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A road which had been so long opened, so well CHAP. I. and so often repaired, must be superior to a 1758. new road, admitting the ground to be equal. But the great and decisive objection to this new route was the want of time to open it. So much time must be consumed in surmounting the vast difficulties opposed by almost impassable mountains, covered with rocks and woods, as would blast their otherwise well-founded hopes of striking, this season, the long wished for and important blow. Its being deferred to another year, would, he was morally certain, be productive of the most destructive consequences to the middle and southern colonies, who had now made a noble effort towards ending the calamities under which they had so long groaned by granting supplies beyond their abilities. These funds would in a few months be exhausted, and the troops disbanded. Their inability, added to the discouragement occasioned by such a disappointment, might prevent their making a similar effort for another season; and experience'evinced, that expense and numbers must be increased in proportion to their delay.
The southern Indians had, from their ill success and inactivity, long viewed them with contempt, and had already committed hostilities on their frontiers. They waited only the result of the present campaign, to unmask themselves completely, and such an addition to the strength
CHAP. I. of the enemy, might terminate in the destruc1758. tion of the colonies.
The flattering accounts of the forage on the Raystown road, could not but be exaggerated. It was agreed by all unprejudiced men acquainted with the country, that the mountains on that road were still more inaccessible than on general Braddock's. They were barren on both roads, and between them, were rich valleys affording great quantities of grass.
The objection made to Braddock's road on account of the high waters was not well founded. The Yohogany, which was the most rapid and soonest filled, he had himself crossed with a body of troops, after more than thirty days of almost constant rain. The Monongahela might be avoided, if necessary, by passing a defile.
The objections to the numerous defiles on general Braddock's road were equally applicable to the other road. "
The difference in distance was extremely inconsiderable, and the advantage gained in that respect, would admit of no comparison with the disadvantage of being compelled to open a new road, one hundred miles, over almost inaccessible mountains. Should this be attempted, he feared, they would be able to do nothing more than to fortify some post on the other side the mountains, and prepare for another campaign. This he prayed Heaven to avert, unless it should really be found imprac
ticable during the present to prosecute with CHAP. I. prudence the enterprise now in hand.
1758. He was also opposed to the scheme which had been suggested, of dividing the army and marching by the two different routes.
He objected to this measure, first, because it divided their strength, and put it absolutely out of the power of the columns to support each other on the march, since there neither was, nor could be, any communication between the roads.
Secondly. If the divisions should set out at the same time, and should make no deposits on the way, that, marching by the road from Raystown must arrive first, because unincumbered with waggons; and, if the enemy should be in force, would be exposed even in their entrenchments to insult and hazard. If the enemy should not be strong enough for this, the whole body would have but little to fear from them in whatever manner, or by whatever road they might march.
Thirdly. If the division escorting the convoy should be directed to march first, they would risk almost every thing, and be ruined if any accident should befal the artillery and military stores: and
Lastly. If they should advance on both roads by deposits, they must double their number of guards over the mountains, and distress themselves by victualling them at the
CHAP. I. places of deposit. In addition to which, they 1758. must lose the proposed advantage of stealing a
march on the enemy.
Having stated these objections to the plan in contemplation, he then recommended an order of march by Braddock's road, which would bring the whole army before fort du Quesne in thirty-four days, with a supply of provisions for eighty-six days.
He at the same time addressed a letter to
major Halket, aid of general Forbes, in which August 2. he says, “I am just returned from a conference
held with colonel Bouquet. I find him fixed.... I think I may say unalterably fixed....to lead you a new way to the Ohio, through a road every inch of which is to be cut, at this advanced season, when we have scarcely time left to tread the beaten track, universally confessed to be the best passage through the mountains.
“If colonel Bouquet succeeds in this point with the general, all is lost! all is lost indeed! our enterprise is ruined, and we shall be stopped at the Laurel hill this winter....but not to gather laurels....except of the kind which cover the mountains. The southern Indians will turn against us, and these colonies will be desolated by such an accession to the enemy's strength. These must be the consequences of a miscarriage; and a miscarriage, the almost necessary consequence of an attempt to march the army by this route.”
Colonel Washington's remonstrances and CHAP. I. arguments were, however, unavailing, and the 1758. new route was resolved on. His chagrin, at this measure and the delays resulting from it, was extreme, and was expressed in most anxious letters to mr. Fauquier, then governor of Virginia, and to the speaker of the house of burgesses.
To the speaker, from fort Cumberland, he says “ we are still encamped here, very sickly September 2. and dispirited at the prospect before us. That appearance of glory which we once had in view.... that hope.... that laudable ambition of serving our country, and meriting its applause, are now no more ; all is dwindled into ease, sloth, and fatal inactivity. In a word, all is lost, if the ways of men in power, like certain ways of Providence, are not inscrutable. But we who view the actions of great men at a distance, can only form conjectures agreeably to a limited perception; and, being ignorant of the compre. hensive schemes which may be in contemplation, might mistake egregiously in judging of things from appearances, or by the lump. Yet every f..I will have his notions....will prattle and talk away; and why may not I? we seem then, in my opinion, to act under the guidance of an evil genius. The conduct of our leaders, if not actuated by superior orders, is tempered with something....I do not care to give a name to. Nothing now but a miracle