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Washington and His Comrades in Arms; a chronicle of the War of Independence   By: (1860-1948)

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WASHINGTON AND HIS COMRADES IN ARMS,

A CHRONICLE OF THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

Volume 12 in the Chronicles of America Series. Abraham Lincoln Edition.

By George M. Wrong

PREFATORY NOTE

The author is aware of a certain audacity in undertaking, himself a Briton, to appear in a company of American writers on American history and above all to write on the subject of Washington. If excuse is needed it is to be found in the special interest of the career of Washington to a citizen of the British Commonwealth of Nations at the present time and in the urgency with which the editor and publishers declared that such an interpretation would not be unwelcome to Americans and pressed upon the author a task for which he doubted his own qualifications. To the editor he owes thanks for wise criticism. He is also indebted to Mr. Worthington Chauncey Ford, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a great authority on Washington, who has kindly read the proofs and given helpful comments. Needless to say the author alone is responsible for opinions in the book.

University of Toronto, June 16, 1920.

CONTENTS

I. THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF

II. BOSTON AND QUEBEC

III. INDEPENDENCE

IV. THE LOSS OF NEW YORK

V. THE LOSS OF PHILADELPHIA

VI. THE FIRST GREAT BRITISH DISASTER

VII. WASHINGTON AND HIS COMRADES AT VALLEY FORGE

VIII. THE ALLIANCE WITH FRANCE AND ITS RESULTS

IX. THE WAR IN THE SOUTH

X. FRANCE TO THE RESCUE

XI. YORKTOWN

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

WASHINGTON AND HIS COMRADES IN ARMS

CHAPTER I. THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF

Moving among the members of the second Continental Congress, which met at Philadelphia in May, 1775, was one, and but one, military figure. George Washington alone attended the sittings in uniform. This colonel from Virginia, now in his forty fourth year, was a great landholder, an owner of slaves, an Anglican churchman, an aristocrat, everything that stands in contrast with the type of a revolutionary radical. Yet from the first he had been an outspoken and uncompromising champion of the colonial cause. When the tax was imposed on tea he had abolished the use of tea in his own household and when war was imminent he had talked of recruiting a thousand men at his own expense and marching to Boston. His steady wearing of the uniform seemed, indeed, to show that he regarded the issue as hardly less military than political.

The clash at Lexington, on the 19th of April, had made vivid the reality of war. Passions ran high. For years there had been tension, long disputes about buying British stamps to put on American legal papers, about duties on glass and paint and paper and, above all, tea. Boston had shown turbulent defiance, and to hold Boston down British soldiers had been quartered on the inhabitants in the proportion of one soldier for five of the populace, a great and annoying burden. And now British soldiers had killed Americans who stood barring their way on Lexington Green. Even calm Benjamin Franklin spoke later of the hands of British ministers as "red, wet, and dropping with blood." Americans never forgot the fresh graves made on that day. There were, it is true, more British than American graves, but the British were regarded as the aggressors. If the rest of the colonies were to join in the struggle, they must have a common leader. Who should he be?

In June, while the Continental Congress faced this question at Philadelphia, events at Boston made the need of a leader more urgent. Boston was besieged by American volunteers under the command of General Artemas Ward. The siege had lasted for two months, each side watching the other at long range. General Gage, the British Commander, had the sea open to him and a finely tempered army upon which he could rely. The opposite was true of his opponents. They were a motley host rather than an army. They had few guns and almost no powder. Idle waiting since the fight at Lexington made untrained troops restless and anxious to go home... Continue reading book >>




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