Washington scores highly as an enemy of Britain on three key grounds: the immense scale of damage he inflicts upon Britain's Army and Empire – the most jarring defeat that either endured; his ability to not only provide inspirational battlefield leadership but to work with civilians who were crucial to sustain the war-effort; and the kind of man he was. As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent.
Monday, April 16, 2012
George Washington: Britain's greatest foe
To qualify, each commander had to come from the 17th century onwards – the period covered by the museum's collection – and had to have led an army in the field against the British, thus excluding political enemies, like Adolf Hitler.
The contest was designed to not only identify Britain's most outstanding opponent, but also to draw attention to some lesser-known adversaries.
Most of the 20 fought in various colonial wars, such as Ntshingwayo kaMahole, the Zulu leader and victor of Isandlwana, one of the British army's greatest military defeats, and Tipu Sultan, known as the "Tiger of Mysore," who resisted British expansion in India.
George Washington (1732-99) – 45 per cent of the vote in the final round
Guided the American rebels to victory over the British in the War of Independence. Often outmanoeuvred by British generals with larger armies, his leadership enabled him to hold together an army of secessionists from 13 different states and keep it in the field – and ultimately prevail – during the protracted struggle.
Stephen Brumwell, author and specialist on eighteenth century North America, said:
George Washington named Britain's greatest ever foe, The Telegraph, 14 Apr 2012.
James Hodges, PhD