Providence, Colonel, and a Charming Field

You gave me life and showed me kindness,
    and in your providence watched over my spirit.

  • Job 10:12

The Prophet considering the excellent liberality and Fatherly providence of God toward man, whom he made as it were a god over all his works, doth not only give great thanks, but is astonished with the admiration of the same, as one nothing able to compass such great mercies.
To him that excelleth on Gittith. A Psalm of David.

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy Name in all the world! which hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.

  • Psalm 8:1-2 (1599 Geneva Bible)

“I’ve been giving a lot of thought these days to the subject of God’s will.  While engaged in a particular study of that issue recently I came across a term we rarely use or read these days.  In fact, it is so rare, the word sounds old-fashioned.  Archaic, even.

“The term is providence.  And the only time we ever hear it is when someone refers to the capital city of Rhode Island.  Read the writings of Christians from earlier centuries, however, and you will find frequent references to God’s providence.”

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Point

How do the terms ‘providence’, a ‘colonel’, and a ‘charming field for an encounter’ connect?  It is in the faith of one man.

The only use of the word “Providence” in the NIV is shown above, Job 10:12.  For the KJV, the only use is in Acts 24:2.  Thus, I went back to the Geneva Bible in order to find a suitable quote from Psalms 8.  Maybe Charles Swindoll is right in that the only mention of ‘providence’ is when referring to the capital of Rhode Island.

Yet, when you look through the speeches of George Washington, he often refers to God as “Providence.”  He states that the “Providential Agency” was at work in turning the colonies into a country in his first inaugural speech.  I do not believe that Washington was being politically correct. They simply used that kind of language in referring to God, God being more than a word said in reverence, but an attribute that placed God above and man in service. Washington was a strong believer and knew that he would have not gotten very far in life if it were not God’s will, or God’s providence, protecting and guiding him.  For more info about Washington quoting God’s providence, go to Chelsen Vicari’s blog post.

Living in SW Pennsylvania, if you have any interest in history at all, you cannot avoid visiting Fort Necessity.  The National Park is very close to the Frank Lloyd Wright creation, Falling Water.  We used to have family visit and a loop day trip included both of those, a view of Braddock’s grave and the winery across the National Highway from the grave, and a little shopping in Scenery Hill, PA on the way home.

A young George Washington, as a prominent land owner, was given the rank of lieutenant colonel in the British Army and given the duty of creating a road to Redstone Creek, along the Monongahela River, southeast but upstream from present day Pittsburgh where, at the time, Fort Duquesne rested, which became Fort Pitt, and thus, Pittsburgh.  He linked up with another military force.  The two forces were combined.  When Colonel Fry, commander of the other force, died, Washington was promoted to Colonel.  No experience in battle, but suddenly a Colonel.

When he discovered that the French had captured Fort Duquesne, he stopped road building for further instructions, leaving his forces camped at the Great Meadows.  He was determined to reach Redstone Creek.  He sent out a raiding party, but he engaged a party of French and Native American forces.  He repelled the forces. The battle near present day Uniontown, PA was marred by a controversy over the death of the French commander, Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville.  Washington returned to the meadow where the bulk of his forces awaited further instruction.  He said of the Great Meadows, as it was then called, “A charming field for an encounter.”  But as you can see in the photo, the fort, that Washington’s men quickly built out of ‘necessity’ fearing a French counterattack, is in the middle of the meadow, mostly marsh, totally surrounded by better ground for which to engage an enemy.

The French did not play fairly.  They surrounded Washington and stayed within the tree line.  Washington’s forces dwindled, unable to see the enemy while they were exposed. The French commander showed mercy and called for a truce. Washington surrendered.  At this point, the French commanding officer, Capt. Louis Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, granted Washington the ability to withdraw his forces, under the code of the honors of war.  When you consider that the French captain’s brother, Joseph, had been killed in Washington’s raid, it showed great honor to let the opposing forces withdraw from battle.

Some time later, General Braddock took a larger force along the road to retake Fort Duquesne, but many of his officers were killed and he was mortally wounded.  His grave is along the road that Washington built, not far from Fort Necessity.

George Washington built a road that is roughly highway US-40 today, also known as the National Highway.  Two highways were built from the eastern coast to the present Pittsburgh area at the time that our nation was getting started.  The National Highway, from Baltimore to Washington, PA (known as little Washington), and later extended further west, was commissioned by the new nation to follow the trail built by Washington.  At the same time, Pennsylvania built Noblestown Road, from Philadelphia to a small trading post, Noblestown, about two miles from where we live, the extension of the road only a few blocks down the hill.  With the two roads, the nation was set for expansion to the west.

Washington learned a lot about warfare and leadership as he worked on the road and in battle.  But he learned a lot more about the providence of God.  His men had killed the French captain’s brother, but he let Washington and his forces leave, out of a sense of honor.  And when Washington was placed as the General of a revolutionary army, he was assisted by Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, or simply Lafayette. A former foe in battle, who showed him mercy, was now an ally.  You wonder how many times Washington thought of what could have been, if it were not for God’s Providence looking over him and protecting the forces that he commanded. This story is only one of many about a great leader, who has at least one likeness depicting him on his knees in prayer.

These types of historical stories, about how Christian men built this nation, are not often taught.  But if the Christian founding fathers could speak today, they would give all the glory to God and praise for their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

3 Comments

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  1. Did you see the mini series the History channel did on Washington about two weeks back? They highlighted this event and depicted the youthful and inexperienced Washington as a bit in over his head—,but having cut his teeth for later, stronger leadership during this episode of his military life

    Liked by 1 person

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