George Washington on Sacrificing for the Cause

October 2, 2013 | War for Independence

One great blot upon the history of the War for Independence is the constant squabbling between the American officers on matters of rank. One of George Washington’s major roles was to console upset and petty generals. He wrote this in a letter to Brigadier General William Woodford to convince him not to resign:

Trifling punctilios [scruples] should have no Influence upon a Mans conduct in such a Cause; and at Such a time as this—If Smaller matters do not yield to greater; If trifles, light as Air, in comparison of what we are contending for, can withdraw, or withold Gentlemen from Service, when our All is at Stake, and a single cast of the Die may turn the Tables, what are we to expect—It is not a common Contest we are Ingaged In—every thing valuable to us depends upon the Success of it—and the success upon a speedy, & vigorous Exertion.1

1. George Washington to William Woodford, March 3, 1777. National Archives.

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