38" x 60" oil
During the Winter of 1753, a young George Washington laid eyes on what is now Western Pennsylvania for the first time. He was 21 years old and had recently attained the rank of Major in the Virginia Militia. This was to be his first military adventure -- a seemingly routine mission as envoy. Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia had appointed Washington to deliver a message to the French Commander in the wild disputed lands of the Ohio Country and return with a French response.
Washington gathered six men for the expedition, with Christopher Gist as its guide and Jacob Van Braam as French interpreter. Snow and bad weather hindered travel. On November 22nd, they arrived at the mouth of Turtle Creek on the Monongahela River. There, an English Trader loaned them a canoe to transport their baggage to the forks of the Ohio, a 10 mile distance, where they might be able to swim unladen horses across the Allegheny River.
Quotes from Washington's journal
"As I got down before the canoe, I spent some time in viewing the Rivers, and the land in the fork, which I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has absolute command of both Rivers. The land at the Point is 20 or 25 feet above the common surface of the water, and a considerable bottom of flat well-timbered land all around it, very convenient for building."
This trip would prove to be a difficult 900 mile venture. Twice Washington escaped death, traveling through territory that he would soon visit again -- and again confront the French and their allied Natives. Although shot at by an Indian and surviving a frigid night on an island, after falling into the icy Allegheny River, the young Major completed his mission.
Reproductions of this painting were produced.