Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1754. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
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1754. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889-1893). Vol. I (1748-1757).
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TO DINWIDDIE, LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
Alexandria, 7 March, 1754.1
In my last by Mr. Stewart, I slightly mentioned the objection many had against enlisting, to wit, not knowing who was to be paymaster or the times for payment. It is now grown a pretty general clamor; and some of those, who were among the first enlisters, being needy, and knowing it to be usual for his Majesty’s soldiers to be paid once a week, or at most every fortnight, are very importunate to receive their due. I have soothed and quieted them as much as possible, under pretence of receiving your Honour’s instructions in this particular at the arrival of the colonel.
I have increased my number of men to about 25, and dare venture to say, I should have had several more, if the excessive bad weather did not prevent their meeting agreeable to their officers’ commands.
We daily experience the great necessity for cloathing the men, as we find the generality of those, who are to be enlisted, are of those loose, idle persons, that are quite destitute of house and home, and, I may truly say, many of them of cloathes; which last renders them very incapable of the necessary service, as they must unavoidably be exposed to inclement weather in their marches, &c., and can expect no other than to encounter almost every difficulty, that ’s incident to a soldier’s life. There are many of them without shoes, others want stockings, some are without shirts, and not a few that have scarce a coat or waistcoat to their backs. In short, they are as ill provided as can well be conceived; but I really believe every man of them, for their own credit’s sake, is willing to be cloathed at their own expense. They are perpetually teazing me to have it done, but I am not able to advance the money, provided there was no risque in it, which there certainly is, and too great for me to run; tho’ it would be nothing to the country, as a certain part of their pay might be deducted and appropriated to that use. Mr. Carlyle, or any of the merchants here, would furnish them with proper necessarys, if there was a certainty of any part of their pay stopt to reimburse the expense. But I must here in time put a kirb to my requests, and remember that I ought not to be too importunate; otherwise I shall be as troublesome to your Honour, as the soldiers are to me. There is nothing but the necessity of the thing could urge me to be thus free; but I shall no more exagerate this affair to your Honour as I am well assured, whatever you think for the benefit or good of the expedition, you will cause to have done.
TO RICHARD CORBIN.1
In a conversation with you at Green Spring, you gave me some room to hope for a commission above that of major, and to be ranked among the chief officers of this expedition. The command of the whole forces is what I neither look for, expect, nor desire; for I must be impartial enough to confess, it is a charge too great for my youth and inexperience to be entrusted with. Knowing this, I have too sincere a love for my country, to undertake that which may tend to the prejudice of it. But if I could entertain hopes, that you thought me worthy of the post of lieutenant-colonel, and would favor me so far as to mention it at the appointment of officers, I could not but entertain a true sense of the kindness.
I flatter myself, that, under a skilful commander, or man of sense, (whom I most sincerely wish to serve under,) with my own application and diligent study of my duty, I shall be able to conduct my steps without censure, and, in time, render myself worthy of the promotion, that I shall be favored with now.1
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Alexandria, 20 March, 1754.
I was favored with your letter by Mr. Stewart, enclosing a lieutenant-colonel’s commission,2 and I hope my future behaviour will sufficiently testify the true sense I have of this kindness.
At present there are about seventy-five men at Alexandria, near fifty of whom I have enlisted. The others have been sent by Messrs. Polson, Mercer, and Waggener1 to this place. Very few officers have repaired hither yet, which has occasioned a fatiguing time to me, in managing a number of self-willed, ungovernable people. I shall implicitly obey your commands, and march out with all expedition. Major Carlyle is now preparing wagons for the conveyance of provisions, which till now could not move, on account of the heavy roads.
I doubt not but your Honor has been informed before this of Mr. Vanbraam’s ill success in Augusta, by the express, who was sent from thence for that purpose.2
Major Muse’s promotion, and Messrs. Rose and Bently’s declining, will occasion a want of officers; in which case I would beg leave to mention Mr. Vanbraam for a command, who is the oldest lieutenant, and an experienced soldier. Unless the officers come in, I shall be obliged to appoint him to that office, till I have your Honor’s further directions. It would be conferring a very great obligation on him, were you to confirm the appointment. I verily believe his behaviour would not render him displeasing to you. I have given Captain Stephen orders to be in readiness to join us at Winchester with his company, as they were already in that neighbourhood, and raised there.
I have nothing further to add at present, but my sincere thanks for the indulgent favors I have met with, and I am your Honor’s most obedient, &c.1
JOURNAL, MARCH-APRIL, 1754.
To preserve the continuity of the story I have embodied such of Washington’s letters as written during his march to the Ohio, into a translation of a journal which the French captured at Fort Necessity. This journal is incomplete, and is not printed as Washington wrote it, as the original is lost and the only form in which it is accessible is through a French translation and faulty renderings into English from that translation. To defend its position, for no formal declaration of war had yet been made, and to prove the English to be the aggressors, the French government published this Journal and other papers found at Fort Necessity, together with a number of state and private instructions and reports, in Mémoire contenant le précis des faits, avec leurs pièces justicatives pour servir de résponse aux observations envoyées par les ministres d’Angleterre dans les cours de l’Europe” (1756). It has been many times reprinted in English, but, as Sparks says, the translation is “uncouth in its style and faulty in its attempts to convey the sense of the original.” I have compared the following with the French and believe it to be the most accurate translation yet made.
On the 31st March, I received from his Honour a Lieutenant Colonel’s commission in the Virginia regiment, whereof Joshua Fry, Esquire, was Colonel, dated the 15th, with orders to take the troops, which were at that time quartered at Alexandria under my command, and to march with them towards the Ohio, there to aid Captain Trent in building Forts, and in defending the Possessions of his Majesty against the attempts and hostilities of the French.2
April the 2d. Every thing being ready, we began our march according to our orders, the 2d of April, with two companies of foot, commanded by Captain Peter Hog, and Lieutenant Jacob Vanbraam, five subalterns, two sergeants, six corporals, one drummer, and one hundred and twenty soldiers, one surgeon, one Swedish gentleman, who was a volunteer, two wagons, guarded by one lieutenant, sergeant, corporal and twenty-five soldiers.
We left Alexandria on Tuesday noon and encamped about four miles from Cameron,1 having travelled six miles.
[From the 3d of April, to the 19th of said month, this journal contains only the march of the troops, and union with a detachment which was brought by Captain Stephen.]
The 19th we met an express who had letters from Captain Trent, at the Ohio, demanding a reinforcement with all possible speed, as he hourly expected a body of eight hundred French. I tarried at Job Pearsall’s for the arrival of the troops, where they came the next day. When I received the above express, I despatched a messenger to Colonel Fry to give him notice of it.
The 20th, I came to the house of Colonel Cresap to dispose the detachment, and on my route, had notice that the fort was taken by the French. Two days later that news was confirmed by Mr. Ward, the ensign of Captain Trent, who had been obliged to surrender to a body of more than one thousand French, under the command of Captain Contrecœur, who came from Venango (in French, Presqu’ isle), with Sixty Battoes, and Three Hundred Canoes, and eighteen Pieces of artillery, which were set up against the Fort. Contrecœur afterwards sent him a summons to withdraw.
Mr. Ward also informed me, that the Indians remained always steadfastly attached to our Interest. He brought with him two young Indians of the Mingo nation that they might have the Satisfaction of seeing that we were marching with Troops to their Succour.
He also delivered me the following Speech, which the Half-King sent to me.
Fort-Ohio,April 18th, 1754.
A Speech from the Half-King, Escruniat and Collier, for the Governors of Virginia and Pennsylvania.
My Brethren the English, the Bearer will inform you how we have been treated by the French. We waited a long Time, thinking they would come and attack us; we now see how they wish to use us. We are now ready to fall upon them, waiting only for your assistance. Take Courage; and come as soon as possible; you will find us as ready to fight as you are yourselves.
We have sent these two young Men to see if you are ready to come, and if so, they are to return to us, to let us know where you are, that we may join you. We should be glad, if the Troops belonging to the two Provinces could meet together in the Fort, which is in the way.1 If you do not soon come to our Assistance, we are intirely undone, and I think we shall never meet again. I say it with a Heart full of Grief. A Belt of Wampum.
The Half-King addressed me personally the following Speech:
I am ready, if you think it proper to go to both the Governors, with these two young Men, for I have no longer any Dependence on those who have been gone so long, without returning or sending any Message. A Belt of Wampum.
April 23d. A Council of War held at Wills-Creek, to consult upon the News brought by Mr. Ward.
Upon a review of the News brought by Ensign Ward, the Summons of Captain Contrecœur, commander of the French troops, and the speeches of the Half-King, and other chiefs of the Six Nations; it appeared that Mr. Ward was forced to surrender the said fort, the 17th instant, to the French, who were above one thousand strong, and had eighteen pieces of artillery, some of which were nine Pounders; and also that the Detachment of the Virginia regiment, amounting to One Hundred and Fifty Men, commanded by Colonel Washington had Orders to reinforce Captain Trent’s Company, and that the aforesaid Garrison consisted only of Thirty-three effective Men.
It was thought impracticable to march towards the fort without sufficient strength; and being strongly urged by the Indians, and particularly by the Speeches of the Half-King, the President gave his Opinion, that it would be proper to advance as far as Red-Stone-Creek (in French, the creek de La roche rouge1 ); on Monongahela, (in French, Mah-Engueulé), about Thirty-seven Miles on this Side of the Fort, and to raise a Fortification, clearing a Road broad enough to pass with our Artillery and our Baggage, and there to await fresh Orders.
This Opinion was accepted, for the following Reasons:
1st, That the Mouth of Red-stone is the first convenient Place on the river Monongahela.
2d, That magazines there for the stores of the Company are ready to receive our Ammunition & supplies; and our heavy artillery may be sent by Water whenever it was agreed to attack the Fort.
3d, Further, that will preserve our troops from the evil Consequences of Inaction, and encourage our allies the Indians to remain in our Interests. Whereupon, I determined to send Mr. Ward to the Governor, with one of the young Indians and an Interpreter: I thought proper also to acquaint the Governors of Maryland and Pennsylvania with the News; and I sent away the other Indian to the Half-King, with the Speeches inclosed in the following Letter:
TO HORATIO SHARPE, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND.
Will’s Creek, 24 April, 1754.
May it please Your Excellency,
It is with the greatest concern I acquaint you, that Mr. Ward, ensign in Captain Trent’s company, was obliged to surrender his small fortress in the Forks of Monongahela, at the summons of Captain Contrecœur, commander of the French forces who fell down from Venango with a fleet of 360 canoes and battoes, conveying upwards of one thousand men, eighteen pieces of artillery, and large stores of provisions and other necessaries—Mr. Ward, having but an inconsiderable number of men (not exceeding 30, and no cannon to make a proper defence,) was forced to give up the fort on the 17th instant—They suffered him to draw out his men, arms, and working tools, and gave leave that he might retreat to the inhabitants with them. I have heard of your excellency’s great zeal for his majesty’s service, and for all our interests on the present occasion; therefore I am persuaded you will take proper notice of the Indians’ moving speech and think their unshaken fidelity worthy your consideration.
1 I have arrived thus far with a detachment of 159 men; col. Fry with the remainder of the regiments and artillery is daily expected. In the mean time we shall advance slowly across the mountains, making the roads as we march fit for the carriage [of] the great guns &c. and are designed to proceed as far as the mouth of Red Stone Creek which enters the Monongahela about 37 miles above the fort (the French have taken) from whence we have water carriage down the river; there is a store house built by the Ohio Company at the place, which for the present may serve as a receptacle for our ammunition and provisions.
1 Besides the French herein mentioned, we have credible information that another party are coming up Ohio. We also have intelligence that 600 of the Chippoways and Ottoway Indians are marching down Scioto Creek to join them.
I ought first to have begged pardon of your excellency for this liberty of writing, as I am not happy enough to be ranked among those of your acquaintance. It was the glowing zeal I owe my country that influenced me to impart these advices and my inclination prompted me to do it to you as I know you are solicitous for the public weal and warm in this interesting cause—that should rouse from the lethargy we have fallen into the heroick spirit of every free-born English man to attest the rights and privileges of our king (if we don’t consult the benefit of ourselves) and resque from the invasions of a usurping enemy, our Majesty’s property, his dignity, and land.
I hope Sir, you will excuse the freeness of my expressions, they are the pure sentiments of the heart of him who is with all imaginable regard and due respect, &c.
N. B.—I herewith have enclosed for your Excellency’s perusal a copy of the Summons from the French officers, and also the Indian’s speech which was delivered to and brought by Mr. Ward.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Will’s Creek, 15 April, 1754.
Captain Trent’s ensign, Mr. Ward, has this day arrived from the Fork of the Monongahela, and brings the disagreeable account, that the fort, on the 17th instant, was surrendered at the summons of Monsieur Contrecœur to a body of French, consisting of upwards of one thousand men, who came from Venango with eighteen pieces of cannon, sixty batteaux, and three hundred canoes. They gave him liberty to bring off all his men and working-tools, which he accordingly did the same day.1
Immediately upon this information I called a council of war, to advise on proper measures to be taken in this exigency. A copy of their resolves, with the proceedings, I herewith enclose by the bearer, whom I have continued express to your Honor for more minute intelligence.
Mr. Ward has the summons with him, and a speech from the Half-King, which I also enclose, with the wampum. He is accompanied by one of the Indians mentioned therein, who were sent to see where we were, what was our strength, and to know the time to expect us out. The other young man I have prevailed upon to return to the Half-King with the following speech:
“Sachems, Warriors of the Six United Nations, Shawanese, and Delawares, our friends and brethren. I received your speech by the Buck’s brother [Mr. Ward], who came to us with the two young men five sleeps after leaving you. We return you thanks from hearts glowing with affection for your steadfast adherence to us, for your kind speech, and for your wise counsels and directions to the Buck’s brother.
“The young man will inform you where he met a small part of our army advancing towards you, clearing the road for a great number of our warriors, who are immediately to follow with our great guns, our ammunition, and our provisions.
“I could not delay to let you know our hearts, and have sent back one of the young men with this speech to acquaint you with them. I have sent the other, according to your desire, to the governor of Virginia, with the Buck’s brother, to deliver your speech and wampum, and to be an eyewitness of the preparations we are making to come in haste to support you, whose interest is as dear to us as our lives. We resent the usage of the treacherous French, and our conduct will henceforth plainly show you how much we have it at heart.
“I cannot be easy without seeing you before our forces meet at the fork of the roads, and therefore I have the greatest desire that you and Escruniat, or one of you, should meet me on the road as soon as possible to assist us in council.
“To assure you of the good will we bear you, and to confirm the truth of what has been said, I herewith present to you a string of wampum, that you may thereby remember how much I am your brother and friend.”1
I hope my proceedings in these affairs will be satisfactory to your Honor, as I have, to the utmost of my knowledge, consulted the interest of the expedition and good of my country; whose rights, while they are asserted in so just a cause, I will defend to the last remains of life.
Hitherto the difficulties I have met with in marching have been greater than I expect to encounter on the Ohio, when possibly I may be surrounded by the enemy, and these difficulties have been occasioned by those, who, had they acted as becomes every good subject, would have exerted their utmost abilities to forward our just designs. Out of seventy-four wagons impressed at Winchester, we got but ten after waiting a week, and some of those so badly provided with teams, that the soldiers were obliged to assist them up the hills, although it was known they had better teams at home. I doubt not that in some points I may have strained the law; but I hope, as my sole motive was to expedite the march, I shall be supported in it, should my authority be questioned, which at present I do not apprehend, unless some busybody intermeddles.1
Your Honor will see by the resolves in council, that I am destined to the Monongahela with all the diligent despatch in my power. We will endeavour to make the road sufficiently good for the heaviest artillery to pass, and, when we arrive at Red-stone Creek, fortify ourselves as strongly as the short time will allow. I doubt not that we can maintain a possession there, till we are reinforced, unless the rising of the waters shall admit the enemy’s cannon to be conveyed up in canoes, and then I flatter myself we shall not be so destitute of intelligence, as not to get timely notice of it, and make a good retreat.
I hope you will see the absolute necessity for our having, as soon as our forces are collected, a number of cannon, some of heavy metal, with mortars and grenadoes, to attack the French, and put us on an equal footing with them.
Perhaps it may also be thought advisable to invite the Cherokees, Catawbas, and Chickasaws to march to our assistance, as we are informed that six hundred Chippewas and Ottawas are marching down Scioto Creek to join the French, who are coming up the Ohio. In that case I would beg leave to recommend their being ordered to this place first, that a peace may be concluded between them and the Six Nations; for I am informed by several persons that, as no good harmony subsists between them, their coming first to the Ohio may create great disorders, and turn out much to our disadvantage.
As I had opportunities I wrote to the governors of Maryland and Pennsylvania, acquainting them with these advices, and enclosed the summons and Indian speech, which I hope you will not think me too forward in doing. I considered that the Assembly of Maryland was to sit in five days, that the Pennsylvania Assembly is now sitting, and that, by giving timely notice, something might be done in favor of this expedition, which now requires all the force we can muster.
By the best information I can get, I much doubt whether any of the Indians will be in to treat in May. Are the Indian women and children, if they settle amongst us, to be maintained at our expense? They will expect it.1
This day, arrived the Men belonging to Captain Trent who by your Orders had been inlisted as Militia-Troops; the Officers having imprudently promised them Two Shillings per Day, they now refuse to serve for less Pay; Ward shall receive your Orders on that Head.
April 28. Some Pieces of Cannon reached us, which were taken to the Mouth of Patterson’s River.
[From the 29th of April to the 11th of May, the Journal deals only with Marches, and matters of little Consequence.]
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Little Meadows, 9 May, 1754.
I acquainted you by Mr. Ward with the determination, which we prosecuted in four days after his departure, as soon as wagons arrived to carry our provisions. The want of proper conveyances has much retarded this expedition, and at this time unfortunately delay’d the detachment I have the honour to command. Even when we came to Will’s Creek, my disappointments were not less than before; for there I expected to have found a sufficient number of packhorses provided by Captain Trent, conformable to his promise [in reply] to Major Carlyle’s letters and my own, (that I might prosecute my First intention with light, expeditious marches;) but instead of that, there was none in readiness, nor any in expectation that I could perceive, which reduced me to the necessity of waiting till wagons could be procured from the Branch, (forty miles distant.) However, in the mean time, I detached a party of sixty men to make and amend the road, which party since ye 25th of April, and the main body since the 1st instant, have been laboriously employed, and have got no further than these Meadows, about twenty miles from the new Store, where we have been two days making a bridge across, and are not done yet.
The great difficulty and labor, that it requires to amend and alter the road, prevents our marching above 2, 3, or 4 miles a day; and I fear, (tho no diligence shall be neglected,) we shall be detained some considerable time before it can be made good for the carriage of the artillery with Colonel Fry.
We daily receive intelligence from Ohio by one or other of the traders, that are continually retreating to the inhabitants with their effects. They all concur, that ye French are reinforced with 800 men; and this day, by one Kalender, I received an account, which he sets forth as certain, that there is 600 men building at the Falls of Ohio, from whence they intend to move up to the lower Shawnee Town, at ye mouth of Sciodo Creek, to erect other fortresses. He likewise says, that these forces at ye Forks are erecting their works with their whole force; and as he was coming met at Mr. Gist’s new settlement Monsieur La Force with 4 soldiers, who, under the specious pretence of hunting deserters, were reconnoitering and discovering ye country. He also brings ye agreeable news, that the Half-King has received, and is much pleased with, the speech I sent them, and is now upon their march with 50 men to meet us. The French down the river are sending presents and invitations to all the neighbouring Indians, and practising every means to influence them in their interest.
We have heard nothing from the Catawbas, or any of the Southern Indians, tho this is the time we mostly need their assistance. I have not above 160 effective men with me, since Captain Trent’s have left us, who I discharged from this detachment, and ordered them to wait your Honour’s command at Captain Trent’s; for I found them rather injurious to ye other men, than serviceable to ye expedition, till they could be upon the same establishment with us, and come under the regt. of the martial law.
May the 11th. I Detached a Party of Twenty-five Men, commanded by Captain Stephen and Ensign Peyronie, with Orders to go to Mr. Gist’s, to enquire exactly where La Force, and his Party were; and in case they were in the Neighborhood, to cease pursuit and protect themselves. I also ordered them to examine closely all the Woods round about, and should they find any Frenchman apart from the rest, to try to capture him and bring him in, that we might obtain intelligence: to make careful inquiry if it was Possible to descend by Water; as also to find out some convenient Place near the Mouth of Red-Stone Creek, where we could build a Fort; to salute the Half-King; and to send him back under a small Guard; as also to enquire what were the Views and designs of the French; what they had done, and what they intended to do, and to collect every Thing, which could give us the least Intelligence.
The 12th. Broke camp, and went on a rising Ground, where we halted to dry ourselves, for we had been obliged to ford a rapid where our shortest Men had Water up to their Arm-pits.
An Express came in with Letters acquainting us that Colonel Fry with a Detachment of more than One Hundred Men was at Winchester, and was to set out in a few Days to join us; as also that Colonel Innes was marching with Three Hundred and Fifty Men, raised in Carolina; that it was expected Maryland would raise Two Hundred Men, and that Pennsylvania had raised Ten Thousand Pounds, (equal to about Fifty-two Thousand Five Hundred Livres) to pay the Soldiers of other Colonies, as that Province could furnish no recruits; and that Governor Shirley had sent Six Hundred Men to harrass the French in Canada; I hope that will give them some Work to do, and will moderate their zeal in sending so many Men to the Ohio.
The 16th. Met two Traders, who told us they were retiring for fear of the French, as Parties of them were often seen around Mr. Gist’s. These Traders are of Opinion, as well as many others, that it is not possible to clear a road for any loaded wagon to go from hence to Red-Stone-Creek.
The 17th. This evening Mr. Ward, arrived with the young Indian returning from Williamsburg, and delivered me a Letter, wherein the Governor is so good as to approve of my Proceedings, but is much displeased with Captain Trent, and has ordered him to be tried, for leaving his Men at the Ohio; with these orders the Governor also informs me that Captain Mackay, with an Independent Company of One Hundred Men, besides the Officers, had arrived, and that we might expect them daily; and that the Men from New York would join us within ten Days.1
This evening also came two Indians from the Ohio, who had left the French Fort five Days ago: They relate that the French Forces are all employed in building their Fort, which is already Breast-high, and the Thickness of two fathoms, and filled up with Earth and Stone, &c. They have cut down and burnt all the Trees which were about it, and sown Grain in their place. They say themselves they are Eight Hundred. The Indians believe there were only Six Hundred in Number. They expect a greater Number in a few Days; which will make them One Thousand Six Hundred strong, and then, they say, they can defy the English.
The 18th. The Waters continuing very high, hindered me from marching my men and Baggage, which determined me to place myself in a Posture of Defence against any immediate Attack from the Enemy, and to go myself down to observe the river.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Great Crossing of the Youghiogany, 18 May, 1754.
I received your Honor’s favor by Mr. Ward, who arrived here last night, just as two Indians from the Ohio did; which Indians contradict the report of the French having received reinforcements, though they agree that eight hundred men are very shortly expected. Those that are there are busily employed in erecting the fort, which they have removed to the point I recommended for the country’s use, whose walls they have now made two fathoms thick, and have raised it breast high.
They are daily sending scouts out, some of which about five days ago was seen within six or seven miles of our camp; but as I did not receive timely notice of it, they have escaped, unless they have fallen in with a party sent out about 8 days ago to Red-stone [Creek], to reconnoitre the country thereabouts, and to get intelligence of the motions of the French.
It is imagined the Half-King will be here in two or three days, but to hurry him I have sent the Indian, that came up with Mr. Ward, with a short speech, acquainting him with my desire of his coming as expeditiously as possible, to receive the speech which your Honour sent by Mr. Ward, and that Colonel Fry wrote me I was to deliver. When he arrives I will endeavour to send him on [to] meet your Honour at Winchester.
These Indians, and all the traders that I have been able to get any information from, of late, agree, that it is almost impracticable to open a road that a wagon can pass from this to Red-stone Creek. But most of them assure me, that, (except one place,) water carriage may be had down this river, which will be a most advantageous discovery if it proves so, as it will save 40 miles’ land carriage over almost impassable roads and mountains. The water is now so high, that we cannot possibly cross over with our men, which likewise secures us from any immediate attacks of the enemy. Therefore I have resolved to go down the river to this fall, which is at the Turkey Foot, to inform myself concerning the nature and difficulty attending this fall. In order thereto I have provided a canoe, and shall, with an officer and 5 men, set out upon this discovery to-morrow morning.
Captain Trent’s men, who by their refractory behaviour did oblige me to separate them from the other soldiers, have now left the New Store and dispersed, contrary to my positive orders till they received your Honour’s commands.
As I shall have frequent communications with the Indians, which is of no effect without wampum, I hope your Honour will order some to be sent. Indeed, we ought to have spirit, and many other things of this sort, which is always expected by every Indian that brings a message, or good report. Also the chiefs, who visit and converse in council, look for it. If it would not be thought too bold in me, I would recommend some of the treaty goods being sent for that purpose with or after Colonel Fry. This is the method the French pursue, and a trifle judiciously bestowed, and in season, may turn to our advantage. If I find this river is navigable, I am convinced it can but be agreeable to your Honour, building canoes in order to convey our artillery down. As the road to this place is made as good as it can be, having spent much time and great labor upon it, I believe wagons may travel now with 1500 or 1800 weight on them, by doubling the teams at one or two pinches only.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Great Crossing of the Youghiogany, 18 May, 1754.
I am heartily concerned, that the officers have such real cause to complain of the Committee’s resolves; and still more to find my inclinations prone to second their just grievances.
I have endeavoured, as far as I was able, to see in the best light I could the trifling advantages that may accrue; yet nothing prevents their throwing down their commissions (with gratitude and thanks to your Honor, whose good intentions of serving us we are all well assured of,) but the approaching danger, which has too far engaged their honor to recede till other officers are sent in their room, or an alteration made regarding their pay, during which time they will assist with their best endeavours voluntarily—that is, without receiving the gratuity allowed by the resolves of the Committee.
Giving up my commission is quite contrary to my intention. Nay, I ask it as a greater favor, than any amongst the many I have received from your Honor, to confirm it to me. But let me serve voluntarily; then I will, with the greatest pleasure in life, devote my services to the expedition without any other reward, than the satisfaction of serving my country; but to be slaving dangerously for the shadow of pay, through woods, rocks, mountains,—I would rather prefer the great toil of a daily laborer, and dig for a maintenance, provided I were reduced to the necessity, than serve upon such ignoble terms; for I really do not see why the lives of his Majesty’s subjects in Virginia should be of less value, than of those in other parts of his American dominions; especially when it is well known, that we must undergo double their hardship.
I could enumerate a thousand difficulties that we have met with, and must expect to meet with, more than other officers who have almost double our pay; but as I know you reflect on these things, and are sensible of the hardships we must necessarily encounter, it would be needless to enlarge.
Besides, as I have expatiated fully (and, perhaps, too warmly) in a letter to Colonel Fairfax, who, I suppose, will accompany you to Winchester, upon the motives that occasion these my resolves, I shall not trouble you with them; for the subject leads me too far when I engage in it.1
Another thing resolved by the Committee is, that only one sergeant and one corporal be allowed to a company; with whom it is as much impossible to do the necessary duty, as it is to conquer kingdoms with my handful of men.
Upon the whole, I find so many clogs upon the expedition, that I quite despair of success; nevertheless, I humbly beg it, as a particular favor, that your Honor will continue me in the post I now enjoy, the duty whereof I will most cheerfully execute as a volunteer, but by no means upon the present pay.
I hope what I have said will not be taken amiss; for I really believe, were it as much in your power, as it is your inclination, we should be treated as gentlemen and officers, and not have annexed to the most trifling pay, that ever was given to English officers, the glorious allowance of soldier’s diet,—a pound of pork, with bread in proportion, per day. Be the consequence what it will, I am determined not to leave the regiment, but to be amongst the last men that quit the Ohio, even if I serve as a private volunteer, which I greatly prefer to the establishment we are now upon. I am, &c.1
The 19th. I dispatched the young Indian who had returned with Mr. Ward, to the Half-King, with the following speech.
TO THE HALF-KING, &C.
It gives me great Pleasure to learn that you are marching to assist me with your Counsels; be of good Courage my Brethren, and march vigorously towards your Brethren the English; for they come with new forces, who will protect you against your treacherous Enemy the French. My Friends whom I send to you will acquaint you of an agreeable Speech which the Governor of Virginia addresses to you: He is very sorry for the bad Usage you have received. The great Waters do not permit us to go as promptly to you as we would; for that reason I have sent the young Man to invite you to come and meet us: He can tell you many Things which he has seen in Virginia, and also how well he was received by the most influential; they did not use them as the French do, your People who go to their Fort; they refuse them Provisions; this Man has had given him, all that his Heart could wish; for the Confirmation of all this, I here give you a Belt of Wampum.
The 20th. Embarked in a Canoe with Lieutenant West, three soldiers, and one Indian; and having followed the river about Half a Mile, we were obliged to come ashore where I met Peter Suver, a Trader, who seemed to discourage me from seeking a Passage by Water; that induced me to alter the intention of building Canoes: I ordered my People to wade, as the Waters were shallow enough; and continued myself down the river; and finding that our Canoes were too small for six Men, we stopped to make some sort of a boat, with which, together with our Canoes, we gained Turkey-Foot (in French, le pied de ginge) by the Beginning of Night. We encountered several little Difficulties about eight or ten Miles from thence, of no great Consequence, finding the Waters sometimes deep enough for Canoes to pass, and at other times more shallow.
The 21st. We passed some time in examining the Place, which we found very convenient for locating a Fort, being at the Mouth of three Branches, and for the most part affording a good foundation of tufa (tuf). The Plan, which may be here seen, is as exact as I could make it without Mathematical Instruments.
We went about two Miles to observe the Course of the River which is very strait, has many Currents, is full of rocks and rapid; we waded it, though the Water was pretty high: which made me think it would not be difficult to pass it with Canoes, which could be done now only with difficulty. Besides this rapid we found others, the Water being more shallow and the Current smoother; we easily passed them; but afterwards we found little or scarce any Bottom: Mountains lie on both Sides of the River. We descended the river about ten Miles, when a great rapid obliged us to stop and to come ashore.
[From the 22d to the 24th, the Journal contains only a description of the country.]
TO COLONEL JOSHUA FRY.
23 May, 1754.
This day I returned from my discoveries down the Youghiogany, which, I am sorry to say, can never be made navigable. We traced the watercourse near thirty miles, with the full expectation of succeeding in the much desired aim; but, at length, we came to a fall, which continued rough, rocky, and scarcely passable, for two miles, and then fell, within the space of fifty yards, nearly forty feet perpendicular.
As I apprehended there would be difficulty in these waters, I sent the soldiers forward upon the road, when I left the camp, which was as soon as they could cross; therefore, no time has been lost; but the roads are so exceedingly bad, that we proceed very slow.
By concurring intelligence, which we received from the Indians, the French are not above seven or eight hundred strong, and by a late account we are informed, that one half of them were detached in the night, without even the Indians’ knowledge, on some secret expedition; but the truth of this, though it is affirmed by an Indian lately from their fort, I cannot yet vouch for, nor tell where they are bound.
I would recommend, in the strongest terms possible, your writing to the Governor for some of the treaty goods, or any others suitable for the Indians. Nothing can be done without them. All the Indians that come expect presents. The French take this method, which proves very acceptable; besides, if you want one or more to conduct a party, to discover the country, to hunt, or for any particular service, they must be bought; their friendship is not so warm, as to prompt them to these services gratis; and that, I believe, every person, who is acquainted with the nature of Indians, knows. The Indian, that accompanied me down the river, would go no further than the Forks, about ten miles, till I promised him a ruffled shirt, which I must take from my own, and a match-coat. He said the French always had Indians to show them the woods, because they paid well for so doing; and this may be laid down as a standing maxim amongst them. I think were the goods sent out, and delivered occasionally, as you see cause, that four or five hundred pounds’ worth would do more good, than as many thousands given at a treaty.
I hope I may be excused for offering my opinions so freely, for I can aver we shall get no intelligence, or other services from them, unless we have goods to apply to these uses. I am, &c.
The 24th. This Morning an Indian arrived in Company with the young Indian I had sent to the Half-King, and brought me the following Letter from him.
To the forist, his Majestie’s Commander offwerses—to hom this may concern:
On acc’t of a french armey to meat Mister Georg Wassionton therfor my Brotheres I deisir you to beawar of them for deisin’d to strik ye forist Englsh they see ten deays since they marchd I cannot tell what nomber the half king and the rest of the chiefs will be with you in five dayes to consel, no more at present but give my serves to my Brothers the English
I examined those two young Indians as best I could, concerning every Circumstance, but they did not give me much information.
They say there are Parties of them often out, but they do not know of any considerable Number coming this Way. The French continue raising their Fort; that Part next to the Land, is very well inclosed, but that next to the Water is much neglected, at least is without any Defence; they have only nine Pieces of Cannon, some of them very small, and not one mounted. There are two on the Point, and the others at some Distance from the Fort on the Land side.
They say that there are many sick among them, that they cannot find any Indians to guide their small Parties towards our Camp, these Indians having refused.
The same Day, at Two o’Clock, we arrived at the Meadows, where we saw a Trader, who told us that he had come that Morning from Mr. Gist’s where he had seen two Frenchmen the Night before; and that he knew there was a strong Detachment on the march, which confirmed the Account we had received from the Half-King: Consequently I placed Troops behind two natural Intrenchments, where I also placed our Waggons.
The 25th. Detached one Party1 to go along the roads, and other small Parties into the Woods, to reconnoitre. I gave the Horse-men Orders to examine the Country well, and endeavour to get some News of the French, of their Forces, and of their movements, &c—
At Night all these Parties returned, without having discovered any Thing, though they had been a great way towards the Place from whence it was said the Party was coming.
The 26th. Arrived William Jenkins. He had come express from Colonel Fry with a Letter from Colonel Fairfax, which informed me, that the Governor himself, as also Colonels Corbin and Ludwell, were arrived at Winchester, and were desirous to see the Half-King there, whereupon I sent him a message.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Great Meadows, 27 May, 1754.
The 25th ultimo, by an express from Colonel Fry, I received ye news of your Honour’s arrival at Winchester, and advice of seeing the Half-King and other chiefs of the 6 Nations. I have by sundry speeches and messages invited him, Monacatoocha, &c, to meet me, and have reason to expect he is on his road, as he only purposed to settle his people to planting, at a place up Yaughyaughgany chosen for the purpose. But fearing something might have retarded his march, I immediately, upon the arrival of the express, despatched a messenger with a speech. He is not return[ed] yet. About four days ago I received a message from ye Half-King of which the following is a copy exactly taken1 :—
* * * * * *
This account was received in the evening by another man. The French were at the Crossing of Youghiogany about eighteen miles distant. I hereupon hurried to this place as a convenient spot. We have, with nature’s assistance, made a good entrenchment, and, by clearing ye bushes out of these Meadows, prepared a charming field for an encounter. I detached, immediately upon my arrival here, small light partys of horse (wagon horses) to reconnoitre the enemy, and discover their strength and motion, who returned yesterday without seeing any thing of them; nevertheless, we were alarmed at night, and remained under arms from two o’clock till near sunrise. We conceive it was our own men, as six of them deserted, but can’t be certain whether it was they or other enemies. Be it as it will, they were fired at by the sentries, but I believe without damage. This morning Mr. Gist arrived from his place, where a detachment of fifty men were seen yesterday at noon, commanded by M. La Force, He afterwards saw these march within five miles of our camp. I immediately detached seventy-five men in pursuit of them, who, I hope, will overtake them before they get to Redstone Creek, where their canoes lie. Mr. Gist being an eye-witness of our proceedings hereupon, and waiting for this without my knowing till just now that he intended to wait upon your Honour, obliges me to refer to him for particulars. As I expect my messenger to-night from the Half-King, I shall write more fully to-morrow by the express that came from Colonel Fry.
But before I conclude, I must take the liberty of mentioning to your Honor the great necessity there is for having goods out here to give for services to the Indians; they are expected, and refuse to scout or do any thing without, saying these services are paid well by the French. I really think were 5 or 600 pounds worth of proper goods sent, it would tend more to our interest than so many thousands given in a lump at a treaty. I have been obliged to pay spirits for what they have already done, which I cannot continue to do.
The numbers of the French have been greatly magnified, as your Honour may see by a copy of the enclosed journal, who I sent out to gain intelligence. I have received letters from the Governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland, copies of which I also send.
P. S. I hope your Honor will excuse the haste with which I was obliged to use in writing this.
The 27th. Mr. Gist arrived early in the Morning, who told us, that Mr. la Force with Fifty Men, whose Tracks he had seen five Miles off, had been at his Plantation the Day before, towards Noon; and would have killed a Cow, and broken every Thing in the House, if two Indians whom he had left in the House, had not perswaded them from their Design; I immmediately detached Sixty-five Men, under Command of Captain Hog, Lieutenant Mercer, Ensign Peyronie, three Sergeants, and three Corporals, with Instructions.
The French enquired at Mr. Gist’s what was become of the Half-King? I did not fail to let the young Indians who were in our Camp know, that the French wanted to kill the Half-King; and that had its desired effect.1 Upon the spot they offered to accompany our People, against the French, and had they found it true that he had been killed, or even insulted by them, one of them would have promptly carried the News to the Mingo Town, and incited their Warriors to fall upon them. One of these young Men was sent towards Mr. Gist’s; and should he not find the Half-King there, he was to send a Message by a Delaware.
About eight at Night, received an Express from the Half-King, which informed me, that as he was coming to join us, he had seen along the Road, the Tracks of two Men, which he had followed, till he was brought to a low obscure Place, where he thought the whole Party of French was hidden: That very Moment I sent out Forty Men, and ordered my Ammunition to be concealed, fearing a Stratagem of the French to attack our Camp. I left a guard to defend it and with the rest of my Men, set out in a heavy rain, and in a Night as dark as Pitch1 ; along a Path scarce broad enough for one Man; we were sometime fifteen or twenty Minutes out of the Path, before we could come to it again, and so dark that we would often strike one against another: All Night long we continued our march, and the 28th, about Sun-rise, we arrived at the Indian Camp, where, after holding a Council with the Half-King, it was concluded to attack them together; so we sent out two Men to discover where they were, and in what position, and what Sort of Ground was thereabout; after which, we formed ourselves for surrounding them and took up our march one after the other, in the Indian Manner; We were advanced pretty near to them, as we thought, when they discovered us; whereupon I ordered my Company to fire, mine was supported by that of Mr. Waggener, and my Company and his, received the whole Fire of the French, during the greatest Part of the Action, which only lasted a Quarter of an Hour, before the enemy was routed.2
We killed Mr. de Jumonville, the Commander of that Party, with nine others; we wounded one, and made Twenty-one Prisoners, among whom were M. la Force, M. Drouillon, and two Cadets. The Indians scalped the Dead, and took most of their Arms, after which we marched with the Prisoners and the Guard, to the Indian Camp, where again I held a Council with the Half-King; and there informed him, that the Governor was desirous to see him, and was waiting for him at Winchester. He answered that, he could not go just then, as his People were in too imminent a Danger from the French, whom they had just attacked; that he must send Messengers to all the allied Nations, inviting them to take up the Hatchet. He sent a young Delaware Indian to the Delaware Nation, and gave him also a French Scalp to carry to them. This Man wished to have a Part of the Presents which were allotted for them, and that the remaining Part might be kept for another Opportunity. He proposed to go to his own Family, and to several others, and conduct them to Mr. Gist’s, where he desired Men and Horses should be sent to aid them to reach our Camp. After this I marched on with the Prisoners. They had informed me that they had been sent with a Summons to order me to depart—a plausible Pretence to discover our Camp, and to obtain a Knowledge of our Forces and our Situation! It was so clear that they were come to reconnoitre, that I admired at their Assurance, in telling me that they were come as an Embassy; for their Instructions mentioned that they should get what Knowledge they could of the Roads, Rivers, and of all the Country as far as Potowmack. And instead of coming as an Embassador, publicly, and in an open Manner, they came most secretly, and sought after the most hidden Retreats, more fit for Deserters than an Embassador; in such retreats they encamped, and remained hid for whole Days together, being no more than five Miles from us. From thence they sent spies to reconnoitre our Camp; the whole Force retraced their steps two Miles; they sent the two Messengers spoken of in the Instruction, to acquaint M. de Contrecœur of the Place we were in, and of our Disposition, that he might send his Detachments to inforce the Summons as soon as it should be given.
Besides, it was a suite worthy of a Prince that this Ambassador had; whereas he was merely a petty French Officer; an Embassador has no Need of Spies, his Character being always sacred: And since their Intention was so good, why did they tarry two Days, five Miles from us, without acquainting me with the Summons, or at least, with something that related to the Embassy? That alone would be sufficient to raise the strongest Suspicions, and we ought to do them the Justice to say, that wishing to hide themselves, they could not pick out better Places than they had done.
The Summons is so insolent, and savors so much of Gasconnade, that had it been brought openly by two Men, it was too great an Indulgence to have suffered them to return.
It was the Opinion of the Half-King in this Case that their Intentions were evil, and that it was a pure Pretence; that they never intended to come to us but as Enemies; and if we had been so Foolish as to let them go, they would never help us more to take other Frenchmen.
They pretend they called to us as soon as they had discovered us; it is absolutely False, for I was then marching at the Head of the Company, and can positively affirm, that, as soon as they saw us, they ran to their Arms, without calling; as I must have heard them had they so done.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
From our Camp at the Great Meadows, 29 May, 1754.
In answering your Honor’s letter of ye 25th by Mr. Burney,1 I shall begin with assuring you, that nothing was farther from my intention than to recede, tho I then pressed, and still desire, that my services may be voluntary, rather than on the present pay. I am much concerned, that your Honour should seem to charge me with ingratitude for your generous, and my undeserved favours; for I assure you, Hon’ble Sir, nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude, I retain a true sense of your kindnesses, and want nothing but opportunity to give testimony of my willingness to oblige, as far as my life or fortune will extend.
I could not object to the pay before I knew it. I dare say your Honour remembers, the first estimation allowed a lieutenant-colonel, 15 shillings, and a major 12s. 6d., which I then complained very much of, till your Honour assured me that we were to be furnished with proper necessary, and offered that as a reason why the pay was less than British.1 After this, when you were so kind [as] to prefer me to the command I now have, and at the same time acquainted me, that I was to have but 12s. 6d., this, with some other reasons, induced me to acquaint Colonel Fairfax with my intention of resigning, which he must well remember, as it happened at Bellhaven2 ; and [it] was there that he dissuaded me from it, and promised to represent the trifling pay to your Honour, who would endeavour (as I at the same time told him that the Speaker thought the officers’ pay too small) to have it enlarged.
As to the numbers that applied for commissions, and to whom we were preferred, I believe, had those gentlemen been as knowing of this country, and as sensible of the difficulties that would attend a campaign here as I then was, I conceive your Honour would not have been so troublesomely solicited as you were. Yet I do not offer this as a reason for quitting the service. For my own part I can answer, I have a constitution hardy enough to encounter and undergo the most severe trials, and, I flatter myself, resolution to face what any man durst, as shall be proved when it comes to the test, which I believe we are on the borders of.
There is nothing, Sir (I believe), more certain than that the officers on the Canada expedition had British pay allowed, whilst they were in the service.1 Lieutenant Waggener, Captain Trent, and several others, whom I have conversed with on the head, and who were engaged in it, affirm it for truth. Therefore, Honble. Sir, as this can’t be allowed, suffer me to serve as a volunteer, which, I assure you, will be the next reward to British pay; for, as my services, so far as I have knowledge, will equal those of the best officer, I make it a point of honor [not] to serve for less, and accept a medium. Nevertheless, I have communicated your Honor’s sentiments to them, and, as far as I could put on the hypocrite, set forth the advantages that may accrue, and advised them to accept the terms, as a refusal might reflect dishonor on their character, leaving it to the world to assign what reasons they please for their quitting the service. I am very sensible of the pernicious consequences that will attend their resigning, as they have by this gained some experience of the military art, have a tolerable knowledge of the country, being sent, most of them, out at different times with parties, and are now accustomed to the hardships and fatigues of living as we do, which, I believe, were it truly stated, would prevent your Honour from many troublesome solicitations from others for commissions. This last motive has and will induce me to do what I can to reconcile matters, tho I really believe there are some, that will not remain long without an alteration. They have promised to consider of it, and give your Honour an answer. I was not ignorant of the allowance which Colonel Fry1 has for his table; but being a dependent there myself, deprived me of the pleasure of inviting an officer, or friend, which to me would be more agreeable, than the nick-nacks I shall meet with there.
And here I cannot forbear answering one thing more in your Honour’s letter on this head, which, (too,) is more fully expressed in a paragraph of Colonel Fairfax’s to me, as follows;—“If, on the British establishment, officers are allowed more pay, the regimentals they are obliged annually to furnish, their necessary table and other incidents being considered, little or no savings will be their portion.”
I believe it is well known we have been at the expense of regimentals, and it is still better known, that regimentals, and every other necessary, that we were under an indispensable necessity of purchasing for this expedition, were not to be bought for less Virginia currency, than British officers could get for sterling money; which they ought to have been, to put upon a parity in this respect. Then Colonel Fairfax observes that their table and other incident charges prevent them from saving much. If they don’t save much they have the enjoyment of their pay, which we neither have in one sense nor the other. We are debarred the pleasure of good living; which, Sir, (I dare say with me you will concur,) to one who has always been used to it, must go somewhat hard to be confined to a little salt provision and water, and do duty, hard, laborious duty, that is almost inconsistent with that of a soldier, and yet the same reductions as if we were allowed luxuriously. My pay, according to the British establishment and common exchange, is near 22s per day; in the room of that ye Committee (for I can’t in ye least imagine your Honour had any hand in it) has provided 12s 6d, so long as ye service requires me, whereas one half of ye other is ascertained to British officers forever. Now if we should be fortunate enough to drive the French from Ohio, as far as your Honour would please to have them sent to, in any short time, our pay will not be sufficient to discharge our first expenses.
I would not have your Honour imagine from this, that I have said all these things to have the pay increased, but to justify myself, and shew your Honour that our complaints are not frivolous, but are founded upon strict reason. For my own part, it is a matter almost indifferent whether I serve for full pay, or as a generous volunteer. Indeed, did my circumstances correspond with my inclination, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter; for the motives that lead me here were pure and noble; I had no view of acquisition, but that of honour, by serving faithfully my king and country.
As your Honour has recommended Mr. Willis, you may depend I shall with pleasure do all that I can for him. But above all, Sir, you may depend, I shall take all possible means of procuring intelligence, and guarding against surprises; and be assured nothing but very unequal numbers shall engage me to submit or retreat. Now, Sir, as I have answered your Honour’s letter, I shall beg leave to acquaint you with what has happened since I wrote by Mr. Gist. I then acquainted you, that I had detached a party of seventy-five men to meet fifty of the French, who, we had intelligence, were upon their march towards us, to reconnoitre, and that about nine o’clock the same night, I received an express from the Half-King, who was encamped with several of his people, about six miles off, that he had seen the tracks of two Frenchmen crossing the road, and believed the whole body were lying not far off, as he had an account of that number passing Mr. Gist’s.
I set out with forty men before ten, and [it] was from that time till near sunrise before we reached the Indians’ camp, having marched in [a] small path, through a heavy rain, and night as dark as it is possible to conceive. We were frequently tumbling one over another, and often so lost, that fifteen or twenty minutes’ search would not find the path again.
When we came to the Half-King, I counselled with him, and got his assent to go hand-in-hand and strike the French. Accordingly, himself, Monacatoocha, and a few other Indians set out with us; and when we came to the place where the tracks were, the Half-King sent two Indians to follow their tracks, and discover their lodgement, which they did about half a mile from the road, in a very obscure place surrounded with rocks. I thereupon, in conjunction with the Half-King and Monacatoocha, formed a disposition to attack them on all sides, which we accordingly did, and, after an engagement of about fifteen minutes, we killed ten, wounded one, and took twenty-one prisoners. Amongst those that were killed was Monsieur Jumonville, the commander; principal officers taken is Monsieur Drouillon and Mons’r La Force, who your Honour has often heard me speak of as a bold enterprising man, and a person of great subtlety and cunning. With these are two cadets.1 These officers pretend they were coming on an embassy; but the absurdity of this pretext is too glaring, as your Honour will see by the Instructions and Summons enclosed. These instructions were to reconnoitre the country, roads, creeks, &c., to Potomack, which they were about to do. These enterprising men were purposely choose out to get intelligence, which they were to send back by some brisk despatches, with mention of the day that they were to serve the summons; which could be through no other view, than to get a sufficient reinforcement to fall upon us immediately after. This, with several other reasons, induced all the officers to believe firmly, that they were sent as spies, rather than any thing else, and has occasioned my sending them as prisoners, tho they expected, or at least had some faint hope, of being continued as ambassadors. They, finding where we were encamped, instead of coming up in a publick manner, sought out one of the most secret retirements, fitter for a deserter than an ambassador to encamp in, stayed there two or 3 days, sent spies to reconnoitre our camp, as we are told, tho they deny it. Their whole body moved back near 2 miles, sent off two runners to acquaint Contrecœur with our strength, and where we were encamped, &c. Now 36 men would almost have been a retinue for a princely ambassador, instead of a petit. Why did they, if their designs were open, stay so long within 5 miles of us, without delivering his ambassy, or acquainting me with it? His waiting could be with no other design, than to get [a] detachment to enforce the summons, as soon as it was given. They had no occasion to send out spies, for the name of ambassador is sacred among all nations; but it was by the track of these spies, that they were discovered, and we got intelligence of them. They would not have retired two miles back without delivering the summons, and sought a skulking-place (which, to do them justice, was done with great judgment), but for some special reason. Besides, the summons is so insolent, and savors so much of gascoigny, that if two men only had come openly to deliver it, it was too great indulgence to have sent them back.
The sense of the Half-King on this subject is, that they have bad hearts, and that this is a mere pretence; they never designed to have come to us but in a hostile manner, and if we were so foolish as let them go again, he never would assist us in taking another of them. Besides, loosing La Force, I really think, would lead more to our disservice, than 50 other men, as he is a person whose active spirit leads him into all parleys, and brought him acquainted with all parts, add to this a perfect use of the Indian tongue, and ye influence with the Indians. He ingeniously enough confessed, that, as soon as he saw the commission and instructions, that he believed,1 and then said he expected some such tendency, tho he pretends to say he does not believe the commander had any other but a good design. In this engagement we had only one man killed and two or three wounded, among which was Lieutenant Waggener slightly,—a most miraculous escape, as our right wing was much exposed to their fire and received it all.2 The Half-King received your Honour’s speech very kind, but desired me to inform you, that he could not leave his people at this time, thinking them in great danger. He is now gone to the Crossing for their families, to bring to our camp; and desired I would send some men and horses to assist them up, which I have accordingly done; sent 30 men and upwards of twenty horses. He says, if your Honour has any thing to say, you may communicate by me, &c., and that, if you have a present for them, it may be kept to another occasion, after sending up some things for their immediate use. He has declared to [me he would] send these Frenchmen’s scalps, with a hatchet, to all the nations of Indians in union with them, and did that very day give a hatchet, and a large belt of wampum, to a Delaware man to carry to Shingiss. He promised me to send down the river for all the Mingoes and Shawanese to our camp, where I expect him to-morrow with thirty or forty men, with their wives and children. To confirm what he has said here, he has sent your Honor a string of wampum.
As these runners went off to the fort on Sunday last,1 I shall expect every hour to be attacked, and by unequal numbers, which I must withstand if there are five to one; or else I fear the consequence will be, that we shall lose the Indians, if we suffer ourselves to be drove back. I despatched an express immediately to Colonel Fry with this intelligence, desiring him to send reinforcements with all imaginable despatch.2
Your Honor may depend I will not be surprised, let them come at what hour they will; and this is as much as I can promise. But my best endeavours shall not be wanting to deserve more. I doubt not, but if you hear I am beaten, but you will, at the same [time,] hear that we have done our duty, in fighting as long [as] there was a possibility of hope.
I have sent Lieutenant West, accompanied with Mr. Splitdorph and a guard of 20 men, to conduct the prisoners in, and I believe the officers have acquainted him what answer to return your Honour. Monsieur La Force and Monsieur Drouillon beg to be recommended to your Honour’s notice, and I have promised they will meet with all the favour due to imprisoned officers. I have show’d all the respect I could to them here, and have given some necessary cloathing, by which I have disfurnished myself; for, having brought no more than two or three shirts from Will’s Creek, that we might be light, I was ill provided to furnish them. I am, &c.
P. S. I have neither seen nor heard any particular account of the Twigtwees since I came on these waters. We have already begun a palisadoed fort, and hope to have it up to-morrow. I must beg leave to acquaint your Honour, that Captain Vanbraam and Ensign Peyrouny has behaved extremely well since they came out, and I hope will meet with your Honour’s favor.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Since writing my last I have still stronger presumption, indeed almost confirmation, that they were sent as spies, and were ordered to wait near us, till they were truly informed of our intentions, situation, and strength, and were to have acquainted their commander therewith, and to have lain lurking here for reinforcements before they served the summons, if served at all.
I doubt not but they will endeavour to amuse you with many smooth stories, as they did me; but they were confuted in them all, and, by circumstances too plain to be denied, almost made ashamed of their assertions. I dare say you will treat them with respect, which is due to all unfortunate persons in their condition. But I hope you will give no ear to what they will have an opportunity for displaying to the best advantage, having none present to contradict their reports.
I have heard, since they went away, that they should say they called to us not to fire; but that I know to be false, for I was the first man that approached them, and the first whom they saw, and immediately upon it they ran to their arms, and fired briskly till they were defeated.1
We have heard of another being killed by the Indians, that made his escape from us; so that we are certain of thirty-three killed and taken.2 I thought it expedient to acquaint your Honor with the above, as I fancy they will have the assurance of asking the privileges due to an embassy, when in strict justice they ought to be hanged as spies of the worst sort, being authorized by their commander, at the expense of a character, which should be sacred to all nations, and never trifled with or used in an equivocal way. I am, &c.
The 29th. Dispatched Ensign Latour to the Half-King, with about Twenty-five Men, and almost as many Horses; and as I expected some French Parties would continually follow that which we had defeated, I sent an Express to Colonel Fry for a Reinforcement.
After this the French Prisoners desired to speak with me, and asked me in what Manner I looked upon them, whether as the Attendants of an Embassador, or as Prisoners of War: I answered them that it was in the Quality of the Latter, and gave them my Reasons for it, as above.
The 30th. Detached Lieutenant West,1 and Mr. Splitdorph, to take the Prisoners to Winchester, with a Guard of twenty Men.
Began to raise a Fort with small Pallisadoes, fearing that when the French should hear the News of that Defeat, we might be attacked by considerable Forces.
TO HIS BROTHER.
Camp atGreat Meadow, 31 May, 1754.
Since my last we arrived at this place, where three days ago we had an engagement with the French, that is, a party of our men with one of theirs. Most of our men were out upon other detachments, so that I had scarcely 40 men remaining under my command, and about 10 or 12 Indians; nevertheless we obtained a most signal victory. The battle lasted about 10 or 13 minutes, with sharp firing on both sides, till the French gave ground and ran, but to no great purpose. There were 12 of the French killed, among whom was Mons. de Jumonville, their commander, and 21 taken prisoners, among whom are Mess. La Force and Drouillon, together with two cadets. I have sent them to his honour the Governor, at Winchester, under a guard of 20 men, conducted by Lieutenant West. We had but one man killed, and two or three wounded. Among the wounded on our side was Lieutenant Waggener, but no danger, it is hoped, will ensue. We expect every hour to be attacked by superior force, but, if they forbear one day longer, we shall be prepared for them. We have already got entrenchments, and are about a pallisado, which I hope will be finished to-day. The Mingoes have struck the French and I hope will give a good blow before they have done. I expect 40 odd of them here to-night, which, with our fort and some reinforcements from Col. Fry, will enable us to exert our noble courage with spirit.
P. S. I fortunately escaped without any wound, for the right wing, where I stood, was exposed to and received all the enemy’s fire, and it was the part where the man was killed, and the rest wounded. I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.1
June the 1st. Arrived here an Indian Trader with the Half-King: They said that when Mr. de Jumonville was sent here, another Party had been detached towards the lower Part of the River, in order to take and kill all the English they should meet.
We are finishing our Fort.
Towards Night arrived Ensign Towers, with the Half-King, Queen Aliquippa, and about Twenty-five or Thirty Families, making in all about Eighty or One Hundred Persons, including Women and Children. The old King, being invited to come in to our Tents, told me that he had sent Monacatoocha to Log’s-Town, with Wampum, and four French scalps, which were to be sent to the Six Nations, to the Wyandotts, &c. to inform them that they had attacked the French, and to demand their Assistance to maintain the first advantage.
He also told me he had something to say at the Council, but would stay till the Arrival of the Shawanese whom we expected next Morning.
The 2d. Arrived two or three Families of the Shawanese and Loups: We had Prayers in the Fort.
The 3d. The Half-King assembled the Council, and in formed me that he had received a Speech from the Big Kettle (Grand-Chaudiere)1 in Answer to the one he had sent him.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
From our Camp, June 3, 1754.
The Half-King, with about 25 Familys, cont’g near 80 persons, including women and children, arriv’d here last night. He has given me some acc’t of the Twigtwees, Wyandotts and several other Nations of Indians, which I have transmitted to your Honour by an express, as you enquir’d circumstantially in your last, and I was then unable to give any account at all of them.
The French, early in the spring, sent a speech to the Wyandotts, Twigtwees, and their Allies, and desired them to take up the Hatchet and start to Ohio, and there cut of[f] the Inhabitants with all the English thereon. This the Big Kettle acquainted the Half-King with, and at the same time assur’d him with their good intentions of assisting the 6 Nations and their Brothers, the English, ag’t the French, and that they only waited to see us begin.1 I have enclosed the speech of the Chiefs, to which was added another from the Warriors, informing that they were busy in councilling with the Chippeways, Ottoways, &c., and striving to bring all into the same mind with themselves. They desire the 6 Nations, Virginians and Pennsylvanians, not to doubt but that they shall accomplish their designs in this, and when they do, [I] will send word thereof.
Monacatoocha was sent by the Half-King ab’t 5 nights ago to the Logs Town, with 4 French scalps, two of which was to be sent to the Wyandotts, &c., and the other two to the 6 Nations, telling them that the French had tricked them out of their lands, for which, with their Brothers, the English, who joyn’d hand in hand, they had let them feel the wait of their Hatchet, which was but trifling yet, as it only lay’d on 30, for that they int’d with their Brothers to drive the French beyond the Lakes. Monacatoocha has orders to draw all the Indians from Ohio, and then repair to our Camp.
I proposed to the Half-King sending their women and children into the Inhabitants, for, as they must be supported by us, it may be done at less expense there than here; besides this, there may another good attend it, their children may imbibe the principles of love and friendship in a stronger degree, which, if taken when young, is generally more firm and lasting. He told me he would consider of it, and give answer when Monacatoocha arrived. I hope this will be agreeable to your Honour, who I wrote to before on this head without receiv’g an answer. We find it very difficult procuring provisions for them, as they [share] equally with our own men, which is unavoidable witho’t turning them adrift entirely.
Montour would be of singular use to me here at this moment, in conversing with the Indians, for I have no persons that I can put any dependence in. I make use of all the influence I can to engage them warmly on our side, and flatter myself that I am not unsuccessful, but for want of a better acquaintance with their customs I am often at a loss how to behave, and should be relieved from many anxious fears of offend’g them if Montour was here to assist me; and as he is in the governm’nt’s employ’t I hope your Hon’r will think with me, his services cannot be apply’d to so g’t advantage as here upon this occasion.1
There was 3 French Deserters, met a few days [ago] (one an Englishman) at Loyal henning,1 going to Virg’a, by one Crawford, a Man of veracity, who was assur’d by them, that there was two Major Traders confined in Irons at the Fort when Sieur De Jumonville was detached; and at the same time that he departed for this, another Party of 50 was sent down Ohio to kill or take Prisoners of all the English they’d meet with. They also assure us that Jumonville has all chosen Men fixed upon for this Enterprise. They likewise confirm the report the Prisoners gave, that 1,100 men were now in the Fort, and Reinforce’ts expected.
If the whole Detach’t of the French behave with no more Resolution than this chosen Party did, I flatter myself we shall have no g’t trouble in driving them to the d— Montreal. Tho’ I took 40 Men under my com’d when I marched out, yet the darkness of the night was so great, that by wandering a little from the main body 7 were lost, and but 33 ingag’d. There was also but 7 Indians with arms, two of which were Boys,—one Dinwiddie, your Honor’s God Son, who behav’d well in action. There were 5 or 6 other Indians, who served to knock the poor, unhappy wounded in the head, and bereiv’d them of their scalps. So that we had but 40 men, with which we tried and took 32 or 3 men, besides others who may have escaped. One, we have certain acc’t did.
We have just finish’d a small pallisado’d Fort, in which, with my small numbers, I shall not fear the attack of 500 men.
There is three separate strings of Wampum, which the Half-King has desired me to send. One is from the Wyandott Chiefs, to confirm what they said; another from the Warriors, to confirm theirs; and the other (white) is from Monacatoocha, and since writing the above, there has arrived two Indians from Moskingam, who inform [me] that the Wyandotts, &c, are ready to strike so soon as they hear the 6 Nation’s and English have.
The 5th. Arrived an Indian from the Ohio, who had lately been at the French Fort. This Indian confirms the News of two Traders being taken by the French, and sent to Canada; he said they have set up their Pallisadoes, and enclosed their Fort with exceeding large Trees.
There are eight Indian Families on this side the River, coming to join us: He met one of the French who had made his Escape from the action of M. de Jumonville’s; he was without either Shoes or Stockings, and scarce able to walk; however he let him pass, not knowing we had attacked them.
The 6th. Mr. Gist is returned, and acquaints me of the Death of poor Colonel Fry, of the safe Arrival of the French Prisoners at Winchester, and which gave the Governor great satisfaction.
I am also informed that, Mr. Montour,1 is coming with a Commission to command Two Hundred Indians.
Mr. Gist had met a French Deserter, who assured him, that there were only Five Hundred Men when they took Mr. Ward’s Fort, that they were now less, having sent Fifteen Men to Canada to acquaint the Governor of their Success: That there were yet about Two Hundred Soldiers, who only waited for a favourable Opportunity to come and join us.
The 9th. Arrived the last Body of the Virginia Regiment, under the Command of Colonel Muse, and we learnt that the Independent Company of Carolina was arrived at Wills-Creek.
The 10th. I received the Regiment, and at Night had Notice, that some French were advancing towards us; whereupon I sent a Party of Indians upon the Scout towards Gist’s, in order to discover them, and to know their Number. Just before Night we had an Alarm, but it proved false.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.1
Great Meadows, 10 June, 1754.
Yours of the 1st 2nd and 4th ulto. I received by the post, and return your Honour my hearty thanks for your kind congratulation on our late success, which I hope to improve without risquing the imputation of rashness, or hazarding what a prudent conduct would forbid. I rejoice that I am likely to be happy under the command of an experienced officer, and man of sense.2 It is what I have ardently wished for.3 I shall here beg leave to return my grateful thanks for your favour in promoting me to the command of the regiment. Believe me, Hon’ble Sir, when I assure you, my breast is warmed with every generous sentiment, that your goodness can inspire. I want nothing but opportunity to testifie my sincere regard for your person, to whom I stand indebted for so many unmerited favours.
Your Honour may depend, I shall myself, and will endeavour to make my officers, shew Captain Mackay all the respect due to his rank and merit; but should have been particularly obliged, if your Honour had declared whether he was under my command, or independent of it.1 However, I shall be studious to avoid all disputes that may tend to publick prejudice, but, as far as I am able, will inculcate harmony and unanimity. I hope Captain Mackay will have more sense, than to insist upon any unreasonable distinction tho’ he and his have commissions from his Majesty.2 Let him consider, tho we are greatly inferior in respect to profitable advantages, yet we have the same spirit to serve our gracious King as they have, and are as ready and willing to sacrifice our lives for our country as they. And here, once more, and for the last time, I must say, this will be a cancer that will grate some officers of this regiment beyond all measure, to serve upon such different terms, when their lives, their fortunes, and their characters are equally, and, I dare say, as effectually exposed, as those who are happy enough to have King’s commissions. I have been solicitous on this head, have earnestly endeavoured to reconcile the officers to their appointments, and flatter myself I have succeeded, having heard no mention thereof latterly. I considered the pernicious consequences, that would have attended a disunion, and therefore was too much attached to my country’s interest to suffer it to ripen, after I received your advising letters.
I am very thankful to you for ordering an assortment of Indian goods, which we daily find still more necessary. I shall take care, while they are under my direction, that they are judiciously applied, and shall be particularly careful in consulting Mr. Croghan and Mr. Montour, by whom I shall be advised in all Indian affairs agreeably to your directions.1
I shall with great pleasure wear the medal, which you were pleased to compliment me with, and shall present the others to Indian chiefs, as I have already done one to the Half-King.
Major Muse, with Captain Montour, joined us yesterday, and brought the wampum you sent to the Half-King, which I presented, with the medal and speech. He is very thankful for the notice you have taken of him. Major Muse brought nine of the swivels, with some powder and balls; and this day I have engaged fifty or sixty horses to bring up more of the balls and other stores from Will’s Creek, if there should be no provisions to load them with. The balls are to be brought in leather bags made for the purpose. I hear that Captain Mackay, who was to have brought the artillery, has marched without it, as wagons could not be procured. I shall write to Mr. Gist to procure wagons, if he is obliged to go to Pennsylvania for them, to bring out the artillery, if not, when Colonel Innes comes up we shall have nothing in readiness, and shall let slip this best season for action.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
[June 12, 1754.]1
We have been extremely ill used by Major Carlyle’s deputies, which I am heartily sorry for, since he is a gentleman so capable of the business himself, and has taken so much pains to give satisfaction. He, I believe, has been deceived, and we have suffered by those under him, and by those who have contracted for provisions. We have been six days without flour, and there is none upon the road for our relief that we know of, though I have by repeated expresses given him timely notice. We have not provisions of any sort enough in camp to serve us two days. Once before we should have been four days without provisions, if Providence had not sent a trader from the Ohio to our relief, for whose flour I was obliged to give twenty-one shillings and eight pence per hundred.
In a late letter to Major Carlyle, I have complained of the tardiness of his deputies. I likewise desired, that suitable stores of ammunition might be sent up speedily, for till that is done we have it not in our power to attempt any advantageous enterprise; but must wait its arrival at Red-stone, for which I shall set off the moment provisions arrive to sustain us on the march. Major Carlyle mentioned a contract he had made with Mr. Croghan for flour, likewise Mr. Croghan’s offer of furnishing more if required. I have therefore desired to have all that Mr. Croghan can furnish.
The Indians are drawing off from the River daily, one of whom last night brought news of Monacatoocha. He went from Logstown about five nights ago with the French scalps, and four hatchets, with which he intended to visit the four tribes of Indians between this and Lake Erie, and present to each tribe a scalp and hatchet, and at the same time acquaint them that it was expected, as the English and Six Nations had hand-in-hand struck the French, they would join our forces. This messenger likewise says, that Monacatoocha was determined not only to counsel with the chiefs of those tribes, but with their great warriors also, which is customary in these cases, and was to return as soon as possible, which he imagined would be in fifteen days; but in case he should not return in that time, he left orders for the Indians at Logstown to set off for Red-stone Creek, so that they would all meet at Red-stone to join their brothers the English. He also desired there might be no attack made against the French fort, till he should return, by which time he hoped all the forces would be gathered, and then they would make a general attack together, and gain a complete victory at once.
The Half-King has sent messengers to other places for warriors, who are to meet us also at Red-stone Creek. Besides these, he has sent two messengers, by the advice of Mr. Croghan, Mr. Montour, and myself, one to invite the Shawanese to come and receive one of their men, who was imprisoned in Carolina, and to counsel with us, and the other to the Delawares for the same purpose, as we hear both these nations have accepted the hatchet against us. This report was first brought by an Indian sent from Logstown to the Half-King, and since confirmed by nine French deserters, who arrived at our camp to-day. These men farther say, that the fort at the Fork is completed, and proof against any attempts, but with bombs, on the land side. There were not above five hundred men in it, when they left it, but they suppose by this time two hundred more are arrived. Nine hundred were ordered to follow them, who might be expected in fourteen or fifteen days.
I was as much disappointed when I met these persons to-day, as ever I was in my life. By misunderstanding the scouts that brought me intelligence, that is, mistaking ninety for nine, I marched out at the head of one hundred and thirty men (the major part of the effective men in the regiment), full with the hope of procuring another present of French prisoners for your Honor. Judge then my disappointment at meeting nine only, and those coming for protection. I guarded against all casualties, that might happen to the camp, and ordered Major Muse to repair into the fort, and erect the small swivels for the defence of the place, which he could do in an hour’s time.
Agreeably to your desire I shall here mention the names of the gentlemen, who are to be promoted. Lieutenant George Mercer1 will worthily succeed to a captaincy. Captain Vanbraam has acted as captain ever since we left Alexandria. He is an experienced, good officer, and very worthy of the command he has enjoyed. Mr. James Towers is the oldest ensign, for whom you will please to send a lieutenancy. To Captain Stephen I have already given a major’s commission, finding one blank among Colonel Fry’s papers. If merit, Sir, will entitle a gentlemen to your notice, Mr. Peyrouny may justly claim a share of your favor. His conduct has been governed by the most consummate prudence, and all his actions have sufficiently testified his readiness to serve his country, which I really believe he looks upon Virginia to be. He was sensibly chagrined, when I acquainted him with your pleasure, of giving him an ensigncy. This he had twelve years ago, and long since commanded a company. He was prevailed on by Colonel Fry, when he left Alexandria, to accept the former commission, and assist my detachment, as I had very few officers, till we all met on the Ohio, which commission he would now have resigned, and returned to Virginia, but for my great dissuasion to the contrary. I have promised to solicit your Honor to appoint him adjutant, and continue him ensign, which will induce a very good officer to remain in the regiment. The office of adjutant, Sir, is most necessary to a regiment, in distributing the daily orders, receiving all reports, and seeing orders executed. In short, an adjutant is an indispensable officer. Should you be pleased to indulge me in this request, I shall look upon it in a very particular light, as I think the personal merit of the gentleman, his knowledge of military duty, and his activity will render him highly worthy of the favor. An ensign is still wanting, whom I hope you will send, if you know of any one suitable for the office. A young man in the camp, who came with Captain Lewis, has solicited, but I am yet ignorant of his character and qualities. He is a volunteer, and recommended by Captain Lewis.
In a letter by Mr. Ward, you acquainted me, that you had given orders to Colonel Fry to examine into the proceedings of Captain Trent, and his lieutenant, Frazier, by a court-martial. I shall be glad if you will repeat your orders and instructions to me, or rather to Colonel Innes; for an officer cannot be tried by those of his own regiment only, but has a right to be heard in a general court-martial. Captain Trent’s behaviour has been very tardy, and has convinced the world of what they before suspected, his great timidity. Lieutenant Frazier, though not altogether blameless, is much more excusable, for he would not accept of the commission, till he had a promise from his captain, that he should not reside at the fort, nor visit it above once a week, or as he saw necessary.1
Queen Aliquippa desired that her son, who is really a great warrior, might be taken into council, as he was declining and unfit for business, and that he should have an English name given him. I therefore called the Indians together by the advice of the Half-King, presented one of the medals, and desired him to wear it in remembrance of his great father, the King of England, and called him by the name of Colonel Fairfax, which he was told signified the first of the council. This gave him great pleasure. I was also informed, that an English name would please the Half-King, which made me presume to give him that of your Honor, and call him Dinwiddie; interpreted in their language, the head of all. I am, &c.
P.S. These deserters corroborate what the others said and we suspected. La Force’s party were sent out as spies, and were to show that summons if discovered, or overpowered, by a superior party of ours. They say the commander was blamed for sending so small a party.
Since writing the foregoing, Captain Mackay, with the Independent Company, has arrived, whom I take to be a very good sort of a gentleman. For want of proper instructions from your Honor, I am much at a loss to know how to act, or proceed in regard to his company. I made it my particular study to receive him (as it was your desire) with all the respect and politeness, that were due to his rank, or that I was capable of showing; and I do not doubt from his appearance and behaviour, that a strict intimacy will ensue, when matters shall be put in a clear light. But at present, I assure you, they will rather impede the service, than forward it; for, as they have commissions from the King, they look upon themselves as a distinct body, and will not incorporate and do duty with our men, but keep separate guards, and encamp separately. I have not offered to control Captain Mackay in any thing, nor showed that I claimed a superior command, except in giving the parole and countersign, which must be the same in an army consisting of different nations, to distinguish friends from foes. He knows the necessity of this, yet does not think he is to receive it from me. Then who is to give it? Am I to issue these orders to a company? Or is an independent captain to prescribe rules to the Virginia regiment? This is the question. But its absurdity is obvious.
It now behooves you, Sir, to lay your absolute commands on one or the other to obey. This is indispensably necessary, for nothing clashes more with reason, than to conceive our small bodies can act distinctly, without having connexion with one another, and yet be serviceable to the public. I do not doubt that Captain Mackay is an officer of sense, and I dare say will do the best for the service; but, Sir, two commanders are so incompatible, that we cannot be as useful to one another, or the public, as we ought; and I am sincerely sorry, that he has arrived before your instructions by Colonel Innes, who I doubt not will be fully authorized how to act. But as we have no news of Colonel Innes, I have, in the mean time, desired Major Carlyle to send this by an immediate express to you, who, I hope, will satisfy these doubts.1 Captain Mackay and I have lived in the most perfect harmony since his arrival, and have reasoned on this calmly; and, I believe, if we should have occasion to exert our whole force, we shall do as well as divided authority can do. We have not had the least warmth of dispute. He thinks you have not a power to give commissions, that will command him. If so, I can very confidently say, that his absence would tend to the public advantage. I have been particularly careful of discovering no foolish desire of commanding him, neither have I intermeddled with his company in the least, or given any directions concerning it, except on these general—the word, countersign, and place to repair to in case of an alarm, none of which he thinks he should receive. I have testified to him in the most serious manner the pleasure I should take in consulting and advising with him upon all occasions, and I am very sensible, with him we shall never differ when your Honour decides this, which I am convinced your own just discernment and consideration will make appear, the impossibility of a medium. The nature of the thing will not allow of it.1
It must be known who is to command before orders will be observed, and I am very confident your Honour will see the absurdity and consider the effects of Capt. Mackay’s having the direction of the regiment, for it would certainly be the hardest thing in life if we are to do double and trible duty, and neither be entitled to the pay or rank of soldiers. That the first column of the Virginia regiment has done more for the interest of the expedition than any other company or corps that will hereafter arrive, will be obvious to them all. This, Hon’ble Sir, Capt. Mackay did not hesitate one moment to allow since he has seen ye work we have done upon the roads &c. We shall part to-morrow. I shall continue my march to Red Stone, while the company remains here; but this, Sir, I found absolutely necessary for the publick interest. Capt. Mackay says, that it is not in his power to oblige his men to work upon the road, unless he will engage them a shilling sterling a day, which I would not choose to do; and to suffer them to march at their ease, whilst our faithful soldiers are laboriously employed, carry’s an air of such distinction that it is not to be wondered at if the poor fellows were to declare the hardship of it. He also declares to me that this is not particular to his company only, but that no soldiers subject to martial law can be obliged to do it for less. I, therefore, shall continue to endeavour to compleat the work we have begun with my poor fellows; we shall have the whole credit, as none others have assisted. I hope from what has been said, your honour will see the necessity of giving your speedy orders on this head, and I am sensible you will consider the evil tendency that will accompany Captn. Mackay’s coming, for I am sorry to observe this is what we always hoped to enjoy—the rank of officers, which to me, Sir, is much dearer than the pay.
Captn. Mackay brought none of the cannon, very little ammunition, about 5 days allowance of flower, and 60 beeves. Since I have spun a letter to this enormous size, I must go a little further and beg your Honour’s patience to peruse it. I am much grieved to find our stores so slow advancing. God knows when we shall [be] able to do any thing for to deserve better of our country.
The Contents of this letter is a profound secret.
The 12th. Two of the Men, whom we had sent out Yesterday upon the Scout returned; they discovered a small Party of French; the others went on as far as Stuart’s. Upon this Advice, I thought it necessary to March with the greater Part of the Regiment, to find those Ninety Men, of whom we had Intelligence. Accordingly I gave orders to Colonel Muse to put away all our Baggage and Ammunition, and to place them in the Fort, and set a good Guard there till my Return; after which I marched at the Head of One Hundred and Thirty Men, and about Thirty Indians; but at the Distance of half a Mile, I met the other Indians, who told me, there were only nine Deserters; whereupon I sent Mr. Montour, with some few Indians, in Order to bring them safe to me; I caused them to be drest, and they confirmed us in our Opinion, of the Intention of M. de Jumonville’s Party; that more than One Hundred Soldiers were only waiting for a favorable Opportunity to come and join us; that M. de Contrecœur, expected a Reinforcement of Four Hundred Men; that these reinforcements should have arrived some time before la Force had been defeated; that the Fort was compleated; that its Front and Gates were covered by the artillery; that there was a double Pallisadoe next to the Water; that they have only eight small Pieces of Cannon, and know what Number of Men we are.
They also informed us, that the Delaware and Shawanese had taken up the Hatchet against us; whereupon, I resolved to invite those two Nations to come to a Council at Mr. Gist’s. Sent for that Purpose Messengers and Wampum.
The 13th. I Persuaded the Deserters to write the following Letter, to those of their Companions who had an inclination to desert.1
The 15th. Set about clearing the Roads.
The 16th. Set out for Red-Stone-Creek, and were extremely embarrassed, our Waggons breaking very often.
17th. Dispatched an Express to the Half-King, to perswade him to send a Message to the Loups; which he did as I intended.
18th. Eight Mingoes arrived from Loiston, who at their Arrival told me of a Commission they had, and that a Council must be held. When we assembled, they told us in brief, that they had often desired to see their Brethren out in the Field with Forces, and begged us not to take it amiss, that they were amongst the French, and that they complied with some of their Customs; notwithstanding which they were naturally inclined to fall upon them, and other Words to the same Purport: After which they said, they had brought a Speech with them, and desired to deliver it with Speed. These, and other Discourses to the same Purpose, made us suspect that their Intentions towards us were not good; wherefore I delayed giving them Audience until the Arrival of the Half-King, and desired the Delawares to have Patience till then, as I only waited their Arrival to hold a Council, which I expected would be that very Day. After the eight Mingoes had conferred a while together, they sent me some Strings of Wampum, desiring me to excuse their insisting on the Delivery of their Speech so speedily, that they now perceived it necessary to wait the Arrival of the Half-King.
When the Half-King arrived, I consented to give them Audience.
A Council was held in the Camp for that Purpose, the Half-King and several of the Six Nations, Loups Shawanese, to the Number of Forty, were present.
The Speaker of the Six Nations addressed the following Speech to the Governor of Virginia.
We your Brothers of the Six-Nations are now come to acquaint you, that we have heard you threaten to destroy entirely all your Brethren the Indians who should not join you on the Road; wherefore we who keep in our own Towns, expect every Day to be cut in Pieces by you. We wish to know from your Mouth, if there be any Truth in that report, and that you would not look upon it as remarkable, that we are come to enquire into it, since you very well know that bad News commonly makes a deeper Impression upon us than good. That we may be fully satisfied by your Answers of the Truth thereof; we give you this Belt of Wampum.
We know the French will ask us at our Return, of what Number our Brethren are, whom we went to see? Therefore we desire you, by this Belt, to let us know it, as also the Number of those whom you expect, and at what Time you expect them, and when you reckon to attack the French, that we may give Notice thereof to our Town, and know also, what we are to tell the French.
We are very glad to see you; and sorry that you are disquieted by such Reports that: The English intend to injure you, or any of your Allies; this report, we know, must have been forged by the French, always treacherous, and asserting the greatest Falsehoods whenever they think they will turn out to their Advantage; they speak well, promise fine Things, but all from the Lips only; whilst their Heart is corrupted and full of venomous Poison. You have been their Children, and they would have done every Thing for you but they no sooner thought themselves strong enough, than they returned to their natural Pride, and run you off from your Lands, declaring you had no Right on the Ohio. The English your real Friends, are too generous, to think of ever using the Six Nations, their faithful Allies, in like Manner; when you made your Address to the Governors of Virginia and Pennsylvania, they (at your repeated Request) sent an Army to Maintain your Rights; to put you again in the Possession of your Lands, and to protect your Wives and Children, to dispossess the French, to maintain your rights, and to assure that Country to you; for those very ends are the English Arms actually employed; it is for the Safety of your Wives and your Children, that we fight, and as this is the only Motive of our Conduct, we cannot reasonably doubt of being joined by the remaining Part of your Forces, to oppose the common Enemy. Those who will not join us for this purpose, shall be answerable for the Consequence; we only desire your Brethren to chuse that side which seems most acceptable to them.
The Indians of the Six Nations are those who are most interested in this War; for them it is that we fight; and I should be in despair were the least Hurt to come to them; we have engaged in this War to assist and protect you; our Arms are open to receive you, and our Hands ready to nourish your Families during the War. The Governor of Virgina has often desired they might be sent to him, that he might see them in Person, nourish and cloath them according to their own Desire; but as you could not determine to send them to him, we are ready to share in a friendly Manner, all our Provisions with you, and to take such Measures, and give such Orders, that enough shall be brought to maintain your Wives and Children. Such Conduct will evidently prove how much more the English love and esteem their Allies the Six Nations, than the French do; as we have drawn the Sword in your Cause, and in your Defence, hesitate no longer, delay not one Moment, but put your Wives and Children under our Protection; and they shall find Plenty of Provisions; in the meanwhile set your young Men and your Warriors to sharpen their Hatchets, to join and unite with us vigorously in our Battles. The Present, my Brethren, which I offer you is not so considerable as I could wish, but I expect in a short Time a Quantity of Goods, which are to be at my Disposal, to reward those who shall have shewn themselves brave and active on this Occasion; in short, I shall recompense them most generously.
Be of good Courage, my Brethren, deliver your Country, and assure it to your Children; let me know the Thoughts of your Hearts on this Affair, that I may give an Account of your Sentiments to your great Friend and Brother the Governor of Virginia. To assure you of my Sincerity and Esteem, I present you this Belt.
The 20th, The Council still continued.
When the Delawares knew that they were suspected of being in the French Interest, they demanded the Reason why they had been sent for, and what they should tell the French at their Return.
I answered them, it was to let them understand, that we were to come at their reiterated requests to assist them with Sword in Hand; that we intended to put them in the Possession of those Lands which the French had taken from them.
And as they had often demanded our Assistance, as our ancient and faithful Allies, I invited them to come and place themselves under our Protection, together with their Women and Children.
Whereupon the Indian Speaker stretched out his Blanket on the Floor and laid several Belts and Strings of Wampum thereon, in the same order he had received them from the French. This done, he repeated the Speeches of M. de Contrecœur; after which the Delaware Speaker directed to me the following Speech.
“Brethren, the Governor of Virginia and Pennsylvania; We your Brethren the Delawares, remember perfectly well the Treaty of Loiston,1 where you and your Uncles the Six Nations, considering the bad Situation we were in, for Want of a Man to be our Leader, you then gave us a King, and told us, he should transact all our public Affairs between you and us; you gave us a charge, not to listen to every vain Report that might be spread, but to consult ourselves, and to do, what would seem to us, to be right: We assure you that we have given no Credit to any of those Reports nor ever shall; but will be guided by you our Brethren, and by our Uncles the Six Nations, and will do on all Occasions, what is just and right, taking Advice from you alone; To assure you of the Desire we have to fulfil our Engagements with you, we present you this Belt.”
After which they made the following Discourse to the Six Nations.
“Uncles, Thirteen Days are now past since we have received this Belt from the Onondago Council; I do not doubt your knowledge of it; They exhorted us to remember old Times, when they cloathed us with a Robe reaching down to our Heels; afterwards told us, to raise it up to our Knees, and there to make it very fast, and come to them at the Head of Susquehannah, where they had provided a Place for us to live; that they had also sent a Speech to those of our Nation who live near the Minnesinks, inviting them to go to the Place by them appointed, that they might live with us; They also sent us a Speech, to give us Notice that the English and French were upon the point of coming to an Engagement on the River Ohio, and exhorted us to do nothing in that Juncture, but what was reasonable; and what they would tell us themselves; lastly, they recommended to us, to keep fast Hold of the Chain of Friendship which has so long subsisted between us and them, and our Brethren the English.
Then the Delawares spoke to the Shawanese as follows:—
“Grand-Sons, by this Belt, we take you between our Arms, and fetch you away from the Ohio, where you now are, to carry you amongst us, that you may live where we live, and there live in Peace and Quiet.
The Council after this was adjourned to the next Morning.
The 21st. We assembled very early, and I spoke first to the Delawares in the following Manner.
“Brethren, By your open and generous, Conduct on this Occasion, You have made yourselves dearer to us than ever; we return You our Thanks, that you did not go to Venango, when the French first invited You there; their treating You in such a childish Manner, as we perceive they do, raises in us a just and strong Resentment. They call You their Children, and speak to You, as if You in reality were Children, and had no more Understanding than such. Weigh well, my Brethren, and compare all their Discourse, and You will find that all it tends to, is to tell You, I am going to open your Eyes, to unstop your Ears, and such words, to no Purpose, and only proper to amuse Children. You also observe Brethren, that if they deliver a Speech, or make a Promise, and confirm it by a Belt, they imagine it binds them no longer than they think it consistent with their Interest to stand to it. They have given one Example of it; and I will make You observe it, in the Jump which they say they have made over the Boundaries, which you had set them; which ought to stir You up my Brethren, to just Anger, and lead you to embrace the favourable Opportunity that We offer You, as we are come at Your Request, to assist You, and by Means of which, You may make them Jump back again, with more Speed than they advanced.
A String of Wampum.
The French are continually telling You, not to give Heed to the ill Reports that are told you concerning them who are your Fathers. If they did not know in their very Souls, how richly they deserve it on your Account, why should they suspect of being accused? Why should they forewarn You of it, to hinder You from believing, what is told you concerning them? As to what they say of us, our Conduct alone will answer in our Behalf: Examine the Truth yourselves; You know the Roads leading to our Habitations, You have lived amongst us, You can speak our Language; but in order to justify ourselves from whatever might be said against us, and assure You of our brotherly Love; we once more invite your old Men, your Wives and your Children, to take Sanctuary under our Protection, and between our Arms, to be plentifully fed, whilst your Warriors and young Men join with ours, and espouse together the common Cause.
A String of Wampum.
Brethren, we thank You with all our Hearts, for having declared unto us, your Resolution of accomplishing the Engagements which You had entered into, at the Treaty of Loiston, and we can do no otherwise than praise your generous Conduct with Regard to your Grand Sons the Shawanese; it gives us infinite Pleasure.
We are greatly obliged to the Council given You by Onondago, charging You to hold fast the Chain of Friendship by which we are bound; I dare say, that had he known, how nearly You are interested in this War, or that it is for the Love of You, and at your Request, we have taken up Arms, he would have ordered you to declare and to act immediately against the Common Enemy of the Six Nations. In order to assure you of my Affection, and to confirm the Truth of what I have said, I present you these Two great Strings.
After this, the Council broke up, and those treacherous Devils, who had been sent by the French as Spies, returned though not without some Tale ready prepared to amuse the French, which may be of Service to make our own Designs succeed.
As they had told me there were Sixteen Hundred French, and Seven Hundred Indians on their March, to reinforce those at the Garrison, I persuaded the Half-King to send three of his Men to inquire into the Truth of it, though I imagined this News to be only Soldiers’ Discourse; these Indians were accordingly sent in a secret Manner, before the Council broke up, and had Orders to go to the Fort, and inform themselves carefully from all the Indians they should meet, and if there was any News worthy of the trouble, one of them should return, and the other two continue their Rout as far as Venango and about the Lake, in order to obtain a perfect Knowledge of every Thing.
I also perswaded King Shingiss to send out Rangers towards the River, to bring us News, in case any French should come; I gave him also a Letter, which he was to send me back again by an Express, to prevent my being imposed upon by a false Alarm.
Though King Shingiss, and others of the Delawares, could not be persuaded to retire to our Camp, with their Families, through the Fear they were in of Onondago’s Council, they nevertheless gave us strong Assurances of their Assistance, and directed us in what Manner to act, in order to obtain our Desire; the Method was this; we were to prepare a great War-Belt, to invite all those Warriors who would receive it, to act independently of their King and Council; and King Shingiss promised to take privately the most subtile Methods to make the Affair success, though he did not dare to do it openly.
The very Day the Council broke up, I perswaded Kaquehuston, a trusty Delaware, to carry that Letter to the Fort which the French Deserters had written to their Comrades, and gave him Instructions how he should behave in his Observations, upon several Articles of which I had spoken to him; for I am certain the Fort may be surprized, as the French are encamped outside, and cannot keep a strict Guard, by Reason of the Works they are about.
I also perswaded George another trusty Delaware, to go and take a View of the Fort, a little after Kaquehuston, and gave him proper Instructions, recommending him particularly to return with Speed, that we might have fresh News.
Immediately after the Council was over, nothwithstanding all that Mr. Montour could do to disswade them, the Delawares, as also the Half-King, and all the other Indians, returned to the Great Meadows; but though we had lost them, I still had Spies of our own People, to prevent being surprised.
As I was told, that a Belt of Wampum and a Speech might bring us back both the Half-King and his young Men: I sent the following Speech by Mr. Croghan:—
’Tis but lately since we were assembled together; we were sent here by your Brother the Governor of Virginia, at your own Request in Order to succour you, and fight for your Cause; wherefore my Brethren, I must require that you and your young Men come to join and encamp with us, that we may be ready to receive our Brother Monacatoocha, whom I daily expect; That this Request may have its desired Effect, and make a suitable Impression upon your Minds I present you with this String of Wampum.
As those Indians, who were Spies sent by the French, were very inquisitive, and asked us many Questions, to know by what Way we proposed to go to the Fort, and what Time we expected to arrive there: I left off working any further at the Road, and told them as we intended to keep on across the Woods as far as the Fort, falling the Trees, &c. that we were waiting here for the Reinforcement which was coming to us, our Artillery, and our Waggons to accompany us there; but, as soon as they were gone, I set about marking out and clearing a Road towards Red Stone.
The 25th. Towards Night came three Men from the Great Meadows, amongst whom was the Son of Queen Aliquippa. He brought me a Letter from Mr. Croghan, informing me what Pains he was at to perswade any Indians to come to us; that in truth the Half-King was inclined and was preparing to join us, but had received a Blow which was a Hindrance to it. I thought it proper to send Captain Montour to Fort Necessity, in order to try if he could possibly, gain the Indians to come to us.
The 26th. Arrived an Indian, bringing News that Monacatoocha had burnt his village, (Loiston) and was gone by Water with his People to Red-Stone, and might be expected there in two Days. This Indian passed close by the Fort, and assures us, that the French had received no reinforcement, except a small number of Indians, who had killed, as he said, two or three of the Delawares. I did not fail to relate that Piece of News to the Indians in its proper Colours, and particularly to two of the Delawares who are here.
The 27th. Detached Captain Lewis, Lieutenant Waggener, and Ensign Mercer, two Serjeants, two Corporals, one Drummer, and Sixty Men, to Endeavour to clear a Road, to the Mouth of Red-Stone-Creek on Monaungahela.
The Journal, as printed in the Précis des Faits ends abruptly with the entry made on the 27th. On the 28th Mackay with the company from South Carolina joined Washington, but hearing that the garrison at Duquesne had been reinforced, a council of war determined upon a retreat—a measure of no little difficulty through the want of horses to carry the guns, provisions, and camp stores. The entire labor involved fell upon the Virginia troops, those of South Carolina holding aloof and refusing to assist. On July 1st the Great Meadows were reached and here a halt was called to allow the weary troops to rest and to allow reinforcements to come up, for the New York companies after “unaccountable delay” were reported to be at Alexandria and about to march for the Ohio.
Meantime the garrison at Duquesne had received additions, and Coulon de Villiers, a brother of Jumonville, had arrived from Montreal with a large force of Indians. It was at once determined to “avenge the murder of Jumonville” and attack the English whether found on soil claimed by the French or on territory that was English beyond any doubt. The party under the command of Villiers reached Red Stone Creek on June 30th, and on July 2d the camp at Gist’s so recently abandoned by Washington. From the Indian scouts the position of the English was soon determined, and on the next day the two forces met. Washington had made a small trench for protection, but it proved of little service as his men were exposed to a cross-fire from the French and Indians. What followed is best told in the language of Govr. Dinwiddie: “Immediately they [the French] appeared in sight of our camp, and fired at our people at a great distance, which did no harm. Our small forces were drawn up in good order to receive them before their entrenchments, but did not return their first fire, reserving it till they came nigher. The enemy advanced irregularly within 60 yards of our forces, and then made a second discharge, and observing they did not intend to attack them in open field, they retired within their trenches, and reserved their fire, thinking from their numbers they would force their trenches, but finding they made no attempt of this kind, the Colonel gave orders to our people to fire on the enemy, which they did with great briskness, and the officers declare this engagement continued from 11 o’clock till 8 o’clock at night, they being without shelter, rainy weather, and their trenches to the knee in water, whereas the French were sheltered all round our camp by trees; from thence they galled our people all the time as above. About 8 o’clock at night the French called out to parley; our people mistrusting their sincerity, from their numbers and other advantages, refused it. At last they desired [us] to send an officer that could speak French, and they gave their parole for his safe return to them, on which the Commander sent two officers to whom they gave their proposals. . . . From our few numbers and our bad situation, they were glad to accept of them; otherways were determined to lose their lives rather than be taken prisoners. The next morning a party from the French came and took possession of our encampment, and our people marched off with colors flying and beat of drum; but there appeared a fresh party of 100 Indians to join the French, who galled our people much, and with difficulty were restrained from attacking them; however, they pilfered our people’s baggage, and at the beginning of the engagement the French killed all the horses, cattle and live creatures they saw, so that our forces were obliged to carry off the wounded men on their backs to some distance from the place of the engagement, where they left them with a guard; the scarcity of provisions made them make quick marches to get among the inhabitants which was about 60 miles of bad road.”—To the Lords of Trade, July 24, 1754.
When the French proposed the parley there were but two men in the English camp acquainted with the language—Peyroney, who was badly wounded, and Vanbraam, who was sent to complete the capitulation. It is certain that Vanbraam blundered seriously in his interpretation of the articles, and probably through ignorance. The following are the articles as signed:
“Comme notre intention n’a jamais été de troubler la paix et la bonne harmonie qui régnoit entre les deux Princes amis, mais seulement de venger l’assassin qui a été fait sur un de nos officiers, porteur d’une sommation, et sur son escorte, comme aussi d’empêcher aucun établissement sur les terres du Roi mon Maître.
“A ces considérations, nous voulons bien accorder grace à tous les Anglois qui sont dans ledit fort, aux conditions ce-aprés.
“Article I. Nous accordons au commandant Anglois de se retirer avec toute sa garnison, pour s’en retourner paisiblement dans son pays, et lui promettons d’empêcher qu’il lui soit fait aucune insulte par nos François, et de maintenir, autant qu’il sera en notre pouvoir, tous les sauvages qui sont avec nous.
“Art. II. Il lui sera permis de sortir, et d’emporter tout ce qui leur appartiendra, à l’exception de l’artillerie, que nous nous réservons.
“Art. III. Que nous leur accordons les honneurs de la guerre; qu’ils sortiront tambour battant avec une petite pièce de canon, voulant bien par-là leur prouver que nous les traitons en amis.
“Art. IV. Que si-tôt les articles signés de part et d’autre, ils amèneront le pavillon Anglais.
“Art. V. Que demain à la pointe du jour, un détachment François ira faire défiler la garnison et prendre possession dudit fort.
“Art. VI. Que comme les Anglois n’ont presque plus de chevaux ni bœufs, ils seront libres de mettre leurs effets en cache, pour venir chercher lorsqu’ils auront rejoint des chevaux; ils pourront à cette fin laisser des gardiens, en tel nombre qu’ils voudront, aux conditions qu’ils donneront parole d’honneur de ne plus travailler à aucun établissement dans ce lieu-ci, ni en deça de la hauteur des terres.1
“Art. VII. Que comme les Anglois ont en leur pouvoir un officier, deux cadets, et généralement les prisonniers qu’ils nous ont faits dans l’assassinat du Sieur de Jumonville, et qu’ils promettent de les envoyer avec sauvegarde jusqu’au Fort Duquesne, situé sur la Belle-Rivière; et que pour sûreté de cet article, ainsi que de ce traité, Messrs. Jacob Vanbraam et Robert Stobo, tous deux capitaines, nous seront remis en otage jusqu’à l’arrivée de nos François et Canadiens cidessus mentionnés.”
Nous nous obligeons de votre côté à donner escorte pour ramener en sûreté les deux officiers qui nous promettent nos François dans deux mois et demi pour le plus tard.
The admissions and contract contained in certain of these articles could hardly fail to displease the English when they were published, and the entire blame was laid upon Vanbraam. Dinwiddie went so far as to denounce him as a “poltroon, and though an officer with us, they say he has joined the French.” One of his fellow officers, Adam Stephen, also intimates evil intentions on the part of the Dutch interpreter; but his description of the conditions under which the articles were read—“it rained so hard, that he could not give us a written translation of them; we could scarcely keep the candle lighted to read them by”—certainly affords some excuse for a misapprehension on the part of the hearers. Villiers boasted that he had made the English admit “qu’ils nous avoient fait un assassin dans le camp de mon frère,” but both Mackay and Stephen insisted that the word assassination had not been read to them by Vanbraam.
After the French government had published the Précis des Faits, the attention of Washington was called to the articles of capitulation and his Journal as printed in that volume. He then wrote as follows:
“I am really sorry, that I have it not in my power to answer your request in a more satisfactory manner. If you had favored me with the journal a few days sooner, I would have examined it carefully, and endeavoured to point out such errors as might conduce to your use, my advantage, and the public satisfaction; but now it is out of my power.
“I had no time to make any remarks upon that piece, which is called my journal. The enclosed are observations on the French notes. They are of no use to me separated, nor will they, I believe, be of any to you; yet I send them unconnected and incoherent as they were taken, for I have no opportunity to correct them.
“In regard to the journal, I can only observe in general, that I kept no regular one during that expedition; rough minutes of occurrences I certainly took, and find them as certainly and strangely metamorphosed; some parts left out, which I remember were entered, and many things added that never were thought of; the names of men and things egregiously miscalled; and the whole of what I saw Englished is very incorrect and nonsensical; yet, I will not pretend to say that the little body, who brought it to me, has not made a literal translation, and a good one.
“Short as my time is, I cannot help remarking on Villiers’ account of the battle of, and transactions at, the Meadows, as it is very extraordinary, and not less erroneous than inconsistent. He says the French received the first fire. It is well known, that we received it at six hundred paces’ distance. He also says, our fears obliged us to retreat in a most disorderly manner after the capitulation. How is this consistent with his other account? He acknowledges, that we sustained the attack warmly from ten in the morning until dark, and that he called first to parley, which strongly indicates that we were not totally absorbed in fear. If the gentleman in his account had adhered to the truth, he must have confessed, that we looked upon his offer to parley as an artifice to get into and examine our trenches, and refused on this account, until they desired an officer might be sent to them, and gave their parole for his safe return. He might also, if he had been as great a lover of the truth as he was of vainglory, have said, that we absolutely refused their first and second proposals, and would consent to capitulate on no other terms than such as we obtained. That we were wilfully, or ignorantly, deceived by our interpreter in regard to the word assassination, I do aver, and will to my dying moment; so will every officer that was present. The interpreter was a Dutchman, little acquainted with the English tongue, therefore might not advert to the tone and meaning of the word in English; but, whatever his motives were for so doing, certain it is, he called it the death, or the loss, of Sieur Jumonville. So we received and so we understood it, until, to our great surprise and mortification, we found it otherwise in a literal translation.
“That we left our baggage and horses at the Meadows is certain; that there was not even a possibility to bring them away is equally certain, as we had every horse belonging to the camp killed or taken away during the action; so that it was impracticable to bring any thing off, that our shoulders were not able to bear; and to wait there was impossible, for we had scarce three days’ provisions, and were seventy miles from a supply; yet, to say we came off precipitately is absolutely false; notwithstanding they did, contrary to articles, suffer their Indians to pillage our baggage, and commit all kinds of irregularity, we were with them until ten o’clock the next day; we destroyed our powder and other stores, nay, even our private baggage, to prevent its falling into their hands, as we could not bring it off. When we had got about a mile from the place of action, we missed two or three of the wounded, and sent a party back to bring them up; this is the party he speaks of. We brought them all safe off, and encamped within three miles of the Meadows. These are circumstances, I think, that make it evidently clear, that we were not very apprehensive of danger. The colors he speaks of as left were a large flag of immense size and weight; our regimental colors were brought off and are now in my possession. Their gasconades, and boasted clemency, must appear in the most ludicrous light to every considerate person, who reads Villiers’ journal; such preparations for an attack, such vigor and intrepidity as he pretends to have conducted his march with, such revenge as by his own account appeared in his attack, considered, it will hardly be thought that compassion was his motive for calling a parley. But to sum up the whole, Mr. Villiers pays himself no great compliment in saying, we were struck with a panic when matters were adjusted. We surely could not be afraid without cause, and if we had cause after capitulation, it was a reflection upon himself.”
In August a full account of this engagement was laid before the House of Burgesses, and a vote of thanks was given to Washington and his officers—the Major of the regiment and Captain Vanbraam excepted, the former for cowardice, the latter for his blunder in leading Washington to sign the capitulation containing such awkward admissions. Further, a pistole was granted to every private in the engagement. The thanks of the officers were conveyed by Washington, but it was a subject of mortification to them that the governor declined to carry out the stipulations of the article entered into with the French. Dinwiddie gave the following reason for his action in a letter to the Board of Trade: “The French, after the capitulation entered into with Colonel Washington, took eight of our people, and exposed them to sale, and, missing thereof, sent them prisoners to Canada. On hearing of this, I detained the seventeen prisoners, the officers, and two cadets, as I am of opinion, after they were in my custody, Washington could not engage for their being returned. I have ordered a flag of truce to be sent to the French, offering the return of their officer and the two cadets for the two hostages they have of ours.” This course of proceeding was not suitable to the principles of honor and sense of equity entertained by Colonel Washington, but he had no further control of the affair.
Mr. Sparks says Vanbraam never returned to Virginia; but the editor of the Dinwiddie Papers writes that “he was retained in captivity until the surrender of Montreal in Sept. 1760, when he returned to Virginia. His services were recognized in the allotment by George Washington, as Commissioner of Virginia, of 9,000 acres of land in 1771; and in July 14, 1777, he was made Major of the 30th battalion of the 60th Foot or Royal Americans then stationed in the West Indies.”—Dinwiddie Papers, i., p. 51, note. The Virginia Gazette on November 8th, 1760, announced the arrival in town of Capt. Vanbraam.
The Indian account of these engagements differs somewhat from that first given, but was told by Scarroyada in December, 1754. In brief it was as follows: That the governor of Virginia sent to the Half-King by Capt. Trent a belt of wampum with a hatchet in it, thus inviting the Indians to join in the war against the French. “When we got it we put it into a private pocket on the inside of our garment. It lay next to our breasts. As we were on the road going to council with our brethren, a company of French, in number thirty-one, overtook us and desired us to go and council with them; and when we refused they pulled us by the arm and almost stripped the chain of covenant from off it, but still I would suffer none to go with them. We thought to have got before them but they passed us, and when we saw they endeavored to break the chain of friendship I pulled this belt out of my pocket and looked at it and saw there this hatchet, and then went and told Col. Washington of these thirty-one Frenchmen and we and a few of our brothers fought with them. Ten were killed and twenty-one were taken alive whom we delivered to Col. Washington, telling him that we had blooded the edge of his hatchet a little.
“Davison1 said he was in the action and that there were but eight Indians who did most of the execution that was done. Col. Washington and the Half-King differed much in judgment, and on the Colonel’s refusing to take his advice the English and Indians separated. After which the Indians discovered the French in an hollow and hid themselves, lying on their bellies behind a hill; afterwards they discovered Col. Washington on the opposite side of the hollow in the gray of the morning, and when the English fired, which they did in great confusion, the Indians came out of their cover and closed with the French and killed them with their tomahawks, on which the French surrendered.”
“The Half-King complained very much of the behaviour of Col. Washington to him (tho’ in a very moderate way, saying the Col. was a good-natured man but had no experience), saying that he took upon him to command the Indians as his slaves, and would have them every day upon the out scout and attack the enemy by themselves, and that he would by no means take advice from the Indians; that he lay at one place from one full moon to the other and made no fortifications at all, but that little thing upon the Meadow, where he thought the French would come up to him in open field; that had he taken the Half-King’s advice and made such fortifications as the Half-King advised him to make he would certainly have beat the French off; that the French had acted as great cowards, and the English as fools in that engagement; that he (the Half-King) had carried off his wife and children so did other Indians before the battle begun, because Col. Washington would never listen to them, but was always driving them on to fight by his directions.”—Weiser’s Journal. 1754.
TO WILLIAM FAIRFAX.2
Alexandria, 11 August, 1754.
Since my last to you, I have received, by Mr. Splitdorph, the letter therein alluded to, of the 1st inst. the contents of which are nearly the same with the other received from the Governour four days before dated the 3d inst. The following is an exact copy of it.
“The Council met yesterday, and, considering the present state of our forces, and having reason to think that the French will be reinforced next spring, it was resolved, that the forces should immediately march over the Allegany mountains, either to dispossess the French of their fort, or build one in a proper place, that may be fixed upon by a council of war. Colonel Innes has my orders for executing the above affair. I am, therefore, now to order you to get your regiment completed to three hundred men, and I have no doubt, that you will be able to enlist what you are deficient of your number very soon, and march directly to Will’s Creek to join the other forces; and, that there may be no delay, I order you to march what companies you have complete, and leave orders with the officers remaining to follow you, as soon as they shall have enlisted men sufficient to make up their companies. You know the season of the year calls for despatch. I depend upon your former usual diligence and spirit to encourage your people to be active on this occasion. Consult with Major Carlyle what ammunition which may be wanted, that I may send it up immediately. I trust much to your diligence and despatch in getting your regiment to Will’s Creek as soon as possible.
“Colonel Innes will consult you in the appointment of officers for your regiment. Pray consider, if practicable, that, to send a party of Indians &c to destroy the corn at the fort and Logstown would be of great service to us, and a considerable disappointment to the enemy. I can say no more, but to press the despatch of your regiment to Will’s Creek, and that success may attend our arms and just expedition, is the sincere desire of, sir, yours &c.”1
Thus, Sir, you will see I am ordered, with the utmost despatch, to repair to Will’s Creek with the regiment; to do which, under the present circumstances, is as impracticable, as it is (as far as I can see into the thing) to dispossess the French of their fort; both of which, with our means, are morally impossible.
The Governor observes, that, considering the state of our forces at present, it is thought advisable to move out immediately to dispossess the French. Now that very reason, “the state of our forces,” is alone sufficiently opposed to the measure, without a large addition to them. Consider, I pray you, Sir, under what unhappy circumstances the men at present are; and their numbers, compared with those of the enemy, are so inconsiderable, that we should be harassed and drove from place to place at their pleasure. And to what end would the building of a fort be, unless we could proceed as far as Red-stone, where we should have to take water, and where the enemy can come with their artillery, &c., I cannot see, unless it be to secure a retreat, which we should have no occasion for, were we to go out in proper force and properly provided, which I aver cannot be done this fall; for, before our force can be collected, with proper stores of provisions, ammunition, working-tools, &c., it would bring on a season in which horses cannot travel over the mountains on account of snows, want of forage, slipperiness of the roads, high waters, &c. Neither can men, unused to that life, live there, without some other defence from the weather than tents. This I know of my own knowledge, as I was out last winter from the 1st of November till some time in January; and notwithstanding I had a good tent, was as properly prepared, and as well guarded, in every respect, as I could be against the weather, yet the cold was so intense, that it was scarcely supportable. I believe, out of the five or six men that went with me, three of them, though they were as well clad as they could be, were rendered useless by the frost, and were obliged to be left upon the road.
But the impossibility of supporting us with provisions is alone sufficient to discourage the attempt; for, were commissaries with sufficient funds to set about procuring provisions, and getting them out, it is not probable that enough can be conveyed out this fall to support us through the winter; for you are to consider, Sir, as I before observed, that the snows and hard frosts set in very early upon those mountains; and, as they are in many places almost inaccessible at all times, it is then more than horses can do to clamber up them. But allow that they could, for want of provender they will become weak and die upon the road, as ours did, though we carried corn with us for that purpose, and purchased from place to place. This reason holds good, also, against driving out live stock, which, if it could be done, would save some thousands of horse loads, that might be employed in carrying flour, which alone, (not to mention ammunition, tools, &c.) we shall find will require more horses, than at this present moment can be procured with our means.
His Honor also asks, whether it is practicable to destroy the corn at the fort and at Logstown? At this question I am a little surprised, when it is known we must pass the French fort and the Ohio to get to Logstown; and how this can be done with inferior numbers, under the disadvantages we labor, I see not; and, of the ground to hope, we may engage a sufficient party of Indians for this undertaking, I have no information, nor have I any conception; for it is well known, that notwithstanding the expresses, that the Indians sent to one another, and all the pains that Montour and Croghan (who, by vainly boasting of their interest with the Indians, involved the country in great calamity, by causing dependence to be placed where there was none,) could take, never could induce above thirty fighting men to join us, and not more than one half of those serviceable upon any occasion.1
I could make many other remarks equally true and pertinent; but to you, Sir, who, I am sensible, have acquired a pretty good knowledge of the country, and who see the difficulties that we labor under in getting proper necessaries, even at Winchester, it is needless. Therefore I shall only add some of the difficulties, which we are particularly subjected to in the Virginia regiment. And to begin, Sir, you are sensible of the sufferings our soldiers underwent in the last attempt, (in a good season) to take possession of the Fork of the Allegany and Monongahela. You also saw the disorders those sufferings produced among them at Winchester after they returned. They are yet fresh in their memories, and have an irritable effect. Through the indiscretion of Mr. Splitdorph, they got some intimation that they were again ordered out, and it immediately occasioned a general clamour, and caused six men to desert last night. This, we expect, will be the consequence every night, except prevented by close confinement.
In the next place, I have orders to complete my regiment, and not a 6d. is sent for that purpose. Can it be imagined, that subjects fit for this purpose, who have been so much impressed with, and alarmed at, our want of provisions, (which was a main objection to enlisting before,) will more readily engage now without money, than they did before with it? We were then from the 1st of February till the 1st of May, and could not complete our three hundred men by forty; and the officers suffered so much by having their recruiting expenses withheld, that they unanimously refuse to engage in that duty again, without they are refunded for the past, and a sufficient allowance made them in future. I have in the next place (to show the state of the regiment) sent you a report by which you will perceive what great deficiencies there are of men, arms, tents, kettles, screws (which was a fatal want before), bayonets, cartouch-boxes, &c., &c. Again, were our men ever so willing to go, for want of the proper necessaries of life they are unable to do it. The chief part are almost naked, and scarcely a man has either shoes, stockings, or hat. These things the merchants will not credit them for. The country has made no provision; they have not money themselves; and it cannot be expected, that the officers will engage for them again, personally, having suffered greatly already on this head; especially, now, when we have all the reason in the world to believe, they will desert whenever they have an opportunity. There is not a man that has a blanket to secure him from cold or wet. Ammunition is a material article, and that is to come from Williamsburg, or wherever the governor can procure it. An account must be first sent of the quantity which is wanted; this, added to the carriage up, with the necessary tools, &c., that must be had, as well as the time of bringing them round, will, I believe, advance us into that season, when it is usual, in more moderate climates, to retreat into winter-quarters, but here, with us, to begin a campaign.1
The promises of those traders, who offer to contract for large quantities of flour, are not to be depended upon; a most flagrant instance of which we experienced in Croghan, who was under obligation to Major Carlyle for the delivery of this article in a certain time, and who was an eyewitness to our wants; yet had the assurance, during our sufferings, to tantalize us, and boast of the quantity he could furnish, as he did of the number of horses he could command. Notwithstanding, we were equally disappointed of these also; for out of two hundred head he had contracted for, we never had above twenty-five employed in bringing the flour that was engaged for the camp; and even this, small as the quantity was, did not arrive within a month of the time it was to have been delivered.
Another thing worthy of consideration, is, that if we depend on Indian assistance, we must have a large quantity of proper Indian goods to reward their services, and make them presents. It is by this means alone, that the French command such an interest among them, and that we had so few. This, with the scarcity of provisions, was proverbial; would induce them to ask, when they were to join us, if we meant to starve them as well as ourselves. But I will have done, and only add assurances of the regard and affection with which I am, &c,
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Alexandria, 20 August, 1754.
Mr. Peyroney, soliciting for leave to attend the Assembly, hoping to have some allowance made for his loss of cloathes &c, which he sustained in common with us all, and being not thoroughly cured of his wounds,1 which has hitherto rendered him unfit for duty, I thought it proper to indulge him in this request and he now comes for these purposes aforesaid. By him I again take the liberty of recommending to your Honor the great necessity there is of a regulation in the soldiers’ pay, and that a deduction be made for the country to furnish them with cloathes; otherwise they never will be fit for service. They are now naked, and can’t get credit even for a hat, and are teazing the officers every day to furnish them with these and other necessaries. Another thing, which should be fixed indisputably, is the law we are to be guided by, whether martial or military. If the former, I must beg the favour of your Honour to give me some written orders and indemnification; otherwise [I] cannot give my assent (as I am liable for all the proceedings) to any judgment of the martial court, that touches the life of a soldier; tho at this time there is absolute necessity for it, as the soldiers are deserting constantly, and yesterday, while we were at church, 25 of them collected, and were going off in the face of their officers, but were stopped and imprisoned before the plot came to its full height. Colonel Innes did not fill up any commissions for the Virginia regiment, which has given those that were entitled to promotion some uneasiness. His reasons were, it would be unnecessary expense to the country, till there were orders to recruit; but this, I think, should not have been considered, whilst it is remembered how small encouragement is shown them upon every occasion. Another motive, which, I believe, served to prevent it, was his dislike to the tenour of the commission, which savoured so much of the militia. He told me he would send down another for your approbation, and Colonel Fairfax has also taken another, both of which is greatly preferable to those by which we act. And here I must beg leave to acquaint your Honour, that the one you sent me is not signed. The officers are uneasy about their pay, and think it hard to be kept out of it so long. They hope your Honour will order that the dates of their commissions be from the vacancy’s that happened, of which I have enclosed a list for [your] information, hoping with them, your Honour will be kind enough to fill them up yourself, and send such commissions as were sent for precedents. Mr. West, lieutenant of Vanbraam’s company, has resigned his commission, which I herewith send. I also enclose a list of medicines, which the doctor desires may be procured for the use of the regiment. He solicits much for a mate, and I believe it necessary, as he often has more business than he can well manage, [if] there were a large detachment sent upon duty, it would be imprudent to go without the surgeon. If your Honour should think proper to promote Mr. Peyroney, we shall be at a loss for a good disciplinarian to do adjutant’s duty, which requires a perfect knowledge of all the kinds of duty. I should, therefore, take it extremely kind, if you would be pleased to confer the office upon Mr. Frazier, whom I think I can fully answer for, let his former conduct have been what it will.
We have catch’d two deserters, which I keep imprisoned till I receive your Honor’s answer how far the martial law may be extended, and it is necessary that an example be made of some, for warning to others; for there is scarce a night, or an opportunity, but what some or other are deserting, often two, or three, or four at a time. We always advertise and pursue them as quickly as possible, but seldom to any purpose. The expenses attending this will fall heavy upon the country while this spirit prevails. I am, &c.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Alexandria, 21st Aug’t, 1754.
The bearer hereof, Mr. Wright,1 discovering an Inclination to the Art Military, and having, in some Measure, made it his Study, I have taken the liberty to recommend him to your Honour for one of the Vacancy’s in the Virginia regiment; this I do, with more assurance of succeeding, as Mr. Wright’s Character for good Sense and Sobriety will render him worthy the favor you may please to confer, and I dare venture to say, he will endeavor to deserve.
Yesterday Mr. Peyroney set off from this, who I hope will also meet with your Honour’s approbation and indulgence, as his behaviour has merited a reward from his Country (such he looks upon this to be). Mr. Campbell arriv’d Yesterday, after appointing the Musters for the Northern Neck. I was not a little surprised to hear him say he was to have the Half of my Salary, especially when he at the same time gave me to understand he expected it was the half of the £70, exclusive of the £30 which he has for his two County’s, which is near a third of what I get for the whole 11 Countys—a great disproportion this. I hope your Honour gave Mr. Campbell no room to expect this, for I think it exceeding hard that I shou’d give so much more for a deputy than others, especially when the duty is much easier. For the Middle district, which has 10 Countys, Muse gives but £40. Colo. Thornton gives yet less for his, while I, by Mr. Campbell’s account, is to give £65 or at any Rate £50. I hope, if your Honour is kind enough to continue me in that office, You will not oblige me to give such an exorbitant allowance to a Person, who by all acc’t, knows nothing of the duty he has undertaken. I can get a Person whom I have taken great pains myself to teach, and who is perfectly acquainted with every part of the Service, to do the duty of the whole for the same that others give, and I shou’d be very glad for the sake of having the Countys kept in tolerable discipline, and for the favour of obliging me, your Honour, wou’d indulge me in this, as I will engage it shall turn more to the Public advantage, whose Interest I am certain from well founded Reasons, you espouse, preferable to that of private. I must again mention Mr. Frazier as a person we shall much need if Mr. Peyroney is promoted, as I hope he will [be].
TO COLONEL WILLIAM FITZHUGH.
15 November, 1754.1
I was favored with your letter from Rousley Hall, of the 4th instant. It demands my best acknowledgments for the particular marks of esteem you have expressed therein, and for the kind assurances of his Excellency Governor Sharpe’s good wishes towards me. I also thank you, and sincerely, Sir, for your friendly intention of making my situation easy, if I return to the service; and do not doubt, could I submit to the terms, that I should be as happy under your command in the absence of the General, as under any gentleman’s whatever. But I think the disparity between the present offer of a company and my former rank too great, to expect any real satisfaction or enjoyment in a corps, where I once did, or thought I had a right to, command; even if his Excellency had power to suspend the orders received in the Secretary of War’s letter; which, by the by, I am very far from thinking he either has, or will attempt to do, without fuller instructions than I believe he has; especially, too, as there has been a representation of this matter by Governour Dinwiddie, and, I believe, the Assembly of this State. We have advices that it was received before Demmarree obtained his letter.
All that I presume the General can do, is, to prevent the different corps from interfering, which will occasion the duty to be done by corps, instead of detachments; a very inconvenient way, as is found by experience.1
You make mention in your letter of my continuing in the service, and retaining my colonel’s commission. This idea has filled me with surprise; for, if you think me capable of holding a commission, that has neither rank or emolument annexed to it, you must entertain a very contemptible opinion of my weakness, and believe me to be more empty than the commission itself.
Besides, Sir, if I had time, I could enumerate many good reasons, that forbid all thoughts of my returning; and which to you, or any other, would, upon the strictest scrutiny, appear to be well founded. I must be reduced to a very low command, and subjected to that of many, who have acted as my inferior officers. In short, every captain, bearing the King’s commission, every half-pay officer, or others appearing with such commission, would rank before me. For these reasons I choose to submit to the loss of health, which I have, however, already sustained, (not to mention the effects,) and the fatigue I have undergone in our first efforts, than subject myself to the same inconveniences, and run the risk of a second disappointment.
I shall have the consolation of knowing, that I have opened the way, when the smallness of our numbers exposed us to the attacks of a superior enemy; that I have hitherto stood the heat and brunt of the day, and escaped untouched in time of extreme danger; and that I have the thanks of my country, for the services I have rendered it.
It shall not sleep in silence, my having received information that those peremptory orders from home, which you say could not be dispensed with, for reducing the regiments into Independent Companies, were generated, hatched and brought from Will’s Creek. Ingenuous treatment and plain dealing I at least expected.1 It is to be hoped the project will answer; it shall meet with my acquiescence in every thing except personal services. I herewith enclose Governour Sharpe’s letter, which I beg you will return to him, with my acknowledgments for the favour he intended me. Assure him, Sir, as you truly may, of my reluctance to quit the service, and of the pleasure I should have received in attending his fortunes. Also inform him, that it was to obey the call of honour, and the advice of my friends, I declined it, and not to gratify any desire I had to leave the military line. My inclinations are strongly bent to arms.
The length of this, and the small room I have left, tell me how necessary it is to conclude; which I will do, as you always shall find
Truly and sincerely your most humble servant
[1 ]The letters written previously to this date have been lost. Dinwiddie acknowledged a letter of the 7th. Mr. Sparks dates it the 9th.
[1 ]Richard Corbin, of “Laneville,” King and Queen County, had held many important offices in the colonial government, and was at this time a member of the Governor’s council. He was connected by ties of friendship and affinity with the Washington family. See Marshall’s Life of Washington, 2d ed., vol. i., p. 3.
[2 ]I am inclined to place this letter early in March, as on the 1st of the month Dinwiddie could say that he had commissioned Col. Fry as commander of the expedition. The appointment must have been known in Alexandria a few days later, and would have forestalled such an application.
[1 ]The reply was: “Dear George: I enclose you your commission. God prosper you with it. Your friend, Richard Corbin.”
[2 ]Some entries in an account book found among the Washington MSS., will show the various military positions he held in 1754 and 1755, and the pay attached to each. 1754, February 24th, to pay as captain, from January 15th, at 8s. per day; to pay as major till March 20th, at 10s. per day; to pay as lieutenant-colonel till June 1st, at 12s. 6d. per day; to pay as colonel to September 1st, at 15s. per day. 1755. To pay as colonel in Virginia regiment, at 30s. per day.
[1 ]Sketches of these may be found in Dinwiddie Papers, i., 114.
[2 ]Vanbraam, acting as Washington’s lieutenant, had been sent to Augusta County to receive the fifty recruits to be raised in that county by Col. Patten, the County Lieutenant.
[1 ]Colonel Washington marched from Alexandria on the 2d of April, with two companies of troops, and arrived at Will’s Creek on the 20th, having been joined on the route by a detachment under Captain Stephen.
[2 ]“My order to the commander in chief is to be on the defensive, but if opposed by the enemy to desire them to retire; if they should still persist, to repel force by force.”—Dinwiddie to Gov. Hamilton, April 27, 1754.
[1 ]Baron Cameron had one of the large estates in the northern neck of Virginia.
[1 ]Fort du Chemin.
[1 ]Red-stone Creek is now Brownsville, Pa.
[1 ]Of this letter only the two paragraphs marked1 are given in the Précis des Faits. The entire letter was printed in the Baltimore Repository for March, 1811, and again in the Magazine of American History, in 1881. A letter of similar import was sent to Governor Hamilton, of Pennsylvania, which was immediately laid before the legislature of Pennsylvania. A bill was then pending for a grant of ten thousand pounds for the King’s use, but the Governor was compelled to reject it because it proposed to tax the proprietary estate.—Votes of the Pennsylvania Assembly, vol. iv., p. 313.
[1 ]The position occupied by Captain Trent’s men was at the junction of the Monongahela and Allegany Rivers (now Pittsburg), which had been visited by Major Washington on his mission from the governor of Virginia to the French, and which he described in his Journal as well situated for a fort. (See p. 13.) The Ohio Company had already a small establishment there. When Contrecœur appeared before the fort, very little progress had been made in the work. Captain Trent was absent at Will’s Creek, and Lieutenant Frazier was at his residence ten miles distant. Ensign Ward, therefore, was left in the command. His whole number of men amounted only to forty-one. Contrecœur approached within a short distance of the fort, halted his troops, and sent in an officer with a summons, allowing Ensign Ward an hour to consider the subject, and directing him then to repair to the French camp with his determination in writing. He immediately counselled with the Indians, and the Half-King advised him to inform the French that he was not an officer of rank, nor invested with powers to answer their demands, and to request them to wait the arrival of the chief commander. He went accordingly with this reply to the French camp, accompanied by the Half-King; but Contrecœur refused to wait, and demanded an immediate decision, saying that he should otherwise take possession of the fort by force. Hereupon a capitulation was agreed to, and Ensign Ward marched off his men the next day, and ascended the Monongahela to the mouth of Red-stone Creek. Contrecœur invited him to supper the evening of the capitulation, and treated him with much civility.
[1 ]This was signed, “Your friend and brother, Washington, or Conotocarius.” The French editor of the Précis added this note: “Vrai-semblement c’est un nom sauvage qu’ avoit pris M. Washington, pour plaire aux nations qu’ il vouloit séduire.”
[1 ]By the militia law of Virginia the commander could impress provisions, boats, wagons, draft-horses, utensils, tools, and the like, necessary to facilitate military movements and operations. But no article could be impressed till its value had been appraised, and an estimate of the proper allowance for its daily use had been made by two reputable persons under oath. A receipt for the same was then to be given in writing to the owner by the commanding officer.—Hening’s Statutes at Large, vol. vi., p. 114.
[1 ]In the Précis des Faits, the last two paragraphs of this letter are wanting, but the following sentence is inserted:
[1 ]Dinwiddie Papers, I., 148.
[1 ]The Governor was at this time in Winchester, having previously made arrangements for meeting there several Indian Chiefs, to brighten the chain of friendship by a new treaty, or rather to give them presents and exchange belts of wampum. He assigned this as a reason why Virginia did not send delegates to the Albany Convention, which was recommended by the Board of Trade, and attended by commissioners from the northern and middle colonies, and which acquired notoriety from the celebrated Plan of Union drawn up by Franklin, and adopted by the Convention. The attempt to treat at Winchester was a failure, as two or three subordinate Chiefs only appeared, though Washington used his best endeavours to bring down the Half-King and some of his friends. They made excuses that they were planting corn and engaged in other affairs at home.—Sparks.
[1 ]“Now, Col. Washington, I shall more particularly answer what relates to yourself, and I must begin with expressing both concern and surprize to find a gentleman, whom I so particularly considered, and from whom I had so great expectations and hopes, appear so differently for himself, and give me leave to say, mistakenly, as I think, concurring with complaints, in general so ill-founded. I am sensible of your difficulties, and you may believe I shall not let your merit pass unnoticed. I believe you sincerely attached to your country’s welfare and prosperity, which, you know, very much depends on the success of your present expedition, and this I persuade myself will sweeten the toils; that you will hereafter reflect on with pleasure, and engage you to think of nothing less than resigning your command, or countenancing in any sort the discontent that could never be more unreasonable or pernicious than at present.”—Dinwiddie to Washington, May 25, 1754.
[1 ]The French reads: “Je détachai un parti à Chevert.”
[1 ]This letter is printed on pages 69, 70.
[1 ]“Il paroit que l’imposture ne coûte rien à M. Washington, ici il s’en fait honneur.”—French editor of the Précis.
[1 ]The French word is gaudron.
[2 ]“ ‘Such was the complication of political interests,’ says Voltaire, ‘that a cannon-shot fired in America could give the signal that set Europe in a blaze.’ Not quite. It was not a cannon-shot, but a volley from the hunting-pieces of a few backwoodsmen, commanded by a Virginian youth, George Washington.”—Parkman, Wolfe and Montcalm, i., 1.
[1 ]Thomas Burney was a blacksmith by trade, and had lived some years among the Twightwees. Dinwiddie, in November, 1754, speaks of having engaged him “to work at his trade and be ready to go messages,” but could not “say much to his character.”
[1 ]The militia law of 1748 allowed officers and soldiers certain pay in tobacco, a colonel receiving 50, a major 40, and a private 15 pounds of tobacco a day. This proved such an awkward system that when the troubles with the French began, pay in money was allowed, as follows: Colonel, 15s.; Lieutenant-Colonel, 12s., 6d.; Major, 10s.; Captain, 8s.; Lieutenants, 4s.; Ensigns, 3s.; Surgeons, 4s.; Private, 8d. and a pistole on enlisting.
[2 ]Now Alexandria.
[1 ]This Canada expedition was the one projected by Governor Shirley, and approved by the British government, in 1746, during the previous war between England and France. The memorable capture of Louisburg the year preceding, effected mainly by colonial troops from Massachusetts, had raised to a high pitch the martial spirit of the people; and large numbers were easily enlisted for this new expedition in the northern and middle provinces. They were disbanded the next year, without having accomplished any thing, but were all paid at the same rate as the troops on the King’s establishment.—Belknap’s History of New Hampshire, vol. ii., p. 235.
[1 ]Colonel Fry died at Will’s Creek two days after this letter was written, and the command of the expedition devolved of course on Washington, as second in rank. Reinforcements were forwarded, so that the whole number of troops under his immediate command amounted to somewhat more than three hundred.
[1 ]The two cadets were Jean Baptiste Berger and Joachim Parent. An account of their treatment while prisoners is contained in Penn. Archives, second series, vi., 320, 321. See also Dinwiddie Papers, ii., 227.
[1 ]That is, he believed there was some hostile intention. La Force appears not to have seen the instructions, which were in possession of M. Jumonville. Whether he knew their import before his capture is doubtful. The original Summons and Instructions are printed among the Pièces Justificatives affixed to the Mémoire of the French government.—Sparks.
[2 ]Washington and his soldiers were on the right, and the Indians on the left.—Sparks.
[1 ]The two French runners mentioned above, who had been sent to Fort Duquesne by Jumonville before the attack.
[2 ]His letter to Col. Fry is printed in Sparks, Writings of Washington, ii., p. 26.
[1 ]This letter was probably written on the 29th.
[1 ]Drouillon’s statement of the affair may be found in Dinwiddie Papers, i., p. 225. The curious charge brought against Washington for the killing of Jumonville long exercised French historians, and even English writers found it awkward to explain away. The various accounts are summarized in Parkman, Wolfe and Montcalm, i., p. 149, and Sparks, Writings of Washington, ii., p. 447.
[2 ]It appears by M. de Contrecœur’s orders to M. de Jumonville (See Mémoire, &c. p. 104) that his party consisted of thirty-five men, that is, himself and another officer, three cadets, a volunteer, an interpreter, and twenty-eight soldiers. Two of the party had returned the day before, whose tracks had been seen by the Half-King, as he reported to Colonel Washington, thus leaving thirty-three, who were engaged in the skirmish. As two cadets only were taken, one of the men, who returned, must have been a cadet.—Sparks.
[1 ]In the French this is Wart, the usual way of printing Ward.
[1 ]From the London Magazine, August, 1754. “In the express, which Major Washington despatched on his preceding little victory (the skirmish with Jumonville), he concluded with these words,—‘I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.’ On hearing of this the King said sensibly,—‘He would not say so, if he had been used to hear many.’ However, this brave braggart learned to blush for his rhodomontade, and, desiring to serve General Braddock as aid-de-camp, acquitted himself nobly.” Walpole, Memoirs of George the Second, i., 347. See also Gordon, History, ii., 203.
[1 ]Probably Canajachreesa, or the “Broken Kettle,” who had been present at the conference at Carlisle in 1753.
[1 ]In Palmer’s Calendar of Virginia State Papers, p. 250, is printed what I believe is this reply.
[1 ]Montour was a Canadian, and also an Indian trader and interpreter. He was of Indian extraction, and a man of weight among the Six Nations.
[1 ]This place is variously named: Loyal Hanna, Loyal hannon, Loyal Hannan, and Loyal Hanning.
[1 ]Called by the French a “Canadian deserter.”
[1 ]Under date 10 June, Mr. Sparks prints a long letter from Washington to Dinwiddie, another version of which is given in the Dinwiddie Papers. A cursory examination proved that an error had been made, Mr. Sparks combining three letters in one, and the editor of the Dinwiddie printing parts of two as one. I may not have succeeded in separating the parts as they were written, as I have been compelled to depend on internal evidence mainly.
[2 ]James Innes came from Scotland and settled in New Hanover, N. C., serving in the expedition of 1740-41 against Carthagena. Dinwiddie had intended to give him the chief command of this Ohio expedition from the first.
[3 ]Upon the death of Col. Fry, Washington was given the command of the Virginia troops. Innes who had come with about three hundred and fifty men from North Carolina did not reach Winchester until June 30, but was put in command of the expedition by Dinwiddie on Col. Fry’s death. He found that Col. Washington’s Virginia regiment and Mackay’s South Carolina, “together did consist but of four hundred men, of which a good many were sick and out of order.” The North Carolina troops disbanded before they could join Washington. The pay of their men was 3s. a day, and under such a charge the £12,000 appropriated for the expedition was soon exhausted.
[1 ]Captain Mackay commanded an Independent Company of one hundred men from South Carolina. See Washington’s letter to Robert Sinclair, 6 May, 1792.—Post.
[2 ]Dinwiddie had written to Col. Fry in May: “As the officers of the independent companies are gentlemen of experience in the art military, have served in several campaigns, are jealous of their own honor, and are well recommended, I hope you will conduct yourself towards them with prudence, and receive their advice with candor.” He admitted that it was unusual for any of the King’s troops to be subject to the commands of an officer holding a commission from a Governor. To Washington he wrote (June 4) in similar terms.
[1 ]Croghan was an Indian trader of note, and had been employed on public affairs in the Indian country by the governor of Pennsylvania.
[1 ]“Your letter without date I received,” Dinwiddie wrote to Washington on June 27th. The incidents mentioned give the date as the 12th.
[1 ]Col. George, son of John Mercer, of “Marlboro,” was born June 23, 1733, educated at William and Mary College, served with Washington in the French and Indian war in 1754, and was with General Braddock at his fatal wounding; promoted in 1758 to be Lieutenant-Colonel of the Second Virginia Regiment, of which Col. William Byrd, of “Westover” (third of the name and title), was commander; elected to the House of Burgesses, May 18, 1761; appointed, July 4, 1763, by the Ohio Company its agent to visit England in its interests; remained in England six years engaged in fruitless solicitation and negotiation; sent to Virginia in 1765 as “stamp Collector” for the Crown, but finding on his arrival how obnoxious the measure was, declined to serve; appointed September 17, 1767, through the influence of Lord Hillsborough, Lieutenant-Governor of North Carolina, but relinquished the office shortly afterwards, according to tradition, upon the death of his wife. He had married August 8, 1767, at Scarboro, Mary, the daughter of Christopher Neville, Esq., of Lincoln, England. She died at Richmond, Virginia, May 30, 1768. George Mercer returned to England prior to the Revolution, and died there in April, 1784, leaving no issue.
[1 ]Complaint was made against Captain Trent for being absent from his post when the French compelled his ensign to capitulate.
[1 ]It is very probable that the rest of the letter was written at a later date than the 12th, as Washington could hardly have written thus of an experience of Captain Mackay of a few hours, or even of a day. One sentence, “we shall part to morrow,” would show that it was written on the 15th, as on the 16th Washington continued his march to Red Stone.
[1 ]“As I am afraid of disputes from the officers of the Independent Companies, to prevent that I have ordered Col. Innes to command in chief, and you are to be second in command; have sent a briveate commission of Lieut.-Col. to Capt. Clarke to be third in command, and the same to Captain Mackay to be fourth in command on this expedition, and have desired Col. Innes to allow their Lieutenants to rank with our Captains. This is only feathers in their caps to prevent any ill blood in regard to rank.”—Dinwiddie to Washington, June 25, 1754. Capt. Clarke was in command of the New York Independent Companies.
[1 ]It is not in the Journal.
[1 ]Probably Logstown.
[1 ]In a copy among the Washington papers this article ended with the words “pendant une année à compter de ce jour.” These words also occur in the copy that was sent to the Governor of Pennsylvania. Of the condition they imposed Dinwiddie said that it applied only to the forces left with their baggage and sick.
[1 ]An interpreter.
[2 ]William Fairfax was the son of Henry Fairfax, of Yorkshire, England, and grandson of Thomas the fourth Lord Fairfax. His father died when he was young, and he was educated under the care of his uncle, Lord Lonsdale. At the age of twenty-one he entered the army, and served in Spain. He went also to the East Indies, and after his return engaged in the expedition against Providence Island, at that time in possession of the pirates. He was appointed governor of the Island, after its reduction, and married, in 1724, the daughter of Thomas Walker, a major in the army, who had accompanied the expedition, and received the appointment of chief justice of the Bahama Islands. The climate not agreeing with the health of Mr. Fairfax, he removed to New England, where he resided, holding an office of considerable trust and emolument, till he was desired by his kinsman, Lord Fairfax, to remove to Virginia, and become the agent for managing his large tract of lands in that colony. His first residence was in Westmoreland county, where he remained several years; but he afterwards established himself at Belvoir, on the Potomac River, a little below Mount Vernon.
[1 ]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 our 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.”
[1 ]“Mr. Washington had many of the Indians with him; but I observe these people remain unactive till they see how affairs go, and generally speaking side with the Conquerors, that in my opinion little dependence is to be put in them.”—Dinwiddie to Hamilton, July 31, 1754.
[1 ]There was a misunderstanding between the governor and the House of Burgesses, which prevented any appropriation of money at this juncture. It had been a custom in former times, that when the governor signed a patent for land, he should receive a fee of a pistole (about $3.60) for every such signature, which was a perquisite of his office. This fee had been revived by Governor Dinwiddie, but the House of Burgesses considered it an onerous exaction, and determined to resist it. As the governor refused to sign patents on any other terms, the Burgesses had the year before passed some spirited resolves, and sent an agent to England with a petition to the King’s Council, that this custom might be abolished. The agent was Peyton Randolph, then Attorney-General of Virginia, and afterwards President of the first American Congress. While he was absent, the governor wrote to a correspondent in England: “I have had a great deal of trouble and uneasiness from the factious disputes and violent heats of a most impudent troublesome party here, in regard to that silly fee of a pistole; they are very full of the success of their agent, which I give small notice to.” The Attorney-General returned, without effecting his whole object, but the Board of Trade made new regulations, by which relief was afforded in certain cases, and the fee was prohibited except where the quantity of land patented was more than one hundred acres.—Journal of the House of Burgesses for November, 1753.
[1 ]Received in the action of Fort Necessity at the Great Meadows.
[1 ]Probably William Wright, who was killed at Braddock’s defeat.
[1 ]When the Assembly met in October, they granted twenty thousand pounds for the public exigencies, and the governor received from England ten thousand pounds sterling in specie, with the promise of ten thousand more, and two thousand firearms. Thereupon he resolved to enlarge the army to ten companies, of one hundred men each, and to reduce them all to Independent Companies, by which there would be no officer in the Virginia regiment above the rank of a captain. This expedient, he supposed, would remedy the difficulty about command. Washington accordingly resigned, as he would not accept a lower commission, than the one he had held. Referring to the resignation Thomas Penn wrote: “I am concerned to find Colonel Washington’s conduct so imprudent.”—Penn Arch., II., 255.
[1 ]That is, the Independent and Colonial companies must always act separately, and not in concert by detachments from each. The inconvenience of this method was proved in the case of Captain Mackay, previously to the battle of the Great Meadows. Colonel Innes, at Will’s Creek, contrived to keep up a nominal command, by acting under two commissions, his old one from the King received in the former war, and his new one from Governor Dinwiddie, to each of which he appealed as occasion required.—Sparks.
[1 ]There is no evidence of any unfair purpose in this matter of reducing the regiment, and thereby throwing out the higher officers. Governor Dinwiddie wrote to the Earl of Halifax, on the 25th of October: “As there have been some disputes between the regulars, and the officers appointed by me, I am now determined to reduce our regiment into Independent Companies, so that from our forces there will be no other distinguished officer above a captain.” He afterwards asked that blank commissions be sent to him which would place the officers on an equality. In this he could urge the Carthagena expedition as a precedent.