The Strategy of Victory: How General George Washington Won the American Revolution
There’s a lot to like in Thomas Fleming’s Strategy of Victory, but the sum here is definitely less than its parts. The book abounds in interesting factoids – a slave named Prince Estabrook fought with the militia at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Anthony Wayne had the dirtiest mouth in the Continental Army – but they remain factoids, no more information than provided here. We learn (very briefly) how wives and daughters of militiamen frequently protected their homes behind enemy lines. And we get quite a good description of the Battle of Cowpens.
However, Fleming’s goal is to portray George Washington as a “thinking general” instead of a “mere figurehead.” This seems to ignore that a general’s role is, in large part, as a figurehead, especially when “New England’s leaders badly needed a man from the embryo nation’s largest state to create at least the illusion of unity” (italics my own). This isn’t to say Washington wasn’t a “thinking general” – he developed the eponymous strategy of victory, which was to augment Continental regulars with militia, and to “fight, get beat, rise and fight again” while avoiding head-on, large-scale battles (general actions) with the British. He also had a great talent for surrounding himself with capable and loyal men, perhaps the best talent a general can posses.
In the end, Fleming’s book is an apology, seeking to bolster the divine reputation of America’s founding god. While leaders like Daniel Morgan enlisted men like Prince Estabrook and wives like Susan Livingston do all the fighting and heroics, General Washington lingers in the background for most of the story.
Da Capo Press