“Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man and guides his destinies. He will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.” —Old Indian Chief, circa 1770, prophesying George Washington’s future
Colonel Washington Answers the Call to Arms
Colonel George Washington was 23 when war erupted between the British and the French in a territorial dispute that would become the French and Indian War. This conflict was of major importance, because, for the first time, the American colonies worked together to battle a common foe.
There is a story about a battle in which Lieutenant Colonel George Washington participated, after leaving a fearful mother behind who had tried to persuade him to forgo his new military commission. Washington replied, “The God to whom you commended me, Madame, when I set out upon a more perilous errand, defended me from harm, and I trust He will do so now. Do not you?”
The Battle Begins
On the morning of July 9, 1755, General Edward Braddock and 1,000 British troops, accompanied by Washington and some Virginia regulars, crossed the southern shore of the Monongahela River. Colonel Thomas Gage’s 350 troops and 250 axmen had gone ahead to blaze a trail. A little past mid-day, Gage and his men were hit by musket-fire coming from behind rocks and trees. Gage’s men began to drop pell-mell. The return-fire was fruitless, since the Indians and the French were well-hidden among the trees and in the hills.
The horses began to panic and dash off. They took with them the wagons filled with guns and ammo, trampling British soldiers as they bolted. Axmen fled as well. The Indians were eagle-eyed snipers, so all was in a state of disarray on the British side.
General Braddock to the Rescue
General Braddock rode to the rescue, barking at his men to form lines, resulting in musket balls mowing down the Redcoats, column by column. Washington’s Virginians adopted the selfsame guerilla tactics being employed by the Indians. Braddock was furious at the Virginians for abandoning decorum and ordered them to return to regular order. Braddock rode furiously hither and thither across the battlefield, encouraging his troops and having five horses shot from under him.
George Washington’s Heroism
Simultaneously, Colonel Washington was also busy crisscrossing the battlefield, carrying out Braddock’s orders–inappropriate as they were to the circumstances–and, therefore, completely exposed to the ongoing hail of musket-balls. An eyewitness observing Washington stated the following: “I expected every moment to see him fall. Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him.” Indians would later report that they had striven hard to kill Washington, but, despite their best efforts, they were unable to hit their intended target.
After the hostilities concluded, Washington counted two horses shot from under him and four holes shot through his coat! But Washington himself was never touched by any bullet, bayonet, arrow, ax, or tomahawk, nor had he been injured in any tumble from his slain mounts. The young colonel had put his faith in God, and he had been spared. Every other mounted officer was slain, even General Braddock.
Washington Writes Home
Upon the fall of Braddock, who was shot through the lung, the British were so demoralized that they scattered. Washington gathered his remaining Virginians, rescued the dying Braddock, and covered the retreat of the fleeing troops. Upon Washington’s return to Fort Cumberland (120 miles away), the first letter he wrote was to his mother, reassuring her that he was well.
The second letter Washington wrote, dated July 18, 1755, was to his brother John: “As I have heard since my arrival at this place, 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 dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or 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!”
Fifteen years after the Battle of Monongahela had concluded, an old Indian chief sought out George Washington when he heard that the great warrior was in the area. He explained, through an interpreter, that he had come for an audience with Washington about the great battle. And these are the words of prophecy the Old Indian chief imparted:
“I am a chief and ruler over my 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 [George Washington] 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. I called to my young men and said, ‘Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the Redcoat tribe. He hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do. [He] himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies.’
“Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss. ’Twas all in vain. A Power, mightier far than we, shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy.
“Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man and guides his destinies. He will become the chief of 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.”
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