Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss. Twas all in vain; a power far mightier than we shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies. He will become chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him the founder of a mighty nation.
These were the words of a Native American chief as he reminisced with George Washington and others about a battle fifteen years previous when they were on opposite sides during the French and Indian Wars. It was the Battle of Fort Duquesne in July 1755 when 1,459 British soldiers were ambushed by a large contingent of Native American warriors who had joined the French in their fight with the British for control of the North American continent. It proved to be one of the bloodiest days in Anglo American history with 977 British soldiers killed or wounded. It was a day, however, when Washington’s reputation for bravery began to spread throughout the land.
Washington, in his early twenties, had been recruited by the British because of his knowledge of the ways of the wilderness and the American Indians. He had acquired this knowledge in his work as a surveyor of wilderness territory. Assigned to travel with the British General Braddock to take Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh), Washington found his advice for traveling through the wilderness and dealing with the Indians ignored by Braddock who considered him a young upstart colonialist.
But when the ambush occurred and Braddock himself was wounded, Washington took charge and organized an orderly retreat while at the same time putting his own life at risk, rescuing the wounded and placing them in wagons. During this time two horses were shot out from under him and his clothes were shredded with bullets. He emerged unscathed and gave glory to God, saying, “I was saved by the miraculous care of Providence that saved me beyond human expectation.” His reputation for bravery spread among both the English and the Native Americans.
Years later, according to historian George Bancroft, Washington and a friend were exploring an area along the Ohio River when they encountered a group of Native Americans. Recognizing Washington, the natives invited the men back to their camp to meet with their chief, whom it turned out had fought on the side of the French in the Battle of Duquesne. They had a cordial visit and then the old chief, pointing to Washington, said something amazing.
I am chief and ruler over all 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. I called to my young men and said, “Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the redcoat tribe—he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do—himself alone is exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies.” Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss. Twas all in vain; a power far mightier than we shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies. He will become chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him the founder of a mighty nation (Benjamin Hart, Faith & Freedom, 234).
Washington, of course, was later appointed commander-in-chief of the colonial army, and at great sacrifice, led his outnumbered, outgunned troops to an amazing victory over the British through numerous providential events. He then presided over the Continental Congress and was later unanimously elected the first president of the United States of America. "First in war. first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen," was a common adage ascribed to Washington by his generation.
As we remember George Washington today on his birthday, let us not forget that we, as a nation, owe our very existence to the providential mercies of Almighty God. And let us not suppose that we can continue as a nation without His providential care. Let us therefore beseech Him to have mercy upon us as a nation and visit us again with His mercy and power. As David prayed in Psalm 85:6-7, Will you not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in you? Show us Your mercy LORD, and grant us Your salvation.
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher. He is the founder of "The Revive America Project" that is dedicated to laying the Biblical and historical foundations for another Great Awakening in our land. His books on Spiritual awakening and American and church history can be found on Amazon and at his website at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.