Chapter IX. His First Battle
It was now very plain that if the English
were going to hold the Ohio
Country and the vast western region which they claimed as their
they must fight for it.
The people of Virginia were not very anxious to go to war.
governor was not willing to be beaten by the French.
He made George Washington a lieutenant-colonel of Virginia
set about raising an Army to send into the Ohio Country.
Early in the spring Colonel Washington, with a hundred and
was marching across the country toward the head waters of the
was a small Army to advance against the thousands of French
who now held that region.
But other officers, with stronger forces, were expected to
Late in May the little Army reached the valley of the Monongahela,
began to build a fort at a place called Great Meadows.
By this time the French and Indians were aroused, and hundreds
were hurrying forward to defend the Ohio Country from the English.
of their scouting parties, coming up the river, was met by
with forty men.
The French were not expecting any foe at this place. There
thirty-two of them - and of these only one escaped. Ten were
the rest were taken prisoners.
This was Washington's first battle, and he was more proud
of it than
you might suppose. He sent his prisoners to Virginia, and was
with his handful of men, to meet all the French and Indians
come against him!
And they did come, and in greater numbers than he had expected.
haste to finish, if possible, the fort that had been begun.
But they were upon him before he was ready. They had four
men to his
one. They surrounded the fort and shut his little Virginian
What could Colonel Washington do? His soldiers were already
half-starved. There was but little food in the fort, and no
way to get
The French leader asked if he did not think it would be a
wise thing to
surrender. Washington hated the very thought of it - but nothing
could be done.
"If you will march your men
straight home, and give me a pledge that
they and all Virginians will stay out of the Ohio Country for
twelve months, you may go," said the Frenchman.
It was done.
Washington, full of disappointment went back to Mount Vernon.
felt more like fighting than ever before.
He was now twenty-two years old.