Last week, J.L. Bell wrote on his Boston 1775 blog about Gen. George Washington’s arrival in Cambridge to take command of the Continental Army. Washington was accompanied by Gen. Charles Lee, an experienced British officer who was bitter about not being appointed Commander in Chief and, according to Wikipedia, had nothing but the utmost disdain for Washington. The Boston 1775 blog post references a letter in which Lee wrote: “We arrived here on Sunday before dinner. We found every thing exactly the reverse of what had been represented.”
Lee’s privately-shared frustration with the actual state of the army may have also been publicly evident from his short one-paragraph response to his welcome address. By comparison, Washington wrote a three-paragraph response. Certainly, this may be an analytical stretch, but it’s interesting to read Lee’s private critical assessment and compare it to his public response, as published in the June 29 to July 6, 1775 New England Chronicle. This newspaper was printed from Stoughton Hall at Harvard College in Cambridge, making it the likely first report of Washington’s July 3rd arrival.
Washington’s response, printed in the same issue, is straight forward and sympathetic to the circumstances under which the army was formed. As J.L. Bell comments, the army was still reeling from the Battle of Bunker Hill. In the second paragraph of his response, Washington states:
“The short space of time which has elapsed since my arrival does not permit me to decide upon the state of the army. The course of human affairs forbids an expectation that troops formed under such circumstances, should at once possess the order, regularity and discipline of veterans — Whatever deficiencies there may be, will I doubt not, soon be made up by the activity and zeal of the officers, and the docility and obedience of the men. These qualities united with their native bravery and spirit will afford a happy presage of success, and put a final period to those distresses which now overwhelm this once happy country.”
Click the detail image above or this link to read the entire page from the July 6, 1775 New England Chronicle that features the welcome addresses and responses from Washington and Lee upon their arrival at Cambridge.