Continued from part 5
Soldier:    We had less than half the populace on our side, and there were a lot of Tories on the other side.  We won anyway.   Do you know why?

Oscar:    Tell me.

Soldier: Start with this.  We used every resource available to us, and even then it was just barely enough.  Take for example Robert Morris.  He contributed $1.4 million to the war effort on one occasion, and large amounts at other times as well.  Yet he spent 3 years in a debtor’s prison later in life.  He was just one of many who were unquestionably vigorous and arguably reckless in their pursuit of liberty.

Oscar: So what you’re telling me is that rich and poor alike paid a great price for the liberty we enjoyed today, right?

Soldier: Amongst lovers of liberty, you are right.  I lived in a little cabin right here at the bottom of this hill.  I built here because of the spring, and soon grew to love this place.  I wanted to die here.  But it was not to be, because I loved liberty more than I loved anything else in this world.

But I built on the foundation laid by my fathers.  The Magna Carta was centuries old at the time.  In recent memory were such patriots as John Peter Zenger.  Do you know about him?

Oscar: I do.  He was a publisher who spent 8 months in jail pending a trial for libel of a public official.  He had argued, eloquently I might add, that the citizenry should have the right to utter truthful criticisms of the government.  Two lawyers were disbarred for their efforts on his behalf.  The third lawyer obtained his acquittal, at great risk to his own career, by arguing that the jury had the right to acquit in the teeth of the evidence and the law given by the court, if the law was unjust.

Soldier: That took place in 1735.  It would be 40 years before the tensions spilled over to the point of bloodshed.   In the meantime, this nation was blessed with what Samuel Adams described as an “irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”

Oscar, you’ve had a long time to speak, and by your own admission have done precious little of it.   Perhaps the things you hold dear are getting in your way of informing your fellow countrymen of your knowledge of the dire circumstances facing this once great country.   If that’s the case, having nothing left to lose might bring unexpected freedom.

Oscar: Are you saying I am going to prison?

Soldier: I am not here to predict your future, one way or another.  You hold your destiny in your own hands.  The same is true of your countrymen.   But you might need to understand how our tactics evolved during the war.

Oscar: How so?

Soldier: Washington was initially quite enamored with formal, European style fighting formations and tactics and strategies.  The main problem with that thinking was that his forces just didn’t work that way.  He had liberty minded individuals who came not for pay but out of devotion to the cause.  The redcoats could be ordered around, they generally obeyed without thinking.  They fought for pay.  Their main concern was money, and avoiding the iron discipline of their superiors.  As drill master von Steuben later explained to a Prussian visitor, “You say to your soldier, ‘Do this’ and he doeth it; but I am obliged to say ‘This is the reason why you ought to do that,’ and then he does it.”

American privates followed orders they thought were correct.  They would without hesitation run away if they thought the situation too dangerous.   They deserted at astonishing rates, and the colonial communities would protect the deserters.

Washington figured that out.  As he came to understand his resources, he respected his limitations.  He commanded his officers in such a manner as to maximize the benefits of his resources.  Furthermore he came to understand that it was not his job to win, but rather to not lose.

To be continued…

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