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Encounters 6, Trouble in the Colonies

February 3, 2017

The Virginia militia under the command of George Washington and assisted by friendly Indians encountered a French patrol, beginning an attack which ended with the brutal massacre of the French leader and his scalping. Perhaps Washington was horrified by the scalping and treatment of the victims, but war is not a game, and your friends don’t always act the way you would like them to. But he managed to avoid the gruesome details when reporting back to Governor Dinwiddie in Williamsburg. Actually George became a minor celebrity in Virginia, and news of the encounter reached England, already at war with the French. The English-French Seven Years War became The French and Indian War in the colonies.

The king sent General Edward Braddock to defend British colonies from the French who wee moving south into the Ohio territory and the North-eastern Coast. Young George Washington was called to assist the British general. Surely he warned the General about Indian ambushes. Certainly Benjamin Franklin was cautious about armies traveling on footpaths with wagons loaded with food and equipment, cannons and ammunition. Splendid red coats of the English soldiers made visible targets for arrows and tomahawks.

In 1755 Braddock led 1500 British soldiers and 700 colonials to Fort Duquesne, later renamed Fort Pitt in Western Pennsylvania. Braddock did not listen to advice of the colonials. Building roads as he traveled, slowed him considerably. Leaving the carts and weapons to be guarded by some of his force, he was soon ambushed by 900 French, Canadian, and Indian forces. He refused to order his men to take cover, holding them in the British column formation. Nearly 1000 of his men were killed or wounded.

General Braddock had four horses shot from under him before he was shot in the chest. After George Washington carried him from the battlefield, Braddock died of his wounds, and Washington presided over his brief funeral. Before he died, the General is reported to have said, “We hall better know how to deal with them next time,” and “Who would have thought—-?” Now displayed at Mount Vernon is the ceremonial sash Braddock gave to Washington which he carried with him into the American Revolution and the White House.

George Washington, 26 years old, led the remaining soldiers back to Virginia, planning to resume life as a gentleman farmer at Mount Vernon, entertaining some thoughts of marriage and family — but history was not finished with him.

to be contd.


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