Guns for General Washington

post written by Emma Filbrun

Title: Guns for General Washington
Author: Seymour Reit
Major Themes: Fort Ticonderoga, Henry Knox
Synopsis: General Washington and his rag-tag army need guns and ammunition—can it be brought from 300 miles away over mountains and rivers in the winter?

When we’re studying history, we like to find historical fiction that tells about events that are little-known. We enjoyed Duel in the Wilderness a few months ago, and this week we read Guns for General Washington. It tells a story that we had never read about before, which was a nice change of pace from reading about Paul Revere and the battles of Lexington and Concord, which we have heard a lot about.

General Washington and his rag-tag group of soldiers were camped outside of Boston, while General Howe and his redcoats were in possession of Boston. General Washington wanted to drive the British out of Boston—but how could he do it without artillery and ammunition? Henry Knox, a former bookseller from Boston, came up with an idea. He remembered Fort Ticonderoga, which the patriots had captured from the British several months before, which was said to be full of guns and cannons. It was 300 miles away, however, on the other side of mountains, rivers, and forests full of snow.

After getting permission from General Washington, Colonel Knox and his younger brother Will left for Ticonderoga. On the way, they arranged for people to help transport the guns—if they found any in usable condition! When the arrived at the remote fort, they were happy to discover many guns that could be used. They found boats with which to move the guns the first stage, 33 miles down Lake George. After that, they loaded the guns onto carts and began the arduous journey through snow-covered forests, over frozen rivers that sometimes held up and sometimes cracked, and over mountains and down cliffs.

This was an amazing story. We enjoyed reading it and learning how the weapons were moved to Boston. The story is told from the point of view of a young man in his upper teens, which makes it very interesting. This is real-life adventure, retold from diaries and other documents of the time. It makes a good addition to a study of American history!

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