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Farewell To Arms
Victory against the British had turned a rebellion into a revolution. And it was time to say “farewell.” “The disadvantageous circumstances on our part ...

Farewell to Arms

Victory against the British had turned a rebellion into a revolution. And it was time to say “farewell.”

“The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten,” George Washington began his farewell address to his army in November 1783.

Washington, issuing these last orders, was perhaps more awestruck than when he had removed his bullet-strewn coat during the French and Indian War. He had no idea when Providence preserved his life in 1755 that it was for the awesome purpose of liberating a nation.

“The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving,” he acknowledged. “[W]hile the unparalleled perseverance of the armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.”

Over and over again Washington had witnessed Providence’s preserving hand. One swipe could have wiped out the army and dissolved the dream of independence, yet miracles were sprinkled over them a thousand times. A fog covered the army in their Long Island escape. A mistake in British strategy prevented a permanent halt at Harlem. Thwarted were the schemes of officers Gates, Lee, and Conway. Uncovered was the treason of Arnold. Knox cracked the ice of the Delaware River. A man on the road to Trenton tipped them off to the house of the Hessians. A Quaker woman risked her life to warn of a surprise attack at White Marsh. Rain washed away Cornwallis’s pursuit of Greene over the river Dan. And Clinton’s reinforcements arrived at Yorktown five days too late.

How did the Revolution change Washington? It reinforced his recognition and respect for God’s intervention in the affairs of men. Washington used his farewell address to encourage his soldiers to embrace the miracle of their own transformation from an army of mediocrity into a force of might. “For who has before seen a disciplined army formed at once from such raw materials?” he asked, noting that men of different habits and education had become “one patriotic band of brothers.”

Washington then baptized his soldiers into citizens, wishing them well in their pursuits of commerce and domestic tranquility. “Every one may rest assured that much, very much, of the future happiness of the officers and men, will depend upon the wise and manly conduct which shall be adopted by them when they are mingled with the great body of the community,” the commander reminded his troops.

George Washington concluded by offering his prayers to the “God of armies” on their behalf: “May ample justice be done them here, and may the choicest of Heaven’s favors, both here and hereafter, attend those, who, under the Divine auspices, have secured innumerable blessings for others.”


Thank you for your miracles and for the victory of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”

(1 Corinthians 15:57).

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