Imagens das páginas

standing former experience convinces us, if reason did not, that the French and Indians are watching the opportunity when we shall be lulled into fatal security, and unprepared to resist an attack, to invade the country, and by ravaging one part, terrify another; that they retreat when our militia assemble, and repeat the stroke as soon as they are dispersed ; that they send down parties in the intermediate time, to discover our motions, procure intelligence, ar.d sometimes to divert the troops.”

The expediency of an offensive war, he supported by the following observations.

The certainty of advantage by an offensive scheme of action, renders it beyond any doubt, much preferable to our defensive measures. To prove this to you, Sir, requires, I presume, no arguments. Our scattered force, so separated and dispersed in weak parties, avails little to stop the secret incursions of the savages. We can only put them to flight, or frighten them to some other part of the country, which answers not the end proposed. Whereas, had we strength enough to invade their lands, and assault their towns, we should restrain them from coming abroad and leaving their families exposed. We then should remove tlie principal cause, and have stronger probability of success; we should be free from the many alarms, mischiefs, and murders that now attend us; we should inspirit the hearts of our few Indian friends, and gain more esteem with them. In short, could Pennsylvania and Mary. land be induced to join us in an expedition of this na. ture, and to petition his Excellency Lord Loudoun for a cmall train of artillery, with some engineers, we should then be able, in all human probability, to subdue the terrour of Fort du Quesne, retrieve our character with the Indians, and restore peace to our unhappy frontiers."

On supposition that the assembly should persist in the scheme of defensive warfare, he presented to the

Governour a plan for his opinion. This was to establish twenty-two forts, reaching from the river Mayo to the Potomack, in a line of three hundred and sixty miles ; and which were to be garrisoned by a regular force, consisting of two thousand men.

The pride of Governour Dinwiddie was offended by these frank communications of a gallant and independent officer. In uncourtly language he censured advice, which he could not comprehend, and reproach ed this officer with officiousness and neglect of duty Colonel WASHIN iton felt the reprimand as a patriot, the welfare of whose country ever dwelt on his heart ; and, like a soldier, who had an invaluable prize in his own reputation. In the consciousness of having made the highest efforts faithfully to execute the trust reposed in him, he thus with spirit replied to the charge, in a letter to a friend. “ Whence it arises, or why, 1 am ignorant, but my strongest representations of matters relative to the peace of the frontiers are disregarded as idle and frivolous ; my propositions and measures, as partial and selfish ; and all my sincerest endeavours for the service of my country, perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are dark, doubtful, and uncertain. To-day approved, to-morrow condemned ; left to act and proceed at hazard; accountable for the consuquences, and blamed without the benefit of defence If you can think my situation capable of exciting the smallest degree of envy, or of affording the least satis. faction, the truth is yet hid from you, and you entertain notions very different from the reality of the case. However, I am determined to bear up under all these embarrassments, some time longer, in the hope of bet. ter regulations under Lord Loudoun, to whom I lock for the future fate of Virginia.”

To the Governour himself, in answer to a communication from him, which conveyed a censure, he wrote, “I must beg leave, before I conclude, to observe, in justification of my own conduct, that it is with pleasure

I receive reproof when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an errour when I have committed it; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of being guilty of one. But, on the other hand, it is with concern I remark, that my best endeavours lose their reward, and that my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favourable point of light. Otherwise your Honour would not have accused me of loose behaviour and remissness of duty, in matters, where I think I have rather exceeded than fallen short of it. This, I think, is evidently the case in speaking of Indian affairs at all, after being instructed in very express terms, “ Not to have any concern with, or management of Indian affairs. This has induced me to forbear mentioning the Indians in my letters to your Honour of late, and to leave the misunderstanding which you speak of, between Mr. Alkin and them, to be related by him.”

He had been informed by letter of a report communicated to the Governour, impeaching his veracity and honour. A copy of this letter he enclosed to his Honour, earnestly requesting of him the name of the author of this report. “I should take it infinitely kind if your Honour would please to inform me, whether a report of this nature was ever made to you, and in that

case, who was the author of it? “ It is evident, from a variety of circumstances and especially from the change in your Honour's concuct towards me,

that some person as well inclinod to de. tract, but better skilled in the ait of detraction than the author of the above stupid scandal, has made free with my character. For I cannot suppose that malice so absurd, so barefaced, so diametrically opposite to truth, to common policy, and in short to every thing but villany, as the above is, could impress you with so ill an opinion of my honour and honesty.

[ocr errors]

“ If it be possible that Colonel for


belief is staggered, not being conscious of having given the least cause to any ono, much less to that gentleman, to reflect so grossly. I say, if it be possible that could descend so low, as to be the propagator of this story, he must either be vastly ignorant of the state of affairs in this country at that time, or else he must suppose that the whole body of inhabitants had combined with me in executing the deceitful fraud. Or, why did they, almost to a man, forsake their dwellings in the greatest terrour and confusion ? And while one half of them sought shelter in paltry forts of their own building, the others should flee to the adjacent counties for refuge ; numbers of them even to Carolina, from whence they have never returned ?

6. These are facts well known; but not better known, than that these wretched people, while they lay pent up in forts, destitute of the common supports of life, (having, in their precipitate flight, forgotten, or were unable rather to secure any kind of necessaries) did despatch messengers, (thinking that I had not represented their miseries in the piteous manner they de served) with addresses of their own to your Honour and the Assembly, praying relief. And did I ever send any alarminy account, without sending also the original papers, or the copies, which gave rise to it.

6 That I have foibles, and perhaps many, I shall not deny. I should esteem myself, as the world also would, vain and empty, were I to arrogate perfection.

“ Knowledge in military matters, is to be acquired by practice and experience only, and if I have erred, great allowance should be made for my errours for want of them, unless those errours should appear to be wilful; and then I conceive it would be more generous to charge me with my faults, and let me stand or fall according to evidence, than to stigmatize me behinıl my back.

“ It is uncertain in what light my services may have

appeared to your Honour ; but this I know, and it is the highest consolation I am capable of feeling, that no man that ever was employed in a pubiick capacity, has endeavoured to discharge the trust reposed in him with greater honesty, and more zeal for the country's interest, than I have done ; but if there is any person living, who can say with justice, that I have offered any intentional wrong to the publick, I will cheerfully submit to the most ignominious punishment that an injured people ought to inflict. On the other hand, it is hard to have my character arraigned, and my actions condemned, without an hearing.

“I must therefore again beg in more plain, and in very earnost terms to know if has taken the liberty of representing my conduct to vour Honour, with such ungentlemanly freedom as the letter implies > Your condescension herein will be acknowledged a singular favour.”

Soon after this transaction, Mr. Dinwiddie left the government, and Mr. Blair, the president of the Council, became, for a short time, the Executive, between whom and Colonel WASHINGTON perfect confidence and free communication existed.

1757. This year Lord Loudoun succeeded to the civil government of Virginia, and to the chief command of the British troops in North America. Colonel Washington obtained permission to wait upon him the succeeding winter; to whom he presented an address from his regiment, and communicated from himself a statement of the military situation of the colony. In this he pointed out the errour of the government in the management of the war, and particu. larly in their depending on the aid of the militia ; and clearly stated the superiour advantages of offensive operations.

Colonel Washington was sanguine in the expecta. tion, that Lord Loudoun would adopt his darling scheme of an Axpedition to dispossess the French of Fort du

« AnteriorContinuar »