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Duquesne campaign, a serious affront was offered to the officers of the colonial troops by an order “settling the rank of officers of his majesty's forces, when serving with the provincials of North America.” The salient
referred to, advanced from the French camp, it did not move directly to Washington's position, approach under cover of a Alag of truce, deliver its message, as it could and would have done had its ostensible mission been its real one; on the contrary, De Jumonville kept his men in the vicinity, but, as he supposed, concealed from the English commander. He bore with him instructions to observe the position, force, and armament of the English, and return tidings to his superior, and this he did, as the trail of the two couriers, which finally betrayed him, clearly shows. There can be no question that he came first on an errand of observation that he was a spy; second, the evidence indicates that, had circumstances promised success, he was prepared to attack the main body of Washington's force, or any portion of it that fell in his way; third, that the letter demanding the withdrawal of the English force was intended for the very purpose it was made to serve,—as a shield in case of capture. The matter of the mistranslated phrase in the capitulation, has already been explained; on the face of it, it is not likely that Washington, opposed by a vastly superior force, with defeat and annihilation staring him in the face, would have twice sent back a messenger, bearing terms of capitulation which he refused to accept, by reason of some matter of detail or military etiquette, only to knowingly accede to the terms of a third that branded him as a murderer. Upon Washington's return from the campaign he received a vote of commendation and thanks from the Virginia House of Burgesses, which body had all the facts in the case before it; this fact alone clearly indicates the contemporary opinion of his action, as expressed by a body which had shown anything but a warlike spirit. Washington himself gave an answer clear, pointed, and decisive, to the imputation placed upon him, before the stigma
In a letter to a friend he reviewed the occurrences of the expedition, and so thoroughly cleared himself from all blame that even his enemies were for the time silenced, and did not venture to revive the charges, until the lapse of years had, as they supposed, caused the facts to be forgotten. What was said, or thought, of Washington, by such of his contemporaries as could not endure his success, is of little consequence -the misfortune is that French, and some later English, historians have perpetuated what was originally but a calumny, invented by political enemies, and that, among American historians, some have been found ready to become the apologists of what they assume to have been Washington's "youthful indiscretion," rather than his champions—when the act which is made the foundation of this adverse criticism, was clearly justified by the
During the winter that followed the return of the little force from the
had had time to attach.
point of this order was conveyed in the following provisions: “That all officers commissioned by the king or by his general in North America, should take rank of all officers commissioned by the governors of the respective provinces; and, further, that the general and field officers of the provincial troops should have no rank when serving with the general and field officers commissioned by the crown; but that all captains and other inferior officers of the royal troops should take rank over provincial officers of the same grade having royal commissions." This alone was sufficient insult, but Governor Dinwiddie, with the foresight of a bat and the sagacity of a hare, conceived a brilliant plan for preventing any further question of precedence between Virginian and other colonial officers, by reducing the entire force of his own province to a series of independent companies, which action left no military office higher than that of captain to be filled. Hence Washington had the alternative of accepting a captain's commission, which placed him under the command of the rawest captain of the regular service who chanced to cross his way or of resigning from the army. He chose the latter course, and retired to Mount Vernon, expecting to devote himself entirely to his private affairs. Another cause of his displeasure was the discovery that the French officers captured during the campaign, and whom he had particularly recommended to the courtesy of the Governor, had been treated with shameful indignity, confined in prison like common criminals, and that La Force, who had escaped and been recaptured, was, upon his return, fettered and chained to the floor of his cell. According to the terms of the capitulation at Fort Necessity, Washington had pledged the immediate release of these prisoners, their safe return to the fort, and had left two of his officers with De Villiers as hostages. In spite of all these facts, and the clear obligation resting in honor upon Virginia, Dinwiddie, with an obstinacy and disregard of all military rule that frequently marked his conduct, refused to carry out the pledge of his officer. Washington was sought out at Mount Vernon by many friends and public men, who hoped to devise some plan by which his services might be preserved to the province without loss of dignity on his part. The Governor of Maryland, appointed by the king commander in chief of his majesty's forces engaged against the French in America, offered him a colonel's commission with the pay and duties of a major. All these over. tures and offers were, however, rejected with simple dignity, and, for the time, his retirement from military life seemed likely to be permanent.
THE BRADDOCK EXPEDITION.
HE report of Washington's campaign had aroused the English cabine.
to an appreciation of the dangers that threatened British interests in America. Measures were taken to equip and dispatch a force sufficient to settle at once and forever the controversy in favor of England. The plan of operations in America had a four-fold object, being directed to the expulsion of the French from Nova Scotia; from their position on Lake Champlain; from Fort Niagara, and from the Ohio valley. Majorgeneral Edwin Braddock was appointed commander in chief of all forces in America, and elected to take personal charge of the expedition to the borders of Pennsylvania and Virginia, primarily directed at Fort Duquesne. For this service two English regiments, of five hundred men each, were landed at Alexandria, and with them came a large train of artillery and a superfluity of stores and baggage. Each of these regiments was to be increased by the addition of two hundred Virginia recruits, and the whole supplemented by as large and efficient an Indian contingent as could be
Soon after his arrival in America, General Braddock, having heard much of the competency and experience of Washington, sent an invitation
young provincial to become a member of his staff. Although the place offered neither pay nor command to Washington, he could not resist accepting it, as it promised so rich an opportunity for studying the art of
practiced by those with whom war was a trade. Then, too, the spirit which animated the old De Wessyngtons, in their border service, seemed revived in him. Gunpowder and arms allured him with the fascination that the drawing room and dancing hall have for other men.
It is not the purpose of this narrative to follow either the preparation of prosecution of the Braddock campaign, but simply to give such details as may have a direct bearing upon the life and reputation of Washington.
Yet a few words as to General Braddock's personal peculiarities may not be amiss, for to them, more than to any other reasons, may be ascribed the disastrous result of what might otherwise have been a brilliantly successful expedition. General Braddock was, by nature and training, a martinet; his especial standing in the English army was due to his reputation as a disciplinarian; he believed, -as did many others, until the American revolution proved their mistake,-that, against provincial levies and Indian auxiliaries, alike, the British regular was invincible. He believed that a mountain campaign in America would succeed, if conducted on the principles applied in holiday maneuvres in Hyde Park. The contempt which he felt for provincials and Indians could not be limited to his enemies; provincials and Indians were a portion of his own force. This undervaluation of American auxiliaries led him to reject offers of service from white scouts, and to ignore the counsels of Indian allies, thus offending both, and losing an effective defensive arm, that would have protected his force from disastrous surprise, and perhaps have allowed him to dictate the terms of battle with the French at Duquesne, as he might have done at Versailles, had his service led him thither. It was to such a general that Washington, the practical and experienced, but unscientific young officer, was attached.
From the first, the young Virginian, undazzled by the magnificent military display and perfect drill of the regulars, was appalled at the plan of operations adopted. In spite of the fact that a practicable military road had been made, during the previous year, extending from the eastern base of the Alleghanies almost to Fort Duquesne, Braddock insisted upon proceeding by a different route, and making a road as he went. Although his march must necessarily extend, a slender line, four miles in length, through a densely wooded, steep, and difficult country—though he was advised by those fitter to judge than he that he would be constantly dogged and menaced by bands of Indians, and that his line was, at any time, liable to be attacked and cut from an ambuscade, he insisted upon proceeding as if he were conducting an expedition in the heart of civilized Europe; rejected the advice of Benjamin Franklin, Washington, and others; refused to effect the curtailment of his line by ordering his officers to diminish their baggage to the actual essentials of the campaign, and rejected-almost repulsedthe offers of assistance from whites and Indians, who would, as has been said, if invited to serve, have protected his flanks and allowed him to form his troops before the French fort, with all the formality dear to his heart.
Braddock marched from Alexandria on the 20th of April; reaching Fort Cumberland, he remained until the 20th of June, awaiting transportation for his baggage and equipage-then he set out, dragging along at a snail's pace, his four thousand men finding it impossible to make much headway against the difficulties of mountain road making. Before long the general was compelled to swallow his pride and appeal to Washington for advice. This
unguarded line-their colors flying and band playing. Washington could
ing day—the oth—was set for the advance. illness and his trying wagon trip, he was early in the saddle, and reported and recross by a second ford. men moved off, as if for a parade, marching in a long and entirely
Washington modestly gave. The garrison of the fort was known to be weak, and French reinforcements were supposed to be coming. He urged that twelve hundred men be detached, stripped of all impedimenta, and ad anced by forced marches, to strike an effective blow at the fort before its defense could be strengthened. The remainder of the force, guarding the baggage and supplies, could follow, and be on the ground in time to resist any retaliatory attack.
On the 19th of June, the advance expedition set out; but, in equipment and spirit, it was little calculated to succeed; the officers could not be induced to greatly diminish the amount of their baggage, and it was, consequently, not much less cumbrous than that of the united force had been. Washington wrote of the affair, after it was over: “I found that, instead of pushing with vigor, without regarding a little rough road, they were halting to level every molehill
, and to build bridges over every brook, by which means we were four days in getting twelve miles." General Braddock commanded this advance in person, and it was with great regret that Washington, who had been ill for nearly a week, and compelled by v'eakness to leave his horse and ride in a wagon, succumbed to the hardship of these arduous twelve miles, and dropped out of the line to await the arrival of the rear guard, and to obtain the medical treatment and the rest that he felt to be essential to his recovery. A guard and a physician were left with him, and he obtained a promise from Braddock that he should be brought up with the advance, in time to participate in any attack that might be made upon Fort Duquesne.
The illness of Washington continued, and it was not until the 3d day of July that he was deemed sufficiently mended to set out in an army wagon with the advance force of the rear guard, which had just come up. Even this long delay did not, however, prevent his reaching Braddock's immediate force before its snail-like march was quite ended. The detachment
month on the march, and had traveled but little more than a hundred miles, when Washington rejoined his general on the 8th of July, at his camp on the east bank of the Monongahela, and fifteen miles from Fort
It had already been determined to attack the fort as soon as the troops could be sent forward for the purpose, and the morning of the follow
Thus Washington was just in time to participate in the expected attack, and, though weak from long
The plan of Braddock was to move his men by a ford near the camp, to the west bank of the river, march some five miles down the stream
The advance was ordered forward before daylight to cover the second ford while the main body should cross.
had been a