Washington's last will and testament specifically states: "[I]t is my express desire that my Corpse may be Interred in a private manner, without parade, or funeral Oration."
Nevertheless, his friends and family could not avoid the overwhelming desire to commemorate Washington as a national figure. His Masonic lodge was permitted to prepare arrangements for the funeral procession. Mourners were instructed to arrive on "Wednesday, at Mount Vernon, at twelve o'clock, if fair, or on Thursday at the same hour." In the early hours of Wednesday the 18th, the Masonic fraternity of Alexandria started for Mount Vernon and arrived about one o'clock. Two hours later the formal procession was formed, consisting of horse and foot soldiers, clergy, the General's steed bearing an empty saddle, a military band, the bier, and dozens of mourners.
Upon arriving at the humble red brick tomb sunk in a hillside below the mansion house, the Reverend Thomas Davis, rector of Christ Church, Alexandria, read the Episcopal Order of Burial. Next, the Reverend James Muir, minister of the Alexandria Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Elisha Dick, both members of Washington's Lodge, conducted the traditional Masonic funeral rites. After this, the shroud was briefly withdrawn to allow a final viewing before Washington's body was placed in the family tomb.
F. L. Brockett's The Lodge of Washington contains an account of the funeral, including a description written a few days afterwards by the Reverend James Muir:
The mourners returned to the mansion to pay their respects to the widow; then they went out into the cold December night.