The Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association (AGCRA) has commissioned the first-ever Adjutant General’s Corps Print by artist Mort Kunstler. The AG Corps Print is entitled “Washington’s Watch Chain” and will include the AG Corps Regimental Crest. The Print depicts General George Washington at West Point, NY in the winter of 1779 during the Revolutionary War retrieving the “Great Chain” from the Hudson River before the river froze. The “Great Chain” was designed to block the British Navy from sailing up the Hudson River from New York City and splitting the American Colonies in half.
Accompanying General Washington during the retrieving of the “Great Chain” are two key Adjutants General in American history: Colonel Timothy Pickering (the sixth Adjutant General of the Army) and Pickering’s successor, Colonel Alexander Scammel (the seventh Adjutant General of the Army).
On June 10, 2011, Mort Kunstler, on behalf of AGCRA, presented the original AG Corps oil painting to the Adjutant General School at Fort Jackson, SC.
AGCRA has also commissioned 750 limited edition prints and 300 giclees of the original oil painting to be sold to the general public for the purpose of raising funds for an AGCRA Scholarship Program (Note – giclees more closely resemble the original oil painting). The limited edition prints and giclees can be purchased today right here on AGCRA.com on our AG Corps Print Purchasing Page at the link above. Costs for the limited edition prints (framed and unframed) and giclees are provided on the purchasing pages.
Continue reading for the historical narrative of “Washington’s Watch Chain”.
*** HISTORICAL NARRATIVE ***
The Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association (AGCRA) Print – 2011
Washington’s Watch Chain – Defend and Serve, The Adjutant General’s Corps 1779
The Scene: West Point, New York, the Winter of 1779. The “Great Chain” lies across the Hudson River.
The Activity: Pulling in the Great Chain as the Hudson River Froze.
The Key Players: General George Washington and his immediate Staff, including two key Adjutants General.
After taking special notice of Timothy Pickering’s leadership abilities, General George Washington offered him the position of Adjutant General of the Continental Army in 1777.
When Washington decided to move his headquarters to West Point, NY in 1779 he took Colonel Pickering with him. Earlier at West Point, Colonel Pickering oversaw the construction of forts, batteries, redoubts, and the “Great Chain” designed to block the British Navy from sailing up the Hudson River.
As the war dragged on, the chain became the main focus of Washington’s military strategy and became widely known throughout the nation as Washington’s Watch Chain as it kept the British Navy in New York City and prevented the British from ever trying to split the colonies in two, by sailing up the Hudson River.
In the winter of 1779, General Washington held a major leader strategy meeting at West Point. Washington had directed that the “Great Chain” remain in the Hudson River as long as possible before the river froze to prevent a British attempt to sail towards West Point. General Washington had assembled a veritable “Whoʼs Who” at West Point that winter including his personal Protective Honor Guard; General (Baron) Von Steuben; General Joseph Gilbert du Motier (The Marquis de Lafayette) of France; Alexander Hamilton (Senior Aide de Camp and Confidante), and his two key Adjutants General – Colonel Timothy Pickering and Pickering’s successor, Colonel Alexander Scammel.
While their meetings progressed, an unexpected winter storm arrived at West Point and Washington had to hurriedly move to the riverbank to oversee the immediate withdrawal of the chain before dark so that the chain would not freeze into the river that evening. Colonel Pickering is seen here showing General Washington the particulars of the Great Chain, while Colonel Scammel reviews the drawings of the placement of the chain. Washington’s Staff watches as General Washington assesses the effectiveness of the ongoing effort and the troops successfully retrieve the heavy chain using floats, barges, levers, and oxen to pull the 250-pound links onto the shore.
The “Great Chain” proved extremely effective in the defense of the American Colonies and Colonel Pickering’s success in contracting and implementation would be talked about for many years after the war had successfully ended.