Friday, April 08, 2011

Only Twenty-two

In 1753, Governor Dinwiddie trusted
Major Washington to deliver a letter
to the French commander who had occupied
the Ohio territory in dispute.
Not only did Washington return,
but he prepared a full report
of the situation, including a map
with the locations of the French forts.

The Ohio Company had begun construction
of an English fort at the junction
of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.
Washington, now a lieutenant colonel,
was sent in 1754 to complete and defend
this fort. But before his detachment
could reach the fort, the French had captured
it and renamed it Fort Duquesne.

Washington continued his march, and parleyed
with Indians he encountered. He was unable
to convince any to join the English.
On May 28, he attacked and captured
a small French force, thus starting the war.
Finding their advance position dangerous,
he and his men hastily constructed
what they called Fort Necessity.

The French advanced on the English
and a skirmish ensued. There were losses
on both sides. Washington knew
they could not successfully defend
their position. As he prepared to surrender,
he was killed by a French musket ball.

What if George Washington had been killed
at the start of the French and Indian War?

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to yesterday's "what if" prompt at Poetic Asides.

Addendum: Process Notes. The first three stanzas are historically accurate. It's in the fourth stanza that it becomes hypothetical. I've long been fascinated with Washington's military prowess in the American Revolution, but it was here in the French and Indian War (Seven Year's War) that he learned so much that he would later use, as an American, against the English. To the best of my knowledge, the time he surrendered Fort Necessity is the only time he ever surrendered in a military campaign. That seemed to me a logical place to play "what if".


  1. The only thing I could say for sure is the $1 bill would have a different face on it...

  2. Great history lesson. Will you use this with your students?

  3. Wow, so much of this, that I have forgotten. Thanks for reminding me, Mr. Walker.


  4. Professor, as always, a wonderful history lesson as well as a good take on the prompt. Wow, we would have missed out on all the stories in Social Studies about the cherry tree and how GW was incapable of lying (unlike GWB)!

    Here's mine, just for fun:

    Peace, Amy

  5. Stan, I wonder if John Adams would be on the $1 bill.
    Brenda, my students know I'm writing a poem a day. I may share this one with them.
    Pamela, thanks. Washington is so iconic, that I like to teach this part of his past that many people don't know (or remember).
    Amy, yes, someone would have had to invent different myths about someone else. As always, thanks for reading and commenting. Being called Professor made me smile.

  6. I enjoyed the lesson. Thank you.
    You made a stimulating what if.

  7. Anonymous8:35 AM

    That's one heck of a hypothetical. Excellent history lesson....some of the facts i had forgotten...some I never knew. excellent job! Vb

  8. Viv and versebender, thank you for your kind comments. The teacher in me comes out in my poetry too, I guess. Glad you liked the hypothetical.

  9. I enjoyed this immensely. The last bit of Washington I read was David McCullogh's 1776. Your poem's alternative question is intriguing.

  10. Deb, thank you for reading and commenting. I was tempted to start with "what if" but it seemed more fun to tell a story and have the "what if" be the ending.