The Military Career of George Washington
Most people today think of George Washington as the first President of the United States. Perhaps they may remember that he was also the commanding general of the Continental Army. However, George Washington had much experience in the military before the Revolutionary War. Because of his experience, he was ideal for the responsibility of leading the new nation to victory over the British.
In 1752, George Washington was 20 years old. He had no military experience, but his brother Lawrence had served in the British militia and this motivated George to join up (George 74b). Before the Revolutionary War, George Washington actually worked for the British. He showed his natural leadership right away. At the age of twenty, he was assigned to train militias in Virginia.
The young Major Washington showed he was brave and ambitious. In 1753, he heard that a man named Robert Dinwiddie, who was the acting governor of Virginia, planned to send a message to the French troops that they needed to withdraw from the Ohio River Valley. The French wanted to hunt and trap there, but the British wanted the land for farming. Washington went to Dinwiddie to volunteer to be the messenger. Dinwiddie had enough confidence in the young soldier to let him go.
Washington did not go by himself. He took a frontier guide, an interpreter, and four frontiersmen. It was dangerous wilderness and it was the middle of November. The group traveled until the middle of December. It was a long and cold journey. The French rejected the British instructions. Washington had to make the journey back to Virginia in the bitter winter weather. Indians and other dangers surrounded him. He finally returned in the middle of January, 1754. During this trip, Washington developed survival skills that would help him when he was responsible for the lives of many men in all kinds of weather and conditions. This conflict with the French marked the beginning of the French and Indian War. This war was known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War.
It was this war that taught the young Washington many things that would help him in the war against Britain (Sellers and May 28).
When he was twenty two, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. When he was instructed to find recruits for a new fort, he found the colonists resentful because the British paid the British regulars more than they intended to pay the Americans. For the first time, George Washington didn’t think of himself as an Englishman.
When he was on his way with his way to occupy a new fort he learned that the French had occupied it already. He had 160 soldiers. They were poorly trained and supplied. He decided to move on to another French fort, Fort Duquesne. During this time, Washington experienced his first military action. He and his men captured 21 French prisoners and killed or wounded 11. Only one of his men was killed (George 74b).
Washington’s leadership and influence...