“A Wilderness of Difficulties”: George Washington’s First War
In December 1758, Col. George Washington of the Virginia Regiment, aged twenty-six, retired from military service. For five years, he had served his king and colony on Virginia’s frontier in the latest imperial contest between Great Britain and France. Washington’s service was marked by tragic defeats, seemingly endless frustration, and numerous scrapes with death. Yet, Washington persevered as he organized and fielded respectable Virginia forces that contributed to France’s defeat. Now, Washington the Soldier looked forward to life as a farmer and legislator, trading sword and sash for the plow and politics. War had indelibly changed him and his life’s trajectory. How did Washington evolve as a man and military leader during the French and Indian War? And how did his experiences then prepare him for his future roles as commander in chief of the Continental Army and as the first president of the new United States? Historians David L. Preston and Christian E. Fearer discuss this formative period in George Washington’s life.
Dr. David L. Preston is the General Mark W. Clark Distinguished Chair of History and Director of the M.A. in Military History at The Citadel, and author of “Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution” (2015).
Christian E. Fearer is a Senior Historian at Pentagon’s Joint Staff History Office and and has worked as such for the Department of Defense and the National Park Service, including at Fort Necessity National Battlefield.
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