Episode 268: Feeding Washington’s Army

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Manage episode 331475175 series 2949551
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In early December, 1777, Joseph Plumb Martin and his comrades in the Continental Army sat down to feast upon a Our Hero: Rhode Island Quaker ironworker turned Major General and logistician Thanksgiving meal, mandated by the Second Continental Congress. “...To add something extraordinary to our present stock of provisions, our country, ever mindful of its suffering army,” wrote Martin decades later, “ opened her sympathizing heart so wide, upon this occasion, as to give us something to make the world stare. And what do you think it was dear reader?—Guess.—You cannot guess, be you as much of a Yankee as you will. I will tell you: it gave each and every man a half a gill of rice, and a table spoon full of vinegar!!” Martin’s faux banquet was the result not of tightfistedness, but of bankruptcy and what my guest Ricardo Herrera describes as “the slow moving, staggering debacle that was its supply and transportation system.” If it’s true that amateurs study tactics, and professionals study logistics, then Herrara’s new book Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778 is definitely for professionals—but there is much in it for others to learn from as well. Ricardo A. Herrera is professor of military history at the School of Advanced Military Studies at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. The views that he expresses here are not those of the SAMS, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, the United States Government; really, any person or institution other than Ricardo Herrera himself. For Further Investigation We've talked about Harry Lee with biographer Ryan Cole for two hours; and in Episode 110 about Nathanael Greene and the campaign for the South with John Buchanan, author of The Road to Charleston. Wayne K. Bodle, Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002) Bodle, “Generals and ‘Gentlemen’: Pennsylvania Politics and the Decision for Valley Forge,” Pennsylvania History 62, no. 1 (Winter 1995): 59–89 Benjamin H. Newcomb, “Washington’s Generals and the Decision to Quarter at Valley Forge,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 117, no. 4 (Oct 1993): 311–29 Ricardo A. Herrera, “‘[T]he zealous activity of Capt. Lee’: Light-Horse Harry Lee and Petite Guerre.” The Journal of Military History 79, no. 1 (January 2015): 9-36 Herrera, “‘[O]ur Army will hut this Winter at Valley forge’: George Washington, Decision-Making, and the Councils of War.” Army History, no. 117 (Fall 2020): 6-26 Herrera, “Foraging and Combat Operations at Valley Forge, February-March 1778.” Army History, no. 79 (Spring 2011): 6-29 Valley Forge National Historic Park Valley Forge Muster Roll You might remember that I tried to pronounce auftragstaktik, at least once. Rick Herrera doesn't really care if I pronounced it correctly or not...as you can see here in this YouTube conversation "The Myth of Auftragstktik and the history of Mission Command"

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