The book is a series of biographies beginning with King George III of the great Englishmen who fought, and ultimately lost the Revolutionary War against the US. One of their great failings was under-estimating Washington, his ability to raise an army, and the effectiveness of that army. During the terrible winter at Valley Forge, Washington’s troops fell from 14,000 to just over 7,000. The force was concentrated – despite the terrible circumstances the army emerged stronger and more committed to the cause. The Continental Army was able to lose half of its fighting force and emerge a more potent weapon.
O’Shaugnessy covers the lives of the brothers Howe, General Burgoyne and Cornwallis – common throughout the narrative is their frequent lack of troops. The British had expected to find a supportive local population, but instead were in the midst of an uprising.
The English generals had sufficient troops to take territory or to hold territory, but not both. The differences here are similar to Musso’s discussion of insertion (getting a new material into a market) and penetration (increasing share in a known application space). This lack of resources amplified the other strategic challenges that the generals faced throughout the war.