America, from the beginning: Immense Geography, Fixed Resolve on NOTHING LESS than Independence
An excerpt from The First Salute, by Barbara W. Tuchman, Ballantine Books, pages 177-178
The only change the British war ministers made [in 1778] was to name a new Commander-in-Chief of British forces in America. Sir William Howe, whose heart was not in the fight, was replaced by Sir Henry Clinton, who was not an improvement. The appointment of Clinton — a cousin of the Duke of Newcastle, manager-in-chief of political patronage — was not unrelated to his having the right ‘connections.’ It gave direction of the war in the field to a man of neurotic temperament, whose constant hesitation always made him reach decisions too late for the event that required them.
“Within three months of his appointment in May, 1778, Clinton’s survey of the elements of the situation — its immense geography, the fixed resolve of the rebels on nothing less than independence, … and the absence of active support by a large and eager body of Loyalists which the British had counted upon — left the new Commander-in-Chief with little enthusiasm and no illusions. Almost his first act, as he tells in his postwar narrative, was to solicit the King for leave to resign, on the ground of the ‘im¬practica-bility’ of the war. Refused in his request, Clinton became unhappy … from recognition … that the war was unwinnable. The means were too limited for the task. He complained of delay in promised reinforcements, which left him without adequate forces and ‘without money, provisions, ships or troops adequate to any beneficial purpose,’ while being constantly prodded for more vigorous action here, there, or anywhere by Lord Germain, the war minister at home, his ministerial chief whom Clinton disliked and distrusted.
” ‘For God’s sake, My Lord,’ he wrote in one exasperated outburst, ‘if you wish me to do anything, leave me to myself and let me adapt my efforts to the hourly change of circumstances.’ By September, 1780, he writes flatly to Germain his opinion of the ‘utter impossibility of carrying on the war without reinforcement.’ This was wishing for the moon. Imperial Britain did not have the population to match the extent of her dominion, nor the funds to spend on more mercenaries, whose further employment would, in any case, have risked rancorous fury in the [British Parliamentary] Opposition. Reinforcements would not be forthcoming. It was the old — and ever new — condition in war of ambitions outreaching re¬sources.
“Believing his field army in New York to be too few in numbers (which seems to have been a case of nerves, since he well knew that Washington’s army, suffering from shortages and mutinies, could not attack), and alarmed by ‘threatening clouds . . . which begin to gather in all quarters,’ Clinton became prey to ‘the deepest uneasiness’ and, like [Prime Minister] Lord North, repeatedly peppered the King with his wish to be relieved of the chief command and to turn it over to Lord Cornwallis, who was conducting the campaign in the South. Now in his uneasiness he not merely asked, but ‘implored’ His Majesty to be relieved of the high command, and on a third occasion, his plea becomes a ‘prayer’ for release. Though he was clearly not a general for the bold offensives wanted by the King, he was retained. King George, in his passionate conviction of righteous conquest and confidence in bold action, was left to depend for his chief lieutenants, one in the political and one in the military field, on a pair of reluctant coachmen, each of whom wished only to let go of the reins and descend from the coachman’s box. That is not the way wars are won.”
Take note of the very last sentence: “That is not the way wars are won.”
It’s time to raise up bold, educated, conservative leaders to replace “reluctant coachmen” now heading – hindering, actually – the Republican Party.