25 Mar 2012
‘Fortune favours the prepared mind.” Pasteur
“He thought it through .” AW
George Washington’s military successes have been ascribed to luck . They weren’t . Neither was his moral influence on the nascent USA .
Look at his history as a CV for a job application .
Moderately wealthy parents , dominated by his mother after the death of his father when George was 11 . Attempts to enrol as a Royal Navy midshipman blocked by his mother at age 15 . (A nice alternate history : British Admiral Washington crushes North American rebellion) .
Ambitious to be a British Commissioned Officer , he enlists in the Colonial Militia and has extensive combat experience in the wars against the French in North-Western America . Eventually commissioned as Colonel of Virginia Regiment by Governor Dinwiddie in 1755 .
The Crux :
There is a gap between 1758 to 1775 (17 years )when Washington resigned his heart’s desire (an officer’s commission in the British Army) , and being appointed Commander-in-Chief of the rebels .
What gives ?
Look at the event :
In September, Grant was assigned to lead an advance part of around 800 men to determine the French strength at Fort Duquesne. The force was mainly made up of militia, but he took along a number of officers from the regulars, since he had little respect for the colonial troops. He then decided to split his force hoping to encourage a French attack that he could surprise and overwhelm. Having no wilderness experience, he was ambushed himself by Indians and French on September 14, 1758. At this engagement, the Battle of Fort Duquesne, the British force was repelled with 342 men killed, wounded or captured. The prisoners consisted of Major Grant and 18 of his men. He was paroled soon after, and tried to blame his defeat on the failure of the colonial militia to follow orders.
Grant , a man who had bought his commission overrode higher-ranked militia commanders to lead his men into disaster , then blamed the militia . And got away with it , even though his superiors knew the truth .
A lesser man would have blamed Major Grant , but Washington spent 17 years thoroughly examining the situation and where his loyalties lay . And what was wrong with the underlying system . This turned him into a committed Republican who disbanded his armies in favour of civilian rule . A tradition that still persists .
He was also evolving strategies , tactics , intelligence networks . (ie spies) and political support . He knew his enemy in depth , having been one of them . Their Achilles heel that eventually led to their defeat was the arrogance engendered by their class-system . Washington exploited this mercilessly through politics , spies , propaganda , etc . He used this to split them and defeat them in detail , even though they were numerically and organizationally superior .
And Luck ? When it was good (Yorktown) he exploited it to the hilt . If it was bad (Long Island) , he still managed extrication and a rapid counterpunch (Trenton)
He would have won regardless of luck .
But there was one instance when only luck saved him . He was reconnoitring near Brandywine Creek in 1777 , when he encountered Captain Patrick Ferguson of the British Army .
Ferguson was armed with his invention , the Ferguson rifle (a six bullets per minute rifle) . He called out to the officer (he did not recognize Washington) and his hussar escort to surrender . They coolly galloped off and he could not bring himself shoot a gallant enemy in the back. That was luck .
See Appendix I for something similar regarding Hitler .
Washington’s Legacies :
1.He resigned supreme military command with a large army at his back .
He committed the military to be under civilian control .
On November 25, the British evacuated New York City, and Washington and the governor took possession. At Fraunces Tavern on December 4, Washington formally bade his officers farewell and on December 23, 1783, he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief. Historian Gordon Wood concludes that the greatest act in his life was his resignation as commander of the armies—an act that stunned aristocratic Europe. King George III called Washington "the greatest character of the age" because of this.
This morphed into an offer of King after the Newburgh conspiracy , where he defused a proposed coup by disgruntled officers of the Continental Army .
Haggard first summarizes how the myth grew by reviewing accounts of it in historical works. The earliest of them, published in 1823, states ""a letter was handed to Washington containing the demand of some for a monarchy, and himself the king." From there the story grew. As recently as 1984 a prominent American historian wrote that "Washington’s refusal to countenance Nicola’s scheme ‘signifies the death of the monarchical idea in the United States and the total triumph of representative government.’" (Haggard p. 142).
2. He refused a third term , setting the precedent of only two presidential terms . This was crucial , and responsible for much of the USA’s success .
3.He refused to write his memoires . Charles Thomson , the secretary of the Continental Congress jointly agreed with him . Between them , they knew all the dirty secrets . Even now , it would cause severe strain on the body politic .
An intriguing speculation is that they did write such a memoire , for the future presidents’ eyes only .
4.He forced a new , dedicated capital .
“The Residence Act “ of 1790 was his personal baby . The capital of the new nation had to have no ties to any state . His opinion of politicians can be seen in the property he chose : a swamp . Now called Washington , DC . This postponed the War between the States by about 3 decades .
5.Religious tolerance .
Washington was an active enemy of intolerance .
Washington had been Free Mason since 1752 , when he was 20 . During his term as first President , knowing that it would set the tone , he made a point of attending churches of all denominations and using his clout to come down heavily on any overt religious intolerance . (A mere suggestion from him led to severe trouble for the intolerant ones)
He blocked the Jacobins , Illuminati and Committees of Correspondence (called Democratic Societies below ) : All intolerant , fundamentalist organizations . They funded themselves by seizing wealth from their opponents . Modelled on the Spanish Inquisition .
In February 1793 a major war broke out between conservative Great Britain and its allies and revolutionary France, launching an era of large-scale warfare that engulfed Europe until 1815. Washington, with cabinet approval, proclaimed American neutrality. The revolutionary government of France sent diplomat Edmond-Charles Genêt, called "Citizen Genêt," to America. Genêt was welcomed with great enthusiasm and propagandized the case for France in the French war against Great Britain, and for this purpose promoted a network of new Democratic Societies in major cities. He issued French letters of marque and reprisal to French ships manned by American sailors so they could capture British merchant ships. Washington, warning and mistrustful of the influence of Illuminism that had been so strong in the French Revolution (as recounted by John Robison and Abbé Augustin Barruel) and its Reign of Terror, demanded the French government recall Genêt, and denounced the societies.
6.The Special Relationship with Britain .
Established with the Jay Treaty , of Nov 19 , 1794 . This lasted till today . Even wars were treated as an interfamily bickering .
A good man gone right .
PS:Some interesting asides :
1.Dominant Women :
Washington’s grandmother and mother were very dominant women . The real article .
The Washington men usually went to a minor public school in Britain (Appleby) , where they were routinely brutalised and brainwashed into being obedient subjects . After seeing what this did to his older half-brother , Lawrence , May Ball Washington nixed it and had her favourite eldest son educated by private tutors .
The same for suggestions that he become a midshipman in the Royal Navy . (When he was 15)
He , of course rebelled and joined the militia with the hope of eventually getting a commission .
If for no other reason, George Washington, regarded as the finest horseman of his day, should probably give credit to his mother's genes. Mary's mother specified in her will that a good pacing horse and fine side saddle be purchased for her. (Mary was 12 years old at the time.)
"I could not behold that remarkable woman without feelings it is impossible to describe. Whoever has seen that awe inspiring air and manner so characteristic of the Father of his Country will remember the matron."
2.Why George Washington has only one personal name ?
The American affectation for two names before the surname came from the Roman Republican naming system : PersonalName , Gens , FamilyName .
This only happened after the victory over the British , when all the fellow travellers embraced Roman Republicanism , without really understanding it .
3.Why no Washington Dynasty ?
Washington contracted smallpox while accompanying his half-brother to the Caribbean islands . He survived it , but was rendered sterile . (A common side effect) . (Alternate history : if he had children , a series of Washington presidents would have been possible.)
4.Why no duels ?
The challenger would have to have rocks for brains . Washington was large (6 feet) and broad to match . Heavily muscled after years of military service . Extremely fast and coordinated reflexes . He was reckoned to be the best horseman of his cohort . Also a veteran of years of the dirtiest close-quarter fighting in the world in the French-British Wars . Something like Vietnam , but worse . He would have sneered at SEALS , Green Berets et al .
Duels were then allowed to settle differences , but there is no recorded instance of anybody trying it on .
If there was , the body was never found .
George Washington was a really formidable individual , both in person and organizationally . He deliberately kept a low profile , since scaring people normally is counter-productive . But he did it to Horatio Gates in 1784 , entrapping him in the Newburgh conspiracy and forcing him into retirement .
Remember , Washington had been cultivating an intelligence network since 1758 (about 30 years)
(Gates was a real slimeball ,well known for his speed on the fastest commandeered horse after losing a battle.) .
He was lucky to survive . Washington punished him by whittling away at his allies and assets .
Gates sold Traveller's Rest (his estate) in 1790 and freed his slaves at the urging of his friend John Adams.
John Adams was a major Washington ally .
Washington was amazingly tolerant , but if he decided that somebody has exceeded the bounds , he did what he did to Horatio Gates . He dismantled them bit by bit until nothing was left . Not even a grave . He (Gates) died on April 10, 1806, and was buried in the Trinity Church graveyard on Wall Street, though the exact location of his grave is unknown.
The only one I can think of in comparable terms was Carolus Magnus (Charlemagne) . Large , fast , deadly and sneaky .They both thought it through first .
Tandey , there is some good news and some bad news .
The good news is that you saved a man’s life . The bad news is that it was Adolf Hitler .
Tandey stayed in in Coventry , and bitterly regretted his decision on seeing the aftermath of the bombing .
Henry Tandey VC, DCM, MM (30 August 1891 – 20 December 1977) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the most highly decorated British private of the First World War.
Although disputed, there is a story that Adolf Hitler and Tandey encountered each other after the battle at Marcoing (in October 1914, whilst Tandey was serving with the Green Howards). A weary German soldier wandered into Tandey's line of fire. The enemy soldier was wounded and did not even attempt to raise his own rifle. Tandey chose not to shoot. The German soldier saw him lower his rifle and nodded his thanks before wandering off. The soldier was later identified as Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler of the 16th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. Hitler later saw a newspaper report about Tandey being awarded the VC (in October 1918, whilst serving with the 5th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment), recognized him, and kept the clipping.
Tandey, now a war hero, was featured in a painting, commissioned by the Green Howards Regiment, by Italian artist Fortunino Matania, carrying a wounded soldier at Ypres. In 1937 Hitler asked Tandey's old regiment for a large photograph of the painting, which was sent. Captain Weidmann, Hitler's adjutant, wrote the following response: 'I beg to acknowledge your friendly gift which has been sent to Berlin through the good offices of Dr. Schwend. The Führer is naturally very interested in things connected with his own war experiences, and he was obviously moved when I showed him the photograph and explained the thought which you had in causing it to be sent to him. He has directed me to send you his best thanks for your friendly gift which is so rich in memories.' Hitler also obtained a copy of Tandey's service record.
In 1938, when Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler at his alpine retreat, the Berghof, for the discussions that led to the Munich Agreement, he noticed the photograph and asked about it. Hitler replied, "that man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again; Providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us". He also asked Chamberlain to convey his best wishes and gratitude to Tandey. Chamberlain promised to phone Tandey in person on his return, which he did.
There is evidence that the original incident actually occurred in 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres, which both men were also involved in.