Washington’s last visit to Cumberland: The only time a sitting President has led troops into battle

George Washington arrived at Cumberland in 1794 as President and as leader of the troops in order to put down the citizens’ revolt known as the Whiskey Rebellion. It was the first and only time that a sitting President has led troops into battle.

Washington had written that “the people in the Western Counties of this State have got very much alarmed at the approach of the Army” but still needed “coercion” to make them “submit” to the law.

Cumberland, Md., was the rendezvous for the militia from Maryland and Virginia; the Pennsylvania and New Jersey militia were to rendezvous at Bedford, Pa.

Washington’s arrival in Cumberland was recorded by Dr. Robert Wellford of Fredericksburg:

“Between eleven & twelve o’clock this day arrived the President of the United States escorted into the town & to Head Quarters near the Fort by three troops of light dragoons, every man of whom cheerfully left ye encampment to pay the President a compliment, every regiment was drawn up in excellent order to receive him, & as he passed the line of Infantry he deliberately bowed to every officer individually. The Artillery at the same time announced his arrival”

George Washington himself wrote that he reviewed the troops, and then was well lodged, & civilly entertained at the home of Major Lynn:

“After an early breakfast we set out for Cumberland—and about 11 O’clock arrived there. Three miles from the Town I was met by a party of Horse under the command of Major Lewis (my Nephew) and by Brigr. Genl. Smith of the Maryland line, who Escorted me to the Camp; where, finding all the Troops under Arms, I passed along the line of the Army; & was conducted to a house the residence of Major Lynn of the Maryland line (an old Continental Officer) where I was well lodged, & civilly entertained.”

Celebrate George at this year’s Whiskey Rebellion Fest, Friday June 7, 6-10, at the Allegany Museum. Click here to order your tickets.

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