The Washington family is of an ancient English stock, the genealogy of

which has been traced up to the century immediately succeeding the

Conquest. At that time it was in possession of landed estates and manorial

privileges in the county of Durham, such as were enjoyed only by those, or

their descendants, who had come over from Normandy with the Conqueror, or

fought under his standard. When William the Conqueror laid waste the whole

country north of the Humber, in punishment of the insurrection of the

Northumbrians, he apportioned the estates among his followers, and advanced

Normans and other foreigners to the principal ecclesiastical dignities. One

of the most wealthy and important sees was that of Durham. Hither had been

transported the bones of St. Cuthbert from their original shrine at

Lindisfarne, when it was ravaged by the Danes. That saint, says Camden, was

esteemed by princes and gentry a titular saint against the Scots.

[Footnote: Camden, Brit. iv., 349.] His shrine, therefore, had been held in

peculiar reverence by the Saxons, and the see of Durham endowed with

extraordinary privileges.


William continued and increased those privileges. He needed a powerful

adherent on this frontier to keep the restless Northumbrians in order, and

check Scottish invasion; and no doubt considered an enlightened

ecclesiastic, appointed by the crown, a safer depositary of such power than

an hereditary noble.


Having placed a noble and learned native of Loraine in the diocese,

therefore, he erected it into a palatinate, over which the bishop, as Count

Palatine, had temporal, as well as spiritual jurisdiction. He built a

strong castle for his protection, and to serve as a barrier against the

Northern foe. He made him lord high-admiral of the sea and waters adjoining

his palatinate,--lord warden of the marches, and conservator of the league

between England and Scotland. Thenceforth, we are told, the prelates of

Durham owned no earthly superior within their diocese, but continued for

centuries to exercise every right attached to an independent sovereign.

[Footnote: Annals of Roger de Hovedon. Hutchinson's Durham, vol. ii.

Collectanea Curiosa, vol. ii., p. 83.]


The bishop, as Count Palatine, lived in almost royal state and splendor. He

had his lay chancellor, chamberlains, secretaries, steward, treasurer,

master of the horse, and a host of minor officers. Still he was under

feudal obligations. All landed property in those warlike times, implied

military service. Bishops and abbots, equally with great barons who held

estates immediately of the crown, were obliged, when required, to furnish

the king with armed men in proportion to their domains; but they had their

feudatories under them to aid them in this service.


The princely prelate of Durham had his barons and knights, who held estates

of him on feudal tenure, and were bound to serve him in peace and war. They

sat occasionally in his councils, gave martial splendor to his court, and

were obliged to have horse and weapon ready for service, for they lived in

a belligerent neighborhood, disturbed occasionally by civil war, and often

by Scottish foray. When the banner of St. Cuthbert, the royal standard of

the province, was displayed, no armed feudatory of the bishop could refuse

to take the field. [Footnote: Robert de Graystanes, Ang. Sac., p. 746.]


Some of these prelates, in token of the warlike duties of their diocese,

engraved on their seals a knight on horseback armed at all points,

brandishing in one hand a sword, and holding forth in the other the arms of

the see. [Footnote: Camden, Brit. iv., 349.]


Among the knights who held estates in the palatinate on these warlike

conditions, was WILLIAM DE HERTBURN, the progenitor of the Washingtons.

His Norman name of William would seem to point out his national descent;

and the family long continued to have Norman names of baptism. The surname

of De Hertburn was taken from a village on the palatinate which he held of

the bishop in knight's fee; probably the same now called Hartburn on the

banks of the Tees. It had become a custom among the Norman families of rank

about the time of the Conquest, to take surnames from their castles or

estates; it was not until some time afterwards that surnames became

generally assumed by the people. [Footnote: Lower on Surnames, vol. i., p.

43. Fuller says, that the custom of surnames was brought from France in

Edward the Confessor's time, about fifty years before the Conquest; but did

not become universally settled until some hundred years afterwards. At

first they did not descend hereditarily on the family.--_Fuller, Church

History. Roll Battle Abbey._]


How or when the De Hertburns first acquired possession of their village is

not known. They may have been companions in arms with Robert de Brus (or

Bruce) a noble knight of Normandy, rewarded by William the Conqueror with

great possessions in the North, and among others, with the lordships of

Hert and Hertness in the county of Durham.


The first actual mention we find of the family is in the Bolden Book, a

record of all the lands appertaining to the diocese in 1183. In this it is

stated that William de Hertburn had exchanged his village of Hertburn for

the manor and village of Wessyngton, likewise in the diocese; paying the

bishop a quitrent of four pounds, and engaging to attend him with two

greyhounds in grand hunts, and to furnish a man at arms whenever military

aid should be required of the palatinate. [Footnote: THE BOLDEN BOOK. As

this ancient document gives the first trace of the Washington family, it

merits especial mention. In 1183, a survey was made by order of Bishop de

Pusaz of all the lands of the see held in demesne, or by tenants in

villanage. The record was entered in a book called the Bolden Buke; the

parish of Bolden occurring first in alphabetical arrangement. The document

commences in the following manner: Incipit liber qui vocatur Bolden Book.

Anno Dominice Incarnationis, 1183, &c.


The following is the memorandum in question:--


Willus de Herteburn habet Wessyngton (excepta ecclesia et terra ecclesie

partinen) ad excamb. pro villa de Herteburn quam pro hac quietam clamavit:

Et reddit 4 L. Et vadit in _magna caza_ cum 2 Leporar. Et quando

commune auxilium venerit debet dare 1 Militem ad plus de auxilio,

&c.--_Collectanea Curiosa_, vol. ii., p. 89.


The Bolden Buke is a small folio, deposited in the office of the bishop's

auditor, at Durham.]


The family changed its surname with its estate, and thenceforward assumed

that of DE WESSYNGTON. [Footnote: The name is probably of Saxon origin. It

existed in England prior to the Conquest. The village of Wassengtone is

mentioned in a Saxon charter as granted by king Edgar in 973 to Thorney

Abbey.--_Collectanea Topographica_, iv., 55.] The condition of

military service attached to its manor will be found to have been often

exacted, nor was the service in the grand hunt an idle form. Hunting came

next to war in those days, as the occupation of the nobility and gentry.

The clergy engaged in it equally with the laity. The hunting establishment

of the Bishop of Durham was on a princely scale. He had his forests, chases

and parks, with their train of foresters, rangers, and park keepers. A

grand hunt was a splendid pageant in which all his barons and knights

attended him with horse and hound. The stipulations with the Seignior of

Wessyngton show how strictly the rights of the chase were defined. All the

game taken by him in going to the forest belonged to the bishop; all taken

on returning belonged to himself. [Footnote: Hutchinson's Durham vol. ii.,

p. 489.]


Hugh de Pusaz (or De Pudsay) during whose episcopate we meet with this

first trace of the De Wessyngtons, was a nephew of king Stephen, and a

prelate of great pretensions; fond of appearing with a train of

ecclesiastics and an armed retinue. When Richard Coeur de Lion put every

thing at pawn and sale to raise funds for a crusade to the Holy Land, the

bishop resolved to accompany him. More wealthy than his sovereign, he made

magnificent preparations. Besides ships to convey his troops and retinue,

he had a sumptuous galley for himself, fitted up with a throne or episcopal

chair of silver, and all the household, and even culinary, utensils, were

of the same costly material. In a word, had not the prelate been induced to

stay at home, and aid the king with his treasures, by being made one of the

regents of the kingdom, and Earl of Northumberland for life, the De

Wessyngtons might have followed the banner of St. Cuthbert to the Holy



Nearly seventy years afterwards we find the family still retaining its

manorial estate in the palatinate. The names of Bondo de Wessyngton and

William his son appear on charters of land, granted in 1257 to religious

houses. Soon after occurred the wars of the barons, in which the throne of

Henry III was shaken by the De Mountforts. The chivalry of the palatinate

rallied under the royal standard. On the list of loyal knights who fought

for their sovereign in the disastrous battle of Lewes (1264), in which the

king was taken prisoner, we find the name of William Weshington, of

Weshington. [Footnote: This list of knights was inserted in the Bolden Book

as an additional entry. It is cited at full length by Hutchinson.--_Hist.

Durham_, vol. i., p. 220.]


During the splendid pontificate of Anthony Beke (or Beak), the knights of

the palatinate had continually to be in the saddle, or buckled in armor.

The prelate was so impatient of rest that he never took more than one

sleep, saying it was unbecoming a man to turn from one side to another in

bed. He was perpetually, when within his diocese, either riding from one

manor to another, or hunting and hawking. Twice he assisted Edward I. with

all his force in invading Scotland. In the progress northward with the

king, the bishop led the van, marching a day in advance of the main body,

with a mercenary force, paid by himself, of one thousand foot and five

hundred horse. Besides these he had his feudatories of the palatinate; six

bannerets and one hundred and sixty knights, not one of whom, says an old

poem, but surpassed Arthur himself, though endowed with the charmed gifts

of Merlin. [Footnote:

  Onques Artous pour touz ces charmes,

  Si beau prisent ne ot de Merlyn.

SIEGE OF KARLAVEROCK; _an old Poem in Norman French._] We presume the

De Wessyngtons were among those preux chevaliers, as the banner of St.

Cuthbert had been taken from its shrine on the occasion, and of course all

the armed force of the diocese was bound to follow. It was borne in front

of the army by a monk of Durham. There were many rich caparisons, says the

old poem, many beautiful pennons, fluttering from lances, and much neighing

of steeds. The hills and valleys were covered with sumpter horses and

waggons laden with tents and provisions. The Bishop of Durham in his

warlike state appeared, we are told, more like a powerful prince, than a

priest or prelate. [Footnote: Robert de Graystanes, Ang. Sac., p. 746,

cited by Hutchinson, vol. i. p. 239.]


At the surrender of the crown of Scotland by John Baliol, which ended this

invasion, the bishop negotiated on the part of England. As a trophy of the

event, the chair of Schone used on the inauguration of the Scottish

monarchs, and containing the stone on which Jacob dreamed, the palladium of

Scotland, was transferred to England and deposited in Westminster Abbey.

[Footnote: An extract from an inedited poem, cited by Nicolas in his

translation of the Siege of Carlavarock, gives a striking picture of the

palatinate in these days of its pride and splendor:--


  There valour bowed before the rood and book,

    And kneeling knighthood served a prelate lord,

  Yet little deigned he on such train to look,

    Or glance of ruth or pity to afford.


  There time has heard the peal rung out at night,

    Has seen from every tower the cressets stream,

  When the red bale fire on yon western height

    Had roused the warder from his fitful dream.


  Has seen old Durham's lion banner float

    O'er the proud bulwark, that, with giant pride

  And feet deep plunged amidst the circling moat,

    The efforts of the roving Scot defied.]


In the reign of Edward III. we find the De Wessyngtons still mingling in

chivalrous scenes. The name of Sir Stephen de Wessyngton appears on a list

of knights (nobles chevaliers) who were to tilt at a tournament at

Dunstable in 1334. He bore for his device a golden rose on an azure field.

[Footnote: Collect. Topog. et Genealog. T. iv., p. 395.]


He was soon called to exercise his arms on a sterner field. In 1346, Edward

and his son, the Black Prince, being absent with the armies in France, king

David of Scotland invaded Northumberland with a powerful army. Queen

Philippa, who had remained in England as regent, immediately took the

field, calling the northern prelates and nobles to join her standard. They

all hastened to obey. Among the prelates was Hatfield, the Bishop of

Durham. The sacred banner of St. Cuthbert was again displayed, and the

chivalry of the palatinate assisted at the famous battle of Nevil's cross,

near Durham, in which the Scottish army was defeated and king David taken



Queen Philippa hastened with a victorious train to cross the sea at Dover,

and join king Edward in his camp before Calais. The prelate of Durham

accompanied her. His military train consisted of three bannerets,

forty-eight knights, one hundred and sixty-four esquires, and eighty

archers, on horseback. [Footnote: Collier's Eccles. Hist., Book VI., Cent.

XIV.] They all arrived to witness the surrender of Calais, (1346) on which

occasion queen Philippa distinguished herself by her noble interference in

saving the lives of its patriot citizens.


Such were the warlike and stately scenes in which the De Wessyngtons were

called to mingle by their feudal duties as knights of the palatinate. A few

years after the last event (1350), William, at that time lord of the manor

of Wessyngton, had license to settle it and the village upon himself, his

wife, and "his own right heirs." He died in 1367, and his son and heir,

William, succeeded to the estate. The latter is mentioned under the name of

Sir William de Weschington, as one of the knights who sat in the privy

council of the county during the episcopate of John Fordham. [Footnote:

Hutchinson, vol. ii.] During this time the whole force of the palatinate

was roused to pursue a foray of Scots, under Sir William Douglas, who,

having ravaged the country, were returning laden with spoil. It was a fruit

of the feud between the Douglases and the Percys. The marauders were

overtaken by Hotspur Percy, and then took place the battle of Otterbourne,

in which Percy was taken prisoner and Douglas slain. [Footnote:

  Theare the Dowglas lost his life,

  And the Percye was led away.

FORDUN. _Quoted by Surtee's Hist. Durham_, vol i.]


For upwards of two hundred years the De Wessyngtons had now sat in the

councils of the palatinate; had mingled with horse and hound in the stately

hunts of its prelates, and followed the banner of St. Cuthbert to the

field; but Sir William, just mentioned, was the last of the family that

rendered this feudal service. He was the last male of the line to which the

inheritance of the manor, by the license granted to his father, was

confined. It passed away from the De Wessyngtons, after his death, by the

marriage of his only daughter and heir, Dionisia, with Sir William Temple

of Studley. By the year 1400 it had become the property of the Blaykestons.

[Footnote: Hutchinson's Durham, vol. ii., p. 489.]


But though the name of De Wessyngton no longer figured on the chivalrous

roll of the palatinate, it continued for a time to flourish in the

cloisters. In the year 1416, John de Wessyngton was elected prior of the

Benedictine convent, attached to the cathedral. The monks of this convent

had been licensed by Pope Gregory VII. to perform the solemn duties of the

cathedral in place of secular clergy, and William the Conqueror had

ordained that the priors of Durham should enjoy all the liberties,

dignities and honors of abbots; should hold their lands and churches in

their own hands and free disposition, and have the abbot's seat on the left

side of the choir--thus taking rank of every one but the bishop. [Footnote:

Dugdale Monasticon Anglicanum. T. i., p. 231. London ed. 1846.]


In the course of three centuries and upwards, which had since elapsed,

these honors and privileges had been subject to repeated dispute and

encroachment, and the prior had nearly been elbowed out of the abbot's

chair by the archdeacon. John de Wessyngton was not a man to submit tamely

to such infringements of his rights. He forthwith set himself up as the

champion of his priory, and in a learned tract, _de Juribus et

Possessionibus Ecclesiae Dunelm_, established the validity of the long

controverted claims, and fixed himself firmly in the abbot's chair. His

success in this controversy gained him much renown among his brethren of

the cowl, and in 1426 he presided at the general chapter of the order of

St. Benedict, held at Northampton.


The stout prior of Durham had other disputes with the bishop and the

secular clergy touching his ecclesiastical functions, in which he was

equally victorious, and several tracts remain in manuscript in the dean and

chapter's library; weapons hung up in the church armory as memorials of his

polemical battles.


Finally, after fighting divers good fights for the honor of his priory, and

filling the abbot's chair for thirty years, he died, to use an ancient

phrase, "in all the odor of sanctity," in 1446, and was buried like a

soldier on his battle-field, at the door of the north aisle of his church,

near to the altar of St. Benedict. On his tombstone was an inscription in

brass, now unfortunately obliterated, which may have set forth the valiant

deeds of this Washington of the cloisters. [Footnote: Hutchinson's Durham,

vol. ii., passim.]


By this time the primitive stock of the De Wessyngtons had separated into

divers branches, holding estates in various parts of England; some

distinguishing themselves in the learned professions, others receiving

knighthood for public services. Their names are to be found honorably

recorded in county histories, or engraved on monuments in time-worn

churches and cathedrals, those garnering places of English worthies. By

degrees the seignorial sign of _de_ disappeared from before the family

surname, which also varied from Wessyngton to Wassington, Wasshington, and

finally, to Washington. [Footnote: "The de came to be omitted," says an old

treatise, "when Englishmen and English manners began to prevail upon the

recovery of lost credit."--_Restitution of decayed intelligence in

antiquities._ Lond. 1634.


About the time of Henry VI., says another treatise, the de or d' was

generally dropped from surnames, when the title of _armiger_,

_esquier_, amongst the heads of families, and _generosus_, or

_gentylman_, among younger sons was substituted.--_Lower on

Surnames_, vol i.] A parish in the county of Durham bears the name as

last written, and in this probably the ancient manor of Wessyngton was

situated. There is another parish of the name in the county of Sussex.


The branch of the family to which our Washington immediately belongs sprang

from Laurence Washington, Esquire, of Gray's Inn, son of John Washington,

of Warton in Lancashire. This Laurence Washington was for some time mayor

of Northampton, and on the dissolution of the priories by Henry VIII. he

received, in 1538, a grant of the manor of Sulgrave, in Northamptonshire,

with other lands in the vicinity, all confiscated property formerly

belonging to the monastery of St. Andrew's.


Sulgrave remained in the family until 1620, and was commonly called

"Washington's manor." [Footnote: The manor of Garsdon in Wiltshire has been

mentioned as the homestead of the ancestors of our Washington. This is a

mistake. It was the residence of Sir Laurence Washington, second son of the

above-mentioned grantee of Sulgrave. Elizabeth, granddaughter of this Sir

Laurence, married Robert Shirley, Earl Ferrers and Viscount of Tamworth.

Washington became a baptismal name among the Shirleys--several of the Earls

Ferrers have borne it.


The writer of these pages visited Sulgrave a few years since. It was in a

quiet rural neighborhood, where the farm-houses were quaint and antiquated.

A part only of the manor house remained, and was inhabited by a farmer. The

Washington crest, in colored glass, was to be seen in a window of what was

now the buttery. A window on which the whole family arms was emblazoned had

been removed to the residence of the actual proprietor of the manor.

Another relic of the ancient manor of the Washingtons was a rookery in a

venerable grove hard by. The rooks, those stanch adherents to old family

abodes, still hovered and cawed about their hereditary nests. In the

pavement of the parish church we were shown a stone slab bearing effigies

on plates of brass of Laurence Wasshington, gent., and Anne his wife, and

their four sons and eleven daughters. The inscription in black letter was

dated 1564.]


One of the direct descendants of the grantee of Sulgrave was Sir William

Washington, of Packington, in the county of Kent. He married a sister of

George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, the unfortunate favorite of Charles I.

This may have attached the Sulgrave Washingtons to the Stuart dynasty, to

which they adhered loyally and generously throughout all its vicissitudes.

One of the family, Lieutenant Colonel James Washington, took up arms in the

cause of king Charles, and lost his life at the siege of Pontefract castle.

Another of the Sulgrave line, Sir Henry Washington, son and heir of Sir

William, before mentioned, exhibited in the civil wars the old chivalrous

spirit of the knights of the palatinate. He served under prince Rupert at

the storming of Bristol, in 1643, and when the assailants were beaten off

at every point, he broke in with a handful of infantry at a weak part of

the wall, made room for the horse to follow, and opened a path to victory.

[Footnote: Clarendon, Book vii.]


He distinguished himself still more in 1646, when elevated to the command

of Worcester, the governor having been captured by the enemy. It was a time

of confusion and dismay. The king had fled from Oxford in disguise and gone

to the parliamentary camp at Newark. The royal cause was desperate. In this

crisis Sir Henry received a letter from Fairfax, who, with his victorious

army, was at Haddington, demanding the surrender of Worcester. The

following was Colonel Washington's reply:




It is acknowledged by your books and by report of your own quarter, that

the king is in some of your armies. That granted, it may be easy for you to

procure his Majesty's commands for the disposal of this garrison. Till then

I shall make good the trust reposed in me. As for conditions, if I shall be

necessitated, I shall make the best I can. The worst I know and fear not;

if I had, the profession of a soldier had not been begun, nor so long

continued by your Excellency's humble servant,


HENRY WASHINGTON. [Footnote: Greene's Antiquities of Worcester, p. 273.]


In a few days Colonel Whalley invested the city with five thousand troops.

Sir Henry dispatched messenger after messenger in quest of the king to know

his pleasure. None of them returned. A female emissary was equally

unavailing. Week after week elapsed, until nearly three months had expired.

Provisions began to fail. The city was in confusion. The troops grew

insubordinate. Yet Sir Henry persisted in the defence. General Fairfax,

with 1,500 horse and foot, was daily expected. There was not powder enough

for an hour's contest should the city be stormed. Still Sir Henry "awaited

his Majesty's commands."


At length news arrived that the king had issued an order for the surrender

of all towns, castles, and forts. A printed copy of the order was shown to

Sir Henry, and on the faith of that document he capitulated (19th July,

1646) on honorable terms, won by his fortitude and perseverance. Those who

believe in hereditary virtues may see foreshadowed in the conduct of this

Washington of Worcester, the magnanimous constancy of purpose, the

disposition to "hope against hope," which bore our Washington triumphantly

through the darkest days of our revolution.


We have little note of the Sulgrave branch of the family after the death of

Charles I. and the exile of his successor. England, during the

protectorate, became an uncomfortable residence to such as had signalized

themselves as adherents to the house of Stuart. In 1655, an attempt at a

general insurrection drew on them the vengeance of Cromwell. Many of their

party who had no share in the conspiracy, yet sought refuge in other lands,

where they might live free from molestation. This may have been the case

with two brothers, John and Andrew Washington, great-grandsons of the

grantee of Sulgrave, and uncles of Sir Henry, the gallant defender of

Worcester. John had for some time resided at South Cave, in the East Riding

of Yorkshire; [Footnote: South Cave is near the Humber. "In the vicinity is

Cave Castle, an embattled edifice. It has a noble collection of paintings,

including a portrait of General Washington, whose ancestors possessed a

portion of the estate."--_Lewes, Topog. Dict._ vol. i., p. 530.] but

now emigrated with his brother to Virginia; which colony, from its

allegiance to the exiled monarch and the Anglican Church had become a

favorite resort of the Cavaliers. The brothers arrived in Virginia in 1657,

and purchased lands in Westmoreland County, on the northern neck, between

the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. John married a Miss Anne Pope, of the

same county, and took up his residence on Bridges Creek, near where it

falls into the Potomac. He became an extensive planter, and, in process of

time, a magistrate and member of the House of Burgesses. Having a spark of

the old military fire of the family, we find him, as Colonel Washington,

leading the Virginia forces, in co-operation with those of Maryland,

against a band of Seneca Indians, who were ravaging the settlements along

the Potomac. In honor of his public services and private virtues the parish

in which he resided was called after him, and still bears the name of

Washington. He lies buried in a vault on Bridges Creek, which, for

generations, was the family place of sepulture.


The estate continued in the family. His grandson Augustine, the father of

our Washington, was born there in 1694. He was twice married; first (April

20th, 1715), to Jane, daughter of Caleb Butler, Esq., of Westmoreland

County, by whom he had four children, of whom only two, Lawrence and

Augustine, survived the years of childhood; their mother died November

24th, 1728, and was buried in the family vault.


On the 6th of March, 1730, he married in second nuptials, Mary, the

daughter of Colonel Ball, a young and beautiful girl, said to be the belle

of the Northern Neck. By her he had four sons, George, Samuel, John

Augustine, and Charles; and two daughters, Elizabeth, or Betty, as she was

commonly called, and Mildred, who died in infancy.


George, the eldest, the subject of this biography, was born on the 22d of

February (11th, O. S.), 1732, in the homestead on Bridges Creek. This house

commanded a view over many miles of the Potomac, and the opposite shore of

Maryland. It had probably been purchased with the property, and was one of

the primitive farm-houses of Virginia. The roof was steep, and sloped down

into low projecting eaves. It had four rooms on the ground floor, and

others in the attic, and an immense chimney at each end. Not a vestige of

it remains. Two or three decayed fig trees, with shrubs and vines, linger

about the place, and here and there a flower grown wild serves "to mark

where a garden has been." Such at least, was the case a few years since;

but these may have likewise passed away. A stone [Footnote: Placed there by

George W. P. Custis, Esq.] marks the site of the house, and an inscription

denotes its being the birthplace of Washington.


We have entered with some minuteness into this genealogical detail; tracing

the family step by step through the pages of historical documents for

upwards of six centuries; and we have been tempted to do so by the

documentary proofs it gives of the lineal and enduring worth of the race.

We have shown that, for many generations, and through a variety of eventful

scenes, it has maintained an equality of fortune and respectability, and

whenever brought to the test has acquitted itself with honor and loyalty.

Hereditary rank may be an illusion; but hereditary virtue gives a patent of

innate nobleness beyond all the blazonry of the Herald's College.











Not long after the birth of George, his father removed to an estate in

Stafford County, opposite Fredericksburg. The house was similar in style to

the one at Bridges Creek, and stood on a rising ground overlooking a meadow

which bordered the Rappahannock. This was the home of George's boyhood; the

meadow was his play-ground, and the scene of his early athletic sports; but

this home, like that in which he was born, has disappeared; the site is

only to be traced by fragments of bricks, china, and earthenware.


In those days the means of instruction in Virginia were limited, and it was

the custom among the wealthy planters to send their sons to England to

complete their education. This was done by Augustine Washington with his

eldest son Lawrence, then about fifteen years of age, and whom he no doubt

considered the future head of the family. George was yet in early

childhood: as his intellect dawned he received the rudiments of education

in the best establishment for the purpose that the neighborhood afforded.

It was what was called, in popular parlance, an "old field school-house;"

humble enough in its pretensions, and kept by one of his father's tenants

named Hobby, who moreover was sexton of the parish. The instruction doled

out by him must have been of the simplest kind, reading, writing, and

ciphering, perhaps; but George had the benefit of mental and moral culture

at home, from an excellent father.


Several traditional anecdotes have been given to the world, somewhat prolix

and trite, but illustrative of the familiar and practical manner in which

Augustine Washington, in the daily intercourse of domestic life, impressed

the ductile mind of his child with high maxims of religion and virtue, and

imbued him with a spirit of justice and generosity, and above all a

scrupulous love of truth.


When George was about seven or eight years old his brother Lawrence

returned from England, a well-educated and accomplished youth. There was a

difference of fourteen years in their ages, which may have been one cause

of the strong attachment which took place between them. Lawrence looked

down with a protecting eye upon the boy whose dawning intelligence and

perfect rectitude won his regard; while George looked up to his manly and

cultivated brother as a model in mind and manners. We call particular

attention to this brotherly interchange of affection, from the influence it

had on all the future career of the subject of this memoir.


Lawrence Washington had something of the old military spirit of the family,

and circumstances soon called it into action. Spanish depredations on

British commerce had recently provoked reprisals. Admiral Vernon,

commander-in-chief in the West Indies, had accordingly captured Porto

Bello, on the Isthmus of Darien. The Spaniards were preparing to revenge

the blow; the French were fitting out ships to aid them. Troops were

embarked in England for another campaign in the West Indies; a regiment of

four battalions was to be raised in the colonies and sent to join them at

Jamaica. There was a sudden outbreak of military ardor in the province; the

sound of drum and fife was heard in the villages with the parade of

recruiting parties. Lawrence Washington, now twenty-two years of age,

caught the infection. He obtained a captain's commission in the newly

raised regiment, and embarked with it for the West Indies in 1740. He

served in the joint expeditions of Admiral Vernon and General Wentworth, in

the land forces commanded by the latter, and acquired the friendship and

confidence of both of those officers. He was present at the siege of

Carthagena, when it was bombarded by the fleet, and when the troops

attempted to escalade the citadel. It was an ineffectual attack; the ships

could not get near enough to throw their shells into the town, and the

scaling ladders proved too short. That part of the attack, however, with

which Lawrence was concerned, distinguished itself by its bravery. The

troops sustained unflinching a destructive fire for several hours, and at

length retired with honor, their small force having sustained a loss of

about six hundred in killed and wounded.


We have here the secret of that martial spirit so often cited of George in

his boyish days. He had seen his brother fitted out for the wars. He had

heard by letter and otherwise of the warlike scenes in which he was

mingling. All his amusements took a military turn. He made soldiers of his

schoolmates; they had their mimic parades, reviews, and sham fights; a boy

named William Bustle was sometimes his competitor, but George was

commander-in-chief of Hobby's school.


Lawrence Washington returned home in the autumn of 1742, the campaigns in

the West Indies being ended, and Admiral Vernon and General Wentworth being

recalled to England. It was the intention of Lawrence to rejoin his

regiment in that country, and seek promotion in the army, but circumstances

completely altered his plans. He formed an attachment to Anne, the eldest

daughter of the Honorable William Fairfax, of Fairfax County; his addresses

were well received, and they became engaged. Their nuptials were delayed by

the sudden and untimely death of his father, which took place on the 12th

of April, 1743, after a short but severe attack of gout in the stomach, and

when but forty-nine years of age. George had been absent from home on a

visit during his father's illness, and just returned in time to receive a

parting look of affection.


Augustine Washington left large possessions, distributed by will among his

children. To Lawrence, the estate on the banks of the Potomac, with other

real property, and several shares in iron works. To Augustine, the second

son by the first marriage, the old homestead and estate in Westmoreland.

The children by the second marriage were severally well provided for, and

George, when he became of age, was to have the house and lands on the



In the month of July the marriage of Lawrence with Miss Fairfax took place.

He now gave up all thoughts of foreign service, and settled himself on his

estate on the banks of the Potomac, to which he gave the name of MOUNT

VERNON, in honor of the admiral.


Augustine took up his abode at the homestead on Bridges Creek, and married

Anne, daughter and co-heiress of William Aylett, Esquire, of Westmoreland



George, now eleven years of age, and the other children of the second

marriage, had been left under the guardianship of their mother, to whom was

intrusted the proceeds of all their property until they should severally

come of age. She proved herself worthy of the trust. Endowed with plain,

direct good sense, thorough conscientiousness, and prompt decision, she

governed her family strictly, but kindly, exacting deference while she

inspired affection. George, being her eldest son, was thought to be her

favorite, yet she never gave him undue preference, and the implicit

deference exacted from him in childhood continued to be habitually observed

by him to the day of her death. He inherited from her a high temper and a

spirit of command, but her early precepts and example taught him to

restrain and govern that temper, and to square his conduct on the exact

principles of equity and justice.


Tradition gives an interesting picture of the widow, with her little flock

gathered round her, as was her daily wont, reading to them lessons of

religion and morality out of some standard work. Her favorite volume was

Sir Matthew Hale's Contemplations, moral and divine. The admirable maxims

therein contained, for outward action as well as self-government, sank deep

into the mind of George, and, doubtless, had a great influence in forming

his character. They certainly were exemplified in his conduct throughout

life. This mother's manual, bearing his mother's name, Mary Washington,

written with her own hand, was ever preserved by him with filial care, and

may still be seen in the archives of Mount Vernon. A precious document! Let

those who wish to know the moral foundation of his character consult its



Having no longer the benefit of a father's instructions at home, and the

scope of tuition of Hobby, the sexton, being too limited for the growing

wants of his pupil, George was now sent to reside with Augustine

Washington, at Bridges Creek, and enjoy the benefit of a superior school in

that neighborhood, kept by a Mr. Williams. His education, however, was

plain and practical. He never attempted the learned languages, nor

manifested any inclination for rhetoric or belles-lettres. His object, or

the object of his friends, seems to have been confined to fitting him for

ordinary business. His manuscript school books still exist, and are models

of neatness and accuracy. One of them, it is true, a ciphering book,

preserved in the library at Mount Vernon, has some school-boy attempts at

calligraphy; nondescript birds, executed with a flourish of the pen, or

profiles of faces, probably intended for those of his schoolmates; the rest

are all grave and business-like. Before he was thirteen years of age he had

copied into a volume forms for all kinds of mercantile and legal papers;

bills of exchange, notes of hand, deeds, bonds, and the like. This early

self-tuition gave him throughout life a lawyer's skill in drafting

documents, and a merchant's exactness in keeping accounts; so that all the

concerns of his various estates; his dealings with his domestic stewards

and foreign agents; his accounts with government, and all his financial

transactions are to this day to be seen posted up in books, in his own

handwriting, monuments of his method and unwearied accuracy.


He was a self-disciplinarian in physical as well as mental matters, and

practised himself in all kinds of athletic exercises, such as running,

leaping, wrestling, pitching quoits and tossing bars. His frame even in

infancy had been large and powerful, and he now excelled most of his

playmates in contests of agility and strength. As a proof of his muscular

power, a place is still pointed out at Fredericksburg, near the lower

ferry, where, when a boy, he flung a stone across the Rappahannock. In

horsemanship too he already excelled, and was ready to back, and able to

manage the most fiery steed. Traditional anecdotes remain of his

achievements in this respect.


Above all, his inherent probity and the principles of justice on which he

regulated all his conduct, even at this early period of life, were soon

appreciated by his schoolmates; he was referred to as an umpire in their

disputes, and his decisions were never reversed. As he had formerly been

military chieftain, he was now legislator of the school; thus displaying in

boyhood a type of the future man.














The attachment of Lawrence Washington to his brother George seems to have

acquired additional strength and tenderness on their father's death; he now

took a truly paternal interest in his concerns, and had him as frequently

as possible a guest at Mount Vernon. Lawrence had deservedly become a

popular and leading personage in the country. He was a member of the House

of Burgesses, and Adjutant General of the district, with the rank of major,

and a regular salary. A frequent sojourn with him brought George into

familiar intercourse with the family of his father-in-law, the Hon.

William Fairfax, who resided at a beautiful seat called Belvoir, a few

miles below Mount Vernon, and on the same woody ridge bordering the



William Fairfax was a man of liberal education and intrinsic worth; he had

seen much of the world, and his mind had been enriched and ripened by

varied and adventurous experience. Of an ancient English family in

Yorkshire, he had entered the army at the age of twenty-one; had served

with honor both in the East and West Indies, and officiated as governor of

New Providence, after having aided in rescuing it from pirates. For some

years past he had resided in Virginia, to manage the immense landed estates

of his cousin, Lord Fairfax, and lived at Belvoir in the style of an

English country gentleman, surrounded by an intelligent and cultivated

family of sons and daughters.


An intimacy with a family like this, in which the frankness and simplicity

of rural and colonial life were united with European refinement, could not

but have a beneficial effect in moulding the character and manners of a

somewhat homebred schoolboy. It was probably his intercourse with them, and

his ambition to acquit himself well in their society, that set him upon

compiling a code of morals and manners which still exists in a manuscript

in his own handwriting, entitled "rules for behavior in company and

conversation." It is extremely minute and circumstantial. Some of the rules

for personal deportment extend to such trivial matters, and are so quaint

and formal, as almost to provoke a smile; but in the main, a better manual

of conduct could not be put into the hands of a youth. The whole code

evinces that rigid propriety and self control to which he subjected

himself, and by which he brought all the impulses of a somewhat ardent

temper under conscientious government.


Other influences were brought to bear on George during his visit at Mount

Vernon. His brother Lawrence still retained some of his military

inclinations, fostered no doubt by his post of Adjutant General. William

Fairfax, as we have shown, had been a soldier, and in many trying scenes.

Some of Lawrence's comrades of the provincial regiment, who had served with

him in the West Indies, were occasional visitors at Mount Vernon; or a ship

of war, possibly one of Vernon's old fleet, would anchor in the Potomac,

and its officers be welcome guests at the tables of Lawrence and his

father-in-law. Thus military scenes on sea and shore would become the

topics of conversation. The capture of Porto Bello; the bombardment of

Carthagena; old stories of cruisings in the East and West Indies, and

campaigns against the pirates. We can picture to ourselves George, a grave

and earnest boy, with an expanding intellect, and a deep-seated passion for

enterprise, listening to such conversations with a kindling spirit and a

growing desire for military life. In this way most probably was produced

that desire to enter the navy which he evinced when about fourteen years of

age. The opportunity for gratifying it appeared at hand. Ships of war

frequented the colonies, and at times, as we have hinted, were anchored in

the Potomac. The inclination was encouraged by Lawrence Washington and Mr.

Fairfax. Lawrence retained pleasant recollections of his cruisings in the

fleet of Admiral Vernon, and considered the naval service a popular path to

fame and fortune. George was at a suitable age to enter the navy. The great

difficulty was to procure the assent of his mother. She was brought,

however, to acquiesce; a midshipman's warrant was obtained, and it is even

said that the luggage of the youth was actually on board of a man of war,

anchored in the river just below Mount Vernon.


At the eleventh hour the mother's heart faltered. This was her eldest born.

A son, whose strong and steadfast character promised to be a support to

herself and a protection to her other children. The thought of his being

completely severed from her and exposed to the hardships and perils of a

boisterous profession, overcame even her resolute mind, and at her urgent

remonstrances the nautical scheme was given up.


To school, therefore, George returned, and continued his studies for nearly

two years longer, devoting himself especially to mathematics, and

accomplishing himself in those branches calculated to fit him either for

civil or military service. Among these, one of the most important in the

actual state of the country was land surveying. In this he schooled himself

thoroughly, using the highest processes of the art; making surveys about

the neighborhood, and keeping regular field books, some of which we have

examined, in which the boundaries and measurements of the fields surveyed

were carefully entered, and diagrams made, with a neatness and exactness as

if the whole related to important land transactions instead of being mere

school exercises. Thus, in his earliest days, there was perseverance and

completeness in all his undertakings. Nothing was left half done, or done

in a hurried and slovenly manner. The habit of mind thus cultivated

continued throughout life; so that however complicated his tasks and

overwhelming his cares, in the arduous and hazardous situations in which he

was often placed, he found time to do every thing, and to do it well. He

had acquired the magic of method, which of itself works wonders.


In one of these manuscript memorials of his practical studies and

exercises, we have come upon some documents singularly in contrast with all

that we have just cited, and, with his apparently unromantic character. In

a word, there are evidences in his own handwriting, that, before he was

fifteen years of age, he had conceived a passion for some unknown beauty,

so serious as to disturb his otherwise well-regulated mind, and to make him

really unhappy. Why this juvenile attachment was a source of unhappiness we

have no positive means of ascertaining. Perhaps the object of it may have

considered him a mere school-boy, and treated him as such; or his own

shyness may have been in his way, and his "rules for behavior and

conversation" may as yet have sat awkwardly on him, and rendered him formal

and ungainly when he most sought to please. Even in later years he was apt

to be silent and embarrassed in female society. "He was a very bashful

young man," said an old lady, whom he used to visit when they were both in

their nonage. "I used often to wish that he would talk more."


Whatever may have been the reason, this early attachment seems to have been

a source of poignant discomfort to him. It clung to him after he took a

final leave of school in the autumn of 1747, and went to reside with his

brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. Here he continued his mathematical

studies and his practice in surveying, disturbed at times by recurrences of

his unlucky passion. Though by no means of a poetical temperament, the

waste pages of his journal betray several attempts to pour forth his

amorous sorrows in verse. They are mere common-place rhymes, such as lovers

at his age are apt to write, in which he bewails his "poor restless heart,

wounded by Cupid's dart," and "bleeding for one who remains pitiless of his

griefs and woes."


The tenor of some of his verses induce us to believe that he never told his

love; but, as we have already surmised, was prevented by his bashfulness.


  "Ah, woe is me, that I should love and conceal;

  Long have I wished and never dare reveal."


It is difficult to reconcile one's self to the idea of the cool and sedate

Washington, the great champion of American liberty, a woe-worn lover in his

youthful days, "sighing like furnace," and inditing plaintive verses about

the groves of Mount Vernon. We are glad of an opportunity, however, of

penetrating to his native feelings, and finding that under his studied

decorum and reserve he had a heart of flesh throbbing with the warm

impulses of human nature.


Being a favorite of Sir William Fairfax, he was now an occasional inmate of

Belvoir. Among the persons at present residing there was Thomas, Lord

Fairfax, cousin of William Fairfax, and of whose immense landed property

the latter was the agent. As this nobleman was one of Washington's earliest

friends, and, in some degree the founder of his fortunes, his character and

history are worthy of especial note.


Lord Fairfax was now nearly sixty years of age, upwards of six feet high,

gaunt and raw-boned, near-sighted, with light gray eyes, sharp features and

an aquiline nose. However ungainly his present appearance, he had figured

to advantage in London life in his younger days. He had received his

education at the university of Oxford, where he acquitted himself with

credit. He afterwards held a commission, and remained for some time in a

regiment of horse called the Blues. His title and connections, of course,

gave him access to the best society, in which he acquired additional

currency by contributing a paper or two to Addison's Spectator, then in

great vogue.


In the height of his fashionable career, he became strongly attached to a

young lady of rank; paid his addresses, and was accepted. The wedding day

was fixed; the wedding dresses were provided; together with servants and

equipages for the matrimonial establishment. Suddenly the lady broke her

engagement. She had been dazzled by the superior brilliancy of a ducal



It was a cruel blow, alike to the affection and pride of Lord Fairfax, and

wrought a change in both character and conduct. From that time he almost

avoided the sex, and became shy and embarrassed in their society, excepting

among those with whom he was connected or particularly intimate. This may

have been among the reasons which ultimately induced him to abandon the gay

world and bury himself in the wilds of America. He made a voyage to

Virginia about the year 1739, to visit his vast estates there. These he

inherited from his mother, Catharine, daughter of Thomas, Lord Culpepper,

to whom they had been granted by Charles II. The original grant was for all

the lands lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers; meaning

thereby, it is said, merely the territory on the northern neck, east of the

Blue Ridge. His lordship, however, discovering that the Potomac headed in

the Allegany Mountains, returned to England and claimed a correspondent

definition of his grant. It was arranged by compromise; extending his

domain into the Allegany Mountains, and comprising, among other lands, a

great portion of the Shenandoah Valley.


Lord Fairfax had been delighted with his visit to Virginia. The amenity of

the climate, the magnificence of the forest scenery, the abundance of

game,--all pointed it out as a favored land. He was pleased, too, with the

frank, cordial character of the Virginians, and their independent mode of

life; and returned to it with the resolution of taking up his abode there

for the remainder of his days. His early disappointment in love was the

cause of some eccentricities in his conduct; yet he was amiable and

courteous in his manners, and of a liberal and generous spirit.


Another inmate of Belvoir at this time was George William Fairfax, about

twenty-two years of age, the eldest son of the proprietor. He had been

educated in England, and since his return had married a daughter of Colonel

Carey, of Hampton, on James River. He had recently brought home his bride

and her sister to his father's house.


The merits of Washington were known and appreciated by the Fairfax family.

Though not quite sixteen years of age, he no longer seemed a boy, nor was

he treated as such. Tall, athletic, and manly for his years, his early

self-training, and the code of conduct he had devised, gave a gravity and

decision to his conduct; his frankness and modesty inspired cordial regard,

and the melancholy, of which he speaks, may have produced a softness in his

manner calculated to win favor in ladies' eyes. According to his own

account, the female society by which he was surrounded had a soothing

effect on that melancholy. The charms of Miss Carey, the sister of the

bride, seem even to have caused a slight fluttering in his bosom; which,

however, was constantly rebuked by the remembrance of his former

passion--so at least we judge from letters to his youthful confidants,

rough drafts of which are still to be seen in his tell-tale journal.


To one whom he addresses as his dear friend Robin, he writes: "My residence

is at present at his lordship's, where I might, was my heart disengaged,

pass my time very pleasantly, as there's a very agreeable young lady lives

in the same house (Col. George Fairfax's wife's sister); but as that's only

adding fuel to fire, it makes me the more uneasy, for by often and

unavoidably being in company with her, revives my former passion for your

Lowland Beauty; whereas was I to live more retired from young women, I

might in some measure alleviate my sorrows, by burying that chaste and

troublesome passion in the grave of oblivion," &c.


Similar avowals he makes to another of his young correspondents, whom he

styles, "Dear friend John;" as also to a female confidant, styled "Dear

Sally," to whom he acknowledges that the company of the "very agreeable

young lady, sister-in-law of Col. George Fairfax," in a great measure

cheers his sorrow and dejectedness.


The object of this early passion is not positively known. Tradition states

that the "lowland beauty" was a Miss Grimes, of Westmoreland, afterwards

Mrs. Lee, and mother of General Henry Lee, who figured in revolutionary

history as Light Horse Harry, and was always a favorite with Washington,

probably from the recollections of his early tenderness for the mother.


Whatever may have been the soothing effect of the female society by which

he was surrounded at Belvoir, the youth found a more effectual remedy for

his love melancholy in the company of Lord Fairfax. His lordship was a

staunch fox-hunter, and kept horses and hounds in the English style. The

hunting season had arrived. The neighborhood abounded with sport; but

fox-hunting in Virginia required bold and skilful horsemanship. He found

Washington as bold as himself in the saddle, and as eager to follow the

hounds. He forthwith took him into peculiar favor; made him his hunting

companion; and it was probably under the tuition of this hard-riding old

nobleman that the youth imbibed that fondness for the chase for which he

was afterwards remarked.


Their fox-hunting intercourse was attended with more important results.

His lordship's possessions beyond the Blue Ridge had never been regularly

settled nor surveyed. Lawless intruders--squatters, as they were

called--were planting themselves along the finest streams and in the

richest valleys, and virtually taking possession of the country. It was the

anxious desire of Lord Fairfax to have these lands examined, surveyed, and

portioned out into lots, preparatory to ejecting these interlopers or

bringing them to reasonable terms. In Washington, notwithstanding his

youth, he beheld one fit for the task--having noticed the exercises in

surveying which he kept up while at Mount Vernon, and the aptness and

exactness with which every process was executed. He was well calculated,

too, by his vigor and activity, his courage and hardihood, to cope with the

wild country to be surveyed, and with its still wilder inhabitants. The

proposition had only to be offered to Washington to be eagerly accepted. It

was the very kind of occupation for which he had been diligently training

himself. All the preparations required by one of his simple habits were

soon made, and in a very few days he was ready for his first expedition

into the wilderness.













It was in the month of March (1748), and just after he had completed his

sixteenth year, that Washington set out on horseback on this surveying

expedition, in company with George William Fairfax. Their route lay by

Ashley's Gap, a pass through the Blue Ridge, that beautiful line of

mountains which, as yet, almost formed the western frontier of inhabited

Virginia. Winter still lingered on the tops of the mountains, whence

melting snows sent down torrents, which swelled the rivers and occasionally

rendered them almost impassable. Spring, however, was softening the lower

parts of the landscape and smiling in the valleys.


They entered the great valley of Virginia, where it is about twenty-five

miles wide; a lovely and temperate region, diversified by gentle swells and

slopes, admirably adapted to cultivation. The Blue Ridge bounds it on one

side, the North Mountain, a ridge of the Alleganies, on the other; while

through it flows that bright and abounding river, which, on account of its

surpassing beauty, was named by the Indians the Shenandoah--that is to say,

"the daughter of the stars."


The first station of the travellers was at a kind of lodge in the

wilderness, where the steward or land-bailiff of Lord Halifax resided, with

such negroes as were required for farming purposes, and which Washington

terms "his lordship's quarter." It was situated not far from the

Shenandoah, and about twelve miles from the site of the present town of



In a diary kept with his usual minuteness, Washington speaks with delight

of the beauty of the trees and the richness of the land in the

neighborhood, and of his riding through a noble grove of sugar maples on

the banks of the Shenandoah; and at the present day, the magnificence of

the forests which still exist in this favored region justifies his



He looked around, however, with an eye to the profitable rather than the

poetical. The gleam of poetry and romance, inspired by his "lowland

beauty," occurs no more. The real business of life has commenced with him.

His diary affords no food for fancy. Every thing is practical. The

qualities of the soil, the relative value of sites and localities, are

faithfully recorded. In these his early habits of observation and his

exercises in surveying had already made him a proficient.


His surveys commenced in the lower part of the valley, some distance above

the junction of the Shenandoah with the Potomac, and extended for many

miles along the former river. Here and there partial "clearings" had been

made by squatters and hardy pioneers, and their rude husbandry had produced

abundant crops of grain, hemp, and tobacco; civilization, however, had

hardly yet entered the valley, if we may judge from the note of a night's

lodging at the house of one of the settlers--Captain Hite, near the site of

the present town of Winchester. Here, after supper, most of the company

stretched themselves in backwood style, before the fire; but Washington was

shown into a bed-room. Fatigued with a hard day's work at surveying, he

soon undressed; but instead of being nestled between sheets in a

comfortable bed, as at the maternal home, or at Mount Vernon, he found

himself on a couch of matted straw, under a threadbare blanket, swarming

with unwelcome bedfellows. After tossing about for a few moments, he was

glad to put on his clothes again, and rejoin his companions before the



Such was his first experience of life in the wilderness; he soon, however,

accustomed himself to "rough it," and adapt himself to fare of all kinds,

though he generally preferred a bivouac before a fire, in the open air, to

the accommodations of a woodman's cabin. Proceeding down the valley to the

banks of the Potomac, they found that river so much swollen by the rain

which had fallen among the Alleganies, as to be unfordable. To while away

the time until it should subside, they made an excursion to examine certain

warm springs in a valley among the mountains, since called the Berkeley

Springs. There they camped out at night, under the stars; the diary makes

no complaint of their accommodations; and their camping-ground is now known

as Bath, one of the favorite watering-places of Virginia. One of the warm

springs was subsequently appropriated by Lord Fairfax to his own use, and

still bears his name.


After watching in vain for the river to subside, they procured a canoe, on

which they crossed to the Maryland side; swimming their horses. A weary

day's ride of forty miles up the left side of the river, in a continual

rain, and over what Washington pronounces the worst road ever trod by man

or beast, brought them to the house of a Colonel Cresap, opposite the south

branch of the Potomac, where they put up for the night.


Here they were detained three or four days by inclement weather. On the

second day they were surprised by the appearance of a war party of thirty

Indians, bearing a scalp as a trophy. A little liquor procured the

spectacle of a war-dance. A large space was cleared, and a fire made in the

centre, round which the warriors took their seats. The principal orator

made a speech, reciting their recent exploits, and rousing them to triumph.

One of the warriors started up as if from sleep, and began a series of

movements, half-grotesque, half-tragical; the rest followed. For music, one

savage drummed on a deerskin, stretched over a pot half filled with water;

another rattled a gourd, containing a few shot, and decorated with a

horse's tail. Their strange outcries, and uncouth forms and garbs, seen by

the glare of the fire, and their whoops and yells, made them appear more

like demons than human beings. All this savage gambol was no novelty to

Washington's companions, experienced in frontier life; but to the youth,

fresh from school, it was a strange spectacle, which he sat contemplating

with deep interest, and carefully noted down in his journal. It will be

found that he soon made himself acquainted with the savage character, and

became expert at dealing with these inhabitants of the wilderness.


From this encampment the party proceeded to the mouth of Patterson's Creek,

where they recrossed the river in a canoe, swimming their horses as before.

More than two weeks were now passed by them in the wild mountainous regions

of Frederick County, and about the south branch of the Potomac, surveying

lands and laying out lots, camped out the greater part of the time, and

subsisting on wild turkeys and other game. Each one was his own cook;

forked sticks served for spits, and chips of wood for dishes. The weather

was unsettled. At one time their tent was blown down; at another they were

driven out of it by smoke; now they were drenched with rain, and now the

straw on which Washington was sleeping caught fire, and he was awakened by

a companion just in time to escape a scorching.


The only variety to this camp life was a supper at the house of one Solomon

Hedge, Esquire, his majesty's justice of the peace, where there were no

forks at table, nor any knives, but such as the guests brought in their

pockets. During their surveys they were followed by numbers of people, some

of them squatters, anxious, doubtless, to procure a cheap title to the land

they had appropriated; others, German emigrants, with their wives and

children, seeking a new home in the wilderness. Most of the latter could

not speak English; but when spoken to, answered in their native tongue.

They appeared to Washington ignorant as Indians, and uncouth, but "merry,

and full of antic tricks." Such were the progenitors of the sturdy yeomanry

now inhabiting those parts, many of whom still preserve their strong German



"I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed," writes Washington

to one of his young friends at home, "but after walking a good deal all the

day I have lain down before the fire upon a little straw or fodder, or a

bear skin, whichever was to be had, with man, wife, and children, like dogs

and cats; and happy is he who gets the berth nearest the fire."


Having completed his surveys, he set forth from the south branch of the

Potomac on his return homeward; crossed the mountains to the great

Cacapehon; traversed the Shenandoah valley; passed through the Blue Ridge,

and on the 12th of April found himself once more at Mount Vernon. For his

services he received, according to his note-book, a doubloon per day when

actively employed, and sometimes six pistoles. [Footnote: A pistole is



The manner in which he had acquitted himself in this arduous expedition,

and his accounts of the country surveyed, gave great satisfaction to Lord

Fairfax, who shortly afterwards moved across the Blue Ridge, and took up

his residence at the place heretofore noted as his "quarters." Here he laid

out a manor, containing ten thousand acres of arable grazing lands, vast

meadows, and noble forests, and projected a spacious manor house, giving to

the place the name of Greenway Court.


It was probably through the influence of Lord Fairfax that Washington

received the appointment of public surveyor. This conferred authority on

his surveys, and entitled them to be recorded in the county offices, and so

invariably correct have these surveys been found that, to this day,

wherever any of them stand on record, they receive implicit credit.


For three years he continued in this occupation, which proved extremely

profitable, from the vast extent of country to be surveyed and the very

limited number of public surveyors. It made him acquainted, also, with the

country, the nature of the soil in various parts, and the value of

localities; all which proved advantageous to him in his purchases in after

years. Many of the finest parts of the Shenandoah valley are yet owned by

members of the Washington family.


While thus employed for months at a time surveying the lands beyond the

Blue Ridge, he was often an inmate of Greenway Court. The projected manor

house was never even commenced. On a green knoll overshadowed by trees was

a long stone building one story in height, with dormer windows, two wooden

belfries, chimneys studded with swallow and martin coops, and a roof

sloping down in the old Virginia fashion, into low projecting eaves that

formed a verandah the whole length of the house. It was probably the house

originally occupied by his steward or land agent, but was now devoted to

hospitable purposes, and the reception of guests. As to his lordship, it

was one of his many eccentricities, that he never slept in the main

edifice, but lodged apart in a wooden house not much above twelve feet

square. In a small building was his office, where quitrents were given,

deeds drawn, and business transacted with his tenants.


About the knoll were out-houses for his numerous servants, black and white,

with stables for saddle-horses and hunters, and kennels for his hounds, for

his lordship retained his keen hunting propensities, and the neighborhood

abounded in game. Indians, half-breeds, and leathern-clad woodsmen loitered

about the place, and partook of the abundance of the kitchen. His

lordship's table was plentiful but plain, and served in the English



Here Washington had full opportunity, in the proper seasons, of indulging

his fondness for field sports, and once more accompanying his lordship in

the chase. The conversation of Lord Fairfax, too, was full of interest and

instruction to an inexperienced youth, from his cultivated talents, his

literary taste, and his past intercourse with the best society of Europe,

and its most distinguished authors. He had brought books, too, with him

into the wilderness, and from Washington's diary we find that during his

sojourn here he was diligently reading the history of England, and the

essays of the Spectator.


Such was Greenway Court in these its palmy days. We visited it recently and

found it tottering to its fall, mouldering in the midst of a magnificent

country, where nature still flourishes in full luxuriance and beauty.


Three or four years were thus passed by Washington, the greater part of the

time beyond the Blue Ridge, but occasionally with his brother Lawrence at

Mount Vernon. His rugged and toilsome expeditions in the mountains, among

rude scenes and rough people, inured him to hardships, and made him apt at

expedients; while his intercourse with his cultivated brother, and with the

various members of the Fairfax family, had a happy effect in toning up his

mind and manners, and counteracting the careless and self-indulgent

habitudes of the wilderness.



















During the time of Washington's surveying campaigns among the mountains, a

grand colonizing scheme had been set on foot, destined to enlist him in

hardy enterprises, and in some degree to shape the course of his future



The treaty of peace concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle, which had put an end to

the general war of Europe, had left undefined the boundaries between the

British and French possessions in America; a singular remissness,

considering that they had long been a subject in dispute, and a cause of

frequent conflicts in the colonies. Immense regions were still claimed by

both nations, and each was now eager to forestall the other by getting

possession of them, and strengthening its claim by occupancy.


The most desirable of these regions lay west of the Allegany Mountains,

extending from the lakes to the Ohio, and embracing the valley of that

river and its tributary streams. An immense territory, possessing a

salubrious climate, fertile soil, fine hunting and fishing grounds, and

facilities by lakes and rivers for a vast internal commerce.


The French claimed all this country quite to the Allegany mountains by the

right of discovery. In 1673, Padre Marquette, with his companion, Joliet,

of Quebec, both subjects of the crown of France, had passed down the

Mississippi in a canoe quite to the Arkansas, thereby, according to an

alleged maxim in the law of nations, establishing the right of their

sovereign, not merely to the river so discovered and its adjacent lands,

but to all the country drained by its tributary streams, of which the Ohio

was one; a claim, the ramifications of which might be spread, like the

meshes of a web, over half the continent.


To this illimitable claim the English opposed a right derived, at second

hand, from a traditionary Indian conquest. A treaty, they said, had been

made at Lancaster, in 1744, between commissioners from Pennsylvania,

Maryland, and Virginia, and the Iroquois, or Six Nations, whereby the

latter, for four hundred pounds, gave up all right and title to the land

west of the Allegany Mountains, even to the Mississippi, which land,

_according to their traditions_, had been conquered by their



It is undoubtedly true that such a treaty was made, and such a pretended

transfer of title did take place, under the influence of spirituous

liquors; but it is equally true that the Indians in question did not, at

the time, possess an acre of the land conveyed; and that the tribes

actually in possession scoffed at their pretensions, and claimed the

country as their own from time immemorial.


Such were the shadowy foundations of claims which the two nations were

determined to maintain to the uttermost, and which ripened into a series of

wars, ending in a loss to England of a great part of her American

possessions, and to France of the whole.


As yet in the region in question there was not a single white settlement.

Mixed Iroquois tribes of Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, had migrated

into it early in the century from the French settlements in Canada, and

taken up their abodes about the Ohio and its branches. The French pretended

to hold them under their protection; but their allegiance, if ever

acknowledged, had been sapped of late years by the influx of fur traders

from Pennsylvania. These were often rough, lawless men; half Indians in

dress and habits, prone to brawls, and sometimes deadly in their feuds.

They were generally in the employ of some trader, who, at the head of his

retainers and a string of pack-horses, would make his way over mountains

and through forests to the banks of the Ohio, establish his head-quarters

in some Indian town, and disperse his followers to traffic among the

hamlets, hunting-camps and wigwams, exchanging blankets, gaudy colored

cloth, trinketry, powder, shot, and rum, for valuable furs and peltry. In

this way a lucrative trade with these western tribes was springing up and

becoming monopolized by the Pennsylvanians.


To secure a participation in this trade, and to gain a foothold in this

desirable region, became now the wish of some of the most intelligent and

enterprising men of Virginia and Maryland, among whom were Lawrence and

Augustine Washington. With these views they projected a scheme, in

connection with John Hanbury, a wealthy London merchant, to obtain a grant

of land from the British government, for the purpose of forming settlements

or colonies beyond the Alleganies. Government readily countenanced a scheme

by which French encroachments might be forestalled, and prompt and quiet

possession secured of the great Ohio valley. An association was accordingly

chartered in 1749, by the name of "the Ohio Company," and five hundred

thousand acres of land was granted to it west of the Alleganies; between

the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers; though part of the land might be taken

up north of the Ohio, should it be deemed expedient. The company were to

pay no quitrent for ten years; but they were to select two fifths of their

lands immediately; to settle one hundred families upon them within seven

years; to build a fort at their own expense, and maintain a sufficient

garrison in it for defence against the Indians.


Mr. Thomas Lee, president of the council of Virginia, took the lead in the

concerns of the company at the outset, and by many has been considered its

founder. On his death, which soon took place, Lawrence Washington had the

chief management. His enlightened mind and liberal spirit shone forth in

his earliest arrangements. He wished to form the settlements with Germans

from Pennsylvania. Being dissenters, however, they would be obliged, on

becoming residents within the jurisdiction of Virginia, to pay parish

rates, and maintain a clergyman of the Church of England, though they might

not understand his language nor relish his doctrines. Lawrence sought to

have them exempted from this double tax on purse and conscience.


"It has ever been my opinion," said he, "and I hope it ever will be, that

restraints on conscience are cruel in regard to those on whom they are

imposed, and injurious to the country imposing them. England, Holland, and

Prussia I may quote as examples, and much more Pennsylvania, which has

nourished under that delightful liberty, so as to become the admiration of

every man who considers the short time it has been settled. ... This colony

(Virginia) was greatly settled in the latter part of Charles the First's

time, and during the usurpation by the zealous churchmen; and that spirit,

which was then brought in, has ever since continued; so that, except a few

Quakers, we have no dissenters. But what has been the consequence? We have

increased by slow degrees, whilst our neighboring colonies, whose natural

advantages are greatly inferior to ours, have become populous."


Such were the enlightened views of this brother of our Washington, to whom

the latter owed much of his moral and mental training. The company

proceeded to make preparations for their colonizing scheme. Goods were

imported from England suited to the Indian trade, or for presents to the

chiefs. Rewards were promised to veteran warriors and hunters among the

natives acquainted with the woods and mountains, for the best route to the

Ohio. Before the company had received its charter, however, the French were

in the field. Early in 1749, the Marquis de la Galisonniere, Governor of

Canada, despatched Celeron de Bienville, an intelligent officer, at the

head of three hundred men, to the banks of the Ohio, to make peace, as he

said, between the tribes that had become embroiled with each other during

the late war, and to renew the French possession of the country. Celeron de

Bienville distributed presents among the Indians, made speeches reminding

them of former friendship, and warned them not to trade with the English.


He furthermore nailed leaden plates to trees, and buried others in the

earth, at the confluence of the Ohio and its tributaries, bearing

inscriptions purporting that all the lands on both sides of the rivers to

their sources appertained, as in foregone times, to the crown of France.

[Footnote: One of these plates, bearing date August 16, 1749, was found in

recent years at the confluence of the Muskingum with the Ohio.] The Indians

gazed at these mysterious plates with wondering eyes, but surmised their

purport. "They mean to steal our country from us," murmured they; and they

determined to seek protection from the English.


Celeron finding some traders from Pennsylvania trafficking among the

Indians, he summoned them to depart, and wrote by them to James Hamilton,

Governor of Pennsylvania, telling him the object of his errand to those

parts, and his surprise at meeting with English traders in a country to

which England had no pretensions; intimating that, in future, any intruders

of the kind would be rigorously dealt with.


His letter, and a report of his proceedings on the Ohio, roused the

solicitude of the governor and council of Pennsylvania, for the protection

of their Indian trade. Shortly afterwards, one Hugh Crawford, who had been

trading with the Miami tribes on the Wabash, brought a message from them,

speaking of the promises and threats with which the French were endeavoring

to shake their faith, but assuring the governor that their friendship for

the English "would last while the sun and moon ran round the world." This

message was accompanied by three strings of wampum.


Governor Hamilton knew the value of Indian friendship, and suggested to the

assembly that it would be better to clinch it with presents, and that as

soon as possible. An envoy accordingly was sent off early in October, who

was supposed to have great influence among the western tribes. This was one

George Croghan, a veteran trader, shrewd and sagacious, who had been

frequently to the Ohio country with pack-horses and followers, and made

himself popular among the Indians by dispensing presents with a lavish

hand. He was accompanied by Andrew Montour, a Canadian of half Indian

descent, who was to act as interpreter. They were provided with a small

present for the emergency; but were to convoke a meeting of all the tribes

at Logstown, on the Ohio, early in the ensuing spring, to receive an ample

present which would be provided by the assembly.


It was some time later in the same autumn that the Ohio company brought

their plans into operation, and despatched an agent to explore the lands

upon the Ohio and its branches as low as the Great Falls, take note of

their fitness for cultivation, of the passes of the mountains, the courses

and bearings of the rivers, and the strength and disposition of the native

tribes. The man chosen for the purpose was Christopher Gist, a hardy

pioneer, experienced in woodcraft and Indian life, who had his home on the

banks of the Yadkin, near the boundary line of Virginia and North Carolina.

He was allowed a woodsman or two for the service of the expedition. He set

out on the 31st of October, from the banks of the Potomac, by an Indian

path which the hunters had pointed out, leading from Wills' Creek, since

called Fort Cumberland, to the Ohio. Indian paths and buffalo tracks are

the primitive highways of the wilderness. Passing the Juniata, he crossed

the ridges of the Allegany, arrived at Shannopin, a Delaware village on the

south-east side of the Ohio, or rather of that upper branch of it, now

called the Allegany, swam his horses across that river, and descending

along its valley arrived at Logstown, an important Indian village a little

below the site of the present city of Pittsburg. Here usually resided

Tanacharisson, a Seneca chief of great note, being head sachem of the mixed

tribes who had migrated to the Ohio and its branches. He was generally

surnamed the half-king, being subordinate to the Iroquois confederacy. The

chief was absent at this time, as were most of his people, it being the

hunting season. George Croghan, the envoy from Pennsylvania, with Montour

his interpreter, had passed through Logstown a week previously, on his way

to the Twightwees and other tribes, on the Miami branch of the Ohio. Scarce

any one was to be seen about the village but some of Croghan's rough

people, whom he had left behind--"reprobate Indian traders," as Gist terms

them. They regarded the latter with a jealous eye, suspecting him of some

rivalship in trade, or designs on the Indian lands; and intimated

significantly that "he would never go home safe."


Gist knew the meaning of such hints from men of this stamp in the lawless

depths of the wilderness; but quieted their suspicions by letting them know

that he was on public business, and on good terms with their great man,

George Croghan, to whom he despatched a letter. He took his departure from

Logstown, however, as soon as possible, preferring, as he said, the

solitude of the wilderness to such company.


At Beaver Creek, a few miles below the village, he left the river and

struck into the interior of the present State of Ohio. Here he overtook

George Croghan at Muskingum, a town of Wyandots and Mingoes. He had ordered

all the traders in his employ who were scattered among the Indian villages,

to rally at this town, where he had hoisted the English flag over his

residence, and over that of the sachem. This was in consequence of the

hostility of the French who had recently captured, in the neighborhood,

three white men in the employ of Frazier, an Indian trader, and had carried

them away prisoners to Canada.


Gist was well received by the people of Muskingum. They were indignant at

the French violation of their territories, and the capture of their

"English brothers." They had not forgotten the conduct of Celeron de

Bienville in the previous year, and the mysterious plates which he had

nailed against trees and sunk in the ground. "If the French claim the

rivers which run into the lakes," said they, "those which run into the Ohio

belong to us and to our brothers the English." And they were anxious that

Gist should settle among them, and build a fort for their mutual defence.


A council of the nation was now held, in which Gist invited them, in the

name of the Governor of Virginia, to visit that province, where a large

present of goods awaited them, sent by their father, the great king, over

the water to his Ohio children. The invitation was graciously received, but

no answer could be given until a grand council of the western tribes had

been held, which was to take place at Logstown in the ensuing spring.


Similar results attended visits made by Gist and Croghan to the Delawares

and the Shawnees at their villages about the Scioto River; all promised to

be at the gathering at Logstown. From the Shawnee village, near the mouth

of the Scioto, the two emissaries shaped their course north two hundred

miles, crossed the Great Moneami, or Miami River, on a raft, swimming their

horses; and on the 17th of February arrived at the Indian town of Piqua.


These journeyings had carried Gist about a wide extent of country beyond

the Ohio. It was rich and level, watered with streams and rivulets, and

clad with noble forests of hickory, walnut, ash, poplar, sugar-maple, and

wild cherry trees. Occasionally there were spacious plains covered with

wild rye; natural meadows, with blue grass and clover; and buffaloes,

thirty and forty at a time, grazing on them, as in a cultivated pasture.

Deer, elk, and wild turkeys abounded. "Nothing is wanted but cultivation,"

said Gist, "to make this a most delightful country." Cultivation has since

proved the truth of his words. The country thus described is the present

State of Ohio.


Piqua, where Gist and Croghan had arrived, was the principal town of the

Twightwees or Miamis; the most powerful confederacy of the West, combining

four tribes, and extending its influence even beyond the Mississippi. A

king or sachem of one or other of the different tribes presided over the

whole. The head chief at present was the king of the Piankeshas.


At this town Croghan formed a treaty of alliance in the name of the

Governor of Pennsylvania with two of the Miami tribes. And Gist was

promised by the king of the Piankeshas that the chiefs of the various

tribes would attend the meeting at Logstown to make a treaty with Virginia.


In the height of these demonstrations of friendship, two Ottawas entered

the council-house, announcing themselves as envoys from the French Governor

of Canada to seek a renewal of ancient alliance. They were received with

all due ceremonial; for none are more ceremonious than the Indians. The

French colors were set up beside the English, and the ambassadors opened

their mission. "Your father, the French king," said they, "remembering his

children on the Ohio, has sent them these two kegs of milk," here, with

great solemnity, they deposited two kegs of brandy,--"and this

tobacco;":--here they deposited a roll ten pounds in weight. "He has made a

clean road for you to come and see him and his officers; and urges you to

come, assuring you that all past differences will be forgotten."


The Piankesha chief replied in the same figurative style. "It is true our

father has sent for us several times, and has said the road was clear; but

I understand it is not clear--it is foul and bloody, and the French have

made it so. We have cleared a road for our brothers, the English; the

French have made it bad, and have taken some of our brothers prisoners.

This we consider as done to ourselves." So saying, he turned his back upon

the ambassadors, and stalked out of the council-house.


In the end the ambassadors were assured that the tribes of the Ohio and the

Six Nations were hand in hand with their brothers, the English; and should

war ensue with the French, they were ready to meet it.


So the French colors were taken down; the "kegs of milk" and roll of

tobacco were rejected; the grand council broke up with a war-dance, and the

ambassadors departed, weeping and howling, and predicting ruin to the



When Gist returned to the Shawnee town, near the mouth of the Scioto, and

reported to his Indian friends there the alliance he had formed with the

Miami confederacy, there was great feasting and speech-making, and firing

of guns. He had now happily accomplished the chief object of his

mission--nothing remained but to descend the Ohio to the Great Falls. This,

however, he was cautioned not to do. A large party of Indians, allies of

the French, were hunting in that neighborhood, who might kill or capture

him. He crossed the river, attended only by a lad as a travelling companion

and aid, and proceeded cautiously down the east side until within fifteen

miles of the Falls. Here he came upon traps newly set, and Indian

footprints not a day old; and heard the distant report of guns. The story

of Indian hunters then was true. He was in a dangerous neighborhood. The

savages might come upon the tracks of his horses, or hear the bells put

about their necks, when turned loose in the wilderness to graze.


Abandoning all idea, therefore, of visiting the Falls, and contenting

himself with the information concerning them which he had received from

others, he shaped his course on the 18th of March for the Cuttawa, or

Kentucky River. From the top of a mountain in the vicinity he had a view to

the southwest as far as the eye could reach, over a vast woodland country

in the fresh garniture of spring, and watered by abundant streams; but as

yet only the hunting-ground of savage tribes, and the scene of their

sanguinary combats. In a word, Kentucky lay spread out before him in all

its wild magnificence; long before it was beheld by Daniel Boone.


For six weeks was this hardy pioneer making his toilful way up the valley

of the Cuttawa, or Kentucky River, to the banks of the Blue Stone; often

checked by precipices, and obliged to seek fords at the heads of tributary

streams; and happy when he could find a buffalo path broken through the

tangled forests, or worn into the everlasting rocks.


On the 1st of May he climbed a rock sixty feet high, crowning a lofty

mountain, and had a distant view of the great Kanawha, breaking its way

through a vast sierra; crossing that river on a raft of his own

construction, he had many more weary days before him, before he reached his

frontier abode on the banks of the Yadkin. He arrived there in the latter

part of May, but there was no one to welcome the wanderer home. There had

been an Indian massacre in the neighborhood, and he found his house silent

and deserted. His heart sank within him, until an old man whom he met near

the place assured him his family were safe, having fled for refuge to a

settlement thirty-five miles off, on the banks of the Roanoke. There he

rejoined them on the following day.


While Gist had been making his painful way homeward, the two Ottawa

ambassadors had returned to Fort Sandusky, bringing word to the French that

their flag had been struck in the council-house at Piqua, and their

friendship rejected and their hostility defied by the Miamis. They informed

them also of the gathering of the western tribes that was to take place at

Logstown, to conclude a treaty with the Virginians.


It was a great object with the French to prevent this treaty, and to spirit

up the Ohio Indians against the English. This they hoped to effect through

the agency of one Captain Joncaire, a veteran diplomatist of the

wilderness, whose character and story deserve a passing notice.


He had been taken prisoner when quite young by the Iroquois, and adopted

into one of their tribes. This was the making of his fortune. He had grown

up among them, acquired their language, adapted himself to their habits,

and was considered by them as one of themselves. On returning to civilized

life he became a prime instrument in the hands of the Canadian government,

for managing and cajoling the Indians. Sometimes he was an ambassador to

the Iroquois; sometimes a mediator between the jarring tribes; sometimes a

leader of their warriors when employed by the French. When in 1728 the

Delawares and Shawnees migrated to the banks of the Ohio, Joncaire was the

agent who followed them, and prevailed on them to consider themselves under

French protection. When the French wanted to get a commanding site for a

post on the Iroquois lands, near Niagara, Joncaire was the man to manage

it. He craved a situation where he might put up a wigwam, and dwell among

his Iroquois brethren. It was granted of course, "for was he not a son of

the tribe--was he not one of themselves?" By degrees his wigwam grew into

an important trading post; ultimately it became Fort Niagara. Years and

years had elapsed; he had grown gray in Indian diplomacy, and was now sent

once more to maintain French sovereignty over the valley of the Ohio.


He appeared at Logstown accompanied by another Frenchman, and forty

Iroquois warriors. He found an assemblage of the western tribes, feasting

and rejoicing, and firing of guns, for George Croghan and Montour the

interpreter were there, and had been distributing presents on behalf of the

Governor of Pennsylvania.


Joncaire was said to have the wit of a Frenchman, and the eloquence of an

Iroquois. He made an animated speech to the chiefs in their own tongue, the

gist of which was that their father Onontio (that is to say, the Governor

of Canada) desired his children of the Ohio to turn away the Indian

traders, and never to deal with them again on pain of his displeasure; so

saying, he laid down a wampum belt of uncommon size, by way of emphasis to

his message.


For once his eloquence was of no avail; a chief rose indignantly, shook his

finger in his face, and stamping on the ground, "This is our land," said

he. "What right has Onontio here? The English are our brothers. They shall

live among us as long as one of us is alive. We will trade with them, and

not with you;" and so saying he rejected the belt of wampum.


Joncaire returned to an advanced post recently established on the upper

part of the river, whence he wrote to the Governor of Pennsylvania: "The

Marquis de la Jonquiere, Governor of New France, having ordered me to watch

that the English make no treaty in the Ohio country, I have signified to

the traders of your government to retire. You are not ignorant that all

these lands belong to the King of France, and that the English have no

right to trade in them." He concluded by reiterating the threat made two

years previously by Celeron de Bienville against all intruding fur traders.


In the mean time, in the face of all these protests and menaces, Mr. Gist,

under sanction of the Virginia Legislature, proceeded in the same year to

survey the lands within the grant of the Ohio company, lying on the south

side of the Ohio river, as far down as the great Kanawha. An old Delaware

sachem, meeting him while thus employed, propounded a somewhat puzzling

question. "The French," said he, "claim all the land on one side of the

Ohio, the English claim all the land on the other side--now where does the

Indians' land lie?"


Poor savages! Between their "fathers," the French, and their "brothers,"

the English, they were in a fair way of being most lovingly shared out of

the whole country.














The French now prepared for hostile contingencies. They launched an armed

vessel of unusual size on Lake Ontario; fortified their trading house at

Niagara; strengthened their outposts, and advanced others on the upper

waters of the Ohio. A stir of warlike preparation was likewise to be

observed among the British colonies. It was evident that the adverse claims

to the disputed territories, if pushed home, could only be settled by the

stern arbitrament of the sword.


In Virginia, especially, the war spirit was manifest. The province was

divided into military districts, each having an adjutant-general, with the

rank of major, and the pay of one hundred and fifty pounds a year, whose

duty was to attend to the organization and equipment of the militia.


Such an appointment was sought by Lawrence Washington for his brother

George. It shows what must have been the maturity of mind of the latter,

and the confidence inspired by his judicious conduct and aptness for

business, that the post should not only be sought for him, but readily

obtained; though he was yet but nineteen years of age. He proved himself

worthy of the appointment.


He now set about preparing himself, with his usual method and assiduity,

for his new duties. Virginia had among its floating population some

military relics of the late Spanish war. Among these was a certain Adjutant

Muse, a Westmoreland volunteer, who had served with Lawrence Washington in

the campaigns in the West Indies, and had been with him in the attack on

Carthagena. He now undertook to instruct his brother George in the art of

war; lent him treatises on military tactics; put him through the manual

exercise, and gave him some idea of evolutions in the field. Another of

Lawrence's campaigning comrades was Jacob Van Braam, a Dutchman by birth; a

soldier of fortune of the Dalgetty order; who had been in the British army,

but was now out of service, and, professing to be a complete master of

fence, recruited his slender purse in this time of military excitement, by

giving the Virginian youth lessons in the sword exercise.


Under the instructions of these veterans Mount Vernon, from being a quiet

rural retreat, where Washington, three years previously, had indited love

ditties to his "lowland beauty," was suddenly transformed into a school of

arms, as he practised the manual exercise with Adjutant Muse, or took

lessons on the broadsword from Van Braam.


His martial studies, however, were interrupted for a time by the critical

state of his brother's health. The constitution of Lawrence had always been

delicate, and he had been obliged repeatedly to travel for a change of air.

There were now pulmonary symptoms of a threatening nature, and by advice of

his physicians he determined to pass a winter in the West Indies, taking

with him his favorite brother George as a companion.


They accordingly sailed for Barbadoes on the 28th of September, 1751.

George kept a journal of the voyage with logbook brevity; recording the

wind and weather, but no events worth citation. They landed at Barbadoes on

the 3d of November. The resident physician of the place gave a favorable

report of Lawrence's case, and held out hopes of a cure. The brothers were

delighted with the aspect of the country, as they drove out in the cool of

the evening, and beheld on all sides fields of sugar cane, and Indian corn,

and groves of tropical trees, in full fruit and foliage.


They took up their abode at a house pleasantly situated about a mile from

town, commanding an extensive prospect of sea and land, including Carlyle

bay and its shipping, and belonging to Captain Crofton, commander of James



Barbadoes had its theatre, at which Washington witnessed for the first time

a dramatic representation, a species of amusement of which he afterwards

became fond. It was in the present instance the doleful tragedy of George

Barnwell. "The character of Barnwell, and several others," notes he in his

journal, "were said to be well performed. There was music adapted and

regularly conducted." A safe but abstemious criticism.


Among the hospitalities of the place the brothers were invited to the house

of a Judge Maynards, to dine with an association of the first people of the

place, who met at each other's house alternately every Saturday, under the

incontestably English title of "The Beefsteak and Tripe Club." Washington

notes with admiration the profusion of tropical fruits with which the table

was loaded, "the granadilla, sapadella, pomegranate, sweet orange,

water-lemon, forbidden fruit, and guava." The homely prosaic beefsteak and

tripe must have contrasted strangely, though sturdily, with these

magnificent poetical fruits of the tropics. But John Bull is faithful to

his native habits and native dishes, whatever may be the country or clime,

and would set up a chop-house at the very gates of paradise.


The brothers had scarcely been a fortnight at the island when George was

taken down by a severe attack of small-pox. Skilful medical treatment, with

the kind attentions of friends, and especially of his brother, restored him

to health in about three weeks; but his face always remained slightly



After his recovery he made excursions about the island, noticing its soil,

productions, fortifications, public works, and the manners of its

inhabitants. While admiring the productiveness of the sugar plantations, he

was shocked at the spendthrift habits of the planters, and their utter want

of management.


"How wonderful," writes he, "that such people should be in debt, and not be

able to indulge themselves in all the luxuries, as well as the necessaries

of life. Yet so it happens. Estates are often alienated for debts. How

persons coming to estates of two, three, and four hundred acres can want,

is to me most wonderful." How much does this wonder speak for his own

scrupulous principle of always living within compass.


The residence at Barbadoes failed to have the anticipated effect on the

health of Lawrence, and he determined to seek the sweet climate of Bermuda

in the spring. He felt the absence from his wife, and it was arranged that

George should return to Virginia, and bring her out to meet him at that

island. Accordingly, on the 22d of December, George set sail in the

Industry, bound to Virginia, where he arrived on the 1st February, 1752,

after five weeks of stormy winter seafaring.


Lawrence remained through the winter at Barbadoes; but the very mildness of

the climate relaxed and enervated him. He felt the want of the bracing

winter weather to which he had been accustomed. Even the invariable beauty

of the climate; the perpetual summer, wearied the restless invalid. "This

is the finest island of the West Indies," said he; "but I own no place can

please me without a change of seasons. We soon tire of the same prospect."

A consolatory truth for the inhabitants of more capricious climes.


Still some of the worst symptoms of his disorder had disappeared, and he

seemed to be slowly recovering; but the nervous restlessness and desire of

change, often incidental to his malady, had taken hold of him, and early in

March he hastened to Bermuda. He had come too soon. The keen air of early

spring brought on an aggravated return of his worst symptoms. "I have now

got to my last refuge," writes he to a friend, "where I must receive my

final sentence, which at present Dr. Forbes will not pronounce. He leaves

me, however, I think, like a criminal condemned, though not without hopes

of reprieve. But this I am to obtain by meritoriously abstaining from flesh

of every sort, all strong liquors, and by riding as much as I can bear.

These are the only terms on which I am to hope for life."


He was now afflicted with painful indecision, and his letters perplexed his

family, leaving them uncertain as to his movements, and at a loss how to

act. At one time he talked of remaining a year at Bermuda, and wrote to his

wife to come out with George and rejoin him there; but the very same letter

shows his irresolution and uncertainty, for he leaves her coming to the

decision of herself and friends. As to his own movements, he says, "Six

weeks will determine me what to resolve on. Forbes advises the south of

France, or else Barbadoes." The very next letter, written shortly

afterwards in a moment of despondency, talks of the possibility of

"hurrying home to his grave!"


The last was no empty foreboding. He did indeed hasten back, and just

reached Mount Vernon in time to die under his own roof, surrounded by his

family and friends, and attended in his last moments by that brother on

whose manly affection his heart seemed to repose. His death took place on

the 26th July, 1752, when but thirty-four years of age. He was a

noble-spirited, pure-minded, accomplished gentleman; honored by the public,

and beloved by his friends. The paternal care ever manifested by him for

his youthful brother, George, and the influence his own character and

conduct must have had upon him in his ductile years, should link their

memories together in history, and endear the name of Lawrence Washington to

every American.


Lawrence left a wife and an infant daughter to inherit his ample estates.

In case his daughter should die without issue, the estate of Mount Vernon,

and other lands specified in his will, were to be enjoyed by her mother

during her lifetime, and at her death to be inherited by his brother

George. The latter was appointed one of the executors of the will; but such

was the implicit confidence reposed in his judgment and integrity, that,

although he was but twenty years of age, the management of the affairs of

the deceased were soon devolved upon him almost entirely. It is needless to

say that they were managed with consummate skill and scrupulous fidelity.
















The meeting of the Ohio tribes, Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, to form a

treaty of alliance with Virginia, took place at Logstown, at the appointed

time. The chiefs of the Six Nations declined to attend. "It is not our

custom," said they proudly, "to meet to treat of affairs in the woods and

weeds. If the Governor of Virginia wants to speak with us, and deliver us a

present from our father (the King), we will meet him at Albany, where we

expect the Governor of New York will be present." [Footnote: Letter of Col.

Johnson to Gov. Clinton.--Doc. Hist. N. Y. ii., 624.]


At Logstown, Colonel Fry and two other commissioners from Virginia,

concluded a treaty with the tribes above named; by which the latter engaged

not to molest any English settlers south of the Ohio. Tanacharisson, the

half-king, now advised that his brothers of Virginia should build a strong

house at the fork of the Monongahela, to resist the designs of the French.

Mr. Gist was accordingly instructed to lay out a town and build a fort at

Chartier's Creek, on the east side of the Ohio, a little below the site of

the present city of Pittsburg. He commenced a settlement, also, in a valley

just beyond Laurel Hill, not far from the Youghiogeny, and prevailed on

eleven families to join him. The Ohio Company, about the same time,

established a trading post, well stocked with English goods, at Wills'

Creek (now the town of Cumberland).


The Ohio tribes were greatly incensed at the aggressions of the French, who

were erecting posts within their territories, and sent deputations to

remonstrate, but without effect. The half-king, as chief of the western

tribes, repaired to the French post on Lake Erie, where he made his

complaint in person.


"Fathers," said he, "you are the disturbers of this land by building towns,

and taking the country from us by fraud and force. We kindled a fire a long

time since at Montreal, where we desired you to stay and not to come and

intrude upon our land. I now advise you to return to that place, for this

land is ours.


"If you had come in a peaceable manner, like our brothers the English, we

should have traded with you as we do with them; but that you should come

and build houses on our land, and take it by force, is what we cannot

submit to. Both you and the English are white. We live in a country between

you both; the land belongs to neither of you. The Great Being allotted it

to us as a residence. So, fathers, I desire you, as I have desired our

brothers the English, to withdraw, for I will keep you both at arm's

length. Whichever most regards this request, that side will we stand by and

consider friends. Our brothers the English have heard this, and I now come

to tell it to you, for I am not afraid to order you off this land."


"Child," replied the French commandant, "you talk foolishly. You say this

land belongs to you; there is not the black of my nail yours. It is my

land, and I will have it, let who will stand up against me. I am not afraid

of flies and mosquitoes, for as such I consider the Indians. I tell you

that down the river I will go, and build upon it. If it were blocked up I

have forces sufficient to burst it open and trample down all who oppose me.

My force is as the sand upon the sea-shore. Therefore here is your wampum;

I fling it at you."


Tanacharisson returned, wounded at heart, both by the language and the

haughty manner of the French commandant. He saw the ruin impending over his

race, but looked with hope and trust to the English as the power least

disposed to wrong the red man.


French influence was successful in other quarters. Some of the Indians who

had been friendly to the English showed signs of alienation. Others menaced

hostilities. There were reports that the French were ascending the

Mississippi from Louisiana. France, it was said, intended to connect

Louisiana and Canada by a chain of military posts, and hem the English

within the Allegany Mountains.


The Ohio Company complained loudly to the Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia,

the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, of the hostile conduct of the French and their

Indian allies. They found in Dinwiddie a ready listener; he was a

stockholder in the company.


A commissioner, Captain William Trent, was sent to expostulate with the

French commander on the Ohio for his aggressions on the territory of his

Britannic majesty; he bore presents also of guns, powder, shot, and

clothing for the friendly Indians.


Trent was not a man of the true spirit for a mission to the frontier. He

stopped a short time at Logstown, though the French were one hundred and

fifty miles further up the river, and directed his course to Piqua, the

great town of the Twightwees, where Gist and Croghan had been so well

received by the Miamis, and the French flag struck in the council house.

All now was reversed. The place had been attacked by the French and

Indians; the Miamis defeated with great loss; the English traders taken

prisoners; the Piankesha chief, who had so proudly turned his back upon the

Ottawa ambassadors, had been sacrificed by the hostile savages, and the

French flag hoisted in triumph on the ruins of the town. The whole aspect

of affairs was so threatening on the frontier, that Trent lost heart, and

returned home without accomplishing his errand.


Governor Dinwiddie now looked round for a person more fitted to fulfil a

mission which required physical strength and moral energy; a courage to

cope with savages, and a sagacity to negotiate with white men. Washington

was pointed out as possessed of those requisites. It is true he was not yet

twenty-two years of age, but public confidence in his judgment and

abilities had been manifested a second time, by renewing his appointment of

adjutant-general, and assigning him the northern division. He was

acquainted too with the matters in litigation, having been in the bosom

councils of his deceased brother. His woodland experience fitted him for an

expedition through the wilderness; and his great discretion and

self-command for a negotiation with wily commanders and fickle savages. He

was accordingly chosen for the expedition.


By his letter of instructions he was directed to repair to Logstown, and

hold a communication with Tanacharisson, Monacatoocha, alias Scarooyadi,

the next in command, and the other sachems of the mixed tribes friendly to

the English; inform them of the purport of his errand, and request an

escort to the head-quarters of the French commander. To that commander he

was to deliver his credentials, and the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and

demand an answer in the name of his Britannic majesty; but not to wait for

it beyond a week. On receiving it, he was to request a sufficient escort to

protect him on his return.


He was, moreover, to acquaint himself with the numbers and force of the

French stationed on the Ohio and in its vicinity; their capability of being

reinforced from Canada; the forts they had erected; where situated, how

garrisoned; the object of their advancing into those parts, and how they

were likely to be supported.


Washington set off from Williamsburg on the 30th of October (1753), the

very day on which he received his credentials. At Fredericksburg he engaged

his old "master of fence," Jacob Van Braam, to accompany him as

interpreter; though it would appear from subsequent circumstances, that the

veteran swordsman was but indifferently versed either in French or English.


Having provided himself at Alexandria with necessaries for the journey, he

proceeded to Winchester, then on the frontier, where he procured horses,

tents, and other travelling equipments, and then pushed on by a road newly

opened to Wills' Creek (town of Cumberland), where he arrived on the 14th

of November.


Here he met with Mr. Gist, the intrepid pioneer, who had explored the Ohio

in the employ of the company, and whom he engaged to accompany and pilot

him in the present expedition. He secured the services also of one John

Davidson as Indian interpreter, and of four frontiersmen, two of whom were

Indian traders. With this little band, and his swordsman and interpreter,

Jacob Van Braam, he set forth on the 15th of November, through a wild

country, rendered almost impassable by recent storms of rain and snow.


At the mouth of Turtle Creek, on the Monongahela, he found John Frazier the

Indian trader, some of whose people, as heretofore stated, had been sent

off prisoners to Canada. Frazier himself had recently been ejected by the

French from the Indian village of Venango, where he had a gunsmith's

establishment. According to his account the French general who had

commanded on this frontier was dead, and the greater part of the forces

were retired into winter quarters.


As the rivers were all swollen so that the horses had to swim them,

Washington sent all the baggage down the Monongahela in a canoe under care

of two of the men, who had orders to meet him at the confluence of that

river with the Allegany, where their united waters form the Ohio.


"As I got down before the canoe," writes he in his journal, "I spent some

time in viewing the rivers, and the land at the Fork, which I think

extremely well situated for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both

rivers. The land at the point is twenty or twenty-five feet above the

common surface of the water, and a considerable bottom of flat, well

timbered land all around it, very convenient for building. The rivers are

each a quarter of a mile or more across, and run here very nearly at right

angles; Allegany bearing north-east, and Monongahela south-east. The former

of these two is a very rapid and swift-running water, the other deep and

still, without any perceptible fall." The Ohio company had intended to

build a fort about two miles from this place, on the south-east side of the

river; but Washington gave the fork the decided preference. French

engineers of experience proved the accuracy of his military eye, by

subsequently choosing it for the site of Fort Duquesne, noted in frontier



In this neighborhood lived Shingiss, the king or chief sachem of the

Delawares. Washington visited him at his village, to invite him to the

council at Logstown. He was one of the greatest warriors of his tribe, and

subsequently took up the hatchet at various times against the English,

though now he seemed favorably disposed, and readily accepted the



They arrived at Logstown after sunset on the 24th of November. The

half-king was absent at his hunting lodge on Beaver Creek, about fifteen

miles distant; but Washington had runners sent out to invite him and all

the other chiefs to a grand talk on the following day.


In the morning four French deserters came into the village. They had

deserted from a company of one hundred men, sent up from New Orleans with

eight canoes laden with provisions. Washington drew from them an account of

the French force at New Orleans, and of the forts along the Mississippi,

and at the mouth of the Wabash, by which they kept up a communication with

the lakes; all which he carefully noted down. The deserters were on their

way to Philadelphia, conducted by a Pennsylvania trader.


About three o'clock the half-king arrived. Washington had a private

conversation with him in his tent, through Davidson, the interpreter. He

found him intelligent, patriotic, and proudly tenacious of his territorial

rights. We have already cited from Washington's papers, the account given

by this chief in this conversation, of his interview with the late French

commander. He stated, moreover, that the French had built two forts,

differing in size, but on the same model, a plan of which he gave, of his

own drawing. The largest was on Lake Erie, the other on French Creek,

fifteen miles apart, with a waggon road between them. The nearest and

levellest way to them was now impassable, lying through large and miry

savannas; they would have, therefore, to go by Venango, and it would take

five or six sleeps (or days) of good travelling to reach the nearest fort.


On the following morning at nine o'clock, the chiefs assembled at the

council house; where Washington, according to his instructions, informed

them that he was sent by their brother, the Governor of Virginia, to

deliver to the French commandant a letter of great importance, both to

their brothers the English and to themselves; and that he was to ask their

advice and assistance, and some of their young men to accompany and provide

for him on the way, and be his safeguard against the "French Indians" who

had taken up the hatchet. He concluded by presenting the indispensable

document in Indian diplomacy a string of wampum.


The chiefs, according to etiquette, sat for some moments silent after he

had concluded, as if ruminating on what had been said, or to give him time

for further remark.


The half-king then rose and spoke in behalf of the tribes, assuring him

that they considered the English and themselves brothers, and one people;

and that they intended to return the French the "speech-belts," or wampums,

which the latter had sent them. This, in Indian diplomacy, is a

renunciation of all friendly relations. An escort would be furnished to

Washington composed of Mingoes, Shannoahs, and Delawares, in token of the

love and loyalty of those several tribes; but three days would be required

to prepare for the journey.


Washington remonstrated against such delay; but was informed, that an

affair of such moment, where three speech-belts were to be given up, was

not to be entered into without due consideration. Besides, the young men

who were to form the escort were absent hunting, and the half-king could

not suffer the party to go without sufficient protection. His own French

speech-belt, also, was at his hunting lodge, where he must go in quest of

it. Moreover, the Shannoah chiefs were yet absent and must be waited for.

In short, Washington had his first lesson in Indian diplomacy, which for

punctilio, ceremonial, and secret manoeuvring, is equal at least to that of

civilized life. He soon found that to urge a more speedy departure would be

offensive to Indian dignity and decorum, so he was fain to await the

gathering together of the different chiefs with their speech-belts.


In fact there was some reason for all this caution. Tidings had reached the

sachems that Captain Joncaire had called a meeting at Venango, of the

Mingoes, Delawares, and other tribes, and made them a speech, informing

them that the French, for the present, had gone into winter quarters, but

intended to descend the river in great force, and fight the English in the

spring. He had advised them, therefore, to stand aloof, for should they

interfere, the French and English would join, cut them all off, and divide

their land between them.


With these rumors preying on their minds, the half-king and three other

chiefs waited on Washington in his tent in the evening, and after

representing that they had complied with all the requisitions of the

Governor of Virginia, endeavored to draw from the youthful ambassador the

true purport of his mission to the French commandant. Washington had

anticipated an inquiry of the kind, knowing how natural it was that these

poor people should regard, with anxiety and distrust, every movement of two

formidable powers thus pressing upon them from opposite sides, he managed,

however, to answer them in such a manner as to allay their solicitude

without transcending the bounds of diplomatic secrecy.


After a day or two more of delay and further consultations in the council

house, the chiefs determined that but three of their number should

accompany the mission, as a greater number might awaken the suspicions of

the French. Accordingly, on the 30th of November, Washington set out for

the French post, having his usual party augmented by an Indian hunter, and

being accompanied by the half-king, an old Shannoah sachem named Jeskakake,

and another chief, sometimes called Belt of Wampum, from being the keeper

of the speech-belts, but generally bearing the sounding appellation of

White Thunder.















Although the distance to Venango, by the route taken, was not above seventy

miles, yet such was the inclemency of the weather and the difficulty of

travelling, that Washington and his party did not arrive there until the

4th of December. The French colors were flying at a house whence John

Frazier, the English trader, had been driven. Washington repaired thither,

and inquired of three French officers whom he saw there where the

commandant resided. One of them promptly replied that he "had the command

of the Ohio." It was, in fact, the redoubtable Captain Joncaire, the

veteran intriguer of the frontier. On being apprised, however, of the

nature of Washington's errand, he informed him that there was a general

officer at the next fort, where he advised him to apply for an answer to

the letter of which he was the bearer.


In the mean time, he invited Washington and his party to a supper at head

quarters. It proved a jovial one, for Joncaire appears to have been

somewhat of a boon companion, and there is always ready though rough

hospitality in the wilderness. It is true, Washington, for so young a man,

may not have had the most convivial air, but there may have been a moist

look of promise in the old soldier Van Braam.


Joncaire and his brother officers pushed the bottle briskly. "The wine,"

says Washington, "as they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon

banished the restraint which at first appeared in their conversation, and

gave a license to their tongues to reveal their sentiments more freely.

They told me that it was their absolute design to take possession of the

Ohio, and by G-- they would do it; for that although they were sensible the

English could raise two men for their one, yet they knew their motions were

too slow and dilatory to prevent any undertaking. They pretend to have an

undoubted right to the river from a discovery made by one La Salle sixty

years ago, and the rise of this expedition is to prevent our settling on

the river or the waters of it, as they heard of some families moving out in

order thereto."


Washington retained his sobriety and his composure throughout all the

rodomontade and bacchanalian outbreak of the mercurial Frenchmen; leaving

the task of pledging them to his master of fence, Van Braam, who was not a

man to flinch from potations. He took careful note, however, of all their

revelations, and collected a variety of information concerning the French

forces; how and where they were distributed; the situations and distances

of their forts, and their means and mode of obtaining supplies. If the

veteran diplomatist of the wilderness had intended this revel for a snare,

he was completely foiled by his youthful competitor.


On the following day there was no travelling on account of excessive rain.

Joncaire, in the mean time, having discovered that the half-king was with

the mission, expressed his surprise that he had not accompanied it to his

quarters on the preceding day. Washington, in truth, had feared to trust

the sachem within the reach of the politic Frenchman. Nothing would do now

but Joncaire must have the sachems at head-quarters. Here his diplomacy was

triumphant. He received them with open arms. He was enraptured to see them.

His Indian brothers! How could they be so near without coming to visit him?

He made them presents; but, above all, plied them so potently with liquor,

that the poor half-king, Jeskakake, and White Thunder forgot all about

their wrongs, their speeches, their speech-belts, and all the business they

had come upon; paid no heed to the repeated cautions of their English

friends, and were soon in a complete state of frantic extravagance or

drunken oblivion.


The next day the half-king made his appearance at Washington's tent,

perfectly sober and very much crestfallen. He declared, however, that he

still intended to make his speech to the French, and offered to rehearse it

on the spot; but Washington advised him not to waste his ammunition on

inferior game like Joncaire and his comrades, but to reserve it for the

commandant. The sachem was not to be persuaded. Here, he said, was the

place of the council fire, where they were accustomed to transact their

business with the French; and as to Joncaire, he had all the management of

French affairs with the Indians.


Washington was fain to attend the council fire and listen to the speech. It

was much the same in purport as that which he had made to the French

general, and he ended by offering to return the French speech-belt; but

this Joncaire refused to receive, telling him to carry it to the commander

at the fort.


All that day and the next was the party kept at Venango by the stratagems

of Joncaire and his emissaries to detain and seduce the sachems. It was not

until 12 o'clock on the 7th of December, that Washington was able to

extricate them out of their clutches and commence his journey.


A French commissary by the name of La Force, and three soldiers, set off in

company with him. La Force went as if on ordinary business, but he proved

one of the most active, daring, and mischief-making of those anomalous

agents employed by the French among the Indian tribes. It is probable that

he was at the bottom of many of the perplexities experienced by Washington

at Venango, and now travelled with him for the prosecution of his wiles. He

will be found, hereafter, acting a more prominent part, and ultimately

reaping the fruit of his evil doings.


After four days of weary travel through snow and rain, and mire and swamp,

the party reached the fort. It was situated on a kind of island on the west

fork of French Creek, about fifteen miles south of Lake Erie, and consisted

of four houses, forming a hollow square, defended by bastions made of

pallisades twelve feet high, picketed, and pierced for cannon and small

arms. Within the bastions were a guard-house, chapel, and other buildings,

and outside were stables, a smith's forge, and log-houses covered with

bark, for the soldiers.


On the death of the late general, the fort had remained in charge of one

Captain Reparti until within a week past, when the Chevalier Legardeur de

St. Pierre had arrived, and taken command.


The reception of Washington at the fort was very different from the

unceremonious one experienced at the outpost of Joncaire and his convivial

messmates. When he presented himself at the gate, accompanied by his

interpreter, Van Braam, he was met by the officer second in command and

conducted in due military form to his superior; an ancient and

silver-haired chevalier of the military order of St. Louis, courteous but

ceremonious, mingling the polish of the French gentleman of the old school

with the precision of the soldier.


Having announced his errand through his interpreter, Van Braam, Washington

offered his credentials and the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and was

disposed to proceed at once to business with the prompt frankness of a

young man unhackneyed in diplomacy. The chevalier, however, politely

requested him to retain the documents in his possession until his

predecessor, Captain Reparti, should arrive, who was hourly expected from

the next post.


At two o'clock the captain arrived. The letter and its accompanying

documents were then offered again, and received in due form, and the

chevalier and his officers retired with them into a private apartment,

where the captain, who understood a little English, officiated as

translator. The translation being finished, Washington was requested to

walk in and bring his translator Van Braam, with him, to peruse and correct

it, which he did.


In this letter, Dinwiddie complained of the intrusion of French forces into

the Ohio country, erecting forts and making settlements in the western

parts of the colony of Virginia, so notoriously known to be the property of

the crown of Great Britain. He inquired by whose authority and instructions

the French Commander-general had marched this force from Canada, and made

this invasion; intimating that his own action would be regulated by the

answer he should receive, and the tenor of the commission with which he was

honored. At the same time he required of the commandant his peaceable

departure, and that he would forbear to prosecute a purpose "so

interruptive of the harmony and good understanding which his majesty was

desirous to continue and cultivate with the most catholic king."


The latter part of the letter related to the youthful envoy. "I persuade

myself you will receive and entertain Major Washington with the candor and

politeness natural to your nation, and it will give me the greatest

satisfaction if you can return him with an answer suitable to my wishes for

a long and lasting peace between us."


The two following days were consumed in councils of the chevalier and his

officers over the letter and the necessary reply. Washington occupied

himself in the mean time in observing and taking notes of the plan,

dimensions, and strength of the fort, and of every thing about it. He gave

orders to his people, also, to take an exact account of the canoes in

readiness, and others in the process of construction, for the conveyance of

troops down the river in the ensuing spring.


As the weather continued stormy, with much snow, and the horses were daily

losing strength, he sent them down, unladen, to Venango, to await his

return by water. In the mean time, he discovered that busy intrigues were

going on to induce the half-king and the other sachems to abandon him, and

renounce all friendship with the English. Upon learning this, he urged the

chiefs to deliver up their "speech-belts" immediately, as they had

promised, thereby shaking off all dependence upon the French. They

accordingly pressed for an audience that very evening. A private one was at

length granted them by the commander, in presence of one or two of his

officers. The half-king reported the result of it to Washington. The

venerable but astute chevalier cautiously evaded the acceptance of the

proffered wampum; made many professions of love and friendship, and said he

wished to live in peace and trade amicably with the tribes of the Ohio, in

proof of which he would send down some goods immediately for them to



As Washington understood, privately, that an officer was to accompany the

man employed to convey these goods, he suspected that the real design was

to arrest and bring off all straggling English traders they might meet

with. What strengthened this opinion was a frank avowal which had been made

to him by the chevalier, that he had orders to capture every British

subject who should attempt to trade upon the Ohio or its waters.


Captain Reparti, also, in reply to his inquiry as to what had been done

with two Pennsylvania traders, who had been taken with all their goods,

informed him that they had been sent to Canada, but had since returned

home. He had stated, furthermore, that during the time he held command, a

white boy had been carried captive past the fort by a party of Indians, who

had with them, also, two or three white men's scalps.


All these circumstances showed him the mischief that was brewing in these

parts, and the treachery and violence that pervaded the frontier, and made

him the more solicitous to accomplish his mission successfully, and conduct

his little band in safety out of a wily neighborhood.


On the evening of the 14th, the Chevalier de St. Pierre delivered to

Washington his sealed reply to the letter of Governor Dinwiddie. The

purport of previous conversations with the chevalier, and the whole

complexion of affairs on the frontier, left no doubt of the nature of that



The business of his mission being accomplished, Washington prepared on the

15th to return by water to Venango; but a secret influence was at work

which retarded every movement.


"The commandant," writes he, "ordered a plentiful store of liquor and

provisions to be put on board our canoes, and appeared to be extremely

complaisant, though he was exerting every artifice which he could invent to

set our Indians at variance with us, to prevent their going until after our

departure; presents, rewards, and every thing which could be suggested by

him or his officers. I cannot say that ever in my life I suffered so much

anxiety as I did in this affair. I saw that every stratagem which the most

fruitful brain could invent was practised to win the half-king to their

interests, and that leaving him there was giving them the opportunity they

aimed at. I went to the half-king, and pressed him in the strongest terms

to go; he told me that the commandant would not discharge him until the

morning. I then went to the commandant and desired him to do their

business, and complained to him of ill treatment; for, keeping them, as

they were a part of my company, was detaining me. This he promised not to

do, but to forward my journey as much as he could. He protested he did not

keep them, but was ignorant of the cause of their stay; though I soon found

it out. He had promised them a present of guns if they would wait until the

morning. As I was very much pressed by the Indians to wait this day for

them, I consented, on the promise that nothing should hinder them in the



The next morning (16th) the French, in fulfilment of their promise, had to

give the present of guns. They then endeavored to detain the sachems with

liquor, which at any other time might have prevailed, but Washington

reminded the half-king that his royal word was pledged to depart, and urged

it upon him so closely that exerting unwonted resolution and self-denial,

he turned his back upon the liquor and embarked.


It was rough and laborious navigation. French Creek was swollen and

turbulent, and full of floating ice. The frail canoes were several times in

danger of being staved to pieces against rocks. Often the voyagers had to

leap out and remain in the water half an hour at a time, drawing the canoes

over shoals, and at one place to carry them a quarter of a mile across a

neck of land, the river being completely dammed by ice. It was not until

the 22d that they reached Venango.


Here Washington was obliged, most unwillingly, to part company with the

sachems. White Thunder had hurt himself and was ill and unable to walk, and

the others determined to remain at Venango for a day or two and convey him

down the river in a canoe. There was danger that the smooth-tongued and

convivial Joncaire would avail himself of the interval to ply the poor

monarchs of the woods with flattery and liquor. Washington endeavored to

put the worthy half-king on his guard, knowing that he had once before

shown himself but little proof against the seductions of the bottle. The

sachem, however, desired him not to be concerned; he knew the French too

well for any thing to engage him in their favor; nothing should shake his

faith to his English brothers; and it will be found that in these

assurances he was sincere.











On the 25th of December, Washington and his little party set out by land

from Venango on their route homeward. They had a long winter's journey

before them, through a wilderness beset with dangers and difficulties. The

packhorses, laden with tents, baggage, and provisions, were completely

jaded; it was feared they would give out. Washington dismounted, gave up

his saddle-horse to aid in transporting the baggage, and requested his

companions to do the same. None but the drivers remained in the saddle. He

now equipped himself in an Indian hunting-dress, and with Van Braam, Gist,

and John Davidson, the Indian interpreter, proceeded on foot.


The cold increased. There was deep snow that froze as it fell. The horses

grew less and less capable of travelling. For three days they toiled on

slowly and wearily. Washington was impatient to accomplish his journey, and

make his report to the governor; he determined, therefore, to hasten some

distance in advance of the party, and then strike for the Fork of the Ohio

by the nearest course directly through the woods. He accordingly put the

cavalcade under the command of Van Braam, and furnished him with money for

expenses; then disencumbering himself of all superfluous clothing, buckling

himself up in a watch-coat, strapping his pack on his shoulders, containing

his papers and provisions, and taking gun in hand, he left the horses to

flounder on, and struck manfully ahead, accompanied only by Mr. Gist, who

had equipped himself in like manner.


At night they lit a fire, and "camped" by it in the woods. At two o'clock

in the morning they were again on foot, and pressed forward until they

struck the south-east fork of Beaver Creek, at a place bearing the sinister

name of Murdering Town; probably the scene of some Indian massacre.


Here Washington, in planning his route, had intended to leave the regular

path, and strike through the woods for Shannopins Town, two or three miles

above the fork of the Ohio, where he hoped to be able to cross the Allegany

River on the ice.


At Murdering Town he found a party of Indians, who appeared to have known

of his coming, and to have been waiting for him. One of them accosted Mr.

Gist, and expressed great joy at seeing him. The wary woodsman regarded him

narrowly, and thought he had seen him at Joncaire's. If so, he and his

comrades were in the French interest, and their lying in wait boded no

good. The Indian was very curious in his inquiries as to when they had left

Venango; how they came to be travelling on foot; where they had left their

horses, and when it was probable the latter would reach this place. All

these questions increased the distrust of Gist, and rendered him extremely

cautious in reply.


The route hence to Shannopins Town lay through a trackless wild, of which

the travellers knew nothing; after some consultation, therefore, it was

deemed expedient to engage one of the Indians as a guide. He entered upon

his duties with alacrity, took Washington's pack upon his back, and led the

way by what he said was the most direct course. After travelling briskly

for eight or ten miles Washington became fatigued, and his feet were

chafed; he thought, too, they were taking a direction too much to the

north-east; he came to a halt, therefore, and determined to light a fire,

make a shelter of the bark and branches of trees, and encamp there for the

night. The Indian demurred; he offered, as Washington was fatigued, to

carry his gun, but the latter was too wary to part with his weapon. The

Indian now grew churlish. There were Ottawa Indians in the woods, he said,

who might be attracted by their fire, and surprise and scalp them; he

urged, therefore, that they should continue on: he would take them to his

cabin, where they would be safe.


Mr. Gist's suspicions increased, but he said nothing. Washington's also

were awakened. They proceeded some distance further: the guide paused and

listened. He had heard, he said, the report of a gun toward the north; it

must be from his cabin; he accordingly turned his steps in that direction.


Washington began to apprehend an ambuscade of savages. He knew the

hostility of many of them to the English, and what a desirable trophy was

the scalp of a white man. The Indian still kept on toward the north; he

pretended to hear two whoops--they were from his cabin--it could not be far



They went on two miles further, when Washington signified his determination

to encamp at the first water they should find. The guide said nothing, but

kept doggedly on. After a little while they arrived at an opening in the

woods, and emerging from the deep shadows in which they had been

travelling, found themselves in a clear meadow, rendered still more light

by the glare of the snow upon the ground. Scarcely had they emerged when

the Indian, who was about fifteen paces ahead, suddenly turned, levelled

his gun, and fired. Washington was startled for an instant, but, feeling

that he was not wounded, demanded quickly of Mr. Gist if he was shot. The

latter answered in the negative. The Indian in the mean time had run

forward, and screened himself behind a large white oak, where he was

reloading his gun. They overtook, and seized him. Gist would have put him

to death on the spot, but Washington humanely prevented him. They permitted

him to finish the loading of his gun; but, after he had put in the ball,

took the weapon from him, and let him see that he was under guard.


Arriving at a small stream they ordered the Indian to make a fire, and took

turns to watch over the guns. While he was thus occupied, Gist, a veteran

woodsman, and accustomed to hold the life of an Indian rather cheap, was

somewhat incommoded by the scruples of his youthful commander, which might

enable the savage to carry out some scheme of treachery. He observed to

Washington that, since he would not suffer the Indian to be killed, they

must manage to get him out of the way, and then decamp with all speed, and

travel all night to leave this perfidious neighborhood behind them; but

first it was necessary to blind the guide as to their intentions. He

accordingly addressed him in a friendly tone, and adverting to the late

circumstance, pretended to suppose that he had lost his way, and fired his

gun merely as a signal. The Indian, whether deceived or not, readily chimed

in with the explanation. He said he now knew the way to his cabin, which

was at no great distance. "Well then," replied Gist, "you can go home, and

as we are tired we will remain here for the night, and follow your track at

daylight. In the mean time here is a cake of bread for you, and you must

give us some meat in the morning."


Whatever might have been the original designs of the savage, he was

evidently glad to get off. Gist followed him cautiously for a distance, and

listened until the sound of his footsteps died away; returning then to

Washington, they proceeded about half a mile, made another fire, set their

compass and fixed their course by the light of it, then leaving it burning,

pushed forward, and travelled as fast as possible all night, so as to gain

a fair start should any one pursue them at daylight. Continuing on the next

day they never relaxed their speed until nightfall, when they arrived on

the banks of the Allegany River, about two miles above Shannopins Town.


Washington had expected to find the river frozen completely over; it was so

only for about fifty yards from either shore, while great quantities of

broken ice were driving down the main channel. Trusting that he had

out-travelled pursuit, he encamped on the border of the river; still it was

an anxious night, and he was up at daybreak to devise some means of

reaching the opposite bank. No other mode presented itself than by a raft,

and to construct this they had but one poor hatchet. With this they set

resolutely to work and labored all day, but the sun went down before their

raft was finished. They launched it, however, and getting on board,

endeavored to propel it across with setting poles. Before they were half

way over the raft became jammed between cakes of ice, and they were in

imminent peril. Washington planted his pole on the bottom of the stream,

and leaned against it with all his might, to stay the raft until the ice

should pass by. The rapid current forced the ice against the pole with such

violence that he was jerked into the water, where it was at least ten feet

deep, and only saved himself from being swept away and drowned by catching

hold of one of the raft logs.


It was now impossible with all their exertions to get to either shore;

abandoning the raft therefore, they got upon an island, near which they

were drifting. Here they passed the night exposed to intense cold by which

the hands and feet of Mr. Gist were frozen. In the morning they found the

drift ice wedged so closely together, that they succeeded in getting from

the island to the opposite side of the river; and before night were in

comfortable quarters at the house of Frazier, the Indian trader, at the

mouth of Turtle Creek on the Monongahela.


Here they learned from a war party of Indians that a band of Ottawas, a

tribe in the interest of the French, had massacred a whole family of whites

on the banks of the great Kanawha River.


At Frazier's they were detained two or three days endeavoring to procure

horses. In this interval Washington had again occasion to exercise Indian

diplomacy. About three miles distant, at the mouth of the Youghiogeny

River, dwelt a female sachem, Queen Aliquippa, as the English called her,

whose sovereign dignity had been aggrieved, that the party on their way to

the Ohio, had passed near her royal wigwam without paying their respects to



Aware of the importance, at this critical juncture, of securing the

friendship of the Indians, Washington availed himself of the interruption

of his journey, to pay a visit of ceremony to this native princess.

Whatever anger she may have felt at past neglect, it was readily appeased

by a present of his old watch-coat; and her good graces were completely

secured by a bottle of rum, which, he intimates, appeared to be peculiarly

acceptable to her majesty.


Leaving Frazier's on the 1st of January, they arrived on the 2d at the

residence of Mr. Gist, on the Monongahela. Here they separated, and

Washington having purchased a horse, continued his homeward course, passing

horses laden with materials and stores for the fort at the fork of the

Ohio, and families going out to settle there.


Having crossed the Blue Ridge and stopped one day at Belvoir to rest, he

reached Williamsburg on the 16th of January, where he delivered to Governor

Dinwiddie the letter of the French commandant, and made him a full report

of the events of his mission.


We have been minute in our account of this expedition as it was an early

test and development of the various talents and characteristics of



The prudence, sagacity, resolution, firmness, and self-devotion manifested

by him throughout; his admirable tact and self-possession in treating with

fickle savages and crafty white men; the soldier's eye with which he had

noticed the commanding and defensible points of the country, and every

thing that would bear upon military operations; and the hardihood with

which he had acquitted himself during a wintry tramp through the

wilderness, through constant storms of rain and snow; often sleeping on the

ground without a tent in the open air, and in danger from treacherous

foes,--all pointed him out, not merely to the governor, but to the public

at large, as one eminently fitted, notwithstanding his youth, for important

trusts involving civil as well as military duties. It is an expedition that

may be considered the foundation of his fortunes. From that moment he was

the rising hope of Virginia.













The reply of the Chevalier de St. Pierre was such as might have been

expected from that courteous, but wary commander. He should transmit, he

said, the letter of Governor Dinwiddie to his general, the Marquis du

Quesne, "to whom," observed he, "it better belongs than to me to set forth

the evidence and reality of the rights of the king, my master, upon the

lands situated along the river Ohio, and to contest the pretensions of the

King of Great Britain thereto. His answer shall be a law to me. ... As to

the summons you send me to retire, I do not think myself obliged to obey

it. Whatever may be your instructions, I am here by virtue of the orders of

my general; and I entreat you, sir, not to doubt one moment but that I am

determined to conform myself to them with all the exactness and resolution

which can be expected from the best officer." ...


"I made it my particular care," adds he, "to receive Mr. Washington with, a

distinction suitable to your dignity, as well as his own quality and great

merit. I flatter myself that he will do me this justice before you, sir,

and that he will signify to you, in the manner I do myself, the profound

respect with which I am, sir," &c. [Footnote: London Mag., June, 1754.]


This soldier-like and punctilious letter of the chevalier was considered

evasive, and only intended to gain time. The information given by

Washington of what he had observed on the frontier convinced Governor

Dinwiddie and his council that the French were preparing to descend the

Ohio in the spring, and take military possession of the country.

Washington's journal was printed, and widely promulgated throughout the

colonies and England, and awakened the nation to a sense of the impending

danger, and the necessity of prompt measures to anticipate the French



Captain Trent was despatched to the frontier, commissioned to raise a

company of one hundred men, march with all speed to the Fork of the Ohio,

and finish as soon as possible the fort commenced there by the Ohio

Company. He was enjoined to act only on the defensive, but to capture or

destroy whoever should oppose the construction of the works, or disturb the

settlements. The choice of Captain Trent for this service, notwithstanding

his late inefficient expedition, was probably owing to his being

brother-in-law to George Croghan, who had grown to be quite a personage of

consequence on the frontier, where he had an establishment or

trading-house, and was supposed to have great influence among the western

tribes, so as to be able at any time to persuade many of them to take up

the hatchet.


Washington was empowered to raise a company of like force at Alexandria; to

procure and forward munitions and supplies for the projected fort at the

Fork, and ultimately to have command of both companies. When on the

frontier he was to take council of George Croghan and Andrew Montour the

interpreter, in all matters relating to the Indians, they being esteemed

perfect oracles in that department.


Governor Dinwiddie in the mean time called upon the governors of the other

provinces to make common cause against the foe; he endeavored, also, to

effect alliances with the Indian tribes of the south, the Catawbas and

Cherokees, by way of counterbalancing the Chippewas and Ottawas, who were

devoted to the French.


The colonies, however, felt as yet too much like isolated territories; the

spirit of union was wanting. Some pleaded a want of military funds; some

questioned the justice of the cause; some declined taking any hostile step

that might involve them in a war, unless they should have direct orders

from the crown.


Dinwiddie convened the House of Burgesses to devise measures for the public

security. Here his high idea of prerogative and of gubernatorial dignity

met with a grievous countercheck from the dawning spirit of independence.

High as were the powers vested in the colonial government of Virginia, of

which, though but lieutenant-governor, he had the actual control; they were

counterbalanced by the power inherent in the people, growing out of their

situation and circumstances, and acting through their representatives.


There was no turbulent factious opposition to government in Virginia; no

"fierce democracy," the rank growth of crowded cities, and a fermenting

populace; but there was the independence of men, living apart in

patriarchal style on their own rural domains; surrounded by their families,

dependants and slaves, among whom their will was law,--and there was the

individuality in character and action of men prone to nurture peculiar

notions and habits of thinking, in the thoughtful solitariness of country



When Dinwiddie propounded his scheme of operations on the Ohio, some of the

burgesses had the hardihood to doubt the claims of the king to the disputed

territory; a doubt which the governor reprobated as savoring strongly of a

most disloyal French spirit; he fired, as he says, at the thought "that an

English legislature should presume to doubt the right of his majesty to the

interior parts of this continent, the back part of his dominions!"


Others demurred to any grant of means for military purposes which might be

construed into an act of hostility. To meet this scruple it was suggested

that the grant might be made for the purpose of encouraging and protecting

all settlers on the waters of the Mississippi. And under this specious plea

ten thousand pounds were grudgingly voted; but even this moderate sum was

not put at the absolute disposition of the governor. A committee was

appointed with whom he was to confer as to its appropriation.


This precaution Dinwiddie considered an insulting invasion of the right he

possessed as governor to control the purse as well as the sword; and he

complained bitterly of the assembly, as deeply tinctured with a republican

way of thinking, and disposed to encroach on the prerogative of the crown,

"which he feared would render them more and more difficult to be _brought

to order_."


Ways and means being provided, Governor Dinwiddie augmented the number of

troops to be enlisted to three hundred, divided into six companies. The

command of the whole, as before, was offered to Washington, but he shrank

from it, as a charge too great for his youth and inexperience. It was

given, therefore, to Colonel Joshua Fry, an English gentleman of worth and

education, and Washington was made second in command, with the rank of



The recruiting, at first, went on slowly. Those who offered to enlist, says

Washington, were for the most part loose idle persons without house or

home, some without shoes or stockings, some shirtless, and many without

coat or waistcoat.


He was young in the recruiting service, or he would have known that such is

generally the stuff of which armies are made. In this country especially it

has always been difficult to enlist the active yeomanry by holding out

merely the pay of a soldier. The means of subsistence are too easily

obtained by the industrious, for them to give up home and personal

independence for a mere daily support. Some may be tempted by a love of

adventure; but in general, they require some prospect of ultimate advantage

that may "better their condition."


Governor Dinwiddie became sensible of this, and resorted to an expedient

rising out of the natural resources of the country, which has since been

frequently adopted, and always with efficacy. He proclaimed a bounty of two

hundred thousand acres of land on the Ohio River, to be divided among the

officers and soldiers who should engage in this expedition; one thousand to

be laid off contiguous to the fort at the fork, for the use of the

garrison. This was a tempting bait to the sons of farmers, who readily

enlisted in the hope of having, at the end of a short campaign, a snug farm

of their own in this land of promise.


It was a more difficult matter to get officers than soldiers. Very few of

those appointed made their appearance; one of the captains had been

promoted; two declined; Washington found himself left, almost alone, to

manage a number of self-willed, undisciplined recruits. Happily he had with

him, in the rank of lieutenant, that soldier of fortune, Jacob Van Braam,

his old "master of fence," and travelling interpreter.


In his emergency he forthwith nominated him captain, and wrote to the

governor to confirm the appointment, representing him as the oldest

lieutenant, and an experienced officer.


On the 2d of April Washington set off from Alexandria for the new fort, at

the fork of the Ohio. He had but two companies with him, amounting to about

one hundred and fifty men; the remainder of the regiment was to follow

under Colonel Fry with the artillery, which was to be conveyed up the

Potomac. While on the march he was joined by a detachment under Captain

Adam Stephen, an officer destined to serve with him at distant periods of

his military career.


At Winchester he found it impossible to obtain conveyances by gentle means,

and was obliged reluctantly to avail himself of the militia law of

Virginia, and impress horses and waggons for service; giving the owners

orders on government for their appraised value. Even then, out of a great

number impressed, he obtained but ten, after waiting a week; these, too,

were grudgingly furnished by farmers with their worst horses, so that in

steep and difficult passes they were incompetent to the draught, and the

soldiers had continually to put their shoulders to the wheels.


Thus slenderly fitted out, Washington and his little force made their way

toilfully across the mountains, having to prepare the roads as they went

for the transportation of the cannon, which were to follow on with the

other division under Colonel Fry. They cheered themselves with the thoughts

that this hard work would cease when they should arrive at the company's

trading-post and store-house at Wills' Creek, where Captain Trent was to

have packhorses in readiness, with which they might make the rest of the

way by light stages. Before arriving there they were startled by a rumor

that Trent and all his men had been captured by the French. With regard to

Trent, the news soon proved to be false, for they found him at Wills' Creek

on the 20th of April. With regard to his men there was still an

uncertainty. He had recently left them at the fork of the Ohio, busily at

work on the fort, under the command of his lieutenant, Frazier, late Indian

trader and gunsmith, but now a provincial officer. If the men had been

captured, it must have been since the captain's departure. Washington was

eager to press forward and ascertain the truth, but it was impossible.

Trent, inefficient as usual, had failed to provide packhorses. It was

necessary to send to Winchester, forty miles distant, for baggage waggons,

and await their arrival. All uncertainty as to the fate of the men,

however, was brought to a close by their arrival, on the 25th, conducted by

an ensign, and bringing with them their working implements. The French

might well boast that they had again been too quick for the English.

Captain Contrecoeur, an alert officer, had embarked about a thousand men

with field-pieces, in a fleet of sixty bateaux and three hundred canoes,

dropped down the river from Venango, and suddenly made his appearance

before the fort, on which the men were working, and which was not half

completed. Landing, drawing up his men, and planting his artillery, he

summoned the fort to surrender, allowing one hour for a written reply.


What was to be done! the whole garrison did not exceed fifty men. Captain

Trent was absent at Wills' Creek; Frazier, his lieutenant, was at his own

residence at Turtle Creek, ten miles distant. There was no officer to reply

but a young ensign of the name of Ward. In his perplexity he turned for

counsel to Tanacharisson, the half-king, who was present in the fort. The

chief advised the ensign to plead insufficiency of rank and powers, and

crave delay until the arrival of his superior officer. The ensign repaired

to the French camp to offer this excuse in person, and was accompanied by

the half-king. They were courteously received, but Contrecoeur was

inflexible. There must be instant surrender, or he would take forcible

possession. All that the ensign could obtain was permission to depart with

his men, taking with them their working tools. The capitulation ended.

Contrecoeur, with true French gayety, invited the ensign to sup with him;

treated him with the utmost politeness, and wished him a pleasant journey,

as he set off the next morning with his men laden with their working tools.


Such was the ensign's story. He was accompanied by two Indian warriors,

sent by the half-king to ascertain where the detachment was, what was its

strength, and when it might be expected at the Ohio. They bore a speech

from that sachem to Washington, and another, with a belt of wampum for the

Governor of Virginia. In these he plighted his steadfast faith to the

English, and claimed assistance from his brothers of Virginia and



One of these warriors Washington forwarded on with the speech and wampum to

Governor Dinwiddie. The other he prevailed on to return to the half-king,

bearing a speech from him, addressed to the "Sachems, warriors of the Six

United Nations, Shannoahs and Delawares, our friends and brethren." In this

he informed them that he was on the advance with a part of the army, to

clear the road for a greater force coming with guns, ammunition, and

provisions; and he invited the half-king and another sachem, to meet him on

the road as soon as possible to hold a council.


In fact, his situation was arduous in the extreme. Regarding the conduct of

the French in the recent occurrence an overt act of war, he found himself

thrown with a handful of raw recruits far on a hostile frontier, in the

midst of a wilderness, with an enemy at hand greatly superior in number and

discipline; provided with artillery, and all the munitions of war, and

within reach of constant supplies and reinforcements. Beside the French

that had come from Venango, he had received credible accounts of another

party ascending the Ohio; and of six hundred Chippewas and Ottawas marching

down Scioto Creek to join the hostile camp. Still, notwithstanding the

accumulating danger, it would not do to fall back, nor show signs of

apprehension. His Indian allies in such case might desert him. The

soldiery, too, might grow restless and dissatisfied. He was already annoyed

by Captain Trent's men, who, having enlisted as volunteers, considered

themselves exempt from the rigor of martial law; and by their example of

loose and refractory conduct, threatened to destroy the subordination of

his own troops.


In this dilemma he called a council of war, in which it was determined to

proceed to the Ohio Company store-houses, at the mouth of Redstone Creek;

fortify themselves there, and wait for reinforcements. Here they might keep

up a vigilant watch upon the enemy, and get notice of any hostile movement

in time for defence, or retreat; and should they be reinforced sufficiently

to enable them to attack the fort, they could easily drop down the river

with their artillery.


With these alternatives in view, Washington detached sixty men in advance

to make a road; and at the same time wrote to Governor Dinwiddie for

mortars and grenadoes, and cannon of heavy metal.


Aware that the Assembly of Pennsylvania was in session, and that the

Maryland Assembly would also meet in the course of a few days, he wrote

directly to the governors of those provinces, acquainting them with the

hostile acts of the French, and with his perilous situation; and

endeavoring to rouse them to cooperation in the common cause. We will here

note in advance that his letter was laid before the Legislature of

Pennsylvania, and a bill was about to be passed making appropriations for

the service of the king; but it fell through, in consequence of a

disagreement between the Assembly and the governor as to the mode in which

the money should be raised; and so no assistance was furnished to

Washington from that quarter. The youthful commander had here a foretaste,

in these his incipient campaigns, of the perils and perplexities which

awaited him from enemies in the field, and lax friends in legislative

councils in the grander operations of his future years. Before setting off

for Redstone Creek, he discharged Trent's refractory men from his

detachment, ordering them to await Colonel Fry's commands; they however, in

the true spirit of volunteers from the backwoods, dispersed to their

several homes.


It may be as well to observe, in this place, that both Captain Trent and

Lieutenant Frazier were severely censured for being absent from their post

at the time of the French summons. "Trent's behavior," said Washington, in

a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, "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 until 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 necessity." In fact, Washington, subsequently recommended Frazier

for the office of adjutant.














On the 29th of April Washington set out from Wills' Creek at the head of

one hundred and sixty men. He soon overtook those sent in advance to work

the road; they had made but little progress. It was a difficult task to

break a road through the wilderness sufficient for the artillery coming on

with Colonel Fry's division. All hands were now set to work, but with all

their labor they could not accomplish more than four miles a day. They were

toiling through Savage Mountain and that dreary forest region beyond it,

since bearing the sinister name of "The Shades of Death." On the 9th of May

they were not further than twenty miles from Wills' Creek, at a place

called the Little Meadows.


Every day came gloomy accounts from the Ohio; brought chiefly by traders,

who, with packhorses bearing their effects, were retreating to the more

settled parts of the country. Some exaggerated the number of the French, as

if strongly reinforced. All represented them as diligently at work

constructing a fort. By their account Washington perceived the French had

chosen the very place which he had noted in his journal as best fitted for

the purpose.


One of the traders gave information concerning La Force the French

emissary, who had beset Washington when on his mission to the frontier, and

acted, as he thought, the part of a spy. He had been at Gist's new

settlement beyond Laurel Hill, and was prowling about the country with four

soldiers at his heels on a pretended hunt after deserters. Washington

suspected him to be on a reconnoitering expedition.


It was reported, moreover, that the French were lavishing presents on the

Indians about the lower part of the river, to draw them to their standard.

Among all these flying reports and alarms Washington was gratified to learn

that the half-king was on his way to meet him at the head of fifty



After infinite toil through swamps and forests, and over rugged mountains,

the detachment arrived at the Youghiogeny River, where they were detained

some days constructing a bridge to cross it.


This gave Washington leisure to correspond with Governor Dinwiddie,

concerning matters which had deeply annoyed him. By an ill-judged economy

of the Virginia government at this critical juncture, its provincial

officers received less pay than that allowed in the regular army. It is

true the regular officers were obliged to furnish their own table, but

their superior pay enabled them to do it luxuriously; whereas the

provincials were obliged to do hard duty on salt provisions and water. The

provincial officers resented this inferiority of pay as an indignity, and

declared that nothing prevented them from throwing up their commissions but

unwillingness to recede before approaching danger.


Washington shared deeply this feeling. "Let him serve voluntarily, and he

would with the greatest pleasure in life devote his services to the

expedition--but to be slaving through woods, rocks, and mountains, for the

shadow of pay--" writes he, "I would rather toil like a day laborer for a

maintenance, if reduced to the necessity, than serve on such ignoble

terms." Parity of pay was indispensable to the dignity of the service.


Other instances of false economy were pointed out by him, forming so many

drags upon the expedition, that he quite despaired of success. "Be the

consequence what it will, however," adds he, "I am determined not to leave

the regiment, but to be among the last men that leave the Ohio; even if I

serve as a private volunteer, which I greatly prefer to the establishment

we are upon. ... I have a constitution hardy enough to encounter and

undergo the most severe trials, and I flatter myself resolution to face

what any man dares, as shall be proved when it comes to the test."


And in a letter to his friend Colonel Fairfax--"For my own part," writes

he, "it is a matter almost indifferent whether I serve for full pay or as a

generous volunteer; indeed, did my circumstances correspond with my

inclinations, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter; _for

the motives that have led me here are pure and noble. I had no view of

acquisition but that of honor, by serving faithfully my king and



Such were the noble impulses of Washington at the age of twenty-two, and

such continued to actuate him throughout life. We have put the latter part

of the quotation in italics, as applicable to the motives which in after

life carried him into the Revolution.


While the bridge over the Youghiogeny was in the course of construction,

the Indians assured Washington he would never be able to open a waggon-road

across the mountains to Redstone Creek; he embarked therefore in a canoe

with a lieutenant, three soldiers, and an Indian guide, to try whether it

was possible to descend the river. They had not descended above ten miles

before the Indian refused to go further. Washington soon ascertained the

reason. "Indians," said he, "expect presents--nothing can be done without

them. The French take this method. If you want one or more to conduct a

party, to discover the country, to hunt, or for any particular purpose,

they must be bought; their friendship is not so warm as to prompt them to

these services gratis." The Indian guide in the present instance, was

propitiated by the promise of one of Washington's ruffled shirts, and a



The river was bordered by mountains and obstructed by rocks and rapids.

Indians might thread such a labyrinth in their light canoes, but it would

never admit the transportation of troops and military stores. Washington

kept on for thirty miles, until he came to a place where the river fell

nearly forty feet in the space of fifty yards. There he ceased to explore,

and returned to camp, resolving to continue forward by land.


On the 23d Indian scouts brought word that the French were not above eight

hundred strong, and that about half their number had been detached at night

on a secret expedition. Close upon this report came a message from the

half-king, addressed "to the first of his majesty's officers whom it may



"It is reported," said he, "that the French army is coming to meet Major

Washington. Be on your guard against them, my brethren, for they intend to

strike the first English they shall see. They have been on their march two

days. I know not their number. The half-king and the rest of the chiefs

will be with you in five days to hold a council."


In the evening Washington was told that the French were crossing the ford

of the Youghiogeny about eighteen miles distant. He now hastened to take a

position in a place called the Great Meadows, where he caused the bushes to

be cleared away, made an intrenchment and prepared what he termed "a

charming field for an encounter."


A party of scouts were mounted on waggon horses, and sent out to

reconnoitre. They returned without having seen an enemy. A sensitiveness

prevailed in the camp. They were surrounded by forests, threatened by

unseen foes, and hourly in danger of surprise. There was an alarm about two

o'clock in the night. The sentries fired upon what they took to be prowling

foes. The troops sprang to arms, and remained on the alert until daybreak.

Not an enemy was to be seen. The roll was called. Six men were missing, who

had deserted.


On the 25th. Mr. Gist arrived from his place, about fifteen miles distant.

La Force had been there at noon on the previous day, with a detachment of

fifty men, and Gist had since come upon their track within five miles of

the camp. Washington considered La Force a bold, enterprising man, subtle

and dangerous; one to be particularly guarded against. He detached

seventy-five men in pursuit of him and his prowling band.


About nine o'clock at night came an Indian messenger from the half-king,

who was encamped with several of his people about six miles off. The chief

had seen tracks of two Frenchmen, and was convinced their whole body must

be in ambush near by.


Washington considered this the force which had been hovering about him for

several days, and determined to forestall their hostile designs. Leaving a

guard with the baggage and ammunition, he set out before ten o'clock, with

forty men, to join his Indian ally. They groped their way in single file,

by footpaths through the woods, in a heavy rain and murky darkness,

tripping occasionally and stumbling over each other, sometimes losing the

track for fifteen or twenty minutes, so that it was near sunrise when they

reached the camp of the half-king.


That chieftain received the youthful commander with, great demonstrations

of friendship, and engaged to go hand in hand with him against the lurking

enemy. He set out accordingly, accompanied by a few of his warriors and his

associate sachem Scarooyadi or Monacatoocha, and conducted Washington to

the tracks which he had discovered. Upon these he put two of his Indians.

They followed them up like hounds, and brought back word that they had

traced them to a low bottom surrounded by rocks and trees, where the French

were encamped, having built a few cabins for shelter from the rain.


A plan was now concerted to come upon them by surprise; Washington with,

his men on the right; the half-king with his warriors on the left; all as

silently as possible. Washington was the first upon the ground. As he

advanced from among the rocks and trees at the head of his men, the French

caught sight of him and ran to their arms. A sharp firing instantly took

place, and was kept up on both sides for about fifteen minutes. Washington

and his party were most exposed and received all the enemy's fire. The

balls whistled around him; one man was killed close by him, and three

others wounded. The French at length, having lost several of their number,

gave way and ran. They were soon overtaken; twenty-one were captured, and

but one escaped, a Canadian, who carried the tidings of the affair to the

fort on the Ohio. The Indians would have massacred the prisoners had not

Washington prevented them. Ten of the French had fallen in the skirmish,

and one been wounded. Washington's loss was the one killed and three

wounded which we have mentioned. He had been in the hottest fire, and

having for the first time heard balls whistle about him, considered his

escape miraculous. Jumonville, the French leader, had been shot through the

head at the first fire. He was a young officer of merit, and his fate was

made the subject of lamentation in prose and verse--chiefly through

political motives.


Of the twenty-one prisoners the two most important were an officer of some

consequence named Drouillon, and the subtle and redoubtable La Force. As

Washington considered the latter an arch mischief-maker, he was rejoiced to

have him in his power. La Force and his companion would fain have assumed

the sacred character of ambassadors, pretending they were coming with a

summons to him to depart from the territories belonging to the crown of



Unluckily for their pretensions, a letter of instructions, found on

Jumonville, betrayed their real errand, which was to inform themselves of

the roads, rivers, and other features of the country as far as the Potomac;

to send back from time to time, by fleet messengers, all the information

they could collect, and to give word of the day on which they intended to

serve the summons.


Their conduct had been conformable. Instead of coming in a direct and open

manner to his encampment, when they had ascertained where it was, and

delivering their summons, as they would have done had their designs been

frank and loyal, they had moved back two miles, to one of the most secret

retirements, better for a deserter than an ambassador to encamp in, and

staid there, within five miles of his camp, sending spies to reconnoitre

it, and despatching messengers to Contrecoeur to inform him of its position

and numerical strength, to the end, no doubt, that he might send a

sufficient detachment to enforce the summons as soon as it should be given.

In fact, the footprints which had first led to the discovery of the French

lurking-place, were those of two "runners" or swift messengers, sent by

Jumonville to the fort on the Ohio.


It would seem that La Force, after all, was but an instrument in the hands

of his commanding officers, and not in their full confidence; for when the

commission and instructions found on Jumonville were read before him, he

professed not to have seen them before, and acknowledged, with somewhat of

an air of ingenuousness, that he believed they had a hostile tendency.

[Footnote: Washington's letter to Dinwiddie, 29th May, 1754.]


Upon the whole, it was the opinion of Washington and his officers that the

summons, on which so much stress was laid, was a mere specious pretext to

mask their real designs and be used as occasion might require. "That they

were spies rather than any thing else," and were to be treated as prisoners

of war.


The half-king joined heartily in this opinion; indeed, had the fate of the

prisoners been in his hands, neither diplomacy nor any thing else would

have been of avail. "They came with hostile intentions," he said; "they had

bad hearts, and if his English brothers were so foolish as to let them go,

he would never aid in taking another Frenchman."


The prisoners were accordingly conducted to the camp at the Great Meadows,

and sent on the following day (29th), under a strong escort to Governor

Dinwiddie, then at Winchester. Washington had treated them with great

courtesy; had furnished Drouillon and La Force with clothing from his own

scanty stock, and, at their request, given them letters to the governor,

bespeaking for them "the respect and favor due to their character and

personal merit."


A sense of duty, however, obliged him, in his general despatch, to put the

governor on his guard against La Force. "I really think, if released, he

would do more to our disservice than fifty other men, as he is a person

whose active spirit leads him into all parties, and has brought him

acquainted with all parts of the country. Add to this a perfect knowledge

of the Indian tongue, and great influence with the Indians."


After the departure of the prisoners, he wrote again respecting them: "I

have still stronger presumption, indeed almost confirmation, that they were

sent as spies, and were ordered to wait near us till they were fully

informed of our intentions, situation, and strength, and were to have

acquainted their commander therewith, and to have been lurking here for

reinforcements before they served the summons, if served at all.


"I doubt not but they will endeavor to amuse you with many smooth stories,

as they did me; but they were confuted in them all, and, by circumstances

too plain to be denied, almost made ashamed of their assertions.


"I have heard since they went away, they should say they called on us not

to fire; but that I know to be false, for I was the first man that

approached them, and the first whom they saw, and immediately they ran to

their arms, and fired briskly till they were defeated." ... "I fancy they

will have the assurance of asking the privileges due to an embassy, when in

strict justice they ought to be hanged as spies of the worst sort."


The situation of Washington was now extremely perilous. Contrecoeur, it was

said, had nearly a thousand men with him at the fort, beside Indian allies;

and reinforcements were on the way to join him. The messengers sent by

Jumonville, previous to the late affair, must have apprised him of the

weakness of the encampment on the Great Meadows, Washington hastened to

strengthen it. He wrote by express also to Colonel Fry, who lay ill at

Wills' Creek, urging instant reinforcements; but declaring his resolution

to "fight with very unequal numbers rather than give up one inch of what he

had gained."


The half-king was full of fight. He sent the scalps of the Frenchmen slain

in the late skirmish, accompanied by black wampum and hatchets, to all his

allies, summoning them to take up arms and join him at Redstone Creek, "for

their brothers, the English, had now begun in earnest." It is said he would

even have sent the scalps of the prisoners had not Washington interfered.

[Footnote: Letter from Virginia.--London Mag., 1754.] He went off for his

home, promising to send down the river for all the Mingoes and Shawnees,

and to be back at the camp on the 30th, with thirty or forty warriors,

accompanied by their wives and children. To assist him in the

transportation of his people and their effects thirty men were detached,

and twenty horses.


"I shall expect every hour to be attacked," writes Washington to Governor

Dinwiddie, on the 29th, "and by unequal numbers, which I must withstand, if

there are five to one, for I fear the consequence will be that we shall

lose the Indians if we suffer ourselves to be driven back. Your honor may

depend I will not be surprised, let them come at what hour they will, and

this is as much as I can promise; but my best endeavors shall not be

wanting to effect more. I doubt not, if you hear I am beaten, but you will

hear at the same time that we have done our duty in fighting as long as

there is a shadow of hope."


The fact is, that Washington was in a high state of military excitement. He

was a young soldier; had been for the first time in action, and been

successful. The letters we have already quoted show, in some degree, the

fervor of his mind, and his readiness to brave the worst; but a short

letter, written to one of his brothers, on the 31st, lays open the recesses

of his heart.


"We expect every hour to be attacked by superior force; but if they forbear

but one day longer we shall be prepared for them. ... We have already got

intrenchments, and are about a palisade, which, I hope, will be finished

to-day. The Mingoes have struck the French, and, I hope, will give a good

blow before they have done. I expect forty odd of them here to-night,

which, with our fort, and some reinforcements from Colonel Fry, will enable

us to exert our noble courage with spirit."


Alluding in a postscript to the late affair, he adds: "I fortunately

escaped without any wound; for the right wing, where I stood, was exposed

to, and received, all the enemy's fire; and it was the part where the man

was killed and the rest wounded. _I heard the bullets whistle, and,

believe me, there is something charming in the sound._"


This rodomontade, as Horace Walpole terms it, reached the ears of George

II. "He would not say so," observed the king, dryly, "if he had been used

to hear many." [Footnote: This anecdote has hitherto rested on the

authority of Horace Walpole, who gives it in his memoirs of George II., and

in his correspondence. He cites the rodomontade as contained in the express

despatched by Washington, whom he pronounces a "brave braggart." As no

despatch of Washington contains any rodomontade of the kind; as it is quite

at variance with the general tenor of his character; and as Horace Walpole

is well known to have been a "great gossip dealer," apt to catch up any

idle rumor that would give piquancy to a paragraph, the story has been held

in great distrust. We met with the letter recently, however, in a column of

the London Magazine for 1754, page 370, into which it must have found its

way not long after it was written.]


Washington himself thought so when more experienced in warfare. Being

asked, many years afterwards, whether he really had made such a speech

about the whistling of bullets, "If I said so," replied he quietly, "it was

when I was young." [Footnote: Gordon, Hist. Am. War, vol. ii., p. 203.] He

was, indeed, but twenty-two years old when he said it; it was just after

his first battle; he was flushed with success, and was writing to a

















Scarcity began to prevail in the camp. Contracts had been made with George

Croghan for flour, of which he had large quantities at his frontier

establishment; for he was now trading with the army as well as with the

Indians. None, however, made its appearance. There was mismanagement in the

commissariat. At one time the troops were six days without flour; and even

then had only a casual supply from an Ohio trader. In this time of scarcity

the half-king, his fellow sachem, Scarooyadi, and thirty or forty warriors,

arrived, bringing with them their wives and children--so many more hungry

mouths to be supplied. Washington wrote urgently to Croghan to send forward

all the flour he could furnish.


News came of the death of Colonel Fry at Wills' Creek, and that he was to

be succeeded in the command of the expedition by Colonel Innes of North

Carolina, who was actually at Winchester with three hundred and fifty North

Carolina troops. Washington, who felt the increasing responsibilities and

difficulties of his situation, rejoiced at the prospect of being under the

command of an experienced officer, who had served in company with his

brother Lawrence at the siege of Carthagena. The colonel, however, never

came to the camp, nor did the North Carolina troops render any service in

the campaign--the fortunes of which might otherwise have been very



By the death of Fry, the command of the regiment devolved on Washington.

Finding a blank major's commission among Fry's papers, he gave it to

Captain Adam Stephen, who had conducted himself with spirit. As there would

necessarily be other changes, he wrote to Governor Dinwiddie in behalf of

Jacob Van Braam. "He has acted as captain ever since we left Alexandria. He

is an experienced officer, and worthy of the command he has enjoyed."


The palisaded fort was now completed, and was named Fort Necessity, from

the pinching famine that had prevailed during its construction. The scanty

force in camp was augmented to three hundred, by the arrival from Wills'

Creek of the men who had been under Colonel Fry. With them came the surgeon

of the regiment, Dr. James Craik, a Scotchman by birth, and one destined to

become a faithful and confidential friend of Washington for the remainder

of his life.


A letter from Governor Dinwiddie announced, however, that Captain Mackay

would soon arrive with an independent company of one hundred men, from

South Carolina.


The title of independent company had a sound ominous of trouble. Troops of

the kind, raised in the colonies, under direction of the governors, were

paid by the Crown, and the officers had king's commissions; such,

doubtless, had Captain Mackay. "I should have been particularly obliged,"

writes Washington to Governor Dinwiddie, "if you had declared whether he

was under my command, or independent of it. I hope he will have more sense

than to insist upon any unreasonable distinction, because he and his

officers have commissions from his majesty. Let him consider, though we are

greatly inferior in respect to advantages of profit, yet we have the same

spirit to serve our gracious king as they have, and are as ready and

willing to sacrifice our lives for our country's good. And here, once more,

and for the last time, I must say, that it will be a circumstance which

will act upon some officers of this regiment, above all measure, to be

obliged to serve upon such different terms, when their lives, their

fortunes, and their operations are equally, and, I dare say, as effectually

exposed as those of others, who are happy enough to have the king's



On the 9th arrived Washington's early instructor in military tactics,

Adjutant Muse, recently appointed a major in the regiment. He was

accompanied by Montour, the Indian interpreter, now a provincial captain,

and brought with him nine swivels, and a small supply of powder and ball.

Fifty or sixty horses were forthwith sent to Wills' Creek, to bring on

further supplies, and Mr. Gist was urged to hasten forward the artillery.


Major Muse was likewise the bearer of a belt of wampum and a speech, from

Governor Dinwiddie to the half-king; with medals for the chiefs, and goods

for presents among the friendly Indians, a measure which had been suggested

by Washington. They were distributed with that grand ceremonial so dear to

the red man. The chiefs assembled, painted and decorated in all their

savage finery; Washington wore a medal sent to him by the governor for such

occasions. The wampum and speech having been delivered, he advanced, and

with all due solemnity, decorated the chiefs and warriors with the medals,

which they were to wear in remembrance of their father the King of England.


Among the warriors thus decorated was a son of Queen Aliquippa, the savage

princess whose good graces Washington had secured in the preceding year, by

the present of an old watchcoat, and whose friendship was important, her

town being at no great distance from the French fort. She had requested

that her son might be admitted into the war councils of the camp, and

receive an English name. The name of Fairfax was accordingly given to him,

in the customary Indian form; the half-king being desirous of like

distinction, received the name of Dinwiddie. The sachems returned the

compliment in kind, by giving Washington the name of Connotaucarius; the

meaning of which is not explained.


William Fairfax, Washington's paternal adviser, had recently counselled him

by letter, to have public prayers in his camp; especially when there were

Indian families there; this was accordingly done at the encampment in the

Great Meadows, and it certainly was not one of the least striking pictures

presented in this wild campaign--the youthful commander, presiding with

calm seriousness over a motley assemblage of half-equipped soldiery,

leathern-clad hunters and woodsmen, and painted savages with their wives

and children, and uniting them all in solemn devotion by his own example

and demeanor.


On the 10th there was agitation in the camp. Scouts hurried in with word,

as Washington understood them, that a party of ninety Frenchmen were

approaching. He instantly ordered out a hundred and fifty of his best men;

put himself at their head, and leaving Major Muse with the rest, to man the

fort and mount the swivels, sallied forth "in the full hope" as he

afterwards wrote to Governor Dinwiddie, "of procuring him another present

of French prisoners."


It was another effervescence of his youthful military ardor, and doomed to

disappointment. The report of the scouts had been either exaggerated or

misunderstood. The ninety Frenchmen in military array dwindled down into

nine French deserters.


According to their account, the fort at the fork was completed, and named

Duquesne, in honor of the Governor of Canada, It was proof against all

attack, excepting with bombs, on the land side. The garrison did not exceed

five hundred, but two hundred more were hourly expected, and nine hundred

in the course of a fortnight.


Washington's suspicions with respect to La Force's party were justified by

the report of these deserters; they had been sent out as spies, and were to

show the summons if discovered or overpowered. The French commander, they

added, had been blamed for sending out so small a party.


On the same day Captain Mackay arrived, with his independent company of

South Carolinians. The cross-purposes which Washington had apprehended,

soon manifested themselves. The captain was civil and well disposed, but

full of formalities and points of etiquette. Holding a commission direct

from the king, he could not bring himself to acknowledge a provincial

officer as his superior. He encamped separately, kept separate guards,

would not agree that Washington should assign any rallying place for his

men in case of alarm, and objected to receive from him the parole and

countersign, though necessary for their common safety.


Washington conducted himself with circumspection, avoiding every thing that

might call up a question of command, and reasoning calmly whenever such

question occurred; but he urged the governor by letter, to prescribe their

relative rank and authority. "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."


On the 11th of June, Washington resumed the laborious march for Redstone

Creek. As Captain Mackay could not oblige his men to work on the road

unless they were allowed a shilling sterling a day; and as Washington did

not choose to pay this, nor to suffer them to march at their ease while his

own faithful soldiers were laboriously employed; he left the captain and

his Independent company as a guard at Fort Necessity, and undertook to

complete the military road with his own men.


Accordingly, he and his Virginia troops toiled forward through the narrow

defiles of the mountains, working on the road as they went. Scouts were

sent out in all directions, to prevent surprise. While on the march he was

continually beset by sachems, with their tedious ceremonials and speeches,

all to very little purpose. Some of these chiefs were secretly in the

French interest; few rendered any real assistance, and all expected



At Gist's establishment, about thirteen miles from Fort Necessity,

Washington received certain intelligence that ample reinforcements had

arrived at Fort Duquesne, and a large force would instantly be detached

against him. Coming to a halt, he began to throw up intrenchments, calling

in two foraging parties, and sending word to Captain Mackay to join him

with all speed. The captain and his company arrived in the evening; the

foraging parties the next morning. A council of war was held, in which the

idea of awaiting the enemy at this place was unanimously abandoned.


A rapid and toilsome retreat ensued. There was a deficiency of horses.

Washington gave up his own to aid in transporting the military munitions,

leaving his baggage to be brought on by soldiers, whom he paid liberally.

The other officers followed his example. The weather was sultry; the roads

were rough; provisions were scanty, and the men dispirited by hunger. The

Virginian soldiers took turns to drag the swivels, but felt almost insulted

by the conduct of the South Carolinians, who, piquing themselves upon their

assumed privileges as "king's soldiers," sauntered along at their ease;

refusing to act as pioneers, or participate in the extra labors incident to

a hurried retreat.


On the 1st of July they reached the Great Meadows. Here the Virginians,

exhausted by fatigue, hunger, and vexation, declared they would carry the

baggage and drag the swivels no further. Contrary to his original

intentions, therefore, Washington determined to halt here for the present,

and fortify, sending off expresses to hasten supplies and reinforcements

from Wills' Creek, where he had reason to believe that two independent

companies from New York, were by this time arrived.


The retreat to the Great Meadows had not been in the least too precipitate.

Captain de Villiers, a brother-in-law of Jumonville, had actually sallied

forth from Fort Duquesne at the head of upwards of five hundred French, and

several hundred Indians, eager to avenge the death of his relative.

Arriving about dawn of day at Gist's plantation, he surrounded the works

which Washington had hastily thrown up there, and fired into them. Finding

them deserted, he concluded that those of whom he came in search had made

good their retreat to the settlements, and it was too late to pursue them.

He was on the point of returning to Fort Duquesne, when a deserter arrived,

who gave word that Washington had come to a halt in the Great Meadows,

where his troops were in a starving condition; for his own part, he added,

hearing that the French were coming, he had deserted to them to escape



De Villiers ordered the fellow into confinement; to be rewarded if his

words proved true, otherwise to be hanged. He then pushed forward for the

Great Meadows. [Footnote: Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania, vol. iv., p.



In the mean time Washington had exerted himself to enlarge and strengthen

Fort Necessity, nothing of which had been done by Captain Mackay and his

men, while encamped there. The fort was about a hundred feet square,

protected by trenches and palisades. It stood on the margin of a small

stream, nearly in the centre of the Great Meadows, which is a grassy plain,

perfectly level, surrounded by wooded hills of a moderate height, and at

that place about two hundred and fifty yards wide. Washington asked no

assistance from the South Carolina troops, but set to work with his

Virginians, animating them by word and example; sharing in the labor of

felling trees, hewing off the branches, and rolling up the trunks to form a



At this critical juncture he was deserted by his Indian allies. They were

disheartened at the scanty preparations for defence against a superior

force, and offended at being subjected to military command. The half-king

thought he had not been sufficiently consulted, and that his advice had not

been sufficiently followed; such, at least, were some of the reasons which

he subsequently gave for abandoning the youthful commander on the approach

of danger. The true reason was a desire to put his wife and children in a

place of safety. Most of his warriors followed his example; very few, and

those probably who had no families at risk, remained in the camp.


Early in the morning of the 3d, while Washington and his men were working

on the fort, a sentinel came in wounded and bleeding, having been fired

upon. Scouts brought word shortly afterwards that the French were in force,

about four miles off. Washington drew up his men on level ground outside of

the works, to await their attack. About 11 o'clock there was a firing of

musketry from among trees on rising ground, but so distant as to do no

harm; suspecting this to be a stratagem designed to draw his men into the

woods, he ordered them to keep quiet, and refrain from firing until the foe

should show themselves, and draw near.


The firing was kept up, but still under cover. He now fell back with his

men into the trenches, ordering them to fire whenever they could get sight

of an enemy. In this way there was skirmishing throughout the day; the

French and Indians advancing as near as the covert of the woods would

permit, which in the nearest place was sixty yards, but never into open

sight. In the meanwhile the rain fell in torrents; the harassed and jaded

troops were half drowned in their trenches, and many of their muskets were

rendered unfit for use.


About eight at night the French requested a parley. Washington hesitated.

It might be a stratagem to gain admittance for a spy into the fort. The

request was repeated, with the addition that an officer might be sent to

treat with them, under their parole for his safety. Unfortunately the

Chevalier de Peyrouney, engineer of the regiment, and the only one who

could speak French correctly, was wounded and disabled. Washington had to

send, therefore, his ancient swordsman and interpreter, Jacob Van Braam.

The captain returned twice with separate terms, in which the garrison was

required to surrender; both were rejected. He returned a third time, with

written articles of capitulation. They were in French. As no implements for

writing were at hand, Van Braam undertook to translate them by word of

mouth. A candle was brought, and held close to the paper while he read.

The rain fell in torrents; it was difficult to keep the light from being

extinguished. The captain rendered the capitulation, article by article, in

mongrel English, while Washington and his officers stood listening,

endeavoring to disentangle the meaning. One article stipulated that on

surrendering the fort they should leave all their military stores,

munitions, and artillery in possession of the French. This was objected to,

and was readily modified.


The main articles, as Washington and his officers understood them, were,

that they should be allowed to return to the settlements without

molestation from French or Indians. That they should march out of the fort

with the honors of war, drums beating and colors flying, and with all their

effects and military stores excepting the artillery, which should be

destroyed. That they should be allowed to deposit their effects in some

secret place, and leave a guard to protect them until they could send

horses to bring them away; their horses having been nearly all killed or

lost during the action. That they should give their word of honor not to

attempt any buildings or improvements on the lands of his most Christian

Majesty, for the space of a year. That the prisoners taken in the skirmish

of Jumonville should be restored, and until their delivery Captain Van

Braam and Captain Stobo should remain with the French as hostages.

[Footnote: Horace Walpole, in a flippant notice of this capitulation, says:

"The French have tied up the hands of an excellent _fanfaron_, a Major

Washington, whom they took and engaged not to serve for one year."

(Correspondence, vol. iii., p. 73.) Walpole, at this early date, seems to

have considered Washington a perfect fire-eater.]


The next morning accordingly, Washington and his men marched out of their

forlorn fortress with the honors of war, bearing with them their regimental

colors, but leaving behind a large flag, too cumbrous to be transported.

Scarcely had they begun their march, however, when, in defiance of the

terms of capitulation, they were beset by a large body of Indians, allies

of the French, who began plundering the baggage, and committing other

irregularities. Seeing that the French did not, or could not, prevent them,

and that all the baggage which could not be transported on the shoulders of

his troops would fall into the hands of these savages, Washington ordered

it to be destroyed, as well as the artillery, gunpowder, and other military

stores. All this detained him until ten o'clock, when he set out on his

melancholy march. He had not proceeded above a mile when two or three of

the wounded men were reported to be missing. He immediately detached a few

men back in quest of them, and continued on until three miles from Fort

Necessity, where he encamped for the night, and was rejoined by the



In this affair, out of the Virginia regiment, consisting of three hundred

and five men, officers included, twelve had been killed, and forty-three

wounded. The number killed and wounded in Captain Mackay's company is not

known. The loss of the French and Indians is supposed to have been much



In the following days' march the troops seemed jaded and disheartened; they

were encumbered and delayed by the wounded; provisions were scanty, and

they had seventy weary miles to accomplish before they could meet with

supplies. Washington, however, encouraged them by his own steadfast and

cheerful demeanor, and by sharing all their toils and privations; and at

length conducted them in safety to Wills' Creek, where they found ample

provisions in the military magazines. Leaving them here to recover their

strength, he proceeded with Captain Mackay to Williamsburg, to make his

military report to the governor.


A copy of the capitulation was subsequently laid before the Virginia House

of Burgesses, with explanations. Notwithstanding the unfortunate result of

the campaign, the conduct of Washington and his officers was properly

appreciated, and they received a vote of thanks for their bravery, and

gallant defence of their country. Three hundred pistoles (nearly eleven

hundred dollars) also were voted to be distributed among the privates who

had been in action.


From the vote of thanks, two officers were excepted; Major Stobo, who was

charged with cowardice, and Washington's unfortunate master of fence and

blundering interpreter, Jacob Van Braam, who was accused of treachery, in

purposely misinterpreting the articles of capitulation.


In concluding this chapter, we will anticipate dates to record the fortunes

of the half-king after his withdrawal from the camp. He and several of his

warriors, with their wives and children, retreated to Aughquick, in the

back part of Pennsylvania, where George Croghan had an agency, and was

allowed money from time to time for the maintenance Of Indian allies. By

the by, Washington, in his letter to William Fairfax, expressed himself

much disappointed in Croghan and Montour, who proved, he said, to be great

pretenders, and by vainly boasting of their interest with the Indians,

involved the country in great calamity, causing dependence to be placed

where there was none. [Footnote: Letter to W. Fairfax, Aug. 11th, 1754.]

For, with all their boast, they never could induce above thirty fighting

men to join the camp, and not more than half of those rendered any service.


As to the half-king, he expressed himself perfectly disgusted with the

white man's mode of warfare. The French, he said, were cowards; the

English, fools. Washington was a good man, but wanted experience: he would

not take advice of the Indians and was always driving them to fight

according to his own notions. For this reason he (the half-king) had

carried off his wife and children to a place of safety.


After a time the chieftain fell dangerously ill, and a conjurer or

"medicine man" was summoned to inquire into the cause or nature of his

malady. He gave it as his opinion that the French had bewitched him, in

revenge for the great blow he had struck them in the affair of Jumonville;

for the Indians gave him the whole credit of that success, he having sent

round the French scalps as trophies. In the opinion of the conjurer all the

friends of the chieftain concurred, and on his death, which took place

shortly afterwards, there was great lamentation, mingled with threats of

immediate vengeance. The foregoing particulars are gathered from a letter

written by John Harris, an Indian trader, to the Governor of Pennsylvania,

at the request of the half-king's friend and fellow sachem, Monacatoocha,

otherwise called Scarooyadi. "I humbly presume," concludes John Harris,

"that his death is a very great loss, especially at this critical time."

[Footnote: Pennsylvania Archives, vol. ii., p. 178.]




We have been thus particular in tracing the affair of the Great Meadows,

step by step, guided by the statements of Washington himself and of one of

his officers, present in the engagement, because it is another of the

events in the early stage of his military career, before the justice and

magnanimity of his character were sufficiently established which have been

subject to misrepresentation. When the articles of capitulation came to be

correctly translated and published, there were passages in them derogatory

to the honor of Washington and his troops, and, which, it would seem, had

purposely been inserted for their humiliation by the French commander; but

which, they protested, had never been rightly translated by Van Braam. For

instance, in the written articles, they were made to stipulate that for the

space of a year, they would not work on any establishment beyond the

mountains; whereas it had been translated by Van Braam "on any

establishment _on the lands of the King of France_" which was quite

another thing, as most of the land beyond the mountains was considered by

them as belonging to the British crown. There were other points, of minor

importance, relative to the disposition of the artillery; but the most

startling and objectionable one was that concerning the previous skirmish

in the Great Meadows. This was mentioned in the written articles as

_l'assassinat du Sieur de Jumonville_, that is to say, the

_murder_ of De Jumonville; an expression from which Washington and his

officers would have revolted with scorn and indignation; and which, if

truly translated, would in all probability have caused the capitulation to

be sent back instantly to the French commander. On the contrary, they

declared it had been translated to them by Van Braam the _death_ of De



M. de Villiers, in his account of this transaction to the French

government, avails himself of these passages in the capitulation to cast a

slur on the conduct of Washington. He says, "We made the English consent to

sign that they had assassinated my brother in his camp."--"We caused them

to abandon the lands belonging to the king.--We obliged them to leave their

cannon, which consisted of nine pieces, &c." He further adds: "The English,

struck with panic, took to flight, and left their flag and one of their

colors." We have shown that the flag left was the unwieldy one belonging to

the fort; too cumbrous to be transported by troops who could not carry

their own necessary baggage. The regimental colors, as honorable symbols,

were scrupulously carried off by Washington, and retained by him in after



M. de Villiers adds another incident intended to degrade his enemy. He

says, "One of my Indians took ten Englishmen, whom he brought to me, and

whom I sent back by another." These, doubtless, were the men detached by

Washington in quest of the wounded loiterers; and who, understanding

neither French nor Indian, found a difficulty in explaining their peaceful

errand. That they were captured by the Indian seems too much of a



The public opinion at the time was that Van Braam had been suborned by De

Villiers to soften the offensive articles of the capitulation in

translating them, so that they should not wound the pride nor awaken the

scruples of Washington and his officers, yet should stand on record against

them. It is not probable that a French officer of De Villiers' rank would

practise such a base perfidy, nor does the subsequent treatment experienced

by Van Braam from the French corroborate the charge. It is more than

probable the inaccuracy of translation originated in his ignorance of the

precise weight and value of words in the two languages, neither of which

was native to him, and between which he was the blundering agent of















Early in August Washington rejoined his regiment, which had arrived at

Alexandria by the way of Winchester. Letters from Governor Dinwiddie urged

him to recruit it to the former number of three hundred men, and join

Colonel Innes at Wills' Creek, where that officer was stationed with

Mackay's independent company of South Carolinians, and two independent

companies from New York; and had been employed in erecting a work to serve

as a frontier post and rallying point; which work received the name of Fort

Cumberland, in honor of the Duke of Cumberland, captain-general of the

British army.


In the mean time the French, elated by their recent triumph, and thinking

no danger at hand, relaxed their vigilance at Fort Duquesne. Stobo, who was

a kind of prisoner at large there, found means to send a letter secretly by

an Indian, dated July 28, and directed to the commander of the English

troops. It was accompanied by a plan of the fort. "There are two hundred

men here," writes he, "and two hundred expected; the rest have gone off in

detachments to the amount of one thousand, besides Indians. None lodge in

the fort but Contrecoeur and the guard, consisting of forty men and five

officers; the rest lodge in bark cabins around the fort. The Indians have

access day and night, and come and go when they please. If one hundred

trusty Shawnees, Mingoes, and Delawares were picked out, they might

surprise the fort, lodging themselves under the palisades by day, and at

night secure the guard with their tomahawks, shut the sally-gate, and the

fort is ours."


One part of Stobo's letter breathes a loyal and generous spirit of

self-devotion. Alluding to the danger in which he and Van Braam, his

fellow-hostage, might be involved, he says, "Consider the good of the

expedition without regard to us. When we engaged to serve the country it

was expected we were to do it with our lives. For my part, I would die a

hundred deaths to have the pleasure of possessing this fort but one day.

They are so vain of their success at the Meadows it is worse than death to

hear them. Haste to strike." [Footnote: Hazard's Register of Penn., iv.,



The Indian messenger carried the letter to Aughquick and delivered it into

the hands of George Croghan. The Indian chiefs who were with him insisted

upon his opening it. He did so, but on finding the tenor of it, transmitted

it to the Governor of Pennsylvania. The secret information communicated by

Stobo, may have been the cause of a project suddenly conceived by Governor

Dinwiddie, of a detachment which, by a forced march across the mountains,

might descend upon the French and take Fort Duquesne at a single blow; or,

failing that, might build a rival fort in its vicinity. He accordingly

wrote to Washington to march forthwith for Wills' Creek, with such

companies as were complete, leaving orders with the officers to follow as

soon as they should have enlisted men sufficient to make up their

companies. "The season of the year," added he, "calls for despatch. I

depend upon your usual diligence and spirit to encourage your people to be

active on this occasion."


The ignorance of Dinwiddie in military affairs, and his want of forecast,

led him perpetually into blunders. Washington saw the rashness of an

attempt to dispossess the French with a force so inferior that it could be

harassed and driven from place to place at their pleasure. Before the

troops could be collected, and munitions of war provided, the season would

be too far advanced. There would be no forage for the horses; the streams

would be swollen and unfordable; the mountains rendered impassable by snow,

and frost, and slippery roads. The men, too, unused to campaigning on the

frontier, would not be able to endure a winter in the wilderness, with no

better shelter than a tent; especially in their present condition,

destitute of almost every thing. Such are a few of the cogent reasons urged

by Washington in a letter to his friend William Fairfax, then in the House

of Burgesses, which no doubt was shown to Governor Dinwiddie, and probably

had an effect in causing the rash project to be abandoned.


The governor, in truth, was sorely perplexed about this time by

contradictions and cross-purposes, both in military and civil affairs. A

body of three hundred and fifty North Carolinian troops had been enlisted

at high pay, and were to form the chief reinforcement of Colonel Innes at

Wills' Creek. By the time they reached Winchester, however, the provincial

military chest was exhausted, and future pay seemed uncertain; whereupon

they refused to serve any longer, disbanded themselves tumultuously, and

set off for their homes without taking leave.


The governor found the House of Burgesses equally unmanageable. His demands

for supplies were resisted on what he considered presumptuous pretexts; or

granted sparingly, under mortifying restrictions. His high Tory notions

were outraged by such republican conduct. "There appears to me," said he,

"an infatuation in all the assemblies in this part of the world." In a

letter to the Board of Trade he declared that the only way effectually to

check the progress of the French, would be an act of parliament requiring

the colonies to contribute to the common cause, _independently of

assemblies_; and in another, to the Secretary of State, he urged the

policy of compelling the colonies to their duty to the king by a general

poll-tax of two and sixpence a head. The worthy governor would have made a

fitting counsellor for the Stuart dynasty. Subsequent events have shown how

little his policy was suited to compete with the dawning republicanism of



In the month of October the House of Burgesses made a grant of twenty

thousand pounds for the public service; and ten thousand more were sent out

from England, beside a supply of firearms. The governor now applied himself

to military matters with renewed spirit; increased the actual force to ten

companies; and, as there had been difficulties among the different kinds of

troops with regard to precedence, he reduced them all to independent

companies; so that there would be no officer in a Virginia regiment above

the rank of captain.


This shrewd measure, upon which Dinwiddie secretly prided himself as

calculated to put an end to the difficulties in question, immediately drove

Washington out of the service; considering it derogatory to his character

to accept a lower commission than that under which his conduct had gained

him a vote of thanks from the Legislature.


Governor Sharpe, of Maryland, appointed by the king commander-in-chief of

all the forces engaged against the French, sought to secure his valuable

services, and authorized Colonel Fitzhugh, whom he had placed in temporary

command of the army, to write to him to that effect. The reply of

Washington (15th Nov.) is full of dignity and spirit, and shows how deeply

he felt his military degradation.


"You make mention," says he, "of my continuing in the service and retaining

my colonel's commission. This idea has filled me with surprise; for if you

think me capable of holding a commission that has neither rank nor

emolument annexed to it, you must maintain a very contemptible opinion of

my weakness, and believe me more empty than the commission itself." After

intimating a suspicion that the project of reducing the regiment into

independent companies, and thereby throwing out the higher officers, was

"generated and hatched at Wills' Creek,"--in other words, was an expedient

of Governor Dinwiddie, instead of being a peremptory order from England, he

adds, "Ingenuous treatment and plain dealing I at least expected. It is to

be hoped the project will answer; it shall meet with my acquiescence in

every thing except personal services. I herewith inclose Governor Sharpe's

letter, which I beg you will return to him with my acknowledgments for the

favor he intended me. Assure him, sir, as you truly may, of my reluctance

to quit the service, and the pleasure I should have received in attending

his fortunes. Inform him, also, that it was to obey the call of honor and

the advice of my friends that I declined it, and not to gratify any desire

I had to leave the military line. My feelings are strongly bent to arms."


Even had Washington hesitated to take this step, it would have been forced

upon him by a further regulation of government, in the course of the

ensuing winter, settling the rank of officers of his majesty's forces when

joined or serving with the provincial forces in North America, "which

directed that all such as were commissioned by the king, or by his general

commander-in-chief in North America, should take rank of all officers

commissioned by the governors of the respective provinces. And further,

that the general and field officers of the provincial troops should have no

rank when serving with the general and field officers commissioned by the

crown; but that all captains and other inferior officers of the royal

troops should take rank over provincial officers of the same grade, having

older commissions."


These regulations, originating in that supercilious assumption of

superiority which sometimes overruns and degrades true British pride, would

have been spurned by Washington, as insulting to the character and conduct

of his high-minded brethren of the colonies. How much did this open

disparagement of colonial honor and understanding, contribute to wean from

England the affection of her American subjects, and prepare the way for

their ultimate assertion of independence.


Another cause of vexation to Washington was the refusal of Governor

Dinwiddie to give up the French prisoners, taken in the affair of De

Jumonville, in fulfilment of the articles of capitulation. His plea was,

that since the capitulation, the French had taken several British subjects,

and sent them prisoners to Canada he considered himself justifiable in

detaining those Frenchmen which he had in his custody. He sent a flag of

truce, however, offering to return the officer Drouillon, and the two

cadets, in exchange for Captains Stobo and Van Braam, whom the French held

as hostages; but his offer was treated with merited disregard. Washington

felt deeply mortified by this obtuseness of the governor on a point of

military punctilio and honorable faith, but his remonstrances were



The French prisoners were clothed and maintained at the public expense, and

Drouillon and the cadets were allowed to go at large; the private soldiers

were kept in confinement. La Force, also, not having acted in a military

capacity, and having offended against the peace and security of the

frontier, by his intrigues among the Indians, was kept in close durance.

Washington, who knew nothing of this, was shocked on visiting Williamsburg,

to learn that La Force was in prison. He expostulated with the governor on

the subject, but without effect; Dinwiddie was at all times pertinacious,

but particularly so when he felt himself to be a little in the wrong.


As we shall have no further occasion to mention La Force, in connection

with the subject of this work, we will anticipate a page of his fortunes.

After remaining two years in confinement he succeeded in breaking out of

prison, and escaping into the country. An alarm was given, and circulated

far and wide, for such was the opinion of his personal strength, desperate

courage, wily cunning, and great influence over the Indians, that the most

mischievous results were apprehended should he regain the frontier. In the

mean time he was wandering about the country ignorant of the roads, and

fearing to make inquiries, lest his foreign tongue should betray him. He

reached King and Queen Court House, about thirty miles from Williamsburg,

when a countryman was struck with his foreign air and aspect. La Force

ventured to put a question as to the distance and direction of Fort

Duquesne, and his broken English convinced the countryman of his being the

French prisoner, whose escape had been noised about the country. Watching

an opportunity he seized him, and regardless of offers of great bribes,

conducted him back to the prison of Williamsburg, where he was secured with

double irons, and chained to the floor of his dungeon.


The refusal of Governor Dinwiddie to fulfil the article of the capitulation

respecting the prisoners, and the rigorous treatment of La Force, operated

hardly upon the hostages, Stobo and Van Braam, who, in retaliation, were

confined in prison in Quebec, though otherwise treated with kindness. They,

also, by extraordinary efforts, succeeded in breaking prison, but found it

more difficult to evade the sentries of a fortified place. Stobo managed to

escape into the country; but the luckless Van Braam sought concealment

under an arch of a causeway leading from the fortress. Here he remained

until nearly exhausted by hunger. Seeing the Governor of Canada passing by,

and despairing of being able to effect his escape, he came forth from his

hiding place, and surrendered himself, invoking his clemency. He was

remanded to prison, but experienced no additional severity. He was

subsequently shipped by the governor from Quebec to England, and never

returned to Virginia. It is this treatment of Van Braam, more than any

thing else, which convinces us that the suspicion of his being in collusion

with the French in regard to the misinterpretation of the articles of

capitulation, was groundless. He was simply a blunderer.


















Having resigned his commission, and disengaged himself from public affairs,

Washington's first care was to visit his mother, inquire into the state of

domestic concerns, and attend to the welfare of his brothers and sisters.

In these matters he was ever his mother's adjunct and counsellor,

discharging faithfully the duties of an eldest son, who should consider

himself a second father to the family.


He now took up his abode at Mount Vernon, and prepared to engage in those

agricultural pursuits, for which, even in his youthful days, he had as keen

a relish as for the profession of arms. Scarcely had he entered upon his

rural occupations, however, when the service of his country once more

called him to the field.


The disastrous affair at the Great Meadows, and the other acts of French

hostility on the Ohio, had roused the attention of the British ministry.

Their ambassador at Paris was instructed to complain of those violations of

the peace. The court of Versailles amused him with general assurances of

amity, and a strict adherence to treaties. Their ambassador at the court of

St. James, the Marquis de Mirepoix, on the faith of his instructions, gave

the same assurances. In the mean time, however, French ships were fitted

out, and troops embarked, to carry out the schemes of the government in

America. So profound was the dissimulation of the court of Versailles, that

even their own ambassador is said to have been kept in ignorance of their

real designs, and of the hostile game they were playing, while he was

exerting himself in good faith, to lull the suspicions of England, and

maintain the international peace. When his eyes, however, were opened, he

returned indignantly to France, and upbraided the cabinet with the

duplicity of which he had been made the unconscious instrument.


The British government now prepared for military operations in America;

none of them professedly aggressive, but rather to resist and counteract

aggressions. A plan of campaign was devised for 1755, having four objects.


To eject the French from lands which they held unjustly, in the province of

Nova Scotia.


To dislodge them from a fortress which they had erected at Crown Point, on

Lake Champlain, within what was claimed as British territory.


To dispossess them of the fort which they had constructed at Niagara,

between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.


To drive them from the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and recover

the valley of the Ohio.


The Duke of Cumberland, captain-general of the British army, had the

organization of this campaign; and through his patronage, Major-general

Edward Braddock was intrusted with the execution of it, being appointed

generalissimo of all the forces in the colonies.


Braddock was a veteran in service, and had been upwards of forty years in

the guards, that school of exact discipline and technical punctilio.

Cumberland, who held a commission in the guards, and was bigoted to its

routine, may have considered Braddock fitted, by his skill and preciseness

as a tactician, for a command in a new country, inexperienced in military

science, to bring its raw levies into order, and to settle those questions

of rank and etiquette apt to arise where regular and provincial troops are

to act together.


The result proved the error of such an opinion. Braddock was a brave and

experienced officer but his experience was that of routine, and rendered

him pragmatical and obstinate, impatient of novel expedients "not laid down

in the books," but dictated by emergencies in a "new country," and his

military precision, which would have been brilliant on parade, was a

constant obstacle to alert action in the wilderness. [Footnote: Horace

Walpole, in his letters, relates some anecdotes of Braddock, which give a

familiar picture of him in the fashionable life in which he had mingled in

London, and are of value, as letting us into the private character of a man

whose name has become proverbial in American history. "Braddock," says

Walpole, "is a very Iroquois in disposition. He had a sister, who, having

gamed away all her little fortune at Bath, hanged herself with a truly

English deliberation, leaving a note on the table with these lines: 'To die

is landing on some silent shore,' &c. When Braddock was told of it, he only

said: 'Poor Fanny! I always thought she would play till she would be forced

to tuck herself up.'"


Braddock himself had been somewhat of a spendthrift. He was touchy also,

and punctilious. "He once had a duel," says Walpole, "with Colonel Glumley,

Lady Bath's brother, who had been his great friend. As they were going to

engage, Glumley, who had good humor and wit (Braddock had the latter) said:

'Braddock, you are a poor dog! here, take my purse, if you kill me you will

be forced to run away, and then you will not have a shilling to support

you.' Braddock refused the purse, insisted on the duel, was disarmed, and

would not even ask for his life."]


Braddock was to lead in person the grand enterprise of the campaign, that

destined for the frontiers of Virginia and Pennsylvania; it was the

enterprise in which Washington became enlisted, and, therefore, claims our

especial attention.


Prior to the arrival of Braddock, came out from England Lieutenant-colonel

Sir John St. Clair, deputy quartermaster-general, eager to make himself

acquainted with the field of operations. He made a tour of inspection, in

company with Governor Sharpe, of Maryland, and appears to have been

dismayed at sight of the impracticable wilderness, the region of

Washington's campaign. From Fort Cumberland, he wrote in February to

Governor Morris, of Pennsylvania, to have the road cut, or repaired, toward

the head of the river Youghiogeny, and another opened from Philadelphia for

the transportation of supplies. "No general," writes he, "will advance with

an army without having a communication open to the provinces in his rear,

both for the security of retreat, and to facilitate the transport of

provisions, the supplying of which must greatly depend on your province."

[Footnote: Colonial Records, vi., 300.]


Unfortunately the governor of Pennsylvania had no money at his command, and

was obliged, for expenses, to apply to his Assembly, "a set of men," writes

he, "quite unacquainted with every kind of military service, and

exceedingly unwilling to part with money on any terms." However, by dint of

exertions, he procured the appointment of commissioners to explore the

country, and survey and lay out the roads required. At the head of the

commission was George Croghan, the Indian trader, whose mission to the

Twightwees we have already spoken of. Times had gone hard with Croghan. The

French had seized great quantities of his goods. The Indians, with whom he

traded, had failed to pay their debts, and he had become a bankrupt. Being

an efficient agent on the frontier, and among the Indians, he still enjoyed

the patronage of the Pennsylvania government.


When Sir John St. Clair had finished his tour of inspection, he descended

Wills' Creek and the Potomac for two hundred miles in a canoe to

Alexandria, and repaired to Virginia to meet General Braddock. The latter

had landed on the 20th of February at Hampton, in Virginia, and proceeded

to Williamsburg to consult with Governor Dinwiddie. Shortly afterwards he

was joined there by Commodore Keppel, whose squadron of two ships-of-war,

and several transports, had anchored in the Chesapeake. On board of these

ships were two prime regiments of about five hundred men each; one

commanded by Sir Peter Halket, the other by Colonel Dunbar; together with a

train of artillery, and the necessary munitions of war. The regiments were

to be augmented to seven hundred men, each by men selected by Sir John St.

Clair from Virginia companies recently raised.


Alexandria was fixed upon as the place where the troops should disembark,

and encamp. The ships were accordingly ordered up to that place, and the

levies directed to repair thither.


The plan of the campaign included the use of Indian allies. Governor

Dinwiddie had already sent Christopher Gist, the pioneer, Washington's

guide in 1753, to engage the Cherokees and Catawbas, the bravest of the

Southern tribes, who he had no doubt would take up the hatchet for the

English, peace being first concluded, through the mediation of his

government, between them and the Six Nations; and he gave Braddock reason

to expect at least four hundred Indians to join him at Port Cumberland. He

laid before him also contracts that he had made for cattle, and promises

that the Assembly of Pennsylvania had made of flour; these, with other

supplies, and a thousand barrels of beef on board of the transports, would

furnish six months' provisions for four thousand men.


General Braddock apprehended difficulty in procuring wagons and horses

sufficient to attend him in his march. Sir John St. Clair, in the course of

his tour of inspection, had met with two Dutch settlers, at the foot of the

Blue Ridge, who engaged to furnish two hundred waggons, and fifteen hundred

carrying-horses, to be at Fort Cumberland early in May.


Governor Sharpe was to furnish above a hundred waggons for the

transportation of stores, on the Maryland side of the Potomac.


Keppel furnished four cannons from his ships, for the attack on Fort

Duquesne, and thirty picked seamen to assist in dragging them over the

mountains; for "soldiers," said he, "cannot be as well acquainted with the

nature of purchases, and making use of tackles, as seamen," They were to

aid also in passing the troops and artillery on floats or in boats, across

the rivers, and were under the command of a midshipman and lieutenant.

[Footnote: Keppel's Life of Keppel, p. 205.]


"Every thing," writes Captain Robert Orme, one of the general's

aides-de-camp, "seemed to promise so far the greatest success. The

transports were all arrived safe, and the men in health. Provisions,

Indians, carriages, and horses, were already provided; at least were to be

esteemed so, considering the authorities on which they were promised to the



Trusting to these arrangements, Braddock proceeded to Alexandria. The

troops had all been disembarked before his arrival, and the Virginia levies

selected by Sir John St. Clair, to join the regiments of regulars, were

arrived. There were beside two companies of hatchet men, or carpenters; six

of rangers; and one troop of light horse. The levies, having been clothed,

were ordered to march immediately for Winchester, to be armed, and the

general gave them in charge of an ensign of the 44th, "to make them as like

soldiers as possible." [Footnote: Orme's Journal.] The light horse were

retained by the general as his escort and body guard.


The din and stir of warlike preparation disturbed the quiet of Mount

Vernon. Washington looked down from his rural retreat upon the ships of war

and transports, as they passed up the Potomac, with the array of arms

gleaming along their decks. The booming of cannon echoed among his groves.

Alexandria was but a few miles distant. Occasionally he mounted his horse,

and rode to that place; it was like a garrisoned town, teeming with troops,

and resounding with the drum and fife. A brilliant campaign was about to

open under the auspices of an experienced general, and with all the means

and appurtenances of European warfare. How different from the starveling

expeditions he had hitherto been doomed to conduct! What an opportunity to

efface the memory of his recent disaster! All his thoughts of rural life

were put to flight. The military part of his character was again in the

ascendant; his great desire was to join the expedition as a volunteer.


It was reported to General Braddock. The latter was apprised by Governor

Dinwiddie and others, of Washington's personal merits, his knowledge of the

country, and his experience in frontier service. The consequence was, a

letter from Captain Robert Orme, one of Braddock's aides-de-camp, written

by the general's order, inviting Washington to join his staff; the letter

concluded with frank and cordial expressions of esteem on the part of Orme,

which were warmly reciprocated, and laid the foundation of a soldierlike

friendship between them.


A volunteer situation on the staff of General Braddock offered no emolument

nor command, and would be attended with considerable expense, beside a

sacrifice of his private interests, having no person in whom he had

confidence, to take charge of his affairs in his absence; still he did not

hesitate a moment to accept the invitation. In the position offered to him,

all the questions of military rank which had hitherto annoyed him, would be

obviated. He could indulge his passion for arms without any sacrifice of

dignity, and he looked forward with high anticipation to an opportunity of

acquiring military experience in a corps well organized, and thoroughly

disciplined, and in the family of a commander of acknowledged skill as a



His mother heard with concern of another projected expedition into the

wilderness. Hurrying to Mount Vernon, she entreated him not again to expose

himself to the hardships and perils of these frontier campaigns. She

doubtless felt the value of his presence at home, to manage and protect the

complicated interests of the domestic connection, and had watched with

solicitude over his adventurous campaigning, where so much family welfare

was at hazard. However much a mother's pride may have been gratified by his

early advancement and renown, she had rejoiced on his return to the safer

walks of peaceful life. She was thoroughly practical and prosaic in her

notions; and not to be dazzled by military glory. The passion for arms

which mingled with the more sober elements of Washington's character, would

seem to have been inherited from his father's side of the house; it was, in

fact, the old chivalrous spirit of the De Wessyngtons.


His mother had once prevented him from entering the navy, when a gallant

frigate was at hand, anchored in the waters of the Potomac; with all his

deference for her, which he retained through life, he could not resist the

appeal to his martial sympathies, which called him to the head-quarters of

General Braddock at Alexandria.


His arrival was hailed by his young associates, Captains Orme and Morris,

the general's aides-de-camp, who at once received him into frank

companionship, and a cordial intimacy commenced between them, that

continued throughout the campaign.


He experienced a courteous reception from the general, who expressed in

flattering terms the impression he had received of his merits. Washington

soon appreciated the character of the general. He found him stately and

somewhat haughty, exact in matters of military etiquette and discipline,

positive in giving an opinion, and obstinate in maintaining it; but of an

honorable and generous, though somewhat irritable nature.


There were at that time four governors, beside Dinwiddie, assembled at

Alexandria, at Braddock's request, to concert a plan of military

operations; Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts; Lieutenant-governor

Delancey, of New York; Lieutenant-governor Sharpe, of Maryland;

Lieutenant-governor Morris, of Pennsylvania. Washington was presented to

them in a manner that showed how well his merits were already appreciated.

Shirley seems particularly to have struck him as the model of a gentleman

and statesman. He was originally a lawyer, and had risen not more by his

talents, than by his implicit devotion to the crown. His son William was

military secretary to Braddock.


A grand council was held on the 14th of April, composed of General

Braddock, Commodore Keppel, and the governors, at which the general's

commission was read, as were his instructions from the king, relating to a

common fund, to be established by the several colonies, toward defraying

the expenses of the campaign.


The governors were prepared to answer on this head, letters to the same

purport having been addressed to them by Sir Thomas Robinson, one of the

king's secretaries of state, in the preceding month of October. They

informed Braddock that they had applied to their respective Assemblies for

the establishment of such a fund, but in vain, and gave it as their

unanimous opinion, that such a fund could never be established in the

colonies without the aid of Parliament. They had found it impracticable,

also, to obtain from their respective governments the proportions expected

from them by the crown, toward military expenses in America; and suggested

that ministers should find out some mode of compelling them to do it; and

that, in the mean time, the general should make use of his credit upon

government, for current expenses, lest the expedition should come to a

stand. [Footnote: Colonial Records, vol vi., p. 366.]


In discussing the campaign, the governors were of opinion that New York

should be made the centre of operations, as it afforded easy access by

water to the heart of the French possessions in Canada. Braddock, however,

did not feel at liberty to depart from his instructions, which specified

the recent establishments of the French on the Ohio as the objects of his



Niagara and Crown Point were to be attacked about the same time with Fort

Duquesne, the former by Governor Shirley, with his own and Sir William

Pepperell's regiments, and some New York companies; the latter by Colonel

William Johnson, sole manager and director of Indian affairs; a personage

worthy of especial note.


He was a native of Ireland, and had come out to this country in 1734, to

manage the landed estates owned by his uncle, Commodore Sir Peter Warren,

in the Mohawk country. He had resided ever since in the vicinity of the

Mohawk River, in the province of New York. By his agency, and his dealings

with the native tribes, he had acquired great wealth, and become a kind of

potentate in the Indian country. His influence over the Six Nations was

said to be unbounded; and it was principally with the aid of a large force

of their warriors that it was expected he would accomplish his part of the

campaign. The end of June, "nearly in July," was fixed upon as the time

when the several attacks upon Forts Duquesne, Niagara, and Crown Point,

should be carried into execution, and Braddock anticipated an easy

accomplishment of his plans.


The expulsion of the French from the lands wrongfully held by them in Nova

Scotia, was to be assigned to Colonel Lawrence, Lieutenant-governor of that

province; we will briefly add, in anticipation, that it was effected by

him, with the aid of troops from Massachusetts and elsewhere, led by

Lieutenant-colonel Monckton.


The business of the Congress being finished, General Braddock would have

set out for Fredericktown, in Maryland, but few waggons or teams had yet

come to remove the artillery. Washington had looked with wonder and dismay

at the huge paraphernalia of war, and the world of superfluities to be

transported across the mountains, recollecting the difficulties he had

experienced in getting over them with his nine swivels and scanty supplies.

"If our march is to be regulated by the slow movements of the train," said

he, "it will be tedious, very tedious, indeed." His predictions excited a

sarcastic smile in Braddock, as betraying the limited notions of a young

provincial officer, little acquainted with the march of armies.


In the mean while, Sir John St. Clair, who had returned to the frontier,

was storming at the camp at Fort Cumberland. The road required of the

Pennsylvania government had not been commenced. George Croghan and the

other commissioners were but just arrived in camp. Sir John, according to

Croghan, received them in a very disagreeable manner; would not look at

their draughts, nor suffer any representations to be made to him in regard

to the province, "but stormed like a lion rampant;" declaring that the want

of the road and of the provisions promised by Pennsylvania had retarded the

expedition, and might cost them, their lives from the fresh numbers of

French that might be poured into the country.--"That instead of marching to

the Ohio, he would in nine days march his army into Cumberland County to

cut the roads, press horses, waggons, &c.--That he would not suffer a

soldier to handle an axe, but by fire and sword oblige the inhabitants to

do it. ... That he would kill all kinds of cattle, and carry away the

horses, burn the houses, &c.; and that if the French defeated them, by the

delays of Pennsylvania, he would, with his sword drawn, pass through the

province and treat the inhabitants as a parcel of traitors to his master.

That he would write to England by a man-of-war; shake Mr. Penn's

proprietaryship, and represent Pennsylvania as a disaffected province. ...

He told us to go to the general, if we pleased, who would give us _ten

bad words for one that he had given_."


The explosive wrath of Sir John, which was not to be appeased, shook the

souls of the commissioners, and they wrote to Governor Morris, urging that

people might be set at work upon the road, if the Assembly had made

provision for opening it; and that flour might be sent without delay to the

mouth of Canococheague River, "as being the only remedy left to prevent

these threatened mischiefs." [Footnote: Colonial Records, vol. vi., p.



In reply, Mr. Richard Peters, Governor Morris's secretary, wrote in his

name: "Get a number of hands immediately, and further the work by all

possible methods. Your expenses will be paid at the next sitting of

Assembly. Do your duty, and oblige the general and quartermaster if

possible. Finish the road that will be wanted first, and then proceed to

any other that may be thought necessary."


An additional commission, of a different kind, was intrusted to George

Croghan. Governor Morris by letter requested him to convene at Aughquick,

in Pennsylvania, as many warriors as possible of the mixed tribes of the

Ohio, distribute among them wampum belts sent for the purpose, and engage

them to meet General Braddock when on the march, and render him all the

assistance in their power.


In reply, Croghan engaged to enlist a strong body of Indians, being sure of

the influence of Scarooyadi, successor to the half-king, and of his

adjunct, White Thunder, keeper of the speech-belts. [Footnote: Colonial

Records, vol. vi., p, 375.] At the instance of Governor Morris, Croghan

secured the services of another kind of force. This was a band of hunters,

resolute men, well acquainted with the country, and inured to hardships.

They were under the command of Captain Jack, one of the most remarkable

characters of Pennsylvania; a complete hero of the wilderness. He had been

for many years a captive among the Indians; and, having learnt their ways,

had formed this association for the protection of the settlements,

receiving a commission of captain from the Governor of Pennsylvania. The

band had become famous for its exploits, and was a terror to the Indians.

Captain Jack was at present protecting the settlements on the

Canococheague; but promised to march by a circuitous route and join

Braddock with his hunters. "They require no shelter for the night," writes

Croghan; "they ask no pay. If the whole army was composed of such men there

would be no cause of apprehension. I shall be with them in time for duty."

[Footnote: Hazard's Register of Penn., vol. iv., p. 416.]




The following extract of a letter, dated August, 1750, gives one of the

stories relative to this individual:


"The 'Black Hunter,' the 'Black Rifle,' the 'Wild Hunter of Juniata,' is a

white man; his history is this: He entered the woods with a few

enterprising companions; built his cabin; cleared a little land, and amused

himself with the pleasures of fishing and hunting. He felt happy, for then

he had not a care. But on an evening, when he returned from a day of sport,

he found his cabin burnt, his wife and children murdered. From that moment

he forsakes civilized man; hunts out caves, in which he lives; protects the

frontier inhabitants from the Indians; and seizes every opportunity of

revenge that offers. He lives the terror of the Indians and the consolation

of the whites. On one occasion, near Juniata, in the middle of a dark

night, a family were suddenly awaked from sleep by the report of a gun;

they jump from their huts, and by the glimmering light from the chimney saw

an Indian fall to rise no more. The open door exposed to view the wild

hunter. 'I have saved your lives,' he cried, then turned and was buried in

the gloom of night."--_Hazard's Register of Penn_., vol. iv., 389.















General Braddock set out from Alexandria on the 20th of April. Washington

remained behind a few days to arrange his affairs, and then rejoined him at

Fredericktown, in Maryland, where, on the 10th of May, he was proclaimed

one of the general's aides-de-camp. The troubles of Braddock had already

commenced. The Virginian contractors failed to fulfil their engagements; of

all the immense means of transportation so confidently promised, but

fifteen waggons and a hundred draft-horses had arrived, and there was no

prospect of more. There was equal disappointment in provisions, both as to

quantity and quality; and he had to send round the country to buy cattle

for the subsistence of the troops.


Fortunately, while the general was venting his spleen in anathemas against

army contractors, Benjamin Franklin arrived at Fredericktown. That eminent

man, then about forty-nine years of age, had been for many years member of

the Pennsylvania Assembly, and was now postmaster-general for America. The

Assembly understood that Braddock was incensed against them, supposing them

adverse to the service of the war. They had procured Franklin to wait upon

him, not as if sent by them, but as if he came in his capacity of

postmaster-general, to arrange for the sure and speedy transmission of

despatches between the commander-in-chief and the governors of the



He was well received, and became a daily guest at the general's table. In

his autobiography, he gives us an instance of the blind confidence and

fatal prejudices by which Braddock was deluded throughout this expedition.

"In conversation with him one day," writes Franklin, "he was giving me some

account of his intended progress. 'After taking Fort Duquesne,' said he, 'I

am to proceed to Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac, if the

season will allow time; and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly

detain me above three or four days: and then I can see nothing that can

obstruct my march to Niagara.'


"Having before revolved in my mind," continues Franklin, "the long line his

army must make in their march by a very narrow road, to be cut for them

through the woods and bushes, and also what I had heard of a former defeat

of fifteen hundred French, who invaded the Illinois country, I had

conceived some doubts and some fears for the event of the campaign; but I

ventured only to say, 'To be sure, sir, if you arrive well before Duquesne

with these fine troops, so well provided with artillery, the fort, though

completely fortified, and assisted with a very strong garrison, can

probably make but a short resistance. The only danger I apprehend of

obstruction to your march, is from the ambuscades of the Indians, who, by

constant practice, are dexterous in laying and executing them; and the

slender line, nearly four miles long, which your army must make, may expose

it to be attacked by surprise on its flanks, and to be cut like thread into

several pieces, which, from their distance, cannot come up in time to

support one another.'


"He smiled at my ignorance, and replied: 'These savages may indeed be a

formidable enemy to raw American militia, but upon the king's regular and

disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they should make an impression.'

I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing with a military man in

matters of his profession, and said no more." [Footnote: Autobiography of

Franklin. Sparks' Edition, p. 190.]


As the whole delay of the army was caused by the want of conveyances,

Franklin observed one day to the general that it was a pity the troops had

not been landed in Pennsylvania, where almost every farmer had his waggon.

"Then, sir," replied Braddock, "you who are a man of interest there can

probably procure them for me, and I beg you will." Franklin consented. An

instrument in writing was drawn up, empowering him to contract for one

hundred and fifty waggons, with four horses to each waggon, and fifteen

hundred saddle or packhorses for the service of his majesty's forces, to be

at Wills' Creek on or before the 20th of May, and he promptly departed for

Lancaster to execute the commission.


After his departure, Braddock, attended by his staff, and his guard of

light horse, set off for Wills' Creek by the way of Winchester, the road

along the north side of the Potomac not being yet made. "This gave him,"

writes Washington, "a good opportunity to see the absurdity of the route,

and of damning it very heartily." [Footnote: Draft of a letter, among

Washington's papers, addressed to Major John Carlyle.]


Three of Washington's horses were knocked up before they reached

Winchester, and he had to purchase others. This was a severe drain of his

campaigning purse; fortunately he was in the neighborhood of Greenway

Court, and was enabled to replenish it by a loan from his old friend Lord



The discomforts of the rough road were increased with the general, by his

travelling with some degree of state in a chariot which he had purchased of

Governor Sharpe. In this he dashed by Dunbar's division of the troops,

which he overtook near Wills' Creek; his body guard of light horse

galloping on each side of his chariot, and his staff accompanying him; the

drums beating the Grenadier's march as he passed. In this style, too, he

arrived at Fort Cumberland, amid a thundering salute of seventeen guns.

[Footnote: Journal of the Seamen's detachment.]


By this time the general discovered that he was not in a region fitted for

such display, and his travelling chariot was abandoned at Fort Cumberland;

otherwise it would soon have become a wreck among the mountains beyond.


By the 19th of May, the forces were assembled at Fort Cumberland. The two

royal regiments, originally one thousand strong, now increased to fourteen

hundred, by men chosen from the Maryland and Virginia levies. Two

provincial companies of carpenters, or pioneers, thirty men each, with

subalterns and captains. A company of guides, composed of a captain, two

aids, and ten men. The troop of Virginia light horse, commanded by Captain

Stewart; the detachment of thirty sailors with their officers, and the

remnants of two independent companies from New York, one of which was

commanded by Captain Horatio Gates, of whom, we shall have to speak much

hereafter, in the course of this biography.


Another person in camp, of subsequent notoriety, and who became a warm

friend of Washington, was Dr. Hugh Mercer, a Scotchman, about thirty-three

years of age. About ten years previously he had served as assistant surgeon

in the forces of Charles Edward, and followed his standard to the

disastrous field of Culloden. After the defeat of the "chevalier," Mercer

had escaped by the way of Inverness to America, and taken up his residence

in Virginia. He was now with the Virginia troops, rallying under the

standard of the House of Hanover, in an expedition led by a general who had

aided to drive the chevalier from Scotland. [Footnote: Braddock had been an

officer under the Duke of Cumberland, in his campaign against Charles



Another young Scotchman in the camp was Dr. James Craik, who had become

strongly attached to Washington, being about the same age, and having been

with him in the affair of the Great Meadows, serving as surgeon in the

Virginia regiment, to which he still belonged.


At Fort Cumberland, Washington had an opportunity of seeing a force

encamped according to the plan approved of by the council of war; and

military tactics, enforced with all the precision of a martinet.


The roll of each company was called over morning, noon, and night. There

was strict examination of arms and accoutrements; the commanding officer of

each company being answerable for their being kept in good order.


The general was very particular in regard to the appearance and drill of

the Virginia recruits and companies, whom he had put under the rigorous

discipline of Ensign Allen. "They performed their evolutions and firings,

as well as could be expected," writes Captain Orme, "but their languid,

spiritless, and unsoldier-like appearance, considered with the lowness and

ignorance of most of their officers, gave little hopes of their future good

behavior." [Footnote: Orme's Journal.] He doubtless echoed the opinion of

the general; how completely were both to be undeceived as to their estimate

of these troops!


The general held a levee in his tent every morning, from ten to eleven. He

was strict as to the morals of the camp. Drunkenness was severely punished.

A soldier convicted of theft was sentenced to receive one thousand lashes,

and to be drummed out of his regiment. Part of the first part of the

sentence was remitted. Divine service was performed every Sunday, at the

head of the colors of each regiment, by the chaplain. There was the funeral

of a captain who died at this encampment. A captain's guard marched before

the corpse, the captain of it in the rear, the firelocks reversed, the

drums beating the dead march. When near the grave, the guard formed two

lines, facing each other; rested on their arms, muzzles downwards, and

leaned their faces on the butts. The corpse was carried between them, the

sword and sash on the coffin, and the officers following two and two. After

the chaplain of the regiment had read the service, the guard fired three

volleys over the grave, and returned. [Footnote: Orme's Journal. Journal of

the Seamen's detachment.]


Braddock's camp, in a word, was a complete study for Washington, during the

halt at Fort Cumberland, where he had an opportunity of seeing military

routine in its strictest forms. He had a specimen, too, of convivial life

in the camp, which the general endeavored to maintain, even in the

wilderness, keeping a hospitable table; for he is said to have been

somewhat of a _bon vivant_, and to have had with him "two good cooks,

who could make an excellent ragout out of a pair of boots, had they but

materials to toss them up with." [Footnote: Preface to Winthrop Sargent's

Introductory Memoir.]


There was great detention at the fort, caused by the want of forage and

supplies, the road not having been finished from Philadelphia. Mr. Richard

Peters, the secretary of Governor Morris, was in camp, to attend to the

matter. He had to bear the brunt of Braddock's complaints. The general

declared he would not stir from Wills' Creek until he had the governor's

assurance that the road would be opened in time. Mr. Peters requested

guards to protect the men while at work, from attacks by the Indians.

Braddock swore he would not furnish guards for the woodcutters,--"let

Pennsylvania do it!" He scoffed at the talk about danger from Indians.

Peters endeavored to make him sensible of the peril which threatened him in

this respect. Should an army of them, led by French officers, beset him in

his march, he would not be able, with all his strength and military skill,

to reach Fort Duquesne without a body of rangers, as well on foot as

horseback. The general, however, "despised his observations." [Footnote:

Colonial Records, vi. 396.] Still, guards had ultimately to be provided, or

the work on the road would have been abandoned.


Braddock, in fact, was completely chagrined and disappointed about the

Indians. The Cherokees and Catawbas, whom Dinwiddie had given him reason to

expect in such numbers, never arrived.


George Croghan reached the camp with but about fifty warriors, whom he had

brought from Aughquick. At the general's request he sent a messenger to

invite the Delawares and Shawnees from the Ohio, who returned with two

chiefs of the former tribe. Among the sachems thus assembled were some of

Washington's former allies; Scarooyadi, alias, Monacatoocha, successor to

the half-king; White Thunder, the keeper of the speech-belts, and Silver

Heels, so called, probably, from being swift of foot.


Notwithstanding his secret contempt for the Indians, Braddock, agreeably to

his instructions, treated them with great ceremony. A grand council was

held in his tent, where all his officers attended. The chiefs, and all the

warriors, came painted and decorated for war. They were received with

military honors, the guards resting on their fire-arms. The general made

them a speech through his interpreter, expressing the grief of their

father, the great king of England, at the death of the half-king, and made

them presents to console them. They in return promised their aid as guides

and scouts, and declared eternal enmity to the French, following the

declaration with the war song, "making a terrible noise."


The general, to regale and astonish them, ordered all the artillery to be

fired, "the drums and fifes playing and beating the point of war;" the fête

ended by their feasting, in their own camp, on a bullock which the general

had given them, following up their repast by dancing the war dance round a

fire, to the sound of their uncouth drums and rattles, "making night

hideous," by howls and yellings.


"I have engaged between forty and fifty Indians from the frontiers of your

province to go over the mountains with me," writes Braddock to Governor

Morris, "and shall take Croghan and Montour into service." Croghan was, in

effect, put in command of the Indians, and a warrant given to him of



For a time all went well. The Indians had their separate camp, where they

passed half the night singing, dancing, and howling. The British were

amused by their strange ceremonies, their savage antics, and savage

decorations. The Indians, on the other hand, loitered by day about the

English camp, fiercely painted and arrayed, gazing with silent admiration

at the parade of the troops, their marchings and evolutions; and delighted

with the horse-races, with which the young officers recreated themselves.


Unluckily the warriors had brought their families with them to Wills'

Creek, and the women were even fonder than the men of loitering about the

British camp. They were not destitute of attractions; for the young squaws

resemble the gypsies, having seductive forms, small hands and feet, and

soft voices. Among those who visited the camp was one who no doubt passed

for an Indian princess. She was the daughter of the sachem, White Thunder,

and bore the dazzling name of Bright Lightning. [Footnote: Seamen's

Journal.] The charms of these wild-wood beauties were soon acknowledged.

"The squaws," writes Secretary Peters, "bring in money plenty; the officers

are scandalously fond of them." [Footnote: Letter of Peters to Governor



The jealousy of the warriors was aroused some of them became furious. To

prevent discord, the squaws were forbidden to come into the British, camp.

This did not prevent their being sought elsewhere. It was ultimately found

necessary, for the sake of quiet, to send Bright Lightning, with all the

other women and children, back to Aughquick. White Thunder, and several of

the warriors, accompanied them for their protection.


As to, the three Delaware chiefs, they returned to the Ohio, promising the

general they would collect their warriors together, and meet him on his

march. They never kept their word. "These people are villains, and always

side with the strongest," says a shrewd journalist of the expedition.


During the halt of the troops at Wills' Creek, Washington had been sent to

Williamsburg to bring on four thousand pounds for the military chest. He

returned, after a fortnight's absence, escorted from Winchester by eight

men, "which eight men," writes he, "were two days assembling, but I believe

would not have been more than as many seconds dispersing if I had been



He found the general out of all patience and temper at the delays and

disappointments in regard to horses, waggons, and forage, making no

allowances for the difficulties incident to a new country, and to the novel

and great demands upon its scanty and scattered resources. He accused the

army contractors of want of faith, honor, and honesty; and in his moments

of passion, which were many, extended the stigma to the whole country.

This stung the patriotic sensibility of Washington, and overcame his usual

self-command, and the proud and passionate commander was occasionally

surprised by a well-merited rebuke from his aide-de-camp. "We have frequent

disputes on this head," writes Washington, "which are maintained with

warmth on both sides, especially on his, as he is incapable of arguing

without it, or of giving up any point he asserts, be it ever so

incompatible with reason or common sense."


The same pertinacity was maintained with respect to the Indians. George

Croghan informed Washington that the sachems considered themselves treated

with slight, in never being consulted in war matters. That he himself had

repeatedly offered the services of the warriors under his command as scouts

and outguards, but his offers had been rejected. Washington ventured to

interfere, and to urge their importance for such purposes, especially now

when they were approaching the stronghold of the enemy. As usual, the

general remained bigoted in his belief of the all-sufficiency of

well-disciplined troops.


Either from disgust thus caused, or from being actually dismissed, the

warriors began to disappear from the camp. It is said that Colonel Innes,

who was to remain in command at Fort Cumberland, advised the dismissal of

all but a few to serve as guides; certain it is, before Braddock

recommenced his march, none remained to accompany him but Scarooyadi, and

eight of his warriors. [Footnote: Braddock's own secretary, William

Shirley, was disaffected to him. Writing about him to Governor Morris, he

satirically observes: "We have a general most judiciously chosen for being

disqualified for the service he is employed in, in almost every respect."

And of the secondary officers: "As to them, I don't think we have much to

boast. Some are insolent and ignorant; others capable, but rather aiming at

showing their own abilities than making a proper use of them."--_Colonial

Records_, vi., 405.]


Seeing the general's impatience at the non-arrival of conveyances,

Washington again represented to him the difficulties he would encounter in

attempting to traverse the mountains with such a train of wheel-carriages,

assuring him it would be the most arduous part of the campaign; and

recommended, from his own experience, the substitution, as much as

possible, of packhorses. Braddock, however, had not been sufficiently

harassed by frontier campaigning to depart from his European modes, or to

be swayed in his military operations by so green a counsellor.


At length the general was relieved from present perplexities by the arrival

of the horses and waggons which Franklin had undertaken to procure. That

eminent man, with his characteristic promptness and unwearied exertions,

and by his great personal popularity, had obtained them from the reluctant

Pennsylvania farmers, being obliged to pledge his own responsibility for

their being fully remunerated. He performed this laborious task out of pure

zeal for the public service, neither expecting nor receiving emolument;

and, in fact, experiencing subsequently great delay and embarrassment

before he was relieved from the pecuniary responsibilities thus

patriotically incurred.


The arrival of the conveyances put Braddock in good humor with

Pennsylvania. In a letter to Governor Morris, he alludes to the threat of

Sir John St. Clair to go through that province with a drawn sword in his

hand. "He is ashamed of his having talked to you in the manner he did."

Still the general made Franklin's contract for waggons the sole instance in

which he had not experienced deceit and villany. "I hope, however, in spite

of all this," adds he, "that we shall pass a merry Christmas together."
















On the 10th of June, Braddock set off from Fort Cumberland with his

aides-de-camp, and others of his staff, and his body guard of light horse.

Sir Peter Halket, with his brigade, had marched three days previously; and

a detachment of six hundred men, under the command of Colonel Chapman, and

the supervision of Sir John St. Clair, had been employed upwards of ten

days in cutting down trees, removing rocks, and opening a road.


The march over the mountains proved, as Washington had foretold, a

"tremendous undertaking." It was with difficulty the heavily laden waggons

could be dragged up the steep and rugged roads, newly made, or imperfectly

repaired. Often they extended for three or four miles in a straggling and

broken line, with the soldiers so dispersed, in guarding them, that an

attack on any side would have thrown the whole in confusion. It was the

dreary region of the great Savage Mountain, and the "Shades of Death" that

was again made to echo with the din of arms.


What outraged Washington's notions of the abstemious frugality suitable to

campaigning in the "backwoods," was the great number of horses and waggons

required by the officers for the transportation of their baggage, camp

equipage, and a thousand articles of artificial necessity. Simple himself

in his tastes and habits, and manfully indifferent to personal indulgences,

he almost doubted whether such sybarites in the camp could be efficient in

the field.


By the time the advanced corps had struggled over two mountains, and

through the intervening forest, and reached (16th June) the Little Meadows,

where Sir John St. Clair had made a temporary camp, General Braddock had

become aware of the difference between campaigning in a new country, or on

the old well beaten battle-grounds of Europe. He now, of his own accord,

turned to Washington for advice, though it must have been a sore trial to

his pride to seek it of so young a man; but he had by this time sufficient

proof of his sagacity, and his knowledge of the frontier.


Thus unexpectedly called on, Washington gave his counsel with becoming

modesty, but with his accustomed clearness. There was just now an

opportunity to strike an effective blow at Fort Duquesne, but it might be

lost by delay. The garrison, according to credible reports, was weak; large

reinforcements and supplies, which were on their way, would be detained by

the drought, which rendered the river by which they must come low and

unnavigable. The blow must be struck before they could arrive. He advised

the general, therefore, to divide his forces; leave one part to come on

with the stores and baggage, and all the cumbrous appurtenances of an army,

and to throw himself in the advance with the other part, composed of his

choicest troops, lightened of every thing superfluous that might impede a

rapid march.


His advice was adopted. Twelve hundred men, selected out of all the

companies, and furnished with ten field-pieces, were to form the first

division, their provisions, and other necessaries, to be carried on

packhorses. The second division, with all the stores, munitions, and heavy

baggage, was to be brought on by Colonel Dunbar.


The least practicable part of the arrangement was with regard to the

officers of the advance. Washington had urged a retrenchment of their

baggage and camp equipage, that as many of their horses as possible might

be used as packhorses. Here was the difficulty. Brought up, many of them,

in fashionable and luxurious life, or the loitering indulgence of country

quarters, they were so encumbered with what they considered indispensable

necessaries, that out of two hundred and twelve horses generally

appropriated to their use, not more than a dozen could be spared by them

for the public service. Washington, in his own case, acted up to the advice

he had given. He retained no more clothing and effects with him than would

about half fill a portmanteau, and gave up his best steed as a

packhorse,--which he never heard of afterwards. [Footnote: Letter to J.

Augustine Washington. Sparks, ii., 81.]


During the halt at the Little Meadows, Captain Jack and his band of forest

rangers, whom Croghan had engaged at Governor Morris's suggestion, made

their appearance in the camp; armed and equipped with rifle, knife,

hunting-shirts, leggings and moccasins, and looking almost like a band of

Indians as they issued from the woods.


The captain asked an interview with the general, by whom, it would seem, he

was not expected. Braddock received him in his tent, in his usual stiff and

stately manner. The "Black Rifle" spoke of himself and his followers as men

inured to hardships, and accustomed to deal with Indians, who preferred

stealth and stratagem to open warfare. He requested his company should be

employed as a reconnoitering party, to beat up the Indians in their

lurking-places and ambuscades.


Braddock, who had a sovereign contempt for the chivalry of the woods, and

despised their boasted strategy, replied to the hero of the Pennsylvania

settlements in a manner to which he had not been accustomed. "There was

time enough," he said, "for making arrangements; and he had experienced

troops, on whom he could completely rely for all purposes."


Captain Jack withdrew, indignant at so haughty a reception, and informed

his leathern-clad followers of his rebuff. They forthwith shouldered their

rifles, turned their backs upon the camp, and, headed by the captain,

departed in Indian file through the woods, for the usual scenes of their

exploits, where men knew their value, the banks of the Juniata or the

Conococheague. [Footnote: On the Conococheague and Juniata is left the

history of their exploits. At one time you may hear of the band near Fort

Augusta, next at Fort Franklin, then at Loudon, then at Juniata,--rapid

were the movements of this hardy band.--_Hazard's Reg. Penn._, iv.,

390; also, v., 194.]


On the 19th of June Braddock's first division set out, with less than

thirty carriages, including those that transported ammunition for the

artillery, all strongly horsed. The Indians marched with the advanced

party. In the course of the day, Scarooyadi and his son being at a small

distance from the line of march, was surrounded and taken by some French

and Indians. His son escaped, and brought intelligence to his warriors;

they hastened to rescue or revenge him, but found him tied to a tree. The

French had been disposed to shoot him, but their savage allies declared

they would abandon them should they do so; having some tie of friendship or

kindred with the chieftain, who thus rejoined the troops unharmed.


Washington was disappointed in his anticipations of a rapid march. The

general, though he had adopted his advice in the main, could not carry it

out in detail. His military education was in the way; bigoted to the

regular and elaborate tactics of Europe, he could not stoop to the

make-shift expedients of a new country, where every difficulty is

encountered and mastered in a rough-and-ready style. "I found," said

Washington, "that instead of pushing on with vigor, without regarding a

little rough road, they were halting to level every mole hill, and to erect

bridges over every brook, by which means we were four days in getting

twelve miles."


For several days Washington had suffered from fever, accompanied by intense

headache, and his illness increased in violence to such a degree that he

was unable to ride, and had to be conveyed for a part of the time in a

covered waggon. His illness continued without intermission until the 23d,

"when I was relieved," says he, "by the general's absolutely ordering the

physician, to give me Dr. James's powders; one of the most excellent

medicines in the world. It gave me immediate relief, and removed my fever

and other complaints in four days' time."


He was still unable to bear the jolting of the waggon, but it needed

another interposition of the kindly-intended authority of General Braddock,

to bring him to a halt at the great crossings of the Youghiogeny. There the

general assigned him a guard, provided him with necessaries, and requested

him to remain, under care of his physician, Dr. Craik, until the arrival of

Colonel Dunbar's detachment, which was two days' march in the rear; giving

him his word of honor that he should, at all events, be enabled to rejoin

the main division before it reached the French fort. [Footnote: Letter to

John Augustine Washington. Sparks, ii., 80.]


This kind solicitude on the part of Braddock, shows the real estimation in

which he was held by that officer. Doctor Craik backed the general's

orders, by declaring that should Washington persevere in his attempts to go

on in the condition he then was, his life would be in danger. Orme also

joined his entreaties, and promised, if he would remain, he would keep him

informed by letter of every occurrence of moment.


Notwithstanding all the kind assurances of Braddock and his aide-de-camp

Orme, it was with gloomy feelings that Washington saw the troops depart;

fearful he might not be able to rejoin them in time for the attack upon the

fort, which, he assured his brother aide-de-camp, he would not miss for

five hundred pounds.


Leaving Washington at the Youghiogeny, we will follow the march of

Braddock. In the course of the first day (June 24th), he came to a deserted

Indian camp; judging from the number of wigwams, there must have been about

one hundred and seventy warriors. Some of the trees about it had been

stripped, and painted with threats, and bravadoes, and scurrilous taunts

written on them in the French language, showing that there were white men

with the savages.


The next morning at daybreak, three men venturing beyond the sentinels were

shot and scalped; parties were immediately sent out to scour the woods, and

drive in the stray horses.


The day's march, passed by the Great Meadows and Fort Necessity, the scene

of Washington's capitulation. Several Indians were seen hovering in the

woods, and the light horse and Indian allies were sent out to surround

them, but did not succeed. In crossing a mountain beyond the Great Meadows,

the carriages had to be lowered with the assistance of the sailors, by

means of tackle. The camp for the night was about two miles beyond Fort

Necessity. Several French and Indians endeavored to reconnoitre it, but

were fired upon by the advanced sentinels.


The following day (26th) there was a laborious march of but four miles,

owing to the difficulties of the road. The evening halt was at another

deserted Indian camp, strongly posted on a high rock, with a steep and

narrow ascent; it had a spring in the middle, and stood at the termination

of the Indian path to the Monongahela. By this pass the party had come

which attacked Washington the year before, in the Great Meadows. The

Indians and French too, who were hovering about the army, had just left

this camp. The fires they had left were yet burning. The French had

inscribed their names on some of the trees with insulting bravadoes, and

the Indians had designated in triumph the scalps they had taken two days

previously. A party was sent out with guides, to follow their tracks and

fall on them in the night, but again without success. In fact, it was the

Indian boast, that throughout this march of Braddock, they saw him every

day from the mountains, and expected to be able to shoot down his soldiers

"like pigeons."


The march continued to be toilful and difficult; on one day it did not

exceed two miles, having to cut a passage over a mountain. In cleaning

their guns the men were ordered to draw the charge, instead of firing it

off. No fire was to be lighted in front of the pickets. At night the men

were to take their arms into the tents with them.


Further on the precautions became still greater. On the advanced pickets

the men were in two divisions, relieving each other every two hours. Half

remained on guard with fixed bayonets, the other half lay down by their

arms. The picket sentinels were doubled.


On the 4th of July they encamped at Thicketty Run. The country was less

mountainous and rocky, and the woods, consisting chiefly of white pine,

were more open. The general now supposed himself to be within thirty miles

of Fort Duquesne. Ever since his halt at the deserted camp on the rock

beyond the Great Meadows, he had endeavored to prevail upon the Croghan

Indians to scout in the direction of the fort, and bring him intelligence,

but never could succeed. They had probably been deterred by the number of

French and Indian tracks, and by the recent capture of Scarooyadi. This

day, however, two consented to reconnoitre; and shortly after their

departure, Christopher Gist, the resolute pioneer, who acted as guide to

the general, likewise set off as a scout.


The Indians returned on the 6th. They had been close to Fort Duquesne.

There were no additional works there; they saw a few boats under the fort,

and one with a white flag coming down the Ohio; but there were few men to

be seen, and few tracks of any. They came upon an unfortunate officer,

shooting within half a mile of the fort, and brought a scalp as a trophy of

his fate. None of the passes between the camp and fort were occupied; they

believed there were few men abroad reconnoitering.


Gist returned soon after them. His account corroborated theirs; but he had

seen a smoke in a valley between the camp and the fort, made probably by

some scouting party. He had intended to prowl about the fort at night, but

had been discovered and pursued by two Indians and narrowly escaped with

his life.


On the same day, during the march, three or four men loitering in the rear

of the grenadiers were killed and scalped. Several of the grenadiers set

off to take revenge. They came upon a party of Indians, who held up boughs

and grounded their arms, the concerted sign of amity. Not perceiving or

understanding it, the grenadiers fired upon them, and one fell. It proved

to be the son of Scarooyadi. Aware too late of their error, the grenadiers

brought the body to the camp. The conduct of Braddock was admirable on the

occasion. He sent for the father and the other Indians, and condoled with

them on the lamentable occurrence; making them the customary presents of

expiation. But what was more to the point, he caused the youth to be buried

with the honors of war; at his request the officers attended the funeral,

and a volley was fired over the grave.


These soldierlike tributes of respect to the deceased, and sympathy with

the survivors, soothed the feelings and gratified the pride of the father,

and attached him more firmly to the service. We are glad to record an

anecdote so contrary to the general contempt for the Indians with which

Braddock stands charged. It speaks well for the real kindness of his heart.


We will return now to Washington in his sick encampment on the banks of the

Youghiogeny where he was left repining at the departure of the troops

without him. To add to his annoyances, his servant, John Alton, a faithful

Welshman, was taken ill with the same malady, and unable to render him any

services. Letters from his fellow aides-de-camp showed him the kind

solicitude that was felt concerning him. At the general's desire, Captain

Morris wrote to him, informing him of their intended halts.


"It is the desire of every individual in the family," adds he, "and the

general's positive commands to you, not to stir, but by the advice of the

person [Dr. Craik] under whose care you are, till you are better, which we

all hope will be very soon."


Orme, too, according to promise, kept him informed of the incidents of the

march; the frequent night alarms, and occasional scalping parties. The

night alarms Washington considered mere feints, designed to harass the men

and retard the march; the enemy, he was sure, had not sufficient force for

a serious attack; and he was glad to learn from Orme that the men were in

high spirits and confident of success.


He now considered himself sufficiently recovered to rejoin the troops, and

his only anxiety was that he should not be able to do it in time for the

great blow. He was rejoiced, therefore, on the 3d of July, by the arrival

of an advanced party of one hundred men convoying provisions. Being still

too weak to mount his horse, he set off with the escort in a covered

waggon; and after a most fatiguing journey, over mountain and through

forest, reached Braddock's camp on the 8th of July. It was on the east side

of the Monongahela, about two miles from the river in the neighborhood of

the town of Queen Aliquippa, and about fifteen miles from Fort Duquesne.


In consequence of adhering to technical rules and military forms, General

Braddock had consumed a month in marching little more than a hundred miles.

The tardiness of his progress was regarded with surprise and impatience

even in Europe; where his patron, the Duke of Brunswick, was watching the

events of the campaign he had planned. "The Duke," writes Horace Walpole,

"is much dissatisfied at the slowness of General Braddock, _who does not

march as if he was at all impatient to be scalped._" The insinuation of

the satirical wit was unmerited. Braddock was a stranger to fear; but in

his movements he was fettered by system.


Washington was warmly received on his arrival, especially by his fellow

aides-de-camp, Morris and Orme. He was just in time, for the attack upon

Fort Duquesne was to be made on the following day. The neighboring country

had been reconnoitered to determine upon a plan of attack. The fort stood

on the same side of the Monongahela with the camp; but there was a narrow

pass between them of about two miles, with the river on the left and a very

high mountain on the right, and in its present state quite impassable for

carriages. The route determined on was to cross the Monongahela by a ford

immediately opposite to the camp; proceed along the west bank of the river,

for about five miles, then recross by another ford to the eastern side, and

push on to the fort. The river at these fords was shallow, and the banks

were not steep.


According to the plan of arrangement, Lieutenant-Colonel Gage, with the

advance, was to cross the river before daybreak, march to the second ford,

and recrossing there, take post to secure the passage of the main force.

The advance was to be composed of two companies of grenadiers, one hundred

and sixty infantry, the independent company of Captain Horatio Gates, and

two six pounders.


Washington, who had already seen enough of regular troops to doubt their

infallibility in wild bush-fighting, and who knew the dangerous nature of

the ground they were to traverse, ventured to suggest, that on the

following day the Virginia rangers, being accustomed to the country and to

Indian warfare, might be thrown in the advance. The proposition drew an

angry reply from the general, indignant, very probably, that a young

provincial officer should presume to school a veteran like himself.


Early next morning (July 9th), before daylight, Colonel Gage crossed with

the advance. He was followed, at some distance, by Sir John St. Clair,

quartermaster-general, with a working party of two hundred and fifty men,

to make roads for the artillery and baggage. They had with them their

waggons of tools, and two six pounders. A party of about thirty savages

rushed out of the woods as Colonel Gage advanced, but were put to flight

before they had done any harm.


By sunrise the main body turned out in full uniform. At the beating of the

general, their arms, which had been cleaned the night before, were charged

with fresh cartridges. The officers were perfectly equipped. All looked as

if arrayed for a fête, rather than a battle. Washington, who was still weak

and unwell, mounted his horse, and joined the staff of the general, who was

scrutinizing every thing with the eye of a martinet. As it was supposed the

enemy would be on the watch for the crossing of the troops, it had been

agreed that they should do it in the greatest order, with bayonets fixed,

colors flying, and drums and fifes beating and playing. [Footnote: Orme's

Journal.] They accordingly made a gallant appearance as they forded the

Monongahela, and wound along its banks, and through the open forests,

gleaming and glittering in morning sunshine, and stepping buoyantly to the

Grenadier's March.


Washington, with his keen and youthful relish for military affairs, was

delighted with their perfect order and equipment, so different from the

rough bush-fighters, to which he had been accustomed. Roused to new life,

he forgot his recent ailments, and broke forth in expressions of enjoyment

and admiration, as he rode in company with his fellow aides-de-camp, Orme

and Morris. Often, in after life, he used to speak of the effect upon him

of the first sight of a well-disciplined European army, marching in high

confidence and bright array, on the eve of a battle.


About noon they reached the second ford. Gage, with the advance, was on the

opposite side of the Monongahela, posted according to orders; but the river

bank had not been sufficiently sloped. The artillery and baggage drew up

along the beach and halted until one, when the second crossing took place,

drums beating, fifes playing, and colors flying, as before. When all had

passed, there was again a halt close by a small stream called Frazier's

Run, until the general arranged the order of march.


First went the advance, under Gage, preceded by the engineers and guides,

and six light horsemen.


Then, Sir John St. Clair and the working party, with their waggons and the

two six pounders. On each side were thrown out four flanking parties.


Then, at some distance, the general was to follow with the main body, the

artillery and baggage preceded and flanked by light horse and squads of

infantry; while the Virginian, and other provincial troops, were to form

the rear guard.


The ground before them was level until about half a mile from the river,

where a rising ground, covered with long grass, low bushes, and scattered

trees, sloped gently up to a range of hills. The whole country, generally

speaking, was a forest, with no clear opening but the road, which was about

twelve feet wide, and flanked by two ravines, concealed by trees and



Had Braddock been schooled in the warfare of the woods, or had he adopted

the suggestions of Washington, which he rejected so impatiently, he would

have thrown out Indian scouts or Virginia rangers in the advance, and on

the flanks, to beat up the woods and ravines; but, as has been

sarcastically observed, he suffered his troops to march forward through the

centre of the plain, with merely their usual guides and flanking parties,

"as if in a review in St. James' Park."


It was now near two o'clock. The advanced party and the working party had

crossed the plain and were ascending the rising ground. Braddock was about

to follow with the main body and had given the word to march, when he heard

an excessively quick and heavy firing in front. Washington, who was with

the general, surmised that the evil he had apprehended had come to pass.

For want of scouting parties ahead the advance parties were suddenly and

warmly attacked. Braddock ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Burton to hasten to

their assistance with the vanguard of the main body, eight hundred strong.

The residue, four hundred, were halted, and posted to protect the artillery

and baggage.


The firing continued, with fearful yelling. There was a terrible uproar. By

the general's orders an aide-de-camp spurred forward to bring him an

account of the nature of the attack. Without waiting for his return the

general himself, finding the turmoil increase, moved forward, leaving Sir

Peter Halket with the command of the baggage. [Footnote: Orme's Journal.]


The van of the advance had indeed been taken by surprise. It was composed

of two companies of carpenters or pioneers to cut the road, and two flank

companies of grenadiers to protect them. Suddenly the engineer who preceded

them to mark out the road gave the alarm, "French and Indians!" A body of

them was approaching rapidly, cheered on by a Frenchman in gaily fringed

hunting-shirt, whose gorget showed him to be an officer. There was sharp

firing on both sides at first. Several of the enemy fell; among them their

leader; but a murderous fire broke out from among trees and a ravine on the

right, and the woods resounded with unearthly whoops and yellings. The

Indian rifle was at work, levelled by unseen hands. Most of the grenadiers

and many of the pioneers were shot down. The survivors were driven in on

the advance.


Gage ordered his men to fix bayonets and form in order of battle. They did

so in hurry and trepidation. He would have scaled a hill on the right

whence there was the severest firing. Not a platoon would quit the line of

march. They were more dismayed by the yells than by the rifles of the

unseen savages. The latter extended themselves along the hill and in the

ravines; but their whereabouts was only known by their demoniac cries and

the puffs of smoke from their rifles. The soldiers fired wherever they saw

the smoke. Their officers tried in vain to restrain them until they should

see their foe. All orders were unheeded; in their fright they shot at

random, killing some of their own flanking parties, and of the vanguard, as

they came running in. The covert fire grew more intense. In a short time

most of the officers and many of the men of the advance were killed or

wounded. Colonel Gage himself received a wound. The advance fell back in

dismay upon Sir John St. Clair's corps, which was equally dismayed. The

cannon belonging to it were deserted.


Colonel Burton had come up with the reinforcement, and was forming his men

to face the rising ground on the right, when both of the advanced

detachments fell back upon him, and all now was confusion.


By this time the general was upon the ground. He tried to rally the men.

"They would fight," they said, "if they could see their enemy; but it was

useless to fire at trees and bushes, and they could not stand to be shot

down by an invisible foe."


The colors were advanced in different places to separate the men of the two

regiments. The general ordered the officers to form the men, tell them off

into small divisions, and advance with them; but the soldiers could not be

prevailed upon either by threats or entreaties. The Virginia troops,

accustomed to the Indian mode of fighting, scattered themselves, and took

post behind trees, where they could pick off the lurking foe. In this way

they, in some degree, protected the regulars. Washington advised General

Braddock to adopt the same plan with the regulars; but he persisted in

forming them into platoons; consequently they were cut down from behind

logs and trees as fast as they could advance. Several attempted to take to

the trees, without orders, but the general stormed at them, called them

cowards, and even struck them with the flat of his sword. Several of the

Virginians, who had taken post and were doing good service in this manner,

were slain by the fire of the regulars, directed wherever a smoke appeared

among the trees.


The officers behaved with consummate bravery; and Washington beheld with

admiration those who, in camp or on the march, had appeared to him to have

an almost effeminate regard for personal ease and convenience, now exposing

themselves to imminent death, with a courage that kindled with the

thickening horrors. In the vain hope of inspiriting the men to drive off

the enemy from the flanks and regain the cannon, they would dash forward

singly or in groups. They were invariably shot down; for the Indians aimed

from their coverts at every one on horseback, or who appeared to have



Some were killed by random shot of their own men, who, crowded in masses,

fired with affrighted rapidity, but without aim. Soldiers in the front

ranks were killed by those in the rear. Between friend and foe, the

slaughter of the officers was terrible. All this while the woods resounded

with the unearthly yellings of the savages, and now and then one of them,

hideously painted, and ruffling with feathered crest, would rush forth to

scalp an officer who had fallen, or seize a horse galloping wildly without

a rider.


Throughout this disastrous day, Washington distinguished himself by his

courage and presence of mind. His brother aids, Orme and Morris, were

wounded and disabled early in the action, and the whole duty of carrying

the orders of the general devolved on him. His danger was imminent and

incessant. He was in every part of the field, a conspicuous mark for the

murderous rifle. Two horses were shot under him. Four bullets passed

through his coat. His escape without a wound was almost miraculous. Dr.

Craik, who was on the field attending to the wounded, watched him with

anxiety as he rode about in the most exposed manner, and used to say that

he expected every moment to see him fall. At one time he was sent to the

main body to bring the artillery into action. All there was likewise in

confusion; for the Indians had extended themselves along the ravine so as

to flank the reserve and carry slaughter into the ranks. Sir Peter Halket

had been shot down at the head of his regiment. The men who should have

served the guns were paralyzed. Had they raked the ravines with grapeshot

the day might have been saved. In his ardor Washington sprang from his

horse; wheeled and pointed a brass field-piece with his own hand, and

directed an effective discharge into the woods; but neither his efforts nor

example were of avail. The men could not be kept to the guns.


Braddock still remained in the centre of the field, in the desperate hope

of retrieving the fortunes of the day. The Virginia rangers, who had been

most efficient in covering his position, were nearly all killed or wounded.

His secretary, Shirley, had fallen by his side. Many of his officers had

been slain within his sight, and many of his guard of Virginia light horse.

Five horses had been killed under him; still he kept his ground, vainly

endeavoring to check the flight of his men, or at least to effect their

retreat in good order. At length a bullet passed through his right arm, and

lodged itself in his lungs. He fell from his horse, but was caught by

Captain Stewart of the Virginia guards, who, with the assistance of another

American, and a servant, placed him in a tumbril. It was with much

difficulty they got him out of the field--in his despair he desired to be

left there. [Footnote: Journal of the Seamen's detachment.]


The rout now became complete. Baggage, stores, artillery, every thing was

abandoned. The waggoners took each a horse out of his team, and fled. The

officers were swept off with the men in this headlong flight. It was

rendered more precipitate by the shouts and yells of the savages, numbers

of whom rushed forth from their coverts, and pursued the fugitives to the

river side, killing several as they dashed across in tumultuous confusion.

Fortunately for the latter, the victors gave up the pursuit in their

eagerness to collect the spoil.


The shattered army continued its flight after it had crossed the

Monongahela, a wretched wreck of the brilliant little force that had

recently gleamed along its banks, confident of victory. Out of eighty-six

officers, twenty-six had been killed, and thirty-six wounded. The number of

rank and file killed and wounded was upwards of seven hundred. The Virginia

corps had suffered the most; one company had been almost annihilated,

another, beside those killed and wounded in the ranks, had lost all its

officers, even to the corporal.


About a hundred men were brought to a halt about a quarter of a mile from

the ford of the river. Here was Braddock, with his wounded aides-de-camp

and some of his officers; Dr. Craik dressing his wounds, and Washington

attending him with faithful assiduity. Braddock was still able to give

orders, and had a faint hope of being able to keep possession of the ground

until reinforced. Most of the men were stationed in a very advantageous

spot about two hundred yards from the road; and Lieutenant-Colonel Burton

posted out small parties and sentinels. Before an hour had elapsed most of

the men had stolen off. Being thus deserted, Braddock and his officers

continued their retreat; he would have mounted his horse but was unable,

and had to be carried by soldiers. Orme and Morris were placed on litters

borne by horses. They were subsequently joined by Colonel Gage with eighty

men whom he had rallied.


Washington, in the mean time, notwithstanding his weak state, being found

most efficient in frontier service, was sent to Colonel Dunbar's camp,

forty miles distant, with orders for him to hurry forward provisions,

hospital stores, and waggons for the wounded, under the escort of two

grenadier companies. It was a hard and a melancholy ride throughout the

night and the following day. The tidings of the defeat preceded him, borne

by the waggoners, who had mounted their horses, on Braddock's fall, and

fled from the field of battle. They had arrived, haggard, at Dunbar's camp

at mid-day; the Indian yells still ringing in their ears. "All was lost!"

they cried. "Braddock was killed! They had seen wounded officers borne off

from the field in bloody sheets! The troops were all cut to pieces!" A

panic fell upon the camp. The drums beat to arms. Many of the soldiers,

waggoners and attendants, took to flight; but most of them were forced back

by the sentinels.


Washington arrived at the camp in the evening, and found the agitation

still prevailing. The orders which he brought were executed during the

night, and he was in the saddle early in the morning accompanying the

convoy of supplies. At Gist's plantation, about thirteen miles off, he met

Gage and his scanty force escorting Braddock and his wounded officers.

Captain Stewart and a sad remnant of the Virginia light horse still

accompanied the general as his guard. The captain had been unremitting in

his attentions to him during the retreat. There was a halt of one day at

Dunbar's camp for the repose and relief of the wounded. On the 13th they

resumed their melancholy march, and that night reached the Great Meadows.


The proud spirit of Braddock was broken by his defeat. He remained silent

the first evening after the battle, only ejaculating at night, "who would

have thought it!" He was equally silent the following day; yet hope still

seemed to linger in his breast, from another ejaculation: "We shall better

know how to deal with them another time!" [Footnote: Captain Orme, who gave

these particulars to Dr. Franklin, says that Braddock "died a few minutes

after." This, according to his account, was on the second day; whereas the

general survived upwards of four days. Orme, being conveyed on a litter at

some distance from the general, could only speak of his moods from



He was grateful for the attentions paid to him by Captain Stewart and

Washington, and more than once, it is said, expressed his admiration of the

gallantry displayed by the Virginians in the action. It is said, moreover,

that in his last moments, he apologized to Washington for the petulance

with which he had rejected his advice, and bequeathed to him his favorite

charger and his faithful servant, Bishop, who had helped to convey him from

the field.


Some of these facts, it is true, rest on tradition, yet we are willing to

believe them, as they impart a gleam of just and generous feeling to his

closing scene. He died on the night of the 13th, at the Great Meadows, the

place of Washington's discomfiture in the previous year. His obsequies were

performed before break of day. The chaplain having been wounded, Washington

read the funeral service. All was done in sadness, and without parade, so

as not to attract the attention of lurking savages, who might discover, and

outrage his grave. It is doubtful even whether a volley was fired over it,

that last military honor which he had recently paid to the remains of an

Indian warrior. The place of his sepulture, however, is still known, and

pointed out.


Reproach spared him not, even when in his grave. The failure of the

expedition was attributed both in England and America to his obstinacy, his

technical pedantry, and his military conceit. He had been continually

warned to be on his guard against ambush and surprise, but without avail.

Had he taken the advice urged on him by Washington and others to employ

scouting parties of Indians and rangers, he would never have been so

signally surprised and defeated.


Still his dauntless conduct on the field of battle shows him to have been a

man of fearless spirit; and he was universally allowed to be an

accomplished disciplinarian. His melancholy end, too, disarms censure of

its asperity. Whatever may have been his faults and errors, he, in a

manner, expiated them by the hardest lot that can befall a brave soldier,

ambitious of renown--an unhonored grave in a strange land; a memory clouded

by misfortune, and a name for ever coupled with defeat.




In narrating the expedition of Braddock, we have frequently cited the

Journals of Captain Orme and of the "Seamen's Detachment;" they were

procured in England by the Hon. Joseph R. Ingersoll, while Minister at the

Court of St. James, and recently published by the Historical Society of

Pennsylvania: ably edited, and illustrated with an admirable Introductory

Memoir by Winthrop Sargent, Esq., member of that Society.










The obsequies of the unfortunate Braddock being finished, the escort

continued its retreat with the sick and wounded. Washington, assisted by

Dr. Craik, watched with assiduity over his comrades, Orme and Morris. As

the horses which bore their litters were nearly knocked up, he despatched

messengers to the commander of Fort Cumberland requesting that others might

be sent on, and that comfortable quarters might be prepared for the

reception of those officers.


On the 17th, the sad cavalcade reached the fort, and were relieved from the

incessant apprehension of pursuit. Here, too, flying reports had preceded

them, brought by fugitives from the battle; who, with the disposition usual

in such cases to exaggerate, had represented the whole army as massacred.

Fearing these reports might reach home, and affect his family, Washington

wrote to his mother, and his brother, John Augustine, apprising them of his

safety. "The Virginia troops," says he, in a letter to his mother, "showed

a good deal of bravery, and were nearly all killed. ... The dastardly

behavior of those they called regulars exposed all others, that were

ordered to do their duty, to almost certain death; and, at last, in despite

of all the efforts of the officers to the contrary, they ran, as sheep

pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to rally them."


To his brother, he writes: "As I have heard, since my arrival at this

place, a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this

early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you that I

have not composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations of

Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability, or

expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot

under me, yet escaped unhurt, though death was levelling my companions on

every side of me!


"We have been most scandalously beaten by a trifling body of men, but

fatigue and want of time prevent me from giving you any of the details,

until I have the happiness of seeing you at Mount Vernon, which I now most

earnestly wish for, since we are driven in thus far. A feeble state of

health obliges me to halt here for two or three days to recover a little

strength, that I may thereby be enabled to proceed homeward with more



Dunbar arrived shortly afterward with the remainder of the army. No one

seems to have shared more largely in the panic of the vulgar than that

officer. From the moment he received tidings of the defeat, his camp became

a scene of confusion. All the ammunition, stores, and artillery were

destroyed, to prevent, it was said, their falling into the hands of the

enemy; but, as it was afterwards alleged, to relieve the terror-stricken

commander from all incumbrances, and furnish him with more horses in his

flight toward the settlements. [Footnote: Franklin's Autobiography.]


At Cumberland his forces amounted to fifteen hundred effective men; enough

for a brave stand to protect the frontier, and recover some of the lost

honor; but he merely paused to leave the sick and wounded under care of two

Virginia and Maryland companies, and some of the train, and then continued

his hasty march, or rather flight, through the country, not thinking

himself safe, as was sneeringly intimated, until he arrived in

Philadelphia, where the inhabitants could protect him.


The true reason why the enemy did not pursue the retreating army was not

known until some time afterwards, and added to the disgrace of the defeat.

They were not the main force of the French, but a mere detachment of 72

regulars, 146 Canadians, and 637 Indians, 855 in all, led by Captain de

Beaujeu. De Contrecoeur, the commander of Fort Duquesne, had received

information, through his scouts, that the English, three thousand strong,

were within six leagues of his fort. Despairing of making an effectual

defence against such a superior force, he was balancing in his mind whether

to abandon his fort without awaiting their arrival, or to capitulate on

honorable terms. In this dilemma Beaujeu prevailed on him to let him sally

forth with a detachment to form an ambush, and give check to the enemy. De

Beaujeu was to have taken post at the river, and disputed the passage at

the ford. For that purpose he was hurrying forward when discovered by the

pioneers of Gage's advance party. He was a gallant officer, and fell at the

beginning of the fight. The whole number of killed and wounded of French

and Indians, did not exceed seventy.


Such was the scanty force which the imagination of the panic-stricken army

had magnified into a great host, and from which they had fled in breathless

terror, abandoning the whole frontier. No one could be more surprised than

the French commander himself, when the ambuscading party returned in

triumph with a long train of packhorses laden with booty, the savages

uncouthly clad in the garments of the slain, grenadier caps, officers'

gold-laced coats, and glittering epaulettes; flourishing swords and sabres,

or firing off muskets, and uttering fiendlike yells of victory. But when De

Contrecoeur was informed of the utter rout and destruction of the much

dreaded British army, his joy was complete. He ordered the guns of the fort

to be fired in triumph, and sent out troops in pursuit of the fugitives.


The affair of Braddock remains a memorable event in American history, and

has been characterized as "the most extraordinary victory ever obtained,

and the farthest flight ever made." It struck a fatal blow to the deference

for British prowess, which once amounted almost to bigotry, throughout the

provinces. "This whole transaction," observes Franklin, in his

autobiography, "gave us the first suspicion, that our exalted ideas of the

prowess of British regular troops had not been well founded."













Washington arrived at Mount Vernon on the 26th of July, still in feeble

condition from his long illness. His campaigning, thus far, had trenched

upon his private fortune, and impaired one of the best of constitutions.


In a letter to his brother Augustine, then a member of Assembly at

Williamsburg, he casts up the result of his frontier experience. "I was

employed," writes he, "to go a journey in the winter, when I believe few or

none would have undertaken it, and what did I get by it?--my expenses

borne! I was then appointed, with trifling pay, to conduct a handful of men

to the Ohio. What did I get by that? Why, after putting myself to a

considerable expense in equipping and providing necessaries for the

campaign, I went out, was soundly beaten, and lost all! Came in, and had my

commission taken from me; or, in other words, my command reduced, under

pretence of an order from home (England). I then went out a volunteer with

General Braddock, and lost all my horses, and many other things. But this

being a voluntary act, I ought not to have mentioned it; nor should I have

done it, were it not to show that I have been on the losing order ever

since I entered the service, which is now nearly two years."


What a striking lesson is furnished by this brief summary! How little was

he aware of the vast advantages he was acquiring in this school of bitter

experience! "In the hand of heaven he stood," to be shaped and trained for

its great purpose; and every trial and vicissitude of his early life, but

fitted him to cope with one or other of the varied and multifarious duties

of his future destiny.


But though, under the saddening influence of debility and defeat, he might

count the cost of his campaigning, the martial spirit still burned within

him. His connection with the army, it is true, had ceased at the death of

Braddock, but his military duties continued as adjutant-general of the

northern division of the province, and he immediately issued orders for the

county lieutenants to hold the militia in readiness for parade and

exercise, foreseeing that, in the present defenceless state of the

frontier, there would be need of their services.


Tidings of the rout and retreat of the army had circulated far and near,

and spread consternation throughout the country. Immediate incursions both

of French and Indians were apprehended; and volunteer companies began to

form, for the purpose of marching across the mountains to the scene of

danger. It was intimated to Washington that his services would again be

wanted on the frontier. He declared instantly that he was ready to serve

his country to the extent of his powers; but never on the same terms as



On the 4th of August, Governor Dinwiddie convened the Assembly to devise

measures for the public safety. The sense of danger had quickened the slow

patriotism of the burgesses; they no longer held back supplies; forty

thousand pounds were promptly voted, and orders issued for the raising of a

regiment of one thousand men.


Washington's friends urged him to present himself at Williamsburg as a

candidate for the command; they were confident of his success,

notwithstanding that strong interest was making for the governor's

favorite, Colonel Innes.


With mingled modesty and pride, Washington declined to be a solicitor. The

only terms, he said, on which he would accept a command, were a certainty

as to rank and emoluments, a right to appoint his field officers, and the

supply of a sufficient military chest; but to solicit the command, and, at

the same time, to make stipulations, would be a little incongruous, and

carry with it the face of self-sufficiency. "If," added he, "the command

should be offered to me, the case will then be altered, as I should be at

liberty to make such objections as reason, and my small experience, have

pointed out."


While this was in agitation, he received letters from his mother, again

imploring him not to risk himself in these frontier wars. His answer was

characteristic, blending the filial deference with which he was accustomed

from childhood to treat her, with a calm patriotism of the Roman stamp.


"Honored Madam: If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I

shall; but if the command is pressed upon me by the general voice of the

country, and offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it

would reflect dishonor on me to refuse it; and that, I am sure, must, and

ought, to give you greater uneasiness, than my going in an honorable

command. Upon no other terms will I accept it. At present I have no

proposals made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except

from private hands."


On the very day that this letter was despatched (Aug. 14), he received

intelligence of his appointment to the command on the terms specified in

his letters to his friends. His commission nominated him commander-in-chief

of all the forces raised, or to be raised in the colony. The Assembly also

voted three hundred pounds to him, and proportionate sums to the other

officers, and to the privates of the Virginia companies, in consideration

of their gallant conduct, and their losses in the late battle.


The officers next in command under him were Lieutenant-Colonel Adam

Stephens, and Major Andrew Lewis. The former, it will be recollected, had

been with him in the unfortunate affair at the Great Meadows; his advance

in rank shows that his conduct had been meritorious.


The appointment of Washington to his present station was the more

gratifying and honorable from being a popular one, made in deference to

public sentiment; to which Governor Dinwiddie was obliged to sacrifice his

strong inclination in favor of Colonel Innes. It is thought that the

governor never afterwards regarded Washington with a friendly eye. His

conduct towards him subsequently was on various occasions cold and

ungracious. [Footnote: Sparks' Writings of Washington, vol. ii., p. 161,



It is worthy of note that the early popularity of Washington was not the

result of brilliant achievements nor signal success; on the contrary, it

rose among trials and reverses, and may almost be said to have been the

fruit of defeats. It remains an honorable testimony of Virginian

intelligence, that the sterling, enduring, but undazzling qualities of

Washington were thus early discerned and appreciated, though only heralded

by misfortunes. The admirable manner in which he had conducted himself

under these misfortunes, and the sagacity and practical wisdom he had

displayed on all occasions, were universally acknowledged; and it was

observed that, had his modest counsels been adopted by the unfortunate

Braddock, a totally different result might have attended the late campaign.


An instance of this high appreciation of his merits occurs in a sermon

preached on the 17th of August by the Rev. Samuel Davis, wherein he cites

him as "that heroic youth, Colonel Washington, _whom I cannot but hope

Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for some important

service to his country._" The expressions of the worthy clergyman may

have been deemed enthusiastic at the time; viewed in connection with

subsequent events they appear almost prophetic.


Having held a conference with Governor Dinwiddie at Williamsburg, and

received his instructions, Washington repaired, on the 14th of September,

to Winchester, where he fixed his headquarters. It was a place as yet of

trifling magnitude, but important from its position; being a central point

where the main roads met, leading from north to south, and east to west,

and commanding the channels of traffic and communication between some of

the most important colonies and a great extent of frontier.


Here he was brought into frequent and cordial communication with his old

friend Lord Fairfax. The stir of war had revived a spark of that military

fire which animated the veteran nobleman in the days of his youth, when an

officer in the cavalry regiment of the Blues. He was lord-lieutenant of the

county. Greenway Court was his headquarters. He had organized a troop of

horse, which occasionally was exercised about the lawn of his domain, and

he was now as prompt to mount his steed for a cavalry parade as he ever was

for a fox chase. The arrival of Washington frequently brought the old

nobleman to Winchester to aid the young commander with his counsels or his



His services were soon put in requisition. Washington, having visited the

frontier posts, established recruiting places, and taken other measures of

security, had set off for Williamsburg on military business, when an

express arrived at Winchester from Colonel Stephens, who commanded at Fort

Cumberland, giving the alarm that a body of Indians were ravaging the

country, burning the houses, and slaughtering the inhabitants. The express

was instantly forwarded after Washington; in the mean time, Lord Fairfax

sent out orders for the militia of Fairfax and Prince William counties to

arm and hasten to the defence of Winchester, where all was confusion and

affright. One fearful account followed another. The whole country beyond it

was said to be at the mercy of the savages. They had blockaded the rangers

in the little fortresses or outposts provided for the protection of

neighborhoods. They were advancing upon Winchester with fire, tomahawk, and

scalping-knife. The country people were flocking into the town for

safety--the townspeople were moving off to the settlements beyond the Blue

Ridge. The beautiful valley of the Shenandoah was likely to become a scene

of savage desolation.


In the height of the confusion Washington rode into the town. He had been

overtaken by Colonel Stephens' express. His presence inspired some degree

of confidence, and he succeeded in stopping most of the fugitives. He would

have taken the field at once against the savages, believing their numbers

to be few; but not more than twenty-five of the militia could be mustered

for the service. The rest refused to stir--they would rather die with their

wives and children.


Expresses were sent off to hurry up the militia ordered out by Lord

Fairfax. Scouts were ordered out to discover the number of the foe, and

convey assurances of succor to the rangers said to be blocked up in the

fortresses, though Washington suspected the latter to be "more encompassed

by fear than by the enemy." Smiths were set to work to furbish up and

repair such firearms as were in the place, and waggons were sent off for

musket balls, flints, and provisions.


Instead, however, of animated co-operation, Washington was encountered by

difficulties at every step. The waggons in question had to be impressed,

and the waggoners compelled by force to assist. "No orders," writes he,

"are obeyed, but such as a party of soldiers or my own drawn sword

enforces. Without this, not a single horse, for the most earnest occasion,

can be had,--to such a pitch has the insolence of these people arrived, by

having every point hitherto submitted to them. However, I have given up

none, where his majesty's service requires the contrary, and where my

proceedings are justified by my instructions; nor will I, unless they

execute what they threaten--that is, blow out our brains."


One is tempted to smile at this tirade about the "insolence of the people,"

and this zeal for "his majesty's service," on the part of Washington; but

he was as yet a young man and a young officer; loyal to his sovereign, and

with high notions of military authority, which he had acquired in the camp

of Braddock.


What he thus terms insolence was the dawning spirit of independence, which

he was afterwards the foremost to cherish and promote; and which, in the

present instance, had been provoked by the rough treatment from the

military, which the waggoners and others of the yeomanry had experienced

when employed in Braddock's campaign, and by the neglect to pay them for

their services. Much of Washington's difficulties also arose, doubtlessly,

from the inefficiency of the military laws, for an amendment of which he

had in vain made repeated applications to Governor Dinwiddie.


In the mean time the panic and confusion increased. On Sunday an express

hurried into town, breathless with haste and terror. The Indians, he said,

were but twelve miles off; they had attacked the house of Isaac Julian; the

inhabitants were flying for their lives. Washington immediately ordered the

town guards to be strengthened; armed some recruits who had just arrived,

and sent out two scouts to reconnoitre the enemy. It was a sleepless night

in Winchester. Horror increased with the dawn; before the men could be

paraded a second express arrived, ten times more terrified than the former.

The Indians were within four miles of the town, killing and destroying all

before them. He had heard the constant firing of the savages and the

shrieks of their victims.


The terror of Winchester now passed all bounds. Washington put himself at

the head of about forty men, militia and recruits, and pushed for the scene

of carnage.


The result is almost too ludicrous for record. The whole cause of the alarm

proved to be three drunken troopers, carousing, hallooing, uttering the

most unheard of imprecations, and ever and anon firing off their pistols.

Washington interrupted them in the midst of their revel and blasphemy, and

conducted them prisoners to town.


The reported attack on the house of Isaac Julian proved equally an absurd

exaggeration. The ferocious party of Indians turned out to be a mulatto and

a negro in quest of cattle. They had been seen by a child of Julian, who

alarmed his father, who alarmed the neighborhood.


"These circumstances," says Washington, "show what a panic prevails among

the people; how much they are all alarmed at the most usual and customary

cries; and yet how impossible it is to get them to act in any respect for

their common safety."


They certainly present a lively picture of the feverish state of a frontier

community, hourly in danger of Indian ravage and butchery; than which no

kind of warfare is more fraught with real and imaginary horrors.


The alarm thus originating had spread throughout the country. A captain,

who arrived with recruits from Alexandria, reported that he had found the

road across the Blue Ridge obstructed by crowds of people flying for their

lives, whom he endeavored in vain to stop. They declared that Winchester

was in flames!


At length the band of Indians, whose ravages had produced this

consternation throughout the land, and whose numbers did not exceed one

hundred and fifty, being satiated with carnage, conflagration, and plunder,

retreated, bearing off spoils and captives. Intelligent scouts sent out by

Washington, followed their traces, and brought back certain intelligence

that they had recrossed the Allegany Mountains and returned to their homes

on the Ohio. This report allayed the public panic and restored temporary

quiet to the harassed frontier.


Most of the Indians engaged in these ravages were Delawares and Shawnees,

who, since Braddock's defeat, had been gained over by the French. A

principal instigator was said to be Washington's old acquaintance, Shengis,

and a reward was offered for his head.


Scarooyadi, successor to the half-king, remained true to the English, and

vindicated his people to the Governor and Council of Pennsylvania from the

charge of having had any share in the late massacres. As to the defeat at

the Monongahela, "it was owing," he said, "to the pride and ignorance of

that great general (Braddock) that came from England. He is now dead; but

he was a bad man when he was alive. He looked upon us as dogs, and would

never hear any thing that was said to him. We often endeavored to advise

him, and tell him of the danger he was in with his soldiers; but he never

appeared pleased with us, and that was the reason that a great many of our

warriors left him." [Footnote: Hazard's Register of Penn., v., p. 252,



Scarooyadi was ready with his warriors to take up the hatchet again with

their English brothers against the French. "Let us unite our strength,"

said he; "you are numerous, and all the English governors along your

sea-shore can raise men enough; but don't let those that come from over the

great seas be concerned any more. _They art unfit to fight in the woods.

Let us go ourselves--we that came out of this ground._"


No one felt more strongly than Washington the importance, at this trying

juncture, of securing the assistance of these forest warriors. "It is in

their power," said he, "to be of infinite use to us; and without Indians,

we shall never be able to cope with these cruel foes to our country."

[Footnote: Letter to Dinwiddie.]


Washington had now time to inform himself of the fate of the other

enterprises included in this year's plan of military operations. We shall

briefly dispose of them, for the sake of carrying on the general course of

events. The history of Washington is linked with the history of the

colonies. The defeat of Braddock paralyzed the expedition against Niagara.

Many of General Shirley's troops, which were assembled at Albany, struck

with the consternation which it caused throughout the country, deserted.

Most of the batteau men, who were to transport stores by various streams,

returned home. It was near the end of August before Shirley was in force at

Oswego. Time was lost in building boats for the lake. Storms and head winds

ensued; then sickness: military incapacity in the general completed the

list of impediments. Deferring the completion of the enterprise until the

following year, Shirley returned to Albany with the main part of his forces

in October, leaving about seven hundred men to garrison the fortifications

he had commenced at Oswego.


To General William Johnson, it will be recollected, had been confided the

expedition against Crown Point, on Lake Champlain. Preparations were made

for it in Albany, whence the troops were to march, and the artillery,

ammunition, and stores to be conveyed up the Hudson to the carrying-place

between that river and Lake St. Sacrament, as it was termed by the French,

but Lake George, as Johnson named it, in honor of his sovereign. At the

carrying-place a fort was commenced, subsequently called Fort Edward. Part

of the troops remained under General Lyman, to complete and garrison it;

the main force proceeded under General Johnson to Lake George, the plan

being to descend that lake to its outlet at Ticonderoga, in Lake Champlain.

Having to attend the arrival of batteaux forwarded for the purpose from

Albany by the carrying-place, Johnson encamped at the south end of the

lake. He had with him between five and six thousand troops of New York and

New England, and a host of Mohawk warriors, loyally devoted to him.


It so happened that a French force of upwards of three thousand men, under

the Baron de Dieskau, an old general of high reputation, had recently

arrived at Quebec, destined against Oswego. The baron had proceeded to

Montreal, and sent forward thence seven hundred of his troops, when news

arrived of the army gathering on Lake George for the attack on Crown Point,

perhaps for an inroad into Canada. The public were in consternation;

yielding to their importunities, the baron took post at Crown Point for its

defence. Beside his regular troops, he had with him eight hundred

Canadians, and seven hundred Indians of different tribes. The latter were

under the general command of the Chevalier Legardeur de St. Pierre, the

veteran officer to whom Washington had delivered the despatches of Governor

Dinwiddie on his diplomatic mission to the frontier. The chevalier was a

man of great influence among the Indians.


In the mean time Johnson remained encamped at the south end of Lake George,

awaiting the arrival of his batteaux. The camp was protected in the rear by

the lake, in front by a bulwark of felled trees; and was flanked by thickly

wooded swamps.


On the 7th of September, the Indian scouts brought word that they had

discovered three large roads made through the forests toward Fort Edward.

An attack on that post was apprehended. Adams, a hardy waggoner, rode

express with orders to the commander to draw all the troops within the

works. About midnight came other scouts. They had seen the French within

four miles of the carrying-place. They had heard the report of a musket,

and the voice of a man crying for mercy, supposed to be the unfortunate

Adams. In the morning Colonel Williams was detached with one thousand men,

and two hundred Indians, to intercept the enemy in their retreat.


Within two hours after their departure a heavy fire of musketry, in the

midst of the forest, about three or four miles off, told of a warm

encounter. The drums beat to arms; all were at their posts. The firing grew

sharper and sharper, and nearer and nearer. The detachment under Williams

was evidently retreating. Colonel Cole was sent with three hundred men to

cover their retreat. The breastwork of trees was manned. Some heavy cannon

were dragged up to strengthen the front. A number of men were stationed

with a field-piece on an eminence on the left flank.


In a short time fugitives made their appearance; first singly, then in

masses, flying in confusion, with a rattling fire behind them, and the

horrible Indian war-whoop. Consternation seized upon the camp, especially

when the French emerged from the forest in battle array, led by the Baron

Dieskau, the gallant commander of Crown Point. Had all his troops been as

daring as himself, the camp might have been carried by assault; but the

Canadians and Indians held back, posted themselves behind trees, and took

to bush-fighting.


The baron was left with his regulars (two hundred grenadiers) in front of

the camp. He kept up a fire by platoons, but at too great a distance to do

much mischief; the Canadians and Indians fired from their coverts. The

artillery played on them in return. The camp, having recovered from its

panic, opened a fire of musketry. The engagement became general. The French

grenadiers stood their ground bravely for a long time, but were dreadfully

cut up by the artillery and small arms. The action slackened on the part of

the French, until, after a long contest, they gave way. Johnson's men and

the Indians then leaped over the breastwork, and a chance medley fight

ensued, that ended in the slaughter, rout, or capture of the enemy.


The Baron de Dieskau had been disabled by a wound in the leg. One of his

men, who endeavored to assist him, was shot down by his side. The baron,

left alone in the retreat, was found by the pursuers leaning against the

stump of a tree. As they approached, he felt for his watch to insure kind

treatment by delivering it up. A soldier, thinking he was drawing forth a

pistol to defend himself, shot him through the hips. He was conveyed a

prisoner to the camp, but ultimately died of his wounds.


The baron had really set off from Crown Point to surprise Fort Edward, and,

if successful, to push on to Albany and Schenectady; lay them in ashes, and

cut off all communication with Oswego. The Canadians and Indians, however,

refused to attack the fort, fearful of its cannon; he had changed his plan,

therefore, and determined to surprise the camp. In the encounter with the

detachment under Williams, the brave Chevalier Legardeur de St. Pierre lost

his life. On the part of the Americans, Hendrick, a famous old Mohawk

sachem, grand ally of General Johnson, was slain.


Johnson himself received a slight wound early in the action, and retired to

his tent. He did not follow up the victory as he should have done, alleging

that it was first necessary to build a strong fort at his encampment, by

way of keeping up a communication with Albany, and by the time this was

completed, it would be too late to advance against Crown Point. He

accordingly erected a stockaded fort, which received the name of William

Henry; and having garrisoned it, returned to Albany. His services, although

they gained him no laurel-wreath, were rewarded by government with five

thousand pounds, and a baronetcy; and he was made Superintendent of Indian

Affairs. [Footnote: Johnson's Letter to the Colonial Governors, Sept. 9th,

1753. London Mag., 1755., p. 544. Holmes' Am. Annals, vol. ii., p. 63. 4th

edit., 1829.]












Mortifying experience had convinced Washington of the inefficiency of the

militia laws, and he now set about effecting a reformation. Through his

great and persevering efforts, an act was passed in the Virginia

Legislature giving prompt operation to courts-martial; punishing

insubordination, mutiny and desertion with adequate severity; strengthening

the authority of a commander, so as to enable him to enforce order and

discipline among officers as well as privates; and to avail himself, in

time of emergency, and for the common safety, of the means and services of



This being effected, he proceeded to fill up his companies, and to enforce

this newly defined authority within his camp. All gaming, drinking,

quarrelling, swearing, and similar excesses, were prohibited under severe



In disciplining his men, they were instructed not merely in ordinary and

regular tactics, but in all the strategy of Indian warfare, and what is

called "bush-fighting,"--a knowledge indispensable in the wild wars of the

wilderness. Stockaded forts, too, were constructed at various points, as

places of refuge and defence, in exposed neighborhoods. Under shelter of

these, the inhabitants began to return to their deserted homes. A shorter

and better road, also, was opened by him between Winchester and Cumberland,

for the transmission of reinforcements and supplies.


His exertions, however, were impeded by one of those questions of

precedence, which had so often annoyed him, arising from the difference

between crown and provincial commissions. Maryland having by a scanty

appropriation raised a small militia force, stationed Captain Dagworthy,

with a company of thirty men, at Fort Cumberland, which stood within the

boundaries of that province. Dagworthy had served in Canada in the

preceding war, and had received a king's commission. This he had since

commuted for half-pay, and, of course, had virtually parted with its

privileges. He was nothing more, therefore, than a Maryland provincial

captain, at the head of thirty men. He now, however, assumed to act under

his royal commission, and refused to obey the orders of any officer,

however high his rank, who merely held his commission from a governor. Nay,

when Governor, or rather Colonel Innes, who commanded at the fort, was

called away to North Carolina by his private affairs, the captain took upon

himself the command, and insisted upon it as his right.


Parties instantly arose, and quarrels ensued among the inferior officers;

grave questions were agitated between the Governors of Maryland and

Virginia, as to the fort itself; the former claiming it as within his

province, the latter insisting that, as it had been built according to

orders sent by the king, it was the king's fort, and could not be subject

to the authority of Maryland.


Washington refrained from mingling in this dispute; but intimated that if

the commander-in-chief of the forces of Virginia must yield precedence to a

Maryland captain of thirty men, he should have to resign his commission, as

he had been compelled to do before, by a question of military rank.


So difficult was it, however, to settle these disputes of precedence,

especially where the claims of two governors came in collision, that it was

determined to refer the matter to Major-General Shirley, who had succeeded

Braddock in the general command of the colonies. For this purpose

Washington was to go to Boston, obtain a decision from Shirley of the point

in dispute, and a general regulation, by which these difficulties could be

prevented in future. It was thought, also, that in a conference with the

commander-in-chief he might inform himself of the military measures in



Accordingly, on the 4th of February (1756), leaving Colonel Adam Stephen in

command of the troops, Washington set out on his mission, accompanied by

his aide-de-camp, Captain George Mercer of Virginia, and Captain Stewart of

the Virginia light horse; the officer who had taken care of General

Braddock in his last moments.


In those days the conveniences of travelling, even between our main cities,

were few, and the roads execrable. The party, therefore, travelled in

Virginia style, on horseback, attended by their black servants in livery.

[Footnote: We have hitherto treated of Washington in his campaigns in the

wilderness, frugal and scanty in his equipments, often, very probably, in

little better than hunter's garb. His present excursion through some of the

Atlantic cities presents him in a different aspect. His recent intercourse

with young British officers, had probably elevated his notions as to style

in dress and appearance; at least we are inclined to suspect so from the

following aristocratical order for clothes, sent shortly before the time in

question, to his correspondent in London.


"2 complete livery suits for servants; with a spare cloak, and all other

necessary trimmings for two suits more. I would have you choose the livery

by our arms, only as the field of the arms is white, I think the clothes

had better not be quite so, but nearly like the inclosed. The trimmings and

facings of scarlet, and a scarlet waistcoat. If livery lace is not quite

disused, I should be glad to have the cloaks laced. I like that fashion

best, and two silver-laced hats for the above servants.


"1 set of horse furniture, with livery lace, with the Washington crest on

the housings, &c. The cloak to be of the same piece and color of the



"3 gold and scarlet sword-knots. 3 silver and blue do. 1 fashionable

gold-laced hat."] In this way they accomplished a journey of five hundred

miles in the depth of winter; stopping for some days at Philadelphia and

New York. Those cities were then comparatively small, and the arrival of a

party of young Southern officers attracted attention. The late disastrous

battle was still the theme of every tongue, and the honorable way in which

these young officers had acquitted themselves in it, made them objects of

universal interest. Washington's fame, especially, had gone before him;

having been spread by the officers who had served with him, and by the

public honors decreed him by the Virginia Legislature. "Your name," wrote

his former fellow-campaigner, Gist, in a letter dated in the preceding

autumn, "is more talked of in Philadelphia than that of any other person in

the army, and every body seems willing to venture under your command."




With these prepossessions in his favor, when we consider Washington's noble

person and demeanor, his consummate horsemanship, the admirable horses he

was accustomed to ride, and the aristocratical style of his equipments, we

may imagine the effect produced by himself and his little cavalcade, as

they clattered through the streets of Philadelphia, and New York, and

Boston. It is needless to say, their sojourn in each city was a continual



The mission to General Shirley was entirely successful as to the question

of rank. A written order from the Commander-in-chief determined that

Dagworthy was entitled to the rank of a provincial captain, only, and, of

course, must on all occasions give precedence to Colonel Washington, as a

provincial field officer. The latter was disappointed, however, in the hope

of getting himself and his officers put upon the regular establishment,

with commissions from the king, and had to remain subjected to mortifying

questions of rank and etiquette, when serving in company with regular



From General Shirley he learnt that the main objects of the ensuing

campaign would be the reduction of Fort Niagara, so as to cut off the

communication between Canada and Louisiana, the capture of Ticonderoga and

Crown Point, as a measure of safety for New York, the besieging of Fort

Duquesne, and the menacing of Quebec by a body of troops which were to

advance by the Kennebec River.


The official career of General Shirley was drawing to a close. Though a man

of good parts, he had always, until recently, acted in a civil capacity,

and proved incompetent to conduct military operations. He was recalled to

England, and was to be superseded by General Abercrombie, who was coming

out with two regiments.


The general command in America, however, was to be held by the Earl of

Loudoun, who was invested with powers almost equal to those of a viceroy,

being placed above all the colonial governors. These might claim to be

civil and military representatives of their sovereign, within their

respective colonies; but, even there, were bound to defer and yield

precedence to this their official superior. This was part of a plan devised

long since, but now first brought into operation, by which the ministry

hoped to unite the colonies under military rule, and oblige the Assemblies,

magistrates, and people to furnish quarters and provide a general fund

subject to the control of this military dictator.


Beside his general command, the Earl of Loudoun was to be governor of

Virginia and colonel of a royal American regiment of four battalions, to be

raised in the colonies, but furnished with officers who, like himself, had

seen foreign service. The campaign would open on his arrival, which, it was

expected, would be early in the spring; and brilliant results were



Washington remained ten days in Boston, attending, with great interest, the

meetings of the Massachusetts Legislature, in which the plan of military

operations was ably discussed; and receiving the most hospitable attentions

from the polite and intelligent society of the place, after which he

returned to New York.


Tradition gives very different motives from those of business for his two

sojourns in the latter city. He found there an early friend and

school-mate, Beverly Robinson, son of John Robinson, speaker of the

Virginia House of Burgesses. He was living happily and prosperously with a

young and wealthy bride, having married one of the nieces and heiresses of

Mr. Adolphus Philipse, a rich landholder, whose manor-house is still to be

seen on the banks of the Hudson. At the house of Mr. Beverly Robinson,

where Washington was an honored guest, he met Miss Mary Philipse, sister of

and co-heiress with Mrs. Robinson, a young lady whose personal attractions

are said to have rivalled her reputed wealth.


We have already given an instance of Washington's early sensibility to

female charms. A life, however, of constant activity and care, passed for

the most part in the wilderness and on the frontier, far from female

society, had left little mood or leisure for the indulgence of the tender

sentiment; but made him more sensible, in the present brief interval of gay

and social life, to the attractions of an elegant woman, brought up in the

polite circle of New York.


That he was an open admirer of Miss Philipse is an historical fact; that he

sought her hand, but was refused, is traditional, and not very probable.

His military rank, his early laurels and distinguished presence, were all

calculated to win favor in female eyes; but his sojourn in New York was

brief; he may have been diffident in urging his suit with a lady accustomed

to the homage of society and surrounded by admirers. The most probable

version of the story is, that he was called away by his public duties

before he had made sufficient approaches in his siege of the lady's heart

to warrant a summons to surrender. In the latter part of March we find him

at Williamsburg attending the opening of the Legislature of Virginia, eager

to promote measures for the protection of the frontier and the capture of

Fort Duquesne, the leading object of his ambition. Maryland and

Pennsylvania were erecting forts for the defence of their own borders, but

showed no disposition to co-operate with Virginia in the field; and

artillery, artillerymen, and engineers were wanting for an attack on

fortified places. Washington urged, therefore, an augmentation of the

provincial forces, and various improvements in the militia laws.


While thus engaged, he received a letter from a friend and confidant in New

York, warning him to hasten back to that city before it was too late, as

Captain Morris, who had been his fellow aide-de-camp under Braddock, was

laying close siege to Miss Philipse. Sterner alarms, however, summoned him

in another direction. Expresses from Winchester brought word that the

French had made another sortie from Fort Duquesne, accompanied by a band of

savages, and were spreading terror and desolation through the country. In

this moment of exigency all softer claims were forgotten; Washington

repaired in all haste to his post at Winchester, and Captain Morris was

left to urge his suit unrivalled and carry off the prize.














Report had not exaggerated the troubles of the frontier. It was marauded by

merciless bands of savages, led, in some instances, by Frenchmen.

Travellers were murdered, farm-houses burnt down, families butchered, and

even stockaded forts, or houses of refuge, attacked in open day. The

marauders had crossed the mountains and penetrated the valley of the

Shenandoah; and several persons had fallen beneath the tomahawk in the

neighborhood of Winchester.


Washington's old friend, Lord Fairfax, found himself no longer safe in his

rural abode. Greenway Court was in the midst of a woodland region,

affording a covert approach for the stealthy savage. His lordship was

considered a great chief, whose scalp would be an inestimable trophy for an

Indian warrior. Fears were entertained, therefore, by his friends, that an

attempt would be made to surprise him in his green-wood castle. His nephew,

Colonel Martin, of the militia, who resided with him, suggested the

expediency of a removal to the lower settlements, beyond the Blue Ridge.

The high-spirited old nobleman demurred; his heart cleaved to the home

which he had formed for himself in the wilderness. "I am an old man," said

he, "and it is of little importance whether I fall by the tomahawk or die

of disease and old age; but you are young, and, it is to be hoped, have

many years before you, therefore decide for us both; my only fear is, that

if we retire, the whole district will break up and take to flight; and this

fine country, which I have been at such cost and trouble to improve, will

again become a wilderness."


Colonel Martin took but a short time to deliberate. He knew the fearless

character of his uncle, and perceived what was his inclination. He

considered that his lordship had numerous retainers, white and black, with

hardy huntsmen and foresters to rally round him, and that Greenway Court

was at no great distance from Winchester; he decided, therefore, that they

should remain and abide the course of events.


Washington, on his arrival at Winchester, found the inhabitants in great

dismay. He resolved immediately to organize a force, composed partly of

troops from Fort Cumberland, partly of militia from Winchester and its

vicinity, to put himself at its head, and "scour the woods and suspected

places in all the mountains and valleys of this part of the frontier, in

quest of the Indians and their more cruel associates."


He accordingly despatched an express to Fort Cumberland with orders for a

detachment from the garrison; "but how," said he, "are men to be raised at

Winchester, since orders are no longer regarded in the county?"


Lord Fairfax, and other militia officers with whom he consulted, advised

that each captain should call a private muster of his men, and read before

them an address, or "exhortation" as it was called, being an appeal to

their patriotism and fears, and a summons to assemble on the 15th of April

to enroll themselves for the projected mountain foray.


This measure was adopted; the private musterings occurred; the exhortation

was read; the time and place of assemblage appointed; but, when the day of

enrolment arrived, not more than fifteen men appeared upon the ground. In

the mean time the express returned with sad accounts from Fort Cumberland.

No troops could be furnished from that quarter. The garrison was scarcely

strong enough for self-defence, having sent out detachments in different

directions. The express had narrowly escaped with his life, having been

fired upon repeatedly, his horse shot under him, and his clothes riddled

with bullets. The roads, he said, were infested by savages; none but

hunters, who knew how to thread the forests at night, could travel with



Horrors accumulated at Winchester. Every hour brought its tale of terror,

true or false, of houses burnt, families massacred, or beleaguered and

famishing in stockaded forts. The danger approached. A scouting party had

been attacked in the Warm Spring Mountain, about twenty miles distant, by a

large body of French and Indians, mostly on horseback. The captain of the

scouting party and several of his men had been slain, and the rest put to



An attack on Winchester was apprehended, and the terrors of the people rose

to agony. They now turned to Washington as their main hope. The women

surrounded him, holding up their children, and imploring him with tears and

cries to save them from the savages. The youthful commander looked round on

the suppliant crowd with a countenance beaming with pity, and a heart wrung

with anguish. A letter to Governor Dinwiddie shows the conflict of his

feelings. "I am too little acquainted with pathetic language to attempt a

description of these people's distresses. But what can I do? I see their

situation; I know their danger, and participate their sufferings, without

having it in my power to give them further relief than uncertain

promises."--"The supplicating tears of the women, and moving petitions of

the men, melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I

know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the

butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to the people's ease."


The unstudied eloquence of this letter drew from the governor an instant

order for a militia force from the upper counties to his assistance; but

the Virginia newspapers, in descanting on the frontier troubles, threw

discredit on the army and its officers, and attached blame to its

commander. Stung to the quick by this injustice, Washington publicly

declared that nothing but the imminent danger of the times prevented him

from instantly resigning a command from which he could never reap either

honor or benefit. His sensitiveness called forth strong letters from his

friends, assuring him of the high sense entertained at the seat of

government, and elsewhere, of his merits and services. "Your good health

and fortune are the toast of every table," wrote his early friend, Colonel

Fairfax, at that time a member of the governor's council. "Your endeavors

in the service and defence of your country must redound to your honor."


"Our hopes, dear George," wrote Mr. Robinson, the Speaker of the House of

Burgesses, "are all fixed on you for bringing our affairs to a happy issue.

Consider what fatal consequences to your country your resigning the command

at this time may be, especially as there is no doubt most of the officers

will follow your example."


In fact, the situation and services of the youthful commander, shut up in a

frontier town, destitute of forces, surrounded by savage foes, gallantly,

though despairingly, devoting himself to the safety of a suffering people,

were properly understood throughout the country, and excited a glow of

enthusiasm in his favor. The Legislature, too, began at length to act, but

timidly and inefficiently. "The country knows her danger," writes one of

the members, "but such is her parsimony that she is willing to wait for the

rains to wet the powder, and the rats to eat the bowstrings of the enemy,

rather than attempt to drive them from her frontiers."


The measure of relief voted by the Assembly was an additional appropriation

of twenty thousand pounds, and an increase of the provincial force to

fifteen hundred men. With this, it was proposed to erect and garrison a

chain of frontier forts, extending through the ranges of the Allegany

Mountains, from the Potomac to the borders of North Carolina; a distance of

between three and four hundred miles. This was one of the inconsiderate

projects devised by Governor Dinwiddie.


Washington, in letters to the governor and to the speaker of the House of

Burgesses, urged the impolicy of such a plan, with their actual force and

means. The forts, he observed, ought to be within fifteen or eighteen miles

of each other, that their spies might be able to keep watch over the

intervening country, otherwise the Indians would pass between them

unperceived, effect their ravages, and escape to the mountains, swamps, and

ravines, before the troops from the forts could be assembled to pursue

them. They ought each to be garrisoned with eighty or a hundred men, so as

to afford detachments of sufficient strength, without leaving the garrison

too weak; for the Indians are the most stealthy and patient of spies and

lurkers; will lie in wait for days together about small forts of the kind,

and, if they find, by some chance prisoner, that the garrison is actually

weak, will first surprise and cut off its scouting parties, and then attack

the fort itself. It was evident, therefore, observed he, that to garrison

properly such a line of forts, would require, at least, two thousand men.

And even then, a line of such extent might be broken through at one end

before the other end could yield assistance. Feint attacks, also, might be

made at one point, while the real attack was made at another, quite

distant; and the country be overrun before its widely-posted defenders

could be alarmed and concentrated. Then must be taken into consideration

the immense cost of building so many forts, and the constant and consuming

expense of supplies and transportation.


His idea of a defensive plan was to build a strong fort at Winchester, the

central point, where all the main roads met of a wide range of scattered

settlements, where tidings could soonest be collected from every quarter,

and whence reinforcements and supplies could most readily be forwarded. It

was to be a grand deposit of military stores, a residence for commanding

officers, a place of refuge for the women and children in time of alarm,

when the men had suddenly to take the field; in a word, it was to be the

citadel of the frontier.


Beside this, he would have three or four large fortresses erected at

convenient distances upon the frontiers, with powerful garrisons, so as to

be able to throw out, in constant succession, strong scouting parties, to

range the country. Fort Cumberland he condemned as being out of the

province, and out of the track of Indian incursions, insomuch that it

seldom received an alarm until all the mischief had been effected.


His representations with respect to military laws and regulations were

equally cogent. In the late act of the Assembly for raising a regiment, it

was provided that, in cases of emergency, if recruits should not offer in

sufficient number, the militia might be drafted to supply the deficiencies,

but only to serve until December, and not to be marched out of the

province. In this case, said he, before they have entered upon service, or

got the least smattering of duty, they will claim a discharge; if they are

pursuing an enemy who has committed the most unheard-of cruelties, he has

only to step across the Potomac, and he is safe. Then as to the limits of

service, they might just as easily have been enlisted for seventeen months,

as seven. They would then have been seasoned as well as disciplined; "for

we find by experience," says he, "that our poor ragged soldiers would kill

the most active militia in five days' marching."


Then, as to punishments: death, it was true, had been decreed for mutiny

and desertion; but there was no punishment for cowardice; for holding

correspondence with the enemy; for quitting, or sleeping on one's post; all

capital offences, according to the military codes of Europe. Neither were

there provisions for quartering or billeting soldiers, or impressing

waggons and other conveyances, in times of exigency. To crown all, no

court-martial could sit out of Virginia; a most embarrassing regulation,

when troops were fifty or a hundred miles beyond the frontier. He earnestly

suggested amendments on all these points, as well as with regard to the

soldiers' pay; which was less than that of the regular troops, or the

troops of most of the other provinces.


All these suggestions, showing at this youthful age that forethought and

circumspection which distinguished him throughout life, were repeatedly and

eloquently urged upon Governor Dinwiddie, with very little effect. The plan

of a frontier line of twenty-three forts was persisted in. Fort Cumberland

was pertinaciously kept up at a great and useless expense of men and money,

and the militia laws remained lax and inefficient. It was decreed, however,

that the great central fort at Winchester recommended by Washington, should

be erected.


In the height of the alarm, a company of one hundred gentlemen, mounted and

equipped, volunteered their services to repair to the frontier. They were

headed by Peyton Randolph, attorney-general, a man deservedly popular

throughout the province. Their offer was gladly accepted. They were

denominated the "Gentlemen Associators," and great expectations, of course,

were entertained from their gallantry and devotion. They were empowered,

also, to aid with their judgment in the selection of places for frontier



The "Gentlemen Associators," like all gentlemen associators in similar

emergencies, turned out with great zeal and spirit, and immense popular

effect, but wasted their fire in preparation, and on the march. Washington,

who well understood the value of such aid, observed dryly in a letter to

Governor Dinwiddie, "I am heartily glad that you have fixed upon these

gentlemen to point out the places for erecting forts, but regret to find,

their motions so slow." There is no doubt that they would have conducted

themselves gallantly, had they been put to the test; but before they

arrived near the scene of danger the alarm was over. About the beginning of

May, scouts brought in word that the tracks of the marauding savages tended

toward Fort Duquesne, as if on the return. In a little while it was

ascertained that they had recrossed the Allegany Mountain to the Ohio in

such numbers as to leave a beaten track, equal to that made in the

preceding year by the army of Braddock.


The repeated inroads of the savages called for an effectual and permanent

check. The idea of being constantly subject to the irruptions of a deadly

foe, that moved with stealth and mystery, and was only to be traced by its

ravages, and counted by its footprints, discouraged all settlement of the

country. The beautiful valley of the Shenandoah was fast becoming a

deserted and a silent place. Her people, for the most part, had fled to the

older settlements south of the mountains, and the Blue Ridge was likely

soon to become virtually the frontier line of the province.


We have to record one signal act of retaliation on the perfidious tribes of

the Ohio, in which a person whose name subsequently became dear to

Americans, was concerned. Prisoners who had escaped from the savages

reported that Shingis, Washington's faithless ally, and another sachem,

called Captain Jacobs, were the two heads of the hostile bands that had

desolated the frontier. That they lived at Kittanning, an Indian town,

about forty miles above Fort Duquesne; at which their warriors were fitted

out for incursions, and whither they returned with their prisoners and

plunder. Captain Jacobs was a daring fellow, and scoffed at palisaded

forts. "He could take any fort," he said, "that would catch fire."


A party of two hundred and eighty provincials, resolute men, undertook to

surprise, and destroy this savage nest. It was commanded by Colonel John

Armstrong; and with him went Dr. Hugh Mercer, of subsequent renown, who had

received a captain's commission from Pennsylvania, on the 6th of March,



Armstrong led his men rapidly, but secretly, over mountain, and through

forest, until, after a long and perilous march, they reached the Allegany.

It was a moonlight night when they arrived in the neighborhood of

Kittanning. They were guided to the village by whoops and yells, and the

sound of the Indian drum. The warriors were celebrating their exploits by

the triumphant scalp-dance. After a while the revel ceased, and a number of

fires appeared here and there in a corn-field. They were made by such of

the Indians as slept in the open air, and were intended to drive off the

gnats. Armstrong and his men lay down "quiet and hush," observing every

thing narrowly, and waiting until the moon should set, and the warriors be

asleep. At length the moon went down, the fires burned low; all was quiet.

Armstrong now roused his men, some of whom, wearied by their long march,

had fallen asleep. He divided his forces; part were to attack the warriors

in the corn-field, part were despatched to the houses, which were dimly

seen by the first streak of day. There was sharp firing in both quarters,

for the Indians, though taken by surprise, fought bravely, inspired by the

war-whoop of their chief, Captain Jacobs. The women and children fled to

the woods. Several of the provincials were killed and wounded. Captain Hugh

Mercer received a wound in the arm, and was taken to the top of a hill. The

fierce chieftain, Captain Jacobs, was besieged in his house, which had

port-holes; whence he and his warriors made havoc among the assailants. The

adjoining houses were set on fire. The chief was summoned to surrender

himself. He replied he was a man, and would not be a prisoner. He was told

he would be burnt. His reply was, "he would kill four or five before he

died." The flames and smoke approached. "One of the besieged warriors, to

show his manhood, began to sing. A squaw at the same time was heard to cry,

but was severely rebuked by the men." [Footnote: Letter from Col.



In the end, the warriors were driven out by the flames; some escaped, and

some were shot. Among the latter was Captain Jacobs, and his gigantic son,

said to be seven feet high. Fire was now set to all the houses, thirty in

number. "During the burning of the houses," says Colonel Armstrong, "we

were agreeably entertained with a quick succession of charged guns,

gradually firing off as reached by the fire, but much more so with the vast

explosion of sundry bags, and large kegs of powder, wherewith almost every

house abounded." The colonel was in a strange condition to enjoy such an

entertainment, having received a wound from a large musket-ball in the



The object of the expedition was accomplished. Thirty or forty of the

warriors were slain; their stronghold was a smoking ruin. There was danger

of the victors being cut off by a detachment from Fort Duquesne. They made

the best of their way, therefore, to their horses, which had been left at a

distance, and set off rapidly on their march to Fort Lyttleton, about sixty

miles north of Fort Cumberland.


Colonel Armstrong had reached Fort Lyttleton on the 14th of September, six

days after the battle, and fears were entertained that he had been

intercepted by the Indians and was lost. He, with his ensign and eleven

men, had separated from the main body when they began their march, and had

taken another and what was supposed a safer road. He had with him a woman,

a boy, and two little girls, recaptured from the Indians. The whole party

ultimately arrived safe at Fort Lyttleton, but it would seem that Mercer,

weak and faint from his fractured arm, must have fallen behind, or in some

way become separated from them, and had a long, solitary, and painful

struggle through the wilderness, reaching the fort sick, weary, and half

famished. [Footnote: "We hear that Captain Mercer was fourteen days in

getting to Fort Lyttleton. He had a miraculous escape, living ten days on

two dried clams and a rattlesnake, with the assistance of a few

berries."--_New York Mercury for October_ 4, 1756.] We shall have to

speak hereafter of his services when under the standard of Washington,

whose friend and neighbor he subsequently became. [Footnote: Mercer was a

Scotchman, about thirty-four years of age. About ten years previously he

had served as Assistant Surgeon in the forces of Charles Edward, and

followed his standard to the disastrous field of Culloden. After the defeat

of the "Chevalier," he had escaped by the way of Inverness to America, and

taken up his residence on the frontier of Pennsylvania.]












Throughout the summer of 1756, Washington exerted himself diligently in

carrying out measures determined upon for frontier security. The great

fortress at Winchester was commenced, and the work urged forward as

expeditiously as the delays and perplexities incident to a badly organized

service would permit. It received the name of Fort Loudoun, in honor of the

commander-in-chief, whose arrival in Virginia was hopefully anticipated.


As to the sites of the frontier posts, they were decided upon by Washington

and his officers, after frequent and long consultations; parties were sent

out to work on them, and men recruited, and militia drafted, to garrison

them. Washington visited occasionally such as were in progress, and near at

hand. It was a service of some peril, for the mountains and forests were

still infested by prowling savages, especially in the neighborhood of these

new forts. At one time when he was reconnoitering a wild part of the

country, attended merely by a servant and a guide, two men were murdered by

the Indians in a solitary defile shortly after he had passed through it.


In the autumn, he made a tour of inspection along the whole line,

accompanied by his friend, Captain Hugh Mercer, who had recovered from his

recent wounds. This tour furnished repeated proofs of the inefficiency of

the militia system. In one place he attempted to raise a force with which

to scour a region infested by roving bands of savages. After waiting

several days, but five men answered to his summons. In another place, where

three companies had been ordered to the relief of a fort, attacked by the

Indians, all that could be mustered were a captain, a lieutenant, and seven

or eight men.


When the militia were drafted, and appeared under arms, the case was not

much better. It was now late in the autumn; their term of service, by the

act of the Legislature, expired in December,--half of the time, therefore,

was lost in marching out and home. Their waste of provisions was enormous.

To be put on allowance, like other soldiers, they considered an indignity.

They would sooner starve than carry a few days' provisions on their backs.

On the march, when breakfast was wanted, they would knock down the first

beeves they met with, and, after regaling themselves, march on till dinner,

when they would take the same method; and so for supper, to the great

oppression of the people. For the want of proper military laws, they were

obstinate, self-willed, and perverse. Every individual had his own crude

notion of things, and would undertake to direct. If his advice were

neglected, he would think himself slighted, abused, and injured, and, to

redress himself, would depart for his home.


The garrisons were weak for want of men, but more so from indolence and

irregularity. None were in a posture of defence; few but might be surprised

with the greatest ease. At one fort, the Indians rushed from their

lurking-place, pounced upon several children playing under the walls, and

bore them off before they were discovered. Another fort was surprised, and

many of the people massacred in the same manner. In the course of his tour,

as he and his party approached a fort, he heard a quick firing for several

minutes; concluding that it was attacked, they hastened to its relief, but

found the garrison were merely amusing themselves firing at a mark, or for

wagers. In this way they would waste their ammunition as freely as they did

their provisions. In the mean time, the inhabitants of the country were in

a wretched situation, feeling the little dependence to be put on militia,

who were slow in coming to their assistance, indifferent about their

preservation, unwilling to continue, and regardless of every thing but of

their own ease. In short, they were so apprehensive of approaching ruin,

that the whole back country was in a general motion towards the southern



From the Catawba, he was escorted along a range of forts by a colonel, and

about thirty men, chiefly officers. "With this small company of

irregulars," says he, "with whom order, regularity, circumspection, and

vigilance were matters of derision and contempt, we set out, and, by the

protection of Providence, reached Augusta court-house in seven days,

without meeting the enemy; otherwise, we must have fallen a sacrifice,

through the indiscretion of these whooping, hallooing, _gentlemen_



How lively a picture does this give of the militia system at all times,

when not subjected to strict military law.


What rendered this year's service peculiarly irksome and embarrassing to

Washington, was the nature of his correspondence with Governor Dinwiddie.

That gentleman, either from the natural hurry and confusion of his mind, or

from a real disposition to perplex, was extremely ambiguous and

unsatisfactory in most of his orders and replies. "So much am I kept in the

dark," says Washington, in one of his letters, "that I do not know whether

to prepare for the offensive or defensive. What would be absolutely

necessary for the one, would be quite useless for the other." And again:

"The orders I receive are full of ambiguity. I am left like a wanderer in

the wilderness, to proceed at hazard. I am answerable for consequences, and

blamed, without the privilege of defence."


In nothing was this disposition to perplex more apparent than in the

governor's replies respecting Fort Cumberland. Washington had repeatedly

urged the abandonment of this fort as a place of frontier deposit, being

within the bounds of another province, and out of the track of Indian

incursion; so that often the alarm would not reach there until after the

mischief had been effected. He applied, at length, for particular and

positive directions from the governor on this head. "The following," says

he, "is an exact copy of his answer:--'Fort Cumberland is a _king_'s

fort, and built chiefly at the charge of the colony, therefore properly

under our direction until a new governor is appointed.' Now, whether I am

to understand this aye or no to the plain simple question asked, Is the

fort to be continued or removed? I know not. But in all important matters I

am directed in this ambiguous and uncertain way."


Governor Dinwiddie subsequently made himself explicit on this point. Taking

offence at some of Washington's comments on the military affairs of the

frontier, he made the stand of a self-willed and obstinate man, in the case

of Fort Cumberland; and represented it in such light to Lord Loudoun, as to

draw from his lordship an order that it should be kept up: and an implied

censure of the conduct of Washington in slighting a post of such paramount

importance. "I cannot agree with Colonel Washington," writes his lordship,

"in not drawing in the posts from the stockade forts, in order to defend

that advanced one; and I should imagine much more of the frontier will be

exposed by retiring your advanced posts near Winchester, where I understand

he is retired; for, from your letter, I take it for granted he has before

this executed his plan, without waiting for any advice. If he leaves any of

the great quantity of stores behind, it will be very unfortunate, and he

ought to consider that it must lie at his own door."


Thus powerfully supported, Dinwiddie went so far as to order that the

garrisons should be withdrawn from the stockades and small frontier forts,

and most of the troops from Winchester, to strengthen Fort Cumberland,

which was now to become headquarters; thus weakening the most important

points and places, to concentrate a force where it was not wanted, and

would be out of the way in most cases of alarm. By these meddlesome moves,

made by Governor Dinwiddie from a distance, without knowing any thing of

the game, all previous arrangements were reversed, every thing was thrown

into confusion, and enormous losses and expenses were incurred.


"Whence it arises, or why, I am truly ignorant," writes Washington to Mr.

Speaker Robinson, "but my strongest representations of matters relative to

the frontiers are disregarded as idle and frivolous; my propositions and

measures as partial and selfish; and all my sincerest endeavors for the

service of my country are perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are

dark and uncertain; to-day approved, to-morrow disapproved."


Whence all this contradiction and embarrassment arose has since been

explained, and with apparent reason. Governor Dinwiddie had never recovered

from the pique caused by the popular elevation of Washington to the command

in preference to his favorite, Colonel Innes. His irritation was kept alive

by a little Scottish faction, who were desirous of disgusting Washington

with the service, so as to induce him to resign, and make way for his

rival. They might have carried their point during the panic at Winchester,

had not his patriotism and his sympathy with the public distress been more

powerful than his self-love. He determined, he said, to bear up under these

embarrassments in the hope of better regulations when Lord Loudoun should

arrive; to whom he looked for the future fate of Virginia.


While these events were occurring on the Virginia frontier, military

affairs went on tardily and heavily at the north. The campaign against

Canada, which was to have opened early in the year, hung fire. The armament

coming out for the purpose, under Lord Loudoun, was delayed through the

want of energy and union in the British cabinet. General Abercrombie, who

was to be next in command to his lordship, and to succeed to General

Shirley, set sail in advance for New York with two regiments, but did not

reach Albany, the head-quarters of military operation, until the 25th of

June. He billeted his soldiers upon the town, much to the disgust of the

inhabitants, and talked of ditching and stockading it, but postponed all

exterior enterprises until the arrival of Lord Loudoun; then the campaign

was to open in earnest.


On the 12th of July, came word that the forts Ontario and Oswego, on each

side of the mouth of the Oswego River, were menaced by the Drench. They had

been imperfectly constructed by Shirley, and were insufficiently

garrisoned, yet contained a great amount of military and naval stores, and

protected the vessels which cruised on Lake Ontario.


Major-general Webb was ordered by Abercrombie to hold himself in readiness

to march with one regiment to the relief of these forts, but received no

further orders. Every thing awaited the arrival at Albany of Lord Loudoun,

which at length took place, on the 29th of July. There were now at least

ten thousand troops, regulars and provincials, loitering in an idle camp at

Albany, yet relief to Oswego was still delayed. Lord Loudoun was in favor

of it, but the governments of New York and New England urged the immediate

reduction of Crown Point, as necessary for the security of their frontier.

After much debate, it was agreed that General Webb should march to the

relief of Oswego. He left Albany on the 12th of August, but had scarce

reached the carrying-place, between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, when

he received news that Oswego was reduced, and its garrison captured. While

the British commanders had debated, Field-marshal the Marquis De Montcalm,

newly arrived from France, had acted. He was a different kind of soldier

from Abercrombie or Loudoun. A capacious mind and enterprising spirit

animated a small, but active and untiring frame. Quick in thought, quick in

speech, quicker still in action, he comprehended every thing at a glance,

and moved from point to point of the province with a celerity and secrecy

that completely baffled his slow and pondering antagonists. Crown Point and

Ticonderoga were visited, and steps taken to strengthen their works, and

provide for their security; then hastening to Montreal, he put himself at

the head of a force of regulars, Canadians, and Indians; ascended the St.

Lawrence to Lake Ontario; blocked up the mouth of the Oswego by his

vessels, landed his guns, and besieged the two forts; drove the garrison

out of one into the other; killed the commander, Colonel Mercer, and

compelled the garrisons to surrender prisoners of war. With the forts was

taken an immense amount of military stores, ammunition, and provisions; one

hundred and twenty-one cannon, fourteen mortars, six vessels of war, a vast

number of batteaux, and three chests of money. His blow achieved, Montcalm

returned in triumph to Montreal, and sent the colors of the captured forts

to be hung up as trophies in the Canadian churches.


The season was now too far advanced for Lord Loudoun to enter upon any

great military enterprise; he postponed, therefore, the great northern

campaign, so much talked of and debated, until the following year; and

having taken measures for the protection of his frontiers, and for more

active operations in the spring, returned to New York, hung up his sword,

and went into comfortable winter-quarters.












Circumstances had led Washington to think that Lord Loudoun "had received

impressions to his prejudice by false representations of facts," and that a

wrong idea prevailed at head-quarters respecting the state of military

affairs in Virginia. He was anxious, therefore, for an opportunity of

placing all these matters in a proper light; and, understanding that there

was to be a meeting in Philadelphia in the month of March, between Lord

Loudoun and the southern governors, to consult about measures of defence

for their respective provinces, he wrote to Governor Dinwiddie for

permission to attend it.


"I cannot conceive," writes Dinwiddie in reply, "what service you can be of

in going there, as the plan concerted will, in course, be communicated to

you and the other officers. However, as you seem so earnest to go, I now

give you leave."


This ungracious reply seemed to warrant the suspicions entertained by some

of Washington's friends, that it was the busy pen of Governor Dinwiddie

which had given the "false representation of facts," to Lord Loudoun. About

a month, therefore, before the time of the meeting, Washington addressed a

long letter to his lordship, explanatory of military affairs in the quarter

where he had commanded. In this he set forth the various defects in the

militia laws of Virginia; the errors in its system of defence, and the

inevitable confusion which had thence resulted.


Adverting to his own conduct: "The orders I receive," said he, "are full of

ambiguity. I am left like a wanderer in the wilderness to proceed at

hazard. I am answerable for consequences, and blamed, without the privilege

of defence. ... It is not to be wondered at, if, under such peculiar

circumstances, I should be sick of a service which promises so little of a

soldier's reward.


"I have long been satisfied of the impossibility of continuing in this

service, without loss of honor. Indeed, I was fully convinced of it before

I accepted the command the second time, seeing the cloudy prospect before

me; and I did, for this reason, reject the offer, until I was ashamed any

longer to refuse, not caring to expose my character to public censure. The

solicitations of the country overcame my objections, and induced me to

accept it. Another reason has of late operated to continue me in the

service until now, and that is, the dawn of hope that arose, when I heard

your lordship was destined, by his majesty, for the important command of

his armies in America, and appointed to the government of his dominion of

Virginia. Hence it was, that I drew my hopes, and fondly pronounced your

lordship our patron. Although I have not the honor to be known to your

lordship, yet your name was familiar to my ear, on account of the important

services rendered to his majesty in other parts of the world."


The manner in which Washington was received by Lord Loudoun on arriving in

Philadelphia, showed him at once, that his long, explanatory letter had

produced the desired effect, and that his character and conduct were justly

appreciated. During his sojourn in Philadelphia he was frequently consulted

on points of frontier service, and his advice was generally adopted. On one

point it failed. He advised that an attack should be made on Fort Duquesne,

simultaneous with the attempts on Canada. At such time a great part of the

garrison would be drawn away to aid in the defence of that province, and a

blow might be struck more likely to insure the peace and safety of the

southern frontier, than all its forts and defences.


Lord Loudoun, however, was not to be convinced, or at least persuaded.

According to his plan, the middle and southern provinces were to maintain a

merely defensive warfare; and as Virginia would be required to send four

hundred of her troops to the aid of South Carolina, she would, in fact, be

left weaker than before.


Washington was also disappointed a second time, in the hope of having his

regiment placed on the same footing as the regular army, and of obtaining a

king's commission; the latter he was destined never to hold.


His representations with respect to Fort Cumberland had the desired effect

in counteracting the mischievous intermeddling of Dinwiddie. The Virginia

troops and stores were ordered to be again removed to Fort Loudoun, at

Winchester, which once more became head-quarters, while Fort Cumberland was

left to be occupied by a Maryland garrison. Washington was instructed,

likewise, to correspond and co-operate, in military affairs, with Colonel

Stanwix, who was stationed on the Pennsylvania frontier, with five hundred

men from the Royal American regiment, and to whom he would be, in some

measure, subordinate. This proved a correspondence of friendship, as well

as duty; Colonel Stanwix being a gentleman of high moral worth, as well as

great ability in military affairs.


The great plan of operations at the north was again doomed to failure. The

reduction of Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, which had long been meditated,

was laid aside, and the capture of Louisburg substituted, as an acquisition

of far greater importance. This was a place of great consequence, situated

on the isle of Cape Breton, and strongly fortified. It commanded the

fisheries of Newfoundland, overawed New England, and was a main bulwark to



In the course of July, Lord Loudoun set sail for Halifax with all the

troops he could collect, amounting to about six thousand men, to join with

Admiral Holbourne, who had just arrived at that port with eleven ships of

the line, a fire-ship, bomb-ketch, and fleet of transports, having on board

six thousand men. With this united force Lord Loudoun anticipated the

certain capture of Louisburg.


Scarce had the tidings of his lordship's departure reached Canada, when the

active Montcalm again took the field, to follow up the successes of the

preceding year. Fort William Henry, which Sir Wm. Johnson had erected on

the southern shore of Lake George, was now his object; it commanded the

lake, and was an important protection to the British frontier. A brave old

officer, Colonel Monro, with about five hundred men, formed the garrison;

more than three times that number of militia were intrenched near by.

Montcalm had, early in the season, made three ineffectual attempts upon the

fort; he now trusted to be more successful. Collecting his forces from

Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and the adjacent posts, with a considerable

number of Canadians and Indians, altogether nearly eight thousand men, he

advanced up the lake, on the 1st of August, in a fleet of boats, with

swarms of Indian canoes in the advance. The fort came near being surprised;

but the troops encamped without it, abandoned their tents and hurried

within the works. A summons to surrender was answered by a brave defiance.

Montcalm invested the fort, made his approaches, and battered it with his

artillery. For five days its veteran commander kept up a vigorous defence,

trusting to receive assistance from General Webb, who had failed to relieve

Fort Oswego in the preceding year, and who was now at Fort Edward, about

fifteen miles distant, with upwards of five thousand men. Instead of this,

Webb, who overrated the French forces, sent him a letter, advising him to

capitulate. The letter was intercepted by Montcalm, but still forwarded to

Monro. The obstinate old soldier, however, persisted in his defence, until

most of his cannon were burst, and his ammunition expended. At length, in

the month of August, he hung out a flag of truce, and obtained honorable

terms from an enemy who knew how to appreciate his valor. Montcalm

demolished the fort, carried off all the artillery and munitions of war,

with vessels employed in the navigation of the lake; and having thus

completed his destruction of the British defences on this frontier,

returned once more in triumph with the spoils of victory, to hang up fresh

trophies in the churches of Canada.


Lord Loudoun, in the mean time, formed his junction with Admiral Holbourne

at Halifax, and the troops were embarked with all diligence on board of the

transports. Unfortunately, the French were again too quick for them.

Admiral de Bois de la Mothe had arrived at Louisburg, with a large naval

and land force; it was ascertained that he had seventeen ships of the line,

and three frigates, quietly moored in the harbor; that the place was well

fortified and supplied with provisions and ammunition, and garrisoned with

six thousand regular troops; three thousand natives, and thirteen hundred



Some hot-heads would have urged an attempt against all such array of force,

but Lord Loudoun was aware of the probability of defeat, and the disgrace

and ruin that it would bring upon British arms in America. He wisely,

though ingloriously, returned to New York. Admiral Holbourne made a silly

demonstration of his fleet off the harbor of Louisburg, approaching within

two miles of the batteries, but retired on seeing the French admiral

preparing to unmoor. He afterwards returned with a reinforcement of four

ships of the line; cruised before Louisburg, endeavoring to draw the enemy

to an engagement, which De la Mothe had the wisdom to decline; was

overtaken by a hurricane, in which one of his ships was lost, eleven were

dismasted, others had to throw their guns overboard, and all returned in a

shattered condition to England. Thus ended the northern campaign by land

and sea, a subject of great mortification to the nation, and ridicule and

triumph to the enemy.


During these unfortunate operations to the north, Washington was stationed

at Winchester, shorn of part of his force by the detachment to South

Carolina, and left with seven hundred men to defend a frontier of more than

three hundred and fifty miles in extent. The capture and demolition of

Oswego by Montcalm had produced a disastrous effect. The whole country of

the five nations was abandoned to the French. The frontiers of

Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia were harassed by repeated inroads of

French and Indians, and Washington had the mortification to see the noble

valley of the Shenandoah almost deserted by its inhabitants, and fast

relapsing into a wilderness.


The year wore away on his part in the harassing service of defending a wide

frontier with an insufficient and badly organized force, and the vexations

he experienced were heightened by continual misunderstandings with Governor

Dinwiddie. From the ungracious tenor of several of that gentleman's

letters, and from private information, he was led to believe that some

secret enemy had been making false representations of his motives and

conduct, and prejudicing the governor against him. He vindicated himself

warmly from the alleged aspersions, proudly appealing to the whole course

of his public career in proof of their falsity. "It is uncertain," said he,

"in what light my services may have appeared to your honor; but this I

know, and it is the highest consolation I am capable of feeling, that no

man that ever was employed in a public capacity has endeavored to discharge

the trust reposed in him with greater honesty and more zeal for the

country's interest than I have done; and if there is any person living who

can say, with justice, that I have offered any intentional wrong to the

public, 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 a hearing."


His magnanimous appeal had but little effect. Dinwiddie was evidently

actuated by the petty pique of a narrow and illiberal mind, impatient of

contradiction, even when in error. He took advantage of his official

station to vent his spleen and gratify his petulance in a variety of ways

incompatible with the courtesy of a gentleman. It may excite a grave smile

at the present day to find Washington charged by this very small-minded man

with looseness in his way of writing to him; with remissness in his duty

towards him; and even with impertinence in the able and eloquent

representations which he felt compelled to make of disastrous mismanagement

in military affairs; and still more, to find his reasonable request, after

a long course of severe duty, for a temporary leave of absence to attend to

his private concerns peremptorily refused, and that with as little courtesy

as though he were a mere subaltern seeking to absent himself on a party of



The multiplied vexations which Washington had latterly experienced from

this man, had preyed upon his spirits, and contributed, with his incessant

toils and anxieties, to undermine his health. For some time he struggled

with repeated attacks of dysentery and fever, and continued in the exercise

of his duties; but the increased violence of his malady, and the urgent

advice of his friend Dr. Craik, the army surgeon, induced him to relinquish

his post towards the end of the year and retire to Mount Vernon.


The administration of Dinwiddie, however, was now at an end. He set sail

for England in January, 1758, very little regretted, excepting by his

immediate hangers-on, and leaving a character overshadowed by the

imputation of avarice and extortion in the exaction of illegal fees, and of

downright delinquency in regard to large sums transmitted to him by

government to be paid over to the province in indemnification of its extra

expenses; for the disposition of which sums he failed to render an account.


He was evidently a sordid, narrow-minded, and somewhat arrogant man;

bustling rather than active; prone to meddle with matters of which he was

profoundly ignorant, and absurdly unwilling to have his ignorance















For several months Washington was afflicted by returns of his malady,

accompanied by symptoms indicative, as he thought, of a decline. "My

constitution," writes he to his friend Colonel Stanwix, "is much impaired,

and nothing can retrieve it but the greatest care and the most circumspect

course of life. This being the case, as I have now no prospect left of

preferment in the military way, and despair of rendering that immediate

service which my country may require from the person commanding its troops,

I have thoughts of quitting my command and retiring from all public

business, leaving my post to be filled by some other person more capable of

the task, and who may, perhaps, have his endeavors crowned with better

success than mine have been."


A gradual improvement in his health, and a change in his prospects,

encouraged him to continue in what really was his favorite career, and at

the beginning of April he was again in command at Fort Loudoun. Mr. Francis

Fauquier had been appointed successor to Dinwiddie, and, until he should

arrive, Mr. John Blair, president of the council, had, from his office,

charge of the government. In the latter Washington had a friend who

appreciated his character and services, and was disposed to carry out his



The general aspect of affairs, also, was more animating. Under the able and

intrepid administration of William Pitt, who had control of the British

cabinet, an effort was made to retrieve the disgraces of the late American

campaign, and to carry on the war with greater vigor. The instructions for

a common fund were discontinued; there was no more talk of taxation by

Parliament. Lord Loudoun, from whom so much had been anticipated, had

disappointed by his inactivity, and been relieved from a command in which

he had attempted much and done so little. His friends alleged that his

inactivity was owing to a want of unanimity and co-operation in the

colonial governments, which paralyzed all his well meant efforts. Franklin,

it is probable, probed the matter with his usual sagacity when he

characterized him as a man "entirely made up of indecision."--"Like St.

George on the signs, he was always on horseback, but never rode on."


On the return of his lordship to England, the general command in America

devolved on Major-general Abercrombie, and the forces were divided into

three detached bodies; one, under Major-general Amherst, was to operate in

the north with the fleet under Boscawen, for the reduction of Louisburg and

the island of Cape Breton; another, under Abercrombie himself, was to

proceed against Ticonderoga and Crown Point on Lake Champlain; and the

third, under Brigadier-general Forbes, who had the charge of the middle and

southern colonies, was to undertake the reduction of Fort Duquesne. The

colonial troops were to be supplied, like the regulars, with arms,

ammunition, tents, and provisions, at the expense of government, but

clothed and paid by the colonies; for which the king would recommend to

Parliament a proper compensation. The provincial officers appointed by the

governors, and of no higher rank than colonel, were to be equal in command,

when united in service with those who held direct from the king, according

to the date of their commissions. By these wise provisions of Mr. Pitt a

fertile cause of heartburnings and dissensions was removed.


It was with the greatest satisfaction Washington saw his favorite measure

at last adopted, the reduction of Fort Duquesne; and he resolved to

continue in the service until that object was accomplished. In a letter to

Stanwix, who was now a brigadier-general, he modestly requested to be

mentioned in favorable terms to General Forbes, "not," said he, "as a

person who would depend upon him for further recommendation to military

preferment (for I have long conquered all such inclinations, and shall

serve this campaign merely for the purpose of affording my best endeavors

to bring matters to a conclusion), but as a person who would gladly be

distinguished in some measure from the _common run_ of provincial

officers, as I understand there will be a motley herd of us." He had the

satisfaction subsequently of enjoying the fullest confidence of General

Forbes, who knew too well the sound judgment and practical ability evinced

by him in the unfortunate campaign of Braddock not to be desirous of

availing himself of his counsels.


Washington still was commander-in-chief of the Virginia troops, now

augmented, by an act of the Assembly, to two regiments of one thousand men

each; one led by himself, the other by Colonel Byrd; the whole destined to

make a part of the army of General Forbes in the expedition against Fort



Of the animation which he felt at the prospect of serving in this

long-desired campaign, and revisiting with an effective force the scene of

past disasters, we have a proof in a short letter, written during the

excitement of the moment, to Major Francis Halket, his former companion in



"My dear Halket:--Are we to have you once more among us? And shall we

revisit together a hapless spot, that proved so fatal to many of our former

brave companions? Yes; and I rejoice at it, hoping it will now be in our

power to testify a just abhorrence of the cruel butcheries exercised on our

friends in the unfortunate day of General Braddock's defeat; and, moreover,

to show our enemies, that we can practise all that lenity of which they

only boast, without affording any adequate proof."


Before we proceed to narrate the expedition against Fort Duquesne, however,

we will briefly notice the conduct of the two other expeditions, which

formed important parts in the plan of military operations for the year. And

first, of that against Louisburg and the Island of Cape Breton.


Major-general Amherst, who conducted this expedition, embarked with between

ten and twelve thousand men, in the fleet of Admiral Boscawen, and set sail

about the end of May, from Halifax, in Nova Scotia. Along with him went

Brigadier-general James Wolfe, an officer young in years, but a veteran, in

military experience, and destined to gain, an almost romantic celebrity.

He may almost be said to have been born in the camp, for he was the son of

Major-general Wolfe, a veteran officer of merit, and when a lad had

witnessed the battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy. While a mere youth he had

distinguished himself at the battle of Laffeldt, in the Netherlands; and

now, after having been eighteen years in the service, he was but thirty-one

years of age. In America, however, he was to win his lasting laurels.


On the 2d of June, the fleet arrived at the Bay of Gabarus, about seven

miles to the west of Louisburg. The latter place was garrisoned by two

thousand five hundred regulars, and three hundred militia, and subsequently

reinforced by upwards of four hundred Canadians and Indians. In the harbor

were six ships-of-the-line, and five frigates; three of which were sunk

across the mouth. For several days the troops were prevented from landing

by boisterous weather, and a heavy surf. The French improved that time to

strengthen a chain of forts along the shore, deepening trenches, and

constructing batteries.


On the 8th of June, preparations for landing were made before daybreak. The

troops were embarked in boats in three divisions, under Brigadiers Wolfe,

Whetmore, and Laurens. The landing was to be attempted west of the harbor,

at a place feebly secured. Several frigates and sloops previously scoured

the beach with their shot, after which Wolfe pulled for shore with his

divisions; the other two divisions distracting the attention of the enemy,

by making a show of landing in other parts. The surf still ran high, the

enemy opened a fire of cannon and musketry from their batteries, many boats

were upset, many men slain, but Wolfe pushed forward, sprang into the water

when the boats grounded, dashed through the surf with his men, stormed the

enemy's breastworks and batteries, and drove them from the shore. Among the

subalterns who stood by Wolfe on this occasion, was an Irish youth,

twenty-one years of age, named Richard Montgomery, whom, for his gallantry,

Wolfe promoted to a lieutenancy, and who was destined, in after years, to

gain an imperishable renown. The other divisions effected a landing after a

severe conflict; artillery and stores were brought on shore, and Louisburg

was formally invested.


The weather continued boisterous; the heavy cannon, and the various

munitions necessary for a siege, were landed with difficulty. Amherst,

moreover, was a cautious man, and made his approaches slowly, securing his

camp by redoubts and epaulements. The Chevalier Drucour, who commanded at

Louisburg, called in his outposts, and prepared for a desperate defence;

keeping up a heavy fire from his batteries, and from the ships in the



Wolfe, with a strong detachment, surprised at night, and took possession of

Light House Point, on the north-east side of the entrance to the harbor.

Here he threw up batteries in addition to those already there, from which

he was enabled greatly to annoy both town and shipping, as well as to aid

Amherst in his slow, but regular and sure approaches.


On the 21st of July, the three largest of the enemy's ships were set on

fire by a bombshell. On the night of the 25th two other of the ships were

boarded, sword in hand, from boats of the squadron; one being aground, was

burnt, the other was towed out of the harbor in triumph. The brave Drucour

kept up the defence until all the ships were either taken or destroyed;

forty, out of fifty-two pieces of cannon dismounted, and his works mere

heaps of ruins. When driven to capitulate, he refused the terms proposed,

as being too severe, and, when threatened with a general assault, by sea

and land, determined to abide it, rather than submit to what he considered

a humiliation. The prayers and petitions of the inhabitants, however,

overcame his obstinacy. The place was surrendered, and he and his garrison

became prisoners of war. Captain Amherst, brother to the general, carried

home the news to England, with eleven pair of colors, taken at Louisburg.

There were rejoicings throughout the kingdom. The colors were borne in

triumph through the streets of London, with a parade of horse and foot,

kettle drums and trumpets, and the thunder of artillery, and were put up as

trophies in St. Paul's Cathedral.


Boscawen, who was a member of Parliament, received a unanimous vote of

praise from the House of Commons, and the youthful Wolfe, who returned

shortly after the victory to England, was hailed as the hero of the



We have disposed of one of the three great expeditions contemplated in the

plan of the year's campaign. The second was that against the French forts

on Lakes George and Champlain. At the beginning of July, Abercrombie was

encamped on the borders of Lake George, with between six and seven thousand

regulars, and upwards of nine thousand provincials, from New England, New

York, and New Jersey. Major Israel Putnam, of Connecticut, who had served

on this lake, under Sir William Johnson, in the campaign in which Dieskau

was defeated and slain, had been detached with a scouting party to

reconnoitre the neighborhood. After his return and report, Abercrombie

prepared to proceed against Ticonderoga, situated on a tongue of land in

Lake Champlain, at the mouth of the strait communicating with Lake George.


On the 5th of July, the forces were embarked in one hundred and twenty-five

whale-boats, and nine hundred batteaux, with the artillery on rafts. The

vast flotilla proceeded slowly down the lake, with banners and pennons

fluttering in the summer breeze; arms glittering in the sunshine, and

martial music echoing along the wood-clad mountains. With Abercrombie went

Lord Howe, a young nobleman brave and enterprising, full of martial

enthusiasm, and endeared to the soldiery by the generosity of his

disposition, and the sweetness of his manners.


On the first night they bivouacked for some hours at Sabbath-day Point, but

re-embarked before midnight. The next day they landed on a point on the

western shore, just at the entrance of the strait leading to Lake

Champlain. Here they were formed into three columns, and pushed forward.


They soon came upon the enemy's advanced guard, a battalion encamped behind

a log breastwork. The French set fire to their camp, and retreated. The

columns kept their form, and pressed forward, but, through ignorance of

their guides, became bewildered in a dense forest, fell into confusion, and

blundered upon each other.


Lord Howe urged on with the van of the right centre column. Putnam, who was

with him, and more experienced in forest warfare, endeavored in vain to

inspire him with caution. After a time they came upon a detachment of the

retreating foe, who, like themselves, had lost their way. A severe conflict

ensued. Lord Howe, who gallantly led the van, was killed at the onset. His

fall gave new ardor to his troops. The enemy were routed, some slain, some

drowned, about one hundred and fifty taken prisoners, including five

officers. Nothing further was done that day. The death of Lord Howe more

than counterbalanced the defeat of the enemy. His loss was bewailed not

merely by the army, but by the American people; for it is singular how much

this young nobleman, in a short time, had made himself beloved. The point

near which the troops had landed still bears his name; the place where he

fell is still pointed out; and Massachusetts voted him a monument in

Westminster Abbey.


With Lord Howe expired the master spirit of the enterprise. Abercrombie

fell back to the landing-place. The next day he sent out a strong

detachment of regulars, royal provincials, and batteaux men, under

Lieutenant-colonel Bradstreet, of New York, to secure a saw-mill, which the

enemy had abandoned. This done, he followed on the same evening with the

main forces, and took post at the mill, within two miles of the fort. Here

he was joined by Sir William Johnson, with between four and five hundred

savage warriors from the Mohawk River.


Montcalm had called in all his forces, between three and four thousand men,

and was strongly posted behind deep intrenchments and breastworks eight

feet high; with an abatis, or felled trees, in front of his lines,

presenting a horrid barrier, with their jagged boughs pointing outward.

Abercrombie was deceived as to the strength of the French works; his

engineers persuaded him they were formidable only in appearance, but really

weak and flimsy. Without waiting for the arrival of his cannon, and against

the opinion of his most judicious officers, he gave orders to storm the

works. Never were rash orders more gallantly obeyed. The men rushed forward

with fixed bayonets, and attempted to force their way through, or scramble

over the abatis, under a sheeted fire of swivels and musketry. In the

desperation of the moment, the officers even tried to cut their way through

with their swords. Some even reached the parapet, where they were shot

down. The breastwork was too high to be surmounted, and gave a secure

covert to the enemy. Repeated assaults were made, and as often repelled,

with dreadful havoc. The Iroquois warriors, who had arrived with Sir

William Johnson, took no part, it is said, in this fierce conflict, but

stood aloof as unconcerned spectators of the bloody strife of white men.


After four hours of desperate and fruitless fighting, Abercrombie, who had

all the time remained aloof at the saw-mills gave up the ill-judged

attempt, and withdrew once more to the landing-place, with the loss of

nearly two thousand in killed and wounded. Had not the vastly inferior

force of Montcalm prevented him from sallying beyond his trenches, the

retreat of the British might have been pushed to a headlong and disastrous



Abercrombie had still nearly four times the number of the enemy, with

cannon, and all the means of carrying on a siege, with every prospect of

success; but the failure of this rash assault seems completely to have

dismayed him. The next day he re-embarked all his troops, and returned

across that lake where his disgraced banners had recently waved so proudly.


While the general was planning fortifications on Lake George, Colonel

Bradstreet obtained permission to carry into effect an expedition which he

had for some time meditated, and which had been a favored project with the

lamented Howe. This was to reduce Fort Frontenac, the stronghold of the

French on the north side of the entrance of Lake Ontario, commanding the

mouth of the St. Lawrence. This post was a central point of Indian trade,

where the tribes resorted from all parts of a vast interior; sometimes a

distance of a thousand miles, to traffic away their peltries with the

fur-traders. It was, moreover, a magazine for the more southern posts,

among which was Fort Duquesne on the Ohio.


Bradstreet was an officer of spirit. Pushing his way along the valley of

the Mohawk and by the Oneida, where he was joined by several warriors of

the Six Nations, he arrived at Oswego in August, with nearly three thousand

men; the greater part of them provincial troops of New York and

Massachusetts. Embarking at Oswego in open boats, he crossed Lake Ontario,

and landed within a mile of Frontenac. The fort mounted sixty guns, and

several mortars, yet though a place of such importance, the garrison

consisted of merely one hundred and ten men, and a few Indians. These

either fled, or surrendered at discretion. In the fort was an immense

amount of merchandise and military stores; part of the latter intended for

the supply of Fort Duquesne. In the harbor were nine armed vessels, some of

them carrying eighteen guns; the whole of the enemy's shipping on the lake.

Two of these Colonel Bradstreet freighted with part of the spoils of the

fort, the others he destroyed; then having dismantled the fortifications,

and laid waste every thing which he could not carry away, he recrossed the

lake to Oswego, and returned with his troops to the army on Lake George.
















Operations went on slowly in that part of the year's campaign in which

Washington was immediately engaged--the expedition against Fort Duquesne.

Brigadier-general Forbes, who was commander-in-chief, was detained at

Philadelphia by those delays and cross-purposes incident to military

affairs in a new country. Colonel Bouquet, who was to command the advanced

division, took his station, with a corps of regulars, at Raystown, in the

centre of Pennsylvania. There slowly assembled troops from various parts.

Three thousand Pennsylvanians, twelve hundred and fifty South Carolinians,

and a few hundred men from elsewhere.


Washington, in the mean time, gathered together his scattered regiment at

Winchester, some from a distance of two hundred miles, and diligently

disciplined his recruits. He had two Virginia regiments under him,

amounting, when complete, to about nineteen hundred men. Seven hundred

Indian warriors, also, came lagging into his camp, lured by the prospect of

a successful campaign.


The president of the council had given Washington a discretionary power in

the present juncture to order out militia for the purpose of garrisoning

the fort in the absence of the regular troops. Washington exercised the

power with extreme reluctance. He considered it, he said, an affair of too

important and delicate a nature for him to manage, and apprehended the

discontent it might occasion. In fact, his sympathies were always with the

husbandmen and the laborers of the soil, and he deplored the evils imposed

upon them by arbitrary drafts for military service; a scruple not often

indulged by youthful commanders.


The force thus assembling was in want of arms, tents, field-equipage, and

almost every requisite. Washington had made repeated representations, by

letter, of the destitute state of the Virginia troops, but without avail;

he was now ordered by Sir John St. Clair, the quartermaster-general of the

forces, under General Forbes, to repair to Williamsburg, and lay the state

of the case before the council. He set off promptly on horseback, attended

by Bishop, the well-trained military servant, who had served the late

General Braddock. It proved an eventful journey, though not in a military

point of view. In crossing a ferry of the Pamunkey, a branch of York River,

he fell in company with a Mr. Chamberlayne, who lived in the neighborhood,

and who, in the spirit of Virginian hospitality, claimed him as a guest. It

was with difficulty Washington could be prevailed on to halt for dinner, so

impatient was he to arrive at Williamsburg, and accomplish his mission.


Among the guests at Mr. Chamberlayne's was a young and blooming widow, Mrs.

Martha Custis, daughter of Mr. John Dandridge, both patrician names in the

province. Her husband, John Parke Custis, had been dead about three years,

leaving her with two young children, and a large fortune. She is

represented as being rather below the middle size, but extremely well

shaped, with an agreeable countenance, dark hazel eyes and hair, and those

frank, engaging manners, so captivating in Southern women. We are not

informed whether Washington had met with her before; probably not during

her widowhood, as during that time he had been almost continually on the

frontier. We have shown that, with all his gravity and reserve, he was

quickly susceptible to female charms; and they may have had a greater

effect upon him when thus casually encountered in fleeting moments snatched

from the cares and perplexities and rude scenes of frontier warfare. At any

rate, his heart appears to have been taken by surprise.


The dinner, which in those days was an earlier meal than at present, seemed

all too short. The afternoon passed away like a dream. Bishop was punctual

to the orders he had received on halting; the horses pawed at the door; but

for once Washington loitered in the path of duty. The horses were

countermanded, and it was not until the next morning that he was again in

the saddle, spurring for Williamsburg. Happily the White House, the

residence of Mrs. Custis, was in New Kent County, at no great distance from

that city, so that he had opportunities of visiting her in the intervals of

business. His time for courtship, however, was brief. Military duties

called him back almost immediately to Winchester; but he feared, should he

leave the matter in suspense, some more enterprising rival might supplant

him during his absence, as in the case of Miss Philipse, at New York. He

improved, therefore, his brief opportunity to the utmost. The blooming

widow had many suitors, but Washington was graced with that renown so

ennobling in the eyes of woman. In a word, before they separated, they had

mutually plighted their faith, and the marriage was to take place as soon

as the campaign against Fort Duquesne was at an end.


Before returning to Winchester, Washington was obliged to hold conferences

with Sir John St. Clair and Colonel Bouquet, at an intermediate rendezvous,

to give them information respecting the frontiers, and arrange about the

marching of his troops. His constant word to them was forward! forward!

For the precious time for action was slipping away, and he feared their

Indian allies, so important to their security while on the march, might,

with their usual fickleness, lose patience, and return home.


On arriving at Winchester, he found his troops restless and discontented

from prolonged inaction. The inhabitants impatient of the burdens imposed

on them, and of the disturbances of an idle camp; while the Indians, as he

apprehended, had deserted outright. It was a great relief, therefore, when

he received orders from the commander-in-chief to repair to Fort

Cumberland. He arrived there on the 2d of July, and proceeded to open a

road between that post and head-quarters, at Raystown, thirty miles

distant, where Colonel Bouquet was stationed.


His troops were scantily supplied with regimental clothing. The weather was

oppressively warm. He now conceived the idea of equipping them in the light

Indian hunting garb, and even of adopting it himself. Two companies were

accordingly equipped in this style, and sent under the command of Major

Lewis to head-quarters. "It is an unbecoming dress, I own, for an officer,"

writes Washington, "but convenience rather than show, I think, should be

consulted. The reduction of bat-horses alone would be sufficient to

recommend it; for nothing is more certain than that less baggage would be



The experiment was successful. "The dress takes very well here," writes

Colonel Bouquet; "and, thank God, we see nothing but shirts and blankets.

... Their dress should be one pattern for this expedition." Such was

probably the origin of the American rifle dress, afterwards so much worn in

warfare, and modelled on the Indian costume.


The army was now annoyed by scouting parties of Indians hovering about the

neighborhood. Expresses passing between the posts were fired upon; a

waggoner was shot down. Washington sent out counter-parties of Cherokees.

Colonel Bouquet required that each party should be accompanied by an

officer and a number of white men. Washington complied with the order,

though he considered them an encumbrance rather than an advantage, "Small

parties of Indians," said he, "will more effectually harass the enemy by

keeping them under continual alarms, than any parties of white men can do.

For small parties of the latter are not equal to the task, not being so

dexterous at skulking as Indians; and large parties will be discovered by

their spies early enough to have a superior force opposed to them." With

all his efforts, however, he was never able fully to make the officers of

the regular army appreciate the importance of Indian allies in these

campaigns in the wilderness.


On the other hand, he earnestly discountenanced a proposition of Colonel

Bouquet, to make an irruption into the enemy's country with a strong party

of regulars. Such a detachment, he observed, could not be sent without a

cumbersome train of supplies, which would discover it to the enemy, who

must at that time be collecting his whole force at Fort Duquesne; the

enterprise, therefore, would be likely to terminate in a miscarriage, if

not in the destruction of the party. We shall see that his opinion was



As Washington intended to retire from military life at the close of this

campaign, he had proposed himself to the electors of Frederick County as

their representative in the House of Burgesses. The election was coming on

at Winchester; his friends pressed him to attend it, and Colonel Bouquet

gave him leave of absence; but he declined to absent himself from his post

for the promotion of his political interests. There were three competitors

in the field, yet so high was the public opinion of his merit, that, though

Winchester had been his head-quarters for two or three years past, and he

had occasionally enforced martial law with a rigorous hand, he was elected

by a large majority. The election was carried on somewhat in the English

style. There was much eating and drinking at the expense of the candidate.

Washington appeared on the hustings by proxy, and his representative was

chaired about the town with enthusiastic applause and huzzaing for Colonel



On the 21st of July arrived tidings of the brilliant success of that part

of the scheme of the year's campaign conducted by General Amherst and

Admiral Boscawen, who had reduced the strong town of Louisburg and gained

possession of the Island of Cape Breton. This intelligence increased

Washington's impatience at the delays of the expedition with which he was

connected. He wished to rival these successes by a brilliant blow in the

south. Perhaps a desire for personal distinction in the eyes of the lady of

his choice may have been at the bottom of this impatience; for we are told

that he kept up a constant correspondence with her throughout the campaign.


Understanding that the commander-in-chief had some thoughts of throwing a

body of light troops in the advance, he wrote to Colonel Bouquet, earnestly

soliciting his influence to have himself and his Virginia regiment included

in the detachment. "If any argument is needed to obtain this favor," said

he, "I hope, without vanity, I may be allowed to say, that from long

intimacy with these woods, and frequent scouting in them, my men are at

least as well acquainted with all the passes and difficulties as any troops

that will be employed."


He soon learnt to his surprise, however, that the road to which his men

were accustomed, and which had been worked by Braddock's troops in his

campaign, was not to be taken in the present expedition, but a new one

opened through the heart of Pennsylvania, from Raystown to Fort Duquesne,

on the track generally taken by the northern traders. He instantly

commenced long and repeated remonstrances on the subject; representing that

Braddock's road, from recent examination, only needed partial repairs, and

showing by clear calculation that an army could reach Fort Duquesne by that

route in thirty-four days, so that the whole campaign might be effected by

the middle of October; whereas the extreme labor of opening a new road

across mountains, swamps, and through a densely wooded country, would

detain them so late, that the season would be over before they could reach

the scene of action. His representations were of no avail. The officers of

the regular service had received a fearful idea of Braddock's road from his

own despatches, wherein he had described it as lying "across mountains and

rocks of an excessive height, vastly steep, and divided by torrents and

rivers," whereas the Pennsylvania traders, who were anxious for the opening

of the new road through their province, described the country through which

it would pass as less difficult, and its streams less subject to

inundation; above all, it was a direct line, and fifty miles nearer. This

route, therefore, to the great regret of Washington and the indignation of

the Virginia Assembly, was definitively adopted, and sixteen hundred men

were immediately thrown in the advance from Raystown to work upon it.


The first of September found Washington still encamped at Fort Cumberland,

his troops sickly and dispirited, and the brilliant expedition which he had

anticipated, dwindling down into a tedious operation of road-making. In the

mean time, his scouts brought him word that the whole force at Fort

Duquesne on the 13th of August, Indians included, did not exceed eight

hundred men: had an early campaign been pressed forward, as he recommended,

the place by this time would have been captured. At length, in the month of

September, he received orders from General Forbes to join him with his

troops at Raystown, where he had just arrived, having been detained by

severe illness. He was received by the general with the highest marks of

respect. On all occasions, both in private and at councils of war, that

commander treated his opinions with the greatest deference. He, moreover,

adopted a plan drawn out by Washington for the march of the army; and an

order of battle which still exists, furnishing a proof of his skill in

frontier warfare.


It was now the middle of September; yet the great body of men engaged in

opening the new military road, after incredible toil, had not advanced

above forty-five miles, to a place called Loyal Hannan, a little beyond

Laurel Hill. Colonel Bouquet, who commanded the division of nearly two

thousand men sent forward to open this road, had halted at Loyal Hannan to

establish a military post and deposit.


He was upwards of fifty miles from Fort Duquesne, and was tempted to adopt

the measure, so strongly discountenanced by Washington, of sending a party

on a foray into the enemy's country. He accordingly detached Major Grant

with eight hundred picked men, some of them Highlanders, others, in Indian

garb, the part of Washington's Virginian regiment sent forward by him from

Cumberland under command of Major Lewis.


The instructions given to Major Grant were merely to reconnoitre the

country in the neighborhood of Fort Duquesne, and ascertain the strength

and position of the enemy. He conducted the enterprise with the

foolhardiness of a man eager for personal notoriety. His whole object seems

to have been by open bravado to provoke an action. The enemy were apprised,

through their scouts, of his approach, but suffered him to advance

unmolested. Arriving at night in the neighborhood of the fort, he posted

his men on a hill, and sent out a party of observation, who set fire to a

log house near the walls and returned to the encampment. As if this were

not sufficient to put the enemy on the alert, he ordered the reveille to be

beaten in the morning in several places; then, posting Major Lewis with his

provincial troops at a distance in the rear to protect the baggage, he

marshalled his regulars in battle array, and sent an engineer, with a

covering party, to take a plan of the works in full view of the garrison.


Not a gun was fired by the fort; the silence which was maintained was

mistaken for fear, and increased the arrogance and blind security of the

British commander. At length, when he was thrown off his guard, there was a

sudden sally of the garrison, and an attack on the flanks by Indians hid in

ambush. A scene now occurred similar to that at the defeat of Braddock.

The British officers marshalled their men according to European tactics,

and the Highlanders for some time stood their ground bravely; but the

destructive fire and horrid yells of the Indians soon produced panic and

confusion. Major Lewis, at the first noise of the attack, left Captain

Bullitt, with fifty Virginians, to guard the baggage, and hastened with the

main part of his men to the scene of action. The contest was kept up for

some time, but the confusion was irretrievable. The Indians sallied from

their concealment, and attacked with the tomahawk and scalping-knife. Lewis

fought hand to hand with an Indian brave, whom, he laid dead at his feet,

but was surrounded by others, and only saved his life by surrendering

himself to a French officer. Major Grant surrendered himself in like

manner. The whole detachment was put to the rout with dreadful carnage.


Captain Bullitt rallied several of the fugitives, and prepared to make a

forlorn stand, as the only chance where the enemy was overwhelming and

merciless. Despatching the most valuable baggage with the strongest horses,

he made a barricade with the baggage waggons, behind which he posted his

men, giving them orders how they were to act. All this was the thought and

the work almost of a moment, for the savages, having finished the havoc and

plunder of the field of battle, were hastening in pursuit of the fugitives.

Bullitt suffered them to come near, when, on a concerted signal, a

destructive fire was opened from behind the baggage waggons. They were

checked for a time; but were again pressing forward in greater numbers,

when Bullitt and his men held out the signal of capitulation, and advanced

as if to surrender. When within eight yards of the enemy, they suddenly

levelled their arms, poured a most effective volley, and then charged with

the bayonet. The Indians fled in dismay, and Bullitt took advantage of this

check to retreat with all speed, collecting the wounded and the scattered

fugitives as he advanced. The routed detachment came back in fragments to

Colonel Bouquet's camp at Loyal Hannan, with the loss of twenty-one

officers and two hundred and seventy-three privates killed and taken. The

Highlanders and the Virginians were those that fought the best and suffered

the most in this bloody battle. Washington's regiment lost six officers and

sixty-two privates.


If Washington could have taken any pride in seeing his presages of

misfortune verified, he might have been gratified by the result of this

rash "irruption into the enemy's country," which was exactly what he had

predicted. In his letters to Governor Fauquier, however, he bears lightly

on the error of Col Bouquet. "From all accounts I can collect," says he,

"it appears very clear that this was a very ill-concerted, or a very

ill-executed plan, perhaps both; but it seems to be generally acknowledged

that Major Grant exceeded his orders, and that no disposition was made for



Washington, who was at Raystown when the disastrous news arrived, was

publicly complimented by General Forbes, on the gallant conduct of his

Virginian troops, and Bullitt's behavior was "a matter of great

admiration." The latter was soon after rewarded with a major's commission.


As a further mark of the high opinion now entertained of provincial troops

for frontier service, Washington was given the command of a division,

partly composed of his own men, to keep in the advance of the main body,

clear the roads, throw out scouting parties, and repel Indian attacks.


It was the 5th of November before the whole army assembled at Loyal Hannan.

Winter was now at hand, and upwards of fifty miles of wilderness were yet

to be traversed, by a road not yet formed, before they could reach Fort

Duquesne. Again, Washington's predictions seemed likely to be verified, and

the expedition to be defeated by delay; for in a council of war it was

determined to be impracticable to advance further with the army that

season. Three prisoners, however, who were brought in, gave such an account

of the weak state of the garrison at Fort Duquesne, its want of provisions,

and the defection of the Indians, that it was determined to push forward.

The march was accordingly resumed, but without tents or baggage, and with

only a light train of artillery.


Washington still kept the advance. After leaving Loyal Hannan, the road

presented traces of the late defeat of Grant; being strewed with human

bones, the sad relics of fugitives cut down by the Indians, or of wounded

soldiers who had died on the retreat; they lay mouldering in various stages

of decay, mingled with the bones of horses and of oxen. As they approached

Fort Duquesne these mementoes of former disasters became more frequent; and

the bones of those massacred in the defeat of Braddock, still lay scattered

about the battle field, whitening in the sun.


At length the army arrived in sight of Fort Duquesne, advancing with great

precaution, and expecting a vigorous defence; but that formidable fortress,

the terror and scourge of the frontier, and the object of such warlike

enterprise, fell without a blow. The recent successes of the English forces

in Canada, particularly the capture and destruction of Fort Frontenac, had

left the garrison without hope of reinforcements and supplies. The whole

force, at the time, did not exceed five hundred men, and the provisions

were nearly exhausted. The commander, therefore, waited only until the

English army was within one day's march, when he embarked his troops at

night in batteaux, blew up his magazines, set fire to the fort, and

retreated down the Ohio, by the light of the flames. On the 25th of

November, Washington, with the advanced guard, marched in, and planted the

British flag on the yet smoking ruins.


One of the first offices of the army was to collect and bury, in one common

tomb, the bones of their fellow-soldiers who had fallen in the battles of

Braddock and Grant. In this pious duty it is said every one joined, from

the general down to the private soldier; and some veterans assisted, with

heavy hearts and frequent ejaculations of poignant feeling, who had been

present in the scenes of defeat and carnage.


The ruins of the fortress were now put in a defensible state, and

garrisoned by two hundred men from Washington's regiment; the name was

changed to that of Fort Pitt, in honor of the illustrious British minister,

whose measures had given vigor and effect to this year's campaign; it has

since been modified into Pittsburg, and designates one of the most busy and

populous cities of the interior.


The reduction of Fort Duquesne terminated, as Washington had foreseen, the

troubles and dangers of the southern frontier. The French domination of the

Ohio was at an end; the Indians, as usual, paid homage to the conquering

power, and a treaty of peace was concluded with all the tribes between the

Ohio and the lakes.


With this campaign ended, for the present, the military career of

Washington. His great object was attained, the restoration of quiet and

security to his native province; and, having abandoned all hope of

attaining rank in the regular army, and his health being much impaired, he

gave up his commission at the close of the year, and retired from the

service, followed by the applause of his fellow-soldiers, and the gratitude

and admiration of all his countrymen.


His marriage with Mrs. Custis took place shortly after his return. It was

celebrated on the 6th of January, 1759, at the White House, the residence

of the bride, in the good old hospitable style of Virginia, amid a joyous

assemblage of relatives and friends.













Before following Washington into the retirement of domestic life, we think

it proper to notice the events which closed the great struggle between

England and France for empire in America. In that struggle he had first

become practised in arms, and schooled in the ways of the world; and its

results will be found connected with the history of his later years.


General Abercrombie had been superseded as commander-in-chief of the forces

in America by Major-general Amherst, who had gained great favor by the

reduction of Louisburg. According to the plan of operations for 1759,

General Wolfe, who had risen to fame by his gallant conduct in the same

affair, was to ascend the St. Lawrence in a fleet of ships of war, with

eight thousand men, as soon as the river should be free of ice, and lay

siege to Quebec, the capital of Canada. General Amherst, in the mean time,

was to advance, as Abercrombie had done, by Lake George, against

Ticonderoga and Crown Point; reduce those forts, cross Lake Champlain, push

on to the St. Lawrence, and co-operate with Wolfe.


A third expedition, under Brigadier-general Prideaux, aided by Sir William

Johnson and his Indian warriors, was to attack Fort Niagara, which

controlled the whole country of the Six Nations, and commanded the

navigation of the great lakes, and the intercourse between Canada and

Louisiana. Having reduced this fort, he was to traverse Lake Ontario,

descend the St. Lawrence, capture Montreal, and join his forces with those

of Amherst.


The last mentioned expedition was the first executed. General Prideaux

embarked at Oswego on the first of July, with a large body of troops,

regulars and provincials,--the latter partly from New York. He was

accompanied by Sir William Johnson, and his Indian braves of the Mohawk.

Landing at an inlet of Lake Ontario, within a few miles of Fort Niagara, he

advanced, without being opposed, and proceeded to invest it. The garrison,

six hundred strong, made a resolute defence. The siege was carried on by

regular approaches, but pressed with vigor. On the 20th of July, Prideaux,

in visiting his trenches, was killed by the bursting of a cohorn. Informed

by express of this misfortune, General Amherst detached from the main army

Brigadier-general Gage, the officer who had led Braddock's advance, to take

the command.


In the mean time, the siege had been conducted by Sir William Johnson with

courage and sagacity. He was destitute of military science, but had a

natural aptness for warfare, especially for the rough kind carried on in

the wilderness. Being informed by his scouts that twelve hundred regular

troops, drawn from Detroit, Venango, and Presque Isle, and led by D'Aubry,

with a number of Indian auxiliaries, were hastening to the rescue, he

detached a force of grenadiers and light infantry, with some of his Mohawk

warriors, to intercept them. They came in sight of each other on the road,

between Niagara Falls and the fort, within the thundering sound of the one,

and the distant view of the other. Johnson's "braves" advanced to have a

parley with the hostile redskins. The latter received them with a

war-whoop, and Frenchman and savage made an impetuous onset. Johnson's

regulars and provincials stood their ground firmly, while his red warriors

fell on the flanks of the enemy. After a sharp conflict, the French were

broken, routed, and pursued through the woods, with great carnage. Among

the prisoners taken were seventeen officers. The next day Sir William

Johnson sent a trumpet, summoning the garrison to surrender, to spare the

effusion of blood, and prevent outrages by the Indians. They had no

alternative; were permitted to march out with the honors of war, and were

protected by Sir William from his Indian allies. Thus was secured the key

to the communication between Lakes Ontario and Erie, and to the vast

interior region connected with them. The blow alarmed the French for the

safety of Montreal, and De Levi, the second in command of their Canadian

forces, hastened up from before Quebec, and took post at the fort of

Oswegatchie (now Ogdensburg), to defend the passes of the St. Lawrence.


We now proceed to notice the expedition against Ticonderoga and Crown

Point. In the month of July, General Amherst embarked with nearly twelve

thousand men, at the upper part of Lake George, and proceeded down it, as

Abercrombie had done in the preceding year, in a vast fleet of whale-boats,

batteaux, and rafts, and all the glitter and parade of war. On the 22d, the

army debarked at the lower part of the lake, and advanced toward

Ticonderoga. After a slight skirmish with the advanced guard, they secured

the old post at the saw-mill.


Montcalm was no longer in the fort; he was absent for the protection of

Quebec. The garrison did not exceed four hundred men. Bourlamarque, a brave

officer, who commanded, at first seemed disposed to make defence; but,

against such overwhelming force, it would have been madness. Dismantling

the fortifications, therefore, he abandoned them, as he did likewise those

at Crown Point, and retreated down the lake, to assemble forces, and make a

stand at the Isle Aux Noix, for the protection of Montreal and the



Instead of following him up, and hastening to co-operate with Wolfe,

General Amherst proceeded to repair the works at Ticonderoga, and erect a

new fort at Crown Point, though neither were in present danger of being

attacked, nor would be of use if Canada were conquered. Amherst, however,

was one of those cautious men, who, in seeking to be sure, are apt to be

fatally slow. His delay enabled the enemy to rally their forces at Isle Aux

Noix, and call in Canadian reinforcements, while it deprived Wolfe of that

co-operation which, it will be shown, was most essential to the general

success of the campaign.


Wolfe, with his eight thousand men, ascended the St. Lawrence in the fleet,

in the month of June. With him came Brigadiers, Monckton, Townshend and

Murray, youthful and brave like himself, and like himself, already schooled

in arms. Monckton, it will be recollected, had signalized himself, when a

colonel, in the expedition in 1755, in which the French were driven from

Nova Scotia. The grenadiers of the army were commanded by Colonel Guy

Carleton, and part of the light infantry by Lieutenant-Colonel William

Howe, both destined to celebrity in after years, in the annals of the

American Revolution. Colonel Howe was brother of the gallant Lord Howe,

whose fall in the preceding year was so generally lamented. Among the

officers of the fleet, was Jervis, the future admiral, and ultimately Earl

St. Vincent; and the master of one of the ships, was James Cook, afterwards

renowned as a discoverer.


About the end of June, the troops debarked on the large, populous, and

well-cultivated Isle of Orleans, a little below Quebec, and encamped in its

fertile fields. Quebec, the citadel of Canada, was strong by nature. It was

built round the point of a rocky promontory, and flanked by precipices. The

crystal current of the St. Lawrence swept by it on the right, and the river

St. Charles flowed along on the left, before mingling with that mighty

stream. The place was tolerably fortified, but art had not yet rendered it,

as at the present day, impregnable.


Montcalm commanded the post. His troops were more numerous than the

assailants but the greater part were Canadians, many of them inhabitants of

Quebec; and he had a host of savages. His forces were drawn out along the

northern shore below the city, from the river St. Charles to the Falls of

Montmorency, and their position was secured by deep intrenchments.


The night after the debarkation of Wolfe's troops a furious storm caused

great damage to the transports, and sank some of the small craft. While it

was still raging, a number of fire-ships, sent to destroy the fleet, came

driving down. They were boarded intrepidly by the British seamen, and towed

out of the way of doing harm. After much resistance, Wolfe established

batteries at the west point of the Isle of Orleans, and at Point Levi, on

the right (or south) bank of the St. Lawrence, within cannon range of the

city. Colonel Guy Carleton, commanded at the former battery; Brigadier

Monckton at the latter. From Point Levi bombshells and red-hot shot were

discharged; many houses were set on fire in the upper town, the lower town

was reduced to rubbish; the main fort, however, remained unharmed.


Anxious for a decisive action, Wolfe, on the 9th of July, crossed over in

boats from the Isle of Orleans, to the north bank of the St. Lawrence, and

encamped below the Montmorency. It was an ill-judged position, for there

was still that tumultuous stream, with its rocky banks, between him and the

camp of Montcalm; but the ground he had chosen was higher than that

occupied by the latter, and the Montmorency had a ford below the falls,

passable at low tide. Another ford was discovered, three miles within land,

but the banks were steep, and shagged with forest. At both fords the

vigilant Montcalm had thrown up breastworks, and posted troops.


On the 18th of July, Wolfe made a reconnoitring expedition up the river,

with two armed sloops, and two transports with troops. He passed Quebec

unharmed, and carefully noted the shores above it. Rugged cliffs rose

almost from the water's edge. Above them, he was told, was an extent of

level ground, called the Plains of Abraham, by which the upper town might

be approached on its weakest side; but how was that plain to be attained,

when the cliffs, for the most part, were inaccessible, and every

practicable place fortified?


He returned to Montmorency disappointed, and resolved to attack Montcalm in

his camp, however difficult to be approached, and however strongly posted.

Townshend and Murray, with their brigades, were to cross the Montmorency at

low tide, below the falls, and storm the redoubt thrown up in front of the

ford. Monckton, at the same time, was to cross, with part of his brigade,

in boats from Point Levi. The ship Centurion, stationed in the channel, was

to check the fire of a battery which commanded the ford; a train of

artillery, planted on an eminence, was to enfilade the enemy's

intrenchments; and two armed, flat-bottomed boats, were to be run on shore,

near the redoubt, and favor the crossing of the troops.


As usual, in complicated orders, part were misunderstood, or neglected, and

confusion was the consequence. Many of the boats from Point Levi ran

aground on a shallow in the river, where they were exposed to a severe fire

of shot and shells. Wolfe, who was on the shore, directing every thing,

endeavored to stop his impatient troops until the boats could be got

afloat, and the men landed. Thirteen companies of grenadiers, and two

hundred provincials were the first to land. Without waiting for Brigadier

Monckton and his regiments; without waiting for the co-operation of the

troops under Townshend; without waiting even to be drawn up in form, the

grenadiers rushed impetuously towards the enemy's intrenchments. A sheeted

fire mowed them down, and drove them to take shelter behind the redoubt,

near the ford, which the enemy had abandoned. Here they remained, unable to

form under the galling fire to which they were exposed, whenever they

ventured from their covert. Monckton's brigade at length was landed, drawn

up in order, and advanced to their relief, driving back the enemy. Thus

protected, the grenadiers retreated as precipitately as they had advanced,

leaving many of their comrades wounded on the field, who were massacred and

scalped in their sight, by the savages. The delay thus caused was fatal to

the enterprise. The day was advanced; the weather became stormy; the tide

began to make; at a later hour, retreat, in case of a second repulse, would

be impossible, Wolfe, therefore, gave up the attack, and withdrew across

the river, having lost upwards of four hundred men, through this headlong

impetuosity of the grenadiers. The two vessels which had been run aground,

were set on fire, lest they should fall into the hands of the enemy.

[Footnote: Wolfe's Letter to Pitt, Sept. 2d, 1759.]


Brigadier Murray was now detached with twelve hundred men, in transports,

to ascend above the town, and co-operate with Rear-admiral Holmes, in

destroying the enemy's shipping, and making descents upon the north shore.

The shipping were safe from attack; some stores and ammunition were

destroyed; some prisoners taken, and Murray returned with the news of the

capture of Fort Niagara, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point, and that Amherst was

preparing to attack the Isle Aux Noix.


Wolfe, of a delicate constitution and sensitive nature, had been deeply

mortified by the severe check sustained at the Falls of Montmorency,

fancying himself disgraced; and these successes of his fellow-commanders in

other parts increased his self-upbraiding. The difficulties multiplying

around him, and the delay of General Amherst in hastening to his aid,

preyed incessantly on his spirits; he was dejected even to despondency, and

declared he would never return without success, to be exposed, like other

unfortunate commanders, to the sneers and reproaches of the populace. The

agitation of his mind, and his acute sensibility, brought on a fever, which

for some time incapacitated him from taking the field.


In the midst of his illness he called a council of war, in which the whole

plan of operations was altered. It was determined to convey troops above

the town, and endeavor to make a diversion in that direction, or draw

Montcalm into the open field. Before carrying this plan into effect, Wolfe

again reconnoitred the town in company with Admiral Saunders, but nothing

better suggested itself.


The brief Canadian summer was over; they were in the month of September.

The camp at Montmorency was broken up. The troops were transported to Point

Levi, leaving a sufficient number to man the batteries on the Isle of

Orleans. On the fifth and sixth of September the embarkation took place

above Point Levi, in transports which had been sent up for the purpose.

Montcalm detached De Bougainville with fifteen hundred men to keep along

the north shore above the town, watch the movements of the squadron, and

prevent a landing. To deceive him, Admiral Holmes moved with the ships of

war three leagues beyond the place where the landing was to be attempted.

He was to drop down, however, in the night, and protect the landing. Cook,

the future discoverer, also, was employed with others to sound the river

and place buoys opposite the camp of Montcalm, as if an attack were

meditated in that quarter.


Wolfe was still suffering under the effects of his late fever. "My

constitution," writes he to a friend, "is entirely ruined, without the

consolation of having done any considerable service to the state, and

without any prospect of it." Still he was unremitting in his exertions,

seeking to wipe out the fancied disgrace incurred at the Falls of

Montmorency. It was in this mood he is said to have composed and sung at

his evening mess that little campaigning song still linked with his name:


    Why, soldiers, why

  Should we be melancholy, boys?

    Why, soldiers, why?

    Whose business 'tis to die!


Even when embarked in his midnight enterprise, the presentiment of death

seems to have cast its shadow over him. A midshipman who was present,

[Footnote: Afterwards Professor John Robison, of Edinburgh.] used to

relate, that as Wolfe sat among his officers, and the boats floated down

silently with the current, he recited, in low and touching tones, Gray's

Elegy in a country churchyard, then just published. One stanza may

especially have accorded with his melancholy mood.


  "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,

    And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,

  Await alike the inevitable hour.

    The paths of glory lead but to the grave."


"Now, gentlemen," said he, when he had finished, "I would rather be the

author of that poem than take Quebec."


The descent was made in flat-bottomed boats, past midnight, on the 13th of

September. They dropped down silently with the swift current. "_Qui va

la?_" (who goes there?) cried a sentinel from the shore. "_La

France_," replied a captain in the first boat, who understood the French

language. "_A quel regiment?_" was the demand. "_De la Reine_"

(the queen's), replied the captain, knowing that regiment was in De

Bougainville's detachment. Fortunately, a convoy of provisions was expected

down from De Bougainville's, which the sentinel supposed this to be.

"_Passe_," cried he, and the boats glided on without further

challenge. The landing took place in a cove near Cape Diamond, which still

bears Wolfe's name. He had marked it in reconnoitering, and saw that a

cragged path straggled up from it to the Heights of Abraham, which might be

climbed, though with difficulty, and that it appeared to be slightly

guarded at top. Wolfe was among the first that landed and ascended up the

steep and narrow path, where not more than two could go abreast, and which

had been broken up by cross ditches. Colonel Howe, at the same time, with

the light infantry and Highlanders, scrambled up the woody precipices,

helping themselves by the roots and branches, and putting to flight a

sergeant's guard posted at the summit. Wolfe drew up the men in order as

they mounted; and by the break of day found himself in possession of the

fateful Plains of Abraham.


Montcalm was thunderstruck when word was brought to him in his camp that

the English were on the heights threatening the weakest part of the town.

Abandoning his intrenchments, he hastened across the river St. Charles and

ascended the heights, which slope up gradually from its banks. His force

was equal in number to that of the English, but a great part was made up of

colony troops and savages. When he saw the formidable host of regulars he

had to contend with, he sent off swift messengers to summon De Bougainville

with his detachment to his aid; and De Vaudreuil to reinforce him, with

fifteen hundred men from the camp. In the mean time he prepared to flank

the left of the English line and force them to the opposite precipices.

Wolfe saw his aim, and sent Brigadier Townshend to counteract him with a

regiment which was formed _en potence_, and supported by two

battalions, presenting on the left a double front.


The French, in their haste, thinking they were to repel a mere scouting

party, had brought but three light field-pieces with them; the English had

but a single gun, which the sailors had dragged up the heights. With these

they cannonaded each other for a time, Montcalm still waiting for the aid

he had summoned. At length, about nine o'clock, losing all patience, he led

on his disciplined troops to a close conflict with small arms, the Indians

to support them by a galling fire from thickets and corn-fields. The French

advanced gallantly, but irregularly; firing rapidly, but with little

effect. The English reserved their fire until their assailants were within

forty yards, and then delivered it in deadly volleys. They suffered,

however, from the lurking savages, who singled out the officers. Wolfe, who

was in front of the line, a conspicuous mark, was wounded by a ball in the

wrist. He bound his handkerchief round the wound and led on the grenadiers,

with fixed bayonets, to charge the foe, who began to waver. Another ball

struck him in the breast. He felt the wound to be mortal, and feared his

fall might dishearten the troops. Leaning on a lieutenant for support; "Let

not my brave fellows see me drop," said he faintly. He was borne off to the

rear; water was brought to quench his thirst, and he was asked if he would

have a surgeon. "It is needless," he replied; "it is all over with me." He

desired those about him to lay him down. The lieutenant seated himself on

the ground, and supported him in his arms. "They run! they run! see how

they run!" cried one of the attendants. "Who run?" demanded Wolfe,

earnestly, like one aroused from sleep. "The enemy, sir; they give way

every where." The spirit of the expiring hero flashed up. "Go, one of you,

my lads, to Colonel Burton; tell him to march Webb's regiment with all

speed down to Charles' River, to cut off the retreat by the bridge." Then

turning on his side; "Now, God be praised, I will die in peace!" said he,

and expired, [Footnote: Hist. Jour. of Capt. John Knox, vol. i., p.

79.]--soothed in his last moments by the idea that victory would obliterate

the imagined disgrace at Montmorency.


Brigadier Murray had indeed broken the centre of the enemy, and the

Highlanders were making deadly havoc with their claymores, driving the

French into the town or down to their works on the river St. Charles.

Monckton, the first brigadier, was disabled by a wound in the lungs, and

the command devolved on Townshend, who hastened to re-form the troops of

the centre, disordered in pursuing the enemy. By this time De Bougainville

appeared at a distance in the rear, advancing with two thousand fresh

troops, but he arrived too late to retrieve the day. The gallant Montcalm

had received his death-wound near St. John's Gate, while endeavoring to

rally his flying troops, and had been borne into the town.


Townshend advanced with a force to receive De Bougainville; but the latter

avoided a combat, and retired into woods and swamps, where it was not

thought prudent to follow him. The English had obtained a complete victory;

slain about five hundred of the enemy; taken above a thousand prisoners,

and among them several officers; and had a strong position on the Plains of

Abraham, which they hastened to fortify with redoubts and artillery, drawn

up the heights.


The brave Montcalm wrote a letter to General Townshend, recommending the

prisoners to British humanity. When told by his surgeon that he could not

survive above a few hours; "So much the better," replied he; "I shall not

live to see the surrender of Quebec." To De Ramsey, the French king's

lieutenant, who commanded the garrison, he consigned the defence of the

city. "To your keeping," said he, "I commend the honor of France. I'll

neither give orders, nor interfere any further. I have business to attend

to of greater moment than your ruined garrison, and this wretched country.

My time is short,--I shall pass this night with God, and prepare myself for

death. I wish you all comfort; and to be happily extricated from your

present perplexities." He then called for his chaplain, who, with the

bishop of the colony, remained with him through the night. He expired early

in the morning, dying like a brave soldier and a devout Catholic. Never did

two worthier foes mingle their life blood on the battle-field than Wolfe

and Montcalm. [Footnote: Knox; Hist. Jour., vol. i., p. 77.]


Preparations were now made by the army and the fleet to make an attack on

both upper and lower town; but the spirit of the garrison was broken, and

the inhabitants were clamorous for the safety of their wives and children.

On the 17th of September, Quebec capitulated, and was taken possession of

by the British, who hastened to put it in a complete posture of defence. A

garrison of six thousand effective men was placed in it, under the command

of Brigadier-general Murray, and victualled from the fleet. General

Townshend embarked with Admiral Saunders, and returned to England; and the

wounded General Monckton was conveyed to New York, of which he afterwards

became governor.


Had Amherst followed up his success at Ticonderoga the preceding summer,

the year's campaign would have ended, as had been projected, in the

subjugation of Canada. His cautious delay gave De Levi, the successor of

Montcalm, time to rally, concentrate the scattered French forces, and

struggle for the salvation of the province.


In the following spring, as soon as the river St. Lawrence opened, he

approached Quebec, and landed at Point an Tremble, about twelve miles off.

The garrison had suffered dreadfully during the winter from excessive cold;

want of vegetables and of fresh provisions. Many had died of scurvy, and

many more were ill. Murray, sanguine and injudicious, on hearing that De

Levi was advancing with ten thousand men, and five hundred Indians, sallied

out with his diminished forces of not more than three thousand. English

soldiers, he boasted, were habituated to victory; he had a fine train of

artillery, and stood a better chance in the field than cooped up in a

wretched fortification. If defeated, he would defend the place to the last

extremity, and then retreat to the Isle of Orleans, and wait for

reinforcements. More brave than discreet, he attacked the vanguard of the

enemy; the battle which took place was fierce and sanguinary. Murray's

troops had caught his own headlong valor, and fought until near a third of

their number were slain. They were at length driven back into the town,

leaving their boasted train of artillery on the field.


De Levi opened trenches before the town the very evening of the battle.

Three French ships, which had descended the river, furnished him with

cannon, mortars, and ammunition. By the 11th of May, he had one bomb

battery, and three batteries of cannon. Murray, equally alert within the

walls, strengthened his defences, and kept up a vigorous fire. His garrison

was now reduced to two hundred and twenty effective men, and he himself,

with all his vaunting spirit, was driven almost to despair, when a British

fleet arrived in the river. The whole scene was now reversed. One of the

French frigates was driven on the rocks above Cape Diamond; another ran on

shore, and was burnt; the rest of their vessels were either taken, or

destroyed. The besieging army retreated in the night, leaving provisions,

implements, and artillery behind them; and so rapid was their flight, that

Murray, who sallied forth on the following day, could not overtake them.


A last stand for the preservation of the colony was now made by the French

at Montreal, where De Vaudreuil fixed his headquarters, fortified himself,

and called in all possible aid, Canadian and Indian.


The cautious, but tardy Amherst was now in the field to carry out the plan

in which he had fallen short in the previous year. He sent orders to

General Murray to advance by water against Montreal, with all the force

that could be spared from Quebec; he detached a body of troops under

Colonel Haviland from Crown Point, to cross Lake Champlain, take possession

of the Isle Aux Noix, and push on to the St. Lawrence, while he took the

roundabout way with his main army by the Mohawk and Oneida rivers to Lake

Ontario; thence to descend the St. Lawrence to Montreal.


Murray, according to orders, embarked his troops in a great number of small

vessels, and ascended the river in characteristic style, publishing

manifestoes in the Canadian villages, disarming the inhabitants, and

exacting the oath of neutrality. He looked forward to new laurels at

Montreal, but the slow and sure Amherst had anticipated him. That worthy

general, after delaying on Lake Ontario to send out cruisers, and stopping

to repair petty forts on the upper part of the St. Lawrence, which had been

deserted by their garrisons, or surrendered without firing a gun, arrived

on the 6th of September at the island of Montreal, routed some light

skirmishing parties, and presented himself before the town. Vaudreuil found

himself threatened by an army of nearly ten thousand men, and a host of

Indians; for Amherst had called in the aid of Sir William Johnson, and his

Mohawk braves. To withstand a siege in an almost open town against such

superior force, was out of the question; especially as Murray from Quebec,

and Haviland from Crown Point, were at hand with additional troops. A

capitulation accordingly took place on the 8th of September, including the

surrender not merely of Montreal, but of all Canada.


Thus ended the contest between France and England for dominion in America,

in which, as has been said, the first gun was fired in Washington's

encounter with De Jumonville. A French statesman and diplomatist consoled

himself by the persuasion that it would be a fatal triumph to England. It

would remove the only check by which her colonies were kept in awe. "They

will no longer need her protection," said he; "she will call on them to

contribute toward supporting the burdens they have helped to bring on her,

and _they will answer by striking off_ all _dependence_."

[Footnote: Count de Vergennes, French ambassador at Constantinople.]













For three months after his marriage, Washington resided with his bride at

the "White House." During his sojourn there, he repaired to Williamsburg,

to take his seat in the House of Burgesses. By a vote of the House, it had

been determined to greet his instalment by a signal testimonial of respect.

Accordingly, as soon as he took his seat, Mr. Robinson, the Speaker, in

eloquent language, dictated by the warmth of private friendship, returned

thanks, on behalf of the colony, for the distinguished military services he

had rendered to his country.


Washington rose to reply; blushed-stammered-trembled, and could not utter a

word. "Sit down, Mr. Washington," said the Speaker, with a smile; "your

modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power of any language I



Such was Washington's first launch into civil life, in which he was to be

distinguished by the same judgment, devotion, courage, and magnanimity

exhibited in his military career. He attended the House frequently during

the remainder of the session, after which he conducted his bride to his

favorite abode of Mount Vernon.


Mr. Custis, the first husband of Mrs. Washington, had left large landed

property, and forty-five thousand pounds sterling in money. One third fell

to his widow in her own right; two thirds were inherited equally by her two

children,--a boy of six, and a girl of four years of age. By a decree of

the General Court, Washington was intrusted with the care of the property

inherited by the children; a sacred and delicate trust, which he discharged

in the most faithful and judicious manner; becoming more like a parent,

than a mere guardian to them.


From a letter to his correspondent in England, it would appear that he had

long entertained a desire to visit that country. Had he done so, his

acknowledged merit and military services would have insured him a

distinguished reception; and it has been intimated, that the signal favor

of government might have changed the current of his career. We believe him,

however, to have been too pure a patriot, and too clearly possessed of the

true interests of his country, to be diverted from the course which he

ultimately adopted. His marriage, at any rate, had put an end to all

travelling inclinations. In his letter from Mount Vernon, he writes: "I am

now, I believe, fixed in this seat, with an agreeable partner for life, and

I hope to find more happiness in retirement than I ever experienced in the

wide and bustling world."


This was no Utopian dream transiently indulged, amid the charms of novelty.

It was a deliberate purpose with him, the result of innate and enduring

inclinations. Throughout the whole course of his career, agricultural life

appears to have been his _beau ideal_ of existence, which haunted his

thoughts even amid the stern duties of the field, and to which he recurred

with unflagging interest whenever enabled to indulge his natural bias.


Mount Vernon was his harbor of repose, where he repeatedly furled his sail,

and fancied himself anchored for life. No impulse of ambition tempted him

thence; nothing but the call of his country, and his devotion to the public

good. The place was endeared to him by the remembrance of his brother

Lawrence, and of the happy days he had passed here with that brother in the

days of boyhood; but it was a delightful place in itself, and well

calculated to inspire the rural feeling.


The mansion was beautifully situated on a swelling height, crowned with

wood, and commanding a magnificent view up and down the Potomac. The

grounds immediately about it were laid out somewhat in the English taste.

The estate was apportioned into separate farms, devoted to different kinds

of culture, each having its allotted laborers. Much, however, was still

covered with wild woods, seamed with deep dells and runs of water, and

indented with inlets; haunts of deer, and lurking-places of foxes. The

whole woody region along the Potomac from Mount Vernon to Belvoir, and far

beyond, with its range of forests and hills, and picturesque promontories,

afforded sport of various kinds, and was a noble hunting-ground. Washington

had hunted through it with old Lord Fairfax in his stripling days; we do

not wonder that his feelings throughout life incessantly reverted to it.


"No estate in United America," observes he, in one of his letters, "is more

pleasantly situated. In a high and healthy country; in a latitude between

the extremes of heat and cold; on one of the finest rivers in the world; a

river well stocked with various kinds of fish at all seasons of the year,

and in the spring with shad, herrings, bass, carp, sturgeon, &c., in great

abundance. The borders of the estate are washed by more than ten miles of

tide water; several valuable fisheries appertain to it: the whole shore, in

fact, is one entire fishery."


These were, as yet, the aristocratical days of Virginia. The estates were

large, and continued in the same families by entails. Many of the wealthy

planters were connected with old families in England. The young men,

especially the elder sons, were often sent to finish their education there,

and on their return brought out the tastes and habits of the mother

country. The governors of Virginia were from the higher ranks of society,

and maintained a corresponding state. The "established," or Episcopal

church, predominated throughout the "ancient dominion," as it was termed;

each county was divided into parishes, as in England,--each with its

parochial church, its parsonage, and glebe. Washington was vestryman of two

parishes, Fairfax and Truro; the parochial church of the former was at

Alexandria, ten miles from Mount Vernon; of the latter, at Pohick, about

seven miles. The church at Pohick was rebuilt on a plan of his own, and in

a great measure at his expense. At one or other of these churches he

attended every Sunday, when the weather and the roads permitted. His

demeanor was reverential and devout. Mrs. Washington knelt during the

prayers; he always stood, as was the custom at that time. Both were



Among his occasional visitors and associates were Captain Hugh Mercer and

Dr. Craik; the former, after his narrow escapes from the tomahawk and

scalping-knife, was quietly settled at Fredericksburg; the latter, after

the campaigns on the frontier were over, had taken up his residence at

Alexandria, and was now Washington's family physician. Both were drawn to

him by campaigning ties and recollections, and were ever welcome at Mount



A style of living prevailed among the opulent Virginian families in those

days that has long since faded away. The houses were spacious, commodious,

liberal in all their appointments, and fitted to cope with the free-handed,

open-hearted hospitality of the owners. Nothing was more common than to see

handsome services of plate, elegant equipages, and superb carriage

horses--all imported from England.


The Virginians have always been noted for their love of horses; a manly

passion which, in those days of opulence, they indulged without regard to

expense. The rich planters vied with each other in their studs, importing

the best English stocks. Mention is made of one of the Randolphs of

Tuckahoe, who built a stable for his favorite dapple-gray horse,

Shakespeare, with a recess for the bed of the negro groom, who always slept

beside him at night.


Washington, by his marriage, had added above one hundred thousand dollars

to his already considerable fortune, and was enabled to live in ample and

dignified style. His intimacy with the Fairfaxes, and his intercourse with

British officers of rank, had perhaps had their influence on his mode of

living. He had his chariot and four, with black postilions in livery, for

the use of Mrs. Washington and her lady visitors. As for himself, he always

appeared on horseback. His stable was well filled and admirably regulated.

His stud was thoroughbred and in excellent order. His household books

contain registers of the names, ages, and marks of his various horses; such

as Ajax, Blueskin, Valiant, Magnolia (an Arab), &c. Also his dogs, chiefly

fox-hounds, Vulcan, Singer, Ringwood, Sweetlips, Forrester, Music,

Rockwood, Truelove, &c. [Footnote: In one of his letter-books we find

orders on his London agent for riding equipments. For example:


1 Man's riding-saddle, hogskin seat, large plated stirrups and every thing

complete. Double reined bridle and Pelham bit, plated.


A very neat and fashionable Newmarket saddle-cloth.


A large and best portmanteau, saddle, bridle, and pillion.


Cloak-bag surcingle; checked saddle-cloth, holsters, &c.


A riding-frock of a handsome drab-colored broadcloth, with plain double

gilt buttons.


A riding waistcoat of superfine scarlet cloth and gold lace, with buttons

like those of the coat.


A blue surtout coat.


A neat switch whip, silver cap.


Black velvet cap for servant.]


A large Virginia estate, in those days, was a little empire. The

mansion-house was the seat of government, with its numerous dependencies,

such as kitchens, smoke-house, workshops and stables. In this mansion the

planter ruled supreme; his steward or overseer was his prime minister and

executive officer; he had his legion of house negroes for domestic service,

and his host of field negroes for the culture of tobacco, Indian corn, and

other crops, and for other out of door labor. Their quarter formed a kind

of hamlet apart, composed of various huts, with little gardens and poultry

yards, all well stocked, and swarms of little negroes gambolling in the

sunshine. Then there were large wooden edifices for curing tobacco, the

staple and most profitable production, and mills for grinding wheat and

Indian corn, of which large fields were cultivated for the supply of the

family and the maintenance of the negroes.


Among the slaves were artificers of all kinds, tailors, shoemakers,

carpenters, smiths, wheelwrights, and so forth; so that a plantation

produced every thing within itself for ordinary use: as to articles of

fashion and elegance, luxuries, and expensive clothing, they were imported

from London; for the planters on the main rivers, especially the Potomac,

carried on an immediate trade with England. Their tobacco was put up by

their own negroes, bore their own marks, was shipped on board of vessels

which came up the rivers for the purpose, and consigned to some agent in

Liverpool or Bristol, with whom the planter kept an account.


The Virginia planters were prone to leave the care of their estates too

much to their overseers, and to think personal labor a degradation.

Washington carried into his rural affairs the same method, activity, and

circumspection that had distinguished him in military life. He kept his own

accounts, posted up his books and balanced them with mercantile exactness.

We have examined them as well as his diaries recording his daily

occupations, and his letter-books, containing entries of shipments of

tobacco, and correspondence with his London agents. They are monuments of

his business habits. [Footnote: The following letter of Washington to his

London correspondents will give an idea of the early intercourse of the

Virginia planters with the mother country.


"Our goods by the Liberty, Capt. Walker, came to hand in good order and

soon after his arrival, as they generally do when shipped in a vessel to

this river [the Potomac], and scarce ever when they go to any others; for

it don't often happen that a vessel bound to one river has goods of any

consequence to another; and the masters, in these cases, keep the packages

till an accidental conveyance offers, and for want of better opportunities

frequently commit them to boatmen who care very little for the goods so

they get their freight, and often land them wherever it suits their

convenience, not where they have engaged to do so. ... A ship from London

to Virginia may be in Rappahannock or any of the other rivers three months

before I know any thing of their arrival, and may make twenty voyages

without my seeing or even hearing of the captain."]


The products of his estate also became so noted for the faithfulness, as to

quality and quantity, with which they were put up, that it is said any

barrel of flour that bore the brand of George Washington, Mount Vernon, was

exempted from the customary inspection in the West India ports. [Footnote:

Speech of the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop on laying the corner-stone of

Washington's Monument.]


He was an early riser, often before daybreak in the winter when the nights

were long. On such occasions he lit his own fire and wrote or read by

candle-light. He breakfasted at seven in summer, at eight in winter. Two

small cups of tea and three or four cakes of Indian meal (called hoe

cakes), formed his frugal repast. Immediately after breakfast he mounted

his horse and visited those parts of the estate where any work was going

on, seeing to every thing with his own eyes, and often aiding with his own



Dinner was served at two o'clock. He ate heartily, but was no epicure, nor

critical about his food. His beverage was small beer or cider, and two

glasses of old Madeira. He took tea, of which he was very fond, early in

the evening, and retired for the night about nine o'clock.


If confined to the house by bad weather, he took that occasion to arrange

his papers, post up his accounts, or write letters; passing part of the

time in reading, and occasionally reading aloud to the family.


He treated his negroes with kindness; attended to their comforts; was

particularly careful of them in sickness; but never tolerated idleness, and

exacted a faithful performance of all their allotted tasks. He had a quick

eye at calculating each man's capabilities. An entry in his diary gives a

curious instance of this. Four of his negroes, employed as carpenters, were

hewing and shaping timber. It appeared to him, in noticing the amount of

work accomplished between two succeeding mornings, that they loitered at

their labor. Sitting down quietly he timed their operations; how long it

took them to get their cross-cut saw and other implements ready; how long

to clear away the branches from the trunk of a fallen tree; how long to hew

and saw it; what time was expended in considering and consulting, and after

all, how much work was effected during the time he looked on. From this he

made his computation how much they could execute in the course of a day,

working entirely at their ease.


At another time we find him working for a part of two days with Peter, his

smith, to make a plough on a new invention of his own. This, after two or

three failures, he accomplished. Then, with less than his usual judgment,

he put his two chariot horses to the plough, and ran a great risk of

spoiling them, in giving his new invention a trial over ground thickly



Anon, during a thunderstorm, a frightened negro alarms the house with word

that the mill is giving way, upon which there is a general turn out of all

the forces, with Washington at their head, wheeling and shovelling gravel,

during a pelting rain, to check the rushing water.


Washington delighted in the chase. In the hunting season, when he rode out

early in the morning to visit distant parts of the estate, where work was

going on, he often took some of the dogs with him for the chance of

starting a fox, which he occasionally did, though he was not always

successful in killing him. He was a bold rider and an admirable horseman,

though he never claimed the merit of being an accomplished fox-hunter. In

the height of the season, however, he would be out with the foxhounds two

or three times a week, accompanied by his guests at Mount Vernon and the

gentlemen of the neighborhood, especially the Fairfaxes of Belvoir, of

which estate his friend George William Fairfax was now the proprietor. On

such occasions there would be a hunting dinner at one or other of those

establishments, at which convivial repasts Washington is said to have

enjoyed himself with unwonted hilarity.


Now and then his old friend and instructor in the noble art of venery, Lord

Fairfax, would be on a visit to his relatives at Belvoir, and then the

hunting was kept up with unusual spirit. [Footnote: Hunting memoranda from

Washington's journal, Mount Vernon.


Nov. 22.--Hunting with Lord Fairfax and his brother, and Colonel Fairfax.


Nov. 25.--Mr. Bryan Fairfax, Mr. Grayson, and Phil. Alexander came here by

sunrise. Hunted and catched a fox with these, Lord Fairfax, his brother,

and Col. Fairfax,--all of whom, with Mr. Fairfax and Mr. Wilson of England,

dined here. 26th and 29th.--Hunted again with the same company.


Dec. 5.--Fox-hunting with Lord Fairfax and his brother, and Colonel

Fairfax. Started a fox and lost it. Dined at Belvoir, and returned in the



His lordship, however, since the alarms of Indian war had ceased, lived

almost entirely at Greenway Court, where Washington was occasionally a

guest, when called by public business to Winchester. Lord Fairfax had made

himself a favorite throughout the neighborhood. As lord-lieutenant and

custos rotulorum of Frederick County, he presided at county courts held at

Winchester, where, during the sessions, he kept open table. He acted also

as surveyor and overseer of the public roads and highways, and was

unremitted in his exertions and plans for the improvement of the country.

Hunting, however, was his passion. When the sport was poor near home, he

would take his hounds to a distant part of the country, establish himself

at an inn, and keep open house and open table to every person of good

character and respectable appearance who chose to join him in following the



It was probably in quest of sport of the kind that he now and then, in the

hunting season, revisited his old haunts and former companions on the banks

of the Potomac, and then the beautiful woodland region about Belvoir and

Mount Vernon was sure to ring at early morn with the inspiring music of the



The waters of the Potomac also afforded occasional amusement in fishing and

shooting. The fishing was sometimes on a grand scale, when the herrings

came up the river in shoals, and the negroes of Mount Vernon were

marshalled forth to draw the seine, which was generally done with great

success. Canvas-back ducks abounded at the proper season, and the shooting

of them was one of Washington's favorite recreations. The river border of

his domain, however, was somewhat subject to invasion. An oysterman once

anchored his craft at the landing-place, and disturbed the quiet of the

neighborhood by the insolent and disorderly conduct of himself and crew. It

took a campaign of three days to expel these invaders from the premises.


A more summary course was pursued with another interloper. This was a

vagabond who infested the creeks and inlets which bordered the estate,

lurking in a canoe among the reeds and bushes, and making great havoc among

the canvas-back ducks. He had been warned off repeatedly, but without

effect. As Washington was one day riding about the estate he heard the

report of a gun from the margin of the river. Spurring in that direction he

dashed through the bushes and came upon the culprit just as he was pushing

his canoe from shore. The latter raised his gun with a menacing look; but

Washington rode into the stream, seized the painter of the canoe, drew it

to shore, sprang from his horse, wrested the gun from the hands of the

astonished delinquent, and inflicted on him a lesson in "Lynch law" that

effectually cured him of all inclination to trespass again on these

forbidden shores.


The Potomac, in the palmy days of Virginia, was occasionally the scene of a

little aquatic state and ostentation among the rich planters who resided on

its banks. They had beautiful barges, which, like their land equipages,

were imported from England; and mention is made of a Mr. Digges who always

received Washington in his barge, rowed by six negroes, arrayed in a kind

of uniform of check shirts and black velvet caps. At one time, according to

notes in Washington's diary, the whole neighborhood is thrown into a

paroxysm of festivity, by the anchoring of a British frigate (the Boston)

in the river, just in front of the hospitable mansion of the Fairfaxes. A

succession of dinners and breakfasts takes place at Mount Vernon and

Belvoir, with occasional tea parties on board of the frigate. The

commander, Sir Thomas Adams, his officers, and his midshipmen, are

cherished guests, and have the freedom of both establishments.


Occasionally he and Mrs. Washington would pay a visit to Annapolis, at that

time the seat of government of Maryland, and partake of the gayeties which

prevailed during the session of the legislature. The society of these seats

of provincial governments was always polite and fashionable, and more

exclusive than in these republican days, being, in a manner, the outposts

of the English aristocracy, where all places of dignity or profit were

secured for younger sons, and poor, but proud relatives. During the session

of the Legislature, dinners and balls abounded, and there were occasional

attempts at theatricals. The latter was an amusement for which Washington

always had a relish, though he never had an opportunity of gratifying it

effectually. Neither was he disinclined to mingle in the dance, and we

remember to have heard venerable ladies, who had been belles in his day,

pride themselves on having had him for a partner, though, they added, he

was apt to be a ceremonious and grave one. [Footnote: We have had an

amusing picture of Annapolis, as it was at this period, furnished to us,

some years since by an octogenarian who had resided there in his boyhood.

"In those parts of the country," said he, "where the roads were too rough

for carriages, the ladies used to ride on ponies, followed by black

servants on horseback; in this way his mother, then advanced in life, used

to travel, in a scarlet cloth riding habit, which she had procured from

England. Nay, in this way, on emergencies," he added, "the young ladies

from the country used to come to the balls at Annapolis, riding with their

hoops arranged 'fore and aft' like lateen sails; and after dancing all

night, would ride home again in the morning."]


In this round of rural occupation, rural amusements, and social

intercourse, Washington passed several tranquil years, the halcyon season

of his life. His already established reputation drew many visitors to Mount

Vernon; some of his early companions in arms were his occasional guests,

and his friendships and connections linked him with some of the most

prominent and worthy people of the country, who were sure to be received

with cordial, but simple and unpretending hospitality. His marriage was

unblessed with children; but those of Mrs. Washington experienced from him

parental care and affection, and the formation of their minds and manners

was one of the dearest objects of his attention. His domestic concerns and

social enjoyments, however, were not permitted to interfere with his public

duties. He was active by nature, and eminently a man of business by habit.

As judge of the county court, and member of the House of Burgesses, he had

numerous calls upon his time and thoughts, and was often drawn from home;

for whatever trust he undertook, he was sure to fulfil with scrupulous



About this time we find him engaged, with other men of enterprise, in a

project to drain the great Dismal Swamp, and render it capable of

cultivation. This vast morass was about thirty miles long, and ten miles

wide, and its interior but little known. With his usual zeal and hardihood

he explored it on horseback and on foot. In many parts it was covered with

dark and gloomy woods of cedar, cypress, and hemlock, or deciduous trees,

the branches of which were hung with long drooping moss. Other parts were

almost inaccessible, from the density of brakes and thickets, entangled

with vines, briers, and creeping plants, and intersected by creeks and

standing pools. Occasionally the soil, composed of dead vegetable fibre,

was over his horse's fetlocks, and sometimes he had to dismount and make

his way on foot over a quaking bog that shook beneath his tread.


In the centre of the morass he came to a great piece of water, six miles

long, and three broad, called Drummond's Pond, but more poetically

celebrated as the Lake of the Dismal Swamp. It was more elevated than any

other part of the swamp, and capable of feeding canals, by which the whole

might be traversed. Having made the circuit of it, and noted all its

characteristics, he encamped for the night upon the firm land which

bordered it, and finished his explorations on the following day.


In the ensuing session of the Virginia Legislature, the association in

behalf of which he had acted, was chartered under the name of the Dismal

Swamp Company; and to his observations and forecast may be traced the

subsequent improvement and prosperity of that once desolate region.















Tidings of peace gladdened the colonies in the spring of 1763. The

definitive treaty between England and France had been signed at

Fontainbleau. Now, it was trusted, there would be an end to those horrid

ravages that had desolated the interior of the country. "The desert and the

silent place would rejoice, and the wilderness would blossom like the



The month of May proved the fallacy of such hopes. In that month the famous

insurrection of the Indian tribes broke out, which, from the name of the

chief who was its prime mover and master spirit, is commonly called

Pontiac's war. The Delawares and Shawnees, and other of those emigrant

tribes of the Ohio, among whom Washington had mingled, were foremost in

this conspiracy. Some of the chiefs who had been his allies, had now taken

up the hatchet against the English. The plot was deep laid, and conducted

with. Indian craft and secrecy. At a concerted time an attack was made upon

all the posts from Detroit to Fort Pitt (late Fort Duquesne). Several of

the small stockaded forts, the places of refuge of woodland neighborhoods,

were surprised and sacked with remorseless butchery. The frontiers of

Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, were laid waste; traders in the

wilderness were plundered and slain; hamlets and farmhouses were wrapped in

flames, and their inhabitants massacred. Shingis, with his Delaware

warriors, blockaded Fort Pitt, which, for some time, was in imminent

danger. Detroit, also, came near falling into the hands of the savages. It

needed all the influence of Sir William Johnson, that potentate in savage

life, to keep the Six Nations from joining this formidable conspiracy; had

they done so, the triumph of the tomahawk and scalping knife would have

been complete; as it was, a considerable time elapsed before the frontier

was restored to tolerable tranquillity.


Fortunately, Washington's retirement from the army prevented his being

entangled in this savage war, which raged throughout the regions he had

repeatedly visited, or rather his active spirit had been diverted into a

more peaceful channel, for he was at this time occupied in the enterprise

just noticed, for draining the great Dismal Swamp.


Public events were now taking a tendency which, without any political

aspiration or forethought of his own, was destined gradually to bear him

away from his quiet home and individual pursuits, and launch him upon a

grander and wider sphere of action than any in which he had hitherto been



The prediction of the Count de Vergennes was in the process of fulfilment.

The recent war of Great Britain for dominion in America, though crowned

with success, had engendered a progeny of discontents in her colonies.

Washington was among the first to perceive its bitter fruits. British

merchants had complained loudly of losses sustained by the depreciation of

the colonial paper, issued during the late war, in times of emergency, and

had addressed a memorial on the subject to the Board of Trade. Scarce was

peace concluded, when an order from the board declared that no paper,

issued by colonial Assemblies, should thenceforward be a legal tender in

the payment of debts. Washington deprecated this "stir of the merchants" as

peculiarly ill-timed; and expressed an apprehension that the orders in

question "would get the whole country in flames."


We do not profess, in this personal memoir, to enter into a wide scope of

general history, but shall content ourselves with a glance at the

circumstances and events which gradually kindled the conflagration thus

apprehended by the anxious mind of Washington.


Whatever might be the natural affection of the colonies for the mother

country,--and there are abundant evidences to prove that it was deep-rooted

and strong,--it had never been properly reciprocated. They yearned to be

considered as children; they were treated by her as changelings. Burke

testifies that her policy toward them from the beginning had been purely

commercial, and her commercial policy wholly restrictive. "It was the

system of a monopoly."


Her navigation laws had shut their ports against foreign vessels; obliged

them to export their productions only to countries belonging to the British

crown; to import European goods solely from England, and in English ships;

and had subjected the trade between the colonies to duties. All

manufactures, too, in the colonies that might interfere with those of the

mother country had been either totally prohibited, or subjected to

intolerable restraints.


The acts of Parliament, imposing these prohibitions and restrictions, had

at various times produced sore discontent and opposition on the part of the

colonies, especially among those of New England. The interests of these

last were chiefly commercial, and among them the republican spirit

predominated. They had sprung into existence during that part of the reign

of James I. when disputes ran high about kingly prerogative and popular



The Pilgrims, as they styled themselves, who founded Plymouth Colony in

1620, had been incensed while in England by what they stigmatized as the

oppressions of the monarchy, and the established church. They had sought

the wilds of America for the indulgence of freedom of opinion, and had

brought with them the spirit of independence and self-government. Those who

followed them in the reign of Charles I. were imbued with the same spirit,

and gave a lasting character to the people of New England.


Other colonies, having been formed under other circumstances, might be

inclined toward a monarchical government, and disposed to acquiesce in its

exactions; but the republican spirit was ever alive in New England,

watching over "natural and chartered rights," and prompt to defend them

against any infringement. Its example and instigation had gradually an

effect on the other colonies; a general impatience was evinced from time to

time of parliamentary interference in colonial affairs, and a disposition

in the various provincial Legislatures to think and act for themselves in

matters of civil and religious, as well as commercial polity.


There was nothing, however, to which the jealous sensibilities of the

colonies were more alive than to any attempt of the mother country to draw

a revenue from them by taxation. From the earliest period of their

existence, they had maintained the principle that they could only be taxed

by a Legislature in which they were represented. Sir Robert Walpole, when

at the head of the British government, was aware of their jealous

sensibility on this point, and cautious of provoking it. When American

taxation was suggested, "it must be a bolder man than himself," he replied,

"and one less friendly to commerce, who should venture on such an

expedient. For his part, he would encourage the trade of the colonies to

the utmost; one half of the profits would be sure to come into the royal

exchequer through the increased demand for British manufactures.

_This_" said he, sagaciously, "_is taxing them more agreeably to

their own constitution and laws_."


Subsequent ministers adopted a widely different policy. During the progress

of the French war, various projects were discussed in England with regard

to the colonies, which were to be carried into effect on the return of

peace. The open avowal of some of these plans, and vague rumors of others,

more than ever irritated the jealous feelings of the colonists, and put the

dragon spirit of New England on the alert.


In 1760, there was an attempt in Boston to collect duties on foreign sugar

and molasses imported into the colonies. Writs of assistance were applied

for by the custom-house officers, authorizing them to break open ships,

stores, and private dwellings, in quest of articles that had paid no duty;

and to call the assistance of others in the discharge of their odious task.

The merchants opposed the execution of the writ on constitutional grounds.

The question was argued in court, where James Otis spoke so eloquently in

vindication of American rights, that all his hearers went away ready to

take arms against writs of assistance. "Then and there," says John Adams,

who was present, "was the first scene of opposition to the arbitrary claims

of Great Britain. Then and there American Independence was born."


Another ministerial measure was to instruct the provincial governors to

commission judges. Not as theretofore "during good behavior," but "during

the king's pleasure." New York was the first to resent this blow at the

independence of the judiciary. The lawyers appealed to the public through

the press against an act which subjected the halls of justice to the

prerogative. Their appeals were felt beyond the bounds of the province, and

awakened a general spirit of resistance.


Thus matters stood at the conclusion of the war. One of the first measures

of ministers, on the return of peace, was to enjoin on all naval officers

stationed on the coasts of the American colonies the performance, under

oath, of the duties of custom-house officers, for the suppression of

smuggling. This fell ruinously upon a clandestine trade which had long been

connived at between the English and Spanish colonies, profitable to both,

but especially to the former, and beneficial to the mother country, opening

a market to her manufactures.


"Men-of-war," says Burke, "were for the first time armed with the regular

commissions of custom-house officers, invested the coasts, and gave the

collection of revenue the air of hostile contribution. ... They fell so

indiscriminately on all sorts of contraband, or supposed contraband, that

some of the most valuable branches of trade were driven violently from our

ports, which caused an universal consternation throughout the colonies."

[Footnote: Burke on the state of the nation.]


As a measure of retaliation, the colonists resolved not to purchase British

fabrics, but to clothe themselves as much as possible in home manufactures.

The demand for British goods in Boston alone was diminished upwards of

£10,000 sterling in the course of a year.


In 1764, George Grenville, now at the head of government, ventured upon the

policy from which Walpole had so wisely abstained. Early in March the

eventful question was debated, "whether they had a right to tax America."

It was decided in the affirmative. Next followed a resolution, declaring it

proper to charge certain stamp duties in the colonies and plantations, but

no immediate step was taken to carry it into effect. Mr. Grenville,

however, gave notice to the American agents in London, that he should

introduce such a measure on the ensuing session of Parliament. In the mean

time Parliament perpetuated certain duties on sugar and

molasses--heretofore subjects of complaint and opposition--now reduced and

modified so as to discourage smuggling, and thereby to render them more

productive. Duties, also, were imposed on other articles of foreign produce

or manufacture imported into the colonies. To reconcile the latter to these

impositions, it was stated that the revenue thus raised was to be

appropriated to their protection and security; in other words, to the

support of a standing army, intended to be quartered upon them.


We have here briefly stated but a part of what Burke terms an "infinite

variety of paper chains," extending through no less than twenty-nine acts

of Parliament, from 1660 to 1764, by which the colonies had been held in



The New Englanders were the first to take the field against the project of

taxation. They denounced it as a violation of their rights as freemen; of

their chartered rights, by which they were to tax themselves for their

support and defence; of their rights as British subjects, who ought not to

be taxed but by themselves or their representatives. They sent petitions

and remonstrances on the subject to the king, the lords and the commons, in

which they were seconded by New York and Virginia. Franklin appeared in

London at the head of agents from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and South

Carolina, to deprecate, in person, measures so fraught with mischief. The

most eloquent arguments were used by British orators and statesmen to

dissuade Grenville from enforcing them. He was warned of the sturdy

independence of the colonists, and the spirit of resistance he might

provoke. All was in vain. Grenville, "great in daring and little in views,"

says Horace Walpole, "was charmed to have an untrodden field before him of

calculation and experiment." In March, 1765, the act was passed, according

to which all instruments in writing were to be executed on stamped paper,

to be purchased from the agents of the British government. What was more:

all offences against the act could be tried in any royal, marine or

admiralty court throughout the colonies, however distant from the place

where the offence had been committed; thus interfering with that most

inestimable right, a trial by jury.


It was an ominous sign that the first burst of opposition to this act

should take place in Virginia. That colony had hitherto been slow to accord

with the republican spirit of New England. Founded at an earlier period of

the reign of James I., before kingly prerogative and ecclesiastical

supremacy had been made matters of doubt and fierce dispute, it had grown

up in loyal attachment to king, church, and constitution; was

aristocratical in its tastes and habits, and had been remarked above all

the other colonies for its sympathies with the mother country. Moreover, it

had not so many pecuniary interests involved in these questions as had the

people of New England, being an agricultural rather than a commercial

province; but the Virginians are of a quick and generous spirit, readily

aroused on all points of honorable pride, and they resented the stamp act

as an outrage on their rights.


Washington occupied his seat in the House of Burgesses, when, on the 29th

of May, the stamp act became a subject of discussion. We have seen no

previous opinions of his on the subject. His correspondence hitherto had

not turned on political or speculative themes; being engrossed by either

military or agricultural matters, and evincing little anticipation of the

vortex of public duties into which he was about to be drawn. All his

previous conduct and writings show a loyal devotion to the crown, with a

patriotic attachment to his country. It is probable that on the present

occasion that latent patriotism received its first electric shock.


Among the Burgesses sat Patrick Henry, a young lawyer who had recently

distinguished himself by pleading against the exercise of the royal

prerogative in church matters, and who was now for the first time a member

of the House. Rising in his place, he introduced his celebrated

resolutions, declaring that the General Assembly of Virginia had the

exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the

inhabitants, and that whoever maintained the contrary should be deemed an

enemy to the colony.


The speaker, Mr. Robinson, objected to the resolutions, as inflammatory.

Henry vindicated them, as justified by the nature of the case; went into an

able and constitutional discussion of colonial rights, and an eloquent

exposition of the manner in which they had been assailed; wound up by one

of those daring flights of declamation for which he was remarkable, and

startled the House by a warning flash from history: "Caesar had his Brutus;

Charles his Cromwell, and George the Third--('Treason! treason!' resounded

from the neighborhood of the Chair)--may profit by their examples," added

Henry. "Sir, if this be treason (bowing to the speaker), make the most of



The resolutions were modified, to accommodate them to the scruples of the

speaker and some of the members, but their spirit was retained. The

Lieutenant-governor (Fauquier), startled by this patriotic outbreak,

dissolved the Assembly, and issued writs for a new election; but the

clarion had sounded. "The resolves of the Assembly of Virginia," says a

correspondent of the ministry, "gave the signal for a general outcry over

the continent. The movers and supporters of them were applauded as the

protectors and assertors of American liberty." [Footnote: Letter to

Secretary Conway, New York, Sept. 23.--_Parliamentary Register_.]















Washington returned to Mount Vernon full of anxious thoughts inspired by

the political events of the day, and the legislative scene which he

witnessed. His recent letters had spoken of the state of peaceful

tranquillity in which he was living; those now written from his rural home

show that he fully participated in the popular feeling, and that while he

had a presentiment of an arduous struggle, his patriotic mind was revolving

means of coping with it. Such is the tenor of a letter written to his

wife's uncle, Francis Dandridge, then in London. "The stamp act," said he,

"engrosses the conversation of the speculative part of the colonists, who

look upon this unconstitutional method of taxation as a direful attack upon

their liberties, and loudly exclaim against the violation. What may be the

result of this, and of some other (I think I may add ill-judged) measures,

I will not undertake to determine; but this I may venture to affirm, that

the advantage accruing to the mother country will fall greatly short of the

expectation of the ministry; for certain it is, that our whole substance

already in a manner flows to Great Britain, and that whatsoever contributes

to lessen our importations must be hurtful to her manufactures. The eyes of

our people already begin to be opened; and they will perceive, that many

luxuries, for which we lavish our substance in Great Britain, can well be

dispensed with. This, consequently, will introduce frugality, and be a

necessary incitement to industry. ... As to the stamp act, regarded in a

single view, one of the first bad consequences attending it, is, that our

courts of judicature must inevitably be shut up; for it is impossible, or

next to impossible, under our present circumstances, that the act of

Parliament can be complied with, were we ever so willing to enforce its

execution. And not to say (which alone would be sufficient) that we have

not money enough to pay for the stamps, there are many other cogent reasons

which prove that it would be ineffectual."


A letter of the same date to his agents in London, of ample length and

minute in all its details, shows that, while deeply interested in the

course of public affairs, his practical mind was enabled thoroughly and

ably to manage the financial concerns of his estate and of the estate of

Mrs. Washington's son, John Parke Custis, towards whom, he acted the part

of a faithful and affectionate guardian. In those days, Virginia planters

were still in direct and frequent correspondence with their London factors;

and Washington's letters respecting his shipments of tobacco, and the

returns required in various articles for household and personal use, are

perfect models for a man of business. And this may be remarked throughout

his whole career, that no pressure of events nor multiplicity of cares

prevented a clear, steadfast, undercurrent of attention to domestic

affairs, and the interest and well-being of all dependent upon him.


In the mean time, from his quiet abode at Mount Vernon, he seemed to hear

the patriotic voice of Patrick Henry, which had startled the House of

Burgesses, echoing throughout the land, and rousing one legislative body

after another to follow the example of that of Virginia. At the instigation

of the General Court or Assembly of Massachusetts, a Congress was held in

New York in October, composed of delegates from Massachusetts, Rhode

Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware,

Maryland, and South Carolina. In this they denounced the acts of Parliament

imposing taxes on them without their consent, and extending the

jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty, as violations of their rights and

liberties as natural born subjects of Great Britain, and prepared an

address to the king, and a petition to both Houses of Parliament, praying

for redress. Similar petitions were forwarded to England by the colonies

not represented in the Congress.


The very preparations for enforcing the stamp act called forth popular

tumults in various places. In Boston the stamp distributor was hanged in

effigy; his windows were broken; a house intended for a stamp office was

pulled down, and the effigy burnt in a bonfire made of the fragments. The

lieutenant-governor, chief justice, and sheriff, attempting to allay the

tumult, were pelted. The stamp officer thought himself happy to be hanged

merely in effigy, and next day publicly renounced the perilous office.


Various were the proceedings in other places, all manifesting public scorn

and defiance of the act. In Virginia, Mr. George Mercer had been appointed

distributor of stamps, but on his arrival at Williamsburg publicly declined

officiating. It was a fresh triumph to the popular cause. The bells were

rung for joy; the town was illuminated, and Mercer was hailed with

acclamations of the people. [Footnote: Holmes's Annals, vol. ii., p. 138.]


The 1st of November, the day when the act was to go into operation, was

ushered in with portentous solemnities. There was great tolling of bells

and burning of effigies in the New England colonies. At Boston the ships

displayed their colors but half-mast high. Many shops were shut; funeral

knells resounded from the steeples, and there was a grand auto-da-fe, in

which the promoters of the act were paraded, and suffered martyrdom in



At New York the printed act was carried about the streets on a pole,

surmounted by a death's head, with a scroll bearing the inscription, "The

folly of England and ruin of America." Colden, the lieutenant-governor, who

acquired considerable odium by recommending to government the taxation of

the colonies, the institution of hereditary Assemblies, and other Tory

measures, seeing that a popular storm was rising, retired into the fort,

taking with him the stamp papers, and garrisoned it with marines from a

ship of war. The mob broke into his stable; drew out his chariot; put his

effigy into it; paraded it through the streets to the common (now the

Park), where they hung it on a gallows. In the evening it was taken down,

put again into the chariot, with the devil for a companion, and escorted

back by torchlight to the Bowling Green; where the whole pageant, chariot

and all, was burnt under the very guns of the fort.


These are specimens of the marks of popular reprobation with which the

stamp act was universally nullified. No one would venture to carry it into

execution. In fact no stamped paper was to be seen; all had been either

destroyed or concealed. All transactions which required stamps to give them

validity were suspended, or were executed by private compact. The courts of

justice were closed, until at length some conducted their business without

stamps. Union was becoming the watch-word. The merchants of New York,

Philadelphia, Boston, and such other colonies as had ventured publicly to

oppose the stamp act, agreed to import no more British manufactures after

the 1st of January unless it should be repealed. So passed away the year



As yet Washington took no prominent part in the public agitation. Indeed he

was never disposed to put himself forward on popular occasions, his innate

modesty forbade it; it was others who knew his worth that called him forth;

but when once he engaged in any public measure, he devoted himself to it

with conscientiousness and persevering zeal. At present he remained a quiet

but vigilant observer of events from his eagle nest at Mount Vernon. He had

some few intimates in his neighborhood who accorded with him in sentiment.

One of the ablest and most efficient of these was Mr. George Mason, with

whom he had occasional conversations on the state of affairs. His friends

the Fairfaxes, though liberal in feelings and opinions, were too strong in

their devotion to the crown not to regard with an uneasy eye the tendency

of the popular bias. From one motive or other, the earnest attention of all

the inmates and visitors at Mount Vernon, was turned to England, watching

the movements of the ministry.


The dismissal of Mr. Grenville from the cabinet gave a temporary change to

public affairs. Perhaps nothing had a greater effect in favor of the

colonies than an examination of Dr. Franklin before the House of Commons,

on the subject of the stamp act.


"What," he was asked, "was the temper of America towards Great Britain,

before the year 1763?"


"The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the

crown, and paid, in all their courts, obedience to the acts of Parliament.

Numerous as the people are in the several old provinces, they cost you

nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons, or armies, to keep them in

subjection. They were governed by this country at the expense only of a

little pen, ink, and paper. They were led by a thread. They had not only a

respect, but an affection for Great Britain, for its laws, its customs, and

manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the

commerce. Natives of Great Britain were always treated with particular

regard; to be an Old-England man was, of itself, a character of some

respect, and gave a kind of rank among us."


"And what is their temper now?"


"Oh! very much altered."


"If the act is not repealed, what do you think will be the consequences?"


"A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to

this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and



"Do you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty if

it was moderated?"


"No, never, unless compelled by force of arms." [Footnote: Parliamentary

Register, 1766.]


The act was repealed on the 18th of March, 1766, to the great joy of the

sincere friends of both countries, and to no one more than to Washington.

In one of his letters he observes: "Had the Parliament of Great Britain

resolved upon enforcing it, the consequences, I conceive, would have been

more direful than is generally apprehended, both to the mother country and

her colonies. All, therefore, who were instrumental in procuring the

repeal, are entitled to the thanks of every British subject, and have mine

cordially." [Footnote: Sparks. Writings of Washington, ii., 345, note.]


Still, there was a fatal clause in the repeal, which declared that the

king, with the consent of Parliament, had power and authority to make laws

and statutes of sufficient force and validity to "bind the colonies, and

people of America, in all cases whatsoever."


As the people of America were contending for principles, not mere pecuniary

interests, this reserved power of the crown and Parliament left the dispute

still open, and chilled the feeling of gratitude which the repeal might

otherwise have inspired. Further aliment for public discontent was

furnished by other acts of Parliament. One imposed duties on glass,

pasteboard, white and red lead, painters' colors, and tea; the duties to be

collected on the arrival of the articles in the colonies; another empowered

naval officers to enforce the acts of trade and navigation. Another wounded

to the quick the pride and sensibilities of New York. The mutiny act had

recently been extended to America, with an additional clause, requiring the

provincial Assemblies to provide the troops sent out with quarters, and to

furnish them with fire, beds, candles, and other necessaries, at the

expense of the colonies. The Governor and Assembly of New York refused to

comply with, this requisition as to stationary forces, insisting that it

applied only to troops on a march. An act of Parliament now suspended the

powers of the governor and Assembly until they should comply. Chatham

attributed this opposition of the colonists to the mutiny act to "their

jealousy of being somehow or other taxed internally by the Parliament; the

act," said he, "asserting the right of Parliament, has certainly spread a

most unfortunate jealousy and diffidence of government here throughout

America, and makes them jealous of the least distinction between this

country and that, lest the same principle may be extended to taxing them."

[Footnote: Chatham's Correspondence, vol. iii., p. 189-192.]


Boston continued to be the focus of what the ministerialists termed

sedition. The General Court of Massachusetts, not content with petitioning

the king for relief against the recent measures of Parliament, especially

those imposing taxes as a means of revenue, drew up a circular, calling on

the other colonial Legislatures to join with them in suitable efforts to

obtain redress. In the ensuing session, Governor Sir Francis Bernard called

upon them to rescind the resolution on which the circular was

founded,--they refused to comply, and the General Court was consequently

dissolved. The governors of colonies required of their Legislatures an

assurance that they would not reply to the Massachusetts circular,--these

Legislatures likewise refused compliance and were dissolved. All this added

to the growing excitement.


Memorials were addressed to the lords, spiritual and temporal, and

remonstrances to the House of Commons, against taxation for revenue, as

destructive to the liberties of the colonists; and against the act

suspending the legislative power of the province of New York, as menacing

the welfare of the colonies in general.


Nothing, however, produced a more powerful effect upon the public

sensibilities throughout the country, than certain military demonstrations

at Boston. In consequence of repeated collisions between the people of that

place and the commissioners of customs, two regiments were held in

readiness at Halifax to embark for Boston in the ships of Commodore Hood

whenever Governor Bernard, or the general, should give the word, "Had this

force been landed in Boston six months ago," writes the commodore, "I am

perfectly persuaded no address or remonstrances would have been sent from

the other colonies, and that all would have been tolerably quiet and

orderly at this time throughout America." [Footnote: Grenville Papers, vol.

iv., p. 362.]


Tidings reached Boston that these troops were embarked and that they were

coming to overawe the people. What was to be done? The General Court had

been dissolved, and the governor refused to convene it without the royal

command. A convention, therefore, from various towns met at Boston, on the

22d of September, to devise measures for the public safety; but disclaiming

all pretensions to legislative powers. While the convention was yet in

session (September 28th), the two regiments arrived, with seven armed

vessels. "I am very confident," writes Commodore Hood from Halifax, "the

spirited measures now pursuing will soon effect order in America."


On the contrary, these "spirited measures" added, fuel to the fire they

were intended to quench. It was resolved in a town meeting that the king

had no right to send troops thither without the consent of the Assembly;

that Great Britain had broken the original compact, and that, therefore,

the king's officers had no longer any business there. [Footnote: Whately to

Grenville. Gren. Papers, vol. iv., p. 389.]


The "selectmen" accordingly refused to find quarters for the soldiers in

the town; the council refused to find barracks for them, lest it should be

construed into a compliance with the disputed clause of the mutiny act.

Some of the troops, therefore, which had tents, were encamped on the

common; others, by the governor's orders, were quartered in the

state-house, and others in Faneuil Hall, to the great indignation of the

public, who were grievously scandalized at seeing field-pieces planted in

front of the state-house; sentinels stationed at the doors, challenging

every one who passed; and, above all, at having the sacred quiet of the

Sabbath disturbed by drum and fife, and other military music.













Throughout these public agitations, Washington endeavored to preserve his

equanimity. Removed from the heated throngs of cities, his diary denotes a

cheerful and healthful life at Mount Vernon, devoted to those rural

occupations in which he delighted, and varied occasionally by his favorite

field sports. Sometimes he is duck-shooting on the Potomac. Repeatedly we

find note of his being out at sunrise with the hounds, in company with old

Lord Fairfax, Bryan Fairfax, and others; and ending the day's sport by a

dinner at Mount Vernon, or Belvoir.


Still he was too true a patriot not to sympathize in the struggle for

colonial rights which now agitated the whole country, and we find him

gradually carried more and more into the current of political affairs.


A letter written on the 5th of April, 1769, to his friend, George Mason,

shows the important stand he was disposed to take. In the previous year,

the merchants and traders of Boston, Salem, Connecticut, and New York, had

agreed to suspend for a time the importation of all articles subject to

taxation. Similar resolutions had recently been adopted by the merchants of

Philadelphia. Washington's letter is emphatic in support of the measure.

"At a time," writes he, "when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be

satisfied with nothing less, than the deprivation of American freedom, it

seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke,

and maintain the liberty which we have derived from our ancestors. But the

manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in

question. That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment in defence of so

valuable a blessing, is clearly my opinion; yet arms should be the last

resource--the _dernier ressort_. We have already, it is said, proved

the inefficacy of addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament.

How far their attention to our rights and interests is to be awakened, or

alarmed, by starving their trade and manufactures, remains to be tried.


"The northern colonies, it appears, are endeavoring to adopt this scheme.

In my opinion, it is a good one, and must be attended with salutary

effects, provided it can be carried pretty generally into execution. ...

That there will be a difficulty attending it every where from clashing

interests, and selfish, designing men, ever attentive to their own gain,

and watchful of every turn that can assist their lucrative views, cannot be

denied, and in the tobacco colonies, where the trade is so diffused, and in

a manner wholly conducted by factors for their principals at home, these

difficulties are certainly enhanced, but I think not insurmountably

increased, if the gentlemen in their several counties will be at some pains

to explain matters to the people, and stimulate them to cordial agreements

to purchase none but certain enumerated articles out of any of the stores,

after a definite period, and neither import, nor purchase any themselves.

... I can see but one class of people, the merchants excepted, who will

not, or ought not, to wish well to the scheme,--namely, they who live

genteelly and hospitably on clear estates. Such as these, were they not to

consider the valuable object in view, and the good of others, might think

it hard to be curtailed in their living and enjoyments."


This was precisely the class to which Washington belonged; but he was ready

and willing to make the sacrifices required. "I think the scheme a good

one," added he, "and that it ought to be tried here, with such alterations

as our circumstances render absolutely necessary."


Mason, in his reply, concurred with him in opinion. "Our all is at stake,"

said he, "and the little conveniences and comforts of life, when set in

competition with our liberty, ought to be rejected, not with reluctance,

but with pleasure. Yet it is plain that, in the tobacco colonies, we cannot

at present confine our importations within such narrow bounds as the

northern colonies. A plan of this kind, to be practicable, must be adapted

to our circumstances; for, if not steadily executed, it had better have

remained unattempted. We may retrench all manner of superfluities, finery

of all descriptions, and confine ourselves to linens, woollens, &c., not

exceeding a certain price. It is amazing how much this practice, if adopted

in all the colonies, would lessen the American imports, and distress the

various trades and manufactures of Great Britain. This would awaken their

attention. They would see, they would feel, the oppressions we groan under,

and exert themselves to procure us redress. This, once obtained, we should

no longer discontinue our importations, confining ourselves still not to

import any article that should hereafter be taxed by act of Parliament for

raising a revenue in America; for, however singular I may be in the

opinion, _I am thoroughly convinced, that, justice and harmony happily

restored, it is not the interest of these colonies to refuse British

manufactures. Our supplying our mother country with gross materials, and

taking her manufactures in return, is the true chain of connection between

us. These are the bands which, if not broken by oppression, must long hold

us together, by maintaining a constant reciprocation of interests_."


The latter part of the above quotation shows the spirit which actuated

Washington and the friends of his confidence; as yet there was no thought

nor desire of alienation from the mother country, but only a fixed

determination to be placed on an equality of rights and privileges with her

other children.


A single word in the passage cited from Washington's letter, evinces the

chord which still vibrated in the American bosom: he incidentally speaks of

England as _home_. It was the familiar term with which she was usually

indicated by those of English descent; and the writer of these pages

remembers when the endearing phrase still lingered on Anglo-American lips

even after the Revolution. How easy would it have been before that era for

the mother country to have rallied back the affections of her colonial

children, by a proper attention to their complaints! They asked for nothing

but what they were entitled to, and what she had taught them to prize as

their dearest inheritance. The spirit of liberty which they manifested had

been derived from her own precept and example.


The result of the correspondence between Washington and Mason was the draft

by the latter of a plan of association, the members of which were to pledge

themselves not to import or use any articles of British merchandise or

manufacture subject to duty. This paper Washington was to submit to the

consideration of the House of Burgesses, at the approaching session in the

month of May.


The Legislature of Virginia opened on this occasion with a brilliant

pageant. While military force was arrayed to overawe the republican

Puritans of the east, it was thought to dazzle the aristocratical

descendants of the cavaliers by the reflex of regal splendor. Lord

Botetourt, one of the king's lords of the bedchamber, had recently come out

as governor of the province. Junius described him as "a cringing, bowing,

fawning, sword-bearing courtier." Horace Walpole predicted that he would

turn the heads of the Virginians in one way or other. "If his graces do not

captivate them he will enrage them to fury; for I take all his

_douceur_ to be enamelled on iron." [Footnote: Grenville papers, iv.,

note to p. 330.] The words of political satirists and court wits, however,

are always to be taken with great distrust. However his lordship may have

bowed in presence of royalty, he elsewhere conducted himself with dignity,

and won general favor by his endearing manners. He certainly showed

promptness of spirit in his reply to the king on being informed of his

appointment. "When will you be ready to go?" asked George III. "To-night,



He had come out, however, with a wrong idea of the Americans. They had been

represented to him as factious, immoral, and prone to sedition; but vain

and luxurious, and easily captivated by parade and splendor. The latter

foibles were aimed at in his appointment and fitting out. It was supposed

that his titled rank would have its effect. Then to prepare him for

occasions of ceremony, a coach of state was presented to him by the king.

He was allowed, moreover, the quantity of plate usually given to

ambassadors, whereupon the joke was circulated that he was going "plenipo

to the Cherokees." [Footnote: Whately to Geo. Grenville. Grenville papers.]


His opening of the session was in the style of the royal opening of

Parliament. He proceeded in due parade from his dwelling to the capitol, in

his state coach, drawn by six milk-white horses. Having delivered his

speech according to royal form, he returned home with the same pomp and



The time had gone by, however, for such display to have the anticipated

effect. The Virginian legislators penetrated the intention of this pompous

ceremonial, and regarded it with a depreciating smile. Sterner matters

occupied their thoughts; they had come prepared to battle for their rights,

and their proceedings soon showed Lord Botetourt how much he had mistaken

them. Spirited resolutions were passed, denouncing the recent act of

Parliament imposing taxes; the power to do which, on the inhabitants of

this colony, "was legally and constitutionally vested in the House of

Burgesses, with consent of the council and of the king, or of his governor,

for the time being." Copies of these resolutions were ordered to be

forwarded by the speaker to the Legislatures of the other colonies, with a

request for their concurrence.


Other proceedings of the Burgesses showed their sympathy with their

fellow-patriots of New England. A joint address of both Houses of

Parliament had recently been made to the king, assuring him of their

support in any further measures for the due execution of the laws in

Massachusetts, and beseeching him that all persons charged with treason, or

misprision of treason, committed within that colony since the 30th of

December, 1767, might be sent to Great Britain for trial.


As Massachusetts had no General Assembly at this time, having been

dissolved by government, the Legislature of Virginia generously took up the

cause. An address to the king was resolved on, stating, that all trials for

treason, or misprision of treason, or for any crime whatever committed by

any person residing in a colony, ought to be in and before his majesty's

courts within said colony; and beseeching the king to avert from his loyal

subjects those dangers and miseries which would ensue from seizing and

carrying beyond sea any person residing in America suspected of any crime

whatever, thereby depriving them of the inestimable privilege of being

tried by a jury from the vicinage, as well as the liberty of producing

witnesses on such trial.


Disdaining any further application to Parliament, the House ordered the

speaker to transmit this address to the colonies' agent in England, with

directions to cause it to be presented to the king, and afterwards to be

printed and published in the English papers.


Lord Botetourt was astonished and dismayed when he heard of these

high-toned proceedings. Repairing to the capitol on the following day at

noon, he summoned the speaker and members to the council chamber, and

addressed them in the following words: "Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the

House of Burgesses, I have heard of your resolves, and augur ill of their

effects. You have made it my duty to dissolve you, and you are dissolved



The spirit conjured up by the late decrees of Parliament was not so easily

allayed. The Burgesses adjourned to a private house. Peyton Randolph, their

late speaker, was elected moderator. Washington now brought forward a draft

of the articles of association, concerted between him and George Mason.

They formed the groundwork of an instrument signed by all present, pledging

themselves neither to import, nor use any goods, merchandise, or

manufactures taxed by Parliament to raise a revenue in America. This

instrument was sent throughout the country for signature, and the scheme of

non-importation, hitherto confined to a few northern colonies, was soon

universally adopted. For his own part, Washington adhered to it rigorously

throughout the year. The articles proscribed by it were never to be seen in

his house, and his agent in London was enjoined to ship nothing for him

while subject to taxation.


The popular ferment in Virginia was gradually allayed by the amiable and

conciliatory conduct of Lord Botetourt. His lordship soon became aware of

the erroneous notions with which he had entered upon office. His semi-royal

equipage and state were laid aside. He examined into public grievances;

became a strenuous advocate for the repeal of taxes; and, authorized by his

despatches from the ministry, assured the public that such repeal would

speedily take place. His assurance was received with implicit faith, and

for a while Virginia was quieted.












"The worst is past, and the spirit of sedition broken," writes Hood to

Grenville, early in the spring of 1769. [Footnote: Grenville Papers, vol.

iii.] When the commodore wrote this, his ships were in the harbor, and

troops occupied the town, and he flattered himself that at length turbulent

Boston was quelled. But it only awaited its time to be seditious according

to rule; there was always an irresistible "method in its madness."


In the month of May, the General Court, hitherto prorogued, met according

to charter. A committee immediately waited on the governor, stating it was

impossible to do business with dignity and freedom while the town was

invested by sea and land, and a military guard was stationed at the

state-house, with cannon pointed at the door; and they requested the

governor, as his majesty's representative, to have such forces removed out

of the port and gates of the city during the session of the Assembly.


The governor replied that he had no authority over either the ships or

troops. The court persisted in refusing to transact business while so

circumstanced, and the governor was obliged to transfer the session to

Cambridge. There he addressed a message to that body in July, requiring

funds for the payment of the troops, and quarters for their accommodation.

The Assembly, after ample discussion of past grievances, resolved, that the

establishment of a standing army in the colony in a time of peace was an

invasion of natural rights; that a standing army was not known as a part of

the British constitution, and that the sending an armed force to aid the

civil authority was unprecedented, and highly dangerous to the people.


After waiting some days without receiving an answer to his message, the

governor sent to know whether the Assembly would, or would not, make

provision for the troops. In their reply, they followed the example of the

Legislature of New York, in commenting on the mutiny, or billeting act, and

ended by declining to furnish funds for the purposes specified, "being

incompatible with their own honor and interest, and their duty to their

constituents." They were in consequence again prorogued, to meet in Boston

on the 10th of January.


So stood affairs in Massachusetts. In the mean time, the non-importation

associations, being generally observed throughout the colonies, produced

the effect on British commerce which Washington had anticipated, and

Parliament was incessantly importuned by petitions from British merchants,

imploring its intervention to save them from ruin.


Early in 1770, an important change took place in the British cabinet. The

Duke of Grafton suddenly resigned, and the reins of government passed into

the hands of Lord North. He was a man of limited capacity, but a favorite

of the king, and subservient to his narrow colonial policy. His

administration, so eventful to America, commenced with an error. In the

month of March, an act was passed, revoking all the duties laid in 1767,

_excepting that on tea_. This single tax was continued, as he

observed, "to maintain the parliamentary right of taxation,"--the very

right which was the grand object of contest. In this, however, he was in

fact yielding, against his better judgment, to the stubborn tenacity of the



He endeavored to reconcile the opposition, and perhaps himself, to the

measure, by plausible reasoning. An impost of threepence on the pound could

never, he alleged, be opposed by the colonists, unless they were determined

to rebel against Great Britain. Besides, a duty on that article, payable in

England, and amounting to nearly one shilling on the pound, was taken off

on its exportation to America, so that the inhabitants of the colonies

saved ninepence on the pound.


Here was the stumbling-block at the threshold of Lord North's

administration. In vain the members of the opposition urged that this

single exception, while it would produce no revenue, would keep alive the

whole cause of contention; that so long as a single external duty was

enforced, the colonies would consider their rights invaded, and would

remain unappeased. Lord North was not to be convinced; or rather, he knew

the royal will was inflexible, and he complied with its behests. "The

properest time to exert our right of taxation," said he, "is when the right

is refused. To temporize is to yield; and the authority of the mother

country, if it is now unsupported, will be relinquished for ever: _a

total repeal cannot be thought of, till America is prostrate at our

feet_." [Footnote: Holmes's Amer. Annals, vol. ii., p. 173.]


On the very day in which this ominous bill was passed in Parliament, a

sinister occurrence took place in Boston. Some of the young men of the

place insulted the military while under arms; the latter resented it; the

young men, after a scuffle, were put to flight, and pursued. The alarm

bells rang,--a mob assembled; the custom-house was threatened; the troops,

in protecting it, were assailed with clubs and stones, and obliged to use

their fire-arms, before the tumult could be quelled. Four of the populace

were killed, and several wounded. The troops were now removed from the

town, which remained in the highest state of exasperation; and this

untoward occurrence received the opprobrious, and somewhat extravagant name

of "the Boston massacre."


The colonists, as a matter of convenience, resumed the consumption of those

articles on which the duties had been repealed; but continued, on

principle, the rigorous disuse of tea, excepting such as had been smuggled

in. New England was particularly earnest in the matter; many of the

inhabitants, in the spirit of their Puritan progenitors, made a covenant to

drink no more of the forbidden beverage, until the duty on tea should be



In Virginia the public discontents, which had been allayed by the

conciliatory conduct of Lord Botetourt, and by his assurances, made on the

strength of letters received from the ministry, that the grievances

complained of would be speedily redressed, now broke out with more violence

than ever. The Virginians spurned the mock-remedy which left the real cause

of complaint untouched. His lordship also felt deeply wounded by the

disingenuousness of ministers which had led him into such a predicament,

and wrote home demanding his discharge. Before it arrived, an attack of

bilious fever, acting upon a delicate and sensitive frame, enfeebled by

anxiety and chagrin, laid him in his grave. He left behind him a name

endeared to the Virginians by his amiable manners, his liberal patronage of

the arts, and, above all, by his zealous intercession for their rights.

Washington himself testifies that he was inclined "to render every just and

reasonable service to the people whom he governed." A statue to his memory

was decreed by the House of Burgesses, to be erected in the area of the

capitol. It is still to be seen, though in a mutilated condition, in

Williamsburg, the old seat of government, and a county in Virginia

continues to bear his honored name.














In the midst of these popular turmoils, Washington was induced, by public

as well as private considerations, to make another expedition to the Ohio.

He was one of the Virginia Board of Commissioners, appointed, at the close

of the late war, to settle the military accounts of the colony. Among the

claims which came before the board, were those of the officers and soldiers

who had engaged to serve until peace, under the proclamation of Governor

Dinwiddie, holding forth a bounty of two hundred thousand acres of land, to

be apportioned among them according to rank. Those claims were yet

unsatisfied, for governments, like individuals, are slow to pay off in

peaceful times the debts incurred while in the fighting mood. Washington

became the champion of those claims, and an opportunity now presented

itself for their liquidation. The Six Nations, by a treaty in 1768, had

ceded to the British crown, in consideration of a sum of money, all the

lands possessed by them south of the Ohio. Land offices would soon be

opened for the sale of them. Squatters and speculators were already

preparing to swarm in, set up their marks on the choicest spots, and

establish what were called pre-emption rights. Washington determined at

once to visit the lands thus ceded; affix his mark on such tracts as he

should select, and apply for a grant from government in behalf of the

"soldier's claim."


The expedition would be attended with some degree of danger. The frontier

was yet in an uneasy state. It is true some time had elapsed since the war

of Pontiac, but some of the Indian tribes were almost ready to resume the

hatchet. The Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, complained that the Six

Nations had not given them their full share of the consideration money of

the late sale, and they talked of exacting the deficiency from the white

men who came to settle in what had been their hunting-grounds. Traders,

squatters, and other adventurers into the wilderness, were occasionally

murdered, and further troubles were apprehended.


Washington had for a companion in this expedition his friend and neighbor,

Dr. Craik, and it was with strong community of feeling they looked forward

peaceably to revisit the scenes of their military experience. They set out

on the 5th of October with three negro attendants, two belonging to

Washington, and one to the doctor. The whole party was mounted, and there

was a led horse for the baggage.


After twelve days' travelling they arrived at Fort Pitt (late Fort

Duquesne). It was garrisoned by two companies of royal Irish, commanded by

a Captain Edmonson. A hamlet of about twenty log-houses, inhabited by

Indian traders, had sprung up within three hundred yards of the fort, and

was called "the town." It was the embryo city of Pittsburg, now so

populous. At one of the houses, a tolerable frontier inn, they took up

their quarters; but during their brief sojourn, they were entertained with

great hospitality at the fort.


Here at dinner Washington met his old acquaintance, George Croghan, who had

figured in so many capacities and experienced so many vicissitudes on the

frontier. He was now Colonel Croghan, deputy-agent to Sir William Johnson,

and had his residence--or seat, as Washington terms it--on the banks of the

Allegany River, about four miles from the fort.


Croghan had experienced troubles and dangers during the Pontiac war, both

from white man and savage. At one time, while he was convoying presents

from Sir William to the Delawares and Shawnees, his caravan was set upon

and plundered by a band of backwoodsmen of Pennsylvania--men resembling

Indians in garb and habits, and fully as lawless. At another time, when

encamped at the mouth of the Wabash with some of his Indian allies, a band

of Kickapoos, supposing the latter to be Cherokees, their deadly enemies,

rushed forth from the woods with horrid yells, shot down several of his

companions, and wounded himself. It must be added, that no white men could

have made more ample apologies than did the Kickapoos, when they discovered

that they had fired upon friends.


Another of Croghan's perils was from the redoubtable Pontiac himself. That

chieftain had heard of his being on a mission to win off, by dint of

presents, the other sachems of the conspiracy, and declared, significantly,

that he had a large kettle boiling in which he intended to seethe the

ambassador. It was fortunate for Croghan that he did not meet with the

formidable chieftain while in this exasperated mood. He subsequently

encountered him when Pontiac's spirits were broken by reverses. They smoked

the pipe of peace together, and the colonel claimed the credit of having,

by his diplomacy, persuaded the sachem to bury the hatchet.


On the day following the repast at the fort, Washington visited Croghan at

his abode on the Allegany River, where he found several of the chiefs of

the Six Nations assembled. One of them, the White Mingo by name, made him a

speech, accompanied, as usual, by a belt of wampum. Some of his companions,

he said, remembered to have seen him in 1753, when he came on his embassy

to the French commander; most of them had heard of him. They had now come

to welcome him to their country. They wished the people of Virginia to

consider them as friends and brothers, linked together in one chain, and

requested him to inform the governor of their desire to live in peace and

harmony with the white men. As to certain unhappy differences which had

taken place between them on the frontiers, they were all made up, and, they

hoped, forgotten.


Washington accepted the "speech-belt," and made a suitable reply, assuring

the chiefs that nothing was more desired by the people of Virginia than to

live with them on terms of the strictest friendship.


At Pittsburg the travellers left their horses, and embarked in a large

canoe, to make a voyage down the Ohio as far as the Great Kanawha. Colonel

Croghan engaged two Indians for their service, and an interpreter named

John Nicholson. The colonel and some of the officers of the garrison

accompanied them as far as Logstown, the scene of Washington's early

diplomacy, and his first interview with the half-king. Here they

breakfasted together; after which they separated, the colonel and his

companions cheering the voyagers from the shore, as the canoe was borne off

by the current of the beautiful Ohio.


It was now the hunting season, when the Indians leave their towns, set off

with their families, and lead a roving life in cabins and hunting-camps

along the river; shifting from place to place, as game abounds or

decreases, and often extending their migrations two or three hundred miles

down the stream. The women were as dexterous as the men in the management

of the canoe, but were generally engaged in the domestic labors of the

lodge while their husbands were abroad hunting.


Washington's propensities as a sportsman had here full play. Deer were

continually to be seen coming down to the water's edge to drink, or

browsing along the shore; there were innumerable flocks of wild turkeys,

and streaming flights of ducks and geese; so that as the voyagers floated

along, they were enabled to load their canoe with game. At night they

encamped on the river bank, lit their fire and made a sumptuous hunter's

repast. Washington always relished this wild-wood life; and the present had

that spice of danger in it, which has a peculiar charm for adventurous

minds. The great object of his expedition, however, is evinced in his

constant notes on the features and character of the country; the quality of

the soil as indicated by the nature of the trees, and the level tracts

fitted for settlements.


About seventy-five miles below Pittsburg the voyagers landed at a Mingo

town, which they found in a stir of warlike preparation--sixty of the

warriors being about to set off on a foray into the Cherokee country

against the Catawbas.


Here the voyagers were brought to a pause by a report that two white men,

traders, had been murdered about thirty-eight miles further down the river.

Reports of the kind were not to be treated lightly. Indian faith was

uncertain along the frontier, and white men were often shot down in the

wilderness for plunder or revenge. On the following day the report

moderated. Only one man was said to have been killed, and that not by

Indians; so Washington determined to continue forward until he could obtain

correct information in the matter.


On the 24th, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the voyagers arrived at

Captema Creek, at the mouth of which the trader was said to have been

killed. As all was quiet and no one to be seen, they agreed to encamp,

while Nicholson the interpreter, and one of the Indians, repaired to a

village a few miles up the creek to inquire about the murder. They found

but two old women at the village. The men were all absent, hunting. The

interpreter returned to camp in the evening, bringing the truth of the

murderous tale. A trader had fallen a victim to his temerity, having been

drowned in attempting, in company with another, to swim his horse across

the Ohio.


Two days more of voyaging brought them to an Indian hunting camp, near the

mouth of the Muskingum. Here it was necessary to land and make a

ceremonious visit, for the chief of the hunting party was Kiashuta, a

Seneca sachem, the head of the river tribes. He was noted to have been

among the first to raise the hatchet in Pontiac's conspiracy, and almost

equally vindictive with that potent warrior. As Washington approached the

chieftain, he recognized him for one of the Indians who had accompanied him

on his mission to the French in 1753.


Kiashuta retained a perfect recollection of the youthful ambassador, though

seventeen years had matured him into thoughtful manhood. With hunter's

hospitality he gave him a quarter of a fine buffalo just slain, but

insisted that they should encamp together for the night; and in order not

to retard him, moved with his own party to a good camping place some

distance down the river. Here they had long talks and council-fires over

night and in the morning, with all the "tedious ceremony," says Washington,

"which the Indians observe in their counsellings and speeches." Kiashuta

had heard of what had passed between Washington and the "White Mingo," and

other sachems, at Colonel Croghan's, and was eager to express his own

desire for peace and friendship with Virginia, and fair dealings with her

traders; all which Washington promised to report faithfully to the

governor. It was not until a late hour in the morning that he was enabled

to bring these conferences to a close, and pursue his voyage.


At the mouth of the Great Kanawha the voyagers encamped for a day or two to

examine the lands in the neighborhood, and Washington set up his mark upon

such as he intended to claim on behalf of the soldiers' grant. It was a

fine sporting country, having small lakes or grassy ponds abounding with

water-fowl, such as ducks, geese, and swans. Flocks of turkeys, as usual;

and, for larger game, deer and buffalo; so that their camp abounded with



Here Washington was visited by an old sachem, who approached him with great

reverence, at the head of several of his tribe, and addressed him through

Nicholson, the interpreter. He had heard, he said, of his being in that

part of the country, and had come from a great distance to see him. On

further discourse, the sachem made known that he was one of the warriors in

the service of the French, who lay in ambush on the banks of the

Monongahela and wrought such havoc in Braddock's army. He declared that he

and his young men had singled out Washington, as he made himself

conspicuous riding about the field of battle with the general's orders, and

had fired at him repeatedly, but without success; whence they had concluded

that he was under the protection of the Great Spirit, had a charmed life,

and could not be slain in battle.


At the Great Kanawha Washington's expedition down the Ohio terminated;

having visited all the points he wished to examine. His return to Fort

Pitt, and thence homeward, affords no incident worthy of note. The whole

expedition, however, was one of that hardy and adventurous kind, mingled

with practical purposes, in which he delighted. This winter voyage down the

Ohio in a canoe, with the doctor for a companion and two Indians for crew,

through regions yet insecure from the capricious hostility of prowling

savages, is not one of the least striking of his frontier "experiences."

The hazardous nature of it was made apparent shortly afterwards by another

outbreak of the Ohio tribes; one of its bloodiest actions took place on the

very banks of the Great Kanawha, in which Colonel Lewis and a number of

brave Virginians lost their lives.




In the final adjustment of claims under Governor Dinwiddie's proclamation,

Washington, acting on behalf of the officers and soldiers, obtained grants

for the lands he had marked out in the course of his visit to the Ohio.

Fifteen thousand acres were awarded to a field-officer, nine thousand to a

captain, six thousand to a subaltern, and so on. Among the claims which he

entered were those of Stobo and Van Braam, the hostages in the capitulation

at the Great Meadows. After many vicissitudes they were now in London, and

nine thousand acres were awarded to each of them. Their domains were

ultimately purchased by Washington through his London agent.


Another claimant was Colonel George Muse, Washington's early instructor in

military science. His claim was admitted with difficulty, for he stood

accused of having acted the part of a poltroon in the campaign, and

Washington seems to have considered the charge well founded. Still he

appears to have been dissatisfied with the share of land assigned him, and

to have written to Washington somewhat rudely on the subject. His letter is

not extant, but we subjoin Washington's reply almost entire, as a specimen

of the caustic pen he could wield under a mingled emotion of scorn and



"Sir,--Your impertinent letter was delivered to me yesterday. As I am not

accustomed to receive such from any man, nor would have taken the same

language from you personally, without letting you feel some marks of my

resentment, I advise you to be cautious in writing me a second of the same

tenor; for though I understand you were drunk when you did it, yet give me

leave to tell you that drunkenness is no excuse for rudeness. But for your

stupidity and sottishness you might have known, by attending to the public

gazette, that you had your full quantity of ten thousand acres of land

allowed you; that is, nine thousand and seventy-three acres in the great

tract, and the remainder in the small tract.


"But suppose you had really fallen short, do you think your superlative

merit entitles you to greater indulgence than others? Or, if it did, that I

was to make it good to you, when it was at the option of the governor and

council to allow but five hundred acres in the whole, if they had been so

inclined? If either of these should happen to be your opinion, I am very

well convinced that you will be singular in it; and all my concern is that

I ever engaged myself in behalf of so ungrateful and dirty a fellow as you



N.B.--The above is from the letter as it exists in the archives of the

Department of State at Washington. It differs in two or three particulars

from that published among Washington's writings.












The discontents of Virginia, which had been partially soothed by the

amiable administration of Lord Botetourt, were irritated anew under his

successor, the Earl of Dunmore. This nobleman had for a short time held the

government of New York. When appointed to that of Virginia, he lingered for

several months at his former post. In the mean time, he sent his military

secretary, Captain Foy, to attend to the despatch of business until his

arrival; awarding to him a salary and fees to be paid by the colony.


The pride of the Virginians was piqued at his lingering at New York, as if

he preferred its gayety and luxury to the comparative quiet and simplicity

of Williamsburg. Their pride was still more piqued on his arrival, by what

they considered haughtiness on his part. The spirit of the "Ancient

Dominion" was roused, and his lordship experienced opposition at his very



The first measure of the Assembly, at its opening, was to demand by what

right he had awarded a salary and fees to his secretary without consulting

it; and to question whether it was authorized by the crown.


His lordship had the good policy to rescind the unauthorized act, and in so

doing mitigated the ire of the Assembly; but he lost no time in proroguing

a body, which, from various symptoms, appeared to be too independent, and

disposed to be untractable.


He continued to prorogue it from time to time, seeking in the interim to

conciliate the Virginians, and soothe their irritated pride. At length,

after repeated prorogations, he was compelled by circumstances to convene

it on the 1st of March, 1773.


Washington was prompt in his attendance on the occasion; and foremost among

the patriotic members, who eagerly availed themselves of this long wished

for opportunity to legislate upon the general affairs of the colonies. One

of their most important measures was the appointment of a committee of

eleven persons, "whose business it should be to obtain the most clear and

authentic intelligence of all such acts and resolutions of the British

Parliament, or proceedings of administration, as may relate to or affect

the British colonies, and to maintain with their sister colonies a

correspondence and communication."


The plan thus proposed by their "noble, patriotic sister colony of

Virginia," [Footnote: Boston Town Records.] was promptly adopted by the

people of Massachusetts, and soon met with general concurrence. These

corresponding committees, in effect, became the executive power of the

patriot party, producing the happiest concert of design and action

throughout the colonies.


Notwithstanding the decided part taken by Washington in the popular

movement, very friendly relations existed between him and Lord Dunmore.

The latter appreciated his character, and sought to avail himself of his

experience in the affairs of the province. It was even concerted that

Washington should accompany his lordship on an extensive tour, which the

latter intended to make in the course of the summer along the western

frontier. A melancholy circumstance occurred to defeat this arrangement.


We have spoken of Washington's paternal conduct towards the two children of

Mrs. Washington. The daughter, Miss Custis, had long been an object of

extreme solicitude. She was of a fragile constitution, and for some time

past had been in very declining health. Early in the present summer,

symptoms indicated a rapid change for the worse. Washington was absent from

home at the time. On his return to Mount Vernon, he found her in the last

stage of consumption.


Though not a man given to bursts of sensibility, he is said on the present

occasion to have evinced the deepest affliction; kneeling by her bedside,

and pouring out earnest prayers for her recovery. She expired on the 19th

of June, in the seventeenth year of her age. This, of course, put an end to

Washington's intention of accompanying Lord Dunmore to the frontier; he

remained at home to console Mrs. Washington in her affliction,--furnishing

his lordship, however, with travelling hints and directions, and

recommending proper guides. And here we will take occasion to give a few

brief particulars of domestic affairs at Mount Vernon.


For a long time previous to the death of Miss Custis, her mother,

despairing of her recovery, had centred her hopes in her son, John Parke

Custis. This rendered Washington's guardianship of him a delicate and

difficult task. He was lively, susceptible, and impulsive; had an

independent fortune in his own right, and an indulgent mother, ever ready

to plead in his behalf against wholesome discipline. He had been placed

under the care and instruction of an Episcopal clergyman at Annapolis, but

was occasionally at home, mounting his horse, and taking a part, while yet

a boy, in the fox-hunts at Mount Vernon. His education had consequently

been irregular and imperfect, and not such as Washington would have

enforced had he possessed over him the absolute authority of a father.

Shortly after the return of the latter from his tour to the Ohio, he was

concerned to find that there was an idea entertained of sending the lad

abroad, though but little more than sixteen years of age, to travel under

the care of his clerical tutor. Through his judicious interference, the

travelling scheme was postponed, and it was resolved to give the young

gentleman's mind the benefit of a little preparatory home culture.


Little more than a year elapsed before the sallying impulses of the youth

had taken a new direction. He was in love; what was more, he was engaged to

the object of his passion, and on the high road to matrimony.


Washington now opposed himself to premature marriage as he had done to

premature travel. A correspondence ensued between him and the young lady's

father, Benedict Calvert, Esq. The match was a satisfactory one to all

parties, but it was agreed, that it was expedient for the youth to pass a

year or two previously at college. Washington accordingly accompanied him

to New York, and placed him under the care of the Rev. Dr. Cooper,

president of King's (now Columbia) College, to pursue his studies in that

institution. All this occurred before the death of his sister. Within a

year after that melancholy event, he became impatient for a union with the

object of his choice. His mother, now more indulgent than ever to this, her

only child, yielded her consent, and Washington no longer made opposition.


"It has been against my wishes," writes the latter to President Cooper,

"that he should quit college in order that he may soon enter into a new

scene of life, which I think he would be much fitter for some years hence

than now. But having his own inclination, the desires of his mother, and

the acquiescence of almost all his relatives to encounter, I did not care,

as he is the last of the family, to push my opposition too far; I have,

therefore, submitted to a kind of necessity."


The marriage was celebrated on the 3d of February, 1774, before the

bridegroom was twenty-one years of age.




We are induced to subjoin extracts of two letters from Washington relative

to young Custis. The first gives his objections to premature travel; the

second to premature matrimony. Both are worthy of consideration in this

country, where our young people have such a general disposition to "go



_To the reverend Jonathan Boucher (the tutor of young Custis)._


... "I cannot help giving it as my opinion, that his education, however

advanced it may be for a youth of his age, is by no means ripe enough for a

travelling tour; not that I think his becoming a mere scholar is a

desirable education for a gentleman, but I conceive a knowledge of books is

the basis upon which all other knowledge is to be built, and in travelling

he is to become acquainted with men and things, rather than books. At

present, however well versed he may be in the principles of the Latin

language (which is not to be wondered at, as he began the study of it as

soon as he could speak), he is unacquainted with several of the classic

authors that might be useful to him. He is ignorant of Greek, the

advantages of learning which I do not pretend to judge of; and he knows

nothing of French, which is absolutely necessary to him as a traveller. He

has little or no acquaintance with arithmetic, and is totally ignorant of

the mathematics--than which, at least, so much of them as relates to

surveying, nothing can be more essentially necessary to any man possessed

of a large landed estate, the bounds of some part or other of which are

always in controversy. Now whether he has time between this and next spring

to acquire a sufficient knowledge of these studies, I leave you to judge;

as, also, whether a boy of seventeen years old (which will be his age next

November), can have any just notions of the end and design of travelling. I

have already given it as my opinion that it would be precipitating this

event, unless he were to go immediately to the university for a couple of

years; in which case he could see nothing of America; which might be a

disadvantage to him, as it is to be expected that every man, who travels

with a view of observing the laws and customs of other countries, should be

able to give some description of the situation and government of his own."


The following are extracts from the letter to Benedict Calvert, Esq., the

young lady's father:


"I write to you on a subject of importance, and of no small embarrassment

to me; My son-in-law and ward, Mr. Custis, has, as I have been informed,

paid his addresses to your second daughter; and having made some progress

in her affections, has solicited her in marriage. How far a union of this

sort may be agreeable to you, you best can tell; but I should think myself

wanting in candor, were I not to confess that Miss Nelly's amiable

qualities are acknowledged on all hands, and that an alliance with your

family will be pleasing to his.


"This acknowledgment being made, you must permit me to add, sir, that at

this, or in any short time, his youth, inexperience, and unripened

education are, and will be, insuperable obstacles, in my opinion, to the

completion of the marriage. As his guardian, I conceive it my indispensable

duty to endeavor to carry him through a regular course of education (many

branches of which, I am sorry to say, he is totally deficient in), and to

guide his youth to a more advanced age, before an event, on which his own

peace and the happiness of another are to depend, takes place. ... If the

affection which they have avowed for each other is fixed upon a solid

basis, it will receive no diminution in the course of two or three years;

in which time he may prosecute his studies, and thereby render himself more

deserving of the lady, and useful to society. If, unfortunately, as they

are both young, there should be an abatement of affection on either side,

or both, it had better precede than follow marriage.


"Delivering my sentiments thus freely, will not, I hope, lead you into a

belief that I am desirous of breaking off the match. To postpone it is all

I have in view; for I shall recommend to the young gentleman, with the

warmth that becomes a man of honor, to consider himself as much engaged to

your daughter, as if the indissoluble knot were tied; and as the surest

means of effecting this, to apply himself closely to his studies, by which

he will, in a great measure, avoid those little flirtations with other

young ladies, that may, by dividing the attention, contribute not a little

to divide the affection."















The general covenant throughout the colonies against the use of taxed tea,

had operated disastrously against the interests of the East India Company,

and produced an immense accumulation of the proscribed article in their

warehouses. To remedy this, Lord North brought in a bill (1773), by which

the company were allowed to export their teas from England to any part

whatever, without paying export duty. This, by enabling them to offer their

teas at a low price in the colonies would, he supposed, tempt the Americans

to purchase large quantities, thus relieving the company, and at the same

time benefiting the revenue by the impost duty. Confiding in the wisdom of

this policy, the company disgorged their warehouses, freighted several

ships with tea, and sent them to various parts of the colonies. This

brought matters to a crisis. One sentiment, one determination, pervaded the

whole continent. Taxation was to receive its definitive blow. Whoever

submitted to it was an enemy to his country. From New York and Philadelphia

the ships were sent back, unladen, to London. In Charleston the tea was

unloaded, and stored away in cellars and other places, where it perished.

At Boston the action was still more decisive. The ships anchored in the

harbor. Some small parcels of tea were brought on shore, but the sale of

them was prohibited. The captains of the ships, seeing the desperate state

of the case, would have made sail back for England, but they could not

obtain the consent of the consignees, a clearance at the custom-house, or a

passport from the governor to clear the fort. It was evident, the tea was

to be forced upon the people of Boston, and the principle of taxation



To settle the matter completely, and prove that, on a point of principle,

they were not to be trifled with, a number of the inhabitants, disguised as

Indians, boarded the ships in the night (18th December), broke open all the

chests of tea, and emptied the contents into the sea. This was no rash and

intemperate proceeding of a mob, but the well-considered, though resolute

act of sober, respectable citizens, men of reflection, but determination.

The whole was done calmly, and in perfect order; after which the actors in

the scene dispersed without tumult, and returned quietly to their homes.


The general opposition of the colonies to the principle of taxation had

given great annoyance to government, but this individual act concentrated

all its wrath upon Boston. A bill was forthwith passed in Parliament

(commonly called the Boston port bill), by which all lading and unlading of

goods, wares, and merchandise, were to cease in that town and harbor, on

and after the 4th of June, and the officers of the customs to be

transferred to Salem.


Another law, passed soon after, altered the charter of the province,

decreeing that all counsellors, judges, and magistrates, should be

appointed by the crown, and hold office during the royal pleasure.


This was followed by a third, intended for the suppression of riots; and

providing that any person indicted for murder, or other capital offence,

committed in aiding the magistracy, might be sent by the governor to some

other colony, or to Great Britain, for trial.


Such was the bolt of Parliamentary wrath fulminated against the devoted

town of Boston. Before it fell there was a session in May, of the Virginia

House of Burgesses. The social position of Lord Dunmore had been

strengthened in the province by the arrival of his lady, and a numerous

family of sons and daughters. The old Virginia aristocracy had vied with

each other in hospitable attentions to the family. A court circle had

sprung up. Regulations had been drawn up by a herald, and published

officially, determining the rank and precedence of civil and military

officers, and their wives. The aristocracy of the Ancient Dominion was

furbishing up its former splendor. Carriages and four rolled into the

streets of Williamsburg, with horses handsomely caparisoned, bringing the

wealthy planters and their families to the seat of government.


Washington arrived in Williamsburg on the 16th, and dined with the governor

on the day of his arrival, having a distinguished position in the court

circle, and being still on terms of intimacy with his lordship. The House

of Burgesses was opened in form, and one of its first measures was an

address of congratulation to the governor, on the arrival of his lady. It

was followed up by an agreement among the members to give her ladyship a

splendid ball, on the 27th of the month.


All things were going on smoothly and smilingly, when a letter, received

through the corresponding committee, brought intelligence of the vindictive

measure of Parliament, by which the port of Boston was to be closed on the

approaching 1st of June.


The letter was read in the House of Burgesses, and produced a general burst

of indignation. All other business was thrown aside, and this became the

sole subject of discussion. A protest against this and other recent acts of

Parliament was entered upon the journal of the House, and a resolution was

adopted, on the 24th of May, setting apart the 1st of June as a day of

fasting, prayer, and humiliation; in which the divine interposition was to

be implored, to avert the heavy calamity threatening destruction to their

rights, and all the evils of civil war; and to give the people one heart

and one mind in firmly opposing every injury to American liberties.


On the following morning, while the Burgesses were engaged in animated

debate, they were summoned to attend Lord Dunmore in the council chamber,

where he made them the following laconic speech: "Mr. Speaker, and

Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses: I have in my hand a paper, published

by order of your House, conceived in such terms, as reflect highly upon his

majesty, and the Parliament of Great Britain, which makes it necessary for

me to dissolve you, and you are dissolved accordingly."


As on a former occasion, the Assembly, though dissolved, was not dispersed.

The members adjourned to the long room of the old Raleigh tavern, and

passed resolutions, denouncing the Boston port bill as a most dangerous

attempt to destroy the constitutional liberty and rights of all North

America; recommending their countrymen to desist from the use, not merely

of tea, but of all kinds of East Indian commodities: pronouncing an attack

on one of the colonies, to enforce arbitrary taxes, an attack on all; and

ordering the committee of correspondence to communicate with the other

corresponding committees, on the expediency of appointing deputies from the

several colonies of British America, to meet annually in GENERAL CONGRESS,

at such place as might be deemed expedient, to deliberate on such measures

as the united interests of the colonies might require.


This was the first recommendation of a General Congress by any public

assembly, though it had been previously proposed in town meetings at New

York and Boston. A resolution to the same effect was passed in the Assembly

of Massachusetts before it was aware of the proceedings of the Virginia

Legislature. The measure recommended met with prompt and general

concurrence throughout the colonies, and the fifth day of September next

ensuing was fixed upon for the meeting of the first Congress, which was to

be held at Philadelphia.


Notwithstanding Lord Dunmore's abrupt dissolution of the House of

Burgesses, the members still continued on courteous terms with him, and the

ball which they had decreed early in the session in honor of Lady Dunmore,

was celebrated on the 27th with unwavering gallantry.


As to Washington, widely as he differed from Lord Dunmore on important

points of policy, his intimacy with him remained uninterrupted. By

memorandums in his diary it appears that he dined and passed the evening at

his lordship's on the 25th, the very day of the meeting at the Raleigh

tavern. That he rode out with him to his farm, and breakfasted there with

him on the 26th, and on the evening of the 27th attended the ball given to

her ladyship. Such was the well-bred decorum that seemed to quiet the

turbulence of popular excitement, without checking the full and firm

expression of popular opinion.


On the 29th, two days after the ball, letters arrived from Boston giving

the proceedings of a town meeting, recommending that a general league

should be formed throughout the colonies suspending all trade with Great

Britain. But twenty-five members of the late House of Burgesses, including

Washington, were at that time remaining in Williamsburg. They held a

meeting on the following day, at which Peyton Randolph presided as

moderator. After some discussion it was determined to issue a printed

circular, bearing their signatures, and calling a meeting of all the

members of the late House of Burgesses, on the 1st of August, to take into

consideration this measure of a general league. The circular recommended

them, also, to collect, in the mean time, the sense of their respective



Washington was still at Williamsburg on the 1st of June, the day when the

port bill was to be enforced at Boston. It was ushered in by the tolling of

bells, and observed by all true patriots as a day of fasting and

humiliation. Washington notes in his diary that he fasted rigidly, and

attended the services appointed in the church. Still his friendly

intercourse with the Dunmore family was continued during the remainder of

his sojourn in Williamsburg, where he was detained by business until the

20th, when he set out on his return to Mount Vernon.


In the mean time the Boston port bill had been carried into effect. On the

1st of June the harbor of Boston was closed at noon, and all business

ceased. The two other parliamentary acts altering the charter of

Massachusetts were to be enforced. No public meetings, excepting the annual

town meetings in March and May, were to be held without permission of the



General Thomas Gage had recently been appointed to the military command of

Massachusetts, and the carrying out of these offensive acts. He was the

same officer who, as lieutenant-colonel, had led the advance guard on the

field of Braddock's defeat. Fortune had since gone well with him. Rising in

the service, he had been governor of Montreal, and had succeeded Amherst in

the command of the British forces on this continent. He was linked to the

country also by domestic ties, having married into one of the most

respectable families of New Jersey. In the various situations in which he

had hitherto been placed he had won esteem, and rendered himself popular.

Not much was expected from him in his present post by those who knew him

well. William Smith, the historian, speaking of him to Adams, "Gage," said

he, "was a good-natured, peaceable, sociable man while here (in New York),

but altogether unfit for a governor of Massachusetts. He will lose all the

character he has acquired as a man, a gentleman, and a general, and dwindle

down into a mere scribbling governor--a mere Bernard or Hutchinson."


With all Gage's experience in America, he had formed a most erroneous

opinion of the character of the people. "The Americans," said he to the

king, "will be lions only as long as the English are lambs;" and he

engaged, with five regiments, to keep Boston quiet!


The manner in which his attempts to enforce the recent acts of Parliament

were resented, showed how egregiously he was in error. At the suggestion of

the Assembly, a paper was circulated through the province by the committee

of correspondence, entitled "a solemn league and covenant," the subscribers

to which bound themselves to break off all intercourse with Great Britain

from the 1st of August, until the colony should be restored to the

enjoyment of its chartered rights; and to renounce all dealings with those

who should refuse to enter into this compact.


The very title of league and covenant had an ominous sound, and startled

General Gage. He issued a proclamation, denouncing it as illegal and

traitorous. Furthermore, he encamped a force of infantry and artillery on

Boston Common, as if prepared to enact the lion. An alarm spread through

the adjacent country. "Boston is to be blockaded! Boston is to be reduced

to obedience by force or famine!" The spirit of the yeomanry was aroused.

They sent in word to the inhabitants promising to come to their aid if

necessary; and urging them to stand fast to the faith. Affairs were coming

to a crisis. It was predicted that the new acts of Parliament would bring

on "a most important and decisive trial."















Shortly after Washington's return to Mount Vernon, in the latter part of

June, he presided as moderator at a meeting of the inhabitants of Fairfax

County, wherein, after the recent acts of Parliament had been discussed, a

committee was appointed, with himself as chairman, to draw up resolutions

expressive of the sentiments of the present meeting, and to report the same

at a general meeting of the county, to be held in the court-house on the

18th of July.


The course that public measures were taking shocked the loyal feelings of

Washington's valued friend, Bryan Fairfax, of Tarlston Hall, a younger

brother of George William, who was absent in England. He was a man of

liberal sentiments, but attached to the ancient rule; and, in a letter to

Washington, advised a petition to the throne, which would give Parliament

an opportunity to repeal the offensive acts.


"I would heartily join you in your political sentiments," writes Washington

in reply, "as far as relates to a humble and dutiful petition to the

throne, provided there was the most distant hope of success. But have we

not tried this already? Have we not addressed the lords, and remonstrated

to the commons? And to what end? Does it not appear as clear as the sun in

its meridian brightness that there is a regular, systematic plan to fix the

right and practice of taxation upon us? ... Is not the attack upon the

liberty and property of the people of Boston, before restitution of the

loss to the India Company was demanded, a plain and self-evident proof of

what they are aiming at? Do not the subsequent bills for depriving the

Massachusetts Bay of its charter, and for transporting offenders to other

colonies or to Great Britain for trial, where it is impossible, from the

nature of things, that justice can be obtained, convince us that the

administration is determined to stick at nothing to carry its point? Ought

we not, then, to put our virtue and fortitude to the severest tests?"


The committee met according to appointment, with Washington as chairman.

The resolutions framed at the meeting insisted, as usual, on the right of

self-government, and the principle that taxation and representation were in

their nature inseparable. That the various acts of Parliament for raising

revenue; taking away trials by jury; ordering that persons might be tried

in a different country from that in which the cause of accusation

originated; closing the port of Boston; abrogating the charter of

Massachusetts Bay, &c., &c.,--were all part of a premeditated design and

system to introduce arbitrary government into the colonies. That the sudden

and repeated dissolutions of Assemblies whenever they presumed to examine

the illegality of ministerial mandates, or deliberated on the violated

rights of their constituents, were part of the same system, and calculated

and intended to drive the people of the colonies to a state of desperation,

and to dissolve the compact by which their ancestors bound themselves and

their posterity to remain dependent on the British crown. The resolutions,

furthermore, recommended the most perfect union and co-operation among the

colonies; solemn covenants with respect to non-importation and

non-intercourse, and a renunciation of all dealings with any colony, town,

or province, that should refuse to agree to the plan adopted by the General



They also recommended a dutiful petition and remonstrance from the Congress

to the king, asserting their constitutional rights and privileges;

lamenting the necessity of entering into measures that might be

displeasing; declaring their attachment to his person, family, and

government, and their desire to continue in dependence upon Great Britain;

beseeching him not to reduce his faithful subjects of America to

desperation, and to reflect, that _from our sovereign there can be but

one appeal._


These resolutions are the more worthy of note, as expressive of the

opinions and feelings of Washington at this eventful time, if not being

entirely dictated by him. The last sentence is of awful import, suggesting

the possibility of being driven to an appeal to arms.


Bryan Fairfax, who was aware of their purport, addressed a long letter to

Washington, on the 17th of July, the day preceding that in which they were

to be reported by the committee, stating his objections to several of them,

and requesting that his letter might be publicly read. The letter was not

received until after the committee had gone to the court-house on the 18th,

with the resolutions revised, corrected, and ready to be reported.

Washington glanced over the letter hastily, and handed it round to several

of the gentlemen present. They, with one exception, advised that it should

not be publicly read, as it was not likely to make any converts, and was

repugnant, as some thought, to every principle they were contending for.

Washington forbore, therefore, to give it any further publicity.


The resolutions reported by the committee were adopted, and Washington was

chosen a delegate to represent the county at the General Convention of the

province, to be held at Williamsburg on the 1st of August. After the

meeting had adjourned, he felt doubtful whether Fairfax might not be

dissatisfied that his letter had not been read, as he requested, to the

county at large; he wrote to him, therefore, explaining the circumstances

which prevented it; at the same time replying to some of the objections

which Fairfax had made to certain of the resolutions. He reiterated his

belief that an appeal would be ineffectual. "What is it we are contending

against?" asked he; "Is it against paying the duty of threepence per pound

on tea because burdensome? No, it is the right only, that we have all along

disputed; and to this end, we have already petitioned his majesty in as

humble and dutiful a manner as subjects could do. Nay, more, we applied to

the House of Lords and House of Commons in their different legislative

capacities, setting forth that, as Englishmen, we could not be deprived of

this essential and valuable part of our constitution. ...


"The conduct of the Boston people could not justify the rigor of their

measures, unless there had been a requisition of payment, and refusal of

it; nor did that conduct require an act to deprive the government of

Massachusetts Bay of their charter, or to exempt offenders from trial in

the places where offences were committed, as there was not, nor could there

be, a single instance produced to manifest the necessity of it. Are not all

these things evident proofs of a fixed and uniform plan to tax us? If we

want further proofs, do not all the debates in the House of Commons serve

to confirm this? And has not General Gage's conduct since his arrival, in

stopping the address of his council, and publishing a proclamation, more

becoming a Turkish bashaw than an English governor, declaring it treason to

associate in any manner by which the commerce of Great Britain is to be

affected,--has not this exhibited an unexampled testimony of the most

despotic system of tyranny that ever was practised in a free government?"


The popular measure on which Washington laid the greatest stress as a means

of obtaining redress from government, was the non-importation scheme; "for

I am convinced," said he, "as much as of my existence, that there is no

relief for us but in their distress; and I think--at least I hope--that

there is public virtue enough left among us to deny ourselves every thing

but the bare necessaries of life to accomplish this end." At the same time,

he forcibly condemned a suggestion that remittances to England should be

withheld. "While we are accusing others of injustice," said he, "we should

be just ourselves; and how this can be whilst we owe a considerable debt,

and refuse payment of it to Great Britain is to me inconceivable: nothing

but the last extremity can justify it."


On the 1st of August, the convention of representatives from all parts of

Virginia assembled at Williamsburg. Washington appeared on behalf of

Fairfax County, and presented the resolutions, already cited, as the sense

of his constituents. He is said, by one who was present, to have spoken in

support of them in a strain of uncommon eloquence, which shows how his

latent ardor had been excited on the occasion, as eloquence was not in

general among his attributes. It is evident, however, that he was roused to

an unusual pitch of enthusiasm, for he is said to have declared that he was

ready to raise one thousand men, subsist them at his own expense, and march

at their head to the relief of Boston. [Footnote: See information given to

the elder Adams, by Mr. Lynch of South Carolina.--_Adams's Diary_.]


The Convention was six days in session. Resolutions, in the same spirit

with those passed in Fairfax County, were adopted, and Peyton Randolph,

Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland,

Benjamin Harrison, and Edmund Pendleton, were appointed delegates, to

represent the people of Virginia in the General Congress.


Shortly after Washington's return from Williamsburg, he received a reply

from Bryan Fairfax, to his last letter. Fairfax, who was really a man of

liberal views, seemed anxious to vindicate himself from any suspicions of

the contrary. In adverting to the partial suppression of his letter by some

of the gentlemen of the committee: "I am uneasy to find," writes he, "that

any one should look upon the letter sent down as repugnant to the

principles we are contending for; and, therefore, when you have leisure, I

shall take it as a favor if you will let me know wherein it was thought so.

I beg leave to look upon you as a friend, and it is a great relief to

unbosom one's thoughts to a friend. Besides, the information, and the

correction of my errors, which I may obtain from a correspondence, are

great inducements to it. For I am convinced that no man in the colony

wishes its prosperity more, would go greater lengths to serve it, or is, at

the same time, a better subject to the crown. Pray excuse these

compliments, they may be tolerable from a friend." [Footnote: Sparks.

Washington's Writings, vol. ii., p. 329.]


The hurry of various occupations prevented Washington, in his reply, from

entering into any further discussion of the popular theme. "I can only in

general add," said he, "that an innate spirit of freedom first told me that

the measures which the administration have for some time been, and now are

violently pursuing, are opposed to every principle of natural justice;

whilst much abler heads than my own have fully convinced me, that they are

not only repugnant to natural right, but subversive of the laws and

constitution of Great Britain itself. ... I shall conclude with remarking

that, if you disavow the right of Parliament to tax us, unrepresented as we

are, we only differ in the mode of opposition, and this difference

principally arises from your belief that they (the Parliament I mean), want

a decent opportunity to repeal the acts; whilst I am fully convinced that

there has been a regular systematic plan to enforce them, and that nothing

but unanimity and firmness in the colonies, which they did not expect, can

prevent it. By the best advices from Boston, it seems that General Gage is

exceedingly disconcerted at the quiet and steady conduct of the people of

the Massachusetts Bay, and at the measures pursuing by the other

governments. I dare say he expected to force those oppressed people into

compliance, or irritate them to acts of violence before this, for a more

colorable pretence of ruling that, and the other colonies, with a high



Washington had formed a correct opinion of the position of General Gage.

From the time of taking command at Boston, he had been perplexed how to

manage its inhabitants. Had they been hot-headed, impulsive, and prone to

paroxysm, his task would have been comparatively easy; but it was the cool,

shrewd common sense, by which all their movements were regulated, that

confounded him.


High-handed measures had failed of the anticipated effect. Their harbor had

been thronged with ships; their town with troops. The port bill had put an

end to commerce; wharves were deserted, warehouses closed; streets

grass-grown and silent. The rich were growing poor, and the poor were

without employ; yet the spirit of the people was unbroken. There was no

uproar, however; no riots; every thing was awfully systematic and according

to rule. Town meetings were held, in which public rights and public

measures were eloquently discussed by John Adams, Josiah Quincy, and other

eminent men. Over these meetings Samuel Adams presided as moderator; a man

clear in judgment, calm in conduct, inflexible in resolution; deeply

grounded in civil and political history, and infallible on all points of

constitutional law.


Alarmed at the powerful influence of these assemblages, government issued

an act prohibiting them after the 1st of August. The act was evaded by

convoking the meetings before that day, and _keeping them alive_

indefinitely. Gage was at a loss how to act. It would not do to disperse

these assemblages by force of arms; for, the people who composed them

mingled the soldier with the polemic; and, like their prototypes, the

covenanters of yore, if prone to argue, were as ready to fight. So the

meetings continued to be held portinaciously. Faneuil Hall was at times

unable to hold them, and they swarmed from that revolutionary hive into old

South Church. The liberty tree became a rallying place for any popular

movement, and a flag hoisted on it was saluted by all processions as the

emblem of the popular cause.


Opposition to the new plan of government assumed a more violent aspect at

the extremity of the province, and was abetted by Connecticut. "It is very

high," writes Gage, (August 27th,) "in Berkshire County, and makes way

rapidly to the rest. At Worcester they threaten resistance, purchase arms,

provide powder, cast balls, and threaten to attack any troops who may

oppose them. I apprehend I shall soon have to march a body of troops into

that township."


The time appointed for the meeting of the General Congress at Philadelphia

was now at hand. Delegates had already gone on from Massachusetts. "It is

not possible to guess," writes Gage, "what a body composed of such

heterogeneous matter will determine; but the members from hence, I am

assured, will promote the most haughty and insolent resolves; for their

plan has ever been, by threats and high-sounding sedition, to terrify and














When the time approached for the meeting of the General Congress at

Philadelphia, Washington was joined at Mount Vernon by Patrick Henry and

Edmund Pendleton, and they performed the journey together on horseback. It

was a noble companionship. Henry was then in the youthful vigor and

elasticity of his bounding genius; ardent, acute, fanciful, eloquent.

Pendleton, schooled in public life, a veteran in council, with native force

of intellect, and habits of deep reflection. Washington, in the meridian of

his days, mature in wisdom, comprehensive in mind, sagacious in foresight.

Such were the apostles of liberty, repairing on their august pilgrimage to

Philadelphia from all parts of the land, to lay the foundations of a mighty

empire. Well may we say of that eventful period, "There were giants in

those days."


Congress assembled on Monday, the 5th of September, in a large room in

Carpenter's Hall. There were fifty-one delegates, representing all the

colonies excepting Georgia.


The meeting has been described as "awfully solemn." The most eminent men of

the various colonies, were now for the first time brought together; they

were known to each other by fame, but were, personally, strangers. The

object which had called them together, was of incalculable magnitude. The

liberties of no less than three millions of people, with that of all their

posterity, were staked on the wisdom and energy of their councils.

[Footnote: Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, p. 224.]


"It is such an assembly," writes John Adams, who was present, "as never

before came together on a sudden, in any part of the world. Here are

fortunes, abilities, learning, eloquence, acuteness, equal to any I ever

met with in my life. Here is a diversity of religions, educations, manners,

interests, such as it would seem impossible to unite in one plan of



There being an inequality in the number of delegates from the different

colonies, a question arose as to the mode of voting; whether by colonies,

by the poll, or by interests.


Patrick Henry scouted the idea of sectional distinctions or individual

interests. "All America," said he, "is thrown into one mass. Where are your

landmarks--your boundaries of colonies? They are all thrown down. The

distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers and New

Englanders, are no more. _I am not a Virginian, but an American._"

[Footnote: J. Adams' Diary.]


After some debate, it was determined that each colony should have but one

vote, whatever might be the number of its delegates. The deliberations of

the House were to be with closed doors, and nothing but the resolves

promulgated, unless by order of the majority.


To give proper dignity and solemnity to the proceedings of the House, it

was moved on the following day, that each morning the session should be

opened by prayer. To this it was demurred, that as the delegates were of

different religious sects, they might not consent to join in the same form

of worship.


Upon this, Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said: "He would willingly join in

prayer with any gentleman of piety and virtue, whatever might be his cloth,

provided he was a friend of his country;" and he moved that the reverend

Mr. Duché, of Philadelphia, who answered to that description, might be

invited to officiate as chaplain. This was one step towards unanimity of

feeling, Mr. Adams being a strong Congregationalist, and Mr. Duché an

eminent Episcopalian clergyman. The motion was carried into effect; the

invitation was given and accepted.


In the course of the day, a rumor reached Philadelphia that Boston had been

cannonaded by the British. It produced a strong sensation; and when

Congress met on the following morning (7th), the effect was visible in

every countenance. The delegates from the east were greeted with a warmer

grasp of the hand by their associates from the south.


The reverend Mr. Duché, according to invitation, appeared in his

canonicals, attended by his clerk. The morning service of the Episcopal

church was read with great solemnity, the clerk making the responses. The

Psalter for the 7th day of the month includes the 35th Psalm, wherein David

prays for protection against his enemies. "Plead my cause, O Lord, with

them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.


"Take hold of shield and buckler and stand up for my help.


"Draw out, also, the spear, and stop the way of them that persecute me. Say

unto my soul, I am thy salvation," &c., &c.


The imploring words of this psalm, spoke the feelings of all hearts

present; but especially of those from New England. John Adams writes in a

letter to his wife: "You must remember this was the morning after we heard

the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston. I never saw a greater effect

upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that psalm to be read

on that morning. After this, Mr. Duché unexpectedly struck out into an

extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present.

Episcopalian as he is, Dr. Cooper himself never prayed with such fervor,

such ardor, such earnestness and pathos, and in language so eloquent and

sublime, for America, for the Congress, for the province of Massachusetts

Bay, and especially the town of Boston. It has had an excellent effect upon

every body here." [Footnote: John Adams' Correspondence and Diary.]


It has been remarked that Washington was especially devout on this

occasion--kneeling, while others stood up. In this, however, each, no

doubt, observed the attitude in prayer to which he was accustomed.

Washington knelt, being an Episcopalian.


The rumored attack upon Boston, rendered the service of the day deeply

affecting to all present. They were one political family, actuated by one

feeling, and sympathizing with the weal and woe of each individual member.

The rumor proved to be erroneous; but it had produced a most beneficial

effect in calling forth and quickening the spirit of union, so vitally

important in that assemblage.


Owing to closed doors, and the want of reporters, no record exists of the

discussions and speeches made in the first Congress. Mr. Wirt, speaking

from tradition, informs us that a long and deep silence followed the

organization of that august body; the members looking round upon each

other, individually reluctant to open a business so fearfully momentous.

This "deep and deathlike silence" was beginning to become painfully

embarrassing, when Patrick Henry arose. He faltered at first, as was his

habit; but his exordium was impressive; and as he launched forth into a

recital of colonial wrongs he kindled with his subject, until he poured

forth one of those eloquent appeals which had so often shaken the House of

Burgesses and gained him the fame of being the greatest orator of Virginia.

He sat down, according to Mr. Wirt, amidst murmurs of astonishment and

applause, and was now admitted, on every hand, to be the first orator of

America. He was followed by Richard Henry Lee, who, according to the same

writer, charmed the house with a different kind of eloquence, chaste and

classical; contrasting, in its cultivated graces, with the wild and grand

effusions of Henry. "The superior powers of these great men, however," adds

he, "were manifested only in debate, and while general grievances were the

topic; when called down from the heights of declamation to that severer

test of intellectual excellence, the details of business, they found

themselves in a body of cool-headed, reflecting, and most able men, by whom

they were, in their turn, completely thrown into the shade." [Footnote:

Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry.]


The first public measure of Congress was a resolution declaratory of their

feelings with regard to the recent acts of Parliament, violating the rights

of the people of Massachusetts, and of their determination to combine in

resisting any force that might attempt to carry those acts into execution.


A committee of two from each province reported a series of resolutions,

which were adopted and promulgated by Congress, as a "declaration of

colonial rights." In this were enumerated their natural rights to the

enjoyment of life, liberty, and property; and their rights as British

subjects. Among the latter was participation in legislative councils. This

they could not exercise through representatives in Parliament; they

claimed, therefore, the power of legislating in their provincial

assemblies; consenting, however, to such acts of Parliament as might be

essential to the regulation of trade; but excluding all taxation, internal

or external, for raising revenue in America.


The common law of England was claimed as a birthright, including the right

of trial by a jury of the vicinage; of holding public meetings to consider

grievances; and of petitioning the king. The benefits of all such statutes

as existed at the time of the colonization were likewise claimed; together

with the immunities and privileges granted by royal charters, or secured by

provincial laws.


The maintenance of a standing army in any colony in time of peace, without

the consent of its legislature, was pronounced contrary to law. The

exercise of the legislative power in the colonies by a council appointed

during pleasure by the crown, was declared to be unconstitutional, and

destructive to the freedom of American legislation.


Then followed a specification of the acts of Parliament, passed during the

reign of George III., infringing and violating these rights. These were:

the sugar act; the stamp act; the two acts for quartering troops; the tea

act; the act suspending the New York legislature; the two acts for the

trial in Great Britain of offences committed in America; the Boston port

bill; the act for regulating the government of Massachusetts, and the

Quebec act.


"To these grievous acts and measures," it was added, "Americans cannot

submit; but in hopes their fellow subjects in Great Britain will, on a

revision of them, restore us to that state in which both countries found

happiness and prosperity, we have, for the present, only resolved to pursue

the following peaceable measures:


"1st. To enter into a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation

agreement, or association.


"2d. To prepare an address to the people of Great Britain, and a memorial

to the inhabitants of British America.


"3d. To prepare a loyal address to his majesty."


The above-mentioned association was accordingly formed, and committees were

to be appointed in every county, city, and town, to maintain it vigilantly

and strictly.


Masterly state papers were issued by Congress in conformity to the

resolutions: viz., a petition to the king, drafted by Mr. Dickinson, of

Philadelphia; an address to the people of Canada by the same hand, inviting

them to join the league of the colonies; another to the people of Great

Britain, drafted by John Jay, of New York; and a memorial to the

inhabitants of the British colonies by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia.

[Footnote: See Correspondence and Diary of J. Adams, vols. ii. and ix.]


The Congress remained in session fifty-one days. Every subject, according

to Adams, was discussed "with a moderation, an acuteness, and a minuteness

equal to that of Queen Elizabeth's privy council." [Footnote: Letter to

William Tudor, 29th Sept., 1774.] The papers issued by it have deservedly

been pronounced masterpieces of practical talent and political wisdom.

Chatham, when speaking on the subject in the House of Lords, could not

restrain his enthusiasm. "When your lordships," said he, "look at the

papers transmitted to us from America; when you consider their decency,

firmness, and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause, and wish to make

it your own. For myself, I must declare and avow that, in the master states

of the world, I know not the people, or senate, who, in such a complication

of difficult circumstances, can stand in preference to the delegates of

America assembled in General Congress at Philadelphia."


From the secrecy that enveloped its discussions, we are ignorant of the

part taken by Washington in the debates; the similarity of the resolutions,

however, in spirit and substance to those of the Fairfax County meeting, in

which he presided, and the coincidence of the measures adopted with those

therein recommended, show that he had a powerful agency in the whole

proceedings of this eventful assembly. Patrick Henry, being asked, on his

return home, whom he considered the greatest man in Congress, replied: "If

you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutledge, of South Carolina, is by far the

greatest orator; but if you speak of solid information and sound judgment,

Colonel Washington is unquestionably the greatest man on that floor."


How thoroughly and zealously he participated in the feelings which actuated

Congress in this memorable session, may be gathered from his correspondence

with a friend enlisted in the royal cause. This was Captain Robert

Mackenzie, who had formerly served under him in his Virginia regiment

during the French war, but now held a commission in the regular army, and

was stationed among the British troops at Boston.


Mackenzie, in a letter, had spoken with loyal abhorrence of the state of

affairs in the "unhappy province" of Massachusetts, and the fixed aim of

its inhabitants at "total independence." "The rebellious and numerous

meetings of men in arms," said he, "their scandalous and ungenerous attacks

upon the best characters in the province, obliging them to save themselves

by flight, and their repeated, but feeble threats, to dispossess the

troops, have furnished sufficient reasons to General Gage to put the town

in a formidable state of defence, about which we are now fully employed,

and which will be shortly accomplished to their great mortification."


"Permit me," writes Washington in reply, "with the freedom of a friend (for

you know I always esteemed you), to express my sorrow that fortune should

place you in a service that must fix curses, to the latest posterity, upon

the contrivers, and, if success (which, by the by, is impossible)

accompanies it, execrations upon all those who have been instrumental in

the execution. ... When you condemn the conduct of the Massachusetts

people, you reason from effects, not causes, otherwise you would not wonder

at a people, who are every day receiving fresh proofs of a systematic

assertion of an arbitrary power, deeply planned to overturn the laws and

constitution of their country, and to violate the most essential and

valuable rights of mankind, being irritated, and with difficulty

restrained, from acts of the greatest violence and intemperance.


"For my own part, I view things in a very different point of light from the

one in which you seem to consider them; and though you are led to believe,

by venal men, that the people of Massachusetts are rebellious, setting up

for independency, and what not, give me leave, my good friend, to tell you

that you are abused, grossly abused. ... I think I can announce it as a

fact, that it is not the wish or interest of that government, or any other

upon this continent, separately or collectively, to set up for

independence; but this you may at the same time rely on, that none of them

will ever submit to the loss of their valuable rights and privileges, which

are essential to the happiness of every free state, and without which,

life, liberty, and property, are rendered totally insecure.


"These, sir, being certain consequences, which must naturally result from

the late acts of Parliament relative to America in general, and the

government of Massachusetts in particular, is it to be wondered at that men

who wish to avert the impending blow, should attempt to oppose its

progress, or prepare for their defence, if it cannot be averted? Surely I

may be allowed to answer in the negative; and give me leave to add, as my

opinion, that more blood will be spilled on this occasion, if the ministry

are determined to push matters to extremity, than history has ever yet

furnished instances of in the annals of North America; and such a vital

wound will be given to the peace of this great country, as time itself

cannot cure, or eradicate the remembrance of."


In concluding, he repeats his views with respect to independence: "I am

well satisfied that no such thing is desired by any thinking man in all

North America; on the contrary, that it is the ardent wish of the warmest

advocates for liberty, that peace and tranquillity, upon constitutional

grounds, may be restored, and the horrors of civil discord prevented."

[Footnote: Sparks. Washington's Writings, vol. ii., p. 899.]


This letter we have considered especially worthy of citation, from its

being so full and explicit a declaration of Washington's sentiments and

opinions at this critical juncture. His views on the question of

independence are particularly noteworthy, from his being at this time in

daily and confidential communication with the leaders of the popular

movement, and among them with the delegates from Boston. It is evident that

the filial feeling still throbbed toward the mother country, and a complete

separation from her had not yet entered into the alternatives of her

colonial children.


On the breaking up of Congress, Washington hastened back to Mount Vernon,

where his presence was more than usually important to the happiness of Mrs.

Washington, from the loneliness caused by the recent death of her daughter,

and the absence of her son. The cheerfulness of the neighborhood had been

diminished of late by the departure of George William Fairfax for England,

to take possession of estates which had devolved to him in that kingdom.

His estate of Belvoir, so closely allied with that of Mount Vernon by

family ties and reciprocal hospitality, was left in charge of a steward, or

overseer. Through some accident the house took fire, and was burnt to the

ground. It was never rebuilt. The course of political events which swept

Washington from his quiet home into the current of public and military

life, prevented William Fairfax, who was a royalist, though a liberal one,

from returning to his once happy abode, and the hospitable intercommunion

of Mount Vernon and Belvoir was at an end for ever.



















The rumor of the cannonading of Boston, which had thrown such a gloom over

the religious ceremonial at the opening of Congress, had been caused by

measures of Governor Gage. The public mind, in Boston and its vicinity, had

been rendered excessively jealous and sensitive by the landing and

encamping of artillery upon the Common, and Welsh Fusiliers on Fort Hill,

and by the planting of four large field-pieces on Boston Neck, the only

entrance to the town by land. The country people were arming and

disciplining themselves in every direction, and collecting and depositing

arms and ammunition in places where they would be at hand in case of

emergency. Gage, on the other hand, issued orders that the munitions of war

in all the public magazines should be brought to Boston. One of these

magazines was the arsenal in the north-west part of Charlestown, between

Medford and Cambridge. Two companies of the king's troops passed silently

in boats up Mystic River in the night; took possession of a large quantity

of gunpowder deposited there, and conveyed it to Castle Williams.

Intelligence of this sacking of the arsenal flew with lightning speed

through the neighborhood. In the morning several thousands of patriots were

assembled at Cambridge, weapon in hand, and were with difficulty prevented

from marching upon Boston to compel a restitution of the powder. In the

confusion and agitation, a rumor stole out into the country that Boston was

to be attacked; followed by another that the ships were cannonading the

town, and the soldiers shooting down the inhabitants. The whole country was

forthwith in arms. Numerous bodies of the Connecticut people had made some

marches before the report was contradicted. [Footnote: Holmes's Annals,

ii., 191.--Letter of Gage to Lord Dartmouth.]


To guard against any irruption from the country, Gage encamped the 59th

regiment on Boston Neck, and employed the soldiers in intrenching and

fortifying it.


In the mean time the belligerent feelings of the inhabitants were

encouraged, by learning how the rumor of their being cannonaded had been

received in the General Congress, and by assurances from all parts that the

cause of Boston would be made the common cause of America. "It is

surprising," writes General Gage, "that so many of the other provinces

interest themselves so much in this. They have some warm friends in New

York, and I learn that the people of Charleston, South Carolina, are as mad

as they are here." [Footnote: Gage to Dartmouth, Sept. 20.]


The commissions were arrived for those civil officers appointed by the

crown under the new modifications of the charter: many, however, were

afraid to accept of them. Those who did soon resigned, finding it

impossible to withstand the odium of the people. The civil government

throughout the province became obstructed in all its operations. It was

enough for a man to be supposed of the governmental party to incur popular



Among other portentous signs, war-hawks began to appear above the horizon.

Mrs. Cushing, wife to a member of Congress, writes to her husband, "Two of

the greatest military characters of the day are visiting this distressed

town. General Charles Lee, who has served in Poland, and Colonel Israel

Putnam, whose bravery and character need no description." As these two men

will take a prominent part in coming events, we pause to give a word or two

concerning them.


Israel Putnam was a soldier of native growth. One of the military

productions of the French war; seasoned and proved in frontier campaigning.

He had served at Louisburg, Fort Duquesne, and Crown Point; had signalized

himself in Indian warfare; been captured by the savages, tied to a stake to

be tortured and burnt, and had only been rescued by the interference, at

the eleventh hour, of a French partisan of the Indians.


Since the peace, he had returned to agricultural life, and was now a farmer

at Pomfret, in Connecticut, where the scars of his wounds and the tales of

his exploits rendered him a hero in popular estimation. The war spirit yet

burned within him. He was now chairman of a committee of vigilance, and had

come to Boston in discharge of his political and semi-belligerent



General Charles Lee was a military man of a different stamp; an Englishman

by birth, and a highly cultivated production of European warfare. He was

the son of a British officer, Lieutenant-colonel John Lee, of the dragoons,

who married the daughter of Sir Henry Bunbury, Bart., and afterwards rose

to be a general. Lee was born in 1731, and may almost be said to have been

cradled in the army, for he received a commission by the time he was eleven

years of age. He had an irregular education; part of the time in England,

part on the continent, and must have scrambled his way into knowledge; yet

by aptness, diligence and ambition, he had acquired a considerable portion,

being a Greek and Latin scholar, and acquainted with modern languages. The

art of war was his especial study from his boyhood, and he had early

opportunities of practical experience. At the age of twenty-four, he

commanded a company of grenadiers in the 44th regiment, and served in the

French war in America, where he was brought into military companionship

with Sir William Johnson's Mohawk warriors, whom he used to extol for their

manly beauty, their dress, their graceful carriage and good breeding. In

fact, he rendered himself so much of a favorite among them, that they

admitted him to smoke in their councils, and adopted him into the tribe of

the Bear, giving him an Indian name, signifying "Boiling Water."


At the battle of Ticonderoga, where Abercrombie was defeated, he was shot

through the body, while leading his men against the French breastworks. In

the next campaign, he was present at the siege of Fort Niagara, where

General Prideaux fell, and where Sir William Johnson, with his British

troops and Mohawk warriors, eventually won the fortress. Lee had, probably,

an opportunity on this occasion of fighting side by side with some of his

adopted brethren of the Bear tribe, as we are told he was much exposed

during the engagement with the French and Indians, and that two balls

grazed his hair. A military errand, afterwards, took him across Lake Erie,

and down the northern branch of the Ohio to Fort Duquesne, and thence by a

long march of seven hundred miles to Crown Point, where he joined General

Amherst. In 1760, he was among the forces which followed that general from

Lake Ontario down the St. Lawrence; and was present at the surrender of

Montreal, which completed the conquest of Canada.


In 1762, he bore a colonel's commission, and served under Brigadier-general

Burgoyne in Portugal, where he was intrusted with an enterprise against a

Spanish post at the old Moorish castle of Villa Velha, on the banks of the

Tagus. He forded the river in the night, pushed his way through mountain

passes, and at 2 o'clock in the morning, rushed with his grenadiers into

the enemy's camp before daylight, where every thing was carried at the

point of the bayonet, assisted by a charge of dragoons. The war over, he

returned to England, bearing testimonials of bravery and good conduct from

his commander-in-chief, the Count de la Lippe, and from the king of

Portugal. [Footnote: Life of Charles Lee, by Jared Sparks. Also, Memoirs of

Charles Lee; published in London, 1792.]


Wielding the pen as well as the sword, Lee undertook to write on questions

of colonial policy, relative to Pontiac's war, in which he took the

opposition side. This lost him the favor of the ministry, and with it all

hope of further promotion.


He now determined to offer his services to Poland, supposed to be on the

verge of a war. Recommendations from his old commander, the Count de la

Lippe, procured him access to some of the continental courts. He was well

received by Frederick the Great, and had several conversations with him,

chiefly on American affairs. At Warsaw, his military reputation secured him

the favor of Poniatowsky, recently elected king of Poland, with the name of

Stanislaus Augustus, who admitted him to his table, and made him one of his

aides-de-camp. Lee was disappointed in his hope of active service. There

was agitation in the country, but the power of the king was not adequate to

raise forces sufficient for its suppression. He had few troops, and those

not trustworthy; and the town was full of the disaffected. "We have

frequent alarms," said Lee, "and the pleasure of sleeping every night with

our pistols on our pillows."


By way of relieving his restlessness, Lee, at the suggestion of the king,

set off to accompany the Polish ambassador to Constantinople. The latter

travelled too slow for him; so he dashed ahead when on the frontiers of

Turkey, with an escort of the grand seignior's treasure; came near

perishing with cold and hunger among the Bulgarian mountains, and after his

arrival at the Turkish capital, ran a risk of being buried under the ruins

of his house in an earthquake.


Late in the same year (1766), he was again in England, an applicant for

military appointment, bearing a letter from king Stanislaus to king George.

His meddling pen is supposed again to have marred his fortunes, having

indulged in sarcastic comments on the military character of General

Townshend and Lord George Sackville. "I am not at all surprised," said a

friend to him, "that you find the door shut against you by a person who has

such unbounded credit, as you have ever too freely indulged in a liberty of

declaiming, which many invidious persons have not failed to inform him of.

The principle on which you thus freely speak your mind, is honest and

patriotic, but not politic."


The disappointments which Lee met with during a residence of two years in

England, and a protracted attendance on people in power, rankled in his

bosom, and embittered his subsequent resentment against the king and his



In 1768, he was again on his way to Poland, with the design of performing a

campaign in the Russian service. "I flatter myself," said he, "that a

little more practice will make me a good soldier. If not, it will serve to

talk over my kitchen fire in my old age, which will soon come upon us all."


He now looked forward to spirited service. "I am to have a command of

Cossacks and Wallacks," writes he, "a kind of people I have a good opinion

of. I am determined not to serve in the line. One might as well be a



The friendship of king Stanislaus continued. "He treats me more like a

brother than a patron," said Lee. In 1769, the latter was raised to the

rank of major-general in the Polish army, and left Warsaw to join the

Russian force, which was crossing the Dniester and advancing into Moldavia.

He arrived in time to take part in a severe action between the Russians and

Turks, in which the Cossacks and hussars were terribly cut up by the

Turkish cavalry, in a ravine near the city of Chotzim. It was a long and

doubtful conflict, with various changes; but the rumored approach of the

grand vizier, with a hundred and seventy thousand men, compelled the

Russians to abandon the enterprise and recross the Dniester.


Lee never returned to Poland, though he ever retained a devoted attachment

to Stanislaus. He for some time led a restless life about Europe--visiting

Italy, Sicily, Malta, and the south of Spain; troubled with attacks of

rheumatism, gout, and the effects of a "Hungarian fever." He had become

more and more cynical and irascible, and had more than one "affair of

honor," in one of which he killed his antagonist. His splenetic feelings,

as well as his political sentiments, were occasionally vented in severe

attacks upon the ministry, full of irony and sarcasm. They appeared in the

public journals, and gained him such reputation, that even the papers of

Junius were by some attributed to him.


In the questions which had risen between England and her colonies, he had

strongly advocated the cause of the latter; and it was the feelings thus

excited, and the recollections, perhaps, of his early campaigns, that had

recently brought him to America. Here he had arrived in the latter part of

1773, had visited various parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia,

taking an active part in the political agitations of the country. His

caustic attacks upon the ministry; his conversational powers and his

poignant sallies, had gained him great reputation; but his military renown

rendered him especially interesting at the present juncture. A general, who

had served in the famous campaigns of Europe, commanded Cossacks, fought

with Turks, talked with Frederick the Great, and been aide-de-camp to the

king of Poland, was a prodigious acquisition to the patriot cause! On the

other hand, his visit to Boston was looked upon with uneasiness by the

British officers, who knew his adventurous character. It was surmised that

he was exciting a spirit of revolt, with a view to putting himself at its

head. These suspicions found their way into the London papers, and alarmed

the British cabinet. "Have an attention to his conduct," writes Lord

Dartmouth to Gage, "and take every legal method to prevent his effecting

any of those dangerous purposes he is said to have in view."


Lee, when subsequently informed of these suspicions, scoffed at them in a

letter to his friend, Edmund Burke, and declared that he had not the

"temerity and vanity" to aspire to the aims imputed to him.


"To think myself qualified for the most important charge that ever was

committed to mortal man," writes he, "is the last stage of presumption; nor

do I think the Americans would, or ought to confide in a man, let his

qualifications be ever so great, who has no property among them. It is

true, I most devoutly wish them success in the glorious struggle; that I

have expressed my wishes both in writing and _viva voce_, but my

errand to Boston was mere curiosity to see a people in so singular

circumstances; and I had likewise an ambition to be acquainted with some of

their leading men; with them only I associated during my stay in Boston.

Our ingenious gentlemen in the camp, therefore, very naturally concluded my

design was to put myself at their head."


To resume the course of events at Boston. Gage on the 1st of September,

before this popular agitation, had issued writs for an election of an

assembly to meet at Salem in October; seeing, however, the irritated state

of the public mind, he now countermanded the same by proclamation. The

people, disregarding the countermand, carried the election, and ninety of

the new members thus elected met at the appointed time. They waited a whole

day for the governor to attend, administer the oaths, and open the session;

but as he did not make his appearance, they voted themselves a provincial

Congress, and chose for president of it John Hancock,--a man of great

wealth, popular, and somewhat showy talents, and ardent patriotism; and

eminent from his social position.


This self-constituted body adjourned to Concord, about twenty miles from

Boston; quietly assumed supreme authority, and issued a remonstrance to the

governor, virtually calling him to account for his military operations in

fortifying Boston Neck, and collecting warlike stores about him, thereby

alarming the fears of the whole province, and menacing the lives and

property of the Bostonians.


General Gage, overlooking the irregularity of its organization, entered

into explanations with the Assembly, but failed to give satisfaction. As

winter approached, he found his situation more and more critical. Boston

was the only place in Massachusetts that now contained British forces, and

it had become the refuge of all the "_tories_" of the province; that

is to say, of all those devoted to the British government. There was

animosity between them and the principal inhabitants, among whom

revolutionary principles prevailed. The town itself, almost insulated by

nature, and surrounded by a hostile country, was like a place besieged.


The provincial Congress conducted its affairs with the order and system so

formidable to General Gage. Having adopted a plan for organizing the

militia, it had nominated general officers, two of whom, Artemas Ward and

Seth Pomeroy, had accepted.


The executive powers were vested in a committee of safety. This was to

determine when the services of the militia were necessary; was to call them

forth,--to nominate their officers to the Congress,--to commission them,

and direct the operations of the army. Another committee was appointed to

furnish supplies to the forces when called out; hence, named the Committee

of Supplies.


Under such auspices, the militia went on arming and disciplining itself in

every direction. They associated themselves in large bodies, and engaged,

verbally or by writing, to assemble in arms at the shortest notice for the

common defence, subject to the orders of the committee of safety.


Arrangements had been made for keeping up an active correspondence between

different parts of the country, and spreading an alarm in case of any

threatening danger. Under the direction of the committees just mentioned,

large quantities of military stores had been collected and deposited at

Concord and Worcester.


This semi-belligerent state of affairs in Massachusetts produced a general

restlessness throughout the land. The weakhearted apprehended coming

troubles; the resolute prepared to brave them. Military measures, hitherto

confined to New England, extended to the middle and southern provinces, and

the roll of the drum resounded through the villages.


Virginia was among the first to buckle on its armor. It had long been a

custom among its inhabitants to form themselves into independent companies,

equipped at their own expense, having their own peculiar uniform, and

electing their own officers, though holding themselves subject to militia

law. They had hitherto been self-disciplined; but now they continually

resorted to Washington for instruction and advice; considering him the

highest authority on military affairs. He was frequently called from home,

therefore, in the course of the winter and spring, to different parts of

the country to review independent companies; all of which were anxious to

put themselves under his command as field-officer.


Mount Vernon, therefore, again assumed a military tone as in former days,

when he took his first lessons there in the art of war. He had his old

campaigning associates with him occasionally, Dr. Craik and Captain Hugh

Mercer, to talk of past scenes and discuss the possibility of future

service. Mercer was already bestirring himself in disciplining the militia

about Fredericksburg, where he resided.


Two occasional and important guests at Mount Vernon, in this momentous

crisis, were General Charles Lee, of whom we have just spoken, and Major

Horatio Gates. As the latter is destined to occupy an important page in

this memoir, we will give a few particulars concerning him. He was an

Englishman by birth, the son of a captain in the British army. Horace

Walpole, whose Christian name he bore, speaks of him in one of his letters

as his godson, though some have insinuated that he stood in filial

relationship of a less sanctified character. He had received a liberal

education, and, when but twenty-one years of age, had served as a volunteer

under General Edward Cornwallis, Governor of Halifax. He was afterwards

captain of a New York independent company, with which, it may be

remembered, he marched in the campaign of Braddock, in which he was

severely wounded. For two or three subsequent years he was with his company

in the western part of the province of New York, receiving the appointment

of brigade major. He accompanied General Monckton as aide-de-camp to the

West Indies, and gained credit at the capture of Martinico. Being

despatched to London with tidings of the victory, he was rewarded by the

appointment of major to a regiment of foot; and afterwards, as a special

mark of royal favor, a majority in the Royal Americans. His promotion did

not equal his expectations and fancied deserts. He was married, and wanted

something more lucrative; so he sold out on half-pay and became an

applicant for some profitable post under government, which he hoped to

obtain through the influence of General Monckton and some friends in the

aristocracy. Thus several years were passed, partly with his family in

retirement, partly in London, paying court to patrons and men in power,

until, finding there was no likelihood of success, and having sold his

commission and half-pay, he emigrated to Virginia in 1772, a disappointed

man; purchased an estate in Berkeley County, beyond the Blue Ridge;

espoused the popular cause, and renewed his old campaigning acquaintance

with Washington.


He was now about forty-six years of age, of a florid complexion and goodly

presence, though a little inclined to corpulency; social, insinuating, and

somewhat specious in his manners, with a strong degree of self-approbation.

A long course of solicitation; haunting public offices and antechambers,

and "knocking about town," had taught him, it was said, how to wheedle and

flatter, and accommodate himself to the humors of others, so as to be the

boon companion of gentlemen, and "hail fellow well met" with the vulgar.


Lee, who was an old friend and former associate in arms, had recently been

induced by him to purchase an estate in his neighborhood in Berkeley

County, with a view to making it his abode, having a moderate competency, a

claim to land on the Ohio, and the half-pay of a British colonel. Both of

these officers, disappointed in the British service, looked forward

probably to greater success in the patriot cause.


Lee had been at Philadelphia since his visit to Boston, and had made

himself acquainted with the leading members of Congress during the session.

He was evidently cultivating an intimacy with every one likely to have

influence in the approaching struggle.


To Washington, the visits of these gentlemen were extremely welcome at this

juncture, from their military knowledge and experience, especially as much

of it had been acquired in America, in the same kind of warfare, if not the

very same campaigns in which he himself had mingled. Both were interested

in the popular cause. Lee was full of plans for the organization and

disciplining of the militia, and occasionally accompanied Washington in his

attendance on provincial reviews. He was subsequently very efficient at

Annapolis in promoting and superintending the organization of the Maryland



It is doubtful whether the visits of Lee were as interesting to Mrs.

Washington as to the general. He was whimsical, eccentric, and at times

almost rude; negligent also, and slovenly in person and attire; for though

he had occasionally associated with kings and princes, he had also

campaigned with Mohawks and Cossacks, and seems to have relished their

"good breeding." What was still more annoying in a well regulated mansion,

he was always followed by a legion of dogs, which shared his affections

with his horses, and took their seats by him when at table. "I must have

some object to embrace," said he misanthropically. "When I can be convinced

that men are as worthy objects as dogs, I shall transfer my benevolence,

and become as staunch a philanthropist as the canting Addison affected to

be." [Footnote: Lee to Adams. Life and Works of Adams, ii., 414.]


In his passion for horses and dogs, Washington, to a certain degree, could

sympathize with him, and had noble specimens of both in his stable and

kennel, which Lee doubtless inspected with a learned eye. During the season

in question, Washington, according to his diary, was occasionally in the

saddle at an early hour following the fox-hounds. It was the last time for

many a year that he was to gallop about his beloved hunting-grounds of

Mount Vernon and Belvoir.


In the month of March the second Virginia convention was held at Richmond.

Washington attended as delegate from Fairfax County. In this assembly,

Patrick Henry, with his usual ardor and eloquence, advocated measures for

embodying, arming and disciplining a militia force, and providing for the

defence of the colony. "It is useless," said he, "to address further

petitions to government, or to await the effect of those already addressed

to the throne. The time for supplication is past; the time for action is at

hand. We must fight, Mr. Speaker," exclaimed he emphatically; "I repeat it,

sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms, and to the God of Hosts, is all that

is left us!"


Washington joined him in the conviction, and was one of a committee that

reported a plan for carrying those measures into effect. He was not an

impulsive man to raise the battle cry, but the executive man to marshal the

troops into the field, and carry on the war.


His brother, John Augustine, was raising and disciplining an independent

company; Washington offered to accept the command of it, _should occasion

require it to be drawn out_. He did the same with respect to an

independent company at Richmond. "It is my full intention, if needful,"

writes he to his brother, "_to devote my life and fortune to the

cause_." [Footnote: Letter to John Augustine. Sparks, ii., 405.]















While the spirit of revolt was daily gaining strength and determination in

America, a strange infatuation reigned in the British councils. While the

wisdom and eloquence of Chatham were exerted in vain in behalf of American

rights, an empty braggadocio, elevated to a seat in Parliament, was able to

captivate the attention of the members, and influence their votes by gross

misrepresentations of the Americans and their cause. This was no other than

Colonel Grant, the same shallow soldier who, exceeding his instructions,

had been guilty of a foolhardy bravado before the walls of Fort Duquesne,

which brought slaughter and defeat upon his troops. From misleading the

army, he was now promoted to a station where he might mislead the councils

of his country. We are told that he entertained Parliament, especially the

ministerial side of the House, with ludicrous stories of the cowardice of

Americans. He had served with them, he said, and knew them well, and would

venture to say they would never dare to face an English army; that they

were destitute of every requisite to make good soldiers, and that a very

slight force would be sufficient for their complete reduction. With five

regiments, he could march through all America!


How often has England been misled to her cost by such slanderous

misrepresentations of the American character! Grant talked of having served

with the Americans; had he already forgotten that in the field of

Braddock's defeat, when the British regulars fled, it was alone the

desperate stand of a handful of Virginians, which covered their disgraceful

flight, and saved them from being overtaken and massacred by the savages?


This taunting and braggart speech of Grant was made in the face of the

conciliatory bill of the venerable Chatham, devised with a view to redress

the wrongs of America. The councils of the arrogant and scornful prevailed;

and instead of the proposed bill, further measures of a stringent nature

were adopted, coercive of some of the middle and southern colonies, but

ruinous to the trade and fisheries of New England.


At length the bolt, so long suspended, fell! The troops at Boston had been

augmented to about four thousand men. Goaded on by the instigations of the

tories, and alarmed by the energetic measures of the whigs, General Gage

now resolved to deal the latter a crippling blow. This was to surprise and

destroy their magazine of military stores at Concord, about twenty miles

from Boston. It was to be effected on the night of the 18th of April, by a

force detached for the purpose.


Preparations were made with great secrecy. Boats for the transportation of

the troops were launched, and moored under the sterns of the men-of-war.

Grenadiers and light infantry were relieved from duty, and held in

readiness. On the 18th, officers were stationed on the roads leading from

Boston, to prevent any intelligence of the expedition getting into the

country. At night orders were issued by General Gage that no person should

leave the town. About ten o'clock, from eight to nine hundred men,

grenadiers, light infantry, and marines, commanded by Lieutenant-colonel

Smith, embarked in the boats at the foot of Boston Common, and crossed to

Lechmere Point, in Cambridge, whence they were to march silently, and

without beat of drum, to the place of destination.


The measures of General Gage had not been shrouded in all the secrecy he

imagined. Mystery often defeats itself by the suspicions it awakens. Dr.

Joseph Warren, one of the committee of safety, had observed the preparatory

disposition of the boats and troops, and surmised some sinister intention.

He sent notice of these movements to John Hancock and Samuel Adams, both

members of the provincial Congress, but at that time privately sojourning

with a friend at Lexington. A design on the magazine at Concord was

suspected, and the committee of safety ordered that the cannon collected

there should be secreted, and part of the stores removed.


On the night of the 18th, Dr. Warren sent off two messengers by different

routes to give the alarm that the king's troops were actually sallying

forth. The messengers got out of Boston just before the order of General

Gage went into effect, to prevent any one from leaving the town. About the

same time a lantern was hung out of an upper window of the north church, in

the direction of Charlestown. This was a preconcerted signal to the

patriots of that place, who instantly despatched swift messengers to rouse

the country.


In the mean time, Colonel Smith set out on his nocturnal march from

Lechmere Point by an unfrequented path across marshes, where at times the

troops had to wade through water. He had proceeded but a few miles when

alarm guns, booming through the night air, and the clang of village bells,

showed that the news of his approach was travelling before him, and the

people were rising. He now sent back to General Gage for a reinforcement,

while Major Pitcairne was detached with six companies to press forward, and

secure the bridges at Concord.


Pitcairn advanced rapidly, capturing every one that he met, or overtook.

Within a mile and half of Lexington, however, a horseman was too quick on

the spur for him, and galloping to the village, gave the alarm that the

redcoats were coming. Drums were beaten; guns fired. By the time that

Pitcairn entered the village, about seventy or eighty of the yeomanry, in

military array, were mustered on the green near the church. It was a part

of the "constitutional army," pledged to resist by force any open hostility

of British troops. Besides these, there were a number of lookers on, armed

and unarmed.


The sound of drum, and the array of men in arms, indicated a hostile

determination. Pitcairn halted his men within a short distance of the

church, and ordered them to prime and load. They then advanced at double

quick time. The major, riding forward, waved his sword, and ordered the

rebels, as he termed them, to disperse. Other of the officers echoed his

words as they advanced: "Disperse, ye villains! Lay down your arms, ye

rebels, and disperse!" The orders were disregarded. A scene of confusion

ensued, with firing on both sides; which party commenced it, has been a

matter of dispute. Pitcairn always maintained that, finding the militia

would not disperse, he turned to order his men to draw out, and surround

them, when he saw a flash in the pan from the gun of a countryman posted

behind a wall, and almost instantly the report of two or three muskets.

These he supposed to be from the Americans, as his horse was wounded, as

was also a soldier close by him. His troops rushed on, and a promiscuous

fire took place, though, as he declared, he made repeated signals with his

sword for his men to forbear.


The firing of the Americans was irregular, and without much effect; that of

the British was more fatal. Eight of the patriots were killed, and ten

wounded, and the whole put to flight. The victors formed on the common,

fired a volley, and gave three cheers for one of the most inglorious and

disastrous triumphs ever achieved by British arms.


Colonel Smith soon arrived with the residue of the detachment, and they all

marched on towards Concord, about six miles distant.


The alarm had reached that place in the dead hour of the preceding night.

The church bell roused the inhabitants. They gathered together in anxious

consultation. The militia and minute men seized their arms, and repaired to

the parade ground, near the church. Here they were subsequently joined by

armed yeomanry from Lincoln, and elsewhere. Exertions were now made to

remove and conceal the military stores. A scout, who had been sent out for

intelligence, brought word that the British had fired upon the people at

Lexington, and were advancing upon Concord. There was great excitement and

indignation. Part of the militia marched down the Lexington road to meet

them, but returned, reporting their force to be three times that of the

Americans. The whole of the militia now retired to an eminence about a mile

from the centre of the town, and formed themselves into two battalions.


About seven o'clock, the British came in sight, advancing with quick step,

their arms glittering in the morning sun. They entered in two divisions by

different roads. Concord is traversed by a river of the same name, having

two bridges, the north and the south. The grenadiers and light infantry

took post in the centre of the town, while strong parties of light troops

were detached to secure the bridges, and destroy the military stores. Two

hours were expended in the work of destruction without much success, so

much of the stores having been removed, or concealed. During all this time

the yeomanry from the neighboring towns were hurrying in with such weapons

as were at hand, and joining the militia on the height, until the little

cloud of war gathering there numbered about four hundred and fifty.


About ten o'clock, a body of three hundred undertook to dislodge the

British from the north bridge. As they approached, the latter fired upon

them, killing two, and wounding a third. The patriots returned the fire

with spirit and effect. The British retreated to the main body, the

Americans pursuing them across the bridge.


By this time all the military stores which could be found had been

destroyed; Colonel Smith, therefore, made preparations for a retreat. The

scattered troops were collected, the dead were buried, and conveyances

procured for the wounded. About noon he commenced his retrograde march for

Boston. It was high time. His troops were jaded by the night march, and the

morning's toils and skirmishings.


The country was thoroughly alarmed. The yeomanry were hurrying from every

quarter to the scene of action. As the British began their retreat, the

Americans began the work of sore and galling retaliation. Along the open

road, the former were harassed incessantly by rustic marksmen, who took

deliberate aim from behind trees, or over stone fences. Where the road

passed through woods, the British found themselves between two fires, dealt

by unseen foes, the minute men having posted themselves on each side among

the bushes. It was in vain they threw out flankers, and endeavored to

dislodge their assailants; each pause gave time for other pursuers to come

within reach, and open attacks from different quarters. For several miles

they urged their way along woody defiles, or roads skirted with fences and

stone walls, the retreat growing more and more disastrous; some were shot

down, some gave out through mere exhaustion; the rest hurried on, without

stopping to aid the fatigued, or wounded. Before reaching Lexington,

Colonel Smith received a severe wound in the leg, and the situation of the

retreating troops was becoming extremely critical, when, about two o'clock,

they were met by Lord Percy, with a brigade of one thousand men, and two

field-pieces. His lordship had been detached from Boston about nine o'clock

by General Gage, in compliance with Colonel Smith's urgent call for a

reinforcement, and had marched gaily through Roxbury to the tune of "Yankee

Doodle," in derision of the "rebels." He now found the latter a more

formidable foe than he had anticipated. Opening his brigade to the right

and left, he received the retreating troops into a hollow square; where,

fainting and exhausted, they threw themselves on the ground to rest. His

lordship showed no disposition to advance upon their assailants, but

contented himself with keeping them at bay with his field-pieces, which

opened a vigorous fire from an eminence.


Hitherto the Provincials, being hasty levies, without a leader, had acted

from individual impulse, without much concert; but now General Heath was

upon the ground. He was one of those authorized to take command when the

minute men should be called out. That class of combatants promptly obeyed

his orders, and he was efficacious in rallying them, and bringing them into

military order, when checked and scattered by the fire of the field-pieces.


Dr. Warren, also, arrived on horseback, having spurred from Boston on

receiving news of the skirmishing. In the subsequent part of the day, he

was one of the most active and efficient men in the field. His presence,

like that of General Heath, regulated the infuriated ardor of the militia,

and brought it into system.


Lord Percy, having allowed the troops a short interval for repose and

refreshment, continued the retreat toward Boston. As soon as he got under

march, the galling assault by the pursuing yeomanry was recommenced in

flank and rear. The British soldiery, irritated in turn, acted as if in an

enemy's country. Houses and shops were burnt down in Lexington; private

dwellings along the road were plundered, and their inhabitants maltreated.

In one instance, an unoffending invalid was wantonly slain in his own

house. All this increased the exasperation of the yeomanry. There was

occasional sharp skirmishing, with bloodshed on both sides, but in general

a dogged pursuit, where the retreating troops were galled at every step.

Their march became more and more impeded by the number of their wounded.

Lord Percy narrowly escaped death from a musket-ball, which struck off a

button of his waistcoat. One of his officers remained behind wounded in

West Cambridge. His ammunition was failing as he approached Charlestown.

The provincials pressed upon him in rear, others were advancing from

Roxbury, Dorchester, and Milton; Colonel Pickering, with the Essex militia,

seven hundred strong, was at hand; there was danger of being intercepted in

the retreat to Charlestown. The field-pieces were again brought into play,

to check the ardor of the pursuit; but they were no longer objects of

terror. The sharpest firing of the provincials was near Prospect Hill, as

the harassed enemy hurried along the Charlestown road, eager to reach the

Neck, and get under cover of their ships. The pursuit terminated a little

after sunset, at Charlestown Common, where General Heath brought the minute

men to a halt. Within half an hour more, a powerful body of men, from

Marblehead and Salem, came up to join in the chase. "If the retreat,"

writes Washington, "had not been as precipitate as it was,--and God knows

it could not well have been more so,--the ministerial troops must have

surrendered, or been totally cut off."


The distant firing from the mainland had reached the British at Boston. The

troops which, in the morning, had marched through Roxbury, to the tune of

Yankee Doodle, might have been seen at sunset, hounded along the old

Cambridge road to Charlestown Neck, by mere armed yeomanry. Gage was

astounded at the catastrophe. It was but a short time previous that one of

his officers, in writing to friends in England, scoffed at the idea of the

Americans taking up arms. "Whenever it comes to blows," said he, "he that

can run the fastest, will think himself well off, believe me. Any two

regiments here ought to be decimated, if they did not beat in the field the

whole force of the Massachusetts province." How frequently, throughout this

Revolution, had the English to pay the penalty of thus undervaluing the

spirit they were provoking!


In this memorable affair, the British loss was seventy-three killed, one

hundred and seventy-four wounded, and twenty-six missing. Among the slain

were eighteen officers. The loss of the Americans was forty-nine killed,

thirty-nine wounded, and five missing. This was the first blood shed in the

revolutionary struggle; a mere drop in amount, but a deluge in its

effects,--rending the colonies for ever from the mother country.


The cry of blood from the field of Lexington, went through the land. None

felt the appeal more than the old soldiers of the French war. It roused

John Stark, of New Hampshire--a trapper and hunter in his youth, a veteran

in Indian warfare, a campaigner under Abercrombie and Amherst, now the

military oracle of a rustic neighborhood. Within ten minutes after

receiving the alarm, he was spurring towards the sea-coast, and on the way

stirring up the volunteers of the Massachusetts borders, to assemble

forthwith at Bedford, in the vicinity of Boston.


Equally alert was his old comrade in frontier exploits, Colonel Israel

Putnam. A man on horseback, with a drum, passed through his neighborhood in

Connecticut, proclaiming British violence at Lexington. Putnam was in the

field ploughing, assisted by his son. In an instant the team was unyoked;

the plough left in the furrow; the lad sent home to give word of his

father's departure; and Putnam, on horseback, in his working garb, urging

with all speed to the camp. Such was the spirit aroused throughout the

country. The sturdy yeomanry, from all parts, were hastening toward Boston

with such weapons as were at hand; and happy was he who could command a

rusty fowling-piece and a powder-horn.


The news reached Virginia at a critical moment. Lord Dunmore, obeying a

general order issued by the ministry to all the provincial governors, had

seized upon the military munitions of the province. Here was a similar

measure to that of Gage. The cry went forth that the subjugation of the

colonies was to be attempted. All Virginia was in combustion. The standard

of liberty was reared in every county; there was a general cry to arms.

Washington was looked to, from various quarters, to take command. His old

comrade in arms, Hugh Mercer, was about marching down to Williamsburg at

the head of a body of resolute men, seven hundred strong, entitled "The

friends of constitutional liberty and America," whom he had organized and

drilled in Fredericksburg, and nothing but a timely concession of Lord

Dunmore, with respect to some powder which he had seized, prevented his

being beset in his palace.


Before Hugh Mercer and the Friends of Liberty disbanded themselves, they

exchanged a mutual pledge to reassemble at a moment's warning, whenever

called on to defend the liberty and rights of this or any other sister



Washington was at Mount Vernon, preparing to set out for Philadelphia as a

delegate to the second Congress, when he received tidings of the affair at

Lexington. Bryan Fairfax and Major Horatio Gates were his guests at the

time. They all regarded the event as decisive in its consequences; but they

regarded it with different feelings. The worthy and gentle-spirited Fairfax

deplored it deeply. He foresaw that it must break up all his pleasant

relations in life; arraying his dearest friends against the government to

which, notwithstanding the errors of its policy, he was loyally attached

and resolved to adhere.


Gates, on the contrary, viewed it with the eye of a soldier and a

place-hunter--hitherto disappointed in both capacities. This event promised

to open a new avenue to importance and command, and he determined to enter

upon it.


Washington's feelings were of a mingled nature. They may be gathered from a

letter to his friend and neighbor, George William Fairfax, then in England,

in which he lays the blame of this "deplorable affair" on the ministry and

their military agents; and concludes with the following words, in which the

yearnings of the patriot give affecting solemnity to the implied resolve of

the soldier: "Unhappy it is to reflect that a brother's sword has been

sheathed in a brother's breast; and that the once happy and peaceful plains

of America, are to be either drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves.

Sad alternative! _But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?_"












At the eastward, the march of the Revolution went on with accelerated

speed. Thirty thousand men had been deemed necessary for the defence of the

country. The provincial Congress of Massachusetts resolved to raise

thirteen thousand six hundred, as its quota. Circular letters, also, were

issued by the committee of safety, urging the towns to enlist troops with

all speed, and calling for military aid from the other New England



Their appeals were promptly answered. Bodies of militia, and parties of

volunteers from New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut, hastened to

join the minute men of Massachusetts in forming a camp in the neighborhood

of Boston. With the troops of Connecticut, came Israel Putnam; having

recently raised a regiment in that province, and received from its Assembly

the commission of brigadier-general. Some of his old comrades in French and

Indian warfare, had hastened to join his standard. Such were two of his

captains, Durkee and Knowlton. The latter, who was his especial favorite,

had fought by his side when a mere boy.


The command of the camp was given to General Artemas Ward, already

mentioned. He was a native of Shrewsbury, in Massachusetts, and a veteran

of the seven years' war--having served as lieutenant-colonel under

Abercrombie. He had, likewise, been a member of the legislative bodies, and

had recently been made, by the provincial Congress of Massachusetts,

commander-in-chief of its forces.


As affairs were now drawing to a crisis, and war was considered inevitable,

some bold spirits in Connecticut conceived a project for the outset. This

was the surprisal of the old forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, already

famous in the French war. Their situation on Lake Champlain gave them the

command of the main route to Canada; so that the possession of them would

be all-important in case of hostilities. They were feebly garrisoned and

negligently guarded, and abundantly furnished with artillery and military

stores, so much needed by the patriot army.


This scheme was set on foot in the purlieus, as it were, of the provincial

Legislature of Connecticut, then in session. It was not openly sanctioned

by that body, but secretly favored, and money lent from the treasury to

those engaged in it. A committee was appointed, also, to accompany them to

the frontier, aid them in raising troops, and exercise over them, a degree

of superintendence and control.


Sixteen men were thus enlisted in Connecticut, a greater number in

Massachusetts, but the greatest accession of force, was from what was

called the "New Hampshire Grants." This was a region having the Connecticut

River on one side, and Lake Champlain and the Hudson River on the

other--being, in fact, the country forming the present State of Vermont. It

had long been a disputed territory, claimed by New York and New Hampshire.

George II. had decided in favor of New York; but the Governor of New

Hampshire had made grants of between one and two hundred townships in it,

whence it had acquired the name of the New Hampshire Grants. The settlers

on those grants resisted the attempts of New York to eject them, and formed

themselves into an association, called "The Green Mountain Boys." Resolute,

strong-handed fellows they were, with Ethan Allen at their head, a native

of Connecticut, but brought up among the Green Mountains. He and his

lieutenants, Seth Warner and Remember Baker, were outlawed by the

Legislature of New York, and rewards offered for their apprehension. They

and their associates armed themselves, set New York at defiance, and swore

they would be the death of any one who should attempt their arrest.


Thus Ethan Allen was becoming a kind of Robin Hood among the mountains,

when the present crisis changed the relative position of things as if by

magic. Boundary feuds were forgotten amid the great questions of colonial

rights. Ethan Allen at once stepped forward, a patriot, and volunteered

with his Green Mountain Boys to serve in the popular cause. He was well

fitted for the enterprise in question, by his experience as a frontier

champion, his robustness of mind and body, and his fearless spirit. He had

a kind of rough eloquence, also, that was very effective with his

followers. "His style," says one, who knew him personally, "was a singular

compound of local barbarisms, scriptural phrases, and oriental wildness;

and though unclassic, and sometimes ungrammatical, was highly animated and

forcible." Washington, in one of his letters, says there was "an original

something in him which commanded admiration."


Thus reinforced, the party, now two hundred and seventy strong, pushed

forward to Castleton, a place within a few miles of the head of Lake

Champlain. Here a council of war was held on the 2d of May. Ethan Allen was

placed at the head of the expedition, with James Easton and Seth Warner as

second and third in command. Detachments were sent off to Skenesborough

(now Whitehall), and another place on the lake, with orders to seize all

the boats they could find and bring them to Shoreham, opposite Ticonderoga,

whither Allen prepared to proceed with the main body.


At this juncture, another adventurous spirit arrived at Castleton. This was

BENEDICT ARNOLD, since so sadly renowned. He, too, had conceived the

project of surprising Ticonderoga and Crown Point; or, perhaps, had caught

the idea from its first agitators in Connecticut,--in the militia of which

province he held a captain's commission. He had proposed the scheme to the

Massachusetts committee of safety. It had met with their approbation. They

had given him a colonel's commission, authorized him to raise a force in

Western Massachusetts, not exceeding four hundred men, and furnished him

with money and means. Arnold had enlisted but a few officers and men when

he heard of the expedition from Connecticut being on the march. He

instantly hurried on with one attendant to overtake it, leaving his few

recruits to follow, as best they could: in this way he reached Castleton

just after the council of war.


Producing the colonel's commission received from the Massachusetts

committee of safety, he now aspired to the supreme command. His claims were

disregarded by the Green Mountain Boys; they would follow no leader but

Ethan Allen. As they formed the majority of the party, Arnold was fain to

acquiesce, and serve as a volunteer, with the rank, but not the command of



The party arrived at Shoreham, opposite Ticonderoga, on the night of the

9th of May. The detachment sent in quest of boats had failed to arrive.

There were a few boats at hand, with which the transportation was

commenced. It was slow work; the night wore away; day was about to break,

and but eighty-three men, with Allen and Arnold, had crossed. Should they

wait for the residue, day would dawn, the garrison wake, and their

enterprise might fail. Allen drew up his men, addressed them in his own

emphatic style, and announced his intention to make a dash at the fort

without waiting for more force. "It is a desperate attempt," said he, "and

I ask no man to go against his will. I will take the lead, and be the first

to advance. You that are willing to follow, poise your firelocks." Not a

firelock but was poised.


They mounted the hill briskly, but in silence, guided by a boy from the

neighborhood. The day dawned as Allen arrived at a sally port. A sentry

pulled trigger on him, but his piece missed fire. He retreated through a

covered way. Allen and his men followed. Another sentry thrust at Easton

with his bayonet, but was struck down by Allen, and begged for quarter. It

was granted on condition of his leading the way instantly to the quarters

of the commandant, Captain Delaplace, who was yet in bed. Being arrived

there, Allen thundered at the door, and demanded a surrender of the fort.

By this time his followers had formed into two lines on the parade-ground,

and given three hearty cheers. The commandant appeared at his door

half-dressed, "the frightened face of his pretty wife peering over his

shoulder." He gazed at Allen in bewildered astonishment. "By whose

authority do you act?" exclaimed he. "In the name of the great Jehovah, and

the Continental Congress!" replied Allen, with a flourish of his sword, and

an oath which we do not care to subjoin.


There was no disputing the point. The garrison, like the commander, had

been startled from sleep, and made prisoners as they rushed forth in their

confusion. A surrender accordingly took place. The captain, and forty-eight

men, which composed his garrison, were sent prisoners to Hartford, in

Connecticut. A great supply of military and naval stores, so important in

the present crisis, was found in the fortress.


Colonel Seth Warner, who had brought over the residue of the party from

Shoreham, was now sent with a detachment against Crown Point, which

surrendered on the 12th of May, without firing a gun; the whole garrison

being a sergeant and twelve men. Here were taken upward of a hundred



Arnold now insisted vehemently on his right to command Ticonderoga; being,

as he said, the only officer invested with legal authority. His claims had

again to yield to the superior popularity of Ethan Allen, to whom the

Connecticut committee, which had accompanied the enterprise, gave an

instrument in writing, investing him with the command of the fortress, and

its dependencies, until he should receive the orders of the Connecticut

Assembly, or the Continental Congress. Arnold, while forced to acquiesce,

sent a protest, and a statement of his grievances to the Massachusetts

Legislature. In the mean time, his chagrin was appeased by a new project.

The detachment originally sent to seize upon boats at Skenesborough,

arrived with a schooner, and several bateaux. It was immediately concerted

between Allen and Arnold to cruise in them down the lake, and surprise St.

John's, on the Sorel River, the frontier post of Canada. The schooner was

accordingly armed with cannon from the fort. Arnold, who had been a seaman

in his youth, took the command of her, while Allen and his Green Mountain

Boys embarked in the bateaux.


Arnold outsailed the other craft, and arriving at St. John's, surprised and

made prisoners of a sergeant and twelve men; captured a king's sloop of

seventy tons, with two brass six-pounders and seven men; took four bateaux,

destroyed several others, and then, learning that troops were on the way

from Montreal and Chamblee, spread all his sails to a favoring breeze, and

swept up the lake with his prizes and prisoners, and some valuable stores,

which he had secured.


He had not sailed far when he met Ethan Allen and the bateaux. Salutes were

exchanged; cannon on one side, musketry on the other. Allen boarded the

sloop; learnt from Arnold the particulars of his success, and determined to

push on, take possession of St. John's, and garrison it with one hundred of

his Green Mountain Boys. He was foiled in the attempt by the superior force

which had arrived; so he returned to his station at Ticonderoga.


Thus a partisan band, unpractised in the art of war, had, by a series of

daring exploits, and almost without the loss of a man, won for the patriots

the command of Lakes George and Champlain, and thrown open the great

highway to Canada.












The second General Congress assembled at Philadelphia on the 10th of May.

Peyton Randolph was again elected as president; but being obliged to

return, and occupy his place as speaker of the Virginia Assembly, John

Hancock, of Massachusetts, was elevated to the chair.


A lingering feeling of attachment to the mother country, struggling with

the growing spirit of self-government, was manifested in the proceedings of

this remarkable body. Many of those most active in vindicating colonial

rights, and Washington among the number, still indulged the hope of an

eventual reconciliation, while few entertained, or, at least, avowed the

idea of complete independence.


A second "humble and dutiful" petition to the king was moved, but met with

strong opposition. John Adams condemned it as an imbecile measure,

calculated to embarrass the proceedings of Congress. He was for prompt and

vigorous action. Other members concurred with him. Indeed, the measure

itself seemed but a mere form, intended to reconcile the half-scrupulous;

for subsequently, when it was carried, Congress, in face of it, went on to

assume and exercise the powers of a sovereign authority. A federal union

was formed, leaving to each colony the right of regulating its internal

affairs according to its own individual constitution, but vesting in

Congress the power of making peace or war; of entering into treaties and

alliances; of regulating general commerce; in a word, of legislating on all

such matters as regarded the security and welfare of the whole community.


The executive power was to be vested in a council of twelve, chosen by

Congress from among its own members, and to hold office for a limited time.

Such colonies as had not sent delegates to Congress, might yet become

members of the confederacy by agreeing to its conditions. Georgia, which

had hitherto hesitated, soon joined the league, which thus extended from

Nova Scotia to Florida.


Congress lost no time in exercising their federated powers. In virtue of

them, they ordered the enlistment of troops, the construction of forts in

various parts of the colonies, the provision of arms, ammunition, and

military stores; while to defray the expense of these, and other measures,

avowedly of self-defence, they authorized the emission of notes to the

amount of three millions of dollars, bearing the inscription of "The United

Colonies;" the faith of the confederacy being pledged for their redemption.


A retaliating decree was passed, prohibiting all supplies of provisions to

the British fisheries; and another, declaring the province of Massachusetts

Bay absolved from its compact with the crown, by the violation of its

charter; and recommending it to form an internal government for itself.


The public sense of Washington's military talents and experience, was

evinced in his being chairman of all the committees appointed for military

affairs. Most of the rules and regulations for the army, and the measures

for defence, were devised by him.


The situation of the New England army, actually besieging Boston, became an

early and absorbing consideration. It was without munitions of war, without

arms, clothing, or pay; in fact, without legislative countenance or

encouragement. Unless sanctioned and assisted by Congress, there was danger

of its dissolution. If dissolved, how could another be collected? If

dissolved, what would there be to prevent the British from sallying out of

Boston, and spreading desolation throughout the country?


All this was the subject of much discussion out of doors. The disposition

to uphold the army was general; but the difficult question was, who should

be commander-in-chief? Adams, in his diary, gives us glimpses of the

conflict of opinions and interests within doors. There was a southern

party, he said, which could not brook the idea of a New England army,

commanded by a New England general. "Whether this jealousy was sincere,"

writes he, "or whether it was mere pride, and a haughty ambition of

furnishing a southern general to command the northern army, I cannot say;

but the intention was very visible to me, that Colonel Washington was their

object; and so many of our stanchest men were in the plan, that we could

carry nothing without conceding to it. There was another embarrassment,

which was never publicly known, and which was carefully concealed by those

who knew it: the Massachusetts and other New England delegates were

divided. Mr. Hancock and Mr. Cushing hung back; Mr. Paine did not come

forward, and even Mr. Samuel Adams was irresolute. Mr. Hancock himself had

an ambition to be appointed commander-in-chief. Whether he thought an

election a compliment due to him, and intended to have the honor of

declining it, or whether he would have accepted it, I know not. To the

compliment, he had some pretensions; for, at that time, his exertions,

sacrifices, and general merits in the cause of his country, had been

incomparably greater than those of Colonel Washington. But the delicacy of

his health, and his entire want of experience in actual service, though an

excellent militia officer, were decisive objections to him in my mind."


General Charles Lee was at that time in Philadelphia. His former visit had

made him well acquainted with the leading members of Congress. The active

interest he had