Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

jor WASHINGTON took a horse, and on the 16th of January, 1754, reached Williamsburg, and made report of his proceedings.

The fatigue and danger of this embassy are not easily conceived by persons in the bosom of civilized life. “ From the 1st to the 15th of December," sa78 Major WASHINGTON, " there was but one day in which it did not rain or snow incessantly, and through the whole journey there was but one continued series of cold, wet weather.” The journal composed for the perusal of Governor Dinwiddie, was published, and the enterprise, judgment, and perseverance displayed in the execution of this service, exalted Mr. WASHING Ton in publick opinion; and gave his country an earnest of his future services.

The embassy to the Ohio, not having induced tho French to withdraw from that country, the assembly of Virginia adopted measures to maintain the claims of the British crown. They empowered the executive of the colony to raise a regiment to consist of three hundred men. Mr. Fry, a gentleman acquainted with the western country, was appointed to command it, and the commission of Lieut. Colonel was given to Major WASHINGTON. Enterprising and patriotick, Col. WASHINGTON requested and obtained permission to march first, early in April, 1754, with two companies to the Great Meadows. The reasons which led him to this measure, were to be early in active service, to learn the designs of the enemy, to afford protection to the English settlements, to cultivate the friendship of the Indians, and to acquire a knowledge of the coun. try, which promised to be the scene of military opera tions. Scarcely had he taken possession of his ground, when some friendly Indians informed him that the French had driven away a working party, sent by the Ohio company to erect a fort on the southeastern branch of the Ohio, and were themselves building a fortress on the very gi vund, which he had recommend.

1

his horses growing weak from fatigue, he became im patient at the slowness of his progress. Leaving there fore his horses with necessary directions, in the care of his attendants, he and his guide wrapped themselves in watch coats, took his important papers, and the necessary provisions in their packs, and with their guns in their hands, prosecuted the journey on foot the nearest way through the woods. The next day, December 26, as he passed a place called the Murdering town, he fell in with a party of French Indians, which 'ay in wait for him ; one of them not fifteen steps distant fired, but without effect. This Indian the Major took into custody and detained him till nine o'clock in the evening, then dismissed him, and continued his march through the night, that he might be beyond the reach of pursuit, should the Indians in the morning follow his track. The second day he reached the river two miles above tho Shannapis, expecting to find it frozen over ; but the ice extended only fifty yards from the shore; though quantities of it were driving in the channel. A raft was their only means of passing, and they lead but one poor hatchet with which to make it. It cost them a hard day's work to form the raft; the next day they launched it, went on board, and attempted the passage ; but before they were half way over they were enclosed by masses of ice, and threatened with immediate destruction. Mr. WASHINGTON put down his setting pole to stop the raft, that the ice might pass by, but the rapidity of the current crowded the ice with such force against the pole, that it threw him out in ten feet water. But fortunately he saved himself by seizing one of the raft logs. With their utmost efforts they were unable to reacn either shore, but with diffi-ulty they landed on an island. The cold was 80 severe, that Mr. Gist the guide had his hands and feet frozen. The next morning, without hazard they passed the river on the ice, and were received into the lodgings of Mr. Frazier, in Indian trader. Here Ma

}

jor WASHINGTON took a horse, and on the 16th of January, 1754, reached Williamsburg, and made report of his proceedings.

The fatigue and danger of this embassy are not easily conceived by persons in the bosom of civilized life. “ From the 1st to the 15th of December," sayg Major WASHINGTON, “there was but one day in which it did not rain or snow incessantly, and through the whole journey there was but one continued series of cold, wet weather.” The journal composed for the perusal of Governor Dinwiddie, was published, and the enterprise, judgment, and perseverance displayed in the execution of this service, exalted Mr. WASHING Ton in publick opinion; and gave his country an earnest of his future services.

The embassy to the Ohio, not having induced tho French to withdraw from that country, the assembly of Virginia adopted measures to maintain the claims of the British crown. They empowered the executive of the colony to raise a regiment to consist of three hundred men. Mr. Fry, a gentleman acquainted with the western country, was appointed to command it, and the commission of Lieut. Colonel was given to Major Washington. Enterprising and patriotick, Col. WASHINGTON requested and obtained permission to march first, early in April, 1754, with two companies to the Great Meadows. The reasons which led him to this measure, were to be early in active service, to learn the designs of the enemy, to afford protection to the English settlements, to cultivate the friendship of the Indians, and to acquire a knowledge of the coun. try, which promised to be the scene of military opera tions. Scarcely had he taken possession of his ground, when some friendly Indians informed him that the French had driven away a working party, sent by the Ohio company to erect a fort on ths southeastern branch of the Ohio, and were themselves building a fortress on the very go zund, which he hed recommend.

ed to the Governor for a military post. They also gave the intelligunce, that a force was then marching from that place to the Great Meadows. Although hostilities had not commenced, yet it was considered that the French had invaded the English territory; and many circumstances rendered it probable, that a force was approaching with hostile views. It appeared that the party had left the direct road, and had encamped in a valley, a few miles to the west of the Great Meadows, as a place of concealment. Colonel WASHINGton, under the guidance of the Indians, set out in a dark, rainy night, and surrounded the encampment. At day break his men fired, and rushed upon the French, who, being completely surprised, surrendered One man only made his escape, and Mr. Jumonville, the commander, alone was killed.

The other conipanies of the regiment were, at this time, in march to join those in advance; before these reached the camp Colonel Fry died, and the command devolved on Lieutenant Colonel WASHINGTON. Two companies of British troops, one froin South-Carolina, and the other from New York, also joined the regiment at the Great Meadows, making a force of four hundred effective men. The regular captains reluctantly placed themselves under the command of a provincial officer; but pressing circumstances induced them for the time, to wave dispute about rank, and to act under the orders of Colonel Washington.

For the security of their stores he erected a small stockade, and then marched towards Fort du Quesne, to dislodge the French. At the foot of Laurel Hill, thirteen miles on the way, he was met by a number of friendly Indians, who informed him, that the enemy were hastily approaching with a strong detachment. A confidential chief assured him, that he had seen a reinforcement arrive at du Quesne, which place he left two days before, and had learned that a body con sisting of eight hundred French and four hundred In

dians, would immediately march to attack the English. The previous information of deserters from the enemy confirmed the Indian's report. The troops had been already six days without bread, and had but a smali quantity of meat in store. The French might approach by water carriage, within five miles of their present encampment; and then pass them by a different route and starve them into a surrender, or fight them with a great superiority of numbers.

In this critical situation Colonel WASH. JUNE 28.

INGTOn called a council of war. The unani1754.

mous advice of which was, to return to their position at the Great Meadows; because the two roads at that place united, and the country did not allow an onemy to pass them unperceived; and at this placo they might wait the arrival of a supply of provisions, and reinforcement of men. The Colonel approved the advice of his officers, and immediately carried it into effect. (July 2) His first care was to sink a ditch round the stockade, which he now named Fort Necessity; but before it was completed, the enemy attacked him, (July 3) under the command of Monsieur de Vii

whose force consisted of fifteen hundred men. The assault was gallantly made, and bravely repelled. Part of the garrison fought within the fort, and part in the ditch, which was almost filled with mud and water, Colonel WASHINGTON, during the whole action, remained without the fort, by his presence and example animating his men. The attack began at ten in the morning, and was continued without intermission as long as the light of day remained. Early in the even. ing Monsieur de Villier demanded a parley and mentioned the terms of capitulation which he was willing tc grant. These were rejected; but in the course of the night, articles were agreed upon and signed. By these, the fort was to be surrendered, the garrison al. lowed the honours of war, to retain their fire arms and baggage, and uninolested to march to the inhabited

uer,

« AnteriorContinuar »