« ZurückWeiter »
best route. This road had been opened by the Ohio company in 1753, and had been repaired in 1754 by the troops under his command, as far as Gist's plantation, beyond the Great Meadows. In 1755 it had been put in good order by General Braddock, and could with little labour be fitted for use. This road, therefore, must be preferable to a new route over ground not more favourable. In respect to forage there could be no material difference. The hills on both routes were barren, and the valleys between them abounded with grass. The objection to Braddock's road, he observed, on account of high waters, was not founded; he had himself passed with a body of men, the Yohogany, the most rapid stream, and the seunest filled of any on the road, after thirty days of almost incessant rain. The Monongahela might be avoided. The defiles on Raystown road were as numerous as on Braddock's, and the saving in distance was inconsiderable. But the insuperable objection to the new route, he observed, was the time that must be expended in opening it. The distance was little short of an hundred miles, over mountains, almost impassable, and covered with woods and rocks. The most that could be expected, he said, on this route the present season, would be to gain the height of land, there erect fortifications, and wait the return of spring. This delay must be attended with ruinous consequences to the colonies, which had exerted themselves beyond their strength to drive the French from the Ohio the present campaign.
In the same letter, he communicated an order of march on Braddock's road, which would bring the army in sixty-four days before Fort du Quesne, with provisions for eighty-six days. He also wrote to Major Halket, Aid of Gen. Forbes, to engage his good offices to prevent the fatal plan. “I am just returned from a conference held with Col. Bouquet. I find him fixed I think I may say, unalterably fixed, to lead you a new way to the Ohio, through a road, every inch of which
is to be cut at this advanced season, when we have scarcely time left to tread the beaten track, universally confessed to be the best passage through the mountain.
“ If Colonel Bouquet succeeds in this point with the General, ail is lost ! All is lost indeed! Our enterprise is ruined, and we shall be stopped at the Laurel Hill this winter-but not to gather laurels, except of the kind which cover the mountains.—The southern Indians will turn against us, and these colonies will be desolated by such an accession to the enemy's strength. These must be the consequences of a miscarriage, and a miscarriage the almost necessary consequence of an attempt to march the army by this route."
The judgment and advice of Colonel WASHINGTON in this important measure were overruled, and to his extreme mortification, the new route of the army was adopted. The disappointment and gloomy prospect which he entertained, are strongly expressed in the following letter, written from Cumberland, to the Speaker of the House of Burgesses.
“ We are still encamped here, very sickly SEPT. 2, and dispirited at the prospect before us.
. That appearance of glory which we once had in view, even that hope, that laudable ambition of serving our country, and meriting its applause, are now no more; all is dwindled into ease, sloth, and fatal inactivity. In a word, all is lost, if the ways of men in power, like certain ways of providence, are not inscrutable. But we, who view the actions of great men at a distance, can only form conjectures agreeably to a limited perception; and, being ignorant of the conprehensive schemes which inay be in contemplation, might mistake egregiously in judging of things from appearances, or by the lump. Yet every fool will have his notions, will prattle and talk away; and why may not I ? We seem then, in my opinion, to act under the guidance of an evil genius. The conduct of our leaders, if not actuated by superiour orders, is
tempered with something—I do not care to give a name to. Nothing now but a miracle can bring this campaign to a happy issue.”
Mentioning the arguments ho haa bronght against the new road, he proceeds, “But I spoke all unavailingly. The road was immediately begun, and since then, from one to two thousand men have constantly wrought on it. By the last accounts I have received, they had cut to the foot of Laurel Hill, about thirty-five milos, and I suppose by this time, fifteen hundred men have taken post about ten miles further, at a place called Loyal Hanna, where our next fort is to be constructed.
“We have certain intelligence, that the French strength at Fort du Quesne did not exceed eight hundred mon, the 13th ultimo, including about three or four hundred Indians. See how our time has been mispent. Behold how the golden opportunity is lost, perhaps never more to be regained! How is it to be accounted for? Can General Forbes have orders for this ? Impossible. Will then our injured country pass by such abuses? I hope not; rather let a full representation of the matter go to his Majesty ; let him know how grossly his glory and interests, and the publick money have been prostituted.”
Col. Grant, with a force of eight hundred men, have ing been detached to reconnoitre the country, in the neighbourhood of the Ohio, was about this time defeated with loss; and himself, and Major Lewis of Colonel Washington's regiment, were taken prisoners Three companies of this regiment were on the expe. dition, and behaved with great bravery. Of eight officers belonging to these companies, on this service, five were killed, one wounded, and one taken prisoner Capt. Bullet, who had charge of the baggage, defended it with great resolution, and did much to protect the defeated troops; he fortunately came off the field without a wound. This spirited and soldierly conduct the Britons acknowledged to be highly honourable to
the troops themselves, and to the Commander, who trained them to the service. General Forbes complimented Colonel Washington on the occasion.
Colonel WASHINGTON was at this time employed on the new road, in the neighbourhood of Raystown.
General Forbes resolved that the main Oct. 8, 1958. army should move from this place; and he
called upon the commanding officers of regiments to lay before him a plan for its march. Colone) WASHINGTON presented his; it has been preserved, and is said to display the soundness of his judgment
Through a road almost impassable, the army at length reached Loyal Hanna, about ten miles from the foot of Laurel Hill, and forty-five from Fort Cunt: berland. At this place Colonel WASHINGTON had predicted the expedition would terminate. In a Council of War it was actually resolved to be unadviseable to proceed further this Autumn. To have wintered in this inhospitable wilderness would, perhaps, have been impossible ; but before any disposition of the army was made, intelligence was brought by some prisoners, that the garrison of Fort du Quesne had not been supported from Canada ; that the Indians had deserted it ; and, that it was not in a sicuation to make resistance, This intelligence induced General Forbes to change his resolutions, and to push on to the Ohio. Colonel WASHINGTun was ordered to the front to superintend opening the road for the army; which duty he, with extreme fatigue, executed. In slow and laborious
. marcles, General Forbes reached du Quesne, Nov. 25, and found that the French, on the evening
preceding his arrival, had set fire to this fort, and had passed in their boats down the river.
The success of the campaign was wholly to be attributed to the pressure of the English on Canada, which constrained the French Commander in chief to call in, or weaken his outposts ; but for this circumalance, the gloomy predictions of Colonel WASHINGTON would have been verified, in the failure of the expedition.
The Fort being repaired, was called Fort Pitt, in compliment to the preeminent British Minister, under whose auspices the war was now conducted.
Colonel Washington furnished two hundred men of his regiment to the garrison, and soon after return ed to Williamsburg to take his seat in the House of Burgesses, of which, in his absence he had been chosen a member.
His services, while commander of the Virginia forces, were appreciated by his countrymen; and the British officers with whom he served, bore honourable testimony to his military talerts. The soldierly and gallant behaviour of his regiment in the field, exhibited the best evidence of the address of their commander, in training them to exact discipline, and exciting in them a martial spirit. His officers expressed the great affection and respect, which they entertained for his character, by an unanimous address, presented to him at the close of this campaign; and the inhabitants of the frontiers placed full confidence in him, even at a time when he was unable to defend them from the slaughter and devastation of the enemy.
Colonel WASHINGTON now saw the great object at tained, to which for years he had directed his whole mind. The enemy was driven from the Ohio, and his country, in a great measure, relieved from the carnage and distress of an Indian war. His health was impair. ed by the arduous services of the campaign; and his private concerns demanded his attention. He there. fore resigned his military commission, and retired to the tranquil scenes of domestick life