George Washington Papers

General Orders, 3 July 1775

General Orders

Head Quarters, Cambridge, July 3rd 1775

Parole, Lookout.Counter Sign, Sharp.

The Colonels or commanding Officers of each Regt are ordered forthwith, to make two Returns of the Number of men in their respective Regiments; distinguishing such as are sick, wounded or absent on furlough: And also the quantity of ammunition each Regimt now has.

It appearing by the Report of Henry Woods,1 the Officer of the main guard, that one William Alfred is confin’d for taking two horses, belonging to some Persons in Connecticut; but that he has made Satisfaction to the injured parties, who request that they may not be longer detain’d as witnesses: It is ordered that he be discharged, and after receiving a severe reprimand, be turned out of camp.

After Orders. 4 oClock. P:M:

It is order’d that Col. Glovers Regiment be ready this evening, with all their Accoutrements, to march at a minutes warning to support General Falsam of the New Hampshire forces, in case his Lines should be attack’d.

It is also order’d, that Col. Prescott’s Regiment equip themselves, march this evening and take Possession of the Woods leading to Leechmores point, and in case of an Attack, then2 Col. Glover’s Regiment to march immediately to their support.3

Varick transcript, DLC:GW; copy, in Joseph Reed’s writing, MWA. The Reed copy includes only the after orders and is addressed to “Mr Henshaw Adjutt General.”

GW and Charles Lee reached Cambridge about midday on Sunday 2 July. “The greatest civility and attention was paid to the Generals on their arrival at the camp,” wrote an anonymous correspondent on 3 July (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 12 July 1775). On the morning of 2 July the troops in Cambridge assembled on the parade ground to receive GW and Lee but were dismissed before the generals arrived because of the onset of a rainstorm that lasted until dark. The next day Lt. Paul Lunt, who was posted in Cambridge with Col. Moses Little’s Massachusetts regiment, wrote in his journal: “Turned out early in the morning, got in readiness to be reviewed by the general. New orders given out by General Washington” (“Lunt’s Book” description begins “Paul Lunt’s Book.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 12 (1871–73): 192–207. description ends , 194). Lt. Joseph Hodgkins, also of Little’s regiment, wrote to his wife at 8:00 a.m. on 3 July: “I have nothing Remarkebel to rite Except that geaneral Washington & Leas got into Cambridge yesterday and to Day thay are to take a vew of ye Army & that will be atended with a grate deal of grandor there is at this time one & twenty Drummers & as many feffors a Beting and Playing Round the Prayde” (This Glorious Cause: The Adventures of Two Company Officers in Washington’s Army [Princeton, 1958], 171). Private James Stevens noted in his journal entry for 3 July that “nothing hapeng extrorderly we preaded thre times” (“Stevens Journal,” description begins “The Revolutionary Journal of James Stevens of Andover, Mass.” Essex Institute Historical Collections 48 (1912): 41–71. description ends 50).

Upon arriving at Cambridge, GW and Charles Lee took up residence at the house of the president of Harvard College, Samuel Langdon, located on Harvard Square. The Massachusetts provincial congress, in its deliberations of 26 June, agreed to give the two generals the use of the entire house, except for one room that was reserved for Langdon. On 6 July the provincial congress instructed the Massachusetts committee of safety to inquire of GW and Lee if there was any other house at Cambridge that would be more agreeable to them, and within the next two days GW decided to move into the elegant mansion belonging to John Vassall, a wealthy Tory who earlier in the year had gone to Boston for refuge (Mass. Prov. Congress Journals description begins William Lincoln, ed. The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety. Boston, 1838. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 398–99, 460, 593). Vassall’s house, which stands about a half a mile west of Harvard College, was cleaned for GW by 15 July and was probably occupied by him about that time. It remained GW’s headquarters until the following spring. Charles Lee established himself at Medford, 4 miles north of Cambridge, sometime before 26 July.

1Henry Woods (Wood) was a major in Col. William Prescott’s Massachusetts regiment.

2The Reed copy reads “Attack there.”

3In the weeks following the Battle of Bunker Hill, the American army outside of Boston was frequently alarmed by rumors of another British attack. South of the city, Roxbury and Dorchester Heights were the most likely places for an assault, while to the north, Prospect Hill, Winter Hill, and Lechmere’s Point all lay within easy striking distance of the British lines on Bunker Hill. Winter Hill, the position occupied by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Folsom (1726–1790) and his New Hampshire troops, was particularly vulnerable to attack, because it was flanked on the north by the Mystic River, up which the British might move the three floating batteries that they had anchored near the mouth of that river (GW to Hancock, 10–11 July 1775). The lines on Winter Hill, furthermore, were at this time deficient in both men and heavy artillery, a state of affairs about which Gen. Folsom wrote to his colony’s committee of safety on 1 July 1775: “Wednesday last [28 June] the whole of the New Hampshire Troops fit for Duty were order’d to their alarum Posts, when I found that we were not able to line our Breastwork more than two deep, our Lines being necessarily extensive on account of the situation of our Camp; Therefore desire that the two remaining Companies now station’d at Portsmouth [N.H.] and Hampton [N.H.] may be sent, if you can possibly spare them; There being not one quarter part of the Troops in ours as in the other lines at Cambridge, Roxbury and on Prospect Hill. In a few days the Breastwork will be compleated, by which time, the Cannon I wrote for, I hope, will arrive: So that we may be prepared to give the ministerial Troops a proper Reception, should they attempt to force our Lines” (Nathaniel Bouton, ed., Provincial Papers: Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New-Hampshire, from 1764 to 1776, 7 vols. [Concord and Nashua, 1867–73] description begins Nathaniel Bouton, ed. Provincial Papers. Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New-Hampshire, from 1764 to 1776 . . .. In New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, vol. 7. 1873. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 7:557). Lechmere’s Point, located about two miles east of Cambridge by land and about a half a mile southwest of Bunker Hill by water, was an obvious landing place for any British force sent to attack Cambridge, despite the fact that the marsh behind the point flooded during high tides making it in effect an island (GW to Hancock, 11 Nov. 1775). A false report that British regulars were landing at Lechmere’s Point alarmed the Cambridge camp on 23 June (“Stevens Journal,” description begins “The Revolutionary Journal of James Stevens of Andover, Mass.” Essex Institute Historical Collections 48 (1912): 41–71. description ends 49), and on 4 July, in response to another alarm, an American working party was sent to entrench Lechmere’s Point (“Lunt’s Book,” description begins “Paul Lunt’s Book.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 12 (1871–73): 192–207. description ends 194). Col. John Glover (1732–1797) and Col. William Prescott (1726–1795) commanded Massachusetts regiments stationed at Cambridge.

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