Skip to comments.War in the Wilderness [Book Review of George Washington's First War]
Posted on 01/20/2011 5:29:35 AM PST by Pharmboy
A callow youngster's thirst for honor triggered the Seven Years' War.
Unlike many of his fellow Founding Fathers, George Washington never wrote an autobiography...His sole effort at memoir emerged from notes he wrote clarifying points for a proposed biography by a former aide and trusted friend, David Humphreys. These "Remarks" were written in 1787-88, when Washington was in his mid-50s and pondering the daunting prospect of becoming the first president....Washington chose to reminisce about the five years when he had labored as a loyal subject of the British Empire to thwart French designs on the Ohio Valley.
In late 1753, the 21-year-old Washington had volunteered for a diplomatic mission deep within the hostile wilderness....Washington's mission was a failure, but it demonstrated his courage, determination and stamina. He would shortly need such qualities when his thirst for honor and distinction helped ignite a global war. Sent, in 1754, with a small force to secure the Forks of the Ohio (present-day Pittsburgh), Washington ambushed a French party intending to warn him off under the command of Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville. That sharp encounter triggered the French and Indian War, which itself spurred much wider hostilities between Britain and France known as the Seven Years' War.
David A. Clary's "George Washington's First War" presents a detailed narrative of the "Jumonville Massacre" and the rest of Washington's service...
Mr. Clary shows how these episodes constituted crucial training for the ambitious but callow Washington, allowing him to test his abilitiesand make mistakes. The blunders came thick and fast. Washington, Mr. Clary argues, lacked the maturity to balance the heavy responsibilities heaped on him by superiors who should have known better. Mr. Clary's treatment of Washington's early military career is unsympathetic and his verdicts harsher than those reached in Ron Chernow's new biography.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
It seems that it's too hard for the left to criticize Washington once he reaches about 30 years of age, so they now go after the 21 year old...and even his teenage years.
He was--at the age of 21--one of the few Virginians who had ever ventured over the mountains into what is now Western MD, West VA and the Pittsburgh area. He did this as a 16 year old seeking to survey parts of this land (accompanied by a guide).
That he was chosen to lead the VA militia alone may not have been the wisest move, but to attack him from here for some questionable decisions is just mean spirited.
Hey...was it JFK's fault he lost the PT-109?
If I were to recommend one book on George Washington it would be “The Real George Washington” by Andrew Allison. It’s a huge book, but an easy and very interesting read. Glenn Beck holds it up allot on his show.
Wow. That's what I call BAD HISTORY.
Besides, the real cause of the French and Indian War was slavery. And George Bush.
Hardly a hatchet job....I’ve read this many times. He just wasn’t ready for the job. Virginia politics...
I working on Sacred Fire right now. I say working on because I have a rapidly advancing cataract in my left eye and floaters in my right so reading is not too easy. Hopefully will be better in a few months. But good book on his faith.
Some speculate that it was...
Yes, it was.
For example, I believe in the 7-volume Freeman biography, there is evidence presented that when the colonials came upon the French (it was not an "ambush") in the glen, they watched and waited, but a musket went off (it could very well have been by accident...not an unheard of event with a cocked Brown Bess) and the stuff hit the fan. Also, it was a vengeful Indian guide who applied the killing blow to the French ambassador, something Washington was powerless to stop.
This appears to be a one-sided account who's scholarship is even called into question by the reviewer (you can click and read the whole review if you have not).
I was trying for irony and I hit truth? Hmmm...even a blind pig finds an acorn sometimes.
On my Dont Bother list.
Wow...many times? It's been out only a week, hasn't it?
It sure seems like a hatchet job to me, using poor sourcing. As the reviewer points out, he was very political and inexperienced in the early days. I think everyone agrees he made many mistakes then.
But to rely on edited letters that were never sent? Poor scholarship.
As for being a hatchet job, did you find commentary like the "getting it on with slaves rather than a married woman" to be important for reminding the reader of the context of the times instead of just being snarky? Was this an isolated example, or does the book have such little jabs throughout?
Yes, you did....and please leave leave my ex-wife out if it.
Don't forget the heated rhetoric on the time's talk radio and Sarah Palin's crosshairs...
P.S. The cherry tree story is not true...he actually killed his mother's favorite colt horsing around with the guys.
You need to get into history books AT LEAST prior to WWII.
Sparks says in the introduction: "The importance attached to this correspondence by himself may be understood from the fact, that, many years after the letters were written, he revised the first drafts, and caused them to be carefully recorded in volumes".
And your point is?? That a statesman--indeed, a man more than a mere statesman--would want to revise the diaries and letters from a fevered youth is proof of...of...precisely what? Bad judgement? Perhaps...but knowing a bit about the character of the man, I would say that he may have acted in that way to spare others' sensibilities. To assume that he was acting selfishly seems to me intemperate.
General Washington was not a perfect person, although he came closer to the ideal than any other Earthly man that I know of, and this book will not change that opinion.
Your Humble and Obdt. Svt.,