George Washington Biography

Fort Duquesne

After George Washington's small force was defeated by the French at Fort Necessity, Washington resigned from the Virginia Militia and returned to his home at Mount Vernon. Meanwhile, the British government needed to do something to recover their land in the Ohio Valley from the French. They sent General Edward Braddock to the Americas with a force of British regulars to defeat the French.

Both General Braddock and Virginia Governor Dinwiddie agreed that George Washington's knowledge and experience in the region would be of great help. They tried to convince Washington to join. At first, Washington was skeptical, but he eventually agreed to join as an aide-de-camp to General Braddock on the expedition.

Fort Duquesne

In 1754, the French fortified their position in the Ohio Valley by constructing Fort Duquesne at the confluence where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers become the Ohio River. This fort was seen as a threat to British claims over the Ohio Valley. British leaders back in London would not let this stand. They ordered General Braddock to march to Fort Duquesne and remove the French from the Ohio Valley.

A Different Land

General Braddock had extensive experience leading soldiers into battle in Europe. However, he was unfamiliar with fighting in the Americas. Braddock decided to build a road as he traveled to Fort Duquesne. He felt he needed the road to resupply his troops. Braddock's force of over 2,000 men set out from Fort Cumberland in Maryland on May 19, 1755. Once the army reached the wilderness, however, it slowed down considerably, sometimes only traveling around two miles in a day. At this pace, it would take months to get to Fort Duquesne.

As the march towards Fort Duquesne ground to a halt in the mountains, General Braddock decided to change his strategy. He would lead a smaller group of around 1,200 men in a "flying column" to Fort Duquesne. The remaining force would continue moving at a slower pace bringing along the supply wagons and building the road.

Battle of the Monongahela

As the British Army approached Fort Duquesne on July 9, 1755, they surprised a smaller force of French and Indian soldiers that were preparing an ambush. Braddock's soldiers attempted to fight in organized units, while the French and Indians sniped at them from the forest. As the British soldiers panicked, many were shot by friendly fire.

At one point during the battle, General Braddock was mortally wounded. With many of the British officers wounded or killed, George Washington took charge. He road back and forth through the troops rallying those left into an organized retreat. Despite having two horses shot out from under him and musket ball holes in his hat and coat, Washington's bravery held the forces together and allowed them to escape. The Battle of the Monongahela was a terrible defeat for the British, but proved that George Washington had the courage to lead men into battle.

Virginia Regiment

Washington's bravery in battle did not go unnoticed and, in 1755, he was appointed Colonel of the Virginia Regiment by Governor Dinwiddie. Under this appointment, Washington led the first full-time military force in the American colonies (around 1,000 soldiers). Washington embraced his new job, drilling his soldiers in the British style of fighting and learning everything he could from other British officers.

During his stint as leader of the Virginia Regiment, Washington led his men in several battles against Native Americans in Western Virginia. He further established his reputation as a leader of men by successfully protecting the Virginia colonists during the French and Indian War.

Washington's most memorable act as Colonel of the Virginia Regiment came in 1758 when he was charged with finally taking Fort Duquesne from the French. When Washington approached the fort leading 2,500 men, he found that the French had fled and had burned the fort to the ground. Although there was no battle, it was still a victory for Washington and the British were able to take control of the region.

Interesting Facts

Captain Thomas Gage participated in the Battle of the Monongahela. He would rise to general in the British Army and would fight against George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Other famous men who took part in the battle include legendary adventurer Daniel Boone, Daniel Morgan (who would lead the Continental Army to victory at the Battle of Cowpens), Horatio Gates (Continental army general), and Charles Lee (Continental army general).

Benjamin Franklin helped to provide for the wagons and horses for Braddock's expedition.

<<< Previous      Next >>>

George Washington Biography Contents
  1. Overview and Interesting Facts
  2. Growing Up George Washington
  3. French and Indian War
  4. Fort Duquesne
  5. Married Life and Mount Vernon
  6. The American Revolution Begins
  7. Commander in Chief
  8. Crossing the Delaware
  9. 1777 and Valley Forge
  10. Victory in the American Revolution
  11. End of the War, King Washington, and the Constitutional Convention
  12. First President of the United States
  13. The Presidency
  14. Leaving the Presidency, Retirement, and Death
  15. George Washington Quotes and Bibliography