George Washington: ""I have often thought how much happier I should have been if, instead of accepting a command under such circumstances, I should have taken my musket upon my Shoulder & entered the Ranks or … had retir'd to the back country & lived in a Wig-wam."
—George Washington to Joseph Reed, 14 January 1776

The siege of Boston (April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776) was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War. New England militiamen prevented the British Army from moving by land, and it was garrisoned in Boston, Massachusetts Bay. Both sides had to deal with resource, supply, and personnel issues over the course of the siege. British resupply and reinforcement was limited to sea access, which was impeded by American vessels. The British abandoned Boston after 11 months and transferred their troops and equipment to Nova Scotia. The siege began on April 19 after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, when Massachusetts militias blocked land access to Boston. The Continental Congress formed the Continental Army from the militias involved in the fighting and appointed George Washington as Commander in Chief. In June 1775, the British seized Bunker Hill, from which the Continentals were preparing to bombard the city, but their casualties were heavy and their gains insufficient to break the Continental Army's control over land access to Boston. After this, the Americans laid siege to the city; no major battles were fought during this time, and the conflict was limited to occasional raids, minor skirmishes, and sniper fire. British efforts to supply their troops were significantly impeded by the smaller but more agile American forces operating on land and sea, and the British consequently suffered from a continual lack of food, fuel, and supplies. In November 1775, George Washington sent Henry Knox on a mission to bring the heavy artillery that had recently been captured at Fort Ticonderoga. In a technically complex and demanding operation, Knox brought the cannons to Boston in January 1776, and this artillery fortified Dorchester Heights which overlooked Boston harbor. This development threatened to cut off the British supply lifeline from the sea. British commander William Howe saw his position as indefensible, and he withdrew his forces from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia on March 17.

David McCullough, 1776: "At Boston, Washington had known exactly where the enemy was, and who they were, and what was needed to contain them. At Boston the British had been largely at his mercy, and especially once winter set it. Here, with their overwhelming naval might and absolute control of the waters, they could strike at will and from almost any direction. The time and place of the battle would be entirely their choice, and this was the worry overriding all others….At Boston, Washington had benefited from a steady supply of valuable intelligence coming out of the besieged town, while Howe had known little or nothing of Washington's strengths or intentions. Here, with so much of the population still loyal to the king, the situation was the reverse." Washington: "The designs of the Enemy are too much behind the Curtain for me to form any accurate opinion of their Plan of operations… we are left to wander in the field of conjecture."

The British at New York: Joseph Ellis: "In a nearly miraculous burst of logistical energy, Great Britain assembled a fleet of 427 ships equipped with 1,200 cannons to transport 32,000 soldiers and 10,000 sailors across the Atlantic. It was the largest amphibious operation ever attempted by any European power, with an attack force larger than the population of Philadelphia, the biggest city in America" Last to arrive at New York, "was Admiral Richard Howe with by far the largest fleet, more than 150 ships with 20,000 troops and a six-month supply of food and munitions, by itself the largest armada to cross the Atlantic before the American Expeditionary Force in WWI."

This sketch by a British officer on Staten Island shows part of the king’s fleet anchored in the Narrows, across from Long Island on July 12, 1776. Admiral Howe’s flagship, Eagle, can be seen in the middle distance, approaching from the open sea.




Wilfred McClay,

Land of Hope,

Encounter Books,

ISBN ‎ 978-1641713771


Ron Chernow,

George Washington: A Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 978-1594202667

From the Publisher:In Washington: A Life celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life of Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian War, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president. Despite the reverence his name inspires, Washington remains a lifeless waxwork for many Americans, worthy but dull. A laconic man of granite self-control, he often arouses more respect than affection. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow dashes forever the stereotype of a stolid, unemotional man. A strapping six feet, Washington was a celebrated horseman, elegant dancer, and tireless hunter, with a fiercely guarded emotional life. Chernow brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods. Probing his private life, he explores his fraught relationship with his crusty mother, his youthful infatuation with the married Sally Fairfax, and his often conflicted feelings toward his adopted children and grandchildren. He also provides a lavishly detailed portrait of his marriage to Martha and his complex behavior as a slave master. At the same time, Washington is an astute and surprising portrait of a canny political genius who knew how to inspire people. Not only did Washington gather around himself the foremost figures of the age, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, but he also brilliantly orchestrated their actions to shape the new federal government, define the separation of powers, and establish the office of the presidency. In this unique biography, Ron Chernow takes us on a page-turning journey through all the formative events of America's founding. With a dramatic sweep worthy of its giant subject, Washington is a magisterial work from one of our most elegant storytellers.


David Hackett Fischer,

Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History),

Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (February 1, 2006),

ISBN 978-0195181593