Friday, September 22, 2017

The Early Military Career of Washington

       Not long before he died Lawrence Washington had used his influence to have his brother appointed an adjutant-general over one of the several military districts into which Virginia colony was divided. This division was rendered necessary by the threatened encroachments of the Indians and of the French, who were establishing posts along the Ohio. Washington's eager pursuit of the study of military tactics was interrupted by the trip to the West Indies, but he resumed his duties as adjutant general after his return, and late in 1753 was requested by Governor Dinwiddle to carry a message of warning to the French forces in the Ohio Valley. It was a hazardous mission for a young man of twenty-one, and the selection reflects favorably upon Washington's reputation for reliability and good judgment. In November, accompanied by an experienced frontiersman, he started on his 600-mile journey After many narrow escapes from the Indians and the perils of the wilderness, he completed his mission and reported to Governor Dinwiddle on January 16, 1754, at Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia. Shortly afterwards he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Virginia regiment.
       A skirmish with the French in the summer of 1754, which was not decisive, was followed by a reorganization of the Virginia, troops and Washington's temporary retirement from things military. Early in 1755, however. General Braddock arrived from England with two regiments of British regulars, and offered the young colonial a place on his staff, with the rank of colonel. Promptly accepting, Washington entered eagerly into the preparation of the campaign, and on July 9 took part in the disastrous fight at Fort Duquesne. How the English regulars were mowed down by bullets fired from behind trees, and how the Virginians under Washington saved the little army from annihilation by fighting under cover, as did the French and Indians, is known to every American school boy. The troops succeeded in withdrawing from the field, but Braddock was fatally wounded, and died four days later. Washington later reorganized the colonial troops and was their chief commander until 1758, when he retired to Mount Vernon to rest. It was with great satisfaction, however, that, in November, 1758, he accompanied the British forces to the smoking ruins of Fort Duquesne, which was renamed Fort Pitt in honor of England's great Prime Minister. 

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