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1754. to say that, three out of five men who went with them were too badly frost-bitten to continue the journey.* In spite of all, however, they reached Will's Creek, on the 6th of January, well and sound. During the absence of the young messenger, steps had been taken to fortify and settle the point formed by the junction of the Monongahela and Alleghany; and, while upon his return, he met "seventeen horses, loaded with materials and stores for a fort at the Fork of the Ohio,” and, soon after, “some families going out to settle.” These steps were taken by the Ohio Company; but, as soon as Washington returned with the letter of St. Pierre, the commander on French Creek, and it was perfectly clear that neither he nor his superiors meant to yield the West without a struggle, Governor Dinwiddie wrote to the Board of Trade, stating that the French were building another fort at Venango, and that in March twelve or fifteen hundred men would be ready to descend the river with their Indian allies, for which purpose three hundred canoes had been collected; and that Logstown was then to be made head-quarters, while forts were built in various other positions, and the whole country occupied. He also sent expresses to the Governors of Pennsylvania and New York, calling upon them for assistance; and, with the advice of his council, proceeded to enlist two companies, one of which was to be raised by Washington, the other by Trent, who was a frontier man. This last was to be raised upon the frontiers, and to proceed at once to the Fork of the Ohio, there to complete in the best manner, and as soon as possible, the fort begun by the Ohio Company; and in case of attack, or any attempt to resist the settlements, or obstruct the works, those resisting were to be taken, or if need were, killed. I
While Virginia was taking these strong measures, which were fully authorized by the letter of the Earl of Holdernesse, Secretary of State,|| written in the previous August, and which directed the Governors of the various provinces, after representing to those who were invading his Majesty's dominions the injustice of the act, to call out the armed force of the province, and repel force
Sparks' Washington, ii. 55. + Gist's Journal of this Expedition may be found in the Massachusetts Historical Col. lections, third series, vol. v. (1836,) 101 to 108.
# Sparks' Washington, vol. ii. pp. 1, 431, 446.-Sparks' Franklin, vol. iii. p. 254. | Sparks' Franklin, vol. iii. p. 251, where the letter is given.
1754. New York conferring with the Six Nutions. 61 by force; while Virginia was thus acting, Pennsylvania was discussing the question, whether the French were really invading his Majesty's dominions,—the Governor being on one side, and the Assembly on the other, * — and New York was preparing to hold a conference with the Six Nations, in obedience to orders from the Board of Trade, written in September, 1753.7 These orders had been sent out in consequence of the report in England, that the natives would side with the French, because dissatisfied with the occupancy of their lands by the English; and simultaneous orders were sent to the other provinces, directing the Governors to recommend their Assemblies to send Commissioners to Albany to attend this grand treaty, which was to heal all wounds. New York, however, was more generous when called on by Virginia, than her neighbor on the south, and voted, for the assistance of the resisting colony, five thousand pounds currency.I
It was now April, 1754. The fort at Venango was finished, and all along the line of French Creek troops were gathering; and the wilderness echoed the strange sounds of a European camp, the watchword, the command, the clang of muskets, the uproar of soldiers, the cry of the sutler; and with these were mingled the shrieks of drunken Indians, won over from their old friendship by rum and soft words. Scouts were abroad, and little groups formed about the tents or huts of the officers, to learn the movements of the British. Canoes were gathering, and cannon were painfully hauled here and there. All was movement and activity among the old forests, and on hill-sides, covered already with young wild flowers, from Lake Erie to the Alleghany. In Philadelphia, meanwhile, Governor Hamilton, in no amiable mood, had summoned the Assembly, and asked them if they meant to help the King in the defence of his dominions; and had desired them, above all things, to do whatever they meant to do, quickly. The Assembly debated, and resolved to aid the King with a little money, and then debated again and voted not to aid him with any money at all, for some would not give less than ten thousand pounds, and others would not give more than five thousand pounds; and so, nothing being practicable, they adjourned upon the 10th of April until the 13th of May.||
Sparks' Franklin, vol. iii. pp. 254, 263.
62 Washington appointed Lieutenant Colonel. 1754.
In New York, a little, and only a little better spirit, was at work; nor was this strange, as her direct interest was much less than that of Pennsylvania. Five thousand pounds indeed was, as we have said, voted to Virginia; but the Assembly questioned the invasion of his Majesty's dominions by the French, and it was not till June that the money voted was sent forward. *
The Old Dominion, however, was all alive. As, under the provincial law, the militia could not be called forth to march more than five miles beyond the bounds of the colony, and as it was doubtful if the French were within Virginia, it was determined to rely upon volunteers. Ten thousand pounds had been voted by the Assembly; so the two companies were now increased to six, and Washington was raised to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and made second in command under Joshua Fry. Ten cannon, lately from England, were forwarded from Alexandria; wagons were got ready to carry westward provisions and stores through the heavy spring roads; and everywhere along the Potomac men were enlisting under the Governor's proclamation, which promised to those that should serve in that war, two hundred thousand acres of land on the Ohio,-or, already enlisted, were gathering into grave knots, or marching forward to the field of action, or helping on the thirty cannon and eighty barrels of gunpowder, which the King had sent out for the western forts. Along the Potomac they were gathering, as far as to Will's creek; and far beyond Will's creek, whither Trent had come for assistance, his little band of forty-one men was working away, in hunger and want, to fortify that point at the Fork of the Ohio, to which both parties were looking with deep interest. The first birds of spring filled the forests with their song; the redbud and dogwood were here and there putting forth their flowers on the steep Alleghany hill-sides, and the swift river below swept by, swollen by the melting snows and April showers; a few Indian scouts were seen, but no enemy seemed near at hand; and all was so quiet, that Frazier, an old Indian trader, who had been left by Trent in command of the new fort, ventured to his home at the mouth of Turtle creek, ten miles up the Monongahela. But, though all was so quiet in that wilderness, keen eyes had seen the low entrenchment that was rising at the Fork, and swift feet bad borne the news of it up the valley; and, upon the 17th of April, Ensign Ward, who then had charge of it, saw upon the Alleghany a sight that made his heart
* Massachusetts Historical Collections, first series, vol. vii. pp. 72, 73, and note.
1754. Port at the Fork of the Ohio taken by the French. 63 sink,-sixty batteaux and three hundred canoes, filled with men,
, and laden deep with cannon and stores. The fort was called on to surrender; by the advice of the Half-king, Ward tried to evade the act, but it would not do; Contrecæur, with a thousand men about him, said “Evacuate,” and the ensign dared not refuse. That evening he supped with his captor, and the next day was bowed off by the Frenchman, and, with his men and tools, marched up the Monongahela. From that day began the war.
Sparks" Washington, vol. i. The number of French troops was probably overstated, but to the captives there seemed a round thousand. Burk, in his history of Virginia, speaks of the taking of Logstown by the French; but Logstown was never a post of the Ohio Company as he represents it, as is plain from all contemporary letters and accounts. Burk’s ignorance of Western matters is clear in this, that he says the French dropped down from Fort Du Quesne to Presqu'ile and Venango; they, or part of them, did drop down the Ohio, but surely not to posts, one of which was on Lake Erie, and the other far up the Alleghany! In a letter from Captain Stobo, written in July, 1754, at fort Du Quesne, where he was then confined as hostage under the capitulation of Great Meadows, he says there were but two hundred men in and about the fort at that time.(American Pioneer, i. 236.-For plan of Forts Du Quesne and Pitt, see article in Pioneer; also, Day's Historical Collections of Pennsylvania, 77.)
WAR OF 1754 TO 1763.
Washington was at Will's Creek, (Cumberland,) when the news of the surrender of the Fork reached him. He was on his way across the mountains, preparing roads for the King's cannon, and aiming for the mouth of Red Stone Creek, (Brownsville,) where a store-house had been already built by the Ohio Company; by the 9th of May, he had reached Little Meadows, on the head waters of a branch of the Youghiogany, toiling slowly, painfully forward, four, three, sometimes only two miles a day!-- All the while from traders and others he heard of forces coming up the Ohio to reinforce the French at the Fork, and of spies out examining the valley of the Monongahela, flattering and bribing the Indians. On the 27th of May he was at Great Meadows, west of the Youghiogany, near the Fort of Laurel Hill, close hy the spot now known as Braddock's Grave. He had heard of a body of French somewhere in the neighborhood, and on the 27th, his former guide, Gist, came from his residence beyond Laurel Hill, near the head of Red Stone Creek, and gave information of a body of French who had been at his plantation the day before. That evening from his old friend the Half-king, he heard again of enemies in the vicinity. Fearing a surprise Washington at once started, and early the next morning attacked the party referred to by the Chief of the Iroquois. In the contest ten of the French were killed, including M. de Jumonville their Commander; of the Americans but one was lost. This skirmish France saw fit to regard as the commencement of the war, and in consequence of a report made by M. de Contrecæur, to the Marquis Du Quesne, founded upon the tales told by certain of Jumonville's men who had run away at the first onset, it has been usual with French writers to represent the attack by Washington as unauthorized, and the party assailed by him as a party sent with peaceable intentions; and this impression was confirmed by the term “assassination of M. de Jumonville,” used in the capitulation of Great Meadows in the following July; - this having been accepted by