spy "entertaining" the hessian general south of trenton that night was also
very intriguing if true.
Great farking book.
 
2013-01-05 09:28:47 PM
whistleridge likes no training
 
2013-01-05 09:31:23 PM
Didn't he have the largest distillery in the colonies?
Didn't he loot the presidential residence to the bare walls when he went out of office?
 
2013-01-05 09:32:30 PM
He was part of the Illuminati.
 
2013-01-05 09:33:17 PM

marius2: vygramul:
That's not terribly convincing.  For one, the Brits were engaged in three major theaters of war, and the colonies were the least important theater.  All the other examples were Britain's PRIMARY theater of war.

This. So much this. I think Washington was a bad dude, but the idea that he was fighting the British Empire is laughable. He was fighting mercenaries. England had more important things to worry about.


Actually, he went into this at some length. And instead of weakening the case for Washington, he argued that it strengthened it (I have the talk on tape and actually dug it up for this).

He argues:

* The American Revolution was really The Seven Years' War II: Electric Boogaloo. Same as the Seven Years' War, except that Quebec was on the British side and the British colonies were on the French side. In this context, the US could easily have been turned into a French puppet, but that didn't happen. That was partly a success of US diplomacy (read: Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams), but it was also due hugely in part to Washington's considerable prestige as a leader of strength.

* The British did actually send some of their best after us. In fact, they sent the largest, most powerful, most capably led, and most well-armed and outfitted armies to ever serve overseas to that time. The army defeated at Saratoga was good, and Cornwallis' army was  verygood. It was basically the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces of the British Army (minus the Special Forces part after Ferguson got himself killed at King's Mountain). Washington knew just who to send to balance that out, and he knew just when to strike at Yorktown. His screening of New York to jump down to Virginia was masterful by any measure.

Consider:

 - Cornwallis had 9,000 troops (including mercenaries) at Yorktown. That doesn't sound like much, but compare it to:
 - Clive had 750 Europeans at Plassey
 - Wolfe had 4800 at Quebec
 - Burgoyne had 7,200 at Saratoga

No, the numbers weren't big by European standards, but given the costs involved in waging war at such a distance, that's not surprising. But the US revolution was a HUGE deal to the British, and it definitely got just as much of their attention as Napoleon or Hitler did. It just didn't threaten the British Isles as much.

* He had low casualties. Bad generals frequently get many, many people killed. But even as a percentage of his force, Washington kept his casualties amazingly low for the era.

* He got a lasting treaty out of his war. It wasn't your typical 18th century pause-to-reload-then-go-at-it-again treaty. It was a Big Deal.

His argument is 40 minutes long, but it basically comes down to this: Washington was a mediocre battlefield commander, about par for the course. But he was a legendary leader of men, a superb organizer and administrator, and he had an incredible knack for identifying talent. Look at his cabinets, for Christ's sake. 

So if you rate 'best general' as 'who got the prettiest results on the battlefield maps', it would be someone else. But if you rate 'best general' as 'who got the best and most lasting result for the least number of lives spent on the battlefield', Washington wins hands down in his book.
 
2013-01-05 10:05:17 PM
Also, cracked left out that
(a) Henry Knox was a book seller, who owned a book on the art of artillery. At the time of the battle of boston, Henry Knox's entire qualification for his proposal to drag cannons 300 miles from upstate NY in the winter was ... wait for it .. wait for it ... he had read a book about artillery. every nerd on Fark could immediately qualify by staying up all night on their kindle and read a book about artillery. And Henry was fat, which further qualifies the Fark crew.
(b). There was no ammunition. Henry did manage to get an intimidating number of big artillery guns to boston, but sans ammunition. The british didn't know this. So when they saw all the guns being set up, they left.

And Sam Adams provided all the beer.
 
2013-01-05 10:07:15 PM

whistleridge: No, the numbers weren't big by European standards, but given the costs involved in waging war at such a distance, that's not surprising. But the US revolution was a HUGE deal to the British, and it definitely got just as much of their attention as Napoleon or Hitler did. It just didn't threaten the British Isles as much.


Compared to the forces the British committed to India and Europe, the colonies were a sideshow.  The only naval engagements of any size in this hemisphere were over Caribbean French and Spanish interests.
 
2013-01-05 10:11:19 PM

vygramul: whistleridge: No, the numbers weren't big by European standards, but given the costs involved in waging war at such a distance, that's not surprising. But the US revolution was a HUGE deal to the British, and it definitely got just as much of their attention as Napoleon or Hitler did. It just didn't threaten the British Isles as much.

Compared to the forces the British committed to India and Europe, the colonies were a sideshow.  The only naval engagements of any size in this hemisphere were over Caribbean French and Spanish interests.


"King George took the loss badly and considered abdication before facing the political and military realities. 1788 he suffered his first attack of insanity (now believed to be the result of the inherited disease porphyria) which was to plague him for the rest of his life. His son George, Prince of Wales, was made temporary regent an arrangement which became permanent in 1810."
 
2013-01-05 10:13:46 PM

kroonermanblack: whistleridge: a bloody guerilla war

Uh, ya, that's actually sort of verbatim how the Americans won the war, was guerilla warfare. You're a military historian you should know that.


He didn't see The Patriot.
 
2013-01-05 10:16:41 PM
Oh, and Martha was the richest woman in North America, and arguably the richest person in North America. So props to George for that shiat also.

And Martha was Robert E. Lee's great grand mother in law.
 
2013-01-05 10:42:01 PM

lack of warmth: kroonermanblack: whistleridge: a bloody guerilla war

Uh, ya, that's actually sort of verbatim how the Americans won the war, was guerilla warfare. You're a military historian you should know that.

He didn't see The Patriot.


Meh, leaving aside the snark, Americans were fighting guerilla style. They weren't full blown terrorists, but they did have a penchant for hiding in trees, ambush attacks, etc. as opposed to the 'stand and deliver' field fighting the british were used to.
 
2013-01-05 10:59:13 PM

DoctorOfLove: Also, cracked left out that
(a) Henry Knox was a book seller, who owned a book on the art of artillery. At the time of the battle of boston, Henry Knox's entire qualification for his proposal to drag cannons 300 miles from upstate NY in the winter was ... wait for it .. wait for it ... he had read a book about artillery. every nerd on Fark could immediately qualify by staying up all night on their kindle and read a book about artillery. And Henry was fat, which further qualifies the Fark crew.
(b). There was no ammunition. Henry did manage to get an intimidating number of big artillery guns to boston, but sans ammunition. The british didn't know this. So when they saw all the guns being set up, they left.

And Sam Adams provided all the beer.


By that standard, I've got much more artillery experience than Knox had:

i46.tinypic.com

/More experience than most Farkers, too.
 
2013-01-05 11:08:06 PM

kroonermanblack: lack of warmth: kroonermanblack: whistleridge: a bloody guerilla war

Uh, ya, that's actually sort of verbatim how the Americans won the war, was guerilla warfare. You're a military historian you should know that.

He didn't see The Patriot.

Meh, leaving aside the snark, Americans were fighting guerilla style. They weren't full blown terrorists, but they did have a penchant for hiding in trees, ambush attacks, etc. as opposed to the 'stand and deliver' field fighting the british were used to.


Actually, I think the *BIGGEST* problem for the British wasn't rebels sniping at them from behind trees. That didn't actually happen as much as we think it did. It was that they couldn't pacify an area and then expect it to stay that way once they left. Once they left an area it usually went right back to rebel control. They only ever really controlled the ground they were standing on, which is a problem in a very large area like the Colonies. Unless they were willing to commit enough troops to suppress the rebellion in all, or at least most, areas at once, they were basically fighting a losing battle. There is no way they could suppress the rebellion. Even if they had defeated Washington, and killed him on the battlefield or captured him and his army, it's unlikely that would have been the end of it. There was just too much sentiment that people in the Colonies were being screwed out of their traditional rights as Englishmen among a large portion of the population.
 
2013-01-06 12:00:42 AM

whistleridge: CSB time:

My degree is in military history. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a week in a series of seminars run by the late great John Keegan. During one of the closing sessions, one of the moderators asked him who he thought was the greatest general of the last 500 years. Like everyone else, I expected one of the usual suspects: Napoleon, Mannstein, Wellington, Moltke, Lee, Frederick the Great - someone famous, right?

However, much to my surprise and the surprise of everyone else in the room, he replied 'Washington'.

The moderator asked him to explain - after all, Washington was nothing more than a mediocre tactician, he lost more battles than he won, and he relied on others for his training and battlefield leadership. He didn't even have a degree, much less a former commission in the British Army.

Keegan's reply was instructive, and it has stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler, et al, he won his war.
2. And he did it against the British Empire.
3. Which had never lost  meaningful war. Not against the Spanish Armada, not against the Dutch, not against the French, not against the Germans. None of them. The  onlyperson to decisively and permanently defeat the British was Washington.
4. And he did it with no army, no money, no fleet, no training, no pre-existing governmental structure, no training, and only limited assistance - yes, French ships, guns, and men helped close the deal, but only after he had done most of the work setting things up.

In conclusion, Washington was a rank amateur who took on something that had defeated the best efforts of every professional for 1000 years, and he won. And he did it without resorting to dictatorship, a bloody guerilla war, or any of the other problems that have so often plagued revolutionary leaders.

And that, in the opinion of one of the greatest military historians who has ever lived, made Washington the best general of the past 500 years. 

He convinced me.


My only bone of contention with Keegan's argument has been that, in order for the part about the "British never lost a meaningful war," you have to take a very favorable view of their involvement in Euro-continental wars. Often they were the binding agent for a coalition. But the particular case where I take umbrage with his Anglophelia is the Second Dutch War. How meaningful is it if you lose a battle in the mouth if the Thames, and Dutch warships start burning wharfs and ships all the way up to the Isle of Dogges? It's a conflict he and Mahan seem almost desperate to downplay.

But I have no qualm with his reasoning, nor do I think any less of him as a scholar. The Face of Battle is the perfect book to introduce students to battlefield archaeology; you can't apply archaeological methods until you understand what it is you're looking at, and Keegan is second to none at showing you how people behave on a battlefield.

As for Washington, people forget that he was chosen not just for his potential tactical acumen, but as an administrator. His primary objective was to sustain an army that threatened the British until support for the war could no longer sustain British operations in North America. My War in American Society professor once said, "Washington's tactical record is terrible. He went something like 4-10-2. If he were an ACC coach he'd be fired!!" And that's pretty accurate. The only major strategic error he made was trying to defend New York City from Long Island, which threatened to isolate his army.

As for the economic fortunes of Washington, it's not surprising when you look at the economic history of Virginia after the war. I highly recommend reading Dominion of Memories by Susan Dunn. She made an excellent thesis about Virginia's economic and cultural stagnation in the early 19th century. I was hipped to it by the folks from Colonial Williamsburg that were supervising the restoration of Madison's house.
 
2013-01-06 12:04:57 AM

kroonermanblack: lack of warmth: kroonermanblack: whistleridge: a bloody guerilla war

Uh, ya, that's actually sort of verbatim how the Americans won the war, was guerilla warfare. You're a military historian you should know that.

He didn't see The Patriot.

Meh, leaving aside the snark, Americans were fighting guerilla style. They weren't full blown terrorists, but they did have a penchant for hiding in trees, ambush attacks, etc. as opposed to the 'stand and deliver' field fighting the british were used to.


It wasn't so much guerilla in the south as both sides had ad-hoc armies of partisans, occasionally led by a regular officer. The war in the South was far more of a civil war than a war with a foreign army.
 
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