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Chap.t. troops, opinions he deemed so essential to the 1757. proper conduct of the war, as well as the safety of his own country. In a letter written about this time to colonel Stanwix, who commanded in May 28. the middle colonies, he says, "you will excuse me, sir, for saying, that I think there never was, and perhaps never again will be, so favourable an opportunity as the present, for reducing fort du Quesne. Several prisoners have made their escape from the Ohio this spring, and agree in their accounts that there are but three hundred men left in the garrison; and I do not conceive that the French are so strong in Canada, as to re-enforce this place, and defend themselves at home, this campaign: surely then, this is too precious an opportunity to be lost."
But mr. Pitt, although minister from November 1756 to April 1757, did not yet direct the councils of Britain, and the spirit of enterprise and heroism had not yet animated her generals. The campaign to the north was inglorious; and to the westward, nothing was even attempted which might relieve the middle colonies. •
The pressure on Canada did not equal the hopes which had been entertained on that subject, and consequently its effects were not such as to prevent the French from re-enforcing their J"'*, forts on the Ohio. Some prisoners taken-in a skirmish on Turtle creek, gave the information that the garrison of fort du Quesne now consisted of six hundred French and three hundred Chap.l Indians. 1757.
Large bodies of savages, independent of the garrison, were in the service of France, and in the course of this campaign, once more spread desolation and murder over the whole country west of the Blue Ridge. The utmost possible exertions were made by the Virginia regiment to protect the inhabitants, but it was impossible. The force was inadequate to the object, and it became every day more and more apparent, that this defensive mode of conducting the war, by covering an immense frontier with a small scattered regular force, and occasional aid from the militia, was most injudiciously chosen. Vast numbers of the people were killed, and the parties sent out to fight the enemy were often overpowered. "I exert every means," says colonel Washington, to governor Dinwiddie, " to protect a much distressed country, but it is a task too arduous! to think of de- October«. fending a frontier of more than three hundred and fifty miles extent, as ours is, with only seven hundred men is vain and idle; especially when that frontier lies more contiguous to the enemy than any other.
"I am, and have for a long time been, fully convinced that, if we continue to pursue a defensive plan, the country must be inevitably lost."
Chap. i. In another letter to the lieutenant governor, 17s7. he says, "the raising a company of rangers,
october24. or augmenting our strength in some other manner is so far necessary that, without it, the remaining inhabitants of this once fertile and populous valley, will scarcely be detained at their dwellings until the spring. And if there is no expedition to the westward then, nor a force more considerable than Virginia can support, posted on our frontiers; if we still adhere for the next campaign to our destructive defensive schemes; there will not, I dare affirm, be one soul living on this side the Blue Ridge the ensuing autumn, if we except the troops in garrison, and a few inhabitants of this town, who may shelter themselves under the protection of this fort. This I know to be the immovable determination of all the settlers of this country."
In a letter to the speaker of the assembly, he gave the same opinion, and added, "I do not know on whom these miserable undone people are to rely for protection. If the assembly are to give it to them, it is time that measures were, at least, concerting, and not when they ought to be going into execution, as has always been the case. If they are to seek it from the commander in chief, it is time their condition was. made known to them. For I cannot forbear repeating again, that while we pursue defensive measures, we pursue inevitable ruin: the loss of the country being the
inevitable and fatal consequence of them, Chap.i . There will be no end to our troubles while we 1757. follow this plan, and every year will increase our expense. It is not possible for me to convey a just sense of the posture of our affairs; it would be vanity to attempt it. I therefore content myself with entreating you to use your influence to prevent such delays as we have hitherto met with, if you think this affair depends on the assembly; if you think the assembly have done all in their power, and that recourse must be had elsewhere, I am determined, as I will neither spare cost or pains, to apply to colonel Stanwix who commands on this quarter, with whom I am acquainted, and from -whom I have received several kind and affectionate letters, for leave to wait on him with an account of our circumstances. Through this means perhaps, we may be able to draw a little of lord Loudoun's attention to the preservation of these colonies." Again writing to the lieutenant governor, he says, "the last alarm occasioned a great many of the inhabitants of this country to go off. Vast numbers are still moving. I fear that in a short time, this very valuable valley will be in a great measure depopulated. I am quite at a loss to devise what further steps to take, and how to obviate so great a misfortune, as I have hitherto neglected nothing in the compass of my power. It is very evident that nothing but vigorous
I VOL. XX. «
Chap. i. offensive measures, next campaign, can save 175T. the country, at least all west of the Blue Ridge, from inevitable desolation."
It was impossible for colonel Washington, zealous as he was in the service of his country, and ambitious as he was of military fame, td observe the errors committed in the conduct of the war, without censuring and complaining of them. These errors were not confined to the arrangements respecting the military force" of the colony. The Cherokees and Catawba Indians had hitherto remained faithful to the English, and it was extremely desirable to engage the warriors of those tribes heartily in their service. Yet so miserably was this business conducted that, though a considerable expense Was incurred, very little assistance was obtained, and very great disgust excited among them. The freedom with which colonel Washington censured the measures adopted, gave offence to the governor, who considered these censures as manifesting a want of respect for himself. He sometimes coarsely termed them impertinent, and at others charged him with looseness in his information, and inattention to his duty. On one of these occasions, A"g"5t 2~ colonel Washington thus concluded a letter of detail; "Nothing remarkable has happened, and therefore I have nothing to add. I must beg leave, however, before I conclude, to observe, in justification of my own conduct,