During the time up to the winter strike against Trenton Washington recognizes the symptoms of the protracted war on his own forces, the Continental Army was falling apart around him, morale, and recruitment were low. Washington mounts an attack on Christmas Day 1776, crossing the Delaware River to strike Trenton defeating the Hessian outpost and successfully restoring public support and bolstering his ranks. (Weigley, 1973, pp. 39-40)
By taking away the British Army’s will to fight, and to erode it’s peoples support for the war was the main focus and attack on the British Center of Gravity, “For there has never been a protracted war from which a country had benefited.” (Tzu, 1963, p. 73) In drawing out the war, Washington strategy of attrition attacks the very heart of the British strategy. Since the British are still at war with France, the drain on resources abroad in the colonies weakens British strength in defense of England. “…what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy;” (Tzu, 1963, p. 77)
Understanding the political goal and his own center of Gravity being his army, Washington avoids a major battle whenever possible and attacks when it is advantageous forcing the British into a prolonged war of attrition. “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.” (Tzu, 1963, p. 82) Washington avoids the British attempt to win decisively by adapting a Sun Tzu approach to maneuver warfare, “He who knows the art of the direct and indirect approach will be victorious. Such is the art of maneuvering.” (Sun Tzu, p. 106) with this continuous maneuvering it gives Washington control of the flow of the War. The War of Maneuver allows Washington time to build his Army while forcing the British to garrison in several major cities as they never knew where Washington’s forces would strike.
Washington’s steadfastness in his strategy and character would pay off when Cornwallis pulled out of the southern campaign and would encamp his forces at Yorktown. Washington, recognizing that this was the moment to strike, executed a plan to engage the British at Yorktown. In a deceptive move towards New York that threw the Northern British Army under General Clinton off-balance, Washington began the movements of forces towards Yorktown. Meticulous planning from Washington would ensure that every detail was considered. The French followed the routes recommended by Washington, and the two great armies converged on Yorktown. General Cornwallis conceded, surrendering his army October 19, 1781, the Revolutionary War was over. The British ministry under pressure from its recent loss and dealing with conflicts much closer to the homeland with France and Spain, lost the will to continue fighting in America, the very objective Washington maintained during this conflict. (Weigley, 1973, p. 39)
Copyright 2019 - Education WordPress Theme.