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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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13792 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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2013-01-06 12:10:32 AM

DoctorOfLove: 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."


George would have committed suicide had he lost India or lost the home front.

This isn't to say Great Britain didn't  care.  They just cared more about two other theaters of war.
 
2013-01-06 12:13:23 AM

vygramul: DoctorOfLove: 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."

George would have committed suicide had he lost India or lost the home front.

This isn't to say Great Britain didn't  care.  They just cared more about two other theaters of war.


And once the British didn't have to fight a land war in North America, they were free to fight a naval war for control of Atlantic colonies. Within 2 years of Yorktown, almost all of the gains the French and Spanish made in the Caribbean from 1777-1781 were retaken.
 
2013-01-06 12:50:48 AM
I'm sure none of these claims could have become distorted or embellished over time.
 
2013-01-06 01:07:05 AM

vygramul: DoctorOfLove: 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."

George would have committed suicide had he lost India or lost the home front.

This isn't to say Great Britain didn't  care.  They just cared more about two other theaters of war.


So what were they doing for the three years before those other theaters of war opened up? Sure, yes, the Americans only won because the French jumped in and eventually forced the British to defend those territories that they still controlled. That was the American plan since independence. In fact the Continental Congress was somewhat disappointed that they were only able to get France and the Dutch republic directly involved, since they hoped that desire to trade with the former colonies would lead to more European support. Without the threat of the French, the British would have been able to just blockade American ports forever, no matter how many land battles they won.

Nonetheless, the British took the potential loss of the 13 colonies very seriously, if anything, the importance of the colonies and how bad losing them would be was way overblown, and made the conflict much worse. If you don't believe me, actually read about it. Hell, I think even freaking Parliamentary records go back that far, and they'll show that the British ministry was virtually consumed with retaking the colonies. They threw everything they had at us.

This idea that "Well, the British only lost because they didn't really care that much!" is eye-rolling and only stated by people who can't handle their country losing a war more than 200 years ago.
 
2013-01-06 01:14:33 AM

Need_MindBleach: vygramul: DoctorOfLove: 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."

George would have committed suicide had he lost India or lost the home front.

This isn't to say Great Britain didn't  care.  They just cared more about two other theaters of war.

So what were they doing for the three years before those other theaters of war opened up? Sure, yes, the Americans only won because the French jumped in and eventually forced the British to defend those territories that they still controlled. That was the American plan since independence. In fact the Continental Congress was somewhat disappointed that they were only able to get France and the Dutch republic directly involved, since they hoped that desire to trade with the former colonies would lead to more European support. Without the threat of the French, the British would have been able to just blockade American ports forever, no matter how many land battles they won.

Nonetheless, the British took the potential loss of the 13 colonies very seriously, if anything, the importance of the colonies and how bad losing them would be was way overblown ...


Just look at the size of the British navy that was sent to fight and blockade the colonies.  It was a pittance.  When they fought France and Spain, they had 30-ship engagements.  Here?  They couldn't even do much of a  blockade.  Just take the major ports and hope it works out.

/I'm not even remotely British
 
2013-01-06 01:23:19 AM

vygramul: Need_MindBleach: vygramul: DoctorOfLove: 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."

George would have committed suicide had he lost India or lost the home front.

This isn't to say Great Britain didn't  care.  They just cared more about two other theaters of war.

So what were they doing for the three years before those other theaters of war opened up? Sure, yes, the Americans only won because the French jumped in and eventually forced the British to defend those territories that they still controlled. That was the American plan since independence. In fact the Continental Congress was somewhat disappointed that they were only able to get France and the Dutch republic directly involved, since they hoped that desire to trade with the former colonies would lead to more European support. Without the threat of the French, the British would have been able to just blockade American ports forever, no matter how many land battles they won.

Nonetheless, the British took the potential loss of the 13 colonies very seriously, if anything, the importance of the colonies and how bad losing them would be ...


They had to keep a significant part of their fleet in Europe in case of a French sneak attack or invasion, which the French actually did attempt at one point. (Bad weather and disease farked them up). Sure, the British weren't crazy or stupid enough to leave their home island defenseless while they sent their entire navy and army 3,000 miles away, but that's not not caring, that's "not being crazy or stupid." No doubt about it, forcing the British to fight a major war so far away was the entire reason they were unable to muster enough troops to subdue the colonies, and is the reason the American rebels could prevail.
 
2013-01-06 01:25:27 AM
I'm never quite sure what to think about Washington. Some histories say he was brilliant. Some say he was lucky. Some say he won despite his best efforts. The last history book I read (many moons ago) actually said, "Washington won the war by retreating faster than the British could advance," which I thought was rather funny.
 
2013-01-06 02:03:53 AM
www.reoiv.com
Obilg
 
2013-01-06 03:16:41 AM
All the military stuff aside, I always thought he was a great man, because of the power he chose to give up without a struggle. Historically when someone is in a position of power such as he was, they are loathe to relinquish it. Usually it has to be wrested from them. No blood was shed when Washington left office and he commanded a lot of respect from people in general. That always carried a lot of weight in my mind anyway.
 
2013-01-06 04:16:55 AM
All the military stuff aside, I always thought he was a great man, because of the power he chose to give up without a struggle. Historically when someone is in a position of power such as he was, they are loathe to relinquish it. Usually it has to be wrested from them. No blood was shed when Washington left office and he commanded a lot of respect from people in general. That always carried a lot of weight in my mind anyway.

This! I also like his approach to being nominated for general of the army. During the 2nd continental congress, John Hancock was somewhat of a frontrunner (in his own mind, anyway) for the command, but Washington shows up dressed in his old military uniform and barely says anything except to say that he wished the nomination went to someone more able than he. By all reports, he had an almost arrogant level of self-confidence in his bearing yet was incredibly humble in his action and speech. Throughout history, it's hard to find any other figure who was as incorrigible in the face of such tremendous power and responsibility.
 
2013-01-06 04:55:23 AM

juvandy: All the military stuff aside, I always thought he was a great man, because of the power he chose to give up without a struggle. Historically when someone is in a position of power such as he was, they are loathe to relinquish it. Usually it has to be wrested from them. No blood was shed when Washington left office and he commanded a lot of respect from people in general. That always carried a lot of weight in my mind anyway.

This! I also like his approach to being nominated for general of the army. During the 2nd continental congress, John Hancock was somewhat of a frontrunner (in his own mind, anyway) for the command, but Washington shows up dressed in his old military uniform and barely says anything except to say that he wished the nomination went to someone more able than he. By all reports, he had an almost arrogant level of self-confidence in his bearing yet was incredibly humble in his action and speech. Throughout history, it's hard to find any other figure who was as incorrigible in the face of such tremendous power and responsibility.


This as well.
 
2013-01-06 05:54:38 AM
Interesting how history forgets his genocidal rampage through Iroquois lands where he earned the name "Town Destroyer" while he killed any American Indian he could find, including women and children, destroyed crops, and burned towns.
 
2013-01-06 06:37:55 AM
Interesting how history forgets his genocidal rampage through Iroquois lands where he earned the name "Town Destroyer" while he killed any American Indian he could find, including women and children, destroyed crops, and burned towns.

In his defense, it's not like everyone else wasn't doing the same thing at the time.
 
2013-01-06 06:49:29 AM

Need_MindBleach: They had to keep a significant part of their fleet in Europe in case of a French sneak attack or invasion, which the French actually did attempt at one point. (Bad weather and disease farked them up). Sure, the British weren't crazy or stupid enough to leave their home island defenseless while they sent their entire navy and army 3,000 miles away, but that's not not caring, that's "not being crazy or stupid." No doubt about it, forcing the British to fight a major war so far away was the entire reason they were unable to muster enough troops to subdue the colonies, and is the reason the American rebels could prevail.


They sent way more ships to India.  If that wasn't a threat to the home islands, it means they could have sent more to the colonies to ensure the French couldn't have gotten local supremacy at Yorktown.  But instead they decided India needed more, despite being significantly farther away.
 
2013-01-06 07:13:18 AM

John's Long Mustache: All the military stuff aside, I always thought he was a great man, because of the power he chose to give up without a struggle. Historically when someone is in a position of power such as he was, they are loathe to relinquish it. Usually it has to be wrested from them. No blood was shed when Washington left office and he commanded a lot of respect from people in general. That always carried a lot of weight in my mind anyway.


I think you have to go back to  Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.
 
2013-01-06 07:16:32 AM

juvandy: Interesting how history forgets his genocidal rampage through Iroquois lands where he earned the name "Town Destroyer" while he killed any American Indian he could find, including women and children, destroyed crops, and burned towns.

In his defense, it's not like everyone else wasn't doing the same thing at the time.


Funny - the Iroquois don't seem to believe that name to be rooted in genocide.  This smacks of Chomsky revisionism.
 
2013-01-06 09:32:28 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.


OK, lets just say for arguements sake Washington is the best General of the last 500 years (I can think of at least a dozen I'd pick over him if I had a time machine and was forming an army)

Who would you say is the best general of the last 3,000 years or so? I'm gonna go with Sun Tzu on that one
 
2013-01-06 09:42:32 AM

gh0strid3r: Interesting how history forgets his genocidal rampage through Iroquois lands where he earned the name "Town Destroyer" while he killed any American Indian he could find, including women and children, destroyed crops, and burned towns.


About that.

Washington had a good relationship with the Iroquois in the United States, so much so that the Seneca religious leader Handsome Lake (Cornplanter's half-brother) declared that Washington was the only white man allowed to enter the Indians' heaven.
 
2013-01-06 11:50:43 AM
Oldiron_79
Who would you say is the best general of the last 3,000 years or so? I'm gonna go with Sun Tzu on that one

Yi Sun-sin
Alexander
Charles Martel
Subotai
prrrrobably Subotai
 
2013-01-06 12:14:11 PM

RanDomino: Oldiron_79
Who would you say is the best general of the last 3,000 years or so? I'm gonna go with Sun Tzu on that one

Yi Sun-sin
Alexander
Charles Martel
Subotai
prrrrobably Subotai


We really probably don't know enough to judge back then. We should also maybe include Hannibal.

My Ancient Greek and Roman Warfare professor (Lendon - UVA) said he's always asked which his favorite ancient army is. He doesn't like that question in part because there are too many apples, oranges, bananas, and other fruits people are trying to compare between. But his default now is the Spartans at Thermopylae, partly because he knows it's an unsatisfying answer. I, of course, being the smartass that I am, asked him what his SECOND-favorite army was...

(Technology changed very little in over 1000 years, relatively speaking, and the prime way to kill involved sticking your pointy thing into their soft flesh, and yet warmaking changed radically. It's hard even to compare Roman armies. One of the fascinating finds was a segment of Lorica Segmentata which proved it was in use almost 100 years earlier than thought.)
 
2013-01-06 02:02:33 PM

vygramul: RanDomino: Oldiron_79
Who would you say is the best general of the last 3,000 years or so? I'm gonna go with Sun Tzu on that one

Yi Sun-sin
Alexander
Charles Martel
Subotai
prrrrobably Subotai

We really probably don't know enough to judge back then. We should also maybe include Hannibal.

My Ancient Greek and Roman Warfare professor (Lendon - UVA) said he's always asked which his favorite ancient army is. He doesn't like that question in part because there are too many apples, oranges, bananas, and other fruits people are trying to compare between. But his default now is the Spartans at Thermopylae, partly because he knows it's an unsatisfying answer. I, of course, being the smartass that I am, asked him what his SECOND-favorite army was...

(Technology changed very little in over 1000 years, relatively speaking, and the prime way to kill involved sticking your pointy thing into their soft flesh, and yet warmaking changed radically. It's hard even to compare Roman armies. One of the fascinating finds was a segment of Lorica Segmentata which proved it was in use almost 100 years earlier than thought.)


DEFINITELY the Mongols. You want to read a fascinating book about them, read Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. Anywhere the Mongols went, they gave people two choices: a) Join us and live like kings or b) Fight us and we'll kill all of you. Surprising that anybody was ever dumb enough to choose B, but hey, that's the Russians for you. They conquered more territory than anyone, ever, and in the 13th Century to boot. It took the farking Bubonic Plague (which they might've been partly responsible for) to end their empire.

If you just like stories about how dumb Russians are, read Stupid Wars. Very nice chapter on the Winter War of '39 with Finland that a lot of people forget about. The Finns woulda won it too, it's just that they ran out of bullets. Some of their machine gunners had complete mental breakdowns because they had killed so many of the Russians. The Russians lost 323,000 to the Finn's 70,000. Stupid war, indeed.
 
2013-01-06 02:44:44 PM
vygramul
We really probably don't know enough to judge back then. We should also maybe include Hannibal.

He was a brilliant tactician and pulled some logistical miracles, but failed for reasons that a better general would have overcome. For example, he found out that his brother had brought an army to Italy by being delivered his head in a sack. He somehow managed to march up and down Italy for ten years without figuring out how to win. Sure, he was hampered by a lack of support from Carthage... but a better general would have done more with less.

his default now is the Spartans at Thermopylae, partly because he knows it's an unsatisfying answer.

That is a perfect troll answer.

Technology changed very little in over 1000 years, relatively speaking, and the prime way to kill involved sticking your pointy thing into their soft flesh, and yet warmaking changed radically.

1000? I'd say more like 10,000. Technology and tactics go hand in hand. With a few exceptions it was linear warfare between feudal elites using a core of professionals with a huge mass of untrained and poorly-equipped conscripts, until the 1800s saw the rise of total war and the general staff and the creation of mobile warfare in the 1900s.

Part of the problem of making comparisons across eras is that the armies were specialized to local conditions. Take one of the 50,000-strong armies from the classical Near East and stick them in Sengoku jidai Japan. Who wins? Potato.
 
2013-01-06 04:40:26 PM
thank you Mr. Holmes, I just bought that book on amazon, it is for sale for 48 cents!
 
2013-01-06 09:53:55 PM

Mr. Holmes: If you just like stories about how dumb Russians are, read Stupid Wars. Very nice chapter on the Winter War of '39 with Finland that a lot of people forget about. The Finns woulda won it too, it's just that they ran out of bullets. Some of their machine gunners had complete mental breakdowns because they had killed so many of the Russians. The Russians lost 323,000 to the Finn's 70,000. Stupid war, indeed.


Not enough white-painted rocks.  :)
 
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