Cover image for George Washington's war : the forging of a Revolutionary leader and the American presidency
George Washington's war : the forging of a Revolutionary leader and the American presidency
Chadwick, Bruce.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks, [2004]

Physical Description:
569 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, 1 map ; 24 cm
Christmas, 1776 -- The squire of Mount Vernon -- The Army will die -- The patriot king -- Rebuilding the Army -- The Army's war machine -- Valley Forge -- The angel of death -- The fall from grace -- A new American Army -- Starving to death -- A war of attrition and ungrateful hearts -- A hero turned traitor -- The great slavery debate -- Coup d'etat -- Cincinnatus -- I do solemnly swear.
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E312.25 .C48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Based on 1,500 primary sources, Chadwick presents a fresh new biography of George Washington (1732-99), first president of the USA A gripping narrative that concentrates on Washington's spellbinding Revolutionary years Chadwick contends that George Washington became the great leader he was, not through the military campaigns of the American Revolution - there were nine major battles, and the Americans lost six of them - but through the winter months when he and his army were ensconced in Morristown, and later Valley Forge. Here he simultaneously created a military force, dealt with Congress and the emerging states, held the British at bay, and in effect, created a nation. He served the role of President of the United States during the four years of the Revolution before he was in fact elected to that office.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Washington has not been praised as a military genius; troops under his direct command won only two major battles against the British, and his greatest tactical skill seems to have been in organizing retreats. Yet he is given--and deserves--the lion's share of credit for winning the military struggle. Chadwick is a former journalist who lectures in American history at Rutgers University. Effectively utilizing primary sources, he shows how Washington evolved into an inspirational leader who gradually adapted his tactics to meet the political and military needs of a prolonged struggle. In effect, Washington realized he could win by not losing, so the priority was to keep the army together. Chadwick covers familiar ground here, but he provides highly readable accounts of key battles. He is at his best, however, in tracking Washington's development as a military and political leader as he wages a two-front war against the British and against opponents in Congress. This is a fine addition to our understanding of the indispensable man. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Instead of offering a chronicle of maneuver and combat, this illuminating if deferential biography examines Washington's far more trying difficulties off the battlefield. Historian Chadwick (The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film) focuses on the Continental Army's travails during its winter encampments-not just the Valley Forge epic, but equally dire experiences at Morristown, N.J., during the winters of 1776-7 and 1779-80, which were a test of Washington's political and administrative talents. Supplies had to be wheedled out of a do-nothing Continental Congress, fractious state governments and tight-fisted local farmers; hospitals and inoculations had to be supervised; recruits had to be trained-or at least persuaded not to mutiny over back pay or go home when their brief enlistments expired. Through it all, Chadwick says, Washington walked a tightrope between imposing the authoritarian measures needed to keep the Revolution alive and protecting the liberties it upheld. The author portrays Washington's wartime experience as a schooling in democratic leadership, one that imparted truths about federalism and the need for a strong national government and Executive Branch that he would champion in the 1787 Constitution, as well as managerial precepts he would apply during his Presidency. At times, Chadwick's admiration borders on reverence: he puts the best possible face on Washington's ambivalence toward slavery, and is smitten with contemporary accounts of his "graceful" gestures and "majestic" walk. But Chadwick's emphasis on logistics, organization and politics gives a more realistic view of the Revolutionary War than the usual narrative of campaigns and battles, and a more convincing measure of Washington's achievement in leading it. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

In this conversational chronicle, Chadwick (history, Rutgers Univ.; The Two American Presidents) argues that the greatest threat to Gen. George Washington's army was not the British but the discordance of his own troops. Mining letters and other primary sources, he details how Washington built up and maintained a viable fighting force in the face of numerous problems on the home front. Among them were short-term enlistees and a Congress incapable of paying, feeding, clothing, and arming troops. To bulk up his forces, Washington went so far as to repeal his orders forbidding black enlistees. He did not, however, emancipate his own slaves during the war, when many white Americans were receptive to antislavery, and thus lost the opportunity to convince the nation to abolish slavery, Chadwick writes. (Washington did free them upon his death.) Practically the only post-high school text to appear recently that focuses on Washington's revolutionary war actions, this is a riveting story for lay readers and scholars alike. Unfortunately, Chadwick does not boldly frame his position within the current intellectual debates about Washington. For large public and academic libraries with in-depth collections on George Washington.-Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., State College (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Historical accounts of George Washington and the Revolutionary War show no sign of abating, even after 225 years. Comfortable treating strategy and tactics, Chadwick (Rutgers Univ.; ed., Brother against Brother: The Lost Civil War Diary of Lt. Edmund Halsey, 1997, and Two American Presidents: Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, 1861-1865, 1999) has crafted a one-volume military history that covers the war in sufficient detail to satisfy most military buffs. The author's goal is to explicate the characteristics of Washington as a military leader, and for the most part he performs his task well. Chadwick begins with Washington's brilliant attack on the British at Trenton, NJ, on Christmas Day 1776, and he traces the military course of the war to its conclusion in 1783. Nevertheless, Joseph Ellis's His Excellency (CH, Jul'05, 42-6688) provides a more nuanced assessment of Washington as a person, and John Buchanan's The Road to Valley Forge: How Washington Built the Army That Won the Revolution (CH, Jun'05, 42-6054) assesses Washington's military exploits with a surer hand. Still, for a readable account of Washington and his war, Chadwick's book is useful. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General, public, and undergraduate libraries. E. A. Goedeken Iowa State University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Christmas, 1776p. 1
Chapter 2 The Squire of Mount Vernonp. 37
Chapter 3 The Army Will Diep. 71
Chapter 4 The Patriot Kingp. 101
Chapter 5 Rebuilding the Armyp. 137
Chapter 6 The Army's War Machinep. 171
Chapter 7 Valley Forgep. 193
Chapter 8 The Angel of Deathp. 231
Chapter 9 The Fall from Gracep. 253
Chapter 10 A New American Armyp. 279
Chapter 11 Starving to Deathp. 305
Chapter 12 A War of Attrition and Ungrateful Heartsp. 335
Chapter 13 A Hero Turned Traitorp. 367
Chapter 14 The Great Slavery Debatep. 403
Chapter 15 Coup d'Etatp. 433
Chapter 16 Cincinnatusp. 447
Epilogue: "I Do Solemnly Swear..."p. 463
Acknowledgmentsp. 501
Bibliographyp. 503
Notesp. 513
Indexp. 563
About the Authorp. 570