Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
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TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE. - 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 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.
[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.