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 has worked as such for the Department of Defense and the National Park Service, including at Fort Necessity National Battlefield.
This program is offered VIRTUALLY and IN-PERSON on Tuesday, December 13. Museum guests may attend in-person. Seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
In June 1862, a large, well-equipped Union army was poised only a few miles outside the beleaguered Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. Commanded by the youthful Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, the Army of the Potomac had slowly advanced up the swampy peninsula between the James and York Rivers, seemingly ready to capture the rebel city and end the war.
The rebels, however, had no intention of caving in. Under the aggressive leadership of the recently-appointed General Robert E. Lee, the outnumbered Confederate Army of Northern Virginia launched an offensive to throw back the Yankee invaders and defeat McClellan’s Army of the Potomac in a week-long series of engagements called the Seven Days Battles. This culminated in the bloody Battle of Malvern Hill, which ended the Union threat to Richmond. Learn from military historian John Maass about the week’s bloody fighting, McClellan’s curious leadership style, and his insubordinate relationship with Abraham Lincoln, with period maps and images, along with modern views of the battlefields today.
Dr. John R. Maass is an education specialist at the National Museum of the United States Army, and a former officer in the 80th Division of the Army Reserve. He received a B.A. in history from Washington and Lee University, and a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in early U.S. history and military history. His most recent book is “The Battle of Guilford Courthouse: A Most Desperate Engagement” (2020).
This program is offered VIRTUALLY and IN-PERSON on Tuesday, January 10. Museum guests may attend in-person. Seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.