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Quesne ; but his Lordship having determined to di rect his force against Ticonderoga, he was again dis appointed.
At the clogo of the year 1757, General Abercrombie was appointed to the supreme con. mand in America, and General Forbes commissioned as the commander of the middle district. To the high gratification of Colonel WASHINGTON, the conquest of du Quesne became a principal object.
1758. Colonel Washington, not expecting to be placed on the establishment, had determined to resign his commission ; but he thought the expedition for this purpose presented a fair prospect of distinguished ser vice, and he resolved to engage in it.
He warmly recommended an early campaign ; for this, among other reasons, seven hundred Indians had, in April, assembled at Winchester, whose patience would be exhausted unless early employed; and in that event, he observes, “ No words can tell how much they will be missed.”
He was at length ordered to collect the Virginia troops at Winchester, and to hold them in readiness for active service. At this late moment, when the duties of the field demanded his attention, he was obliged to make a journey to Williamsburg, to provide arms, clothing, and money for his regiment; and to obtain for his soldiers, the same pay which the assembly, in their last session, had voted to a regiment raised fo: the present campaign.
Early in July the Virginia forces were moved to Cumberland, and through the month employed in opening a road from that place to Raystown Flying parties of the enemy greatly annoying them in their business, it was contemplated to send a detachment over the mountain, to restrain the French and Indians from this annoyance ; but Col. Washington objected o the measure, because the detachment would be ex posed to the whole force of the enemy on the Ohio,
and must be defeated. The plan was in consequence given up; and by his advice frequent scouts, consist. ing principally of Indians, were substituted. The predi :tion of Colonel WASHINGTON, respecting the body of Indians at Winchester, was verified; before the campaign opened, their patience was exhausted, and ther retired to their homes.
It was confidently expected thit the army would march by Braddock's road, which needed only slight repairs; but on the last of this month, Col. Bouquet by letter, requested an interview with Colonel WashINGTON, to consult with him on opening a new route. In reply he wrote, “ I shall most cheerfully work on any road, pursue any route, or enter on any service that the General or yourself may think me usefully employed in, or qualified for; and shall never have a will of my own, when a duty is required of me. But since you desire me to speak my sentiments freely, permit me to observe, that after having conversed with all the guides, and having been informed by others acquainted with the country, I am convinced that a road to be compared with Gen. Braddock's, or, indeed, that will be fit for transportation, even by pack horses, cannot be made. I own I have no predilection for the route you have in contemplation for me.”
Notwithstanding every remonstrance, he found Col. Bouquet determined to open the new road.-That nothing in his power might be oniitted to prevent the adoption of a scheme, which he thought would prcba. bly defeat the expedition, he addressed a letter to this officer, with the express design that it should be laid before General Forbes, then indisposed; in which he gave the following reasons for the preference of Braddock's road.
When individuals of Pennsylvania and Virginia, he said, were about to establish a trade with the natives on the Ohio, they, under Indian guides, explored the country, and adopted the road by Will's Creek as the
best route. This road had been opened by the Ohio company in 1753, and had been repaired in 1754 by the troops under his command, as far as Gist's plantation, beyond the Great Meadows. In 1755 it had been put in good order by General Braddock, and could with little labour be fitted for use. This road, therefore, must be preferable to a new route over ground not more favourable. In respect to forage there could be no material difference. The hills on both routes were barren, and the valleys between them abounded with grass. The objection to Braddock's road, he observed, on account of high waters, was not founded; he had himself passed with a body of men, the Yohogany, the most rapid stream, and the sounest filled of any on the road, after thirty days of almost incessant rain. The Monongahela might be avoided. The defiles on Raystown road were as numerous as on Braddock's, and the saving in distance was inconsiderable. But the insuperable objection to the new route, he observed, was the time that must be expended in opening it. The distance was liitle short of an hundred miles, over mountains, almost impassable, and covered with woods and rocks. The most that could be expected, he said, on this route the present season, would be to gain the height of land, there erect fortifications, and wait the return of spring. This delay must be attended with ruinous consequences to the colonies, which had exerted them.selves beyond their strength to drive the French from the Ohio the present campaign.
In the same letter, he communicated an order of march on Braddock's road, which would bring the army in sixty-four days before Fort du Quesne, with provisions for eighty-six days. He also wrote to Major Halket, Aid of Gen. Forbes, to engage his good offices to prevent the fatal plan. “ I am just returned from a conference held with Col. Bouquet. I find him fixedI think I may say, unalterably fixed, to lead you a new way to the Ohio, through a road, every inch of which
is to be cut at this advanced season, when we have scarcely time left to tread the beaten track, universally confessed to be the best passage through the mountain.
“ If Colonel Bouquet succeeds in this point with the General, all is lost! All is lost indeed! Our enterprise is ruined, and we shall be stopped at the Laurel Hill this winter—but not to gather laurels, except of the kind which cover the mountains.—The southern Indians will turn against us, and these colonies will be desolated by such an accession to the enemy's strength. These must be the consequences of a miscarriage, and a miscarriage the almost necessary consequence of an attempt to march the army by this route.”
The judgment and advice of Colonel WASHINGTON in this important measure were overruled, and to his extreme mortification, the new route of the army was adopted. The disappointment and gloomy prospect which he entertained, are strongly expressed in the following letter, written from Cumberland, to the Speaker of the House of Burgesses.
We are still encamped here, very sickly SEPT. 2, and dispirited at the prospect before us. 1758.
That appearance of glory which we once had in view, even that hope, that laudable ambition of serving our country, and meriting its applause, are now no more ; all is dwindled into ease, sloth, and fatal inactivity. In a word, all is lost, if the ways of men in power, like certain ways of providence, are not inscrutable. But we, who view the actions of great men at a distance, can only form conjectures agreeably to a limited perception; and, being ignorant of the conprehensive schemes which rnay be in contemplation, might mistake egregiously in judging of things from appearances, or by the lump. Yet every fool will have his notions, will prattle and talk away; and why may not I? We seem then, in my opinion, to act under the guidance of an evil genius. The conduct of our leaders, if not actuated by superiour orders, is
tempered with something I do not care to give a name to. Nothing now but a miracle can bring this campaign to a happy issue.”
Mentioning the arguments ho haa bronght against the new road, he proceeds, “But I spoke all unavailingly. The road was immediately begun, and since then, from one to two thousand men have constantly wrought on it. By the last accounts I have received, they had cut to the foot of Laurel Hill, about thirty-five milos, and I suppose by this time, fifteen hundred men have taken post about ten miles further, at a place called Loyal Hanna, where our next fort is to be constructed.
“We have certain intelligence, that the French strength at Fort du Quesne did not exceed eight hundred mon, the 13th ultimo, including about three or four hundred Indians. See how our time has been mispent. Behold how the golden opportunity is lost, perhaps never more to be regained ! How is it to be accounted for? Can General Forbes have orders for this ? Impossible. Will then our injured country pass by such abuses? I hope not; rather let a full representation of the matter go to his Majesty ; let him know how grossly his glory and interests, and the publick money have been prostituted.”
Col. Grant, with a force of eight hundred men, hav. ing been detached to reconnoitre the country, in the neighbourhood of the Ohio, was about this time defeated with loss; and himself, and Major Lewis of Colonel WASHINGTON's regiment, were taken prisoners Three companies of this regiment were on the expe. dition, and behaved with great bravery. Of eight officers belonging to these companies, on this service, five were killed. one wounded, and one taken prisoner. Capt. Bullet, who had charge of the baggage, defended it with great resolution, and did much to protect the defeated troops; he fortunately came off the field without a wound. This spirited and soldierly conduct the Britons acknowledged to be highly honourable to