« ZurückWeiter »
Amount of Emission—Congress destitute of Means to
His Birth—Education—Appointed an Adjutant General of the militia—His embassy to the Ohio–Commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel of a regular regiment—Surprises a detachment of French troops—Capitulation of Fort Necessity—He is appointed a volun. teer Aid de camp to General Braddock—His bravery in the action in which that General sell–He is appointed the Colonel of a regiment, and commander in chief of the Virginia troops—His efforts to defend the frontiers—, is exertions in the expedition under General Forbes to gain possession of Fort du Quesno–Resigns his commission.
GEoRGE WAshingtoN was born in the county of Westmoreland, Virginia, on the 22d day of February, 1732. He was the third son of Mr. Augustine Washington, and the great grandson of Mr. John Washington, a gentleman of a family of some distinction in the north of England, who emigrated about the year 1657, and took up the estate on which the subject of these memoirs was born.
At the age of ten years, by the death of his father, he was left in the sole care of a solicitous mother. She gave him a private education. A grammatical knowledge of the English language, mathematicks, geography, history, natural and moral philosophy, to the exclusion of the learned languages, formed the course of his youthful studies.
The candour and manliness of his disposition were early displayed among his young companions, and the commanding influence of his character was first discovered by his ascendency over them.
The patrimonial estate of Mr. Washington was small. After the completion of his course with his tu...tor, he was engaged in useful industry; and for several years of his minority, employed as a county surveyor. In this employment he distinguished himself by his diligence, and by the neatness and accuracy of his plans. His experience in this business made him well acquainted with the worth of new lands, and aided him afterwards in their selection. The military bias of his mind was early discovered. The war between England and France in 1747, kindled in his young breast that spark, which at a subsequent period burst into a flame; and at his own importunity, the birth of a midshipman, at the age of fifteen, was obtained in the British navy. His views in this instance were defeated by the anxiety of an affectionate mother. At a time when the militia was to be trained for actual service, at nineteen he was appointed one of the adjutant generals of Virginia, with the rank of major ; from the execution of the duties of this commission, honourable to his age, he was soon called to higher employments. France at this period unfolded her ambitious design of connecting Canada with Louisiana, and in this way of enclosing the British colonies in North America. Her officers were directed to establish a line of posts from the lakes to the Ohio. This tract of country, the English held to be within the boundaries of Virginia. Mr. Dinwiddie, then the Lieutenant Governor of the province, alarmed by encroachments, which involved the important interests of the British crown, conceived it proper officially to wann the French to desist from the prosecution of a scheme, deemed a violation of existing treaties between the two countries. It was difficult to select a proper agent to execute this perilous mission. He must pass through an unexplored wilderness, filled by tribes of Indians; some
of which were doubtful friends, and many the decided enemies of the English. The fatigues and dangers which induced other Virginians to decline the commission of envoy on this occasion, led Mr. WAshingtoN with ardour to seek the appointment. The very day on which he received his ol. conmission he commenced his journey from - Williamsburg. At Winchester he procured the necessary provisions, baggage, and horses. On the fourteenth of November he reached Will's Creek, the frontier of inhabited Virginia; here he hired a guide and four other attendants, to accompany him over the Alleghany mountains; the passage of which was now attended with difficulty and hazard. The weather became incessantly stormy, and the snow deep; and he was unable to arrive at Turtle Creek, on the mouth of the Monongahela, before the 22d. Here he was informed of the death of the French General, and found that his troops had retired to winter quarters. With extreme fatigue he pursued his journey; surveyed the country with the judgment of a soldier, and selected the forks of the Monongahela and Alleghany rivers, as a place highly expedient for the English to possess and fortify. On this site the French soon after erected Fort du Quesne, which, when the British General Forbes gained the possession, he called Fort Pitt. In this place he spent a few days to conciliate the affections of the Indians of the vicinity. Some of their chiefs, whose fidelity he took the wisest measures to secure, he engaged as guides, with them, ascended the Alleghany river, and at the mouth of French Creek found the first French post. Proceeding up the creek to another fort, he met Monsieur le Gardeur de St. Pierre, the commanding officer on the Ohio, and to im he delivered Governor Dinwiddie's letter. Within three or four days he received an official answer to his communication, and immediately left the place on his return; but the snow being excessively deep, and
his horses growing weak from fatigue, he became im patient at the slowness of his progress. Leaving there fore his horses with necessary directions, in the cart of his attendants, he and his guide wrapped themselves in watch coats, took his important papers, and the mecessary provisions in their packs, and with their guns in their hands, prosecuted the journey on foot the nearest way through the woods. The next day, December 26, as he passed a place called the Murdering town, he fell in with a party of French Indians, which lay in wait for him ; one of them not fifteen steps distant fired, but without effect. This Indian the Major took into custody and detained him till nine o clock in the evening, then dismissed him, and continued his march through the night, that he might be beyond the reach of pursuit, should the Indians in the morning follow his track. The second day he reached the river two miles above the Shannapis, expecting to find it frozen over; but the ice extended only fifty yards from the shore; though quantities of it were driving in the channel. A raft was their only means of passing, and they had but one poor hatchet with which to make it. It cost them a hard day's work to form the raft; the next day they launched it, went on board, and attempted the passage; but before they were half way over they were enclosed by masses of ice, and threatened with immediate destruction. Mr. W AshingtoN put down his setting pole to stop the raft, that the ice might pass by, but the rapidity of the current crowded the ice with such force against the pole, that it threw him out in ten feet water. But fortunately he saved himself by seizing one of the raft logs. With their utmost efforts they were unable to reacn either shore, but with difficulty they landed on an island. The cold was so severe, that Mr. Gist the guide had his hands and feet frozen. The next morning, without hazard they passed the river on the ice, and were received into the lodgings of Mr. Frazier, an Indian trader. Here Ma