The title of this picture is “Washington Reading Prayers in His Camp.” Even though the picture below may not be of a specific instance, there is documentation (located below the picture) to show that George Washington encouraged prayer amongst the troops and friendly Indian tribes.
William Fairfax, Washington’s paternal adviser, had recently counseled him by letter, to have public prayers in his camp; especially when there were Indian families there; this was accordingly done at the encampment in the Great Meadows and it certainly was not one of the least striking pictures presented in this wild campaign—the youthful commander, presiding with calm seriousness of a motley assemblage of half-equipped soldiery leather-clad hunters and woodsmen, and painted savages with their wives and children, and uniting them all in solemn devotion by his own example and demeanor.
*Washington Irving, Life of George Washington (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1856) Vol. I, p. 116.
The first decisive indication of his principles on this subject, with which we are acquainted, appeared during the encampment at the Great Meadows, in the year 1754. While occupying Fort Necessity, it was his practice to have the troops assembled for public worship. This we learn from the following note, by the publisher of his writings. “While Washington was encamped at the Great Meadows, Mr. Fairfax wrote to him; ‘I will not doubt your having public prayers in the camp, especially when the Indian families are your guests, that they, seeing your plain manner of worship, may have their curiosity excited to be informed why we do not use the ceremonies of the French, which being well explained to their understandings, will more and more dispose them to receive our baptism, and unite in strict bonds of cordial friendship.’”
“It may be added, that it was Washington’s custom to have prayers in the camp while he was at Fort Necessity.”
*E. C. M’Guire, The Religious Opinions and Character of Washington (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1836), p. 136, quoting: Jared Sparks, The Writings of George Washington (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, & Metcalf, 1834), Vol. 2, p. 54.