Authored by U.S. Army War College
The short winter campaign of 1776-1777, including the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, is one of the most important campaigns of the Revolutionary War. This short campaign kept the colonial army and the revolutionary cause alive at a critical time.
All combat units are not equal. Washington knew it during this campaign, just as we know it now. As a strategic leader his mission was to capitalize on the strengths of each available unit by assigning it appropriate missions, while at the same time minimizing the risks to the unit. By looking at his employment of the Pennsylvania militia and Associators at Trenton and Princeton, we can see that Washington was developing good techniques for maximizing the effectiveness of the militiamen.
In this short campaign George Washington took maximum advantage of the militia’s strengths and used them mainly in supporting attacks, economy of force missions and as security forces designed to provide early warning. When he needed to use militia in more direct attacks or in holding defensive positions, he interspersed them with the regulars to give them an example to follow when battle was engaged. During movements he positioned militia units in the line of march between Continental units to literally “keep them in line.” The regulars were assigned the more difficult missions that required maneuver of larger elements and more restrictive discipline.
The techniques used by George Washington in this short campaign to handle the militia served him well throughout the rest of the revolution. As a leader, he overcame his prejudices toward the ruffians of the militia and developed techniques that allowed him to use them to their maximum effectiveness and at the same time protect their weaknesses.
Sep 04 2014
1501055356 / 9781501055355
US Trade Paper
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
History / United States / Revolutionary War