We all know who George Washington is, and we could all probably identify him if presented with a picture. He was the first president of the United States, and as such, played an extremely important role in the founding of America. His background has set a precedent for the kind of background we expect from our political leaders today. For example, if a political figure running for a major office doesn’t have much prior experience in politics, a background in military service can certainly make up for it.
So how much do you know about George Washington’s military experience itself? Find out how he led the US military, and guess how it may have affected him as the first presidential leader of this country.
Washington’s Promotion in Military Ranks
1752 – 1754: Major
1754 – 1755: Lieutenant Colonel
1755 – 1758: Colonel
1775 – 1783: General
1798 – 1800: Lieutenant General
1976: General of the Armies of the United States
The First American President’s War Service
French and Indian War
In 1752, Washington started his military service in the British Provincial Militia and was appointed as a major. In that same year, trouble with the French started to brew. France wanted a stronger presence in America and so began expanding its control in what was then called the Ohio Country, but unfortunately, this land had already been claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania, so the British marched in to expel French forces. By the time the French and Indian War broke out in 1754, Washington was already established as a major in the militia. During this war, Washington played a major role through his service, and at the end of the Braddock Disaster of 1755 (which would lead to over 900 casualties), he rode back and forth on the battlefield, trying to rally everyone to make an organized retreat, helping to maintain their dignity and provide a figure the troops could look to for support and direction. He eventually helped capture Fort Duquesne and defeat the French.
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolution was the longest war that the U.S. was involved in before the start of the Vietnam War. In 1775, the Continental Congress quickly elected Washington as the General Commander in Chief over all Continental forces due to his military experience, and his leadership throughout the American Revolution led him to becoming the first president of the United States. Incredibly, Washington refused any salary to work as the commander in chief. He simply led the armies because of his strong sense of duty. Throughout the war, he adopted effective strategies that pitted American strengths against British weaknesses, and he avoided major defeats where possible. In the famous battle of Yorktown in 1781, he struck the British down with a protracted siege. But even though the American colonies eventually won the war and their independence, Washington also faced many struggles trying to keep his forces united.
Washington firmly believed the military should be subjected to civilian authority, and so he disbanded the army after the war and became a citizen himself once again. Without his amazing leadership, self-discipline, personal integrity, and foresight, most say the Revolutionary War would have had a very different ending.
Quasi-War with France
The Quasi-War with France became Washington’s last. Although war was never officially declared, the conflict lasted from about 1798 to 1800. The French sought help from the United States in its war against the British. However, Washington had signed a neutrality agreement, saying the country would not get involved, and the Jay Treaty was also signed, restoring a friendly trade and diplomatic relationship with England. In retaliation, France interfered with American ships and trading, and Washington once again commanded the United States Army in combat against the French Navy until the end of the conflict with the Convention of 1800.
George Washington: How We Know Him Today
In the centuries since Washington’s presidency and military service, many people have been promoted to outrank him, so 175 years after his death (in 1976), George Washington received a posthumous promotion to the highest rank in the U.S. military—General of the Armies of the United States. As the first president of our country, we greatly respect George Washington and believe it’s important to learn more about his legacy. We also respect all who have spent time in military service, and we try to give back by helping veterans get affordable home loans. Contact us or visit lowvarates.com to learn more.