William Howe

Mezzotint published in 1777; colored.

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
10 August 1729 in London, England
  DIED:
12 July 1814 in Plymouth, Devonshire, England

  • By the end of winter, 1776 - 77, Howe loses half his army. More British soldiers are killed in minor skirmishes than in battles.
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Sir William Howe, later 5th Viscount Howe after his brother's death. General and Commander-in-Chief of British forces. Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia.
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As students of Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau are always reminding us, the age of reason was really an age of sentiment. In this too, Washington was a man of his age. When he established the first general decoration in the American Army, the Purple Heart, it was not (as it became in the twentieth century) an award available to all soldiers wounded in the line of duty. Only privates and noncomissioned officers could win the original Badge of Military Merit, a cloth-shaped heart sewn over the man’s actual heart, which allowed him to pass all guards and sentinels which officers are permitted to do. The symbol was not of heart’s blood shed, but of virtue proceeding from the heart. Limiting the award to nonofficers was meant to indicate that great virtue can be shown regardless of rank — that in Washington’s words, the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all.

Garry Wills
Cincinnatus: George Washington & the Enlightenment (1984)