CLINTON had the clearest head among the British generals. He was the only one of them to realise that Washington's army did not constitute the main strength of the Revolution. Howe never perceived this important fact; and all of Howe's operations were carried on as war is carried on in Europe. . . strategic positions. . . take the enemy's capital. . . defeat the enemy's army. . . peaceable citizens submit. . . war is over.
That Washington's army was only a symbol of rebellion was plainly seen by Clinton. It was hardly worth while to undertake the risk and trouble of beating such an emblematic military force. The Revolution, in diverse types of revolt, was diffused throughout the body of the American people. Clinton grasped the fact that his problem was not to defeat an army, but to conquer a population. He resolved to go about it by subduing one state at a time. With that state reorganised and held by loyalists and British bayonets, he intended to go on to the next.
All the dazzling glitter had gone out of the war with the departure of Sir William Howe. Clinton was to take the stage as the heavy villain in Act Two, on which the curtain was about to rise.
His part was to include wholesale house-burning, murder, highway robbery, starvation, and tyranny of all kinds and degrees. Rather a depressing programme, one would think; a role likely to lead its creator to insomnia and remorse.
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Publication information: Book title: George Washington:The Image and the Man. Contributors: W. E. Woodward - Author. Publisher: Boni and Liveright. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1926. Page number: 365.
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