Washington Builds a Continental Army
Among the challenges Washington had to face was the fact that many soldiers affixed their loyalty more to their states than to any united nation. This is hardly surprising, since there was no united nation in 1775. Nevertheless, in a July 4, 1775 General Order, Washington declared that the soldiers and those who enlist "are now Troops of the United Provinces of North America." He further called on "all Distinctions of Colonies" to be "laid aside" in favor of service to the "Great and common cause in which we are all engaged."
Washington also had to concern himself with basic provisions (including food), ammunition, sanitation, discipline, and chain of command. In short, he had to build an army from the ground up, before he could effectively command it against enemy forces.
What would YOU have done? Sometimes, when things get really tough, we feel like throwing in the towel. Washington did. For Washington, he felt like quitting, basically saying that had he known how bad things would be, no consideration would have moved him to accept command. But Washington soldiered on. In a phrase from today's Army, he "Rangered up" and, with help, built the Continental Army into a fighting force that would keep the Revolution alive and the British busy for eight long years!
General Washington's Legacy
Though General Washington lost more battles than he won, Washington's courage, leadership and persistence held the army together. As author Richard Brookhiser has said: "War is not the World Series. It's not the best out of seven." Brookhiser's right. You don't have to win all the battles. You just have to win the ones that count, especially the last one!
Edward Lengel, author of General George Washington: A Military Life, explains (in the video below) the strengths and qualities that Washington brought to the Continental cause in the Revolution:
Without General Washington at the helm of the American Continental Army, it's hard to fathom an American victory in the War for Independence. Not only is it unlikely a better leader could've been found, it's almost certain that no such leader could've been trusted with the power and popularity Washington would have at war's end.
It's no exaggeration to say that General George Washington was the indispensable man.