Because Peale served under General Washington and befriended him during the Revolutionary War, he was an ideal candidate to compose this painting that commemorates one of Washington's most important early victories. Even the horse at the right appears impressed with Washington, upon whom he gazes with pride. Peale's painting was instantly popular, and the artist produced several versions of it amid a rally of enthusiasm for the American cause. Whereas some were commissioned by American colonists, others were ordered by Washington's admirers in France, Spain, Holland, Cuba, and even England.
One of the most remarkable figures in early American history, Peale was interested in natural history and organized the first scientific expedition in the United States. Later, Peale opened one of the first financially successful museums in America, displaying stuffed animal specimens, fossils, shells, and a large selection of his portrait paintings.