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practicable, since he understood the General designed to move by slow and cautious steps, and to establish posts at certain intervals for the reception of stores, and as a cover in the event of being com. pelled to retreat. In support of this opinion, he stated to General Forbes his conviction that, in the country through which they were to pass, numbers would not secure victory ; on the contrary, he was persuaded that an unwieldy body of troops, covering its convoys, might be successfully attacked on its march, and penetrated at various points by light unincumbered parties.
In pursuance of the orders which had been received, the Virginia troops moved in detachments from Winchester to Fort Cumberland, where they assembled early in July, and were employed in opening a road to Rays Town, where Colonel Bou. quet was stationed. As they were continually harassed by small parties of the enemy, it was in contemplation to send a strong detachment over the Alleghany mountains, for the purpose of giving the enemy employment at home. This plan was laid aside in conformity with the advice of Colonel Washington, who observed that unquestionably a very large force must now be collected at Fort du Quesne, and that a strong detachment could not move without such a quantity of provisions as would prevent a secret march; in consequence of which, . the enemy would meet them in full force, and probably defeat them. He advised rather to harass
them with small parties, principally of Indians; and this advice was pursued..
It had been considered as certain, that the army would march by Braddock's road, which was well known, and required very few repairs. Late in July, Colonel Washingfon had the mortification to receive a letter from Colonel Bouquet, asking an interview with him, in order to consult on opening a new road from Rays Town, and requesting his opinion on that route. “I shall,” says he, in answer to this letter, “ most cheerfully work on any road, pursue any route, or enter upon 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 General 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.”
A few days after this letter he had an interview with Colonel Bouquet, whom he found decided in favour of opening the new road. After their sepa. ration, Colonel Washington, with his permission, addressed to him a letter to be laid before General · VOL. 11.
Forbes, then indisposed at Carlisle, in which he stated his reasons against this measure.
Several years passed, he said, the Pennsylvanians and Virginians had opened a trade with the Indians on the Ohio, and had endeavoured to obviate the inconveniences arising from the excessive badness of the route. The Indians had been hired to explore the country, and find the best way; the result of which had been, that the preference had been universally given to the path by Willis's Creek, and the Pennsylvanians themselves had adopted it. It had been opened by the Ohio Company, in 1753, and repaired by the troops under his command, in 1754, as far as Gist's Plantation, beyond the Great Meadows. In 1755 it had been widened and put in good order by General Braddock, and could easily be made fit for immediate use. A road which had been so long opened, so well and so often repaired, must be superior to a new road, admitting the ground to be equal. But the great and decisive objection to this new route, was the want of time to open it. "So much time must be consumed in surmounting the vast difficulties opposed by almost impassable mountains, covered with rocks and woods, as would blast their otherwise well-founded hopes of striking, this season, the long-wished-for and important blow. Its being deferred to another year would, he was morally certain, be productive of the most destructive consequences to the middle and southern colonies, who had now made a noble
effort towards ending the calamities under which they had so long groaned, by granting supplies beyond their abilities. These funds would in a few months be exausted, and the troops disbanded. Their inability, added to the discouragement occasioned by such a disappointment, might prevent their making a similar effort for another season ; and experience evinced, that expense and numbers. must be increased in proportion to their delay. . . .
The southern Indians had, from their ill success and inactivity, long viewed them with contempt, and had already committed hostilities on their frontiers. They waited only the result of the present campaign to unmask themselves completely, and such an addition to the strength of the enemy might terminate in the destruction of the colonies.
The flattering accounts of the forage on the Rays Town road could not but be exaggerated. It was agreed by all unprejudiced men, acquainted with the country, that the mountains on that road were still more inaccessible than on General Braddock's. They were barren on both roads, and between them were rich valleys affording great quantities of grass.
The objection made to Braddock's road on account of the high waters was not well founded. The Yohogany, which was the most rapid, and soonest filled, he had himself crossed with a body of troops, after more than thirty days of almost con
stant rain. The Monongahela might be avoided, if necessary, by passing a defile.
The objections to the numerous defiles on General Braddock's road were equally applicable to the other road.
The difference in distance was extremely inconsiderable ; and the advantage gained in that respect would admit of no comparison with the disadvantage of being compelled to open a new road, one hundred miles, over almost inaccessible mountains. Should this be attempted, he feared they would be able to do nothing more than to fortify some post on the other side of the mountains, and prepare for another campaign. This he prayed Heaven to avert, unless it should really be found impracticable, during the present, to prosecute with prudence the enterprise now in hand.
He was also opposed to the scheme which had been suggested, of dividing the army, and marching by the two different routes.
He objected to this measure ; first, because it divided their strength, and put it absolutely out of the power of the columns to support each other on the march, since there neither was, nor could be, any communication between the roads.
Secondly, if the division should set out at the same time, and should make no deposits on the way, that marching by, the road from Rays Town must arrive first, because unincumbered with waggons; and, if the enemy should be in force, would