Wednesday, April 29, 2015
The Fork in the Road at Lexington Green: A Cautionary Tale of Tactical Decision-Making at the Precipice of War
It follows that much should be learned from the many British operational and tactical mistakes that led to the clash on Lexington Green (of which I have only listed a few). In my opinion, the most important of these mistakes was Gage’s and his subordinates’ failure to appreciate that just because their government was willing to start a war to achieve its objectives didn’t mean the way the war started at the operational and tactical levels wasn’t of critical strategic importance. Neither Gage, nor Smith, nor Pitcairn made any discernable effort to think through exactly what ought to be sought or avoided in a first clash with the Whigs. Neither Smith nor Pitcairn made any discernable attempt to issue clear intentions to their subordinates regarding what to do in a confrontation, let alone to maintain tight tactical control over their force when actually in contact. As a result, they essentially tossed a lit matchbox in the form of Adair amidst several leaking barrels of gasoline. We should thank them for that, as while the results were disastrous to the Crown’s interests, they led directly to the birth of our democratic republic and its enshrinement of natural rights in law.