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Chapter Nineteen. Washington's Irregulars

John W. Hall

Subject History » Military History

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics American War of Independence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331035.2012.00021.x


As British Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock's vanguard approached the Monongahela River, on 9 July 1755, his young aide could sense that the contest was afoot. Although only twenty-three years old, George Washington possessed an “uncommon military mind, and skill in the arts of Indian warfare;” understanding what lay in wait, he urged Braddock to let Virginia rangers to take the lead, with Washington at their helm. The imperious Braddock rebuked the “young Buckskin” for his impertinent suggestion that backcountry woodsmen knew better than the scarlet-clad professionals of His Majesty's army. Although stunned by the cavalier dismissal of his advice, Washington was not at all surprised by its consequences. When set upon by Indian warriors and Canadian militiamen, the redcoats foolishly stood – and fell – in their serried ranks. By the end of the Battle of the Monongahela, Braddock had lost his life and half of his 2,000 men. The carnage might have been much worse were it not for the composure of Washington and his Virginians, who “flew each to his tree, like the Indians” and returned the deadly fire of born marksmen. Stubbornly, the British learned next to nothing from this calamity, but George Washington made no such mistake. Twenty years later, when he led his fellow Americans forces against the redcoats of King George, Washington demonstrated the superiority of a distinctly American ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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