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Artemas Ward

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Title: Artemas Ward  
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Subject: William Lyman (congressman), Theodore Sedgwick, Siege of Boston, Massachusetts Line, Dwight Foster (1757–1823)
Collection: 1727 Births, 1800 Deaths, Continental Army Generals, Continental Army Officers from Massachusetts, Continental Congressmen from Massachusetts, Harvard University Alumni, Harvard University Faculty, Members of the Colonial Massachusetts Governor's Council, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts, People from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, People of Colonial Massachusetts, People of Massachusetts in the American Revolution, People of Massachusetts in the French and Indian War, Speakers of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
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Artemas Ward

Artemas Ward
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1795
Preceded by Theodore Sedgwick
Succeeded by William Lyman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1791 – March 3, 1793
Preceded by George Leonard
Succeeded by George Leonard
Personal details
Born (1727-11-26)November 26, 1727
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
Died October 28, 1800(1800-10-28) (aged 72)
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, USA
Resting place Mountain View Cemetery, Shrewsbury
Spouse(s) Sarah (Trowbridge) Ward
Children Ithamar (1752), Nahum (1754), Sara (1756), Thomas (1758), Martha (1760), Artemas Jr. (1762), Maria (1764), Henry Dana (1768)
Occupation Soldier, politician
Known for Revolutionary War Major General
Religion Christianity
Website Artemas Ward Museum
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
 United States
Years of service 1755–1758
Rank Colonel
Commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts Bay colony's militia
Major general of the Continental Army
Commands British Army's 3rd Regiment of the Massachusetts Bay militia—the militia of Middlesex and Worchester Counties
Continental Army in command of the Eastern Department April 4, 1776 -March 20, 1777
Battles/wars French and Indian War
American Revolutionary War
Boston campaign

Artemas Ward (November 26, 1727 – October 28, 1800) was an American major general in the American Revolutionary War and a Congressman from Massachusetts. President John Adams described him as "...universally esteemed, beloved and confided in by his army and his country." He was considered an effective political leader.


  • Early life and career 1
  • French and Indian War 2
  • Prelude to revolution 3
  • The Army of Observation 4
  • Service in the Continental Army 5
  • Politics: life after war 6
  • Legacy 7
    • Artemas Ward House 7.1
    • Ward Circle 7.2
    • American University 7.3
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life and career

Artemas Ward was born at Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, in 1727 to Nahum Ward (1684–1754) and Martha (Howe) Ward.[1] He was the sixth of seven children. His father had broad and successful career interests as a sea captain, merchant, land developer, farmer, lawyer and jurist. As a child he attended the common schools and shared a tutor with his brothers and sisters. He graduated from Harvard in 1748 and taught there briefly.

On July 31, 1750, he married Sarah Trowbridge (December 3, 1724 – December 13, 1788), the daughter of Reverend Caleb Trowbridge and Hannah Trowbridge of Groton, Massachusetts. The young couple returned to Shrewsbury where Artemas opened a general store. In the next fifteen years they would have eight children: Ithamar in 1752, Nahum (1754), Sara (1756), Thomas (1758), Artemas Jr. (1762), Henry Dana (1768), Martha (1760), and Maria (1764).

The next year, 1751, he was named a township assessor for Worcester County. This was the first of many public offices he was to fill. Ward was elected a justice of the peace in 1752 and also served the first of his many terms in the Massachusetts Bay Colony's assembly, or "general court."

French and Indian War

In 1755 the militia was restructured for the war, and Ward was made a major in the 3rd Regiment which mainly came from Worcester County. They served as garrison forces along the frontier in western Massachusetts. This duty called him at intervals between 1755 and 1757, and alternated with his attendance at the General Court. In 1757 he was made the colonel of the 3rd Regiment or the militia of Middlesex and "Worchester" Counties. In 1758 the regiment marched with Abercrombie's force to Fort Ticonderoga. Ward himself was sidelined during the battle by an "attack of the stone."

Prelude to revolution

By 1762, Ward returned to Shrewsbury permanently and was named to the Court of Common Pleas. In the General Court he was placed on the taxation committee along with Samuel Adams and John Hancock. On the floor, he was second only to James Otis in speaking out against the acts of parliament. His prominence in these debates prompted the Royal Governor Francis Bernard to revoke his military commission in 1767. At the next election in 1768, Bernard voided the election results for Worcester and banned Ward from the assembly, but this didn't silence him.

In the growing sentiment favoring rebellion, the 3rd Regiment resigned en masse from British service on October 3, 1774. They then marched on Shrewsbury to inform Colonel Ward that they had unanimously elected him their leader. Later that month the governor abolished the assembly. The towns of Massachusetts responded by setting up a colony-wide Committee of Safety. One of the first actions of the Committee was to name Ward as general and commander-in-chief of the colony's militia.

The Army of Observation

Following the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the rebels followed the British back to Boston and started the siege of the city. At first Ward directed his forces from his sickbed, but later moved his headquarters to Cambridge. Soon, the New Hampshire and Connecticut provisional governments both named him head of their forces participating in the siege. Most of his efforts during this time were devoted to organization and supply problems.

Additional British forces arrived in May, and in June, Ward learned of their plan to attack Bunker Hill. He gave orders to fortify the point, setting the stage for the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Command during the battle devolved upon General Israel Putnam and Colonel William Prescott.

Service in the Continental Army

Meanwhile, the Charles Lee, Philip Schuyler and Israel Putnam. Over the next nine months he helped convert the assembled militia units into the Continental Army.

After the British evacuation on March 17, 1776, Washington led the main army to New York City. Ward took command of the Eastern Department on April 4, 1776. He held that post until March 20, 1777, when his health forced his resignation from the army.

Politics: life after war

Even during his military service, Ward served as a state court justice in 1776 and 1777. He was President of the state's Executive Council from 1777–1779, which effectively made him the governor before the 1780 ratification of the Massachusetts Constitution. He was continuously elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for each year from 1779 through 1785. He also served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1780 and 1781. Ward was the Speaker of the Massachusetts House in 1785. He was elected twice to the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1791 to 1795.

Ward died at his home in Shrewsbury on October 28, 1800, and is buried with Sarah in the city's Mountain View Cemetery.[2] His great-grandson, Artemas Ward wrote The Grocer's Encyclopedia (published in 1911).


Artemas Ward House

Wards's lifelong home had been built by his father, Nahum, about the time Artemas was born. The home is now known as the Artemas Ward House and is a museum preserved by Harvard University. Located at 786 Main Street in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts it is open to the public for limited hours during the summer months.

Ward Circle

Ward Circle is a traffic circle at the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest Washington, D.C.. The land on three sides of Ward Circle is owned by American University. The circle contains a statue of Ward.

The great-grandson of Ward gave over four million dollars to Harvard University on the condition that they erect a statue in honor of Ward, and maintain his home in Shrewsbury.[3][4] Harvard’s initial offer in 1927 of $50,000 toward the statue was enough for a statue, but inadequate to provide the general with a horse.

The statue was completed in 1938. Although there is no pedestrian access to the circle, the base of the statue bears this inscription:


American University

American University named the Ward Circle Building, home of the American University School of Public Affairs, as it was the closest building at the time to Ward Circle, in honor of Artemas Ward.


  1. ^ "Col. Nahum Ward". Edmund Rice (1638) Association. Retrieved 25 Nov 2009. 
  2. ^ Artemas Ward at Find a Grave
  3. ^
  4. ^


  • Charles Martyn; The Life of Artemas Ward, The First Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolution.; (1921), reprinted 1970: Kennikat Press, Port Washington, N.Y.; ISBN 0-8046-1276-5
    • Available on
  • Andrew H. Ward, Memoir of Major General Artemas Ward in New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 5; July, 1851.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Leonard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
District eliminated
Preceded by
Benjamin Goodhue
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 2nd congressional district

alongside: Dwight Foster, Theodore Sedgwick, William Lyman on a General ticket (1793–1795)
Succeeded by
William Lyman
Political offices
Preceded by
Nathaniel Gorham
Speaker of the
Massachusetts House of Representatives

Succeeded by
James Warren
Preceded by
Member of the
Massachusetts House of Representatives

Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by
Major of the 3rd Regiment
The Militia of Middlesex and Worchester Counties

1755 – 1757
Succeeded by

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