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Viki, Internet Researcher
Category: General
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Experience:  I have eleven years experience writing statewide educational tests for all levels.
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what were the british and american strategies in the early ...

Customer Question

what were the british and american strategies in the early years of the war

what decisions and constraints kept the british from achieving the quick victory many expected..

this is supposed to be answered in an essay format..
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Viki replied 10 years ago.


The ultimate American victory in the Revolutionary War resulted from the intangible advantages that the colonists enjoyed, which outweighted the more concrete advantages of the British Empire. The emotional benefit of defending their own homeland allowed the patriots to be able to claim victory in every stalemate, while for the British, nothing less than total victory over the colonists would work. In addition, the political debate that had raged in the colonies from 1763-1776 convinced the colonists that American society and institutions were superior to Britain's. The patriots were less conscious of the supposed British advantages than everyone else was.

The major British advantage was their superior professional fighting force. They had greater numbers of soldiers, with better equipment and more experience in fighting. However, most of their experience was in fighting on the continent, in set-piece battles, where two armies faced each other, in open terrain. This was not at all like the war they fought in America. The colonists waged a guerrilla war, harassing British supply and communications lines, only fighting when there was a good chance of winning. The battles of Trenton and Princeton were examples of how General Washington exploited these tactical advantages.

The British commanders, thought to be the best military strategists in the world, believed that the way to win wars was to occupy cities and gain territory. They did not realize at first, that if they did not defeat Washington and his army, they could not win because the patriots were never going to stop fighting.

Another British advantage was their wealth. However, the war against the colonists was not popular in Britain. The opposition party convinced many British citizens that winning the war was not worth the cost. Reinforcements were delayed and the British army was forced to confiscate supplies from the cities they occupied. (which did not make them overly popular)

British naval superiority was thought to be the absolute guarantee of British victory. In the end, this was neutralized by the French fleet. And the French fleet would not have been present if the colonists had not utilized their greatest advantage: their knowledge and use of the geography of their land. When the Americans won the Battle of Saratoga, the French were convinced that the time was right to become allied with the patriots. This also helped to solve many of the supply problems that the colonial forces had experienced. The French provided the material aid that the colonists needed.

The colonists' knowledge of the best places to hide, where to retreat, how to defend and to maneuver and travel through cross-country, allowed General Washington to adopt flexible tactics. The smaller numbers of soldiers available to him, also allowed him greater speed in his maneuvers and he was able to avoid a disastrous defeat that would have meant the end of the war. Then there was the emotional advantage that outweighed all the British material ones. The colonists could not afford to lose; there was no place for them to go back to, if they lost. They were fighting for their futures, while the British forces were fighting, because it was their job to fight.


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