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

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landers and Lower Countrymen, concealing themselves behind trees and the brush,
made a good defence ; but were overpowered and not being supported, were obliged to
follow the rest. Maj. Grant exposed himself in the thickest of the fire, and endeavored
to rally his men, but all to no purpose, as they were by this time flanked on all sides.

Maj. Lewis and his party came up, and engaged, but were soon obliged to give
way, the enemy having the hill on him. A number were driven into the Ohio, most of
whom were drowned. Maj. Grant retreated to the baggage where Capt Bullett was
posted with 50 men, and again endeavored to rally the flying soldiers, by entreating
them in the most pathetic manner to stand by him, but all in vain, as the enemy were
close at their heels. As soon as the enemy came up to Capt. Bullitt, he attacked them
very furiously for some time, but not being supported, and most of his men killed, was
obliged to give way. However, his attacking them stopped the pursuit, so as to give
many the opporttuiity of escaping. The enemy followed Maj. Grant, and at last
separated them, and Capt Bullitt was obliged to make off. He imagines the major must
be taken as he was surrounded on all sides, but the enemy would not kill him, and often
called to him to surrender. The French gave quarter to all that would accept it.

By the Ohio the Alegheny is meant, the rivers then considered one,
as previously noted in these pages.

The major was actually a prisoner, and again we behold the mag-
nanimity of the French. Grant was a brave man, but inordinately vain.
His positive instructions were not to approach too near the fort and to
avoid the risk of attack. It is incomprehensible that the French with
many spies constantly watching the progress of Forbes and Bouquet
were without notice of Grant's movements. At his bivouac on the hill
which for many years bore his name, deceived by the apparent stillness
of the enemy's quarters, and having met neither French nor Indians on
the march. Grant concluded the forces within the fort must be com-
paratively small. He, therefore, determined to disregard his orders
and make an attack. The sending of Maj. Lewis to lie in ambush was
designed to get him out of the way. Lewis at the height of the action
came up to the support of the hard-pressed force under Grant, to no
avail, and Lewis, too, was made a prisoner. Grant and Bullitt were the
last to leave the field. Bullitt escaped capture. Had Grant remained
with him both would have escaped. The Highlanders under Capt.
McDonald were passing or had passed the base of Grant's Hill, at the



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JOHN FORBES AND JAMES GRANT 393

present line of Smithfield street, between Fifth and Third avenues. A
series of ponds that lasted for years skirted the base of the hill and in
this swampy ground many of the Highlanders were hopelessly mired
and lost their scalps in consequence. Maj. Andrew Lewis was one of
the most conspicuous provincial officers of those eventful years. In
Lord Dunmore's border war of 1774, he figures as Gen. Andrew Lewis.
He was every inch a man, upwards of six feet in height, of uncommon
strength, agility, and endurance, magnificent in proportions and of exact
symmetry of form. He was of stem countenance, reserved and distant
in manner, and not altogether engaging. He was an old campaigner with
Washington. He was a captain under Washington at Fort Necessity,
and served under Washington with Braddock. In fact, Washington had
so great an opinion of Lewis' abilities that when the chief command of
the Revolutionary armies was oflFered Washington, he recommended
Lewis in his place.

And what manner of man James Grant was can be inferred from the
fact that, while Grant and Lewis were confined in Fort Duquesne, Grant
addressed a letter to Gen. Forbes attributing his defeat to Lewis. This
letter, on being inspected by the French censor, who knowing the false-
hood and unable to express his disgust in any other way, handed the
letter to Lewis, who immediately waited upon Grant and challenged
him to a duel. Grant refused, whereupon Lewis spat in his face in the
French officer's presence.

James Grant, for whom Grant street has been named, has come down
to us in history distinguished, not only for baseness but also for gluttony,
"He was the greatest hog of his day." Notoriously so in his later years.
He was born in Ballendalloch, BanfiFshire, Scotland, in 1720, and entered
the military service of Great Britain at an early age. The year before
his defeat in Pittsburgh he had reached the rank of major in Montgom-
ery's regiment of Highlanders.

Two years later, 1760, he was governor of East Florida, leading an
expedition against the Cherokees and defeating them in May, 1761. At
the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in America he acted as brigadier-
general and commanded two brigades in the battle of Long Island in
1776. One year later he was promoted to be major-general. He was
in command of the Second Brigade of Lord Howe's army. Howe gave
him command in New Jersey at a critical period in the war. Washing-
ton's victories at Trenton and Princeton followed. Grant continued to
serve under Howe and was actively engaged with his command at the
Brandywine and Germantown, where he forced the American left to
give way. He endeavored to cut off Lafayette on the Schuylkill, but
failed. He defeated the wing under Gen. Charles Lee at Monmouth.
For this defeat Lee was courtmartialed. In November, 1778, Grant as
major-general was given, command of an expedition against the French
in the West Indies, and in December of that year took St. Lucia. In 1791
he was made governor of Stirling Castle. In 1792 he had been promoted
to lieutenant-general. In 1796 he was made a general, the highest rank
in the British army. He did not reach the rank of colonel until 1772, four-



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394 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

teen years after his ignominious defeat on Grant's Hill, Pittsburgh. At
different periods he served in Parliament. It is needless to say that he
stood well with that monumental grouch, His Royal Majesty, George
III., of Hanover and Great Britain.

Grant died April 13, 1806, aged eighty-six years. It is a safe prediction
that when the news of his passing away reached Pittsburgh there were
no flags at half mast, or anywhere else in America. A great beef had
gone. He had grown to be so great a gourmand that he required his
cook to sleep in the same room with him for ''instant service if the g^eed
of victuals" came on him.

Fiske says: "While the wisdom and eloquence of Chatham were
exerted in vain in behalf of American rights, an empty braggadocio,
elevated to a seat in Parliament, was able to captivate the attention
of the members and influence their votes by gross misrepresentations
of the Americans and their cause. This was no other than Colonel Grant,
the same shallow soldier who had been guilty of a foolhardy bravado
before the walls of FortDuquesne, which brought slaughter and defeat
upon his troops. He entertained Parliament with ludicrous stories of
the cowardice of Americans. He had served with them, he said, and
knew them well, and would venture to say they would never dare to
face an English army. With five regiments, he could march through
all America !"^

If John Forbes, his fellow-countryman, was a man with a "Head of
of Iron," and justly so-called in history, James Grant has as justly earned
the distinction of "The Man with the Iron Stomach." He set all known
principles of hygiene at defiance in eating, and died full of years — ^and
food — ^let us so believe ; we cannot justly say honors. He was an enemy
to everything American except something good to eat. In commem-
orating his name in a great thoroughfare in Pittsburgh we have honored
an enemy and a man of low principles.

Fiske and Parkman, in their respective accounts of the events trans-
piring here September 14, 1758, give us additional facts that ordinary
historians omit. Fiske says Grant conducted the enterprise with the
foolhardiness of a man eager for notoriety. He instances the setting fire
to the log house near the walls of the fort and observes :

At if this were not sufficient to put the enemy on the alert, he ordered the reveille
to be beaten in the morning in several places, then posting Major Lewis in the rear, he
marshalled his regulars in battle array and sent an engineer with a covering party to
take a plan of the works in full view of the garrison. Not a gun was fired by tiie fort;
the silence was mistaken for fear and increased the blind security of the British
commander.

Fiske notes that the scene that occurred was similar to that at the
defeat of Braddock. He relates that Lewis fought hand to hand with an
Indian brave whom he laid dead at his feet. Bullitt had made a barricade
of the baggage wagons and posted his men behind them. When the
enemy approached Bullitt repulsed them with a volley. Pressing forward
again in greater numbers, Bullitt signaling the desire to surrender

TFiske's Irving's "Washington;" p. 148.



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JOHN FORBES AND JAMES GRANT 395

allowed the foe to come close up, and then delivered a second volley
with deadly effect, and then charg^ed with the bayonet. The Indians
fled in dismay. Bayonets and cannon they would not face. Bullitt by
these tactics saved all that was saved. He was soon after promoted to
major.

The account of Parkman is in his usual inimitable vein. He states
that Grant urged Bouquet to send him forward to reconnoiter Fort
Duquesne, and that Bouquet forgot his usual prudence when he con-
sented. Grant's arguments had succeeded. In reaching the hill, the
darkness of night and the forest had hid Grant from the enemy.

It was near dawn when Lewis, who had been despatched in the night
to the open plain below the hill, returned, reporting that his men had
lost their way in the dark woods and fog and that the attempt to attack
and then feign retreat was impracticable. Grant became furious. Park-
man says :

The morning twilight now began, but the country was wrapped in thick fog. Grant
abandoned his first plan and sent a few Highlanders into the cleared ground to bum a
warehouse he had seen there. Infatuated with the idea that the French and their
Indians were too few to attack him, though their numbers were far greater, he had
the incredible rashness to divide his force in such a way that the several parts could
not support each other. Lewis with 200 men was sent two miles to the rear where
Capt. Bullitt was already stationed. A hundred Pennsylvanians were posted far off to
the right towards the Allegheny, while Capt McKenzie with a detachment of High-
landers, was sent to the left, towards the Monongahela.8

Parkman recites all the facts, stating Grant remained on the hill
with one hundred of his own regiment and a Maryland company. He
quotes from Grant's report to Forbes :

In order to put on a good countenance, and convince our men they had no reason
to be afraid, I gave directions to our drums to beat the reveille. The troops were in an
advantageous post and I thought we had nothing to fear.

Few people think of Pittsburgh as the scene of k battle, yet many of
us tread daily a battleground unthinkingly. Forbes was then on his
way to Raystown, arriving at the Loyalhanna October 5th.

October 14, 1758, the rear division was marching on Loyalhanna and
the advance party there had been attacked two days previously by a
force of 1,700 French and two hundred Indians, the engagement lasting
from II a. m. until 3 p. m., when the enemy drew oflF. They returned to
the attack at night, but were repulsed; Here the casualties of Forbes'
troops were twelve killed, seventeen wounded and thirty-one missing.
Grant had lost two hundrd and seventy killed, forty-two wounded and
some prisoners. The founding of Pittsburgh, it will be noted, was not
altogther without bloodshed. It was not until November i8th that
Forbes, with the rear division, was able to advance. He arrived at
the Forks on the night of the 25th, His feelings of joy may be imagined.
His toils and his sufferings had won reward. Neither were over. There
was the return to civilization, and the increase in pain with each day to
be reckoned with. The bare facts of history in the march and victory

«"MontcaIm and Wolfe;" Champlain Edition, Vol II, pp. 360-564.



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396 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

of Forbes are thrilling enough. When we include the human interest
side our feelings are swayed by the grandeur of the man and the pathos
of liis condition.

The following return of Forbes' army on the 2Sth of September, just
two months before the taking of this place, and what follows with refer-
ence to the detachments on the frontier, and the casualties of the cam-
paign, are from Craig :*

Names of Corps. Fikld Officers. Co. Officers. ToTAt.

Division of ist Battalion of Royal

Americans i 12 563

Highland or 62d Regiment 3 37 998 )

Division of do 3 12 269 \ 1267

1st Virginia Regiment 3 32 782)

2nd do. do 3 35 70231484

3rd North Carolina Companies i 10 141

4th Maryland Companies i 15 270

1st Battalion Pennsylvania Troops.. 3 41 755 1

2nd do 3 40 666 Y 2192

3rd do 3 46 771 J

Three Lower Counties, now the

State of Delaware , 3 46 263

Total 5980

Detachments on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and the road of com-
munication :

Majors. Captains. Subalterns. Total.

From the Penna. Reg't i 10 17 563

" N. Carolina do i 3 61 624

On the 14th of October, the rear division of the army moved from
Ray's Town toward Loyal Hanna; and on the same day a letter was
written at the latter place stating that the advanced party there had
been attacked on the 12th instant, by twelve hundred French and two
hundred Indians, that the attack continued from 11 o'clock, a. m., until
3 o'clock, p. m., when the enemy retreated. The attack was renewed at
night, but was speedily repulsed.

KiLLSD. WouNosD. Missing.

The Highlanders had i o o

" Virginians 4 6 o

" Pennsylvanians 5 5 17

" North Carolinians o o 3

** Marylanders 2 6 12

12 17 32

William M. Darlington gives us these items headed, "Campaign
of 1758; Letters of Generals Grant, Forbes; Copy of Major Grant's
Letter to British General Forbes upon the affair of September 14, 1758.
Endorsed by Col. Bouquet :"

Sir: If it had been in my power to write sooner, you will do me justice to believe
that I should have troubled you long before this time with an account of the detachment
which marched the gth of September from the Camp of Loyal Hanna.

We were lucky enough not to be discovered in our march, though several scout-
ing parties passed very near us. We got to an advantageous post the 12th, about three

oCraig, "History of Pittsburgh ;" Edition 1917, p. 62. See "Olden Time," VoL lU
p. 283, for casimlties.



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JOHN FORBES AND JAMES GRANT 397

in the afternoon, which, according to the information of all our guides, was ten or
twelve miles from the French Port. I thought it was a proper place to encamp in, as
I did not think it advisable to go nearer, for fear of being discovered; but I after-
ward found that our guides were much mistaken about the distance, for, as near as I
can judge, the camp is about sixteen miles from the top of the Hill, where we were
to take post. The 13th, at break of day, I sent Major Lewis, with 200 men, and our
Indians, with orders to post men in ambuscade, about five miles from the fort, which
was all the precaution I could take to prevent our being discovered in the camp. I
flattered myself that, if a reconnoitering party was sent out, it might possibly fall into
the ambuscade, and, in that case, in all probability they must have been killed, or taken ;
and, if they had sent, in the event our plans succeeding, a second party from the fort,
would have found the whole party ready to receive them. I ordered Mr. Chew to
march with a party of fifteen or twenty men to reconnoitre .the ground and to try with-
out exposing himself or the men, to draw a party of the enemy into the ambuscade.

He only went with three Indians, who soon left him, and by that means, in place
of returning to Major Lewis' about ten o'clock as I expected, he was obliged to con-
ceal himself till night came on, and he joined me upon the march about eleven o'clock
at night But I would not be understood to reflect upon him ; he is a good, brisk young
lad. About three in the afternoon I marched forward to tiie rest of the detachment,
and I found Mr. Lewis advantageously posted about four miles from our camp. The
post, I was assured, was not seven miles from the fort, though I found it was about
twelve. After giving orders to the troops, and particular instructions to the captains,
I proceeded about six in the evening toward the fort, expecting to get to the top of the
Hills about 11 at night; but, as the distance was so much greater than I had imagined,
it was after two in the morning before we got there. The instructions, when I left
Loyal Hanna, were that a particular party should be sent to attack each Indian fire,
as these fires either had not been made, or were burnt out before we got to the ground,
it was impossible to make any disposition of that kind. Major Lewis was informed
of every particular of our project before we marched from Loyal Hanna, and was told
there that he was to command the troops that were to be sent upon the attack. As I
was to continue upon the height to make a disposition for covering his retreat (which
we did not desire to be made) in good order and for forming the rear guard in our
march from the fort, you will easily believe that he and I had frequent conversations
upon the march about our plan of operations. I sent for him the moment the troops
arrived upon the hill opposite the fort, and told him that he must have been misin-
formed by the guides in regard to the distance, and had got there much later than we
expected, it was impossible to make the projected disposition of a party of men for the
attack on each Are; but that it was impossible to continue another day without being
discovered, and that as night was far advanced there was no time to be lost. I there-
fore ordered him to march directly, with 100 Americans, 200 Highlanders and 100 Vir-
ginians to attack anything that was found about the fort I gave orders that no atten-
tion should be paid to the sentries, who probably would challenge, and, in case they
were fired upon they were not to return it upon any account — ^but to march as fast as
possible — and were not to fire a shot till they were close to the enemy; and that after
they discharged their pieces they were to use their bayonets without loading a second
time. I told the Major that I would order all the drums and pipes to beat the retreat
when it was time for the troops to relieve, that I was indifferent what order they came
back in, that it was the same thing to me if there was not three of them together, pro-
vided they did the business they were sent upon. The Major had not half a mile to
march into the open plain where the fort stands ; the 400 men under his command had
a white shirt over his clothes to prevent mistakes and that they might even at a distance
distinguish one another. I saw the Americans and Highlanders march off and gave
directions that the Virginians should fall in the rear. Sending a greater number of
men might possibly, I thought, occasion confusion, and I was of opinion that 400 men
were quite sufficient to carry the service into execution. I was absolutely certain we
were not discovered when the troops marched from the hilL I thought our loss must
be considerable, and never doubted but that everything would succeed beyond our most
sanguine expectations.

After posting the remaining part of the troops in the best manner I could, I



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398 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

placed myself and the drums and pipes at the head of the Highlanders who were in the
centre and exactly opposite the fort. During the operations the time passed. The day
advanced fast upon us. I was turning uneasy at not hearing the attack hegin, when to
my great astonishment Major Lewis came up and told me "that it was impossible to do
anything, that the night was dark, that the road was bad, worse than anything I had
ever seen, that there were logs of wood across it, that there were fences to pass, that
the troops had fallen into confusion and that it was a mercy they had not fired upon
each other, that they had made so much noise he was sure they must be discovered and
that it was impossible for the men to find their way back through those woods." These
were really the words he made use of; this behaviour in an officer was new to me;
his conduct in overturning a long projected scheme and in disobeying such positive
orders was so unaccountable that I could not speak to him with common patience, no
that I just made answer to his last words, that the men according to the orders that
had been given would have found their way back to the drums when the retreat blew.
So I left him and went as fast as I could to Lieutenant McKenzie and Mr. Fisher to
see what the matter was and gave directions for the attack if the thing was imprac-
ticable. I found the troops in the greatest confusion I ever saw men in, which the truth
was not surprising, for the Major had brought them back from the plain when he
returned himself and everybody then took a road of their own. I found it was impos-
sible to think of forming for an attack, and the morning was too far advanced to send
for the other troops from the other places where they were posted; thus I was reduced,
after all my hopes of success, to this melancholy situation. That something at least
might be attempted, I sent Lieutenants Robinson and McDonald with fifty men, to
make an attack at a place where two or three fires had been seen the night before. I
desired them to kill a dozen of Indians if possible, and I would be satisfied. They went
directly to the place they were ordered, and finding none of the Indians they set fire to
the house, but it was day-light before they could return. I mention this last circum-
stance that it might appear clearly to you, it was not in my power to send a greater
number. The surprise was complete; the governor knew nothing of us or our march,
and in all probability the enterprise must have succeeded against the camp as well as
against the Indians if the attempt had been made. So favorable an opportunity, I dare
say, never was lost

The difficulties which Major Lewis had represented to me to be insurmountable,
appeared to me, as they certainly were, absolutely imaginary. I marched above twelve
mfles that night, without the least confusion. The Major had not a mile to march to
the fort, and above two-thirds of that was in an open plain, and I can safely declare
that there is no part of the road in getting into the plain worse than what I had passed
without any difficulty in coming up the hill. I made no secret to the people who were
about me ^at I was so much dissatisfied with the Major's conduct that I was deter-
mined to carry him back to camp in arrest, that he might answer to you for his
behaviour. Several officers heard me say so. Mr. Bentinck, if he escaped, has no
doubt informed you that such was my intention. However, I did not think it advisable
to take any step of that kind till we were out of reach of the enemy. I therefore sent
Major Lewb the 14th, at break of day, with Americans and Virginians to reinforce
Captain Bullet, whom I had left with about fifty men as a guard upon our horses and
provisions within two miles of the fort, directly upon the road by which we were to
return to our camp. I was afraid the enemy might possibly send a detachment that
way to take possession of some passes to harass us in our march or perhaps to endeavor
to cut us off in case we were forced to make a retreat, and I directed the Major
to place these troops in ambuscade that he might have all the advantage possible of any
party that could be sent out. About 7 in the morning, after the fog was gone and the
day cleared up, it was found impossible to take a plan of the fort from the height
where the troops were posted, and as Colonel Bouquet and I had settled that a plan
should be taken "a la barke de la Garrise" in case an attempt did not succeed in the
night

I sent Mr. Rhor with Captain McDonald and a hundred men to take the place with
the directions not to expose himself or the troops. About the same time, being informed
that some of the enemy Indians had discovered Captain McKenzie, who was posted upon



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 56 of 81)