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CHAP. I. ington, an expedition against fort du Quesne 1758. was determined on. I
Finding there was no probability of being placed on a permanent establishment, he had for some time past meditated a resignation of . his commission; but the prospect of more active service, now determined him to hold it for the ensuing campaign.
The high estimation in which he was held by the officers who had served with him under general Braddock, several of whom were now in the army of general Forbes, led him to hope, that he should be in some degree distinguished by the commander in chief, and placed in situations which would enable him to render essential service to his country, and at the same time, to reap those laurels for which he had always panted.
He urged strongly an early campaign, and among other motives to induce the utmost possible activity, he stated, that by delay they would lose a body of friendly Indians, who had collected at Winchester, during the month of April, to the amount of seven hundred men, and would, he apprehended, return to their homes, if they did not perceive a prospect of being soon employed. “ In that event” he added “no words can tell how much they will be missed.”
Long before the troops assembled, a very large body of French and Indians broke into
the country and the wretched inhabitants were CHAP. I. again exposed to the miseries which they had 1758. so often experienced. The county of Augusta was ravaged, and about sixty persons murdered. The attempts made to intercept those who committed the mischief, were unsuccessful, and they recrossed the Alleghany with their plunder, prisoners, and scalps.
At length orders were received to assemble May 24. the regiment at. Winchester, and be in readiness to march in fifteen days; in consequence of which, the recruiting parties were called in, and colonel Washington made a journey to Williamsburg, to obtain arms, ammunition and clothing for his troops ; as well as money to enable them to move. It is strange that, at this late season, these preparations were yet to be made ; and it is not less strange, that the task should have been imposed on colonel Washington, of urging the necessity of allowing to his regiment, which had performed so much severe duty, the same pay which was allowed to a second regiment voted the last session of assembly only for this campaign, and to be commanded by colonel Bird.
The apprehensions which had been entertained of the impracticability of detaining the Indians, unless the campaign could be commenced early in the season, were well founded. Before a junction of the troops had been made, these savages became impatient
CHAP. I. to return to their homes; and, finding that the 1758. expedition would yet be delayed a considerable
time, they left the army with promises to rejoin
bered parties. June 21. In pursuance of the orders which had been
received, the Virginia troops moved in detach. ments from Winchester to fort Cumberland, where they assembled early in July, and were employed in opening a road to Raystown, where colonel Bouquet was stationed. As they were continually harassed by small parties of the
enemy, it was in contemplation to send a strong CHAP. I. detachment over the Alleghany mountains, 1758. for the purpose of giving them employment at home. This plan was laid aside in conformity with the advice of colonel Washington, who observed, that unquestionably a very large force must now be collected at fort du Quesne, and that a strong detachment could not move, without such a quantity of provisions, as would prevent a secret march; in consequence of which, the enemy would meet them in full force, and probably defeat them. He advised rather to harass them with small parties, principally of Indians, and this advice was pursued.
It had been considered as certain, that the July. army would march by Braddock's road which was well known, and required very few repairs. Late in July, colonel Washington had the mortification to receive a letter from colonel Bouquet, asking an interview with him, in order to consult on opening a new road from Raystown, and requesting his opinion on that route. “I shall,” says he, in answer to this letter, “ most cheerfully work on any road, pursue any route, or enter upon any service, that the general or yourself may think me usefully employed in, or qualified for; and shall never have a will of my own, when a duty is required of me. But since you desire me to speak my sentiments freely, permit me to observe that, after having conversed with all the guides, and
CHAP. I. having been informed by others acquainted with 1758. the country, I am convinced that a road, to be
compared with general Braddock's, or indeed that will be fit for transportation even by packhorses, cannot be made. I own I have no predilection for the route you have in contemplation for me.”
A few days after this letter, he had an interview with colonel Bouquet, whom he found decided in favour of opening the new road. After their separation, colonel Washington, with his permission, addressed to him a letter to be laid before general Forbes, then indisposed at Carlisle, in which he stated his reasons against this measure.
Several years past, he said, the Pennsylva. nians and Virginians had opened a trade with the Indians on the Ohio, and had endeavoured to obviate the inconveniencies arising from the excessive badness of the route. The Indians had been hired to explore the country and find the best way; the result of which had been, that the preference had been universally given to the path by Wills' creek, and the Pennsylvanians themselves had adopted it. It had been opened by the Ohio company in 1753, and repaired by the troops under his command in 1754 as far as Gist's plantation, beyond the Great Meadows. In 1755 it had been widened and put in good order by general Braddock, and could easily be made fit for immediate use.