Artemas Ward - The First Commander-in-Chief
Even before the outbreak of the American Revolution, Artemas Ward was known as a leader in colonial Massachusetts.
He earned respect on the battlefield as well as in the provincial congress.
When Britain first imposed harsh taxes on the colonies, Ward became one of the loudest critics. So loud, in fact, that he was stripped of his military title and banished from his position in the government.
That was in 1767.
Three years passed. The Boston Massacre took place.
Three more years passed. The Boston Tea Party occurred.
It was at this point that the Patriots would really start to mobilize. Militia volunteers left their posts. Politicians formed the Committee of Safety. This was the beginning of the Continental Army.
These rebels turned to their early leader, Artemas Ward.
When the Continental Army first appeared, it organized itself around Artemas Ward...the First Commander-in-Chief.
Ward was the leader of the forces at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. He led the siege of Boston and was responsible for overseeing the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was responsible for organizing and supplying a makeshift army.
Where was Washington?
The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia just as news of Lexington and Concord was breaking.
This event swayed the opinion of many cautious delegates whom had wished to avoid war.
Knowing the best way to get the southern states to join the hostilities was to appoint a Virginian as Commander-in-Chief, John Adams nominated George Washington for the position. He was quickly approved by the Congress.
Who was named Washington's second in command?
Why do we never hear of
Unfortunately, Ward was already suffering from many ailments when the war started.
He did assist Washington in driving the British out of Boston. He also accompanied the Continental Army to New York. Disease, however, force him to resign in 1777.
Ward spent time as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and, later, as a member of the House of Representatives.
Artemas Ward did not have a big impact on winning the war or creating the national government. But he did have a giant impact on rousing the rebels in the beginning.
His early rhetoric against unfair taxes and his respect among his peers pushed Boston, and then America, toward independence.
Artemas Ward was, for a brief period in the spring of 1775, America's First Commander-in-Chief.