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Washington and the Virginia Militia

Following distinguished service with Braddock, George Washington was appointed colonel and commander of the Virginia militia forces in 1756. The 23-year-old was assigned responsibility for protecting the vast frontier from Indian attack. This area was outside of the main theaters of war and the major decisions were made by British officers and officials. Nevertheless, the future commander of the Continental Army faced a challenging experience. Independent-minded militiamen presented frequent discipline problems. Washington established his authority by ordering the flogging of recalcitrant soldiers and the hanging of several deserters. He also had to cope with the undependability of the Virginia assembly, which was slow to provide supplies and pay for the soldiers; even when the money arrived, the colony regularly paid at a lower scale than its neighbors — a fact that did much to undermine morale. Late in 1757, Washington reluctantly returned to his home at Mount Vernon, having failed to overcome a long bout with dysentery. His health improved enough for him to rejoin his soldiers in the spring campaign of 1758. Later that year he joined John Forbes in his march on Fort Duquesne. A somewhat disillusioned Washington resigned his command a few months later. He returned home and was elected to serve in the House of Burgesses, where he remained active until 1774. Washington's military activities on the frontier proved to be a great training ground. He was required to deal with major supply and discipline problems, as well as balky politicians. The experience also soured his relationship with British military officers, who in his estimation regularly blamed Americans for defeats, but refused to give credit in victory. He also found many of them to be impervious to advice. It also should be noted that Washington had lobbied unsuccessfully for promotion.

See French and Indian War Timeline.
See also Indian Wars Time Table.