Best Defense

Washington’s dealings with militias: Had to rely on them, but still didn’t like them

There’s a good, if rambling, essay on George Washington and irregular forces in the July issue of the Journal of Military History. The article, by John Hall of the University of Wisconsin, is also a good guide to the modern historiography of Washington. The key point of the article, I think, is that Washington didn’t ...

via Wikimedia
via Wikimedia

There’s a good, if rambling, essay on George Washington and irregular forces in the July issue of the Journal of Military History. The article, by John Hall of the University of Wisconsin, is also a good guide to the modern historiography of Washington.

The key point of the article, I think, is that Washington didn’t like militias, but also found himself dependent on them in both the French and Indian War and the Revolution.  

The article also made me think that the effectiveness of American militias during the Revolution is probably best understood in the geographical context of how far they were from home. My bet is the closer they were to their homes, the better they were at reconnaissance, raiding and even close-in fighting. Anyone know of someone who has looked at this? 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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