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Young Major George Washington was executing his first important mission under Virginia's Governor Dinwiddie. French troops were said to be building forts west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which the Governor knew to be within Britain's territory. Washington was in command of a small group which was to travel through the inhospitable region and deliver a note to the French. These were essentially the first written words leading to the Seven Years War (The French and Indian War). Having exhausted his horses, Washington and his companions continued on foot through the snow. They reached a village called Murdering Town. The first inhabitant they encountered shot at them at point-blank range. In OTL neither Washington nor Christopher Ghist was hit. But what if...
Point of Divergence
The musket shot rings out echoing across the hills. Ghist draws his knife runs after the indian fully intending to kill him, but he then hears a soft groan behind him. He turns to see Major Washington collapse into the snow, grabbing at his lower left side. A gut shot! The small party quickly carries Washington to the tree line - the village is obviously hostile. They make a small bivouac and treat George as best as they can. But two days later Washington passes away. The year is 1753 and George Washington was only 21 years old.
Ghist and the others make a vengeance raid on the village; they kill five inhabitants but another member of their own party is also killed. Ghist himself is wounded slightly. They then continue onto Presque Isle (Erie, Pennsylvania) and deliver the note to the French. Three weeks later they begin their return trip, but are never heard from again.
Back in Virginia, Governor Dinwiddie grows impatient and eventually realizes that Washington's party will not be coming back. He begins to organize another group when word reaches him that the French have sent an envoy; Monsieur De Jumonville. Everyone knew that war was inevitable, but an empty diplomatic dance must first be performed. Dinwiddle demands that the French abandon Fort Duquesne and withdraw from "Ohio Country". Jumonville asserts that the French have rights to that territory and will not be moved.
[In OTL Washington lead a group to face the French near Fort Duquesne. They encountered Monsieur De Jumonville, who claimed to be a diplomat. Tanacharison, an indian chief accompanying Washington, killed Jumonville and a general massacre followed - complete with scalping. This was the first violent act of the war. In this ATL Jumonville was not killed.]
Braddock's Expedition (French and Indian War)
Washington's absence means that the Virginian Army is not brought to the level of excellence achieved in OTL. It also means that the "Ohio Country" is not as well defended from the French and Indians. But the biggest change pre-ARW would occur with Braddock's Expedition.
Braddocks Army built a road and marched toward Ft. Duquesne. As in OTL, disaster strikes. When the French and Indians fall upon the British from the woods, the American soldiers leave the road to engage. The British soldiers stay on the road to fight in the orderly fashion which worked so well in Europe. But America isn't Europe. The soldiers on the road make for easy targets. Worse, the Americans off the road are caught in the cross fire between the French and the British.
In OTL Washington convinced Braddock to send a "Flying Column" forward and they were the first to suffer. In this time-line there is no "Flying Column" and the main body suffers the French attack without any warning. In OTL Washington distinguished himself by taking the desperate situation in hand and leading the British Army in a well executed retreat. But in this time-line Washington is long dead and the British suffer a complete route at Mononghela.
Casualties amongst the British are higher than in OTL and some very notable persons were present at the battle and could be affected.
- Daniel Boone - He was in the supply train and was very resourceful - Let's say he escapes unscathed.
- Thomas Gage - He barely survived in OTL so let's say that he is killed. In OTL he was lenient with the indians when he was governor of Montreal and he was relatively lenient with the American rebels when he was governor of Massachusetts. In this time-line, those offices would be held by harsher men.
- Horatio Gates - Let's say he was wounded but not killed. His horse is killed and Gate's hip is crushed when his mount falls. He will still be able to serve in the American Revolution as an able administrator but can not serve as a field commander.
- Daniel Morgan - Killed - the US is shy one more military leader in the coming revolution
- Charles Lee - He was an ensign at the age of 12 and served in several wars in Europe. He survived tough spots before, so let's say he does well in this debacle as well. Lee uses foul language and open threats to get troops into some order and out of harms way. British looking for any bright spots in the Braddock disaster would point to Lee's leadership - his reputation is increased.
Despite some differences, the Seven Years War finishes up much as in OTL.
Washington was not an active voice leading to the revolution so his absence will not grossly change the build-up to war. The big change comes when a Commander and Chief must be chosen. There are three likely candidates: Charles Lee, Haratio Gates, and Artemas Ward.
- Lee actively petitioned Congress to be Commander in OTL and many people thought he was superior to Washington in military skill.
- Gates was an excellent administrator and good at logistics but not as well known as a leader-of-men (he also shattered his hip at the alt-Battle of Mononghela).
- Ward was in quite poor health.
So the Commander and Chief of the Continental Army would be General Charles Lee.
Lee was American born, wed a Mohawk woman, fought in several wars back in Europe, and was a hero in the French and Indian War. He was considered a better military thinker than Washington and in OTL the British were more worried (at first) about Lee than Washington. He was also uncouth, a hot head, arrogant, occasionally foolish, and possibly immoral. Some think he betrayed the American cause to the British in OTL.
Where Washington tried to defeat the British in set-piece battles, Lee wanted to engage in guerrilla warfare. Washington often bemoaned the fact that his army was a "rabble in arms", Lee would more likely accept the troops for what they were and plan accordingly.
For more detail see American Revolt.
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