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George Washington: 6 Important Events in First President's Military Career

Image: George Washington: 6 Important Events in First President's Military Career
A person walks past the full length portrait of George Washington, by Charles Wilson Peale, at Christie's auction house January 17, 2006 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By    |   Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 04:15 PM

George Washington's prolific military career spanned more than 40 years and largely fell in three periods of early American history: the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the Quasi-War with France. Six important events shaped his service.

1. The French and British empires each laid claim to a territory known "Ohio Country," and the result was a world war from 1756-63, called the French and Indian War in the colonies and the Seven Years' War in Europe. As a young British officer in 1753, Major Washington was sent to Fort LeBoeuf, in Pennyslvania, to warn the French of British claims, and ask them to vacate. The request was politely declined.

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Under orders, Washington later returned with troops and attacked a French post at Fort Duquesne. French Commander Coulon de Jumonville and nine others died in the battle, and the rest were taken as prisoners, signaling the start of the war.

The French eventually drove Washington back, forced his surrender, and released him when he promised not to build another fort on the Ohio River.

2. The defeat of General Edward Braddock at the Battle of the Monongahela on July 9, 1755, further shaped Washington. A senior American aide to Braddock, Washington advised on the Indian style of warfare, which was to attack from hidden locations, such as trees and rocks, rather than march in a straight line through an open area. Braddock disregarded this tactic and was fatally wounded in the siege. Washington survived with four bullet holes in his cloak and had two horses shot out from under him. The knowledge gained would serve him well as the leader in the fight for American Independence.

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3. The perfect choice as Commander in Chief of the Colonial Armies, one of Washington's early victories came in March 1776, north of Boston, on Dorchester Heights. Forcing a British retreat there, he headed to New York City.

4. Things didn't go well in New York. In August 1776, a British army led by Sir William Howe took the future Big Apple and forced the surrender of 2,800 men. Washington commanded his remaining men to set up in Pennsylvania, across the Delaware River, and planned his next step.

5. With Howe's troops spending the winter in Trenton and Princeton, the future president plotted his most famous victory. Washington knew his Continental Army desperately needed a win after months of large defeats and no major victories. He also knew that the element of surprise was their best weapon against the skilled Hessian mercenaries.

On Christmas night, 1776, Washington and his men crossed the frigid Delaware River and attacked the Hessians early on Dec. 26. Days later, he attacked the British in Princeton, and soundly defeated them.

6. With help from the French, Washington crushed British General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, with 17,000 troops. The combined ground assault and fleet of French ships sailing toward Chesapeake Bay overpowered Cornwallis, leading to his Oct. 19, 1781, surrender and expediting the war's end.

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George Washington's prolific military career spanned more than 40 years and largely fell in three periods of early American history: the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the Quasi-War with France. Six important events shaped his service.
george washington, important, events, military
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2014-15-07
Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 04:15 PM
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