An Account of God’s Providential Care
by David Barton
“George Washington, the Father of our Country, is well known to Americans for the accomplishments of his adult life: commander-in-chief during the American Revolution, statesman, and President. Few, however, are familiar with his youth or know anything more about it than perhaps the folklore surrounding the hatchet and the cherry tree incident. Yet, possibly his younger years form the most important time for our national hero, for often it is what occurs in one’s youth that determines what one becomes as an adult. Or, in the words of a contemporary proverb, “As the sapling is bent, so goes the tree.”
It is for this reason that the account of not only what happened to, but of what happened around the young George Washington during the battle on the Monongahela (toward the beginning of the French and Indian war in July of 1755) is so important. Washington was only a 23 year-old colonel at the time of the battle and certainly the details of this dramatic event helped to shape his character and even confirmed God’s call on this young man. Washington’s part in the battle of the Monongahela is undisputably one of the most significant events of his early life–his life literally hung in the balance.
During the two-hour battle, Colonel Washington had ridden to and fro on the battlefield, delivering the general’s orders to other officers and troops. The officers had been a special target for the Indians. Of the eighty-six British and American officers, sixty-three were casualties. Washington was the only officer on horseback not shot down.
Following the battle, Washington wrote a letter to his brother in which he readily and openly acknowledged:
‘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 I escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!’
Fifteen years after the battle, the chieftan of the Indians Washington had fought sought him out and gave this account to Washington of what had happened during the battle:
‘I am 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 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 [Washington]…I called to my young men and said…Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss–’twas all in vain, a power mighter far than we, shielded you…I am come to pay homeage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.’
Today, few have ever heard about this important story. However, it has not always been the obscure account that it has now become, as suggested by the fact that I referenced more than three dozen older historical texts for this current work; and those texts were merely the ones in my own limited, personal collection.
May this account once again become widely celebrated throughout America!”