In the summer of 1754, twenty-two year old George Washington led a force of Virginia and South Carolina troops in an attempt to gain control the strategic forks of the Ohio River where Pittsburgh now stands. After skirmishing with a small French party and killing its leader, Washington fell back to a small fortification named Fort Necessity at the Great Meadows, which he had described as “a charming field for an Encounter.” There, after a brief battle in a driving rain, he was forced to surrender, in what was a very inauspicious beginning to his military career.
Late in the morning of July 3rd, a gentry's musket
signaled the arrival of the French and Indian force led by Captain
Louis Coulon de Villiers, brother of slain Jumonville. "We
immediately called our men to arms", warned George Washington
and Captain James Mackay later wrote, "and drew up in order
before our trenches." The French and Canadians, according
to one participants, skirted the south side of the meadow while
the Indians, "shouting the war cry," advanced along
Having moved forward with Captain Mackay and the South
Carolina Independent Company (the depiction here), Washington was
left exposed to the French fire and forced to retreat to the fort
when the Virginians scurried back into their trenches.