Was George Washington a Generous Commanding Officer?

George Washington served as commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, fought between the American colonies and Great Britain. The war ended when Britain formally recognized U.S. independence in 1783. Ultimately, the American Revolution depleted the finances of the Continental Congress and the new American government was faced with considerable debt. However, most historians agree that George Washington was generous to his troops and wanted to ensure they had proper rations. One of the first decisions George Washington made as commander of the Continental Army was to provide each soldier with a quart of beer as part of his daily ration.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, the daily ration of a Continental Army soldier during the American Revolution was as follows: one pound of bread, half a pound of beef and half a pound of pork, one pint of milk or a half a cup of rice, one quart of beer, and a half cup of peas or beans. Soldiers were also given six ounces of butter and half a pint of vinegar per week.

More about the American Revolution:

  • In 1774, the First Continental Congress voiced its grievances against the British crown. One of the demands was "no taxation without representation."
  • Arguably, the Continental Army faced its lowest point at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in the winter of 1777. Thousands of troops died from disease.
  • During the Revolutionary War, the French government loaned over $2 million to the Americans. The U.S. government struggled to repay these loans after the war.
More Info: Biography.com

Discussion Comments


The bread and meats were the main foods and the others (rice, beans, milk, etc) just a tiny amount. A pound of bread isn't even a lot when you realize that these men were probably up at the crack of dawn and probably didn't go to sleep until very late, so I'm assuming they were hungry. There goes the food for that day.

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