George Washington takes command of the Continental Army

WASHINGTON did not go to his home at Mount Vernon after his appointment to the chieftainship of the Continental Army but six days after that appointment (June 21, 1775), he left Philadelphia for the east. He was accompanied by Generals Lee and Schuyler. They were escorted to New York by Philadelphia light-horsemen. At Trenton they met a courier riding in haste to give the Congress news of the battle of Bunker's Hill. He relieved the mind of Washington of a great burden of anxiety by assuring the general that the militia behaved nobly in the battle, for of such materials the Continental Army was composed.

Washington arrived in New York on Sunday afternoon, the 25th of June, where he was received by the Provincial Congress, and addressed by their President, Philip Livingston, in a highly conservative speech; for the royal governor, Tryon, had just arrived also, and public sentiment in New York was almost equally divided in favor of the two distinguished men. After returning the salutation in a few words, Washington retired to his lodgings, where he spent the whole evening with Schuyler in consultation about operations in the Northern Department, over which the latter was placed. It was then the most important field, for it had a broad frontier on unfriendly Canada, a wily and treacherous foe in the Indians within its bosom, and a demoralizing element of loyalty to the crown pervading its more influential society.

On Monday morning Washington and Lee, accompanied by Schuyler, rode to New Rochelle, where they conferred with the veteran soldier, General Wooster. There Schuyler left them, when they journeyed on toward the New England capital, receiving the warmest greetings of the people who flocked to the highways to catch a glimpse of the eminent Virginian. These officers reached Watertown, seven miles from Boston, on the morning of the 2nd of July, where they received congratulatory addresses from James Warren, President of the Provincial Congress in session there. They arrived at Cambridge early in the afternoon, when Washington established his headquarters in the fine house provided for him, now the residence of Professor Longfellow the poet. At nine o'clock the next morning (July 3), he appeared, with his suite, under a large elm tree yet standing at the northerly end of Cambridge Common. The Continental forces were drawn up in line, when Washington, with uncovered head, stepped a few paces forward, drew his sword, and took formal command of the Army. In that important office he served without intermission almost eight years, when he resigned his commission into the custody of the Congress, from which body he received it.

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