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But notwithstanding these kind assurances, it was with gloomy feelings that Washing-
ton saw the troops depart, fearful he might not be able to rejoin them in time for the
attack upon the fort, which, he assured his brother aide-de-camp, he would not miss
for five hundred pounds.^?

Washington wrote: "On July 8, I rejoined the advanced division
of the army under the immediate command of the General. On the
9th I attended him on horseback though low and weak. This day he
was attacked and defeated by a band of French and Indians. When
all hope of rallying the dismayed troops and recovering the ground had
been expired, our provisions and stores being given up, I was ordered
to Dunbar's Camp."

Washington wrote his brother John A., May 30, 1755, as follows:

Upon my return from Williamsburgh, I found that Sir John St. Clair with Major
Chapman and a detachment of 500 men, had marched to the Little Meadows in order to
prepare the roads, establish a small post, and to lay a deposit of provisions there. The
2nd of June Mr. Spendelow discovered a communication from Fort Cumberland to the
old road, leading to the crossing of the Youghiogany, advoiding the enormous moun-
tain which had proved so destructive to our wagon horses. This communication was
opened along a branch of Will's Creek, and finished by the 7th, when Sir Peter Halket,
with the First Brigade of the Line, began it's march, and encamped within a mile of the
old road (which is about 5 miles from the Fort) the same day. This encampment was
first called Grove Camp, but was afterwards altered to that of Spendelow's Camp.

This day also, Capt. Gates' Independent company, the remaining companies of the
Provincial troops, and the whole park of artillery, were ordered to hold themselves in
readiness to march at an hour's warning, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Burton : and they accordingly did so on the gth following, but with great difficulty got
up to Sir Peter Halkef s Brigade at Grove, or Spendelow's Camp, the same day.

This march, from the number of wagons, occasioned a council of war to be held
upon the arrival of the General (with Colo. Dunbar's regiment) at this camp. In this
council it was determined to retrench the number of wagons, and to increase the trans-
portation by pack-horses. In order, thereto, the officers were called together and the
(general represented to them the necessity there was to procure all the horses possible for
His Majesty's service, advised them to send back sudi of their baggage as they could
do without and apply the horses (which by that means could be spared) to carry pro-
visions for the army. This they accordingly did with great cheerfulness and zeal.18

iT"Life of Washington;" W. Irving, Vol. I, pp. 183-185.

i8"Writings of George Washington, 1748-1757;" W. C Ford, Vol. I, pp. 160-161.

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Poor Spendelow was killed. He was in command of the naval
contingent sent by Commodore Keppel, to handle the heavy guns with
block and tackle as naturally sailors were better adapted to this work.

As the water was shallow, the crossings of the Monongahela were
easy and were made with all the pomp and show possible. Washington
records that it was a grand sight, such as he had never seen. "Wash-
ington was often heard to say,*' says Sparks, "that the most beautiful
spectacle he had ever beheld was the display of the British troops
on this eventful morning. Every man was neatly dressed in full
uniform, the soldiers were arranged in columns and marched in exact
order, the sun gleamed from their burnished arms, the river flowed
tranquilly on their right and the deep forest overshadowed them with
solemn grandeur on their left. Officers and men were equally inspirited
with cheering hopes and confident anticipations."**

The opportunity here offered for introducing the deadly parallel
cannot be neglected for the paraphase is well worded. Thus Garneau :
"He was often heard to remark in afterlife, that he had never seen a
finer sight than that presented by the passage of the British troops,
on this memorable forenoon, towards the French post. Every soldier
was in his best trim; the men were ranged in the most perfect order,
forming a steadily advancing column; the sun shone brightly on their
well polished arms, the river flowed on peacefully at their right side;
on the left, the nearer trees of the huge forest wilderness shaded them
in solemn stateliness. Officers and men alike marched onward buoy-
antly in full assurance of overcoming the foe."20

Washington remained at Fort Cumberland for a few days, in feeble
condition, still suffering from the effects of his illness. While there he
wrote the following letter to Gov. Dinwiddie of Virginia :

^, ^. Fort Cumberland, July 18, 1755.

Honorable Sir:

As I am favored with an opportunity, I should think myself inexcusable were I to
omit giving you some account of our late action with the French on ^e Monong^ela,
the 9tfa instant. We conducted our march from Fort Cumberland to Frazer's, which is
about seven miles from Fort Duquesne, without meeting any extraordinary event, having
only a straggler or two picked up by the French Indians. When we came to this place
we were attacked (very unexpectedly I must own) by about 300 French and Indians.
Our number consisted of about 1,300 chosen men, well armed, chiefly regulars who were
immediately struck with such a deadly panic that nothing but confusion and disobedience
of orders prevailed among them. The officers in general behaved with incomparable
bravery, for which they greatly suffered, there being nearly 60 killed and wounded, a
large proportion out of the number we had.

Our poor Virginians behaved like men and died like soldiers, for I believe out of
three companies that were there that day scarce 30 were left alive. Captain Peyrouny
and all his officers, down to a corporal, were killed. Captain Poison shared almost as
hard a fate, for only one of his escaped ; in short the dastardly behavior of the Eng-
lish soldiers exposed all those that were inclined to do their duty to almost certain
death, and at length, in despite of every effort, broke and ran like sheep before the hounds,
leaving the artillery, ammunition and provisions and every individual thing amongst
us as a prey for the enemy ; and when we endeavored to rally them, in hopes of regain-

i0"Writmgs of Washington; Vol. I, p. 65.
WHistory of Canada;" M. Garneau, Vol. I, p. 487.

Pitta.— 21

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ing our invaluable loss it was witli as much success as if we had attempted to stop wild
boars on the mountains.

The General was wounded behind the shoulder and in the breast, of which he died
the third day after. His two aides-de-camp were both wounded, but are in a fair way
of recovery. Col. Burton and Sir John Sinclair were also wounded, and I hope will get
over it.

Sir Peter Halket, with many other brave officers, was killed on the field I luckily
escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat and two horses
shot under me.

It is supposed we left 300 or more dead on the field ; about that number we brought
off wounded, and it is imagined, with great notice, too, that two-thirds of both these
numbers received their shots from our own cowardly dogs of soldiers who gathered
themselves into a body, contrary to orders, 10 or 12 deep; would then level and fire and
shoot down the men before them.

I tremble at the consequence this defeat may have on the back inhabitants, who I
suppose will all leave their habitations unless proper measures are .taken for their
security. Col. Dunbar, who commands at present, intends as soon as his men are
recruited at this place, to continue his march to Philadelphia into winter quarters, so
that there will be none left here imless the poor remains of the Virginia troops who
now are and will be too small to guard our frontier.

As Capt. Orme is now writing to your Honor, I doubt not that he will give you a
circumstantial account of all things which will make it needless for me to add more.

Washington arrived home at Mt. Vernon on June 26. Dunbar left for
England in November, Washington wrote to his mother from Fort Cum-
berland, i8th July, 1755, in almost the same words, adding:

Captains Orme and Morris, two of the aides-de-camp, were wounded early in the
engagement, which rendered the duty harder upon me, as I was the only person then
left to distribute the general's orders; which I was scarcely able to do, as I was not
half recovered from a violent illness that had confined me to my bed and a wagon for
above ten days. I am still in a weak and feeble condition, which induces me to halt
here two or three days, in the hope of recovering a little strength, to enable me to
proceed homewards, from whence I fear, I shall not be able to stir till towards Sep-
tember; so that I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till then, unless it be in
Fairfax. . . .

Washington began this letter by addressing his mother, "Honored
Madam," and in conclusion said:/'I am, Honored Madam^ your most
dutiful son." To his brother, John Augustine, he wrote at the same
time :

As I have heard since my arrival at this place a circumstantial account of my death
and dying speech. I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first and of assur-
ing you that I have not yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations
of Providence I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I
had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped tmhurt;
although death was levelling my companions on every side of me. 21

Orme's letter to Governor Dinwiddie must have its place here
because it was written only nine days after the battle and is an accurate
though condensed account. Thomas Hobson, referred to as captain,
on the official army register was not enrolled a lieutenant until Novem-

2iThese letters in Spark's "Writings of Washington ;" Vol. II, pp. 86-89. See also
"George Washington;" W. C. Ford, Braddock matter. Vol. I, p. 58, ei seq. Washing-
ton closed the letter to John : "I am dear Jack your most affectionate brother George
Washington." Letter to mother in Niles* "Register," 1816, VoL X, pp. 249-251. To Din-
widdie, "Pa. Mag. of Hist.," Vol. IX, pp. 237-239.

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ber, 1775, which with like inconsistencies led Sargent to think Orme made
up the list of officers from memory long afterwards.

Orme's letter reads:

Fort Cumberland, July 18, 1755.
My Dear Governor.

I am 80 extremely ill in bed with the wound I have received that I am under the
Necessity of employing my friend Capt Dobson as my scribe. I am informed that
Governor Inness has sent you some accotmt of the Action near the Banks of the Monon-
gahela about seven miles from the French Fort As his Intelligence must be very
Imperfect, the Dispatch he sent to you must consequently be so too; you should have
had more early Accotmt of it, but every Officer whose business it was to have informed
you was either killed or wounded and our distressful Situation put it out of our power
to attend to it so much as we would have otherwise have done. The 9th Instant we
passed and repassed the Monongahela by advancing first a party of 300 men which
immediately followed by another of 200, die General with the column of Artillery, Bag-
gage and the Main Body of the Army passed the river the last time about one o'clock.
As soon as the whole had got on the Fort side of the Monongahela we heard a very
heavy and quick fire on our front; we immediately advanced in order to sustain them
but the De^chment of the 200 and 300 gave way and fell back upon us, which caused
such confusion and panic into our men that afterwards no military Expedient could be
made use of that had any Effect upon them, the men were extremely deaf to the exhor-
tations of the General and the Officers that they fired away in the most irregular man-
ner all their ammunition and then ran off leaving to the enemy the Artillery, Ammuni-
tion, Provisions and Baggage, nor could they be persuaded to stop till they got as far
at Gist's plantation, nor there only in part, many of them proceeding even as far as CoL
Dunbar's Party who lay six miles on this side.

[Gist's plantation was on the western slope of the Laurel Ridge, about Motmt Brad-
dock. Dunbar's camp, it may be noted, was within 400 yards of where Washington had
his skirmish with Jumonville, May 28, 1754, more than a year previous, an engagement
that brought on the war, and in which engagement Jumonville was killed. — ^Ed.]

Orme's account continues thus :

The officers were absolutely sacrificed by their unparalleled good behavior. Ad-
vancing before their men sometimes in bodies and sometimes separately, hoping by such
an example to engage the soldiers to follow them, but to no purpose. The General had
five horses shot under him and at last received a wound through his Itmgs of which he
died the 13th instant at night. Captain Morris and myself very much wounded. Mr.
Washington had two horses shot under him and his clothes shot through in several
places, behaving the whole time with the greatest courage and resolution.

Sir P. Halket was killed on the spot and according to the best calculation we can yet
make about 28 officers were killed.

Col. Burton and Sir John St. Qair, with 35 officers wounded and out of our whole
number of officers not above 16 came off the Field unhurt. We imagine there are killed
and wounded about 600 men. I have the pleasure to acquaint you that Captain Poison
(who was killed), and his Company behaved extremely well, as did Captain Stuart and
his light horse, who I beg to recommend to your protection and to desire you will be so
^d to use your best endeavors to serve him as he has lost by the death of the General
the rewards he really deserved by his gallant and faithful attendance on him.

Upon our proceeding with the whole convoy to the Little Meadows we found it
impracticable to advance in that manner; a Detachment was therefore made of 1,200
men with the Artillery, necessary Ammunition, Provisions and Baggage, leaving the
remainder with Col. Dunbar with orders to join us as soon as possible. With this
Detachment we proceeded with safety and expedition till the fatal day I have just
related, and happy it was that this disposition was made^ otherwise the whole must have
starved or fallen into the Hands of the enemy, as numbers would have been of no
service to us and otu* provision was all lost

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Ortne tells also in the letter of having £2,000 in his possession in
bills and notes which he had received from Braddock, and asks advice
as to its disposal. These securities were South Carolina's contribution
to the cost of the expedition.

As our number of horses were so much reduced and those so extremely weak, and
many carriages being wanted for the wounded men, occasicmed our destroying the
Ammunition and superfluous part of the Provision left in Col. Dunbar's Convoy, to pre-
vent its falling into the Hands of the Enemy.

As the whole of the Artillery is lost and the Terror of the Indian remaining so
strongly in the men's minds as also the Troops being extremely weakened by Deaths,
Wounds and Sickness, it was judged impossible to make any further attempts; there-
fore Col. Dunbar is returning to Fort Cumberland with everything he is able to bring
along with him. I propose remaining here till my wound will suffer me to remove to
Philadelphia; from thence I shall make all possible Dispatch to England.

Orme, who was a typical British officer, had had enough of cam-
paigning in the wilderness. He recovered and returned to England,
and in 1756 resigned from the army. He married well and settled
down to the easy life of an English gentleman. He died in 1781. He
had in early youth entered the army as an ensign, in the 35th Foot,
in 1745 exchanged to the Coldstream Guards, becoming a lieutenant
in 1751.

He was never raised to the rank of captain. Orme had been a
favorite of Braddock's, and coming from Braddock's old regiment, the
celebrated Coldstream Guards, was a prime recommendation.

As a prelude to the story of an eye witness to affairs in Fort
Duquesne before and after the battle, Craig inserts this paragraph :

Terrible as the slaughter was on that day, a scene presented itself here on the
ensuing day of a more horrible character. Our account is taken from the Narrative of
Colonel James Smith. We might hope, for the credit of humanity, that such transactions
never took place, but Colonel Smith was a man of good character, well known here by
some persons still living. He removed to Kentucky and was there elected to the legis-
lature. * That he was a prisoner among the Indians there is no doubt ; the Colonial
Records at Harrisburg prove it.22

"Without further comment," says Craig, "we submit to our readers
this melancholy tale, which we believe has never been contradicted:"

James Smith's Stosy.

In May, 1755, the province of Pennsylvania agreed to send out three hundred men,
in order to cut a wagon road from Fort Loudon, to join Braddock's road, near Turkey
Foot, on three forks of the Yohogania. My brother-in-law, William Smith, Esq., of
Conococheague, was appointed commissioner to have the oversight of these road-cutters.
Though I was at the time only eighteen years of age, I had fallen violently in love with
a young lady, whom I apprehended was possessed of a large share of both beauty and
virtue; but being bom between Venus and Mars, I concluded I must also leave my dear
fair one, and go out with this company of road-cutters, to see the event of this cam-
paign; but still expecting that sometime in the course of this summer, I should again
return to the arms of my beloved.

We went on with the road, without interruption, until near the Allegheny Mountain ;
when I was sent back, in order to hurry up some provision wagons that were on the

aa"Histofy of Pittsburgh;" (Edition 1917). PP. 45-Si. The "Olden Time;" Vol.
I, p. 72. Craig printed this history first in 18L41. Parkinan quotes it See "Montcalm
and Wolfe," Uiamplain Edn., Vol. I, pp. 229-231.

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way after us. I procee(}ed down ^e road as far as the crossings of Juniata, where,
finding the wagons were coming as fast as possible, I returned up the road again
towards the Allegheny Mountain, in company with one Arnold Vigoras. About four
or five miles above Bedford, three Indians had made a blind of bushes, stuck in the
ground, as though they grew naturally, where they concealed themselves, about fifteen
yards from the road. When we came opposite to Uiem, they fired upon us, at this short
distance, and killed my fellow traveler, yet their bullets did not touch me, but my horse
making a violent start threw me, and the Indians immediately ran up and took me
prisoner. The one that laid hold on me was a Canasataugua,^^ the other two were
Ddawares. One of them could speak English, and asked me if there were any more
white men coming after? I told them not any near, that I knew of. Two of these
Indians stood by me, whilst the other scalped my comrade; they then set off and ran
at a smart rate, through the woods, for about fifteen miles, and that night we slept on
the Allegheny Mountain, without fire.38

The next morning they divided the last of their provision, whkh they had brought
from Fort Duquesne, and gave me an equal share, which was about two or three
ounces of mouldy biscuit— this and a young ground-hog, about the size of a rabbit,
roasted— and also equally divided, was all the provision we had until we came to the
Loyal-Hannan (Loyalhanna), which was about fifty miles; and a great part of the
way we came ^ough excc^ing rocky laurel thickets, without any path. When we
came to the west side of Laurel Hill, they gave the scalp halloo, as usual, which is a
long yell or halloo, for every scalp or prisoner they have in possession; the last of
these scalp halloos were followed with quick and sudden shrill shouts of joy and tri-
umph. On their performing this, we were answered by the firing of a number of guns
on the Loyal-Hannan, one after another, quicker than one could . count, by another
party of Indians, who were encamped near where Ligeneer (Ligonier) now stands.
As we advanced near this party, they increased with repeated shouts of joy and tri-
umph; but I did not share with them in their excessive mirth. When we came to this
camp, we found they had plenty of turkeys and other meat there; and though I never
before eat venison without bread or salt, yet as I was hungry, it relished very well.
There we lay that night, and the next morning the whole of us marched on our way
for Fort Duquesne. The night after we joined another camp of Indians, with nearly
the same ceremony, attended with great noise, and apparent joy, among all except one.
The next morning we continued our march, and in the afternoon we came in full view
of the Fort, which stood on the point, near where Fort Pitt now stands. We then
made a halt on the bank of the Allegheny, and repeated the scalp halloo, which was
answered by the firing of all the firelocks in the hands^ of both Indians and French
who were in and about the fort, in the aforesaid manner, and abo the great guns, which
were followed by the continued shouts and yells of die different savage tribes who
were then collected there.

As I was at this time unacquainted with this mode of firing and yelling of the sav-
ages, I concluded that there were thousands of Indians there, ready to receive General
Braddock ; but what added to my surprise, I saw numbers running towards me, stripped
naked, excepting breech-clouts, and painted in the most hideous manner, of various
colors, though the principal color was vermilion, or a bright red ; yet there was annexed
to this, black, brown, blue, etc. As they approached they formed themselves into two
long ranks, about two or three rods apart. I was told by an Indian that could speak
English, that I must run betwix these ranks, and that they would flog me all the way,
as I ran, and if I ran quick, it would be so much the better, as they would quit when I
got to the end of the ranks. When I got near the ends of the lines, I was struck with
something that appeared to me to be a stick, or the handle of a tomahawk, which caused
me to fall to die ground. On my recovering my senses, I endeavored to renew my
race; but as I arose some one cast sand in my eyes, which blinded me, so that I could
not see where to run. They continued beating me most intolerably, until I was at
length insensible; but before I lost my senses, I remember my wishing them to strike

2S"A Canasatauffua," probably a French Mohawk from the Indian village Cannas-
sategy, near Montreal.

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the fatal blow, for I thought they intended killing me, but apprehended they were too
long about it.

The first thing I remember was my being in the fort, amidst the French and
Indians, and a French doctor standing by me, who had opened a vein in my left arm;
after which the interpreter asked me how I did ; I told him I felt much pain ; the doctor
then washed my wounds, and the bruised places of my body, with French brandy. As
I felt pain, and the brandy smelt well, I asked for some inwardly, but the doctor told
me, by the interpreter, that it did not suit my case. When the Indians found I could
speak, a number of diem came around me, and examined me, with threats of cruel
death, if I did not tell the truth. The first question they asked was, how many men
were there in the party that were coming from Pennsylvania, to join Braddock? I
told them the truth, that there were three hundred. The next question was, were they
well armed? I told them they were all well armed C meaning the arm of flesh), for they
had only about thirty guns among the whole of them ; which, if the Indians had known,
they would certainly have gone and cut them all off; therefore, I could not in con-
science let them known the defenceless situation of these road-cutters. I was then sent
to the hospital, and carefully attended by the doctors, and recovered quickly.

Some time after I was there, I was vbited by the Delaware Indian already men-
tioned, who was at the taking of me, and could speak some English. Though he spoke
but bad English, yet I found him to be a man of considerable understanding. I asked
if I had done anything that had offended the Indians, which caused them to treat me so

Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 45 of 81)