Affiliate Link

General Washington

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

January 1.—An American gentleman, now in London, who is well acquainted with General Washington, gives the following account of him:—”That, though advanced in years, he is remarkably healthy, takes a great deal of exercise, and is very fond of riding on a favorite white horse. He is very reserved, and loves retirement; when out of camp, he has only a single servant attending him, and when he returns within the lines, a few of the light horse escort him to his tent. When he has any great object in view, he sends for a few of those officers of whose abilities he has a high opinion, and states his present plan among half a dozen others, to all which they give their separate judgments; by these means he gets all their opinions, without divulging his intentions. He has no tincture of pride, and will often converse with a sentinel with more freedom than he will with a general officer. He is very shy and reserved to foreigners, although they have letters of recommendation from the Congress. He punishes neglect of duty with great severity, but is very tender and indulgent to recruits until they learn the articles of war and their exercise perfectly. He has a great antipathy to spies, although he employs them himself, and has an utter aversion to all Indians. He regularly attends divine service in his tent every morning and evening, and seems very fervent in his prayers. He is so tender-hearted that no soldier can be flogged nigh his tent; or, if he is walking in his camp and sees a man tied to the halberds, he will either order him to be taken down, or walk another way to avoid the sight. He has made the art of war his particular study; his plans are in general good and well digested; he is particularly careful always of securing a retreat, but his chief qualifications are courage, steadiness, perseverance, and secresy. Any act of bravery he is sure to reward, and make a short eulogium on the occasion to the person and his fellow-soldier (if it be a soldier) in the ranks. He is humane to the prisoners who fall into his hands, and orders every thing necessary for their relief. He is very temperate in his diet, and the only luxury he indulges himself in, is a few glasses of punch after supper.”1


1 New Hampshire Gazette, March 4.