Was Washington a great general? In seven years of fighting the British, from 1775 to 1782, he won only three clear-cut victories— at Trenton, Princeton, and Yorktown. In seven other encounters—Long Island, Harlem Heights, White Plains, Fort Washington, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth—he either was defeated or at best could claim a draw.
A general’s ability to inspire his men is not, of course, to be discounted, and Washington unquestionably had this gift. But the great commanders of history are rated on their ability to conceive a winning strategy and execute it. Does Washington belong in this select group?