Copyright
American Historical Society George Thornton Fleming.

History of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 online

. (page 38 of 81)
Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 38 of 81)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


resolved to send the Queen's regiment, and the regiments of Artois, Burgundy, Lan-
guedoc, Guienne, and Beam, which repaired to Brest, at the beginning of April, 1755.
They found a fleet of twenty-two ships of war, ready to receive the second battalions of
these regiments, destined for America.

While the last two paragraphs anticipate much history of the war
It is well to remember that there was no declaration until May, 1756.
Halket's and Dunbar's regiments formed the regular division of Brad-
dock's forces and the former's regiment was almost destroyed at Brad-
dock^s battle. Pouchot was a captain of the regiment of Beam which
Served at Niagara, Oswego, Ticonderoga and Quebec. It was a cele-
brated regiment. We can only note here the preparations both nations
were making.

Dr. Toner, editor of Washington's Journals, says:

Ensign M. de Jumonville was a half-brother of M. Coulon de Villiers. He was in
the French military service at Fort Duquesne in 1754 nnder Captain Commander-in-
chief of Marines M. de Contrecoeur of His Majesty's troops on the Ohio. Under
instructions at Fort Duquesne, May 23, 1754, he was sent with a small force (accord-
ing to French accounts) of one officer, three cadets, one volunteer (M. la Force) one
English interpreter and twenty-eight men to scout the country along the headwaters of
the Monongahela, the crest of the Alleghany Mountains and to deliver summons to any
English he might meet to depart from French territory. At the same time, he had
instructions to observe and report everything to M. de Contrecoeur before the summons
was served on the English. Washington knew nothing of the summons, but by his
vigilance and enterprise with scouts had discovered Jumonville's camp and surprised
him and his forces. In the skirmish which ensued May 28, De Jumonville and ten of his
men were killed and twenty-one taken prisoners, among whom was M. la Force. The
prisoners were all sent under a guard, to the Governor of Virginia. They set up the
claim to the Governor as they had done to Washington that they were on a mission of
peace, but this was not evidenced by their behavbr, lior by the orders to Jumonville
accompanying the summons, both of which documents were found upon this officer's
person. Parkman, in a note on France and England, Vol I, p. 151, says: "In i755
the widow of Jumonville received a pension of one hundred and fifty francs. In 1755
his daughter Charlotte Aimable, wishing to become a nun, was given by the King six
hundred francs for her 'trousseau' on entering the convent" Monsieur Drouillon, a
French officer of the rank of Major, was taken prisoner in the skirmish between de
Jumonville and Colonel Washington, near the Great Meadows, May. 28^ 1754. Gov-
ernor Dinwiddle in a letter to Sir Thomas Robinson of October i, 1755, wrote of him as
follows :

"I gave him his enlargement in Williamsburg and allowed him los. per week and
the cadets 7s. 6d. each; it was though proper to move him and the other prisoners to
Winchester, and from there to Alexandria, the privet men in confinement, and he and
the cadets at present lodgings and when winter approached he and the other prisoners
wanted clothes, I ordered them all proper clothing." They remained at Alexandria
until the arrival of General Braddock's army. The privates were sent on transports,

Pitts.— 18



Digitized by



Google



274 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

two on a vessel, to England, "as Sieur Drouillon said, he was an c^Bcer I sent him, the
two cadets and a servant to Hampton to be sent passengers on board any ship bound for
Britain which was accordingly done, and I paid 20 pounds for their passage" [Brock
in "Dinwiddie Papers;" Vol. I, p. 227.] 10 Qidets were young volunteers serving in mili-
tary establishments and expeditions not only for the love of the service, but also in
expectation of commissions as opportunities offered. The names of these French cadets
were M. de BoucherviUe and M. du Sable.

To his brother, John A. Washington, Colonel Washington wrote:

Camp at Great Meadow, 31 May, 1754.

Since my last we arrived at this place, where three days ago we had an engage-
ment with the French; that is, a party of our men with one of theirs. Most of our
men were out upon other detachments, so that I had scarcely 40 men remaining imder
my command, and about 10 or 12 Indians; nevertheless we obtained a most signal
victory. The battle lasted about 10 or 13 minutes, with sharp firing on both sides, till
the French gave ground and ran, but to no great purpose. There were 12 French
killed, among whom was Mons. de Jumonville, their commander, and 21 taken pris*
oners, among whom were Messrs. La Force and Drouillon, together with two cadets.
I have sent them to His Honor the Governor, at Winchester, tmder guard of twenty
men, conducted by Lieutenant West. We had but one man killed and two or three
wounded. Among the wounded on our side is Lieut. Waggoner, but no danger, it is
hoped will ensue. We expect every hour to be attacked by a superior force, but, if
they forbear for one day longer, we shall be prepared for them. We have already got
entrenchments, and are about a pallisado, which I hope will be finished today. The
Mingoes have struck the French and I will give a good blow before they have done.
I expect 40 odd of them here tonight, which, with our fort and some reinforcements
from G)l. Fry, will enable us to exert our noble courage with spirit.

P. S. I forttmately escaped without any wound, for the right wing, where I stood,
was exposed to and received all the enemy's fire, and it was the part where the man was
killed, and the rest wounded. I heard the bullets whistle, and believe me, there is some*
thing charming in the sotmd.ii

The retreat of Washington's weary troops was distressing. Seventy
miles to safety at Wills creek and there Washington's first campaign
ended in disaster and gloom. In one year another phase of his character
was to appear, a promising soldier in a battle where retreat and panic
gave the hated French the victory over Braddock. We have seen Wash-
ington first as a hardy frontiersman, daring and suffering, then as a
somewhat reckless provincial commander, and then the promise of his
rise was forthcoming. Washington was much disheartened after the
surrender at Fort Necessity and two of his captains, Robert Stobo and
Jacob Van Braam, in the hands of the French as hostages for the safe
return and good treatment of the French officers La Force and Drouillon,
and the two cadets, taken prisoners by Washington in the engagement
when M. Jumonville was killed May 28, 1754. By the terms of the



io"Washington's Journal," 1754; edited by Dr. J. M. Toner, pp. 92-94*
iiFrom the "London Magazine," Au^st,'i754: "In the express, which Major
Washington despatched on his preceding little victory (the skirmish with Jumonville)
be concluded with the words, — *1 heard the bullets whistle and believe me. there is
something charming in the sound.' When hearing of this the King said sensibly, — ^^He would
not say so, if he had been used to hear many.' However, this brave braggart learned
to blush for his rhodomontade, and desiring to serve General Braddock as aid-de-camp,
acquitted himself nobly."— Walpole, "Memoirs of George the Second; I, 347. See also
Gordon, "History of Pennsylvania;" Vol. H, p. 203. W. C. Ford's footnote in his
edition, "Writings of Washington, i7^i7S7;" Vol I, p. 89, 90.



Digitized by



Google



THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT 275

capitulation at Fort Necessity the English were to deliver up all the
prisoners captured with Jumonville, sending them under safeguard to
Fort Duquesne within two months and a half at the farthest. This
would make the time expire about the middle of September. The giving
and retaining of hostages is old in warfare. Students of Caesar's Com-
mentaries will readily recall how greatly it was Caesar's custom to take
hostages and always the most influential men were demanded, sometimes
the wives and children of the leaders. Hostages were usually treated
with kindness and not kept closely confined, hence Stobo and Van
Braam had an easy, but likely a dull time in Fort Duquesne. They were
the first English prisoners in the celebrated fort; both Stobo and his
comrade were soldiers of fortune and it is presumed were philosophical
and took the fortunes of war as dealt out to them without murmuring.
It was a cause of great mortification to Washington when Grovemor
Dinwiddie refused to ratify the capitulation's stipulation in regard to
the French prisoners. Dinwiddie wrote a letter to the Virginia Board
of Trade and explained his position. He said :

The French after the capitulation entered into with Col. Washington, took eight
of our people and exposed them to sale and missing thereof sent them prisoners to
Canada. On hearing of this I detained the 17 prisoners the officer and the two cadets,
as I am of opinion, after they were in my custody, Washington could not engage for
their being returned.

I have ordered a flag of truce to be sent to the French, offering the return of their
officer and the two cadets for the two hostages they have of ours

This course did not suit Washington. It was decidedly at variance
with his principles of honor and fine sense of equity. But he was help-
less, having no control of the situation. The hostages were not returned
and the French prisoners were detained in Virginia, supported and
clothed at the public expense, having been granted a weekly allowance.
The private soldiers were confined, but Drouillon and the cadets were
allowed to go at large, first at Williamsburg, then the capital of Virginia,
later at Winchester, whither they had been sent, and at last at Alexan-
dria, where they were living when Braddock arrived. Braddock thought
it highly improper for them to be at liberty, observing the motions of
his army. It was first designed to send them on shipboard, but the officer
in command. Commodore Keppell, would not receive them on the ground
that he had no instructions about prisoners. Braddock advised that the
privates be sent to England and this was done. They were carried over
by a returning transport. M. Drouillon and the cadets soon after went
as passengers on another vessel, their passage paid by the colony of
Virginia.

M. la Force, the French commissary, had been a volunteer under
Jumonville. A very aggressive character, La Force wanted to be at the
front when anything was likely to occur that meant fight. He was well
known on the border and had committed depredations, the Virginians
alleged, and on his arrival in Williamsburg was thrown into prison. A
man of ready resources, the crude prison did not hold him long, for he
broke out and had gone several miles when he was apprehended. His



Digitized by



Google



276 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

foreign accent betrayed him. On his return he was placed in close
confinement.

Stobo while in Fort Duquesne made good use of his time in drawing
a plan of the fort and in writing several letters to Governor Dinwiddie,
the first of these he wrote July 28, 1754, when he had been at the fort
about three weeks. In this letter he tells of the French counseling the
Shawanese, and the French machinations with the other Indians in the
vicinity. He describes the strength of the garrison, tells of the depar-
ture of Le Mercier, a fine soldier, who went with one of the detachments
sent away, in all numbering about 1,000 men. He tells Dinwiddle only
about two hundred men remained, mostly laborers. The garrison was
short of provisions. Two hundred men had recently been sent under a
lieutenant to bring provisions and were daily expected. The untiring
La Force was greatly missed. To quote Stobo's exact words : "La Force
is greatly wanted here — ^no scouting now — he certainly must have been
an extraordinary man among them — ^he is so much regretted and wished
for." This information was not at all to La Force's good. It made
Dinwiddie all the more determined to hold him. In La Force's imprison-
ment he was crippling the French. It is apparent from Stobo's words
that Jumonville's party, with La Force, a gratified volunteer, accompany-
ing, was not an embassy, as Contrecoeur contended, but a scouting party
surprised and captured as Washington and his men ever maintained.
Stobo imparted the intelligence that only Contrecoeur, a few young
officers and some cadets were in the garrison at Fort Duquesne. Now
was the time to strike, Stobo urged. He was both patriotic and philo-
sophic ; and daring to a degree, and his hardihood got him into tribula-
tions such as fall to few men. He must have known that he was breaking
his status as a hostage. His subsequent experiences and adventures fill
a book — ^a small one, it is true, but a most remarkable story. The further
career of Stobo and some account of Van Braam will be given in
Chapter XV.

Concerning the charge of the French that Washington deliberately
killed Jumonville ("assassinated" him, the seventh article of capitulation
said), Sparks has the following in appendices:

The circtiinstances attending the death of Jumonville have been so remarkably mis-
understood and perverted by the French historians, and the character of Washington,
in regard to this event, has suffered so much in their hands, that the subject demands
a further consideration. The following extracts, from three of the most recent and
accredited French writers, will show in what light this point of history is still viewed
by that nation. The first extract is from Flassan, whose history holds a high rank in
French literature, and was written with the approbation of Napoleon, if not in conse*
quence of his suggestion.

"M. de Jumonville,** says Flassan, ''setting off with an escort of thirty men, found
himself surrounded in the morning by a body of English and savages. The former
fired twice in rapid succession, and killed several Frenchmen. Jumonville made a
sign, that he was the bearer of a letter from his commandant. The fire, ceased, and
they gathered around him to hear the letter. He caused the summons to be read, but
the reading was not finished when the English reiterated their fire and killed him. The
remaining Frenchmen of his escort were immediately made prisoners of war."



Digitized by



Google



THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT 277

Sparks' next extract is from Lacretelle, whose history enjoys a dis-
tinguished reputation in his native country, Sparks attested :

An officer, by the name of Jumonville, was sent with an escort of thirty men. The
English ranged in a circle around him, listened to the representation, ii^ich he came
to make. Had they premeditated so atrocious a crime? Were they moved by a sudden
impulse of hatred and ferocity? This cannot be known; but they disgraced the New
World fay an outrage never before heard of among civilized people, and which excited
the savages to a transport of indignation. They assassinated Jumonville, and immo-
lated eight soldiers, who fell bleeding by the side of their chief. Th^ made prisoners
of the rest of the escort

To this passage M. Lacretelle adds the following note: "It is painful to state, that
the detachment of the English, who committed this atrocity, was commanded by Wash-
ington. This officer, who afterwards displayed the purest virtues of the warrior, the
citizen, and the sage, was then no more than twenty-two years old. He could not
restrain the wild and undisciplined troops, who marched under his orders."

Sparks rightly says that the authority, from which all the French
historians have drawn their intelligence, is a letter written by M. de
Contrecoeur to the Marquis Duquesne, at the time governor of Canada.
This- letter is dated June 2, 1754. The following is a literal translation of
the part which relates to the subject in question :

Since the letter, which I had the honor of writing to you on the 30th ultimo, in
which I informed you, that I expected the return of M. de Jumonville in four days,
it has been reported by the savages, that his party had been taken, and eight men
killed, among whom is M. de Jumonville. A Canadian belonging to the party, named
Mouceau, made his escape, who relates, that they built cabins in low bottom, where
they lay during a heavy rain«

To follow Sparks further, we read :

Here we have all the particulars, as they appear in the citations from the French
historians, and almost in the same language. And this is the original and sole author-
ity from which have been derived all the succeeding French accounts of the conflict
between the forces of Washington and Jumonville, which terminated so fatally to the
latter. By what testimony is this statement of M. de G>ntrecoeur sustained? First,
by the report of a Ginadian, who fled affrighted at the .beginning of the action ; and
next, by the vague rumors of the savages, who were said to have been on the spot. These
savages, if they were, who returned to M. de Contrecoeur, must have come out with the
French party. No such savages are mentioned as being seen by the English; and con-
sequently, if there were any originally with the party, they escaped, like the Canadian,
at the beginning of the action, and could have had no knowledge of the manner in
which it was conducted. In any other case would such testimony be taken as evidence
of facts? It can certainly have no claim to be made in a historical narrative. Much
less can it warrant severe censures upon the character of an officer, who was in reality
discharging his duty in the execution of his orders.12

Sparks next quotes Montgaillard, another French historian, who,
he states, has sketched with great ability and eloquence, in the form of
annals, the events of the French Revolution. Montgaillard thus speaks
of Washington, after quoting the elegant tribute to his memory by
Mallet-Dupan :

This great man, the only person with whom no other in modem history, can be
compared, would have enjoyed a renown without reproach, his public career would
have been without fault, his glory would have shone with an unsullied lustre, had it



ia"Montcalm and Wolfe;" Parkman, Vol. I, p. 156.



Digitized by



Google



278 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

not been for the fatal event of the death of Jumonville, a young officer sent to him
with a summons by the commandment of the French establishments on the Ohio.
Washington, then major in the forces of the King of England, commanded the post»
which assassinated Jumonville. He was then twenty-two years of age. Far from
offering any reparation, himself attacked by the brother of Jumonville, and made pris-
oner with his troops, he received his life and liberty on the condition of sending back
the Frenchmen who escaped from the massacre; yet he violated his promise. The
French could never efface the remembrance of this deplorable circumstance, whatever
veneration the political life of this illustrious citizen might have merited.

Many other French historians might be cited, who make the same statements, in
almost the same words; and even very recently the writer of a life of Washington in
the Biographe Universelle, who aims apparently to be accurate and impartial, and who
has done justice for the most part to Washington's character, repeats thb story of die
assassination of Jumonville, adding, like Lacretelle, as the only extenuating circum-
stances, the youth of Washington, and the tmgovemable ferocity of his soldiers.

Sparks' conclusions are:

It will be seen, by comparing the above extracts, that they are in substance pre-
cisely the same, and must unquestionably have been derived from a conunon source.
Every thing will depend on the degree of credit, that is due to this single authority,
upon which alone all the accounts of subsequent writers are founded. A supposed fact
is not strengthened by the repetition of one historian from another, whatever merit
each writer may have on the score of talents and honest intentions. All history is built
on evidence, and if this is fallacious, or partial, or dubious, the deductions from it must
be equally uncertain and deceptive. On this obvious position the present instance affords
a remarloble illustration.

Historians for the facts of Washington's first campaign rely mainly
on the Journal of Washington himself and his letters. The original
French edition of the Journal of 1754 and the English translation were
rare books a century ago and rarer in Craig's day. However, there has
been an American reprint of the English translation. The title page as
copied by Dr. Toner, reads :

JOURNAL

of

COLONEL GEORGE WASHINGTON

CDMMANDIIfG A OETACHMBNT OP VIBGINIA nOOPS
SENT BY

ROBERT DINWIDDIE

LIEUTBNAMT-OOVBRNOK OP VIBGINIA

ACROSS THE ALLEGHANY MOUNTAINS IN 1754. TO BUILD FORTS AT

THE HEAD OF THE OHIO. IT COMPRISES THE HISTORY OF

MARCHES. CAMPINGS AND EVENTS, A SKIRMISH

WITH THE FRENCH. AND THE DEATH OF

THEIR LEADER DE JUMONVILLE.

The Journal fell into the hands of the enemy, who in 1756 l»rinted a version of it

in French; a new translation of diis into English is what is here given in the absence

of the original. To comi^ete the history of the Expedition

AN APPENDIX

IS ADDED IN THE fORU OP A DIABY. SUPPLYING AN ACCOUNT OP THE BATTLE OP THE GBEAT

MEADOWS ANB THB CAPITULATION OF FORT NECESSITY; THE BETREAT OP THE

ABMY: with copies of the original IfUSTER AND PAY ROLLS

OP THE VIRGINIA REGIMENT, AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

CONNECTED WITH THIS EXPEDITION.



Digitized by



Google



THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT 279

Edited with notes

BY

J. M. TONER, M. D.



Albany^ N. Y.

JoBL Munsbll's Sons, Pubushbrs.

1893.

Toner's first footnote referred to by the figure one reads :

This is a private journal of G>lonel George Washington's, kept by him on his
march from Alexandria, Va., to the Ohio in the spring of 1754. By mischance and
the accidents attending to the war it fell into the hands of the French. The Journal
was in no sense an official one, and even the French rendering of it makes it accord,
in all essential points, with his letters to Governor Dinwiddie and to other correspond-
ents. Sparks says the Journal was captured at the battle of the Monongahela. He
does not, however, give any authority for this statement. It is doubtless true that
some of General Braddock's papers were captured at the battle of Monongahela, and
some of Washington's may also have been lost in that engagement But in the absence
of any specified testimony to that effect, that this journal was captured at that time, and
there being no reason why Washington should have the Journal of 1754 with him in
the campaign of 1755, and the further fact that the record in the Journal is alleged
to stop on the 27th of June, the time Washington's forces began their retreat, I am of
the opinion it was lost with his other papers at the battle of the Great Meadows. Again,
the period between the date of the last entry and the battle of the Great Meadows was
so incessantly occupied as to preclude the giving of any thought to his Journal; but
had Washington preserved his Journal after the battle, it would have been according
to his usual custom and exactness to have completed it so as to include the history of
the campaign to its close and his return to Williamsburg. This view is strengthened
by Washington's statement of his losses in a letter to Carter Burwdl, Esq., Qiairman
of the Committee of Military Affairs in the House of Burgesses, bearing date of 20th
of April, 1755 : ''For besides the loss of many valuable papers, a valuable servant (who
died a few days after, of his wounds) my stores, wearing apparel, books and horses,
amounting to no trifle sum on the whole, and in which I was in a manner singular by
being the only person who got his baggage up before the engagement happened." This
letter was written before the Braddock campaign began, and the loss is referred to the
engagement of the Great Meadows. A further reference to his loss of papers occurs
in the copy of his first account with the country, rendered to the Assembly of Virginia,
preserved in the Department of State, City of Washington, in which the closing item
is: "To sundry small disbursements whidi I cannot recollect or accotmt for, having
lost all my papers in the engagement," namely the battle of the Great Meadows.

Toner comments on Washingfton's commission as lieutenant-colonel
and his service in that rank as follows :

George Washington's Commission of Lieutenant Colonel.— I have not been able
to find a copy of this commission. It is not certain whether the date given in the Jour-
nal, March 31st, should be taken as the date of the commissk>n, or of its reception,



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 38 of 81)