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Washington’s Only Surrender

By Linda Tancs

Fort Necessity National Battlefield is a national battlefield site in Fayette County, nestled in the Great Meadow in the Allegheny Mountains of southwest Pennsylvania. The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of the French and Indian War, a clash among British, French and American Indian forces for control of a vast territory along the Ohio River between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi. The French and Indian War was the North American conflict in a larger imperial war between Great Britain and France known as the Seven Years’ War. George Washington, a 21-year-old military adjutant, volunteered as a British emissary to present notice to the French to quit their occupation of the Ohio River Valley. When the French refused to leave, Washington built his “fort of necessity” in a natural meadow while awaiting additional militia and British regulars. However, his bedraggled force was no match for the French column, and Washington ultimately surrendered to the enemy for the first and only time in his military career.


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