Page images
PDF
EPUB

Chap, t follow by slow and easy marches; and to press 1755. forward himself as expeditiously as possible to fort du Quesne, with a chosen body of troops, some pieces of light artillery, and stores of absolute and immediate necessity. The reasons urged by him in support of this advice were, that, according to all their intelligence, the French were at present weak on the Ohio, but hourly expected re-enforcements; that during the present excessive drought, those re-enforcements could not arrive with the necessary quantity of provisions, ,and other supplies, because the river La Bceuf, on which they must necessarily be brought to Venango, did not then afford water enough to admit of their portage down it. By a rapid movement therefore, it was extremely probable, that the fort might be reached with a sufficient force to carry it before the arrival of the looked for aid; but if this measure was not. adopted, such were the delays attendant on the march of. the whole army, that rains, sufficient to raise the waters might reasonably be counted on, and the whole force of the French would probably be collected for their reception; a circumstance, which might render the success of the expedition extremely doubtful.

This advice, accorded well with the temper of the commander in chief, and it was determined in a council held at the Little Meadows, that twelve hundred men selected from the different corps, to be commanded by general Chap.l Braddock in person, accompanied by sir Peter 1755. Halket, now acting as a brigadier, the lieutenant colonels, Gage, and Burton, and by major Spark, should advance with the utmost expedi- • tion against fort du Quesne. They were to take with them only such waggons as the train would absolutely require, and to carry their provisions and necessary baggage on horses. Dunbar and major Chapman, were to remain with the residue of the two regiments and all the heavy baggage.

This select corps commenced its march with J"1* '». only thirty carriages, including ammunition waggons, and these strongly horsed. The hopes, however, which had been entertained of the celerity of its movements, were not fulfilled. ♦'I found," said colonel Washington, in a letter written during the march, to his brother, "that instead of pushing on with vigour, without regarding a little rough road, they were halting to level every mole hill, and to erect bridges over every brook." By these means, they employed four days in reaching the great crossings of the Yohogany, only nineteen miles from the Little Meadows.

Here, the situation of colonel Washington, and the medicines which had been administered to him, rendered it indispensable for him to stop. The physician declared that his life would be endangered by continuing with the army, Chap, i. and general Braddock ordered him, absolutely,

vOL. II. D

1755. to remain at this camp, with a small guard left

for his protection, until the arrival of colonel

Dunbar. These orders he very reluctantly

• obeyed, having first obtained from the general

his solemn promise, that means should be used

to bring him up with the detachment in front,

before it reached fort du Quesne.

Ju1>8, The day before the action of the Mononga

hela, he rejoined the general in a covered

waggon; an account of which has been given

in the preceding volume. Though very weak,

he immediately entered on the duties of his

station.

In a very short time after the action had commenced, he was the only aid remaining alive and unwounded. On him alone devolved, in an engagement with marksmen who selected officers, and especially those on horse back, for their objects, the whole duty of canying the orders of the commander in chief. Under these difficult circumstances, he manifested that coolness, that self possession, and fearlessness of danger which ever distinguished him, and which are so necessary to the character of a consummate soldier. He had two horses killed under him, and four balls through his coat; but to the astonishment of all, escaped unhurt, while every other officer on horseback was either killed or wounded. "I expected every moment," says an eye witness,* "to Chap.i. see him fall." His duty and situation exposed 1755. him to every danger. Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him." At length, after an action of near three hours Defeat and

0 111 death of that

general Braddock, under whom three horses ge«TM1, had been killed, received a mortal wound, and his troops gave way in all directions. The efforts made to rally them were ineffectual, until they had crossed the Monongahela, when being no longer pursued by the enemy, for the Indians were stopped by the plunder, they halted, and were again formed. The general was brought off in a small tumbril by colonel Washington, captain Stewart of his guards, and his servant. Colonel Washington was immediately dispatched to Dunbar's camp, to have some comfortable provisions prepared for the defeated army, which place, he reached the next evening, and was soon followed by the remnant of the troops. On their arrival, all the stores, except those necessary for immediate use, were destroyed. General Braddock died at this place, and colonel Dunbar, a

short time afterwards, marched the remaining august. regular troops to Philadelphia, to go into what he termed winter quarters.

* Doctor Craik.

Chap. t . Colonel Washington was greatly disappointed 1755. and disgusted with the conduct of the regular troops on this occasion. In his letter to lieutenant governor Dinwiddie, giving an account of the action, he says, "they were struck with such an inconceivable panic, that nothing but confusion and disobedience of orders prevailed among them. The officers in general behaved with incomparable bravery, for which they greatly suffered, there being upwards of sixty killed and wounded, a large proportion out of what we had."

"The Virginia companies behaved like men, and died like soldiers; for I believe, out of three companies on the ground that day, scarce thirty men were left alive. Captain Peronny and all his officers, down to a corporal, were killed. Captain Poulson had almost as hard a fate, for only one of his escaped. In short, the dastardly behaviour of the regular troops, (so called) exposed those who were inclined to do their duty, to almost certain death; and at length, in spite of every effort to the contrary, they broke, and ran as sheep before hounds, leaving the artillery, ammunition, provisions, baggage, and in short every thing a prey to the enemy; and when we endeavoured to rally them, in hopes of regaining the ground, and what we had left upon it, it was with as little success as if we had attempted to have stopped the wild bears of the mountains, or the rivulets

« PreviousContinue »