Abbildungen der Seite

I receive reproof when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an errour when I have committed it ; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of being guilty of one. But, on the other hand, it is with concern I remark, that my best endeavours lose their reward, and that my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favourable point of light. Otherwise your Honour would not have accused me of loose behaviour and reinissness of duty, in matters, where I think I have rather exceeded than fallen short of it. This, I think, is evidently the case in speaking of Indian affairs at all, after being in. structed in very express terms, ó Not to have any concern with, or management of Indian affairs.' This has induced me to forbear mentioning the Indians in my letters to your Honour of late, and to leave the misunderstanding which you speak of, between Mr. Alkin and then, to be related by him.”

He had been informed by letter of a report communicated to the Governour, impeaching his veracity and honour. A copy of this letter he enclosed to his Honour, earnestly requesting of him the name of the author of this report. ") should take it infinitely kind if your Ilonour would please to inform me, whether a report of this nature was ever made to you, and in that caso, who was the author of it ?

" It is evident, from a variety of circumstances and especially from the change in your Hor our's coniuct towards me, that some person as well inclus I to de. tract, but better skilled in the art of detraction than the author of the above stupid scandal, has made frce with my character. For I cannot suppose that malice so absurd, so barefaced, so diametrically opposite to truth, to common policy, and in short to every thing but villany, as the above is, could impress you with so ill an opinion of my honour and honesty.

"If it be possible that Colonel — , for my belief is staggered, not being conscious of having given the least cause to any onc, much less to that gentleman, to reflect so grossly. I say, if it be possible that could descend so low, as to be the propagator of this story, he must either be vastly ignorant of the state of affairs in this country at that time, or else he must suppose that the whole body of inhabitants had combined with me in executing the deceitful fraud. Or, why did they, almost to a man, forsake their dwellings in the greatest terrour and confusion ? And while one half of them sought shelter in paltry forts of their own building, the others should flee to the adjacent counties for refuge ; numbers of them even to Carolina, from whence they have never returned ?

“ These are facts well known; but not better known, than that these wretched people, while they lay pent up in forts, destitute of the common supports of life, (having, in their precipitate flight, forgotten, or were unable rather to secure any kind of necessaries) did despatch messengers, (thinking that I had not represented their miseries in the piteous manner they de served) with addresses of their own to your Honour and the Assembly, praying relief. And did I ever send any alarming account, without sending also the original papers, or the copies, which gave rise to it.

" That I have foibles, and perhaps many, I shall not deny. I should esteem myself, as the world also would, vain and empty, were I to arrogate perfection.

• Knowledge in military matters, is to be acquired by practice and experience only, and if I have erred, great allowance should be made for my errours for want of them, unless those errours should appear to be wilful; and then I conceive it would be more gene. rous to charge me with my faults, and let me stand or fall according to evidence, than to stigmatize me behinil my back.

“ It is uncertain in what light rry services may have appeared to your Honour; but this I know, and it is the highest consolation I am capable of feeling, that no man that ever was employed in a pubiick capacity, has endeavoured to discharge the trust reposed in him with greater honesty, and more zeal for the country's interest, than I have done ; but if there is any person living, who can say with justice, that I have offered any intentional wrong to the publick, I will cheerfully submit to the most ignominious punishment that an injured people ought to inflict. On the other hand, it is hard to have my character arraigned, and my actions condemned, without an hearing.

"I must therefore again beg in more plain, and in very earnest terms to know if — has taken the liberty of representing my conduct to vour Honour, with such ungentlemanly freedom as the letter implies ? Your condescension herein will be acknowledged a singular favour."

Soon after this transaction, Mr. Dinwiddie left the government, and Mr. Blair, the president of the Council, became, for a short time, the Executive, between whom and Colonel WASHINGTON perfect confidence and free communication existed.

1757. This year Lord Loudoun succeeded to the civil government of Virginia, and to the chief command of the British troops in North America. Colonel Washington obtained permission to wait upon him the succeeding winter; to whom he presented an address from his regiment, and communicated from himself a statement of the military situation of the colony. In this he pointed out the errour of the government in the management of the war, and particularly in their depending on the aid of the militia ; and clearly stated the superiour advantages of offensive operations.

Colonel Washington was sanguine in the expecta. tion, that Lord Loudoun would adopt his darling scheme of an expedition to dispossess the French of Fort du Quesne ; but his Lordship having determined to di rect his force against Ticonderoga, he was again dis appointed.

At the clogo of the year 1757, General Abercrombie was appointed to the supreme con mand in America, and General Forbes commissioned as the commander of the middle district. To the high gratification of Colonel WASHINGTON, the conquest of du Quesne became a principal object.

1758. Colonel WASHINGTON, not expecting to be placed on the establishment, had determined to resign his commission ; but he thought the expedition for this purpose presented a fair prospect of distinguished service, and he resolved to engage in it.

He warmly recommended an early campaign ; for this, among other reasons, seven hundred Indians had, in April, assembled at Winchester, whose patience would be exhausted unless early employed; and in that event, he observes, “ No words can tell how much they will be missed.”

He was at length ordered to collect the Virginia troops at Winchester, and to hold them in readiness for active service. At this late moment, when the duties of the field demanded his attention, he was obliged to make a journey to Williamsburg, to provide arms, clothing, and money for his regiment; and to obtain for his soldiers, the same pay which the their last session, had voted to a regiment raised fo: the present campaign.

Early in July the Virginia forces were moved to Cumberland, and through the month employed in opening a road from that place to Raystown Flying parties of the enemy greatly annoying them in their business, it was contemplated to send a detachment over the mountain, to restrain the French and Indians from this annoyance ; but Col. WASHINGTON objected

o the measure, because the detachment would be ex posed to the whole force of the enemy on the Ohio, and must be defeated. The plan was in consequence given up; and by his advice frequent scouts, consisting principally of Indians, were substituted. The prediction of Colonel WASHINGTON, respecting the body of Indians at Winchester, was verified; before the campaign opened, their patience was exhausted, and ther retired to their homes.

It was confidently expected that the army would march by Braddock's road, which needed only slight: repairs; but on the last of this inonth, Col. Bouquet by letter, requested an interview with Colonel WashIngton, to consult with him on opening a new route. In reply he wrote, “ I shall most cheerfully work on any road, pursue any route, or enter on any service that the General or yourself may think me usefully employed in, or qualified for; and shall never have a will of my own, when a duty is required of me. But since you desire me to speak my sentiments freely, permit me to observe, that after having conversed with all the guides, and having been informed by others acquainted with the country, I am convinced that a road to be compared with Gen. Braddock's, or, indeed, that will be fit for transportation, even by pack horses, cannot be made. I own I have no predilection for the route you have in contemplation for me.”

Notwithstanding every remonstrance, he found Col. Bouquot determined to open the new road. That nothing in his power might be omitted to prevent the adoption of a scheme, which he thought would proba. bly defeat the expedition, he addressed a letter to this : officer, with the express design that it should be laid before General Forbes, then indisposed; in which he gave the following reasons for the preference of Braddock's road.

When individuals of Pennsylvania and Virginia, he said, were about to establish a trade with the natives on the Ohio, they, under Indian guides, explored the country, and adopted the road by Will's Creek as the

« ZurückWeiter »