Virginia Militia

In addition to receiving the Washington estate and his home at Mount Vernon, George Washington also entered the military upon the death of his older step brother Lawrence Washington. After receiving the political title of adjutant, George also became a major in the Virginia militia. This military appointment was given to George Washington by Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie. His time in the militia would provide Washington with his first military experience and would later pave the way for him to become Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American War for Independence. George Washington's first important mission as a major in the Virginia militia was to the French forces at Fort LeBoeuf (in present-day Pennsylvania) in 1753. In the early 1750s, the two major colonizers of North America were France and Great Britain. As both world powers expanded their land claims westward, there were inevitable disputes over what land had been rightfully claimed by which nation. The purpose of Washington's mission to Fort LeBoeuf was to inform the French forces there that the surrounding land had been laid claim to by Great Britain. After informing the French of this and requesting that they relocate, the French forces amiably declined. Washington returned home to Virginia to report to Governor Dinwiddie and receive further orders. Soon after, Dinwiddie ordered Washington to return to the western lands and build a fort at Great Meadows. Along the way to carry out his second mission, Washington ordered the attack of a small French unit at Fort Duquesne. This attack was outside of Governor Dinwiddie's orders to not seek aggressive action and only fight in self-defense. Washington's attack at Fort Duquesne killed the French commander Coulon de Jumonville and sparked the beginning of the French and Indian War. As expected, the French soon rallied a counter attack on Washington's forces. After laying siege on Washington's army for a full day and killing many of his men, the French exacted a decisive defeat at the Virginia militias' post at Great Meadows (called Fort Necessity). George Washington himself was taken capture after the defeat at Fort Necessity but was later released to return home to Virginia with the remainder of his men under the condition that he would never return to the region to build another fort again. Despite having suffered an embarrassing and tragic military loss, Washington was still recognized by both the Virginia House of Burgesses as well as several English newspapers as a sort of war hero. This recognition was the beginning of Washington's climb to being known on an iconic level as a military genius (although at times Washington was far from genius in his military strategies). Additionally, his experience in leading the Virginia militia allowed him to enter the British royal army as the French and Indian War began.