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The American Defense of Long Island

The American Defense of Long Island published on

Authored by Steven Gunther LCDR

The Continental Congress and General Washington mistakenly inflated the importance of New York City to the cause of the revolution. After racing to beat the British to New York, Washington committed his army to the defense of Long Island, either overlooking or neglecting its critical vulnerabilities. Hopeful of a victory in the fashion of Bunker Hill that could bring an end to the war, Washington and his inexperienced corps of generals led an under-trained, under-equipped, undisciplined force’ into the largest battle of the Revolutionary War against one of the most experienced armies of its time. The subsequent battle was the most lopsided defeat the Continental army suffered during the war and the destruction of the army was prevented only by a daring retreat across the East River.

George Washington decided to defend New York City base on potential political ramifications over military strategy. In doing so, he violated what Clausewitz deemed the supreme act of judgment that a political and military leader must make. Specifically, he failed to determine the kind of war on which they are embarking and not mistake it for, or try to make it something different. Chasing the specter of a decisive victory Washington committed his unprepared forces to an unnecessary task. The resulting defeat set the tone for the rest of 1776 and forced strategic redirection that would ultimately lead to victory.

Publication Date:
Apr 15 2015
151173504X / 9781511735049
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
History / United States / Revolutionary War


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