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1755.] Colonel Washington had, at this time, succeeded to the estate of his eldest brother, on. the Potomack, called Mount Vernon, in compliment to the British Admiral of that name. On this estate he resolved io devote his life to agricultural and philosophic pursuits, a resolution that he did not long retain.
March, 1755.] In the spring Gen. Braddock, 'who commanded two British regiments, and a few corps of provincials, was making preparation for an expedition to the Ohio. He invited Colonel Washington to join his army, as bis volunteer aid-de-camp. The opportunity of making a campaign with a gentleman of his professional knowledge and experience was with pleasure embraced. When the General, in April, left Alexandria, Colonel Washington entered his family, and attended him to Will's creek, where fort Cumberland was now erected. Here the army remained until the 12th day June, collecting horses, waggons, and provisions. Colonel Washington advised the commander-in-chief to use, as far as possible, pack horses instead of waggons, on account of the roughness of the country. Little attention was given to his opinion at tlie moment, but, after the commencement of the march, the measure from pecessity was partially adopted.
Soon after the army left Cumberland, Colonel Washington was attacked by a violent fever ; refusing to be left behind, he was carried forward in a covered waggon. All the difficulties arising from the state of the roads, which had been fore
· seen by Colonel Washington. were, on the march,
fully realised. General Braddock now advised with him on the most eligible measures to be adopted to secure the success of the expedition. He earnestly recommended that the heavy artillery and baggage should be left under the charge of a subaltern officer ; and that the commander-inchief, with the flower of his army, should with the utmost dispatch advance to the Ohio, in the expectation of possessing themselves of Fort du Quesne, before the French garrison could be reinforced by the troops that were known to be on their way for that purpose. The general closed with this advice. Twelve hundred men were selected, a few waggons were attached to the light artillery, and necessary provisions were placed on pack horses. Of this body General Braddock himself took the command, leaving Colonel Duobar to bring up the other division by slow marches.
Gen. Braddock with his disencumbered troops did not move with the expedition that accorded with the enterprising spirit of his American aid. In a letter written at the moment, he says, “I found that instead of pushing on with vigor, without regarding a little rough road, they were halting tv level every mole hill, and to erect bridges over every brook.” In four days they advanced only niieteen miles. The indisposition of Colonel 1 ashington now became so severe, that his physicians declared that his life would be the sacrifice of the continued fatigues of the march. The General, therefore, absolutely directed him
to remain at Yohogany with a small guard, until Colonel Dunbar came up with him. Colonel Washington at length consented, on the promise that he should be brought up with the advanced corps before its arrival at Fort du Quesne. The day preceding the fatal action, he, in a covered waggon, rejoined the troops, and, in his debili-. tated state, entered on his duty.
General Braddock was warned of the danger to which the character of his enemy exposed him, and advised to employ the ranging companies of Virginia to scour the woods, and prevent ambuscades ; but not looking for an enemy capable of serious opposition, he, without caution, moved his army in small columns. [July 8, 1755.] Within seven miles of du Quesne, he was suddenly at. tacked by an invisible foe; the assaulting party of French and Indians fighting under cover of the thick wood and high grass, with which the country abounded.
Early in the action, the aids-de-camp, except Colonel Washington, were killed or disabled, and he performed the whole of the dangerous service of carrying the orders of the commander to his respective officers. Of all those, who on this fatal day did duty on horseback, he alone escaped without a wound; although he had two horses shot under him, and four balls through his coat. Dr. Craik, the physician who attended him in his last sickness, was a witness of this scene : “ I ex- . pected,” says he,“ every moment to see him fall. Ilis duty and situation exposed him to every
danger. Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him.”
After an action of three hours the troops broke, and the efforts of their officers to rally them were fruitless. Colonel Washington assisted to bring General Braddock off the field, who was mortally wounded. He reached fort Cumberland, and there died, and was buried. During the arduous and dangerous conflicts of this hour, Colonel Washington exhibited that self-possession and determined courage, which are essential to the officer. To his quick discernment and sound judgment the preservation of the defeated troops was, in a great measure, attributed ; and had his advice been previously adopted, probably the disaster would not have happened. As soon as relieved from his attention to his unfortunate Ge. neral, he was dispatched to Cumberland to provide for the retreating army. [August, 1755.] Colonel Dunbar being joined by them, destroyed the stores he could not remove, and marched his army to Philadelphia into winter quarters.
The British troops had not been accustomed to Indian warfare; and, on this occasion, Colonel Washington indignantly witnessed their pusillanimity. In an official relation of the engagement, to the Executive of Virginia, he obseryes, “ They were struck with such an inconceivable panic, that nothing but confusion and disobedience of orders prevailed among them. The officers, in general, behaved with incomparable bravery, for which they greatly suffered; there being upwards of sixty killed and wounded; a large proportion of what we had.
“ The Virginia companies behaved like men, and died like soldiers ; for I believe of three companies on the ground that day, scarcely thirty men were left alive. Captain Peronny and all his officers, down to a corporal, were killed. Captain Poulson had almost as hard a fate, for only one of his escaped. In short, the dastardly behaviour of the regular troops, so called, exposed those who were inclined to do their duty to almost certain death. And, at length, in spite of every effort to the contrary, they broke and ran as sheep before hounds; leaving the artillery, ammunition, provisions, baggage, in short every thing, a prey to the enemy; and when we endea voured to rally them, in hopes of regaining the ground, and what we had left upon it, it was with as little success as if we had attempted to stop the wild bears of the mountains, or the rivulets with our feet; for they would break by in spite of every effort to prevent it."
The assembly of Virginia was in session wben the gloomy intelligence was received, that General Braddock was defeated and slain, and that Colonel Dunbar had left their frontiers open to the invasion of the enemy. They immediately voted to raise a regiment to consist of sixteen companies.
The important transactions in which Colonel Washington had been engaged, developed his