Friday, September 22, 2017

The Revolutionary War

       On June 15, 1775, two months after the Battle' of Lexington, Washington was unanimously chosen by Congress to be commander in chief of the Continental forces. Addressing the assembly the following day, he modestly accepted the honor, and assured the delegates that he would expect no remuneration except for his own expenses. He then departed on horseback for Boston, and on July 3, 1775, took command of the Continental army, in Cambridge. The old elm under which this ceremony took place is still preserved as a cherished relic. 
       The military events of the long struggle which the colonies waged for independence are told in these volumes in the article on the Revolutionary War. The personal share of Washington in the hard-won victory cannot be overestimated; from the perspective of a century and a half it seems almost incredible that he did succeed. Difficulties beset him that would have broken the courage of a weaker man. His little army of barely 14,000 was lacking in arms, supplies, discipline and organization. There was no uniform policy among the colonies on any matters essential to the prosecution of the war, and authority was vested in too many officials and organizations to bring about any semblance of unity. There were bickerings, quarrels and plots. Yet, somehow, Washington overrode all obstacles. For one thing, he was loved and trusted by his men, and because of that trust they endured terrible hardships to uphold him.
       When the army went into winter quarters at Valley Forge, in December, 1777, Washington informed Congress that he had 2,898 men unfit for duty because they were "bare- footed and otherwise naked." It is a matter of record that blood in the snow marked the path of those unshod troops as they marched into camp.
       As a military leader Washington was superior to any of the field commanders sent over by England. In fact his tactics in the movements on the Delaware River were characterized by Frederick the Great as the "most brilliant achievements recorded in military annals." Years later the old Prussian soldier sent his portrait to Washington, with this message: "From the oldest general in Europe to the greatest general in the world."
       Coupled with his genius as a soldier was an abiding faith in the justice and ultimate triumph of the American cause. Toward the close of the stiniggle a movement was started to have Washington assume the title of king, but his repudiation of such a course was voiced in language as vigorous as he could make it. His great popularity never undermined his modest sense of his own worth or his deep-rooted conviction that the American nation was destined to be a democracy in which kings could have no part. On November 2, 1783, he took final leave of his faithful army, and the following December appeared before Congress to resign the commission tendered him over seven years before. He said: 

"Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all employments of public life." "You retire," replied the president of Congress," from the theatre of action with the blessings of your fellow-citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command: it will continue to animate remotest ages."

       On Christmas Eve Washington arrived at Mount Vernon, where, during the interval before the organization of the government under the Constitution, he enjoyed once more the life of plantation owner and private citizen. 

"The Shot Heard 'Round the World" by Liberty's Kids

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