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" The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die. "

General Orders | Tuesday, July 02, 1776

Editorial Notes

The day Washington composed this general order, the British disembarked on Staten Island with the largest fleet ever seen in North America. Just two days later, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The stakes for the Continental Army soldiers could hardly have been higher.

general orders | JULY 2, 1776