Bar Story #7: Army's B-Day

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Bar Story: Today is the US Army's 244th birthday, having been formed on June 14, 1775 in the wake of the Battles of Lexington & Concord, and subsequent Siege of Boston.

Over 22,000 militiamen from across New England arrived outside of Boston in April, 1775, after the British failed to seize a key arms & munitions store in Concord, MA. Another 5,000 militia mobilized in New York once word of the marching British reached the city; those men seized the Battery and it's cannons at the southern tip of Manhattan. War had begun.

In response, the representatives of the 2nd Continental Congress were recalled to Philadelphia deal with the war effort. While they clung to the chance of reconciliation with England in hopes King George would agree to repeal the Coercive Acts (known in the colonies as the "Intolerable Acts"), they also knew the British making a move on the local population in New England was cause to organize a defense force. With thousands of armed militiamen already mobilized with victories under their belt, they had the beginnings of that army already in place.

On June 14th, the Congress agreed to establish & organize the new Continental Army, consisting initially of the soldiers occupying NYC and the hills surrounding Boston, while also raising several regiments of militiamen from PA, MD, DE & VA colonies. All agreed to one-year enlistments.

The next day, the Congress met again to decide who would be named Commander of the new army. While John Hancock of Massachusetts was thought to be the favorite for the role, fellow statesmen Samuel Adams & John Adams nominated Virginia farmer George Washington; a southerner & veteran of the French & Indian War. Since he was from Virginia, it was believed he could help unite the colonies against the British, rather than have New England alone fight the war. In an unanimous vote, Washington was granted command.

Washington accepted the position, stating to the Congress: "I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with." In closing, he stated he wished not to profit from his command and thus, refused any pay. Soon after, he mounted up and rode off for Boston, arriving on July 3rd to take command.

Washington would spend the next 8 years (very difficult ones at that) leading the Army before winning his final victory at Yorktown in 1783.

In the decades & centuries since, the US Army has continued to stand as the ultimate defender of these United States & our liberty. From it's modest beginnings as an army of New England farmers, to what is today the world's most powerful fighting force, the Army goes rolling along.

Image: George Washington leads the victorious Continental Army through the streets of New York City in November, 1783.