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after being taken some distance in a Washington believed their true course to lie, was dismissed, probably very the night, so that they might be out of the neighborhood before he could
laden and obliged to plunge through snow and mud, soon began to show signs of failing. He gave up his own saddle-horse for the service, and marched on foot to a point on the southeast fork of Beaver creek. At this place, becoming impatient of the slow progress made, he donned an Indian dress, strapped a pack upon his back, and, accompanied by the woodsman Gist, heretofore mentioned, who was one of his party, struck through the woods on foot, in a line as nearly as possible directly toward the settlements.
Soon after thus leaving his little escort Washington and his companion fell in, at a place bearing the unpromising name of Murdering Town, with a number of Indians who, while expressing the utmost friendliness, betrayed by their questions that they were already possessed of information that could only have come from the French. Hence it was with much regret that he acknowledged the necessity of engaging one of them as a guide, for the journey through the trackless and unknown wilderness that lay before him. He was, however, compelled to make such acknowledgment and to trust his safety to such doubtful leadership. Pushing on, through the thick woods, the Indian in advance, Washington soon became satisfied that the direction taken was not the right one. He tasked the guide with treachery, but received only surly and unsatisfactory answers. For some time the march was continued in the same direction, when, being lame with much walking, Washington suggested going into camp. The Indian objected, on the ground that the light of their fires would be likely to attract some wandering band of hostiles, and said that if they would but continue a little farther they would reach his own lodge, where they could sleep safely. So they pushed on. Night began to gather and soon, in the shade of the dense woods
, it was almost impossible to see their way. Emerging at last into a clearing, or natural opening, the young leader peremptorily ordered a camp to be arranged, saying that he would go no farther. In the opening, the stars shining upon the snow rendered objects at some distance distinctly
The Indian walked a few paces in advance of his companions ing himself safe and ascertaining that Gist had also escaped, pur
treacherous savage, and, joined by Gist, the two captured the fugitive when in the act of reloading his gun.
Gist, with the instinct of a veteran backwoodsman, was for shooting the captive at once, but Washington forbade his doing so, and the man was deprived of his rifle, compelled to build a fire and assist in cooking a supper, then,
new direction, that in which much puzzled at the clemency of his captors. Gist insisted that, as they
so unwise as to liberate the man, they must needs push on during
obtain assistance and return. Hence, though Washington was partially disabled and both were terribly fatigued, they tramped on in the darkness, with nothing better than a guess of their direction, until, just at daybreak, they reached the bank of the Allegheny. Much to their disappointment they found that, in spite of the intense cold, the stream was not frozen, except for a short distance on either hand—these margins skirting the swollen and turbid current, which carried with it great blocks and masses of ice. In spite of a day and night of incessant marching, which had nearly prostrated both with fatigue, Washington and Gist fell to work with their only tools,-a small hatchet and their hunting knives,—to make a raft. Logs were cut, shaped, and fastened with grape tendrils, but so slow was the progress made, that darkness found the work but just completed, and it was necessary to wait for morning before the raft could be launched. At daybreak this difficult work was accomplished, and the perilous operation of propelling the frail affair across the river with poles was begun. In mid-stream the raft, striking a great cake of ice, gave way, the logs separated and the two passengers fell into the bitterly cold water. Fortunately each seized a log and, as if in the especial care of Providence, the logs and men were floated upon an island lying in mid-stream, a short distance below where the accident occurred. Their guns, powder, and blankets, too, were saved, and they succeeded in erecting a bark shelter and building a fire upon the island, where they were at least safe from the Indians. Gist's hands and feet were frozen, but Washington suffered no ill effects from his bath and exposure. Upon awaking in the morning, they discovered that the stream was frozen quite across, and were able to walk to shore without difficulty. Before night they reached the house of Frazier, the Indian trader on the Monongahela, at the mouth of Turtle creek. There Washing. ton was detained for three days before he could buy a horse, which, having obtained, he pushed on across the mountains, stopped one day with the Fairfax family at Belvoir, then hastened on to Williamsburg and delivered to the hands of Governor Dinwiddie the papers obtained from the French commandant. The reply of the Chevalier de St. Pierre was the only one a military officer acting under instructions could make-polite, politic, evasive. After saying that he would transmit the communication of Gov. ernor Dinwiddie to the Governor of Canada, in whom, rather than in him, it would be becoming to speak for the king, concerning the merits of a matter so important, he wrote, referring to jis personal action:
“As to the summons you send me to retire, ! do not think myself obliged to obey it. Whatever may be your instructions, I am here by virtue of the orders of my general; and I entreat you, sir, not to doubt one moment that I am determined to conform myself to them with all the exactness and resolution that can be expected of the best officer.”
The publication of this letter and of the journal kept by Washington
during his journey, created the greatest excitement, both in the colonies and in England. War was now inevitable, and the mother country was for the first time awakened to the necessity for speedy and decisive action as the only means of preserving her imperilled American possessions.
WASHINGTON'S FIRST CAMPAIGN.
ASHINGTON awoke to find himself a marked man; everywhere
in Virginia he was looked upon as the leader of the rising generation in the colony, while in England his name was heard in every club and drawing-room, and was prominent in the deliberations of grave cabinet councils.
Immediately upon the receipt of his report, it was determined that active steps be taken to forcibly oppose the further advance of the French, and, to this end, the same Captain Trent, who had proven himself so cows ardly and incompetent upon a former expedition, was dispatched to the frontier, to raise a company of one hundred men, with orders to proceed to the point near the junction of the Allegheny and the Monongahela, where the Ohio company was engaged in erecting a fort; Washington was commissioned to raise a like force at Alexandria, and, forming a junction with Trent, to assume command of the entire body. An application was made to the sister colonies for aid in the movement, but the same lack of unity and harmony that had frustrated other efforts of the kind, proved equally efficacious in this case, and no substantial result was obtained. Governor Dinwiddie met with great difficulty in persuading the Virginia House of Burgesses to vote funds for the military chest, and it was only with infinite pains that an appropriation of the beggarly sum of ten thousand pounds was grudgingly made," for the purpose of protecting settlers on the waters of the Mississippi." Upon securing these funds, Dinwiddie concluded to increase the levy of men to three hundred, and the command of all was again offered to Washington, but he modestly declined it, preferring to retain his original commission, raise a company and then to act under orders. Colonel Joshua Fry was consequently placed in charge of the anticipated expedition, and Washington was made second in command, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. As the event proved, the
Washington, that Captain Trent and his entire force had been surprised and the men were then safe and working busily at the fort. fort, bearing their working tools, and under command of an ensign. The
younger officer was destined, in spite of his preferences, to assume the practical command of the force, and to bear the brunt of much unjust criticism.
Preparations for the march were not rapidly advanced until Governor Dinwiddie adopted, for the first time, an expedient that has often since served the American people in their times of need. He made a proclamation setting aside two hundred thousand acres of land on the Ohio river, to be divided as bounty among the soldiers volunteering for this service against the French. As a consequence of this measure, Washington was enabled to march from Alexandria for the new fort, on the 2nd day of April, 1754, with one hundred and fifty men of his regiment, leaving the advance of the remainder in the hands of his superior officer. The instructions given the leaders of the force, are thus formulated by the somewhat imaginative Abbott: “March rapidly across the mountains; disperse, capture, or kill all persons, not subjects of the king of Great Britain, who are attempting to take possession of the territory of his majesty on the banks of the Ohio river or any of its tributaries." This was a serious undertaking, and was no doubt so regarded by the young officer, who led his undisciplined and ill equipped little band across the steep and rugged way that lay between the home of the rather pragmatical and pompous Governor and the objective point of the march.
It now seems ridiculous that so inefficient and slender a force should have been sent out for the execution of such sounding orders, but so it was, and perhaps even Washington, counting upon a shelter in the new fort, may have been sanguine of success. It is impossible to recount at length the history of this expedition ; vexed, hampered, and crippled by the economy of the Burgesses, the insufficiency of every manner of equipment and the imbecility of his fellow-officers, Washington's lot was hard
At Winchester he was obliged to impress teams and wagons for transportation, and even on those terms could obtain but few. Pushing on to Wills Creek, cutting a road as he went, that the wagons and artillery to follow with the main body might pass, he arrived at that trading post of the Ohio com pany, only to find that Captain Trent had given another evidence of his incapacity by entirely failing to provide pack-horses for the army, as he had undertaken to do. Before reaching Wills creek a report had come to çaptured by the French, and that the partially completed fort was in the hands of the enemy. Upon arriving at the trading-post Trent was found; the story of the capture he said had reached him as well, but he could not say as to its truth, as he had left the camp several days before, and
This cool dismissal of the matter left Washington in much anxiety, for the time, but all doubt
dispelled by the arrival at Wills creek of the fifty men from the