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The Continental Congress chose Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on June 15, 1775. Washington took command of the troops surrounding British-occupied Boston on July 3, and devoted the next few months to training the undisciplined 14,000-man army. He also secured urgently needed powder and supplies. The discipline was one of the most important accomplishments for General Washington. Up to this point, the soldiers had no discipline and morale was low. Army morale was restored by the capture of Trenton, N.J., a brilliantly conceived attack in which Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 and surprised the Hessian garrison. After the arrival of the French army in 1780, George Washington was still in charge of the troops and the direction of the war. On the battlefield Washington relied on a policy of trial and error, eventually becoming a master of improvisation. He was sometimes accused of being overly cautious during the war, but he proved that he could be bold when success seemed possible. He learned to use the short-term militia skillfully and to combine green troops with veterans to produce an efficient fighting force. In 1781, American and French forces and a French fleet had trapped General Cornwallis at Yorktown in Virginia. Washington quick-marched the troops south, joining the armies on September 14. It was this siege that ended the war.
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