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Main articles: "Braddock expedition and "Battle of the Monongahela

In 1755, as part of the British military escalation, Major General "Edward Braddock arrived in North America with a force of "British Army regulars to head a major effort against the French in the Ohio Country. Washington wanted to serve on the expedition, but refused to do so as a provincial officer, since he would be outranked by even junior officers in the "regular army establishment.[44] (Washington was said to "[bubble] with fury when British regular officers expressed their disdain of provincial officers and soldiers", and at the realization that British officers were always senior to colonials regardless of rank.)[45] Through negotiations mediated by Governor Dinwiddie, Washington was offered an unpaid volunteer position as one of Braddock's "aides.[46] Washington accepted, writing to Braddock's principal aide, "Captain Robert Orme, "I wish for nothing more earnestly, than to attain a small degree of knowledge in the Military Art", and that the position would provide him "a good opportunity ... of forming an acquaintance which may be serviceable hereafter, if I can find it worth while pushing my Fortune in the Military way."[47]

Major-General "Braddock's death at the "Battle of the Monongahela, July 9, 1755.

When Braddock's regulars arrived in "Alexandria, Washington spent much time there, observing infantry drills and other internal workings of the army,[48] and even copied Braddock's orders to absorb the style in which they were written.[46] The expedition finally marched off in April 1755, and made extremely slow progress along the road Washington had cut in 1754, owing to the heavy artillery and long baggage train. Braddock and his entourage arrived at "Fort Cumberland on May 10.[49] From there the progress slowed even further as the army made its way to the Monongahela River. Washington fell ill with "dysentery en route, and only rejoined the column on July 8, when it was nearing the Monongahela.[46][50]

The next day, after Lieutenant Colonel "Thomas Gage's light infantry had crossed the Monongahela about 10 miles (16 km) from Fort Duquesne, they stumbled into a French and Indian force that had been sent to locate them.[50] Both sides were surprised, but the French and Indians quickly organized themselves and made a vicious onslaught against the British.[51] Gage's men, and the work crews they were guarding, turned and fled in a panic, right into the arriving column of regulars, which included Braddock and his entourage.[52] The discipline of the British regulars broke down, and a panicked retreat began, with the French and Indians firing at them from the cover of the surrounding woods. Braddock lost several horses, and eventually went down with a mortal wound. Washington was one of the few of Braddock's aides to emerge relatively unscathed, despite being significantly involved in the fighting. He had two horses shot out from under him, and four bullets pierced his coat. He sustained no injuries and showed coolness under fire.[53] Braddock, who had been loaded onto a wagon in a makeshift litter, ordered Washington to ride back to fetch the remainder of the army that was working its way up from the Great Meadows.[54] The battered remnants of Braddock's force eventually returned to Fort Cumberland, where Washington wrote letters harshly critical of the event. To Governor Dinwiddie he reported that, although the British officers fought well, their "cowardly Dogs of soldiers" did not.[55] The Virginians, he said, acquitted themselves well: they "behaved like Men, and died like Soldiers."[55] His reports burnished the reputation of the Virginia Regiment, and Washington was lauded as the "hero of Monongahela" for his work organizing the retreat.[55][56] Dinwiddie was also forced to acknowledge Washington's "gallant Behav[io]r", and the Virginia House of Burgesses reorganized the colony's defenses with Washington as colonel of a 1,200 strong regiment.[57]

Command, rank, and defense[edit]

Governor Dinwiddie had designated Fort Cumberland the regimental headquarters, even though it was located in "Maryland. Washington learned that it was commanded by Captain "John Dagworthy, who led a company of Maryland militia but also held a royal commission and would thus outrank him.[58] After a brief visit to Fort Cumberland in September 1755, Washington left, and chose to base himself at Winchester instead.[59] He then embarked on recruiting expeditions to fill out the regiment, traveling often to Williamsburg. There, he complained bitterly to Dinwiddie about serving under Dagworthy. When Dagworthy refused to let the Virginians draw supplies from Fort Cumberland (which, despite its location, had been paid for and provisioned by Virginia), Dinwiddie came to agree with Washington. He wrote to Massachusetts Governor "William Shirley, who was acting as commander in chief after Braddock's death, requesting royal commissions for Washington and other Virginia officers. When Shirley did not respond in a timely manner, Dinwiddie authorized Washington to travel to "Boston to renew the request in person. Washington spent some time visiting in all of the major towns on the way, but his mission was ultimately only partially successful.[60] After receiving Washington, Shirley issued a decree that Virginia's officers outranked Dagworthy and other British officers of lower rank.[61]

Washington had a sometimes difficult relationship with Virginia Governor "Robert Dinwiddie

In his first year in command of the Virginia Regiment, Washington shaped the unit into one of the best provincial military units in the colonies. He rigorously enforced military discipline, often punishing transgressions with the lash, but also sometimes hanging those convicted of serious offenses like desertion.[61] The latter was a particular problem: many of the recruits were either foreigners or from Virginia's lower classes, and had little at stake in the conflict.[62] He developed detailed guidelines for frontier warfare, was personally responsible for organizing the supply and equipment of the regiment, and even designed the regimental uniforms.[61] He was also a voracious reader of military treatises of all sorts, from "Julius Caesar's "Commentaries to recent British training manuals.[63] Despite all of his work, Virginia's frontier was ravaged by raiding parties, and he lost one third of his men in eighteen months.[64] Washington's relationship with Dinwiddie deteriorated again over these difficulties and ongoing complaints about pay that was inadequate compared to British regimental standards.[65]

In 1757 Washington renewed attempts to cultivate relations in the army in the hopes of getting a commission. He wrote flattering letters to the new commander in chief, the "Earl of Loudoun, and even named one of Virginia's frontier forts after him. However, Loudoun was only in command for one year, and was recalled after a "failed expedition against "Fortress Louisbourg.[66] Later in the year, Washington again suffered a serious bout of dysentery; he was bedridden for much of the winter of 1757–58, and even suggested to the Virginia Burgesses that he be replaced since he could not properly do his duty as colonel of the regiment.[67]

Forbes expedition[edit]

Forbes Expedition
Map showing fort locations and the routes taken by Braddock and Forbes

The failures of British military policy in 1757 led to a change of government in London, with "William Pitt coming firmly into control of Britain's global war effort.[68] Pitt decided to focus a large number of resources on the war in North America, and three major expeditions were planned. One of these, under the command of Brigadier General "John Forbes, was assigned to move against the French in the Ohio Country, with its first major goal the capture of Fort Duquesne.[69] Forbes was to lead an army of 2,000 regulars augmented by 5,000 provincials raised from Pennsylvania southward.[70]

Diplomacy and military politics[edit]

The Virginia Burgesses voted to raise a second regiment of 1,000 men in addition to Washington's, both of which would participate in the Forbes expedition under Washington's overall command.[71] Forbes was apparently already aware of Washington's reputation, writing that he was "a good and knowing Officer in the Back Country."[71] Washington, as he had with other army commanders, hoped for notice and sponsorship, and asked General "John Stanwix to "[m]ention me in favorable terms to General Forbes."[72] Forbes ordered the Virginia troops to gather at Winchester while the army began cutting a new road from "Carlisle, Pennsylvania toward Fort Duquesne. Based in part on advice from Washington, Forbes spent much of the spring and summer negotiating with the Ohio Indians for their support.[71] A preliminary agreement was reached in August in which many of those Indians, led by chief "Teedyuscung, agreed to abandon their alliance with the French.[73] Washington and his troops were first given the task of improving the road between Fort Frederick and Fort Cumberland, and did not join with the main army at "Fort Bedford until late summer.[74]

At this point Forbes was faced with a choice of routes. He could cut a new road directly across western Pennsylvania, or he could go south and pick up Braddock's route. Washington extensively lobbied Forbes and other British officers to use Braddock's route, which would have been more advantageous to Virginia interests.[75] Forbes and others took a dim view of this activity, suspecting personal and provincial financial motivation. In response to a letter in which Washington bemoaned "our Enterprize [is] Ruind", and blamed Colonel "Henry Bouquet for his advocacy of the Pennsylvania route, Forbes angrily wrote, "I am now at the bottom, of their Scheme against this new road" and chastized Washington, writing that his heavy-handed advocacy "was a shame for any officer to be Concerned in."[76] Forbes ultimately chose the Pennsylvania route for pragmatic military reasons: the army, was expected to occupy and hold Fort Duquesne, and would require a reliable supply route, and the Pennsylvania route was superior for this purpose.[77] However, as the expedition pushed west and Forbes learned that the last ridge to cross would prove particularly difficult, he granted that Washington and other advocates of the Virginia route may have been correct in their assessment of the chosen route's problems.[78]

Advance on Fort Duquesne[edit]

In early September, troops under Henry Bouquet's command began construction of a fort near present-day "Loyalhanna Township that eventually came to be known as "Fort Ligonier.[79] Bouquet was handling the forward activities of the expedition because Forbes was sick with "dysentery.[80] On September 11, Bouquet authorized Major "James Grant to lead a "reconnaissance in force to investigate the strength of Fort Duquesne's defenses. Grant took this opportunity to "launch an assault on the fort, and was decisively beaten and taken prisoner along with one third of his 800-strong detachment.[81] Although Washington was not involved, men from his regiment acquitted themselves well in the debacle; 62 of them died in the battle, and others were among the prisoners.[82] The French at Fort Duquesne, whose supply line had been cut by the British victory in the August "Battle of Fort Frontenac, "made an unsuccessful attack against Fort Ligonier in the hopes of either stopping the expedition or at least acquiring some of its supplies.[83]

British troops take possession of "Fort Duquesne

On November 12, in response to rumors that the French had sent out a raiding force, Forbes sent out a detachment of the Virginia regiment to investigate reports of a French raiding expedition. When sounds of gunfire reached the British camp, Forbes sent a second detachment. Primary sources are unclear on which detachment Washington led; the other was led by Lieutenant Colonel "George Mercer. In the dimming light of early evening and the haze of musket smoke the two detachments mistook each other for the enemy; the "friendly fire incident resulted in 40 casualties. Washington claimed to have interceded, "knocking up with his sword the presented pieces", but Captain Thomas Bullitt, the only other officer to leave an account, held Washington responsible for the incident, noting that his opinion was shared by "several of the officers."[84] The incident appeared to leave an emotional scar on Washington, who did not speak or write of it for many years.[84]

A beneficial result of the incident was that several prisoners were taken; Forbes learned from them that Fort Duquesne was about to be abandoned.[85] This prompted Forbes to accelerate the expedition's advance, and it was soon in a position of strength about 10 miles (16 km) from Fort Duquesne. On November 23 they heard a large explosion from the direction of the fort; its commander, "François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery, had blown it up.[86] Forbes assigned Washington command of one of the brigades that advanced to find the smoking remains of the French fort the next day.[87] General Forbes, still weak from illness, only briefly visited the site. He completed the return trip to Philadelphia in a litter, and died in March 1759.[88] Washington was back home in Virginia by the end of December; the expedition was his last military activity of the war.[89]

End of service[edit]

Upon his return to Williamsburg, Washington, to the surprise of many, tendered his resignation from the Virginia militia.[88] Many of his officers showered him with praise, including the critical Captain Thomas Bullitt. Washington was lauded for his "punctual Obervance" of his duties, the "Frankness, Sincerity, and a certain Openness of Soul", and the "mutual Regard that has always subsisted between you and your Officers."[90] Biographer James Ferling characterizes as their highest tribute the statements that Washington "heightened our natural Emulation, and our Desire to excel" and "In you we place the most implicit confidence."[90]

Lessons learned[edit]

"Currier and Ives lithograph depicting Washington's appointment as commander in chief of the "Continental Army in 1775

Although Washington never gained the commission in the British army he yearned for, in these years the young man gained valuable military, political, and leadership skills,[91] and received significant public exposure in the colonies and abroad.[19][92] He closely observed British military tactics, gaining a keen insight into their strengths and weaknesses that proved invaluable during the Revolution. He demonstrated his toughness and courage in the most difficult situations, including disasters and retreats. He developed a command presence—given his size, strength, stamina, and bravery in battle, he appeared to soldiers to be a natural leader and they followed him without question.[93][94] Washington gained connections because of his popularity, which would serve him well later in the Revolution. His involvement in the war, given the circumstances, was just enough for him to be able to craft his own idea of what a leader looked like. Washington learned to organize, train, and drill, and discipline his companies and regiments. From his observations, readings and conversations with professional officers, he learned the basics of battlefield tactics, as well as a good understanding of problems of organization and logistics.[95] Historian Ron Chernow is of the opinion that his frustrations in dealing with government officials during this conflict led him to advocate the advantages of a strong national government and a vigorous executive agency that could get results;[96] other historians tend to ascribe Washington's position on government to his later "American Revolutionary War service.[97] His dealings also gave him the diplomatic skills necessary to negotiate with officials at the local and provincial levels.[96] He developed a very negative idea of the value of militia, who seemed too unreliable, too undisciplined, and too short-term compared to regulars.[98] On the other hand, his experience was limited to command of about 1,000 men, and came only in remote frontier conditions that were far removed from the urban situations "he faced during the revolution at Boston, New York, Trenton and Philadelphia.[99]

Later life[edit]

George Washington in the American Revolution, "Presidency of George Washington, and "George Washington's legacy

On January 6, 1759, Washington married "Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy Virginia widow.[100] He had already won election to the Virginia House of Burgesses during the summer of 1758.[101] For the next 16 years he lived the life of a Virginia plantation owner and politician.[102] As "tensions rose between the British parliament and the colonies, he gradually adopted positions in opposition to the parliament's policies.[103] When the "American Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, Washington arrived at the "Second Continental Congress in a military uniform, and was chosen as "Commander-in-chief of the "Continental Army.[104] After leading American forces to victory, he chaired the "Constitutional Convention that drafted the "United States Constitution, and was then elected the first "President of the United States, serving two terms.[105] He briefly saw additional military service during "a threatened war with France in 1798, and died in December 1799.[106] He is widely recognized as the "Father of his country".[107]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ All of the dates in this article are in the "New Style. According to the "Julian calendar (which was in effect at the time), Washington was born on February 11, 1731; according to the "Gregorian calendar, which was adopted in Britain and its colonies in 1752, he was born on February 22, 1732. Engber, Daniel (January 18, 2006). "What's Benjamin Franklin's Birthday?". Slate. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  2. ^ Freeman, pp. 1:1–199
  3. ^ Chernow, ch. 1
  4. ^ Anderson, p. 30
  5. ^ Freeman, p. 1:268
  6. ^ Anderson, p. 16
  7. ^ Anderson, pp. 17,25
  8. ^ Anderson, p. 28
  9. ^ O'Meara, pp. 18–20
  10. ^ Anderson, p. 37
  11. ^ O'Meara, p. 3
  12. ^ Chernow, pp. 56-57
  13. ^ a b Anderson, p. 43
  14. ^ a b Anderson, p. 44
  15. ^ O'Meara, pp. 3–4
  16. ^ O'Meara, p. 5
  17. ^ a b c d Anderson, p. 45
  18. ^ O'Meara, pp. 33–34
  19. ^ a b O'Meara, p. 45
  20. ^ O'Meara, p. 41
  21. ^ O'Meara, pp. 50–51
  22. ^ Anderson, p. 49
  23. ^ Lengel, p. 31
  24. ^ a b Anderson, p. 51
  25. ^ Anderson, p. 50
  26. ^ Lengel, p. 32
  27. ^ Lengel, p. 33
  28. ^ Lengel, p. 34
  29. ^ Lengel, p. 35
  30. ^ Lengel, p. 37
  31. ^ a b c Anderson, p. 6
  32. ^ Anderson, p. 53
  33. ^ Anderson, pp. 54–55
  34. ^ Anderson, pp. 59–60
  35. ^ Anderson, pp. 60–61
  36. ^ Lengel, p. 40
  37. ^ Lengel, p. 41
  38. ^ Anderson, pp. 62–64
  39. ^ Lengel, p. 44
  40. ^ Ellis, pp. 14–17
  41. ^ Anderson, p. 72
  42. ^ Ferling (2010), p. 25
  43. ^ a b Ferling (2010), p. 26
  44. ^ Lengel, p. 50
  45. ^ Ferling (2002), p. 65; Leach in a full length study shows that, "Redcoats often seems to regard the colonists with a condescension bordering on contempt, marking them down as unsophisticated and even crude outlanders... Such highly negative judgments were constantly being relayed by the officers [to] England." Douglas Edward Leach, Roots of Conflict: British Armed Forces and Colonial Americans, 1677–1763 (1986), p. 106
  46. ^ a b c Ferling (2010), p. 28
  47. ^ Lengel, p. 51
  48. ^ Lengel, p. 52
  49. ^ Lengel, p. 53
  50. ^ a b Anderson, p. 97
  51. ^ Anderson, p. 99
  52. ^ Lengel, p. 57
  53. ^ Ferling (2010), p. 29
  54. ^ Lengel, p. 59
  55. ^ a b c Lengel, p. 60
  56. ^ Ellis, p. 26
  57. ^ Ferling (2010), pp. 29–30
  58. ^ Ferling (2010), pp. 30–31
  59. ^ Lengel, p. 64
  60. ^ Ferling (2010), p. 31
  61. ^ a b c Ferling (2010), p. 32
  62. ^ Higginbotham (2001), p. 53
  63. ^ Anderson, p. 290
  64. ^ Ferling (2010), p. 33
  65. ^ Ferling (2010), pp. 34–38
  66. ^ Ellis, pp. 30–31
  67. ^ Lengel, pp. 67–68
  68. ^ Anderson, pp. 211–213
  69. ^ Anderson, p. 233
  70. ^ Anderson, p. 236
  71. ^ a b c Lengel, p. 70
  72. ^ Lengel, p. 69
  73. ^ Anderson, p. 258
  74. ^ Ferling (2010), p. 40
  75. ^ Ferling (2010), pp. 40–41
  76. ^ Lengel, p. 72
  77. ^ Ferling (2010), p. 41
  78. ^ Anderson, p. 213
  79. ^ Cubbison, p. 112
  80. ^ Anderson, p. 271
  81. ^ Anderson, p. 272
  82. ^ Lengel, p. 74
  83. ^ O'Meara, pp. 204–205
  84. ^ a b Ferling (2010), p. 43
  85. ^ Ellis, p. 75
  86. ^ Anderson, p. 283
  87. ^ Ferling (1989), p. 57
  88. ^ a b Lengel, p. 76
  89. ^ Ferling (2010), pp. 43–44
  90. ^ a b Ferling (2010), p. 44
  91. ^ Chernow, ch. 8; Freeman and Harwell, pp. 135–139; Flexner (1984), pp. 32–36; Ellis, ch. 1; Higginbotham (1985), ch. 1
  92. ^ Ellis, p. 14
  93. ^ Ellis, pp. 38,69
  94. ^ Fischer, p. 13
  95. ^ Higginbotham (1985), pp. 14–15
  96. ^ a b Chernow, ch. 8, last paragraphs
  97. ^ Ellis and Ferling, for example, do not discuss this stance in reference to Washington's French and Indian War service, and cast it almost exclusively in terms of his negative experiences dealing with the Continental Congress during the Revolution. See Ellis, p. 218, Ferling (2010), pp. 32–33,200,258–272,316. Don Higginbotham places Washington's first formal advocacy of a strong central government in 1783 (Higginbotham (2004), p. 37).
  98. ^ Higginbotham (1985), pp. 22–25
  99. ^ Freeman and Harwell, pp. 136–137
  100. ^ Ellis, p. 39
  101. ^ Ferling (2010), p. 50
  102. ^ Ellis, p. 40
  103. ^ Ferling (2010), pp. 75–76
  104. ^ Ellis, pp. 69–71
  105. ^ See e.g. Ferling (2010), chapters 3–11
  106. ^ Lengel, pp. 360–364
  107. ^ Grizzard, pp. 105–107


Bibliography of George Washington

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

See "George Washington bibliography for a listing of general works about Washington. See "French and Indian War and "Seven Years' War for general bibliographies about the war. Works specifically about Washington and Virginia in this time period include:

  • Alden, John Richard (1973). Robert Dinwiddie: Servant of the Crown. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg. "OCLC 1743718. 
  • Ambler, Charles (2006) [1936]. George Washington and the West. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing. "ISBN "978-0-548-14671-2. "OCLC 235951055. 
  • Gist, Christopher (1893). Christopher Gist's Journals. Pittsburgh, PA: J. R. Weldin. "OCLC 3759083.  Journals of Ohio Company frontiersman who accompanied Washington in 1753.
  • Hofstra, Warren (1998). George Washington and the Virginia Backcountry. Madison, WI: Madison House. "ISBN "978-0-945612-50-6. "OCLC 34515281. 
  • Knollenberg, Bernard (1964). George Washington, the Virginia Period, 1732–1775. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. "OCLC 426483. 
  • Koontz, Louis Knott (1941). Robert Dinwiddie, his Career in American Colonial Government and Westward Expansion. Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark. "OCLC 308333. 
  • Lewis, Thomas A (1992). For King and Country: the Maturing of George Washington, 1748–1760. New York: HarperCollins. "ISBN "978-0-06-016777-6. "OCLC 191122817. 
  • Washington, George (1754). The Journal of Major George Washington. Williamsburg, VA: T. Jefferys. "OCLC 47885920.  Printing of Washington's 1753 journal.
  • Washington, George; Toner, Joseph (1893). Journal of Colonel George Washington. Albany, NY: J. Munsell's Sons. "OCLC 317621479.  Printing of Washington's 1754 journal.
  • Washington, George; Abbot, W. W.; Twohig, Dorothy; Chase, Philander (1983–1995). The Papers of George Washington: the Colonial Period. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. "ISBN "978-0-8139-0912-7. "OCLC 7947187.  Ten volume set of Washington's papers up to 1775.
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