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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 other 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 dispatch messengers, (thinking that I had not represented their miseries in the piteous manner they deserved) with addresses of their own to your Honour and the assem. bly, praying relief. And did I ever send any alarming account, without sending also the original papers, or the copiés, 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 generous to charge me with my faults, and let me stand or fall according to evidence, than to stigmatize me behind my back,
“It is uncertain in what light my services may bave 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 publick 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 your Honour, with such ungentlemanly freedom as the letter implies? Your condescension herein will be ac. knowledged 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 demonstrated the superiour advantages of offensive operations.
Colonel WASHINGTON was sanguine in the expectation, that Lord Loudoun would adopt his darl. ing scheme of an expedition to dispossess the French of Fort du Quesne ; but his Lordship having determined to direct his force against Ticonderoga, he was again mortified by a disappointment.
At the close of the year 1757, General Abercrombie was appointed to the supreme command 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 obseryes, “ 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 necessitated 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 assembly, in their last session, had voted to a regi. ment raised for 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 to the measure, because the detachment would be exposed 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 they retir. ed 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 month, 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 free. ly, permit me to observe, that after having convers
ed 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. Bouquet 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 probably 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 Vir. ginia, 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 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 Mead
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 vallies between them abounded with grass. The objection to Braddock's road, he ob