Module5 - MODULE 5 THE EXPERIMENT BEGINS The United States...

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MODULE 5: THE EXPERIMENT BEGINS The United States, then and now, has been described as “the Great Experiment.” Those who use that moniker tacitly ask: can a large, diverse republic built upon democratic institutions survive over time? The path from war to stability was neither easy nor straight, and, consistent with the inescapable flaws and idiosyncracies of the men who crafted it, the system we enjoy today was not without shortcomings—shortcomings that would leave the United States embroiled in conflict for decades to come. THE MANY WARS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION Conventional Though we tend to think of the revolution as a single conflict, it was actually three intersecting campaigns—and not all of them military. Most of the storied combat engagements (Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Cowpens, Trenton and Princeton, Yorktown) involved formal, uniformed troops in conventional warfare—that is, each army lined up across from one another in an open field, the first rank dropped to a knee while the second rank remained standing, they aimed, fired, and the killed and wounded collapsed to the ground while their replacements stepped forward, rinse and repeat. This campaign—the conventional campaign —pitted the elite British Royal Army against the American Continental Army and George Washington, who found himself plagued by several fundamental disadvantages. First, the
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forces; at any given time, Washington had around 19,000 men available to him, while the British fielded roughly 32,000. The red coats were better equipped and provisioned, at least initially, and had far more discipline and experience that the hastily- assembled Continental troops. These inescapable facts shaped Washington’s approach to the conflict. He could not employ traditional combat tactics; open confrontations with the British, even if the colonists exacted as many casualties as they suffered, would eventually and inevitably bleed the army to death. Instead, Washington elected to fight on the strategic defensive , retreating from open confrontations with the British and withdrawing until he found ground that provided his army with natural fortifications and other advantages. Geography plays a critical role in the success or failure of any military operation, and Washington shrewdly used the land to neutralize the numerical advantages of the British. Ultimately, however, Washington realized that the colonists would likely be unable to win a prolonged military conflict with the British; they were simply too strong. He decided to concentrate his effort, then, on exhausting the public will in England to prosecute the war. If Washington could make the war unbearably expensive in blood and treasure, then perhaps the English people would not want to continue. It was a risky strategy, but given his meager resources, Washington had little choice. QuickTime and a
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Module5 - MODULE 5 THE EXPERIMENT BEGINS The United States...

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