Major George Washington was just twenty-one when Governor Dinwiddie asked him to assess French strength in the lead-up to the French and Indian Wars. That fledgling assignment served as the first military baptism of the future Commander of the Continental Army. This new book by award-winning military specialist Stephen Brumwell (The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763) fills in the significant, yet neglected story of Washington's frontier battlefield apprenticeship, showing how the lessons it taught him prepared him to be the effective leader of a relative untrained, ragtag army. A refreshing, well-research perspective on a leader we know so well.
George Washington: Gentleman Warriorby Stephen Brumwell
Winner of the prestigious George Washington Book Prize, George Washington is a vivid recounting of the formative years and military career of "The Father of his Country," following his journey from brutal border skirmishes with the French and their Native American allies to his remarkable victory over the British Empire, an achievement that underpinned his/i>… See more details below
Winner of the prestigious George Washington Book Prize, George Washington is a vivid recounting of the formative years and military career of "The Father of his Country," following his journey from brutal border skirmishes with the French and their Native American allies to his remarkable victory over the British Empire, an achievement that underpinned his selection as the first president of the United States of America. The book focuses on a side of Washington that is often overlooked: the feisty young frontier officer and the early career of the tough forty-something commander of the revolutionaries' ragtag Continental Army.Award-winning historian Stephen Brumwell shows how, ironically, Washington's reliance upon English models of "gentlemanly" conduct, and on British military organization, was crucial in establishing his leadership of the fledgling Continental Army, and in forging it into the weapon that secured American independence. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including original archival research, Brumwell brings a fresh new perspective on this extraordinary individual, whose fusion of gentleman and warrior left an indelible imprint on history.
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During the late summer of 1777, Major Patrick Ferguson was, by common consent, the best marksman in the formidable British army bent upon breaking the back of American rebellion against King George III. Early on the morning of September 11, while observing the rebel forces arrayed in a defensive position along Brandywine Creek, southwest of the revolutionaries’ capital of Philadelphia, Ferguson identified a tempting pair of targets. Some 100 yards off, in clear sight, were two horsemen. One wore the flamboyant uniform of a French hussar officer. The other, who rode a fine bay, was far more soberly dressed in a dark coat and an unusually large and high cocked hat. Like Ferguson himself, both riders were plainly engaged in reconnoitering their enemy’s dispositions.
Against individual targets, 100 yards was long range for the muzzle-loading smooth bore muskets carried by most of the soldiers assembling along either side of the creek. Yet the major was not squinting down the barrel of a simple “firelock,” but over the sights of a sophisticated breech-loading rifle of his own invention. Its seven- grooved bore could spin a ball with far greater accuracy than a common musket and over a longer distance. A year before, at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, London, Ferguson had demonstrated that fact before a panel of skeptical high- ranking officers, fi ring off four shots a minute to pepper a target set 200 yards away: the riders he now contemplated were sitting ducks.
The dark-clad horseman was obviously a general officer, the dashing hussar his aide-de-camp. The hussar turned back, but his companion lingered. Moving out from the trees that sheltered him and a score of his corps of riflemen, Ferguson shouted a warning. The rider stopped, looked, and then calmly continued about his business. The major called again, this time drawing a bead upon the heedless horseman. The distance between them was, as Ferguson reported, one at which during even the most rapid firing he had “seldom missed a piece of paper,” and he “could have lodged a half a dozen of balls in or about him” before he could ride out of range. But something stopped him from squeezing the trigger. Ferguson was an officer and a gentleman. As he conceded with unconcealed admiration, his proposed target was conducting himself with such coolness that to have shot him in the back would have seemed an unsporting, “unpleasant” action. And so the major let him trot off unmolested.
Later that same day the rival armies clashed in earnest. After a stubborn fight, British discipline prevailed, pushing back the rebels and increasing the threat to Philadelphia. Ferguson, who had been badly wounded in the right hand during the fighting, spoke with a doctor busy treating the wounded of both sides. From the surgeon’s recent conversation with a group of enemy officers, it seemed that the two distinctively clad riders Ferguson had seen earlier were none other than General George Washington, the commander in chief of the revolutionaries’ Continental Army, and the French officer attending him that day. As Ferguson freely acknowledged, he was “not sorry” to have remained oblivious of their identity.
Had he known what the future held, both for him personally and for the cause in which he soldiered, the gallant major may have thought—and acted—differently. And if ever a single shot could have changed the course of history, an unwavering ball sped from Ferguson’s rifle would surely have done so.
“I am a warrior.” These were the uncompromising words that George Washington chose to describe himself in May 1779, at the height of the Revolutionary War. Washington was addressing the “Chief Men” of the Delaware nation of Indians, and his language was calculated to strike a chord with listeners who were themselves first and foremost tribal fighters—warriors in the purest sense. Yet even allowing for Washington’s deliberate use of the rhetoric and vocabulary of Indian diplomacy, his self- characterization is telling.
In 1779, George Washington was a warrior, “the commander in chief of all the armies in the United States of America,” as he put it. In his message, Washington made a point of distancing himself from the revolutionary movement’s political leaders while at the same time emphasizing what he shared with the Delawares: there were some matters about which he would not speak, “because they belong to Congress, and not to us warriors.”
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So far a very interesting read. Author seems as though he put in a great deal of research and composed a strong narrative of gw not yet accomplished. But why so many commas...it's almost to the point where I think he just made it all up. --pause--