The Challenges of the First Continental Army

The Challenges of the First Continental Army

The Challenges of the First Continental Army

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Every July, 4th America stops to celebrate the birth of our nation with festivals, fireworks, musical performances, speeches, parties, picnics, and parades. While the Continental Congress declared its liberation from Great Britain on July, 2nd the official wording of the Declaration of Independence was finalized and ratified on July 4th, 1776. Copies of the document spread through the thirteen colonies with July, 4th emblazoned at the top, marking the birthday of America.

In chapter two of David MacCullough’s bestselling book, 1776, entitled “Rabble in Arms,” he describes the challenges General Washington faced as he attempted to form the first continental army. The first recruits were from all walks of life, different socio-economic backgrounds, colors, nationalities, strengths, and abilities. When a call went out for enlisted soldiers, shady characters turned up, “drifters, tavern low life, the dregs of society.” Some had an independent streak and didn’t want to take orders. Also, Washington had no leaders with prior military experience. Even he had never commanded an army. Then there was the lack of supplies, ammunition, weapons, and funds. This was the motley crew tasked with defeating the strongest fighting force on the planet.

But by in large, the majority were hardworking farmers and skilled artisans. They knew how to make horseshoes, saddles, boots, build houses, ships, clear and plant a field, make clothes, and furniture. MacCullough writes,

“It was an army of men accustomed to hard work, hard work being the common lot. They were familiar with adversity and making do in a harsh climate. Resourceful, handy with tools, they could drive a yoke of oxen or “hove up” a stump or tie a proper knot as readily as butcher a hog or mend a pair of shoes. They knew from experience, most of them, the hardships and setbacks of life. Preparing for the worst was second nature. Rare was the man who had never seen someone die.”

They left their wives and kids when they heard the British were coming to snuff out the American dream of freedom. Something rose up inside. Bringing their weapons, and the clothes on their backs, they came ready to fight. Many gave the highest price, shedding their blood so that we could be free. In total, about 40,000 Americans died in the Revolutionary War. July 4th is our yearly festival to celebrate our nation’s birth, but we can’t do that without remembering those who shed their blood to make that birth possible.

For the Jewish people, Passover is the yearly festival that commemorates their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the most advanced military force at the time. It was only made possible through a great sacrifice. Let’s take a closer look.

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