“I have no object in view incompatible with the constitution, and the obvious interests of this country.” George Washington
Twenty years before being appointed as a full General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington was a lieutenant colonel and eventually commander of the Virginia Regiment. As the French and Indian War raged on, George Washington spent a great deal of time along the western frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He hoped that the war might provide an opportunity to expand trade and agriculture westward, and looked to ensure profit to Virginia and himself. Washington also chose the Virginia frontier as the best ground for concentrating and training a new force called the Virginia Regiment. At places like Fort Cumberland, Maryland and LeHewtown (later Front Royal), Virginia, Washington posted his troops to defend the frontier against Indian raids and worked to meld them into fighting outfit worthy of comparison with the best the British Empire had to offer. His goal was not just to earn honor for himself (and possibly a royal commission), but to prove that Americans could do anything the British could do – and possibly better.
In time, the British admitted that Washington’s Virginians were a “fine body of men,” and consented to their full and honorable participation in the conflict. Washington’s careful attention to the needs of his troops earned him their complete devotion. When he resigned to marry Martha Custis in 1759, his officers wrote him a heartfelt address, praising his conduct as their leader and wishing him the best in domestic life. “Your approbation of my conduct, during my command of the Virginia Troops,” Washington replied, “I must esteem an honor that will constitute the greatest happiness of my life, and afford in my latest hours the most pleasing reflections. I had nothing to boast, but a steady honesty – this I made the invariable rule of my actions; and I find my reward in it.” He could not then imagine the greater responsibilities, plaudits, and awards that would follow before he reached his “latest hours.”