“Oh, Please. A bunch of hicks with deer rifles could never take on the government.”
– every leftist beta-male, ever
History is a fascinating subject not because of dates and events but because of the personalities and causes that drive them.
At the moment, I’m almost halfway through Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing, at a point after the Continental Army had won battles at Trenton and Princeton through brilliant leadership, and then went into winter quarters, as Washington was busy with the business of politicking, provisioning, and recruiting for the upcoming campaign season. What my history books in high school never taught was the petite guerre that was waged on Washington’s behalf in late winter on his behalf by Jersey militiamen.
Yes, those damned, troublesome militiamen.
Through small unit attacks, raids, assaults on British foraging parties and small battles, the militia beat the Hessians and the British Regulars back to Amboy, within sight of New York City. This petite guerre made it extremely difficult for the British to forage for food or obtain fodder for their animals without suffering continual casualties.
When British foraging units sallied forth, they were ambushed, their purloined supplies confiscated by the militias or destroyed. When larger units were sent out, the Jersey militiamen riddled their flanks and rear. In each and ever encounter, the militias gained experience and proficiency, and British and Hessians uniformly took took the heavier losses.
The Forage War, 1777, via Project White Horse.
The Forage War, as it became known, lasted until the greening began in the spring. The result was a far more confident and experienced corps of militiamen, and the wearing down of the best military in the world of it’s day. Thousands of Hessians and British were captured, and 900 were killed. But the losses went well beyond battle casualties. Because of the constant harassment of the Jersey militia raiders, the petite guerre created deplorable conditions in British and German camps. Overcrowding, poor food, too few supplies and poor sanitation led to more than half of the British forces sent into the Jerseycampaign in 1776 New Jersey being rendered dead, wounded, too ill to fight, or otherwise ineffective.
“Small war” on the British, German, and their Loyalist allies in New Jersey and elsewhere showed a constant theme that haunted the British throughout the Revolutionary War; America is too large to be pacified by any standing army if there are enough citizens willing to take up arms in her defense.