The year was 1753 and the Ohio area was rich and vast. It was critical to the expansion of both Britain and France. The French started to build forts on land that the British claimed as their own. Finally, the British had enough and decided to intervene by delivering a letter to the French demanding that they remove themselves from British land.
On October 31st, 1753, the Governor of Virginia sent an eager young 21 year old Major in the Virginia militia to deliver the letter after he had begged him for an assignment and a chance to prove himself. This is where our story begins.
Due to George Washington being George Washington, he couldn’t just accomplish this mission. He had to do more. This was his chance to lead men into the wilderness. To test his limits and see what he could do. This was really his chance. He hired French and Indian Interpreters and traders to create a small company. He needed them because he wanted to practice his diplomatic skills, which he did. On his adventure he worked with certain Native Americans to make sure that they stayed on the English side of the conflict and talked to French deserters. The Mingos, Shawnee and Delawares who lived in the Ohio Valley were client/allies of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Washington went to Lodgetown where he met with Tanacharison, a Native American leader known as the Half King to the English. He wanted the Half King to be the spokesperson for the Iroquois Confederacy. The Half King had double crossed the French where the French angrily said, “I am not afraid of flies, or mosquitoes, for Indians are such as those.” Washington presented gifts to the Half King and became allies and the Half King followed Washington. It also helped that the Half King already hated the French.
Washington went to Lodge town where he met with Tanacharison, a Native American leader known as the Half King to the English. He wanted the Half King to be the spokesperson for the Iroquois Confederacy. The Half King had double crossed the French where the French angrily said, “I am not afraid of flies, or mosquitoes, for Indians are such as those.” Washington presented gifts to the Half King and became allies and the Half King followed Washington. It also helped that the Half King already hated the French.
Throughout his adventure, Washington observed and studied the forts that the French had built. He discovered new forts that the French were in the process of building. He even studied random spots that would be great to construct new British forts for a variety of reasons. The journey was filled with rain and snow.
The weather and the cold took a toll on Washington and his men but Washington refused to let that be his limit. After working on his diplomacy and facing the hard weather, Washington finally arrived at Fort Venango on December 4th. The French were using a trading post that they kicked out a trader from and were fortifying his buildings into a fort. Captain Philippe Thomas Joincare, Sieur de Chabert, greeted Washington accordingly but refused to accept his letter. He insisted that Washington travel to the French senior commander at Fort LeBeouef. Joincare also refused to accept the Half King’s belt, but directed him to Fort LeBeouef as well. This is the Captain that had called the Indians flies.
Washington finally made it to Fort LeBoeuf and delivered the message to the French Commander. He really didn’t want to take it and wanted Washington to take it to the Governor of Quebec but Washington refused.
While he waited for a reply, he took inventory of the troops, armament, defenses, and communications of the French fort. While he was there, Washington wanted to leave as soon as possible because he was convinced that the French were preparing something. He was given a reply from the French Commander which seemed to be aggressive. The Native Americans were seduced by the Frenches party and alcohol and Washington really wanted to leave. He finally decided to leave them behind. Washington's trip back was way worse.
On his way back he was ambushed by a party of French Indians. Washington captured one that had shot at him from 15 feet away and missed and let him go at night. His journey back continued to get worse with Washington falling into freezing cold water and almost freezing to death. He even remarked that his friends fingers and toes were frozen. Once warmed up and changed. He met with 20 Warriors who had said they found 7 dead people scalped.
On January 16th, Washington arrived back in Williamsburg and gave the Governor the letter and his account of his journey. The Governor was so impressed with Washington's journal and wanted the average person to know the threat that lies west, that he had Washington's Journal published. This made George Washington a Household name. Washington was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and ordered to raise men and prepare for the mission.
It was one tough journey. The whole journey was freezing. This was Washington's first victory. It’s what made him stand apart and it gave him a name. This was Washington's High moment; it would also be his pride before his fall.