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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.
[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.
[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.