“Something Charming in the Sound”

 

“I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.”

George Washington, letter to his brother May 31, 1754, telling him about his victory at the battle of Jumonville.   What might have been mere bragging by virtually any other man, was not the case with the Father of our Country.  As far as we can judge from outward evidence, Washington was absolutely fearless.  Time after time in the French and Indian War and in the American Revolution,  he exposed himself to enemy fire.  At Braddock’s Defeat in 1755 Washington had two horses shot out from beneath him, and four enemy musket balls were lodged in his clothes by the end of the fight.  Washington believed that he could not be an effective leader unless he led from the front, and that is precisely what he did, often to the distress of his aides.  His only emotional reaction to being under enemy fire was apparently complete contempt for the fire of the enemy.  Men who observed him often wrote that they were amazed that anyone could be as fearless as he was.

Of course what if Washington had been killed during one of the times when he exposed himself to enemy fire?  It is hard for me to see the US winning the Revolution without Washington.  If he had been killed at Monmouth, for example, I think any successor would have been hard pressed to keep the Army together as Washington did, with little in supplies and only worthless Continentals to pay the troops.  In any war luck is always a big factor.  Napoleon said that the most important attribute of any general was good luck.  Luck favored George Washington as he emerged unscathed from so many skirmishes and battles.  His good fortune was also the good fortune of the country, and perhaps his good luck was not the least of Washington’s attributes that enabled him to win the American Revolution against all the odds.

Published in: on May 31, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on “Something Charming in the Sound”  
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