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fell heavily in the water, jumped upon it. Caught by the current, it was whirled rapidly down. They had not proceeded far, however, before the descending fragments of ice so pressed upon and jammed it against other pieces, that it began to sink. Washington immediately struck his setting-pole heavily into the mud at the bottom, to arrest the raft till the ice crowded by. But the weight of the ice and raft together was so great, that, when the latter came in contact with the pole, Washington, who had grasped it firmly, was jerked over, and fell in ten feet water. He, however, succeeded in getting hold of one of the logs, and held on while the whole mass swept together down the stream. Their position now was perilous in the extremein the middle of the channel, carried resistlessly forward by the current and the ice, they could reach neither shore. Fortunately they drifted near a small island, when, as a last resort, they both abandoned the raft and made for it. Here on this mere rock, with an angry and turbulent river on either side, with no materials to construct a new raft, with no fire, wet to the skin, they were compelled to pass the long winter's night. To add to their discomfort, the night set in intensely cold, and it required the most unwearied efforts and constant exercise to keep from freezing. As it was, Mr. Gist's hands and feet were both frozen, and Washington escaped only by his great powers of endurance, inherent in his constitution, and strengthened by his long exposure in the woods and mountains. The frost, however, which well-nigh deprived them of life, proved their salvation, for it formed a bridge of ice between the island and eastern shore sufficiently strong to bear them. Crossing cautiously on this, they the same day reached a trading post of Mr. Frazier, near the spot where afterward the battle of Nonongahela was fought.
Here they remained several days, to procure horses with which to continue their journey. In the mean time Washington
paid a visit to queen Aliquippa, residing near, who had been very much offended that he did not stop to see her on his outward journey. An ample apology, an overcoat, and a bottle of rum, especially the latter, restored her good humor.
Leaving this trading post the second of January, Washington continued his journey on horseback. The intense cold, followed by rain storms, melted snow and swollen rivers, combined to render the termination of his route almost as painful as the middle portion of it, but after fifteen days of hard labor, he reached Williamsburg, having been absent in all eleven weeks. He had accomplished the task assigned him to the letter, and performed one of the most extraordinary expeditions on record. It is impossible, at this time, to conceive all the difficulties that beset it. But whether we take into consideration the time required to complete it, the country through which it leda vast, untrodden wilderness, crossed by mountain ranges, intersected by swollen rivers, and filled with lawless savages or the season of the year selected-mid-winter
— when the difficulties of the way were increased ten-fold by the deep snows, frosts, and sudden thaws, and incessant storms, or the long and dreadful exposures, borne without flinching, it certainly stands without a parallel in the history of our country. From first to last Washington had shown himself a most extraordinary young man. stripling of twenty-one, he exhibited all the energy, selfreliance, endurance, tact, and courage of the most experienced man and veteran. As one in imagination beholds him in his Indian dress, his pack on his back, his gun in his hand, stealing through the snow-covered forest at midnight, or plunging about in the wintry stream in the struggle for life, or, wrapped in his blanket, sleeping beside the ice-filled river, lulled by its sullen roar, he cannot but feel that he beholds a being whom angels guarded through
the terrible training which can alone fit him for the great duties and trials that await him.
Washington was highly complimented for the manner in which he had executed the commission that had been entrusted to him. His journal was printed and copied in the colonial newspapers. The English government at home had it reprinted, for it possessed peculiar value, inasmuch as it was the first clear exposition of the designs of the French on this continent, and the first reliable information respecting their past movements. Washington had ascertained, not only how matters stood on the Ohio and the lakes, but also obtained accurate information of the number and strength of their posts and garrisons at the mouth of the Mississippi. The extraordinary character of their claims, demanding all the territory washed by the Mississippi and its branches, aroused the English government to the necessity of immediate action.
Washington sent against the French-Hostilities of the latter-Fort Duquesne
Difficulties of the March—Dangerous Explorations—Message from the HallKing—Night March-Attack on Jumonville— Feelings of Washington in hix First Battle-Final Results of it-Fort Necessity-Battle of the Great MeadowsWashington Capitulates—Resigns in disgust his Commission—Tart Refusal to join the Army under Governor Sharpe-Accepts Braddock's Request to act as Volunteer Aid-Is taken Sick-Joins the Army -Battle of MonongaheiaBravery of Washington—The Retreat-Death of Braddock - Washington reads the Funeral Service-- Burial by Torch-light-Scenes around Fort DuquesneDemoniacal Jubilee of the Indians-Washington at Mount Vernon-Disgust with the Government-Appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Virginia ForcesHead-quarters at Winchester-Inroads of the Indians—Terror of the SettlersSternness of Washington-False Rumors—Difficulty with Captain DagworthyGoes to Boston to refer it to Governor Shirley-Reception on the way-Falls is love with Miss Phillips of New York—His Return.
IMMEDIATELY on the return of Washington, Governor Dinwiddie called his council together and laid before it the letter of the French commander, and the report of his commissioners. It was resolved at once to repel this invasion of the king's dominions by force of arms. то effect this, an enlistment of two companies of one hundred men each was advised, who should proceed without delay to the Ohio, and erect a fort on its banks. If there were not a sufficient number of volunteers to make up the quota, drafts were ordered to be made on the militia. Washington was appointed commander of this small force, the chief object of which was to bisect the operations of the French, and prevent them from completing their chain of posts from Canada to New Orleans. He was stationed at Alexandria to enlist recruits and dispatch forward the cannon for the fort which the Ohio company had agreed te build.
The Legislature met in February, 1754, but the feeling of the members were not at all in harmony with th«
warlike spirit of the governor-indeed some of them declared they could not see what right England had to those lands. The loyal old governor “ fired at this,” to think that “an English Legislature should presume to doubt the right of his Majesty to the back of his dominions.” Ten thousand pounds, however, were voted for the defense of the colony, which gave the governor great satisfaction, but his ire was again aroused when commissioners were appointed to superintend the disbursement of this fund. He nevertheless went diligently to work, and ordered four more companies to be raised, making six in all. Colonel Joshua Fry was appointed commander of these, with Washington raised to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, his second in command. The governor was authorized to call for two independent companies from New York, and one from South Carolina. These were immediately sent for, and in the meantime the cheering news came from North Carolina that she would soon have a force in the field to help repel the common invader.
Washington having completed two companies, in all one hundred and fifty, self-willed, ungovernable men, left Alexandria in April, and marched for the Ohio, where he was ordered to complete the fort there which a party of men, under Captain Trent, were erecting, and to make prisoners, kill and destroy all who interrupted the English settlements. His march was slow and difficult, and before he reached Will's Creek, the French had descended from Venango, and summoned the force under Captain Trent to surrender. The latter was absent, but Ensign Ward, then in command, agreed to give up the fort if he was permitted to retire with his troops. This was acceded to, and the French took possession, and immediately set about strengthening the works. The trees were felled around the fort, which they named Du Quesne, barracks of bark were thrown up, and before the smoke of the burning trees had scarcely cleared