How did George Washington’s understanding of military tactics and geography helped defeat the British?

George Washington is one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. He played a key role in the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence and also in the military confrontation that followed. Washington did not have any formal training in military and his experience in running military campaigns was also limited. Yet it is fair to say that he led the fledgling American army to victory over the more powerful and experienced British forces.

Washington’s early experience as a surveyor gave him an understanding of terrain and navigation within the terrain. His expertise in this field would later come in handy in devising strategies against British troops. Washington also gained valuable military experience when he participated in the battle for domination of the upper Ohio Valley. Later, when the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed, the Congress unanimously authorized Washington to the post of Commander-in Chief of the Continental Army. His visionary strategic awareness with come to light during his tenure, where he formed key alliance partnerships, devised policy to tackle Loyalists and also initiated the process to form a navy. His success in the occupation of Dorchester Heights amply highlighted his tactical shrewdness.

His tactically outwitting of British commander General Sir William Howe to defend New York City is another key achievement. But, perhaps the most crucial of Washington’s military successes was his surprise attack against the Hessian garrison of Trenton, New Jersey, which he accomplished by crossing Delaware during the winter. Alongside his swift and opportune attacks stand his strategic retreats. He exhibited the acumen to retreat without hesitation whenever he sensed a lowering of favorable conditions. Hence, it would not be an exaggeration to claim George Washington to be one of America’s greatest war heroes.


Fischer, David Hackett (2004). Washington’s Crossing. Oxford, England; New York: Oxford University Press.

Higginbotham, Don (1985). George Washington and the American Military Tradition. Athens: University of Georgia Press.