On 9 July 1775, Gen. George Washington convened his first council of war at the Wadsworth House. The new commander and Gen. Charles Lee had arrived in Cambridge only one week before, and Gen. Horatio Gates soon after. None of those men or their aides knew the area well. But all the Massachusetts generals were at the council.
It had been less than the month since the royal army took the Charlestown peninsula, and the new Continental commanders had been frantically strengthening their army’s positions to prevent any further moves. Worrying that those defenses might not be enough, they had to consider the possibility of the British forces overrunning the American lines.
So among the items the group decided was this back-up plan:
5. As the Events of War are uncertain & a Want of a proper Rendezvous might in Case of any Misfortune occasion a Dissolution of the Army it was proposed to appoint a proper Place for this Purpose in Case our present Situation should not be tenable.According to the latest edition of Washington’s papers, his secretary Joseph Reed’s draft notes for that meeting identified those mountains as “about 5 miles from Cambridge,” but for the final minutes he dropped that description.
Nemine Contradicente [i.e., with nobody dissenting]…Agreed that the Welch Mountains near Cambridge & in the Rear of Roxbury lines was a suitable Place.
Which leaves the question: Where are these “Welch Mountains”? I’ve lived a few miles from Cambridge for over forty years, and I don’t know any mountains around here.
TOMORROW: Competing theories, and all the evidence I could find.