Washington, John Macrae was born in October 1797 in Windsor Forest, Stafford County, Virginia, United States. Son of Baily and Euphan (Wallace) Washington.
Graduated from the United States Military Academy, 1817.
Commissioned 3d Lieutenant of artillery, 1817, Second lieutenant and battalion quartermaster of artillery, 1818, First lieutenant, 1810, sent to Florida frontier. Served at Savannah Harbor, 1821-1822, Fort Moultrie, 1822-1824, Augusta, Georgia, 1824. Instructor mathematics at artillery school, Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1824-1826, ordnance officer, 1828-1833.
Brevetted captain, 1830, commissioned captain, 1832. Fought against Seminoles in Florida, 1833-1838. Aided General Winfield Scott in transporting Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma, 1838-1839.
Detailed to assist Scott in peacefully quelling Canadian border disturbances, 1840-1842. Served at Battle of Buena Vista in Mexican War, 1847, positioned at critical pass of La Angostura, largely responsible for maintaining American position and securing American victory. Promoted major, 1847, brevetted lieutenant colonel, 1847.
Civil and military governor of New Mexico, 1848-1849. Served at Fort Constitution, N.H., 1850-1852.