Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

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-winterwhen 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

A mere

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.

CHAPTER II.

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 hid First Battle--Final Results of it-Fort Necessity-Battle of the Great Meadows Washington 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 MonongahelaBravery 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 IorcesHead-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 in 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 thore 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 nad agreed to build.

The Legislature met in February, 1754, but the feelings of the members were not at all in harmony with the 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

away, corn and wheat were springing up, and the first foundation of Pittsburgh was laid.

Immediately on the reception of this alarming news Washington sent off expresses to the governors of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland for reinforcements, and then called a council of war. Beset with difficulties, liable at any moment to be surrounded and cut off, he nevertheless resolved to push boldly forward, and, if possible, reach the Monongahela and erect a fortification. With his little force swelled to three hundred men, he entered the forest and began to cut his way through the wilderness. This was slow and tedious, for all the deep streams had to be bridged, the swamps filled up, dug-ways made along the sides of the mountains, and a grade and smoothness obtained sufficient to allow the passage of baggage-wagons. Reaching at length the Youghogany, a halt was made, till a bridge could be built across the stream. Being told here by some Indians that the river was navigable to its junction with boats, Washington took with him five men and proceeded down, to ascertain if it were so. The navigation of the stream proved extremely perilous, for he got entangled amid rocks and shoals, and was borne through dangerous rapids. At length, however, he entered a gorge made by two high precipitous mountains, where the stream, compressed between the cliffs, became very deep, and, ceasing its tortuous course, flowed in a straight, rapid current on. Borne swiftly and smoothly along, Washington proceeded for ten miles, when he came to a fall. This abruptly terminated his explorations, and he returned to his army. He had scarcely reached it, when a string of wampum was received from his old friend, the Half-King, telling him that the French were advancing, and saying, “Come soon, or we are lost, and shall never meet again. I speak it in the grief of my heart." Washington immediately ordered the troops under arms, and pushed forward. Without tents, scantily supplied with

« ForrigeFortsett »