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Defining Moments Essay - Assignment Example

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Defining Moments Essay

As the commander in chief of the Continental Army (1775-1783), Washington led the Americans to a victory over the British in what is now termed the American Revolutionary War. 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 French and some Indian allies, and had to retreat. Washington on this occasion had to assume overall command after Braddock was mortally wounded at the Battle of Monongahela, and dutifully led an orderly retreat. His exemplary command even in the face of defeat led Governor Dinwiddle to promote Washington to the rank of Colonel in the Virginia regiment and Commander of all forces raised by the British in defense of the colonies. Washington was thus given command of the first full time American regiment of regular servicemen of 1000 troops. He was given the responsibility to defend Virginia against all opposing forces- and to act aggressively or defensively as he thought best. Washington was a strict disciplinarian and a tough commander- he led aggressive campaigns against the Indians that resulted in a loss of a third of his men in 20 battles waged in just 10 months. Nevertheless, his campaigns meant that Virginia could relax in relative comfort compared to the other counties. Historians unanimously agree that this was among Washington’s most unqualified successes2. An episode in 1758 had disastrous consequences. While participating in the Forbes expedition to capture Fort Duquesne, there was a friendly fire incident in which Washington and another unit mistakenly took each other to be the French; the mishap left 14 men dead and ...Show more

Summary

DEFINING MOMENTS ESSAY _ _ _ Date Crs# Name George Washington as a Military Leader- Defining Moments Introduction The life and military career of George Washington proves that we can learn both from victory and defeat, and that perseverance and steadfastness in the face of the enemy wins the day…
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