A Leader and a Nation Preserved .... Bob Moore

When George Washington was twenty-three years old, he served under the British in the French and Indian wars. At that time Britain and France were disputing about which of them owned the colonies. Unable to resolve their differences diplomatically, they resorted to warfare. The Indians sided with the French, while the colonists allied with the British. England sent 2300 well-seasoned troops under General Braddock to secure the British interests in America. At that time Washington was a colonel in the Virginia militia. He placed his 100 buckskin troops under Braddock's command.

The British divided their forces into two groups. One of them was headed by General Braddock. He, with Washing-ton, marched 1300 soldiers toward Fort Du Quesne, a French fort situated where Pittsburgh now stands. Their objective was to take the fort and force the French to retreat north of the Great Lakes.

The French and Indians ambushed the British seven miles outside Fort Du Quesne, as they marched through a ravine. Accustomed to European war-fare, the British troops closed their ranks, stood shoulder to shoulder, and returned fire. The French, on the other hand, were hidden in the woods behind trees and underneath logs. The battle raged for two hours before the British retreated. By then, 714 of their 1300 troops had been killed. In contrast, only thirty French and Indians had died. All of the 86 officers under the English flag were shot except Washington. Two horses were killed from beneath him during the battle, bullet fragments speckled throughout his hair, and four bullet holes in his jacket, but he was unharmed.

The defeated army returned to Fort Cumberland, arriving there on July 17, 1755. The next day Washington wrote to his family, "By the all powerful disposition of Providence, I have been protected above all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet I escaped unhurt although death was leveling my companions on every side." Washington understood that God had preserved him. He had been protected because God had a work for him to do.

Fifteen years later Washington returned to the battle site. When the chief who led the Indians at the ambush heard that Washington was coming, he traveled a great distance to meet him. Over a council fire he told the American leader that he had ordered his braves to shoot at him because he was one of the leaders. The Indians believed that if all the officers of their opponent were killed or wounded, the rest of the soldiers would flee. The chief confessed that he had shot at Washington seventeen times himself. His braves had aimed at him more than that. None of them were able to harm him. When the chief realized that their bullets had no effect on him, he ordered the Indians to shoot at other targets. He understood that God would not allow Washington to die.

General Washington encountered a more dangerous situation early in the Revolutionary War. He knew the British would try to take New York. Their control of it and the Hudson River would virtually cut the colonies in half. He gathered 8,000 men, half of them untrained, to the town of Brooklyn on Long Island. On August 22, 1776, General Howe landed 15,000 troops on the southeast shore of Brooklyn. Five thousand Hessians joined him three days later. They surrounded the town and attacked on August 27. The Americans were overrun, part of them pinned against the East River. Instead of attacking and sealing the victory, General Howe disengaged. The British fleet was ready to enter the river. Perhaps he thought that when the fleet had outflanked the Americans and were able to bombard them from the river, they could capture the rebels without additional casualties, for the Americans were fighting most fiercely. The next day a pelting rain began to fall. It was driven by a strong north wind. While it discomforted the Americans pinned in their trenches, it prevented the British fleet from entering the river. As the rain continued into evening, General Washington determined his army should flee across the East River in small boats. It so happened that two companies under his command were from the coast of Massachusetts and were expert oarsmen. They were able to quietly evacuate American troops across the mile-wide river. It was a good thing too, for after midnight the skies cleared and the waters grew calm. The slightest noise could have alerted the British to their effort.

As dawn approached, the evacuation was not complete. At least three more hours were needed to withdraw every American soldier. The sky was cloudless, promising a brilliantly sunny day. Surely daylight would alert the British to the evacuation. The English would quickly overpower the few men left and capture all those not killed in the battle. As the light began to break from the east, a thick fog rose from both the river and the ground to hide the Americans' escape. Almost every soldier who kept a diary recorded the fog and all of them believed God provided it to protect their lives and their cause. Major Tallmadge wrote, "As the dawn of the next day approached those of us who remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety, and when the dawn appeared there were several regiments still on duty. At this time a very dense fog began to rise, and it seemed to settle in a particular manner over both encampments. I recollect this peculiar providential occurrence perfectly well, and so very dense was the atmosphere that I could scarcely discern a man at six yards distance. We tarried until the sun had risen, but the fog remained as dense as ever."

The fog remained until the last boatload of evacuees was on its way. General Washington was among them. When it lifted, the startled British rushed to the bank and fired at the departing boats, but they were out of range. With the help of God nearly 8,000 men were plucked from certain death or imprisonment without the loss of even one life. The Continental Army survived. General Washington was preserved again.

God saved Washington's life at Du Quesne because he had a task for him to perform. Washington chaired the Continental Congress, led the Continental Army, and served as the nation's first President. His divine appointment and willingness to perform these duties led Providence to protect his life and sustain his efforts. Similarly, God has a plan for the United States. He has commissioned it to gather the lost tribes of Israel, complete the Reformation, and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. To preserve this nation so it can accomplish its task, he preserved it in its infancy. Not only did He save it from the British at Brooklyn, but He prospered it until it won its freedom.

During the winter at Valley Forge, when prospects looked very dim, General Washington was visited by a heavenly messenger. He was shown the present trial that pressed upon the nation then and was promised that it would rise victorious and prosper. He was also shown two later trials, one of them probably being the Civil War and the other a future event. He was told that America would prevail through both of them. As the third trial passed, the vision concluded with this description; "The bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried in a loud voice: 'While the stars remain and the heavens send dew upon the earth, so long shall the Republic last.' And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned the word 'Union,' he placed it upon the standard, while the people, kneeling down, said 'Amen.'" Afterwards, the angel departed with these words, "Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union."

God told the country's first leader that the nation would prevail. It would remain to complete its purpose. He who defended it in the beginning would defend it until the end so that it could complete its mission.