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Fall of 1776
Following the battles of Harlem Heights
and Long Island, George Washington shifts his strategy. “The war
should be defensive . . . we should, on all
occasions, avoid a general action, nor put anything
to the risk, unless compelled by necessity, into
which we ought never to be drawn,”
Washington concludes. This is primarily a defensive war. His
army is not strong enough to play offense.
Washington worries that independence might be lost without a
well-trained Continental Army.
joining the Continental Army, Henry Knox had read
numerous books on military history and science
through the Boston bookstore that he had owned. His
assessment in the fall of 1776 shows his belief in
teaching men military discipline through education.
“The General [Washington] is as worthy a man as breathes, but he cannot do
everything nor be everywhere. He [lacks] good
assistants. There is a radical evil in our
army—the lack of officers. We ought to have men of
merit,” Henry Knox writes to his brother.
naming names, Knox expresses his disappointment in
the army’s officers. “Instead of which, the bulk
of the officers of the army . . . make tolerable
soldiers, but bad officers. . . We ought to have
academies, in which the whole theory of the art of
war shall be taught. . . As the army now stands, it is
a receptacle of ragamuffins.”
George Washington orders a
Manhattan on this day in 1776. New York City is lost to the British.
British General William Howe earns knighthood for his