Was American success in achieving independence due more to General Washington’s strategic skill or to British blunders?
The British military was considered the strongest in the world at the outreach of fighting between England and the American colonies in 1775. Britain had just defeated France and the Indians in the Seven Years War and had attained its prominence as a world’s superpower. Yet despite Britain’s overpowering military dominance, the British found themselves unable to subdue General Washington and the American colonies. The American’s success in achieving independence during the American Revolution was not due to General Washington’s strategic skill but by numerous British blunders. The British mistakes during the Revolutionary war are: they never had an overall strategy; they failed to identify the Center of Gravity, shifting from offensive strategy to a defensive strategy and diverting the war to the Southern colonies.
The British never had an overall strategy for winning the Revolutionary War. They acted vigilantly at points when authoritative and serious attacks could have undermined the Continental army. The British assumed that American rebellion would disintegrate when British troops lands on American shores. They believed that the Continental Army was amateurish and unable to fight a interminable war against an organized British military force. Not until after the Battle of Bunker did the British even begin to consider in terms of war rather than simply rebellion. Britain certainly not intended for a lengthy war and constantly expected for the one pivotal victory. The Continental Army was fighting a domestic war while the British had to ship their troops from across the Atlantic. Fighting against their own countrymen was also both a psychological and emotional handicap for the British soldiers. The British military regularly made mistakes, especially General Howe. His indolence to take action at the start of the war made it probable for General Washington and the Continental Army to survive. Occurrences of poor communication and collaboration between British commanders resulted in squandered occasions as well in Saratoga and Yorktown. The component of period unceasingly handicapped British maneuvers. Communications both across the Atlantic and within the colonies were dawdling and useless. Some commanders took matters into their own hands and followed strategies that they felt best suited their immediate goals. The indecision surrounding responses frequently led to unwarranted caution, unnecessary delays, or unforeseeable prospects in strategic situations, which eventually demonstrated to be costly. Because of the length of time it took for communications, field conditions continually changed.
Failure to identify the Center of Gravity
The Americans had no discernable central government and the British could not determine a truly decisive Center of the Gravity (COG). The COG is the hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends (Clausewitz, pp. 595-596). There was no COG that Britain could seize and end the war. There was no one that the British military could defeat that would quickly bring about the abandonment of the entire colonist opposition. Throughout the campaign, General Howe continued to allow the Continental Army to withdraw from the field without entirely destroying them. General Howe’s unwillingness to conduct a forceful pursuit and destroy General Washington’s Continental Army saved the Americans from a defeat that could have possibly ended the American Revolution. General Howe did not take into account that the Continental Army was the life of the rebellion and should have been considered as the COG. The British dissipated an opportunity to inflict a destructive defeat on the Continental army at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. Although they strained the insurgents from the elevated field, the British army missed their chance...
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