[Footnote 1: Ford, I, 177.]
Although Washington was thoroughly disgusted by the mismanagement of military affairs in Virginia, he was not ready to deny the appeals of patriotism. From Mount Vernon, on August 14, 1755, he wrote his mother:
Honored Madam, If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I shall; but if the command is pressed upon me, by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor upon me to refuse; and that, I am sure must or ought to give you greater uneasiness, than my going in an honorable command, for upon no other terms I will accept of it. At present I have no proposals made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except from private hands.
[Footnote 1: Ibid. 180-81.]
Braddock’s defeat put an end to campaigning in Virginia for some time. The consternation it caused, not only held the people of the sparse western settlements in alarm but agitated the tidewater towns and villages. The Burgesses and many of the inhabitants had not yet learned their lesson sufficiently to set about reorganizing their army system, but the Assembly partially recognized its obligation to the men who had fought by voting to them a small sum for losses during their previous service. Washington received L300, but his patriotic sense of duty kept him active. In the winter of 1758, however, owing to a very serious illness, he resigned from the army and returned to Mount Vernon to recuperate.
During the long and tedious weeks of sickness and recovery, Washington doubtless had time to think over, to clarify in his mind, and to pass judgment on the events in which he had shared during the past six or seven years. From boyhood that was his habit. He must know the meaning of things. An event might be as fruitless as a shooting star unless he could trace the relations which tied it to what came before and after. Hence his deliberation which gave to his opinions the solidity of wisdom. Audacious he might be in battle, but perhaps what seems to us audacity seemed to him at the moment a higher prudence. If there were crises when the odds looked ten to one against him, he would take the chance. He knew the incalculable value of courage. His experiences with the British regulars and their officers left a deep impression on him and colored his own decisions in his campaigns against the British during the Revolutionary War. To genius nothing comes amiss, and by genius nothing is forgotten. So we find that all that Washington saw and learned during his years of youth—his apprenticeship as surveyor, his vicissitudes as pioneer, tasks as Indian fighter and as companion of the defeated Braddock—all contributed to fit him for the supreme work for which Fate had created him and the ages had waited.