This We’ll Defend

In Somerville, MA today, they will celebrate the raising of a new flag – they really should do this on 1 January, but they seem to think standing on a hilltop around Boston on 1 January is a mite chilly. No idea why. So they’re going to celebrate today. Works for me, since last Saturday was Flag Day, and today is the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. This is, of course, the first national flag, and is the first one to receive a salute from a foreign power. Specifically the Dutch under Governor Johannes de Graaff, at St Eustatius in the Caribbean to the brig Andrea Doria commanded by Captain Robinson, on 16 November 1776. The flag was first saluted on a naval vessel when The USS Ranger entered Quiberon Bay (under Brest) on 14 February 1778, under the command of Captain John Paul Jones.

Thos guys in Charlestown staring at the British 242 years ago today, were rather unique. Since the 14th of June, they had been the Continental Army which would become the United States Army, although the United States would not exist until 4 July 1776. That was the date that the Continental Congress adopted the New England Army, committed $2 million to its upkeep, and called for raising 10 companies of Riflemen from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland for its support. From the US Army Center of Military History

When the American Revolution broke out, the rebellious colonies did not possess an army in the modern sense. Rather, the revolutionaries fielded an amateur force of colonial troops, cobbled together from various New England militia companies.  They had no unified chain of command, and although Artemas Ward of Massachusetts exercised authority by informal agreement, officers from other colonies were not obligated to obey his orders.  The American volunteers were led, equipped, armed, paid for, and supported by the colonies from which they were raised.

In the spring of 1775, this “army” was about to confront British troops near Boston, Massachusetts. The revolutionaries had to re-organize their forces quickly if they were to stand a chance against Britain’s seasoned professionals. Recognizing the need to enlist the support of all of the American seaboard colonies, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress appealed to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to assume authority for the New England army.  Reportedly, at John Adams’ request, Congress voted to “adopt” the Boston troops on June 14, although there is no written record of this decision.  Also on this day, Congress resolved to form a committee “to bring in a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the Army,” and voted $2,000,000 to support the forces around Boston, and those at New York City.  Moreover, Congress authorized the formation of ten companies of expert riflemen from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, which were directed to march to Boston to support the New England militia.

George Washington received his appointment as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army the next day, and formally took command at Boston on July 3, 1775.

John R. Maass
Historian
US Army Center of Military History

So, a slightly belated Happy Birthday to the “This We’ll Defend” guys on the anniversary of their first battle, which they lost, rather gloriously.

 

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One Response to This We’ll Defend

  1. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines – My Daily Musing

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