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George Washington on horse, soldiers fighting during the battle of the Monongahela, 1755.
George Washington on horseback, fighting during the battle of the Monongahela, 1755

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George Washington the Soldier

At 16, Washington helped survey and plot the lands of Lord Fairfax, who owned more than 5 million acres in northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. After surveying for a few years, he was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel in 1754 and fought in the French and Indian War. In 1755, he was serving as an aide to British General Edward Braddock at a fateful battle in Pennsylvania on July 9. That day the British made an attempt to capture Fort Duquesne.

George Washington had been sick during most of the month of June but he insisted on joining the battle. The British suffered a terrible defeat that day. Out of 1,459 soldiers, almost 1,000 were killed or wounded. The French and their Indian allies routed the British who were not accustomed to the guerrilla warfare style of combat. General Braddock was killed, and Washington had to help lead the Virginians and British in retreat to safety. Do you think this experience was frightening to the young cavalry officer?


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