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Itinerary of General Washington from June 15, 1775, to December 23, 1783 online

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General Washington


June 75, 1775, to December 2}, 178}.








Copyright, 1892,


■William Spohn Baker.




The Itinerary of General "Washington during the war for
independence, originally published in the "Pennsylvania
Magazine of History and Biography" (vols, xiv., xv.), is now
brought together in a single volume, with many additions.

As issued in the Magazine, it became apparent, after the
appearance of the early portions of the work, that the sub-
ject admitted of a much broader treatment than had been
intended; and that the introduction of additional matter,
covering as much as possible the prominent events of the
struggle, would render it more useful both for reference
and as a study of the character of Washington, without in
any way conflicting with the form of an Itinerary, This
plan was accordingly adopted for the subsequent numbers.

The additions, therefore, are principally limited to the
first three years of the record as originally published.

As day by day we follow Washington through the pages
of the Itinerary, we become more and more impressed with
the earnestness, steadfastness, and truthfulness of his char-
acter, and feel assured that to his high sense of duty, and
almost sleepless vigilance, we are mainly indebted for the
successful issue of the battle for freedom.

History furnishes no finer type of manhood, no purer ex-
ample of patriotism, than our "Washington !

W. S. Baker.

Philadelphia, February 22, 1892.






At Philadelpliia, as a delegate to Congress from the Col-
ony of Virginia : On this day Congress, in session at the
State House, Resolved, " That a General be appointed to
command all the Continental Forces, raised or to be raised
for the defence of American liberty.

" That five hundred dollars per month be allowed for the
pay and expences of the General.

" The Congress then proceeded to the choice of a General
by ballot, and George Washington, Esq., was unanimously
elected." — Journal of Congress.

The second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775, and
it is recorded by John Adams that " Colonel Washington appeared every
day in his uniform, and by his great experience and abilities in military
matters, was of much service to all." At the session of June 15, however,
in consequence of Mr. Adams having stated at a previous meeting that it
was his intention to propose for the office of Commander-in-Chief a gentle-
man from Virginia, and one of their body, Washington was not present.
The nomination was made by Thomas Johnson, a delegate from Maryland.


At Philadelphia, in Congress : " The President [John
Hancock] informed Col. Washington that the Congress had
yesterday unanimously made choice of him to be General
and Commander in Chief of the American forces, and re-
quested he would accept of that employment ; to which Col.
Washington standing in his place answered.



" ' Jlfr. Presulcnt.

" ' Though I am truly sensible of the high honor done me
in this appointment, yet, I feel great distress from a con-
sciousness, that my aljilitios and military experience may
not be equal to the extensive and important trust : ILjw-
ever, as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the mo-
mentous duty, and exert every power I possess in their
service and for support of the glorious cause. I beg they
will accept my most cordial thanks for this distinguished
testimony of their approbation.

" ' But, lest some unlucky event should happen unfavour-
able to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every
Gentleman in the room, that I this day declare with the
utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the com-
mand I am honored with.

" ' As to pay. Sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress, that
as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to
accept this arduous employment, at the expence of my do-
mestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any
profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my ex-
pences. Those I doubt not they will discharge, and that
is all I desire.' " — Journal of Congress.


At Philadelphia : This day, Congress in session passed
the following resolution : " Whereas the Delegates of all
the Colonies from Nova Scotia to Georgia, in Congress as-
sembled, have unanimously chosen George Washington Esq.
to be General and Commander in Chief, of such Forces as
are or shall be raised for the maintenance and preservation
of American Liberty ; this Congress doth now declare, that
they will maintain and assist him, and adhere to him the
said George Washington, with their Lives and Fortunes in
the same Cause." — Journal of Congress.

" I can now inform you, that the Concjress have made choice of the modest
and virtuous, the amiable, generous and brave George Washington, Esquire,


to be General of the American army, and that he is to repair, as soon as
possible, to the camp before Boston. This appointment will have a great
effect in cementing and securing the union of these colonies." — John Adams
to Mrs. Adams ^ June 17.


At Philadelphia : " It has been determined in Congress,
that the whole army raised for the defence of the American
Cause shall be put under my care and that it is necessary
for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me
the Command of it. — You may believe me, my dear Patcy,
when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far
from seeking this appointment I have used every endeavour
in my power to avoid it not only from my unwillingness to
part with you and the Family, but a consciousness of its
being a trust too great for my capacity and that I should
enjoy more real happiness and felicity, in one month with
you at home than I have the most distant prospect of reap-
ing abroad, if my stay were to be Seven times Seven years.
But as it has been a kind of destiny that has thrown me
upon this Service, I shall hope that my undertaking of it is
designed to answer some good purpose." — Washington to
Mrs. Washington, June 18.

" There is something charming to me in the conduct of Washington. A
gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent, leaving his de-
licious retirement, his family and friends, sacrificing his ease, and hazarding
all in the cause of his country ! His views are noble and disinterested. He
declared, when he accepted the mighty trust, that he would lay before us an
exact account of his expenses, and not accept a shilling for pay."— JoA?i
Adams to Elbridge Qerry^ June 18.


At Philadelphia: Receives his commission, appointing
him " General and Commander in Chief of the Army of
the United Colonies, and of all the forces raised, or to be
raised by them."

" In Congress.— The delegates of the United Colonies of New-Hamp-
shire, Massachusetts bay, Ehode Island, Connecticut, New-York, New


Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Castle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Mary-
land, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.*

'* To George "Washington Esquire.

" We reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, conduct
and fidelity Do by these presents constitute and appoint you to be General
AND Commander in Chief of the Army of the United Colonies and of
all the forces raised or to be raised by them and of all others who shall vol-
untarily offer their service and join the said army for the defence of Amer-
ican Liberty and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof. And you are
hereby vested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for
the good and welfare of the service.

" And we do hereby strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers
under your command to be obedient to your orders and diligent in the ex-
ercise of their several duties.

"And we do also enjoin and require you to be careful in executing the
great trust reposed in you, by causing strict discipline and order to be ob-
served in the army and that the soldiers are duh' exercised and provided
with all convenient necessaries.

"And you are to regulate your conduct in every respect by the rules and
discipline of war (as herewith given you) and punctually to observe and
follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from
this or a future Congress of the said United Colonies or a committee of
Congress for that purpose appointed.

" This Commission to continue in force until revoked by this or a future


" By order of the Congress.

" Dated Philadelphia June 19th 1775.

" John Hancock, President.
"Attest Chas. Thomson Seer."


At Philadelphia : " On Tuesday morning [June 20] the
three battalions of this city and liberties, together with the
artillery company, a troop of light horse, several companies
of light infantry, rangers and riflemen, in the whole about
two thousand, marched out to the Commons, and, having
joined in brigade, were reviewed by General WAsniXGTOX,
who is appointed Commander in Chief of all the ]!Torth
American forces by the honorable Continental Congress,
when they went through the manual exercise, firings and

* Georgia was not represented in Congress until the 13th of September.


manoeuvres, with great dexterity and exactness." — Pennsyl-
vania Evening Post, June 22, 1775.

" I have been called upon by the unanimous voice of the Colonies to take
the command of the Continental army ; an honor I neither sought after,
nor desired, as I am thoroughly convinced, that it requires greater abilities
and much more experience than I am master of, to conduct a business so
extensive in its nature, and arduous in the execution. But the partiality
of Congress, joined to a political motive, really left me without a choice ;
and I am now commissioned a General and Commander-in-chief of all the
forces now raised, or to be raised, for the defence of the United Colonies.
That I may discharge the trust to the satisfaction of my employers is my
first wish ; that I shall aim to do it, there remains little doubt. How far I
may succeed is another point."— Washington to John Augustine Washington,
June 20.


At Philadelphia : Is entertained at a farewell supper,
given in his honor, at the City Tavern, at which several
distinguished citizens of Philadelphia assisted.

The City Tavern was erected in 1773 by a voluntary subscription of the
principal gentlemen of Philadelphia, for the convenience of the public. It
stood on the west side of Second Street, above Walnut, No. 86, corner of
the present Gold Street, formerly Bank Alley, and was subsequently known
as "The Merchants' Coffee-House." When first opened, in the early part
of 1774, with Daniel Smith as the landlord, it was considered the largest
and most elegant house of its kind in America. The site, in connection
with adjoining ground extending to Walnut Street, is now occupied by
«' The Anthracite Building," erected about thirty-five years ago.


Leaves Philadelphia: "Yesterday morning [June 23]
the Generals Washington and Lee set off from this city
[Philadelphia] to take command of the American army at
Massachusetts Bay. They were accompanied from town by
the troop of light horse, and by all the officers of the city
militia on horseback, who went no farther than about five
miles, when they returned, but the former continued with
them, and how far they will go is uncertain." — Pennsylvania
Evening Post, June 24, 1775.


Washington left Philadelphia on horseback, and travelled in that man-
ner all the way to Cambridge ; the first entry in the account current that he
rendered at the conclusion of the war being as follows : " To the purchase
of five Uorses (two of which were hud on credit from Mr. James Mease) to
equip me for my Journey to the Army at Cambridge— & for the Service I
was then going upon — having sent my Chariot and Horses back to Virginia,
£239 — ." General Schuyler, Thomas Mifllin, and Joseph lieed were also
of the party, which before reaching Trenton was met by a courier bearing
despatches to Congress concerning the battle of Bunker Hill. The troop
of light horse which acted as an escort is now known as the " First Troop
Philadelphia City Cavalry." It was organized November 17, 1774, and
bears an honorable record for services rendered during the war.


At New Brunswick, New Jersey : " General "Washington,
with his retinue, is now here [New Brunswick], and pro-
poses to be at Newark by nine to-morrow morning. The
situation of the men-at-war at New York (we are informed)
is such as to make it necessary that some precaution should
be taken in crossing Hudson's river, and he would take it
as a favor if some gentleman of your body would meet him
to-morrow at Newark, as the advice you may then give him
will determine whether he will continue his proposed route
or not." — General Schuyler to the President of the New York
Provincial Congress, June 24.


At Newark, New Jersey : Meets a committee appointed
by the Provincial Congress of New York to attend him
to the city. Committee : John Sloss Ilobart, Melancthon
Smith, Kichard Montgomery, and Gouverneur Morris.
Arrives at New York about two o'clock in the afternoon,
crossing the Hudson at Hoboken.

^^ June 25 — This afternoon at four [? two] o'clock, General "Washington,
attended by Generals Lee and Schuyler, and the light-horse of Philadelphia,
on the way for the American camp at Cambridge, landed at Colonel Lispen-
ard's scat, about a mile above New York [in the vicinity of Laight Street,
near Greenwich], from whence they were conducted into the city, by nine


companies of foot, in their uniforms, and a greater number of tne principal
inhabitants of that city than ever appeared on any occasion before." — Riv-
inyton's Gazetteer, June 29, 1774^. jT?


At New York : Receives and answers, at lialf-past two in
the afternoon, an address from the i^ew York Provincial
Congress, and leaves for Kingsbridge.

^' New York. July 3. 1775. — On Monday last [June 26] General
Washington with bis suite, attended by the several New York Military
Companies, and likewise by a Troop of Gentlemen of the Philadelphia Light
Horse, commanded by Captain Markoe, and a number of the inhabitants
of this city, set out for the Provincial Camp at Cambridge, near Boston.
The General rested that night at Kingsbridge [fourteen miles from the
city], and the next morning proceeded on his journey ; The Troop returned
to this city the next evening, and departed hence for Phihxdelphia, the
Thursday following." — Pennsylvania Journal, July 5, 1775.


Leaves Kingsbridge : General Schuyler, who had been
commissioned to " take command of all the troops destined
for the l!^ew York department," accompanied him as far as
New Rochelle, Westchester County, where they met and
conferred with General Wooster.


At New Haven, Connecticut: Reviews a military com-
pany of students of Yale College, and " lodges at the house
of the late Isaac Beers."

" New Haven, July 5, 1775. — Last Wednesday [June 28], his excellency
General Washington, Major General Lee, Major Thomas Mifflin, General
Washington's aid-de-camp, and Samuel Griffin, Esq. General Lee's aid-de-
camp, arrived in town, and early next morning they set out for the Pro-
vincial Camp, near Boston, attended by great numbers of the inhabitants
of the town. They were escorted out of town by two companies dressed in
their uniform, and by a company of young gentlemen belonging to the
Seminary in this place, who made a handsome appearance, and whose ex-
pertness in the military exercises gained the approbation of the Generals,"
— Connecticut Historical Collections.



At Wethersfield, Connecticut : " Philadelphia, June 22,
1775. This will be handed you by his Excellency, General
"Washington, in company with General Lee, and retinue.
Should they lodge a night in Wethersiield, you will accom-
modate their horses, servants, &c., in the best manner at the
tavern, and their retinue will likely go on to Hartford." —
Silas Dearie to Mrs. Deane.

The house occupied by Silas Deane at "Wethersfield, and at which, in all
probability, Washington stayed on the night of June 29, was next south of
the "Webb House," the place of conference between Washington and
Rochambeau, May 22, 1781. The house, which is still standing, was after-
wards known as the residence of Stephen Chester.


At Springfield, Massachusetts : Meets a committee from
the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts Bay, — Dr. Ben-
jamin Church and Moses Gill, — who had provided escorts
for the remainder of the journey, through BrookHeld,
"Worcester and Marlborough to Watertown.


At Watertown, Massachusetts : Arrives in the morning,
attended by the committee and a train of other gentlemen,
under escort of a company of horse from Marlborough, and
receives an address from the Provincial Congress, then in
session at Watertown, which he answers by letter of July
4. Leaves in the afternoon, for Cambridge, three miles
distant, and arrives at two o'clock.


At Cambridge, Massachusetts : Takes command of the
army on Cambridge Comrdon, at nine o'clock in the morn-
ing, and afterwards visits the several posts occupied by the
American troops.

The first house occupied by the Commander-in-Chief at Cambridge, as
head-quarters, was known as the "President's House," built by Harvard


College in 1726, for the use of its presidents. The house of John Vassall, a
fugitive royalist, known later as the Craigie house, and still later as the
residence of Henry W. Longfellow, was made head-quarters about the
middle of July. This house, which is still owned and occupied by the
Longfellow family, Washington retained as his quarters until he left Cam-
bridge for New York, April 4, 1776.


At Cambridge : Orderly Book. — " The Continental Con-
gress, having now taken all the Troops of the several Col-
onies, which have been raised, or which may be hereafter
raised for the support and defence of the Liberties of Amer-
ica ; into their Pay and Service : They are now the Troops
of the United Provinces of North America ; and it is hoped
that all Distinction of Colonies will be laid aside ; so that
one and the same spirit may animate the whole, and the
only Contest be, who shall render, on this great and trying
occasion, the most essential Service to the great and common
cause in which we are all engaged."

The army in front of Boston at this time, composed of troops from Mas-
sachusetts, Khode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, brought to-
gether after the battle of Concord and Lexington, was estimated to be about
fourteen thousand five hundred effective men. Intrenchments had been
thrown. up on Winter and Prospect Hills, on the left, and at Roxbury on
the right, with works at intermediate points. The college buildings and
houses in Cambridge were also occupied by the troops.


At Roxbury: "Yesterday [July 5], as I was going to
Cambridge, I met the generals [Washington and Lee], who
begged me to return to Roxbury again, which I did. When
they had viewed the works, they expressed the greatest
pleasure and surprise at their situation and apparent utility,
to say nothing of the plan, which did not escape their
praise." — Henry Knox to Mrs. Knox, July 6.

Henry Knox, who commenced his military career as a volunteer aid to
General Ward at Bunker Hill, was at this time serving as an engineer.
"The chief work constructed by him was the strong redoubt crowning the
hill in Koxbury, known as Roxbury Fort, the site of which is now [1873]


covered by the Cochituate Stand Pipe."* He was commissioned colonel
of the artillery regiment, 17 November, 1775; brigudier-generul, 27 Decem-
ber, 1776, and major-general, 22 March, 1782, datmg from 15 November,


At Cambridge : Visits all the American posts, and recon-
noitres the enemy's works.

«' Jw^y 1775.— To the Expences of myself & party reconnoitr the Sea
Coast East of Boston Uarbor. . £18. 13. 2."— Washington's Accounts.


At Cambridge : A council of war, in which it was unani-
mously determined to defend the posts as occupied, and
that measures ought to be immediately taken to increase
the army by recruits.

" General Washington fills his place with vast ease and dignity, and dis-
penses happiness arovmd him. General Lee will become very popular soon.
I am obliged to go to Cambridge to wait on General Washington, and
promised to be there by seven o'clock. I am now half past that time." —
Henry Knox to Mrs. Knox, July 9.


At Cambridge : " Our enemies have attempted nothing
against us since my arrival here. They are strongly posted
on Bunker's Hill, and are still busy in throwing up addi-
tional works. We have thrown up several lines and re-
doubts between Mystic River and Dorchester Point, to pre-
vent their making way into the country, and in a few days
we shall be well prepared to receive them in case a sortie is
attempted." — Washington to General Schuyler.

" Our lines on Winter and Prospect Hills, and those of the enemy on
Bunker's Hill are in full view of each other, a mile distant, our advance
guards much nearer, and the sentries almost near enough to convei-se ; at
Koxbury and Boston Neck it is the same. Between these, we are obliged
to guard several of the places at which the enemy may land." — Washington
to Richard Henry Lee, July 10.

* Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox. By Francis S. Drake, p. 18.



At Roxbury : " Juli/ ISih. — A lieavy cannonade from tlie
British, at the American workmen — but no damage done.
Gen. Washington visited the camp." — Heath's Memoirs.


At Cambridge : Orderly Book. — " It is recommended both
to Officers and Men to make themselves acquainted with
the persons of all the Officers in General Command, and in
the mean time, to prevent mistakes : The General Officers
and their Aids-de-Camp will be distinguished in the follow-
ing manner.

" The Commander-in-Chief by a light blue Eibband, worn
across his breast, between his Coat and Waistcoat.

" The Majors and Brigadiers General by a Pink Ribband
worn in the like manner.

" The Aids-de-Camp by a green ribband."

"His Excellency, General Washington, has arrived amongst us, univer-
sally admired. Joy was visible in every countenance, and it seemed as if
the spirit of conquest breathed through the whole army. I hope we shall
be taught, to copy his example, and to prefer the love of liberty, in this
time of public danger to all the soft pleasures of domestic life, and support
ourselves with manly fortitude amidst all the dangers and hardships that
attend a state of war. And I doubt not, under the General's wise direction,
we shall establish such excellent order and strictness of discipline as to in-
vite victory to attend him wherever he goes." — General Greene to Samuel
Ward, July 14.


At Cambridge : Present at the reading, by President
Langdon of Harvard College, of the Declaration of Con-
gress (July 6), setting forth the causes and necessity of the
United Colonies taking up arms.

" Yesterday morning [July 18], according to orders issued the day before
by Major-General Putnam, all the continental troops under his immediate
command assembled on Prospect Hill, when the declaration of the Conti-
nental Congress was read, after which, an animated and pathetic address to
the army was made by the Rev. Mr. Leonard, chaplain to General Putnam's


regiment, and succeeded by a pertinent prayer ; when General Putnam gave

Online LibraryWilliam Spohn BakerItinerary of General Washington from June 15, 1775, to December 23, 1783 → online text (page 1 of 29)