Why is Fort Necessity a big deal?

washingtonFort Necessity was the scene of George Washington’s first military experience and one of his first leadership situations. The tiny space also unleashed a global war between Britain and France. The war—called the “French and Indian War” in North America and the “Seven Years War” in Europe—was a struggle between these two empires for dominance on three continents.

By spring 1754 Virginia’s British colonial governor, Robert Dinwiddie authorized Washington to be one of the officers in a unit of men raised to march west against French forces. Dinwiddie ordered Washington and 200 men, on behalf of Virginia and rest of the British Empire, to lay claim to lands in the upper Ohio River valley. France and its colonies were making rival claims. Aggressively pursuing his orders, Washington and a handful of colonial soldiers and Indian warriors had clashed with a small French force in May 1754, killing several of the French. Now, five weeks later, a larger contingent of French soldiers pursued Washington and his men. They pinned Washington and his men in a hastily built fort—evocatively named Fort Necessity—to ward off a French attack until help arrived. The help never came. The attack did.

In early July, Washington and his men resisted an attack by more than 600 French and allied Indians. With casualties mounting, illness growing, and rain soaking the sick and healthy alike over the course of two days, Washington agreed to negotiate an end to the clash.

The story, however, has more to it. A lot more. I invite you to move ahead to the next video and short essay.

The leadership topics of George Washington and Fort Necessity:

  • The Reality End of Delegation—Carrying Out Instructions
  • Handling A Setback—Effects, Consequences, and Clean-Up
  • Using Imperfect Information—Decisions, Priorities, and Mistakes

If you’re interested in using the story of Washington and Fort Necessity for your leadership or for leadership in your organization, please contact me. If you’re interested in knowing more about me, please see below for the brief bio I use in many public arenas:

“Dan Miller devotes his life to using history to improve the leadership of his clients. In 2004, he founded his own company, Historical Solutions LLC, to pursue this passion. His clients are CEOs, executives, community leaders, board members, directors, managers, and supervisors. Dan applies history to both inspire and inform leaders and leadership.

Dan worked for ten years as a managing partner of an economic and workforce development consulting firm in Indianapolis. Dan has a bachelor of arts degree in history from Anderson University and both a master of arts and doctoral degrees in history from Indiana University. Just as importantly, ever since childhood, Dan has loved history.

Dan has written four books (two of which are available to purchase on this site) and is completing a book on a lost leadership story of Abraham Lincoln. He has also authored entries for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, the Encyclopedia of Americans at War, and the Encyclopedia of the American Revolution.

Dan and his wife Kelly, a clinical psychologist at the University of Indianapolis, live in Indianapolis with their daughters Haley and Ava.”

Thanks for spending time on my website. All the best, Dan