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"How and why did the United States Win and the..." Topic

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699 hits since 5 Mar 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0105 Mar 2018 3:44 p.m. PST

….. British lose the War of Independence?

""The War of Independence plays such an important part in American popular ideology" it is the creation myth of the American people, but how did the United States win? How could it manage to take on one of the worlds great powers and win? There are many factors that lead to American victory, which in a sense could have been over before it began. British indecisiveness after the battle of Brandywine Creek, with the chance to finish Washington's force and effectively, end the Revolution, and with the splitting of his force the British would lose the Battle of Saratoga on September 19 and October 7, 1777 effectively destroyed a large part of the British army in North America. Another principle to look at, at the reason why America won was due to the over stretched supply lines, with a total of two months travel time across the Atlantic ocean, this meant a communications with London were out of date by the time they reached, the Generals in the field, this combined with that the war will eventually engulf other nations against Great Britain, lead to a strain on their armed forces and an eventual downfall, and the crippling economic cost that was accumulated during the war. All these factors provide and insight into this interesting question, how did a super power lose.

If you first look at the military aspect of the war the Continental army, was raised quite quickly after the battle of Lexington and Concorde, were a group of volunteers, Washington said of them after that "I dare say the men should fight very well (if properly officered) although they are an exceedingly dirty and nasty people" which shows the contempt that Washington had for the Continental army. Even with this lack of contempt for the Army that Washington had created, even to this extent it did show the skill of Washington as a General, to rally his troops as Valley Forge after the British capture of Philadelphia. With this considering General Howe had the tactical advantage then and there to effectively end the American cause. Colin Berwick believed that to this point, "Had he displayed greater energy he might have captured the entire army and possibly terminated the rebellion" Howe was provided the most credible chance of ending the war at an early stage, but with this the Continental had time to regroup and retrain especially, since the battle of Saratoga, which gave the fledgling country some impetuous on the world stage, with the implementation of Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus, a Prussian officer who's work at Training the American Forces was invaluable, to helping them over come the British. "His work at Valley Forge was to turn the ragged Continentals into a far more professional and competent army. First he selected a model company, which he trained personally, although he eventually needed a translator for his orders. The members of this company were then able to spread his methods across the army. Those methods were intelligently modified from the Prussian models to make them better suit American conditions and the character of the American volunteer soldiers." This shows that effective training provided a Washington, with a much more viable force than he started with, this increased Training would give the Americans a much more effective edge against there British counterparts, more ever in marksman ship, and Guerrilla tactics, which in affect the British army were not used to. "Much of the fighting especially in the south, took the form of guerrilla warfare, at which American militiamen proved more adept than British regulars" to this extent the British Red Coats were more used to fighting a general European war, with rigged formations and formations, not the hit and run tactics used in the American village areas this made it especially hard for the British to effectively hold onto any ground that they have taken. "Though every important American town fell to the British during the war, there were not enough troops to garrison them. The moment the British moved away from a subdued region, rebellion flared up in their rear."…"
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Bill N05 Mar 2018 4:08 p.m. PST

To me any explanation which does not start with the French is questionable.

Normal Guy05 Mar 2018 4:42 p.m. PST

Amen to that Bill N. Throw in Dutch loans too.

Virginia Tory05 Mar 2018 6:32 p.m. PST

Yeah. No French, no threat to a very tight blockade, economic collapse follows. Was already pretty bad as it was.

MDDriessen05 Mar 2018 6:38 p.m. PST

Howe refused to destroy the American Army. He was only one day march from Philadelphia to Valley Forge and he outnumbered the rebels by more than 3 to 1.

Glengarry505 Mar 2018 6:49 p.m. PST

Don't forget the Spanish!

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 6:53 p.m. PST

Not mentioned is the psychological impact the Seven Days(Trenton and Princeton) may have had on the British office corps. As well as the morale boost it gave to Washington and the Continental Army itself.

charared Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 9:32 p.m. PST

Everyone BUT Americans led by Washington!


Kinda' like Sioux Nation (and it's allies) having NOTHING to do with defeating Custer.

Yep, French muscle AND Dutch $$$ were VITAL to overall victory of the "Rebels"…


Let's just say that "some" English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish/German/ colonialists had "something" to do with the outcome.

C'mon now!!!

"God Save the King!"

(and all that).

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 9:42 p.m. PST

Just stop.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 10:35 p.m. PST

Trenton-Princeton and Saratoga happened before the French decided to stick their toes in the water.
Of course there was the Hortalez et cie shenanigans to supply arms to those guys who were irritating Perfidious Albion. Thanks for that.
But I really believe that total French intervention was nice but not necessary. It would have taken longer, and possibly have been more damaging to the Republic.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 10:42 p.m. PST

The thing is that the British were getting heartily sick of the War. Sooner or later, "making a statement" would wear thin.
All wars are political, and the Yankees were being like the Vietnamese. Getting defeated but not going away.
Yes, the British would have claimed "body count" victories and that they won more battles, but when the home front gets sick of the war, as the British were…

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 10:52 p.m. PST

Just about every book or article I've read on any particular aspect of the war claims that particular area being studied is the big reason for victory.

My conclusion is that there were lots of reasons for victory all over the place.

That, and we drank hard cider for breakfast. ^,^

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 12:52 a.m. PST

And then there's the Militia.

42flanker06 Mar 2018 2:04 a.m. PST

I think the Yankees probably had something to do with it.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 7:38 a.m. PST

+1 42flanker

rmaker06 Mar 2018 8:34 a.m. PST

A good argument can be made that the French intervention actually prolonged the war. As Winston points out, support for the King's policies were actually waning rapidly, the government was losing many votes in Parliament, and the taxpayers were getting very restless. But once France declared war, it became far more difficult for the Opposition.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 11:26 a.m. PST

That would make a good "what if" topic, rmaker.
Including no bankruptcy for France and its effect on the French Revolution.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 11:35 a.m. PST

No bankruptcy for France, by a variety of paths might mean no Louisiana Sale in 1803.

steamingdave4706 Mar 2018 11:44 a.m. PST

Who says the British " lost"? We got rid of a bunch of troublesome colonials who were costing us loads of money to defend and caused the French to spend money they didn't have. We also got a large territory to the north of US, populated by people who are, in the main, pretty well disposed towards Britain and who came forward very promptly to make an invaluable contribution on our side in two world wars. Sometimes it's a "win win".

42flanker06 Mar 2018 12:23 p.m. PST

All that gold in the thar hills…

coopman Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 1:33 p.m. PST

The British version is that they just let the Rebels win.

foxweasel Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 2:43 p.m. PST

You naughty boy Dave, you'll just annoy the Yanks saying things like that😀 You forgot to say that as we couldn't dump our criminals there anymore we had to find somewhere else and that led to Kylie, Crocodile Dundee and Neighbours!

Albino Squirrel06 Mar 2018 3:40 p.m. PST

It's amazing that after all these years the British still can't accept that the colonials beat them.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 4:01 p.m. PST

Was this document translated from another language? Surely English is not this persons first language. I couldn't read it all. Then again I couldn't even try to write in a foreign language.

42flanker06 Mar 2018 4:02 p.m. PST

It's amazing that after all these years the Jonathans still can't take a joke.

appropriate emoticon

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 4:05 p.m. PST

I liken most of the British Generals in North America to George B. McClellan. Both had a bit of sympathy towards their enemy. They couldn't quite beat them too badly. Just enough to bring them to their senses. Didn't work in the AWI and it didn't work in the ACW.

foxweasel Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 4:23 p.m. PST

I've always had the impression that the British government didn't take it particularly seriously until it was too late.

42flanker06 Mar 2018 5:08 p.m. PST

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the Howe brothers, regardless of a degree of Whig sympathy towards the rebel faction, believed that to inflict a swingeing victory on the American armed forces would make it harder to bring them back into the fold of loyal citizens, hence William Howe did not go in for the kill when he could have at New York in 1776.

I have yet to learn what factual basis there might be for that opinion.

It's interesting that Henry Clinton too was American born. There were no clear national boundaries in the war. In a generation's time perhaps the interpretation of the conflict as a civil war will finally be better accepted.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 10:06 p.m. PST

Was this document translated from another language? Surely English is not this persons first language. I couldn't read it all. Then again I couldn't even try to write in a foreign language.

No. He's a University student. That's even more incoherent.
Obviously he believes strongly in run-on sentences.

He also appears to have never heard of Steuben's last name, although he got the first three "Christian" names.
It has all the earmarks of a barely literate paper that impressed his professor because all the rest were illiterate. Extensive Wikipedia research.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 11:58 p.m. PST

It just seems to me the British Generals were reluctant to fight that war. That changed in 1812 those generals went for the jugular. If the 1812 bunch would have been in charge during the revolution I think it would have been over in no time.

Thank goodness the British in 1815 were short on cash and the public tired of war. If that Waterloo army had showed up, it might have been curtains.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2018 12:15 a.m. PST

Did the French intervention prolonged the war? Interesting question. It may have prolonged the war but I think it doomed the British in America.

The British need not worry about the Americans invading Britain. But there was a real and immediate threat of the French invading. The French intervention turned the American war into a world war.

The British now had to protect its entire empire. The French may have prolonged the war but its outcome was more certain.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2018 12:27 a.m. PST

I have yet to learn what factual basis there might be for that opinion.

It was either that or gross incompetence.

Don't forget that Cornwallis did the same thing.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2018 9:11 a.m. PST

There is some question as to how these events actually unfolded. But it does neatly in microcosm; sum up how the British and Americans conducted the war.

Patrick Ferguson could have shot Washington at Brandywine and didn't.

"I had only to determine, but it was not pleasant to fire at the back of an unoffending individual who was acquitting himself coolly of his duty, and so I let him alone."

Daniel Morgan had an opportunity to have General Simon Fraser shot at Saratoga.

"That gallant officer is General Fraser; I admire and respect him, but it is necessary that he should die"

Bill N07 Mar 2018 10:38 a.m. PST

I see Cornwallis in the south in a different situation from the Howes in the north. The British in 1780-81 are involved in a world war against two naval powers. This forced Cornwallis to keep large garrisons in Charleston and Savannah. Thanks to Clinton's policies Cornwallis also was faced with a vigorous guerilla war that forced him to devote troops to garrisons and anti-guerilla flying corps. The result was that Cornwallis was only able to field a relatively small field army. At both Camden and Guilford Courthouse Cornwallis fought with an army about half the size of his opponents.

42flanker07 Mar 2018 12:49 p.m. PST

I suppose that Simon Fraser was at least shot while commanding his troops in action against the enemy.

Washington, if it was he, is supposed to have looked Fergusson in the eye when the latter hailed him, and then calmly rode off. He couldn't say he hadnt been warned! And of course Fergusson didn't realise who he might have had in his sights until later. He did express a degree of ambivalence about what he might have done had he known but as he was hit almost immediately afterwards, he declared the point moot.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Mar 2018 6:54 p.m. PST

Just my opinion, but I think that the British hierarchy underestimated the resolve of the Americans. I think that they felt that, after a few battles, the Patriots would grow tired of war and give up. I do not believe that they thought that the war would drag on for years, as it did.
Ironically, it was the British who would grow weary first.

In short, they thought that a quick spanking would bring the spoiled child back into the fold.

I don't think that you can fault them for this, as they were relying on false reports from an ocean away.
Again just my own belief, Im not claiming that it's fact or history.

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