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More blogs »Posted on Mar 4 2013
Recently I began to read the book ‘America the Beautiful’ by Dr. Ben Carson M.D., who has been gaining a lot of attention lately since he most recently spoke at a National Prayer Breakfast. Many of us who saw the video of the speech appreciated his unabashedly Christian message, and how he tied it to our nation’s condition today. His book is simultaneously an autobiography of a young man raised much of his early life by a single mother in poverty, and a call to apply Biblical truths to a country increasingly adrift from the Biblical guidance that I and many others think made it great.
The book reads like a pleasant afternoon shopping in a place that sells material for your favorite hobby, moving from one display to the next, one idea to the next. Then I read a story about George Washington in this book.
The story itself is amazing, and I will reproduce it below from the website http://www.therealamericanhis-story.com/gw . A younger George Washington rallies troops on the battlefield of a deadly ambush by Native Americans and the French, and amazingly this mountain of a man clearly exerting leadership is not killed by gunfire, though his clothes are perforated by bullets. Later a chief who led the Native Americans approaches Washington, and attributes the Virginian’s survival to divine intervention, and offers a prophecy regarding Washington’s future.
Wanting to blog here about it, I readied myself to scan pages from Carson’s book, and got lazy. Surely, I reasoned, I can find this on the Internet. And so I looked, and I learned a few things. One is, this account is based on a modern book called ‘The Bulletproof George Washington’. This book takes the account from a relative of Washington’s who was there, and who collected stories of Washington after George became our first President. Second, this used to be taught in our schools, but is not any more. You can mark that down to creeping political correctness, and it’s epidemic now. Third, predictably, some of us are moved by this story, while others dismiss it in various ways.
I am moved by the story. And I’m challenged by it. I teach that God’s ways are above ours, and we cannot predict what He will do, even in answering prayer. I think we should hold in our hearts our Saviors words when He asked His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup (of His impending death) be passed from Him, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done.” I think God does answer prayer, even miraculously. But I think He strongly tends to preserve free will, and as such He is not the Candy Man. Imagine, if every Christian’s stock portfolios blossomed while every atheist’s ‘tanked’, every Christian was healthy while every atheist died early and painfully, how long would it be before people ‘chose’ God not because they loved and trusted Him, but because they wanted to be healthy, wealthy, and wise? Without the effort. God’s word will make you those things, if you expend the effort to incorporate His teachings into your life, but you may still suffer at the hands of someone who doesn’t follow God.
Then, there is a story like George Washington’s. I do believe it, and I think God protected him because God had a higher plan at work, one that required Washington to be involved. And I’m okay with the idea that I can’t predict God. I don’t have to, I trust Him.
That said, enjoy this story!
George Washington’s role in this affair really began in October 31, 1753, when he was commissioned as ambassador by Governor Robert Dinwiddie (of Virginia), to carry a diplomatic objection to General St. Pierre stationed at Fort Le Boeuf on the shore of Lake Erie. This was a final precursor to war over the territorial claim of the Ohio Valley between England and France.
This was a treacherous journey of more than 500 miles, over rough terrain dense forests, and through flooded river valleys. He had to take an interpreter with him, and a small party. There was no guarantee that they would receive a warm welcome. Can you imagine a 21 year old right now in our time, representing us as ambassador to say; Iran?! But God was grooming George Washington to become the great leader that he was!
The French did not back down on their claim to the Ohio Valley, so in 1754 George Washington began to help raise troops in Virginia. He was made lieutenant colonel, and given a command. On May 1st, 1754, Washington set out to retake the area of Fort Duquesne. He had come upon it on his emissarial journey, and made note of it’s excellent position the year before. But in the interim, the French had begun to build Fort Duquesne.
Washington was informed by two Indian scouts, of a small scouting party approaching them. Out of necessity he built a small stockade (60 miles from Ft. Duquesne), and aptly named it Fort Necessity. He then attacked the party determined to make the first strike. A French leader named Jumonville, and ten of his men were killed, and 21 were made prisoners. After some time went by with scarce reinforcements (Washington had barely 400 troops), Washington decided to advance on Ft. Duquesne. On July 3, Washington was approached by General De Villiers and 1,200 of his men. He fell back to Fort Necessity, and was deluged by musket balls from the French & Indians stationed among the trees, and rocks. The French and Indians remained in a full circle around Fort Necessity pelting them with musket balls for 9 hours!
The Americans bravely resisted them, and only 30 of Washington’s men were killed. At length, Gen. De Villiers offered up terms of surrender to the American’s. Washington accepted the honorable terms, and he and his army were allowed to leave with all their equipment, and provisions. Later, Washington was given public thanks by the House of Burgesses for a valiant stand against overwhelming odds!
Enter General Edward Braddock, one of England’s most experienced officers. He had heard of the prowess of George Washington, and asked him to become one of his aids allowing Washington to retain his previous rank. Washington’s Mother feared for her son’s life, and tried to persuade him to stay home. Washington replied: “The God to whom you commended me madam, when I set out upon a more perilous errand, defended me from harm, and I trust He will do so now. Do not you?”
The stage was now set. Washington had done everything he could to inform Gen. Braddock of the “Guerrilla” style tactics of the French & Indians. But Braddock was insulted to be advised by an inferior officer, so he didn’t heed Washington’s prudent warning. Indians on America’s side tried to enlist their services as well, and Braddock dismissed them as savages with little or no merit!
On the morning of July 9th, 1755, Braddock and 1000 of his men, along with Washington and some of his Virginia regulars, crossed the southern shore of the Monongahela. Colonel Thomas Gage had a forward detachment of 350 soldiers, 250 workers and axemen, cutting a path. They were about 10 miles from Ft. Duquesne around 1:00 pm, Gage and the forward detachment had just crossed a ravine when scouts and flanking parties came running back towards them, waving them off. Just then, they were hit with a fusillade of musket balls. It immediately became chaos. The British could not see their enemy, because they were hidden behind rocks, hills, and trees. The rain of bullets kept coming in on them dropping them like flies. Gage’s men fired back at the direction of the smoke plumes from their enemies’ rifles, but hit nothing but the rocks, hills, and trees, merely splintering bark. Gage’s men and the horses continued to drop; some of the wounded horses began to panic and bolt, carrying wagons full of their weapons and ammo, trampling men on the ground as they galloped off. The workers and axemen also began to flee in panic. For the Indians who were crack marksmen, this was like shooting fish in a barrel! Eventually what was left of Gage’s forward detachment began to retreat. Gen. Braddock hearing the gunfire left 400 troops along with most of the Virginia regulars with Sir Peter Halkett, and most of the baggage. Braddock and his remaining troops, Washington and a 100 or so Virginia militia hastened towards the battle. The retreating men collided with the advancing men, setting them to more confusion. All the while, the French and Indians continued to rain down musket balls upon them with deadly accuracy, and force.
It became an instant slaughter as Braddock instructed his men to form columns (which made them easy to hit because of their red coats, and being in plain sight) like they were accustomed to doing in Europe. Musket balls rained down on them at will, cutting them down like a lawn mower cuts grass and anything else that gets in its way, with an instantaneous efficiency! The 100 or so Virginiamen quickly adopted the Indian style of warfare, and dropped behind trees and shot only when an enemy target was visible. Gen. Braddock was furious at this, and barked orders for them to get out from behind the trees. He saw this as cowardice according to his rules of engagement. Washington was undaunted in his task, bravely going to and fro amidst the shower of musket balls, trying to rally his troops. During this time he had five horses shot out from under him. But in spite of his bravery and reckless courage, he could not stem the tide.
At the same time, God’s hand can be seen protecting George Washington while he was busy going back and forth across the battle field completely exposed, carrying out General Braddock’s orders. One soldier observing Washington stated: “I expected every moment to see him fall. Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him.” Indians testified later that they had singled him out, but their bullets had no effect on him. They were convinced that an Invisible Power was protecting him.
Washington had two horses shot out from under him, and four bullet holes in his coat. Yet he himself was untouched by bullet, bayonet, tomahawk, or arrow. Scores of victims had fallen beside him, yet he went unharmed. He had been protected by God’s hand! Every other mounted officer had been slain!
Eventually Braddock was mortally wounded in the side, and fell. When this occurred all the British troops fled in confusion. Washington gathered up what was left of the Virginiamen, barely 30 of them, the injured General, and proceeded to cover the retreating British; He left all the baggage, weapons, provisions, cattle, and horses behind for the enemy to plunder. General Braddock died three days later.
It was the most lopsided battle in American history. 714 British soldiers had been killed, 37 wounded. 26 officers out of 86 were killed, and 37 wounded. Only 30 men and 3 officers were killed among the French and Indians.
Upon Washington’s return to Fort Cumberland (120 miles from the battle scene), he wrote a letter to his mother to allay any fears she would have, as news of the rout had preceded them. On the same day (July 18, 1755) he also wrote to his brother, John A. Washington: “As I have heard since my arrival at this place [Fort Cumberland], a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you that I have not as yet composed the latter. But, 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 escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!”
But wait, it gets even better. 15 years later, an old respected Indian Chief sought out council with Washington, when he heard that he was in the area. Through an interpreter he explained that he had set out on a long journey to meet Washington personally, and to speak to him about the battle 15 years earlier. He said: “I am a 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, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe–he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do–himself is alone exposed. 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 mightier far than we, shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington], and guides his destinies–he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.”
This is an AMAZING account of God’s divine protection over George Washington!! And there is another piece of evidence that Jesus Christ preserved George Washington for greatness. 80 years after this battle, a gold seal that belonged to Washington, that bore his initials, was found on that very field. Right where he had been moving back and forth on horseback, relaying the orders for Braddock, midst the hail storm of bullets the gold seal had been shot off of his body, by a bullet!