07 February 2008

George Washington's Casualties Part 3

Well, we've looked at the casualty rates of George Washington's battles, and those of the armies that faced him. Now, let's look at his greatest rival across the battlefield, General Sir William Howe.

First, I'll do the battles, then some off-the-cuff analysis.

Bunker Hill (1775) 36 percent
Long Island (1776) 2 percent
Harlem Heights (1776) 8 percent
White Plains (1776) 2 percent
Fort Washington (1776) 6 percent
Brandywine (1777) 6 percent
Germantown (1777) 4 percent
Total for 7 battles 5 percent

Compared with Washington's "butcher's bill", Howe is profligate indeed. However, he deserves some special consideration. In all but one of these engagements, Howe is the attacker, a role that often results in much heavier losses in the modern era. Furthermore, he gets a big boost from his severe casualties at Bunker Hill, when he commanded his smallest force in any battle. But even if you take that away from him, he still causes 4 percent casualties in 6 battles. According to the conventional wisdom, he avoided head-on confrontations after the terrible losses at Bunker Hill, relying on maneuver in turning movements such as at Long Island and Brandywine. Nonetheless, Washington is still better at keeping his men from harm.

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