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

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since Governor Dinwiddie, writing in January 1754, to Lord Fairfax, says that he had
''commissioned Major George Washington to command 100 men etc." Washington was
attending to his duties as Lieutenant-Colonel before the first of February, 1754. Gov-
ernor Dinwiddie in a letter to George Washington, which bears the date March 15th,
1754, says: '^ou have been Com'd Lieut. Colo. 12s. 6d. p day without any trouble of
Comdg a Company." In a letter to the Governor, written from Alexandria March
2odi 1754, Washington acknowledges the receipt of the commission .with appreda*
tive remarks. June 4th, of the same year. Governor Dinwiddie wrote to Lieutenant-
Colonel Washington and sent him his commission as Colonel, using the following lan-
guage : "Sir, on the death of Colonel Fry I have thot it proper to send you the enclos'd
Com'n and Com'd the Virg'a regiment and another to Maj'r Muse to be Lieut. Colo.



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28o HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

The oldest Capt. to be Major, and the eldest Lieu, to be Capt.; the eldest Ensign to be
Lieu., unless you sh'd have object'n to them."

Washington resigned this latter commission in October, 1754, because under the
new military establishment, devised by Governor Dinwiddle, to consist of ten inde-
pendent companies of 100 men each, there was no grade or rank provided above that of
captain and all colonial appointments were to be subordinated to officers of whatever
rank, holding commissions from the king. The effect of this arrangement was to
reduce Colonel Washington to the rank of captain and to place him under officers he
had commanded. To this he would not consent, but quietly retired and remained in
private life at Motmt Vernon until invited in a letter from General Braddock of March
2, 1755, to join his staff as an aide, and in that capacity make the campaign to the Ohio.

Toner's footnote (6) contains the text of Dinwiddle's instructions to
Major Washington :
Instruct's To BE observ'd by Maj'r Geo. Washington, on the Expedit'n to the Ohio.

MajV Geo. Washington: You are forthwith to repair to the Co'ty of Frederick
and there to take under yV com'd 50 men of the Militia who will be delivered to you
by the comd'r of the s'd co'ty pursuant to my orders. You are to send y'r Lieut, at the
same time to the Co'ty of Augusta, to receive 50 men from the comd'r of that co*ty as
I have order'd, and with them he is to join you at Alexandria, to which place you are
to proceed as soon as you have re'd the men at Frederick. Having rec'd the detachn't,
you are to train and discipline them in the best manner you can, and for all neces-
saries you are to apply yourself to Mr. Jno. Carlisle at Alex'a who has my orders to
supply you. Having all things in readiness you are to use all expedition in proceeding
to the fork of the Ohio with the men under your command and there you are to finish
and complete, in the best manner and as soon as you possibly can, the fort which I
expect is there already begun by the Ohio Company. You are to act on the defensive,
but in case any attempts are made to obstruct the works or interrupt our settlem'ts
by any persons whatsoever you are to restrain all such offenders, and in case of
resistance to make prisoners of, or kill and destroy them. For the rest you are to
conduct /rself as the circumsfs of the service shall require and to act as you shall
find best for the fur^erance of his M'y's. Service and the good of his dom'n. Wishing
you health and success I bid you farewell.^s

Journal of Major Washington.

On the 31 St of March, 1754, I received from his Honor a Lieutenant Colonel's
Commission of the Virginia Regiment, whereof Joshua Fry, Esq., was Colonel, dated
the 15th with orders to take the troops, which were at the time quartered at Alexandria,
under my command and to march (6) with them towards the Ohio, there to help Cap-
tain Trent to build forts, and to defend the possessions of his Majesty against the
attempts and hostilities of the French.

April 2nd. Everything being ready, we began our march according to our orders,
the 2nd of April with two Companies of Foot, commanded by Captain Peter Hog and
Lieutenant Jacob Van Braam, five subalterns, two Sergeants, six Corporals, one jdrum-
mer, and one himdred and twenty soldiers, one surgeon, one Swedish gentleman, who
was a volunteer, two wagons guarded by one lieutenant, sergeant, corporal and twenty
five soldiers.

We left Alexandria on Tuesday Noon and pitched our tents about four miles from
Cameron having marched six miles.

(From the 3rd of April to the 19th this journal only contains the march of the
troops and how they were joined by a detachment which was brought by Captain
Stephens.— Editor.)

April 19th met an express who had letters from Captain Trent, at the Ohio demand-
ing a reinforcement with all speed, as he hourly expected a body of eight hundred
French. I tarried at Job Perrsall's for the arrival of the troops where they came next
day. When I received the above express, I dispatched a courier to Colonel Fry, to givt
him notice of it



iSBrock in "Dinwiddie Papers;" Vol. I, p. 59. Cited by Dr. Toner.



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THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT 281

April doth came down to Colonel Cresap's to order the detachment, and on toy
route, had notice that the fort was taken by the French. That news was confirmed by
Mr. Ward, the Ensign of Captain Trent, who had beed obliged to surrender to a body
of one thousand French and upwards, under the command of Captain Contrecoeur, who
was come from Venango, Presque Isle with sixty bateaux, and three hundred canoes
and who having planted eighteen pieces of cannon against the Fort, afterwards had sent
him summons to withdraw.

Mr. Ward also informed me that Indians kept steadfastly attached to our interest.
He brought two young Indian men with him, who were Mingoes, that they might have
the satisfaction to see that we were marching with our troops to their succor. He also
delivered the following speech which the Half King sent to me.

Fort on Ohio, April 18, 1754.

A speech from the Half King, Scruneyattha and belt of wampum, for the Gov-
ernors of Virginia and Pennsvlvania.

My Brethren, the English. The bearer will let you understand in what manner
the French have treated us. We waited a long time, thinking they would come and
attack; we now see how they have a mind to treat us. We are now ready to fall upon
them, waiting only for your succor. Have good courage and come as soon as possible;
you will find us as ready to encounter with them as you are yourselves.

We have sent those two young men to see if you are ready to come, and if so they
are to return to us and let us know where you are, that we may come and join you.
We should be glad if the troops belonging to the two Provinces could meet together
at the Fort which is in the way. If you do not come to our assistance now, we are
entirely undone and imagine we shall never meet together again. I speak with a heart
full of grief. (A Belt of Wampum).

The Half-King directed to me the following speech. "I am ready, if you think it
proper, to go to both the Governors, with these two young men, for I have now no
more dependence on those who have been gone so long, without returning or sending any
message." (A Belt of Wampum.)

April 23. A Council of War at Will's Creek, in order to consult upon what must
be done on account of the news brought Iqr Mr. Ward. The news brought by Ensign
Ward having been examined into, as also the summons sent by Captain Contrecoeur
Commander of the French Troops and the speeches of the Half King, and of other
chiefs of the Six Nations; it appears that Mr. Ward, was forced to surrender the
said Fort, the 17th of this instant to the French, who were above one thousand strong
and had eighteen artillery pieces, some of which were nine poimders and also that the
detachment of the Virginia regiment, amounting to one hundred and fifty men com-
manded by Colonel Washington had orders to reinforce the Company of Captain Trent,
and that the aforesaid garrison consisted only of thirty-three effective men.

It was thought a thing impracticable to march towards the Fort without sufficient
strength; however, being strongly invited by the Indians, and particularly by the
speeches of the Half-King, the president put the question to vote whether we should
not advance, as far as Red Stone Creek, on Monongahela, about thirty-seven miles on
this side of the fort and there to erect a fortification, clearing a road broad enough to
pass with all our artillery and our baggage, and there to wait for fresh orders.

The proposition aforesaid was adopted for the following reasons: ist. That the
mouth of Red Stone is the first convenient place on the river Monongahela. 2nd. The
stores are already built at that place for the provisions of the Company, wherein our
Ammunition may be laid up, our gfreat guns may be also sent by water whenever we
shall think it convenient to attack the Fort.

Now Sir, as I have answered 3rour letter, I shall beg leave to acquaint you with
what has happened since I wrote by Mr. Gist. I then informed you, that I had a party
of seventy-five men to meet fifty of the French, who, we had intelligence, were upon
their march towards us. About nine o'clock the same night, I received an express from
the Half-King, who was encamped with several of his people about six miles off, that
he had seen the tracks of two Frenchmen crossing the road, and that, bdiind the whole
body were lying not far off, as he had an account of that number passing Mr. Gist's.

I set out with forty men before ten, and it was from that time till sunrise before
we reached the Indians' camp, having marched in small paths, through a heavy rain,



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282 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

and a night as dark as it is possible to conceive. We were frequently tumbling one
over another, and often so lost, that fifteen or twenty minutes' search would not find
the path again.

When we came to the Half -King, I counselled with him, and got his assent to go
hand-in-hand and strike the French. Accordingly, he, Monacawacha, and a few other
Indians set out with us; and when we came to the place where the tracks were, the
Half-King sent two Indians to follow the tracks, and discover the lodgement, which
they did at half a mile from the road, in a very obscure place surrounded with tocks.
I thereupon, in conjunction with the Half -King and Monacawacha, formed a disposition
to attack them on all sides, which we accordingly did, and, after an engagement of
about fifteen minutes, we killed ten, wounded one, and took twenty-one prisoners.
Amongst those killed was M. de Jumonville, the commander. The principal officers
taken are M. Drouillon, and M. La Force, of whom your Honor has often heard me
speak, as a bold, enterprising man, and a person of great subtlety and cunning. With
these are two cadets.

These officers pretended they were coming on an embassy; but the absurdity of
this pretext is too glaring, as you will see by the Instructions and Summons enclosed.
Their instructions were to reconnoitre the country, roads, creeks, and the like, as far
as the Potomac, which they were about to do. These enterprising men were purposely
chosen out to procure intelligence, which they were to send back by some brisk des-
patches, with the mention of the day that they were to serve the summons ; which could
be with no other view than to get a sufficient reinforcement to fall upon us inrnied-
iately after. This, with several other reasons, induced all the officers to believe firmly,
that they were sent jis spies, rather than anjrthing else, and has occasioned my detaining
them as prisoners, though they expected, or at least had some faint hope, that they
should be continued as ambassadors.

They finding where we were encamped, instead of coming in a public manner, sought
out one of the most secret retirements, fitter for a deserter than an ambassador to
encamp in, and stayed there two or three days, sending spies to reconnoitre our camp,
as we are told, though they denied it Their whole body moved back two miles, and
they sent ofiF two runners to acquaint Contrecoeur with our strength, and where we
were encamped. Now thirty-six men would almost have been a retinue for a princely
ambassador, instead of a petit Why did they, if their designs were open, stay so long
within five miles of us without delivering their message, or acquainting me with it
Their ¥raiting could be with no other design, than to get detachments to enforce the
summons, as soon as it was given. They had no occasion to send out spies, for the
name of an ambassador is sacred among all nations; but it was by the track of those
spies, that they were discovered, and that we got intdligence of than. They would not
have retired two miles back without delivering the summons and sought a skulking
place, but for some special reason. Besides, the summons is so insolent, and savors so
much of gasconade, that if two men only had come to deliver it openly, it would have
been too great an indulgence to send them back.

The sense of the Half -King on this subject is, that they have bad hearts, and that
this is a mere pretence; that they never designed to come to us but in hostile manner^
and if we were so foolish as to let them go again, he never would assist us in taking
another of them. Besides, La Force would, if released, I really think, do more to our
disservice, than fifty other men, as he is a person whose active spirits lead him into all
parties, and has brought him acquainted with all parts of the country. Add to this a
perfect use of the Indian tongue, and great influence with the Indians. He ingenuously
confessed, that, as soon as he saw the commission and instructions, he believed, and
then said he expected some such tendency, though he pretends to say he does not
believe the commander had any other than a good design.

In this engagement we had only one man killed and two or three wounded, among
whom was Lieutenant Waggoner slightly,— a most miraculous escape, as our right wing
was exposed to their fire and received it all.

The Half -King received your Honor's speech very kindly, but desired to inform
you that he could not leave his people at this time, thinking them in great danger. He
is now gone to the Crossing for their families, to bring them to our camp; and he



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THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT 283

desired I would furnish some men and horses to assist them, which I have accordingly
done. I have sent thirty men and upwards of twenty horses. He says, if your honor
has anything to say, you may communicate it by me, and that, if you have a present for
them, it may be kept till another occasion, after sending out some things for their
immediate use. He has declared that he will send all these Frenchmen's scalps, with a
hatchet, to all the nations of the Indians in union with them, and did the very day give
a hatchet, and a large belt of wampum, to a Delaware man to carry to Shingiss. He
promised me to send down the river for all the Mingoes and Shawanees to our camp,
where I expect him to-morrow with thirty or forty men, and their wives and children,
to confirm what he has said here. He has sent your Honor a string of wampum.

As these runners went off to the fort on Sunday last, I shall expect every hour to
be attacked, and by unequal numbers, which I must withstand if there are five to one;
for I fear the consequence will be, that we shall lose the Indians, if we suffer ourselves
to be driven back. I despatched an express immediately to Colonel Fry with this intel-
ligence, desiring him to send me reinforcements with all imaginable speed.

Your Honor may depend I will not be surprised, let them come at what hour they
will ; and this is as much as I can promise. But my best endeavors shall not be wanting
to effect more. I doubt not, if you hear I am beaten, but you will hear at the same
time that we have done our duty, in fighting as long as there was a shadow of hope.

I have sent Lieutenant West, accompanied by Mr. Splitdorph and a guard of
twenty men, to conduct the prisoners in, and I believe the officers have told him what
answer to return to you.

M. La Force and Major Drouillon beg to be recommended to your notice, and I
have promised that they shall meet with all the favor due to prisoners of war. I have
shown all the respect I could to them here, and have given them some necessary cloth-
ing, by which I have dis furnished myself; for having brought no more than two or
three shirts from Will's creek, that we might be light, I was ill provided to supply them.^*
I am, etc.

Serving under the French while Washington was at the French forts
was an English soldier of fortune, one Thomas Forbes. He was only
a private, but an observing one, and he has handed down a journal de-
scriptive of these forts. He dates his journal January, 1755, and begins
with the statement that he, with three officers and 120 private soldiers,
had left Old France a year and a half previously.

He served at "Quebeck," Montreal and Niagara, and went with Con-
trecoeur from the "little fort" at Niagara to Presque Isle, voyaging by
canoes and keeping along the eastern coast of the lake to Presque Isle,
which he apprehended was about fifty leagues from Niagara.

Forbes says of this and the other forts, and the events in which he
participated (Darlington's "Gist,*' pp. 148-151) :

This Fort is situated on a little risinc^ Ground at a very small Distance from the
water of Lake Erie; it is rather larger than diat at Niagara but has likewise no Bas-
tions or Out- Works of any sort It is a square arena enclosed with Logs about 12 feet
high, the Logs being square and laid on each other and not more than sixteen or eight-
een inches thick. Captain Darpontine was Commandant in this Fort and his Garison
was 30 private Men.

We were eight days employed in unloading our Canoes here, and carrying the Pro-
visions to Fort Boeuff which is built about six Leagues from Fort Presqu' isle at the
head of Buffaloe River. This Fort was composed of four Houses built by way of Bas-
tions and the intermediate Space stockaded. Lieut St Blein was posted here with 20
men.

Here we found three large Batteaus and between two or 300 Canoes which we
freighted with provisions and proceeded down the Buffaloe river which flows into the



i*"Writing8 of Washington;" Sparks, Vol. II, pp. 32-37.



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284 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Ohio at about twenty leagues (as I conceived) distance from Fort au Boeuff, this river
was small and at some places very shallow so that we towed the canoes, sometimes
wading and sometimes taking ropes to the shore a great part of the way.

When we came into the Ohio we had a fine deep water and a stream in our favour
so that we rowed down that river from the mouth of the Buffaloe to Du Quesne Fort
on Monongahela, which I take to be 70 leagues distant, in four days and a half.

At our arrival at Fort Du Quesne we found the Garison busily employed in com-
pleating that Fort and Stockading it round at some distance for the security of the
Soldiers Barracks (against any surprise) which are built between Stockados and the
Glacis of the Fort

Fort Du Quesne is built of square logs transversly placed as is frequent in mill
dams, and the interstices filled up with Earth; the length of these Logs is about sixteen
feet which is the thickness of the Rampart. There is a Parapet raised on the Rampart
of Logs, and the length of the Curtains is about 30 feet, and die Demigorge of the Bas-
tions about eighty. The Fort is surrounded on the two sides that do not front the Water
with a Ditch about 12 feet wide and very deep, because there being no covert way the
Musqutteers fire from thence having a Glacis before them.

When the News of Ensign Jumonville's Defeat reached us our company consisted
of about 1400. Seven hundred of whom were ordered out under the command of Cap-
tain Mercier to attack Mr. Washington, after our return from the Meadows, a great
number of the Soldiers who had been labouring at the Fort all the Spring were sent
off in Divisions to the several Forts between that and Canada, and some of those that
came down last were sent away to build a Fort somewhere on the Head of the Ohio, so
that in October the Garison at Du Quesne was reduced to 400 Men, who had Provisions
enough at the Fort to last two years, notwithstanding a good deal of the Flour we
brought down in the Spring proved to be damaged, and some of it spoiled by the rains
that fell at that Time. In October last I had an opportunity of relieving myself and
retiring, there were not then any Indians with the French but a considerable number
were expected and said to be on tiieir March thither.

[It is to remembered the French and Indians regarded the Allegheny
and Ohio as the same river. The BufFaloe river was Le Boeuf, now
French Creek].

Smollett's account of this first campaign of Washington ["A Com-
plete History of England," Vol. II, pp. 142-143] reads:

Having thus exhibited a succinct view of the British colonies in North America,
we shall now resume the thread of our history, and particularize the transactions by
which the present year was distinguished on this extensive continent The government
of England having received nothing but evasive answers from the court of France,
touching the complaints that were made of the encroachments in America, despatched
orders to all the governors of that country to repel force by force and drive the French
from their settlements on the river Ohio. Accordingly, the provinces of Virginia and
Pennsylvania took this important affair into their consideration; but while they delib-
erated, the French vigorously prosecuted their designs on the other side of the moun-
tains ; they surprised Log's Town, which the Virginians had built upon the Ohio ; made
themselves masters of the block-house, and truck-house, where they found skins and
other commodities to the amount of twenty thousand pounds, and destroyed all the
British traders except two, who found means to escape. At the same time, M. de G)ntre-
coeur, with a thousand men, and eighteen pieces of cannon, arrived in three hundred
canoes from Venango, a fort they had raised on the banks of the Ohio, and reduced by
surprise a British fort which the Virginians had built on the forks of the Mononga-
hela, that runs into the same river.

These hostilities were followed by divers skirmishes between the people of the two
nations, which were fought with various success. At length the governors of the Eng-
lish settlements received orders from England to form a political confederacy, for their
mutual defence; and the governor of New York was directed to confer with the chiefs



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THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT 285

of the Six Nations, with a view to detach them from the French interest by dint of
promises and presents of value, sent over for that purpose. A congress was accord-
ingly appointed at Albany, to which place the governor of New York repaired, accom-
panied by commissioners from all other British settlements; but a very small number
of Indians arrived, and even these seemed to be indifferent to the advances and exhorta-
tions that were made by the French orator. The truth is, the French had artfully
weaned them from their attachments to the subjects of Great Britain. Nevertheless,
they accepted the presents, renewed their treaties with the king of England, and even
demanded his assistance in driving the French from the posts and possessions they had
usurped within the Indian lands, G>lonel Washington was detached from Virginia with four
hundred men, and occupied a post on the banks of the river Ohio, where he threw up
some works, and erected a kind of occasional fort, in hopes of being able to defend
himself in that situation, tmtil he should be joined by a reinforcement from New York,
which however, did not arrive.

While he remained in this situation, de Villier, a French commander, at the head
of nine hundred men, being on his march to dislodge Washington, detached one Jumon-
ville, an inferior officer, with a small party, and formal summons to Colonel Washing-
ton, requiring him to quit the fort, which he pretended was built on ground belonging
to the French or their allies. So little regard was paid to this intimation, that the Eng-
lish fell upon this party, and, as the French affirm, without the least provocation, either
slew or took the whole detachment De Villier, incensed at these tmprovoked hostil-
ities, marched up to the attack, which Washington for some time sustained under mani-



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 39 of 81)