George Washington's forays into the Ohio country shaped his career and sparked a global war.

In 1753, Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia ordered a young, ambitious 21-year old George Washington on mission deep into the Ohio Country to confront the French. Washington’s account of his journey to Fort Le Beouf and back made Major Washington a celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1754 Washington’s surprise attack upon a small French force at Jumonville Glen and his subsequent surrender to French forces at the Battle of Fort Necessity helped to spark the French & Indian War. The following year, Washington accompanied Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock on his ill-fated march on Fort Duquesne. Washington’s French & Indian War experiences taught him many important military lessons that he incorporated into his American Revolutionary War actions.

George Washington in the French & Indian War

Professor Ed Lengel discusses George Washington's experience during the French & Indian War.

George Washington and the French & Indian War

1745
1758
Ohio Land Company Established
French Fort Building in the Ohio
Dinwiddie orders Washington to deliver an ultimatum
Washington hires Christopher Gist as a guide
Washington reaches Fort LeBouef
Washington returns to Williamsburg, Virginia
Washington promoted to Lt. Colonel
Surprise attack at Jumonville Glen
Washington surrenders at Fort Necessity
Braddock's March
The Battle of the Monongahela
Washington is promoted to colonel
Gen. Forbes' British forces capture Fort Duquesne
Washington resigns his commission

1745

Ohio Land Company Established

The House of Burgesses grants 1/3 of a million acres in the Ohio Valley to the Ohio Land Company, a land speculation company made up of Northern Neck planters, including Lawrence Washington, George Washington’s older brother.

French Fort Building in the Ohio

The Marquis de Duquesne oversees the development of a series of French forts built in the Ohio at key strategic locations.

Dinwiddie orders Washington to deliver an ultimatum

Dinwiddie selects Washington as his emissary to the French forts. Washington leaves Williamsburg October 31, 1753

Washington hires Christopher Gist as a guide

Washington hires Christopher Gist as a guide at the Ohio company fort on Wills Creek.  Also hires four men as porters. 

Washington reaches Fort LeBouef

Washington meets with Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre at Fort LeBouef and presents Dinwiddie’s letter ordering the French to leave the region.

Washington returns to Williamsburg, Virginia

Washington’s party leaves Fort LeBouef with St. Pierre’s response on December 16, 1753.  St. Pierre says he will forward the letter to Duquesne.  Washington and Gist embark on a dramatic journey back to Williamsburg.

Washington promoted to Lt. Colonel

Washington is promoted from major to Lt. Colonel and placed second in command.  He is authorized to raise 200 men.  His mission is to drive the French out of the Ohio Valley. 

Surprise attack at Jumonville Glen

Washington and Tanacharison attack a party of French soldiers led by Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville.  The Indians kill the wounded including Jumonville.  The surviving French claim to be on a diplomatic mission.

Washington surrenders at Fort Necessity

At 11 a.m. the French forces surrounding Washington's position attack Fort Necessity under Captain Louis Coulon de Villiers, Jumonville’s older brother. By 8 pm.  The French offer terms.  Washington and the other officers decide to surrender

Braddock's March

Gen. Edward Braddock and a large force of British regulars set out from Alexandria, Virginia for the long march to Fort Duquesne.  Washington volunteers as Braddock’s aide d’camp.

The Battle of the Monongahela

Braddocks' British forces, nearing their target of Fort Duquesne, are surprised and routed by a force of French and allied Native Americans.  Braddock is mortally wounded.  Washington steps in to help rally the remaining forces that subsequently retreat.

Washington is promoted to colonel

The Virginia House of Burgesses appropriates £50,000 for frontier defense.  Washington is promoted to a full colonel and is authorized to recruit 1,500 men.

Gen. Forbes' British forces capture Fort Duquesne

The French blow up and abandon Fort Duquesne.  British general John Forbes takes possession of the ground and begins building a new fort to be named Fort Pitt.  Washington and his Virginians take part in the successful campaign.

Washington resigns his commission

Washington resigns his commission in Williamsburg and returns to Mount Vernon.  On January 6, 1759 he marries Martha Dandridge Custis.

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