George Washington – Soldier, Hero, President and Sailor at Heart
Washington’s military career opportunities started in 1753, as the rivalry between the French and British escalated over primary control of the fertile Ohio Valley. Military superiors took notice of Washington’s ambition when, just prior to the French and Indian War 1754-1763, he was ordered to undertake a futile mission.
He was dispatched to the warn Fort LeBoeuf’s French commander to cease encroaching upon British-claimed territory. Washington, who was noted for keeping a written journal of his experiences, wrote of the dangers and hardships of his trek into northern Pennsylvania. The entry he made in his diary regarding his journey was published upon his return, and it is presumed that his detailed descriptions helped elevate him to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1754.
Washington’s 22-year-old mind soon grasped problems facing the American militia, and he began tackling issues such as recruiting, desertions, obtaining ammunition, and other resources necessary to man the Colonial army. He handled situations with a brash quality coupled with a natural instinct for such matters, and his style eventually caused his commanding officers to respect his efforts and leadership.
Another of Washington’s notable quotes explains the way he handled stress, “Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.”
Washington reputedly did not like war. He perceived it as a necessary evil encountered on the road to freedom. What he did enjoy profusely was farming and working with the land. He married Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759, shortly after playing a major role in Britain’s defeat of the French, which resulted in the capture of Fort Duquesne (Fort Pitt).
Washington’s military prowess was again called upon to lead American revolutionary forces to do battle against British forces. Due to his experience and ability to handle harsh wilderness conditions, Washington’s skills proved invaluable. He led American forces during the war for independence, beginning in 1775 at the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
British forces were driven from Boston with Washington at the helm in March 1776. He then shifted his war efforts to New York City, where he battled Sir William Howe’s land and nautical forces. Washington was forced to retreat, but was not one to surrender easily. He led his troops from Manhattan into Westchester County, then through New Jersey into southern Pennsylvania.
As 1776 drew to a close, Washington’s shabbily-dressed and poorly-armed troops caused him grave concern. Soldiers were deserting, morale was diminishing, and Congress had withdrawn from Philadelphia due to mounting fear of British attack. Knowing so much was at stake, Washington managed to revive morale by a renowned military maneuver. Washington surprised the enemy by crossing the Delaware River on Christmas evening in 1776, thus capturing Trenton, NJ. He proceeded to march onto Princeton, where he again defeated the British in early January 1777.
Washington’s popularity was so unshakable that he was unanimously elected to the prestigious post of first-ever U.S. President in 1789, sealing his place in United States History as the “Father of our Country.”
His unfaltering military logic, pride, experience and victories led him to this ultimate historical position of prominence.
In closing, take a moment to absorb this glimpse into Washington’s incredible outlook on life, “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”