In January 1754, LTC George Washington was sent westward from Alexandria to build a road but soon learned that the French held a strategic location at the forks of the Ohio River that is current day Pittsburgh. He pushed towards Redstone Creek and arrived at Great Meadows on 24 May. Mostly marsh, he thought it "a charming field for an encounter."
Three days later, Washington learned the French were encamped at Chestnut Ridge and he set out and located them near the camp of Chief Tanacharison, a friendly Seneca who led the 22-year-old commander and 40 men to the French at a ravine. Accounts vary but the skirmish that followed resulted in the death of the French commanding officer. Fearing immediate reprisal, Washington fortified his position where his men built a [small] fort he called Necessity.
A company of 100 British Regulars reinforced Washington's 293 men but Washington failed to retain Indian allies. Approximately 700 French and Indians advanced from Fort Duquesne (dooKANE) and Washington withdrew to his fort at Great Meadows.
The morning of 3 July, 600 French and 100 Indians attacked Fort Necessity and fighting continued in the pouring rain until eight that evening when Washington's force capitulated. A smudged letter from the French resulted in Washington's signature, surrendering and unknowingly admitting culpability for the death of the previous French commander, Joseph Coulon De Villiers.
The British were allowed to withdraw with war honors and the French burned Fort Necessity, returning to Fort Duquesne. It was the first and only surrender of Washington's military career. Arguably, this conflict spurred the French-Indian (Seven Years) War.