National Geographic : 1976 Jul
the frontier of British America. He described his first lodgings there: "I... striped myself very orderly and went in to ye Bed... nothing but a Little Straw-Matted together without Sheets or any thing else but only one thread Bear blanket with double its Weight of Vermin such as Lice Fleas &c...." Most of Washington's surveying took him to the Blue Ridge Mountains area. In that land of rich soil and clear streams, he came to understand the potential of the West as clear ly as any American of his time. From childhood, George had extravagantly admired his older half brother, Lawrence. Proprietor of the estate of Mount Vernon, veteran of a military campaign, and an adjutant general of Virginia, Lawrence fired the boy's interest in soldiering. Lawrence's death from tuberculosis in 1752 desolated the younger man. Pervaded by his half brother's influence, George sought and obtained a com mission in the Virginia militia. The following year, at age 22, he leased Mount Vernon from Lawrence's widow. N 1754, GOVERNOR Robert Dinwiddie dispatched Washington-by then a lieu tenant colonel-with the 160-man Virginia Regiment into the Ohio Valley, which was being hotly disputed by France and Britain.