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Chapter Nine. George Washington and the Siege of Boston

Robert J. Allison

Subject History » Military History

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics American War of Independence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331035.2012.00011.x


When he left Philadelphia for Boston in June 1775, George Washington did not expect to spend the next eight years leading an army to secure American independence. He saw his role as organizing a military force to protect American liberty – within the British empire if possible, outside it if necessary. During the nine months Washington commanded in New England he experienced the frustration of molding New England's militia into a force capable of securing liberty, and the difficulty of the maintaining the civil government's support of his fighting force. The military problem of defeating the enemy vexed him less than the political problem of organizing, disciplining, and supplying his own army. The colonial relationship with England had already reached a crisis in early May, when Washington left Virginia to attend the Congress. British marines seized Virginia's gunpowder in late April, and the provincial militia turned out to retrieve it. Only concessions by Virginia's royal governor, Lord Dunmore, had averted armed conflict. But the day after hearing about the marines’ raid in Williamsburg, Washington learned about the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, in Massachusetts. War had begun, although it remained unclear what the fighting was about. When Washington left for Philadelphia on May 4, he expected to be home by early July to attend to pressing business and financial obligations. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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