George Washington is best known as our nation, America’s first president. However, as president, he was also our first commander-in-chief, a role he was unanimously elected into formally on June 16, 1775. Humbly, he expressed in his acceptance speech his unworthiness for such an important position. However, in his military career, he would be proved vital to the survival and success of the American Revolution, perhaps most notably in the year 1776.
Washington became commander-in-chief during the prime of his life, at age forty-three. A rich Virginian planter, he had long been a member of the Virginia legislature and was a member of the Continental Congress, despite his lack of formal education. His only prior military experience was as a colonel leading a regiment in the disastrous Braddock campaign of 1755. At election, he had not so much as drilled a regiment in fifteen years. In all manner of words, he was severely limited in military experience, a fact he was well aware of.
Despite his actual lack of ability, Washington presented the image of military leadership; a visage that instilled confidence in his men. He dressed his tall stature of six foot two impeccably, always in his fine parade uniform, and carried himself like a gentleman accustomed to high position and respect. Though, his manner set him apart and even above others, he was always described as a friendly and modest man.
His first military victory, the expulsion of the British from Boston in the March of 1776, was the end of a nine month siege that began after the retreat of the British from the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Washington arrived and set up base in near by Cambridge, shortly after the Battle of Bunker Hill and from there in out, it was an uphill battle of wills.
George Washington’s farewell letter, it is almost impossible for me to choose his most important piece of advice. His points seem almost haunting while reading them with our country in its present condition. Washington had such foresight and wisdom. The sad reality is that we as a country have so strayed from his advice. He made multiple points that I think are vastly important. Washington warned ...
The first problems being his promised twenty thousand men turned out a significantly less fourteen thousand able-bodied troops. The second being the alarming lack of gunpowder, calculated to be a mere nine rounds per man, and not nearly enough for a full scale war. The third initial problem was Washington’s army itself; comprised entirely of volunteers, generally inexperienced untrained farmers, craftsmen, and merchants, signing on under the condition of free election of officers. A form of hierarchy, that left the army disorganized and without discipline; officers hoping for reelection letting general anarchy rule. Work undone and soldiers often disappearing and unaccounted for, Washington set out to change this by setting new rules and regulations with severe punishments.
New obstacles would quickly crop up; lack of federal funds leaving supplies unbought and men unpaid. Along with a reluctance of Congress to order a full scale attack in fear of the destruction of Boston, reluctance that left Washington scrambling to encourage his men for the coming winter and dread the expiration of enlistments at the end of the year. It was a formidable set of oppositions, indeed. All the while, Washington struggled with his own internal conflicts; prejudice against his New Englander men and his impatience to make a decisive strike against the British, from which he had to been restrained from a number of times by both his council of war and Congress, which he would accept humbly but never-the-less disappointedly.
Restrained from attack, Washington was not restrained from preparation; ordering maps to be drawn, trenches to be dug, and breastworks to be erected. Washington, placing empathize on intelligence, paid for spies to be sent into Boston to report on British designs. Also, he sent troops to New York, ordered an attack on the British at Quebec, and most importantly sent Colonel Henry Know to previously captured Fort Ticonderoga to retrieve artillery.
The nine months of siege would not end until Colonel Knox returned with mortar and cannons. Hoping to draw out the British, Washington seized the strategic but previously ignored Dorchester Heights, throwing up breastworks and placing cannon all in one night, placing Boston in line of fire. Instead of attacks, however, the British would flee, deserting Boston on March 17th of 1776.
The Life and Times of George Washington George Washington was an amazing man. He was born February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia and died December 14, 1799 in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He had been the underdog so many times, but he rose to the challenge with pride, thoughts and guts. George was in the army as a captain / commander , then a General, finally, he was the very first ...
After relinquishing his victory ride into Boston to Colonel Ward and spending the day instead in Sunday services, Washington left immediately for New York, the suspected destination for the British troops. Arriving to find previously sent troops’ work half done, the struggle to fortify the vulnerable harbor city began in a race against the arrival of the British.
On June 29th, the British did arrive and their numbers had increased exponentially, placing Washington at great disadvantage. New York, however, had to be defended for both political and strategic reasons. Aptly described as the “key” to the continent, for with possession of New York also came possession of the entire Hudson-Lake Champlain area that separated New England from the rest of the colonies.
Unfortunately, Washington was unable to defend the city and was forced into retreat after the first bombardment of New York by the steadily increasing number of British ships and the also steadily increasing death toll in his men, wasted away by camp fever. Though, the last straw was the British attack on August 27th, an attack bolstered by Washington’s already severe disadvantage and his indecision during battle, was a humiliating defeat. Forced to retreat from Brooklyn to Manhattan, a less than savory strategic position.
Fearing entrapment, Washington and his army retreated again as soon as Congressional permission was given. The retreat began on September 14th but ended in panic and cowardice, when the British intending to invade New York on the 15th, attacked those troops securing the retreat of the rest of the army, sending Patriot troops running in panicked retreat. Washington, it is told, was so infuriated by their cowardice that he rode after them commanding them to stop, with no thought to his personal safety. In all, it was a humiliating experience for Washington.
His humiliation would continue as his army was fairly chased out of Harlem Heights and into the Battle of Whiteplains, another defeat. Oddly, the British veered off afterwards and unable to determine their intentions Washington split his men, some moving into New Jersey and the rest to defend Fort Washington, which was quickly surrendered under British attack on November 16th. Forced to desert Fort Lee also, Washington and his troops fled farther into New Jersey. Their flight did not end until the withdraw of the British army for winter secession.
Washington spent his years as a planter trying to gain economic independence from the London merchants who bought his crops. Like many colonists, he grew frustrated at what he and many other colonists saw as unfair laws. In the 1760 s, the colonists repeatedly clashed with the British Parliament over questions of taxation and trade. The British government had racked up a massive debt during the ...
Then in one last ditch effort to instill confidence in the rapidly diminishing number of Patriots, Washing ended the year with a glorious victory, capturing the Hessian-occupied Trenton. Taking nine hundred captive, supplies and artillery, Washington was returned to his respected status of before the defeat at New York and effectively forestalled the end of the war by Patriot defeat, preserving the American cause.
Though, the year of 1776 had more Patriot defeats than victories, it set the appropriate foundation for the rest of the Revolutionary War. If conducted by any other, the Patriot cause might have been abandoned at any moment. But, thanks to the determined will and perseverance of George Washington and his troops, the effort continued on through its first tumultuous year to its realization in 1783, making America an independent nation.
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