You are looking at a bronze statue of General Artemis Ward, located in Ward Circle in Washington, DC. Ward Circle is a traffic circle located at the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue in North West Washington, DC. This inscription is engraved on the base of the statue: “ARTEMIS WARD, 1727-1800, SON OF MASSACHUSETTS, GRADUATE OF HARVARD COLLEGE, JUDGE AND LEGISLATOR, DELEGATE 1780-1781 TO THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, SOLDIER OF THREE WARS, FIRST COMMANDER OF THE PATRIOT FORCES.”
Backstory and Context
General Artemis Ward was an American major General in the American Revolutionary War, and a Congressman from Massachusetts. He was born in Shrewsberry, Massachusetts, the sixth of seven children. He attended public schools and shared a tutor with his brothers and sisters. He graduated from Harvard in 1748 at the age of 21. Two years later he married Sarah Trowbridge, the daughter of Reverend Caleb Trowbridge and Hannah Trowbridge of Groton, Massachusetts. Artemis and Sarah returned to Shrewsbury where Artemis opened a general store. Over the next fifteen years the couple had eight children. Artemis served in multiple public offices, from a township assessor for Worcester County to justice of the peace, and multiple terms in the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Assembly, or “general court”.
During the French and Indian War, Artemis Ward was made a major in the 3rd Regiment, serving mainly as garrison forces along the western frontier of Massachusetts. He alternated his regiment duty with his attendance at the General Court. In 1757 he was made colonel of the 3rd Regiment or the militia of Middlesex and Worchester Counties. The regiment marched with Abercrombie’s force to Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York. At the end of the war he returned to Shrewsbury and was named to the Court of Common Please, working on the taxation committee along with Samuel Adams and John Hancock. In the Assembly, he was second only to James Otis in speaking out against the Acts of Parliament.
As the sentiment grew toward favoring rebellion against the British, the 3rd Regiment resigned en masse from the British service. Artemis Ward was named as general and commander –in-chief- of the colony’s own militia. Following the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, Ward moved his headquarters to Cambridge. He devoted most of his efforts toward organization and supply efforts. When additional British forces arrived in Boston in May and June of that year, Ward learned of their plan to attack Bunker Hill. He gave his troops orders to fortify Bunker Hill, setting the stage for the battle there on June 17, 1775. On that same day, the Continental Congress created the Continental Army and commissioned Artemis Ward as a major general, second in command to George Washington. Ward was one of the original four major generals in the Continental Army. After the British evacuated Boston in March, Washington led the main army to New York City. War took command of the Eastern Department and held that post until 1777, when his health forced his resignation from the army.
Artemis Ward’s post military life included his duties as a state court justice in Massachusetts, a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and then a member of the United States House of Representatives, from 1791-95. His family home, the Artemas Ward House, located at 786 Main Street Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, is a museum open to the public.