Having been born into a well connected Virginia family that owned plantations and slaves, Washington lost both his elder brother and father before he was eleven years old. Nevertheless, his connections to the family of William Fairfax, wherein his half brother Lawrence had married, led him to be personally selected to lead a regiment of soldiers in what is now termed the French and Indian War1. Having first been appointed as surveyor of land for Culpepper County, his brother’s investment and involvement in the Ohio Company, Washington came to the attention of the newly appointed lieutenant general of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddle. Washington’s brother Lawrence was also commander of the Virginia militia. The French and British were both laying claim to Ohio County, and in 1783 Dinwiddle sent Washington, now a Major, to deliver a letter to the French informing them of British interests and asking them to leave. This he did, and in the process also made friends with the Indian Chief ‘Half King’ Tanacharison. Together they planned to overthrow the French. In fact Washington tried to ambush the French despite being inexperienced and outnumbered- he was only 17 at the time. However one of the French commanders Jumonville was killed by Tanacharison or one of his tribe in this attack, and the French lost no time in blaming Washington and capturing him and his party of followers. However he was later allowed to go with his troops back to Virginia. Historians contend that this nevertheless showed Washington’s bravery, impetuousness and initiative. The final impact of this episode was that it fueled tensions between both the French and British military powers and led to the Seven Years War (1754-1758).
In 1755 Washington was appointed senior aide to the British General Braddock on the expedition to reclaim Ohio county and other territories. However they were ambushed by the