Women of Washington

Communicating America’s Founding Principles

Women of Washington is an educational organization with a focus on understanding local, national, and global issues that are critical to our world today.



By Judy Leithe

During the massacre of General Braddock and his troops--in which nearly 1,000 men on the British side were either killed or wounded, Colonel Washington, age 23, performed heroically.  (Note: One of the surviving supply wagon drivers was a young Daniel Boone.)  In a letter to his brother John, written on May 18, 1755, Washington exhibits a wry sense of humor in his telling of the events on the recent battle with the French forces:

 "Dear Brother,              
      As I have heard, since my arrival at this place (Fort Cumberland MD),
     a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech; I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you that I have not, as yet, composed the latter.  But, by the all-powerful Dispensation of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four Bullets through my Coat, and two Horses shot under me; yet escaped unhurt, although Death was leveling my     companions on every side of me!... 

Your affectionate Brother,    
G. Washington"

While preparing for the campaign against the French, the British government had Braddock offer Virginia colonials parcels of Ohio land in exchange for their combat service.  Braddock's disastrous encounter with the French forces at the Monongahela River site also brought about the deaths of many men of the Virginia Regiment.  Washington was intent on seeing to it that the British kept their promises to these veterans and the families of fallen soldiers.  In 1770, Washington was permitted to notify all claimants that surveying of approved lands would proceed, and once completed, the lands would be parceled out to veterans or their heirs.  The scouting party consisted of Colonel Washington, fellow veteran and surveyor, William Crawford, Joseph Nicholson, and Dr. James Craik, a lifelong friend of Washington's, and who attended him in his final hours.  They set out from Fort Pitt by canoe to explore possible bounty sites and the "Soldier's Land."

While at camp in the woods off the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, Washington's group was approached by a small party of non-threatening looking Natives who had apparently been tracking the progress of these "white" colonials because their Chief had long wanted to meet Washington.  The Chief indicated that he wanted to talk with Washington, so a Council fire was soon kindled and, with Joseph Nicholson serving as interpreter, the Chief revealed that it was he who commanded the ambush on the British and Virginian soldiers on the banks of the Monongahela.  The Grand Sachem continued:     

"I am a Chief and ruler of many tribes  My influence extends to the waters
 of the Great Lakes, and to the far Blue Mountains.  I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle.  It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief (Washington).  I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior?  He is not of the red-coat tribe--he hath an Indian's wisdom and his Warriors fight as we do-- himself alone exposed.  Quick let your aim be certain, and he dies.  Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, did not miss--'twas all in vain; a power mightier far that we, shielded him from harm.  He did not die in battle.  I am old, and soon shall be gathering to the great council fire by my fathers, in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is a something bids me speak, in the voice of Prophesy.  Listen!  the Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his Destinies; he will become the chief of many nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.  I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle. "

At the time of this meeting, Dr. Craik took careful notes of what the chief said, and the "Indian Prophecy" has been included in many history books, ever since. 

Editor's Note: It is hoped that this six-part series on George Washington has helped shed light on the early experiences, and of the times, that shaped the character of this exceptional young man.  As Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Colonial Army, General Washington gave the Colonies victory over the formidable British and Hessian forces in the eight-year long Revolutionary War.  At the end of the war, when the incredulous and defeated King George III found out that Washington was following through with his promise to give up his command of the army, and was returning to his farm at Mount Vernon, the King said, "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world."  

As it happened, his country called upon Washington once more when, as the most revered and trusted person in America, he was unanimously voted into the office as the first, and second, President of the United States of America.  

Coming weeks - Patriotic Women of the Revolutionary War