Volume 1 of the Revolutionary War Series begins with Washington’s address of 16 June 1775 accepting command of the Continental army and continues to the middle of September 1775. The focus of the volume is on Washington’s initial effort to make an effective fighting force out of the green provincial army that he found besieging the city of Boston.
His military letters and orders for these three months deal extensively with his reorganization of the army, the instituting of new administrative procedures and standards of discipline, the teaching of duties to both officers and men, and the measures taken to overcome the army’s perplexing supply problems, most notably the alarming shortage of gunpowder. They also touch on matters of strategy and tactics relating to schemes for reducing the British garrison in Boston, the arming of American vessels to intercept enemy supplies at sea, and the planning for Benedict Arnold’s bold march to Quebec.
Much of the information upon which Washington based his decisions is contained in the letters that he received from his numerous correspondents. Included here are detailed reports of British military activities in and about Boston, along with the New England coast, in Canada, and in Virginia, as well as news of legislative actions and recommendations of men, to fill positions both high and low in the Continental army.
Supplementing the portrait of Washington the general provided by his official correspondence are a number of letters to and from relatives and friends in Virginia. These offer a more intimate view of the private man and his personal affairs. Of particular interest are the two letters that he wrote in June 1775 from Philadelphia to Martha Washington, rare survivals of the correspondence that Mrs. Washington destroyed shortly before her death.
Philander D. Chase, ed., The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series volume 1, June – September 1775. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1985.
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