George Washington- military genius, Founder of our nation, America’s first President. George Washington is one of the most recognizable and well-known people in all of human history. It is safe to say that the United States of America would not exist without him.
George Washington was born February 22, 1732 in the Virginia Colony to Mary and Augustine Washington. He showed great enthusiasm and interest in the military from a very young age. In the early 1750’s relations between the French and British are beginning to boil. Both were claiming territory in America, many times claiming the same land as the other. America was the perfect place of opportunity and wealth, with thousands of miles of uncharted territory that would provide an abundance of resources. The French began attacking and capturing English tradesmen along the Ohio river, claiming that they were in control of those trading posts. Virginia’s Governor decided to send a message to General St Pierre at Lake Eerie, giving him one last chance to back down before the English declared war. At the age of 21, Washington, who was a surveyor, was ordered by the Governor to travel more than 500 miles from Williamsburg, Virginia, to Lake Eerie with the message. The journey would be hard and dangerous, but Washington was able to make it to the French Commander with the letter. The commander gave no heed to the warnings of the Governor, and it was determined that territories must be decided through war. It was then that Washington was made a Lieutenant Colonel and was put in charge of Virginia’s forces. He would face his first battle at the Great Meadows in Pennsylvania where he would be forced to surrender to the French and their Indian allies.
The British knew that the colonies were not organized enough or strong enough to fight against the French and win; they would need to send in reinforcements. In 1755, General Braddock, one of the most experienced Generals around, landed in America with British forces. He devised a 4-prong plan to defeat the French. Braddock had heard about George Washington and invited him to join his forces as a Colonel. Braddock, Washington and their men would march to Fort Duquesne and drive the French out of the Ohio Valley. The march there would be treacherous- there were no roads in front of them and the men were forced to create their own roads as they went.
General Braddock was not only known for his outstanding military career, but also his arrogance. It is recorded that he was warned multiple times about the guerilla tactics of the Indians who were friendly to the French, and that he needed to use other friendly Indian tribes to go ahead of the marching army and make sure they would not be caught in a surprise ambush. Even Washington himself tried to warn him, but Braddock flat out refused to listen; claiming that no Indian or colonist could know more about warfare than he could. He did not believe that the British army could be defeated by men hiding behind trees. This was a huge mistake.
On July 9th, 1775, the British and the colonists near Fort Duquesne. At first, they believe that they will be successful in taking the fort; they have yet to have any opposition. As they reach just seven miles outside the fort, an Indian was spotted running towards them. He gave a signal and the forest around them erupted. Bullets from all directions rain down on Braddock and his men. It was complete chaos; they had been ambushed. It is said that during this ambush, the British and Americans hardly ever see the enemy. They are invisible. It is a blood bath on the side of the British. Men and horses are scattered everywhere, dead and dying. For two hours they are slaughtered. Braddock and Washington are the only mounted officers left, until a bullet pierces Braddock in the side and he falls.
This is a devastating blow, and many lives are lost. But what makes this battle so significant is what happens, or should I say, doesn’t happen to George Washington. Washington is the only mounted officer who makes it out of the battle alive. Many eyewitnesses report both immediately after the battle and for years to come, that Washington was protected that day by the “invisible hand of Providence.” In his own words Washington wrote to his brother
“By the miraculous care of Providence I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullet holes through my coat and two horses shot under me yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.”
An Indian chief by the name of Red Hawk gave his personal account of what happened that day when he said that he himself shot at Washington eleven times and missed every single time. Up until that day he had never missed a shot. He ceased firing upon him and came to the realization that a “Great Spirit protected him.”
One of the most significant recounts of the event came 15 years after the battle. An old Indian chief was able to meet with Washington and a translator provided this account.
“I am a chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief [Washington]. I called to my young men and said, “Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red coat tribe- he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do- himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies.” Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, know not how to miss- ‘twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington], and guides his destinies- he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.”
This prophecy became reality as Washington became the Commander of the Continental Army,
escaping death many times over and went on to be the first President of the United States of America. Had George Washington lost his life in battle, our new, fragile nation may have not made it. He is a hero; one that was prepared and protected by God to ignite the torch of freedom that we must now carry on.
Barton, David. The Bulletproof George Washington, Texas: Wallbuilder Press, 1990.