How do you rate George Washington as a military commander?

Johnstown

Dominant Poster
Jun 4, 2013
20,069
4,314
The thread about greatest reminded me of this.


Years ago that one actor Robert Wuhl had a special on HBO called "Assume the Position" where he took over a college class room and basically presented ideas on world history using humor.


He made some fair points on things.... but one of his positions was that Washington really wasn't a good commander because he didn't win that many battles.


I would say that misunderstands the nature of asymmetric warfare and how many disadvantages Washington was dealing with.


However I do think it can be argued that Washington was a better Revolutionary statesmen and Politician.


Now some of that relates back to what success he had as a military commander....after all his ability to deal with various militia commanders in what was a pretty frayed command structure was highly important as was his ability to deal with all the prima donnas in the Contentional Army.


But...just as a military commander....how does he fair?
 

Sittin Sonny

THE BIDENATOR
Jun 10, 2013
4,751
3,520
Road to Victory
I would say that misunderstands the nature of asymmetric warfare and how many disadvantages Washington was dealing with.
You basically answered your own question with this point - the fact that he won any victories and held his own against one of the P4P mightiest military forces in history with a ragtag collection of rebels was a huge achievement in itself.
 
Reactions: Johnstown

Johnstown

Dominant Poster
Jun 4, 2013
20,069
4,314
You basically answered your own question with this point - the fact that he won any victories and held his own against one of the P4P mightiest military forces in history with a ragtag collection of rebels was a huge achievement in itself.
Well this thread died
 

Bachafach^^^

ANTIFA He/His/Him Shareblue
Dec 6, 2019
2,863
2,210
20
Varaždin, Hrvaška
Let's take a look

The good

Battle of Trenton - captured or killed 1,000 Hessian soldiers with only the loss of 2 of his own

Siege of Boston - Successfully forced the British to withdraw from Boston with heavy casualties after moving cannon to Dorchester heights threatening the British army and fleet.

Second Battle of Trenton - withstood a British counterattack inflicting heavy casualties on the British

Battle of Princeton - Washington was able to outmaneuver Cornwallis and ambush a small detachment of around 1200 British routing them completely. Lead from the front like Caesar at Alesia. Due to 3 defeats in a week and the loss of nearly 2,000 soldiers the British were forced to retreat from New Jersey


The mid

Battle of Harlem Heights - Washington's first battle field victory. Minor checking action after losing his entire army at Long Island

Battle of Monmouth - inconclusive. Washington to attack an British supply train. While the colonials were able to inflict more casualties on the British the British were able to withdraw in orderly fashion with no harm coming to the supply train. This battle perhaps highlights Washingtons strengths and flaws. Washington sent a subordinate to pin the British down for his follow up pincer movement. However, Washington had underestimated the size of the British army and his subordinate General Lee retreated without without firing a shot almost ending in catastrophy. Washington arrived and was able to stabilize the colonials lines through shear force of will and launch several bloody counter attacks winning a needed propaganda victory. What Washington lacked in strategic vision he made up for in being an instant boost in morale whenever he was on the field

Battle of Germantown - Washington attempted a repeat of Trenton and this time captured an entire British army which may have ended the war in 1777 as it would've been coupled with Burgoynes capture at Saratoga. Washington had planned a 4 pronged assault on British positions that his soldiers weren't trained to accomplish nor was Washington and his subordinates skilled enough to execute. It was repulsed with 500 American dead/captured to 300 British. However the audacity of the attempt with the victory at Saratoga convinced the French that Americans could win.


The bad

Battle of Long Island - Washington was pinned down and flanked by a larger force showing difference in skill and experience in a more professional force. Several thousands Hessians with bayonets barrel into the rear of the colonials. 20% of the colonials were killed or captured. However due to Howe's failure to launch a direct assault on American positions and Washington skillful retreat using pontoon boats prevented what likely would've been the end of the war.

Battle of Brandywine - Largest set piece battle of the war. The British crumple Washington's right flank and he was almost killed. Leads to the capture of the capital of the rebel colonies Philadelphia. As at Long Island Washington once again slow to react to a British pin and flank manuever. However like Long Island, Washington was able to execute another skillful withdrawal preventing a route.




Looking at these battles you get a picture of a man that was able motivate his men into executing manuevers that were a bit above their pay grade and several times through force of personality was able prevent disasterous defeats and check any follow up attempts at British victories.

Leading small units Washingotn was an excellent commander. Also had a eye for talent and was not afraid to delegate responsibilities to others like Nathaniel Greene (probably the best Continental Army General). He was also not afraid to listen to advice from his subordinates and deferred to the French when it came to choosing where to finish off the British army. Washington wanted to avenge New York, the French correctly chose Yorktown.

However, the larger the Continental army was in the field the harder time Washington had coordinating his forces with lines of communication breaking down near instantly. Very rudimentary commanding compared to European armies of the time. Still Washington fought the war that needed to be fought against contrary to popular belief was not the cream of European land armies in the late 18th century. The British army whilst having some professional units was stretched extremely thin and a lot of British soldiers were hasty conscripts, many from British jails.
 

SwollenGoat

Deicide
May 17, 2013
57,888
17,942
The House that Peterbilt
fair to middling but,as you yourself pointed out,his greatest work was political....................remember he was not the only 'general' in the feild and the brits wee fucked because they couldn't beat out all the separate brushfires or compete in the far corners of the colonies..............shit was going on from vermont to georgia and,despite battles lost time and again,the place was too big and the population too pissed for effective occupation outside urban areas.............and even then shit went down

Washington was like the NVA and the rest the viet cong,to some extent..............