6A | Thursday, February 16, 2023 | The Concord Journal | With NEWS FROM LINCOLN
Remember the importance of George Washington
Courtesy of The Old Concord Chapter NSDAR
CONCORD -Take time to remember the importance of George Washington to the nation and particularly Boston on his birthday February 22. Washington became the commander of our continental forces after the Battles of Lexington and Concord (April 19th, 1775). Washington’s first task was to get the British, who were here to enforce British tax laws, out of Boston and the surrounding area. Washington was successful.
The second Continental Congress held in Philadelphia unanimously voted George Washington, a Virginian delegate, to command all the continental forces on June 15, 1775. Washington left Philadelphia with Major General Lee for Boston on June 23. While traveling in New York, they heard about the battle of Bunker Hill that took place on June 17. They were escorted from Springfield by Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr. and Moses Gill to Boston arriving on July 2. Washington took the command from Massachusetts General Artemas Ward for the army. For two weeks his headquarters was at the Harvard president’s house - the Wadsworth House. Washington then moved his headquarters to the John Vassall, Jr. mansion now the Longfellow House. Vassall, a loyalist, had earlier fled Cambridge.
The colonial militias in New England did not fit Washington’s idea of an army. Most enlisters had no idea what was involved. He imposed order and discipline to transform civilians into soldiers. Colonial troops were housed in Harvard College properties causing Harvard to suspend academics.
By Oct. 1 the town of Concord came forward to house the students and professors in town. Classes were conducted at various houses. Harvard College’s president Langdon gave a speech to Concord’s selectmen thanking them. Washington received an honorary doctoral degree approved April 3 from Harvard College. The diploma required the additional signature of Dr. Samuel Cooper who missed Washington on April 4. It was later delivered to Washington.
Washington’s troops needed more artillery to fire on the British to make them leave. On December 1, Washington asked Henry Knox to get the six coehorns, 43 heavy iron and brass cannons, eight mortars, and two howitzers seized at Ft. Ticonderoga to Boston. The artillery was disassembled and traveled to lake George by ox cart and then boat. Bad weather was encountered but the effort was continued. By Jan. 5 the artillery had made it to Albany and finally made Cambridge on Jan. 24, 1776.
On the night of March 4, the British were distracted by Washington's gun batteries while the artillery from Ft. Ticonderoga was setup on the Dorchester Heights part of Boston overlooking the port. British General Sir William Howe hoped to be able to destroy these fortifications, but a storm came in preventing his troops from landing and providing extra time for the colonial militia to be ready. On March 17, 1776, British General Howe realized they could not successfully defend themselves and departed his 11,000 troops and 1,000 loyalists from Boston. They went to Halifax never to return. March 17 is now called Evacuation Day and is a legal holiday in Suffolk County which includes Boston (it is also St. Patrick’s Day).
General Howe left some 200 cannons and other stores and munitions behind. After collecting all the military artillery Washington moved out of Boston on April 4, 1776, to head south to defend New York. Washington had accomplished his mission in Boston.
The Old Concord Chapter NSDAR covers the towns of Concord, Carlisle, Stow, Littleton, Maynard, Acton, and Boxborough. We also attract members from other places to be part of the Old Concord Chapter. For more information on the Old Concord Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution see www.oldconcorddar.org.