Volume 3 of the Colonial Series of The Papers of George Washington opens in April 1756 when word came of massive raids by French and Indians on Virginia’s terror-struck northern frontier. The young colonel of the Virginia Regiment gave up any thoughts of resigning his commission and instead hastened from Williamsburg to frontier Winchester to rally the colony’s forces. Colonel George Washington recognized that his own troops and friendly Indians would not suffice and asked for the help of the militia.
By the time the militamen began arriving at Winchester from neighboring counties in large numbers, the militiamen themselves had become a greater problem for Washington than the French and Indians. For the rest of the summer and early fall Colonel Washington commanded his regiment, dealt with the disorganized and inexperienced militia, saw to the training of the new draftees, and directed the building of a chain of forts the length of the Virginia frontier. In addition, he withstood public attacks from Williamsburg on his own reputation and that of his regiment. Before winter set in, he traveled the length of the Virginia frontier to the North Carolina border and saw for himself just how bad conditions were.
The months from April to November 1756 are the most heavily documented period of George Washington’s life until the coming of the American Revolution in 1775. The letters and orders to and from Washington for these months printed in this volume record the crucial stage of George Washington’s education as a military man. They also are the most important source of information about Virginia’s part in the war with the French.
W.W. Abbot, ed., The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series volume 3, April – November 1756. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1984.
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