American Revolution Question

I am preparing a lesson on Paine’s “Common Sense” and need help with a reference. Paine says:

“All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.”

My knowledge of military history is somewhat limited. Is Paine refering here to the fact that Howe did not initially attempt to chase Washington’s army down and destroy it, prefering instead to occupy New Jersey town by town? It seems odd to refer to Howe’s advance as a “ravage” since, as I recall, Howe was initially fairly restrained. Is this just more of Paine’s over the top rhetoric, or is there something I don’t know?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me on this.

Well, it sounds a bit like hyperbole, but since it is taken from Paine’s 1780 pamphlet, The American Crisis rather than from Common sense, which was written in the winter between the opening shots in 1775 and the Declaration of Independence in 1776, I would guess that it has to do with Howe’s campaign outside New York.

Howe had several opportunities to join with Washington in direct battle, but generally avoided those, constantly harrying Washington and the colonial troops, instead. Whether he deliberately intended to wear down the rebels without a direct fight or whether he simply couldn’t bring himself to join battle at that time, I am not sure.

Paine’s pamphlet, however, was a call for the citizenry to rise up and ensure that independence could be won. This is the pamphlet that opened

In it he describes a part of the winter campaign that he followed, noting that Howe did not join battle and that he also did not take and hold land.

It is also in this pamphlet that Paine railed against the Tories (Loyalists), and urged action against them.

The American Crisis