George Washington: The Forge of Experience, 1732-1775

By James Thomas Flexner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
12
Hysteria

WASHINGTON could contemplate resigning when he viewed the war as one of "the usual contests of empire and ambition," 1 but, after he was back in Virginia, he could no longer ignore the fact that axes were reaching out on the frontier for Virginia blood. At Williamsburg where he arrived in March 1756, he was persuaded not to resign.

Instead, the young Colonel wrote Sharpe asking to be appointed his second in command. Forwarding the request to Shirley, Sharpe stated agreeably that "Mr. Washington is much esteemed in Virginia." Shirley replied that there was no provincial he would rather advance, but that all planning awaited on further orders from England. 2

From his regular army friend and future opponent, Gage, Washington received a letter: "Your continuing to head the Virginia troops ... when a command you were so justly entitled to was given another ... is no small instance of your zeal for the public service for which you have been ever remarkable." 3

Actually, Washington's demotion was purely theoretical. The inclusive army Sharpe was to lead never came into being, and the Virginia Assembly, still breathing fire at the interloper from Maryland, voted that their regiment, having been raised for local defense, had no connection with any outside army. Washington continued to hold the top command in Virginia.

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