Front Page Titles (by Subject) JOURNAL, MARCH-APRIL, 1754. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
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JOURNAL, MARCH-APRIL, 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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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:
[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.