Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 7 of 193)
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a deserter. I examined him, and threatened him
with the rope if he otTered to impose on me. I learned
that the English had left their post [at Gist's] in
order to rejoin their fort, and that they had taken
back their cannon. Some of our people, finding that
the English liad abandoned the camp, we went
thereto, and I sent some men to search it through-
out. They found several tools and other utensils
hidden in many places, which I ordered them to
carry away. As it was late, I ordered the detach-
ment to encamp there.' . . . We had rain all night."

1 Tho force of " five Immlretl French imd ekfen Iiuliiins," wliicli De
"VilHcrs mentions in his joumnl as hiiving been detaolieil under com-
mand of Mercier for tliis .-xpr'.iiiioii, Iiail been an{;niented by the large
Indian force wliicli I)e YilljciB brought « ith him down the Allegheny to
Fort du Quesne.
- It will be recollected that Capt. Lewis, with about seventy men, bad
) attempt tlie opening of a road
that thoy were recalled on the 29tli. It is
•Niits had come upon some part of the work
hwest of Gist's, but not the track between

been sent forward on the 27th

When day broke on the morning of the 3d of July
the weather was still wet and gloomy, but De Villiers
moved forward at once with the main body, scouting
parties having been sent in advance the previous
evening. The rain continued, and increased during
the long hours of the march towards Fort Necessity,
but the French column pressed on with energj', and
with all possible speed, for, said De Villiers, "I fore-
saw the necessity of preventing the enemy in their
works." It also appears that he took the pains to
ride away from the road into the woods, to make a
flying visit to the rocky defile where Juuwnviile had
lost his life five weeks before. "I stopped," he says,
"at the place where my brother had been assassin-
ated, and saw there yet some dead bodies," and then
proceeds : " When I came within three-quarters of a
league from the English fort I ordered my men to
march in columns, every officer to his division, that
I might the better dispose of them as necessity would
require." His column was now within striking dis-
tance of the fort, after a drenching and dreary march
of seven hours from Gist's.

Meanwhile, at Fort Necessity, Washington had
been apprised of the arrival of the French at Gist's
on the 2d, and had been constantly on the alert during
the night. Not long after sunrise on the 3d, some of
the advance scouts of the French were seen, and
one of Washington's men on picket was -brought in
wounded, but after this three or four hours passed
without further demonstrations. In the middle of
the forenoon word came by scouts that the enemy in
strong force was within two hours' march, and after-
wards reports of their progress were brought in from
time to time. Washington formed his forces in line
of battle outside tho defenses, awaiting the enemy's
appearance, and hoping to induce him to attack in
the open field. Finally, at a little before noon the ^
French appeared in the edge of the woods towards

bis pursuit wore intrenching themselves at Gist's, 5t. de Villicre dis-
encumbered himself of all bis heavy stores at the Hangard, atid leaving
a sergeant and a few men to guard them and the periagnas, rushed on in
the Hi'jhf, cheered by the hope that he was abi'Ut to .ncbievc a brilliant

tation' fi;i-r- ■ 'i ih.' i ,i!_..i li.h jl,|ii L;v;iy dawn revealed the

rude, liiill ' ■ I ! I . I , ■ ■ f I \\ 1 : 1 I I I ilicre begun to erect.
Thislliil _. u.ral fire. There was

noresi ,i:. , ; . > I ., i . ■ ,i; . i I ,; . ...l .Imgrined, De Villiers

was about tn retrace his t-ti-ps, « hen up cunics a half-starved deserter
from the Great Meadows, and discloses to him the wbereahoutB and des-
titute condition of Washington's forces."

But De Villiers says the deserter was brought to bim while he was on
the march to Gist's, and from him he learned that the camp at that place
had beOQ abandoned by Washington, who bad tiken bis cannon with
him; that, having learned this, they went to the place and "searched it
throughout," finding tools and utensils concealed there ; and finally that,
instead of reaching Gist's place iu ''the gray dawn" of the second of
July, they arrived there so late in the day that the commander decided
to go no farther, and nmde his camp there for the night. As to the
statement that the Fjcnch, on coming to the stockade at Gist's, " at once
invested it and gave a general fire," it is hardly to he supposed that an
officer of De Villiers' experience would have shown sujb headlong im-
pulsiveness as to pour a volley of musketry against the inanimate logs
when no living thing was iu sight.


the northwest and began firing at long range, but did
no execution. After a time, finding tliat the enemy
mnnife.sted no disposition to make a general attack.
Col. Washington withdrew his men within the
defenses, the Carolinians occupying the ritle-pit
trenches behind the low log parapet which formed
the outer line (though they were afterwards driven
out, not by the enemy's fire, but the torrents of rain
that inundated the trenches in which they were
posted). The French, finding their fire ineffectual
from their distant position in the woods to the north-
west,' moved to the left, where, on the eastern and
southeastern side of the fort, the forest-line was within
fair musket-range of the work. From this new posi-
tion they opened fire with more effect ; the battle be-
came general, and continued through the remainder
of the day. An account of the conflict at Fort Ne-
cessity is thus given by Sparks :

"At eleven o'clock they [the French] approached
the fort and began to fire, at the distance of six inm-
dred yards, but without eff'ect. Col. Washington had
drawn up his men on the open and level ground out-
side of the trenches, waiting for the attack, which he
presumed would be made as soon as the enemy's
forces emerged from the woods, and he ordered his
men to reserve their fire till they should be near
enough to do execution. The distant firing was sup-
poseil to be a stratagem to draw Washington's men
into the woods, and thus take them at a disadvantage.
He suspected the design, and maintained his post till
he found the French did not incline to leave the
woods and attack the fort by an assault, as he sup-
posed they would, considering their superiority of
numbers. He then drew his men back within the
trenches, and gave them orders to fire according to
their discretion, as suitable opportunities might pre-
sent themselves. The French and Indians remained
on the side of the rising ground which was nearest to
the fort, and, sheltered by the trees, kept up a brisk
fire of musketry, but never appeared in the open plain

" The rain fell heavily through the day, the trenches

* Do Vniiere' nccount of ttie opening of tlie fight was as follows: *' As
we had no knowlodne of tho place, wo prosonted our linnk to the fort
when thpy began to tiro upon us, and almost at the same time I perceived
the English on the right, in order of hatlle, and coming towards us. Tlio
Indians, as well us ourselves, set np a gie;it cry, and advanced towards
them, hut they did not give us time to firo upon tlrem before they shel-
tered themselves in an iutrenchment which was adjoining to their fort,
after which we aimed to invest the fort, which was advantageously
enough situated in a meadow within a musket-shot from the woods. Wo
drew as near to them as possible that we might not expose his Majesty's
subjects to no purpose. Tlie Are was very hrisk on both sides, auil I
chose that place which seemed to me the most proper in cose we should
be exposed to a sally. We fired so briskly as to put out (if I may use
the expression) tho fire of their cannon with our musket-shot." But,
concerning the first part of tlicaliove account by Be Villiers, Washington
afterwards wrote: *' I cannot help remarking on Villiers' account of the
battle of and transaction at the Meadows, as it is very extraordinary,
and not less erroneous than inconsistent. lie says the French received
the first fire. It is well known that in- received it at six hundred prices

were filled with water, and many of the arms of Col.

Washington's men were out of orrler and used with

dilliculty. In this way the battle continued from

eleven o'clock in the morning till eight at night,

when the French called and recpiested a parley.'

Suspecting this to be a feint to procure the admission

1 of an officer into the fort, that he might discover their

condition, Col. Wa-shington at first declined listening

to the proposal ; but when the call was repeated, with

: the additional request that an officer miglit be sent to

them, engaging at the same time their parole for his

I safety, he sent out Capt. Van Braam, the only i)erson

I under his command that could speak French except

j the Chevalier de Peyronie, an ensign in the Virginia

1 regiment, who was dangerously wounded and disabled

from rendering any service on the occasion. Van

Braam returned, and brought with him from M. de

Villiers, the French commander, proposed articles of

1 capitulation. These he read and pretended to inter-

j pret, and some changes having been made by mutual

j agreement, both parties signed them about mid-

! night."

j It was a mortifying close to Washington's first cam-
paign, and the scene must have been a most dismal
one when he signed the capitulation at dead of night,
amid torrents of rain, by the light of a solitary splut-
tering candle,-' and with his dead and wounded men
around him ; but there was no alternative, and he
had the satisfaction at least of knowing that he had
done his best, and that all his officers, with a single
exception,* had behaved with the greatest
and bravery.

The articles of capitulation were of course written
in French. The following translation of them shows
the terms granted to Washington, viz. :

" AuTici.F 1. — Wc grant leave to the English commander to
retire with all his garrison, and to return peaceably into his

j 2 Tho account given by De Villiers of the closing scenes of the bottle,
and of tho call for a parley, is as follows : " Towards six at night tho fire
j of the enemy increased with more vigor than ever, and lasted until
i light. Wo briskly relumed their fire. We took particular caro losecuro
I our posts to keep the Knglish fast up in their fort all night ; anti after hav-
ing fixed ourselves in the best position wo could we let the English know
that if tliey Wi)Hld speak to us we would stop firing. They accepted tlio
proposal; there came a captain to tho place wliere I was. I sent M. lo
Mercier to receive him, and I went to the Meadow, where I told liim that
as wo were not at war we were very willing to t.ave llicni from (lie cruel-
ties to wliich they exposed themselves on : nni r ih. Tn. linns; hut

if they were stubborn we would take auav i i" i! m i < ;iis of es-
caping; that we consented to be favorable t. ■ ' '1 ' ' i-wewere

come only to revenge my brother's ass.-\B~ii);iti n, lu I i - ' !]-'■ them to
; quit the lands of the king my master. . . ."

j 3 An officer who was present at the capitulation wrote: "When Mr.

I Van Braam returned with the French proposnlswe wereoMiged to take

the sense of them from hi.<; mouth ; it rained so hard that ho could not

give us a written translation of them, and we could scarcely keep the

I candle lighted to read them by."

♦ When, in the following .\ugn8t, tho Virginia House of Burgesses
passed a vote of thanks to Wtishington and his oflicors "for their bravery
I and gallant defense of their country" at Fort Necessity, tho names of all
j the ofTicers were mentioned except that of the major of the legiment,
j who wos charged with cowardice in the battle, and Cai)t. Van Braam,
I who was believed to have acted a treacherous part in interpretinj^ the


1 country, nnd iiromisc to hinder bis receiving any insult
n us French, and to restrain, as much as shall be in our

■•AuTicLf: 2. — It shall be permitted him to go out and
Ih him all that belongs to them except the artillery,

illin? thereby

: the

the honors of ■

1 that wc

" AnTicLE I.— That as soon as the articles are signed by
both parties the English colors shall be struck.

"Article 5. — That to-murrow, at break of day, a detachment
of French shall go and make the garrison file off, and take pos-
session of thc.fort.

"Article G. — As the English have but few oxen or horses
left, they are at liberty to hide their effects and to come again
and search for them when they have a number of horses suf-
ficient to carry them off, and th:it for this end they may have
what guards they please, on condition that they give their word
of honor to work no more on any buildings in this place, or any
part on this side of the mountains.

".■iiiTiCLE 7. — And as the English have in their power one
ofiiccr, two cadets, and most of the prisoners made at the as-
sassination of M. de Jumonville, and promise to send them
back with a safe guard to Fort du Quesne, situate on the Ohio,
for surety of their performing this ai tide, as well as this treaty,
MM. Jaeob Van Braam and Robert Stobo, both captains, shall
be delivered as hostages till the arrival of our French and Cnna-
dians above mentioned. "NVe oblige ourselves, on our side, to
give an escort to return these two officers in safety, and expect
to have our French in two months and a half at farthest."

The capitulation was signed by Washington, Mac-
kay, and Villiers. The latter had cunningly caused
the articles to he so worded that the English officers
(who knew nothing of the French language) were
made to sign an apparent acknowledgment that the
killing of Jumonville' was an act of assafssinafion. It
was suspected that Van Braam, the so-called inter-
preter, knowingly connived at the deception, and this
opinion was firmly held by Washington, who after-
wards wrote in reference to it as follows : " That we
were willfully or ignorantly deceived by our inter-
preter in regard to the word assassination I do aver,
and will to my dying moment, so will every officer
that was prfesent. The interpreter was a Dutchman,
little acquainted with the English tongue, therefore
might not advert to the tone and meaning of the
wijrd in English ; but whatever his motives were for
so doing, certain it is he called it the deaih or the
loss of the Sieur Jumonville. So wc received and so
we understood it, until, to our great surprise and
mnrtiflcation, we found it otherwise in a literal trans-

The numbers of the English forces engaged in the
battle at the Great Meadows are not precisely known.
The Virginia regiment went in three hundred strong,
including officers, and their loss in the engagement
was twelve killed and forty-three wounded.- Capt.

the English.'

"consent to sign lliat they

Mackay's company numbered about oue hundred,
but its losses in killed and wounded were not of-
ficially st.ated. On the French side, according to the
statement of De Villiers, the losses were two French-
man and one Indian killed, fifteen Frenchmen and
two Indians seriously and a number of others slightly

On the 4th of July, at break of day, the troops of
Washington filed out of the fort with drums beating
and colors flying, and (without any transportation for
their effects other than was aflbrdcd by the backs and
shoulders of the men, and having no means of carry-
ing tlieir badly wounded except on improvised stretch-
ers) moved sadly away to commence their weary jour-
ney of seventy miles over hills and streams to Wills'

Upon the evacuation of the fort by Washington the
French took possession, and immediately proceeded to
demolish the work, while " M. le Mercier ordered the
cannon of the English to be broken, as also the one
granted by capitulation, they not being able to carry
it away." The French commander very prudently
ordered the destruction of some barrels of rum which
were in the fort, to guard against the disorder and
perhaps bloodshed which would probably have en-
sued if the liquor had been allowed to fall into the
hands of the Indians.

De Villiers felt no little anxiety lest the expected
reinforcements to Washington should arrive, which
might place him in an unpleasant position and re-
verec the fortunes of the day. He therefore lost no
time, and took his departure from the Great Meadows
at as early an hour as possible, and marched about
two leagues before he encamped for the night. On
the 5th, at about nine o'clock in the forenoon, he
arrived at Gist's, where he demolished the stockade
which Washington had partially erected there, "and
after having detached M. de la Chauvignerie to bum
the houses round about," continued on the route to-
wards Redstone, to a point about three leagues north-
west of Gist's, where his forces made their night
bivouac. In the morning of the 6th they moved at
an early hour, and reached the mouth of Redstone at ■
ten o'clock. There they " put their periaguas in order,
victualed the detachment, carried away the reserve of
provisions which they had left there, found several
things which the English had hidden," and then,
after burning the " Hangard" store-house, embarked,
and went down tlie Monongahela. In the passage
down the river, says De Villiers, " we burned down
all the settlements we found," and about four o'clock
in the afternoon of the 7th of July they arrived at
Fort du Quesne.

As to the manner of the departure of Washington's
troops from the surrendered fort, De Villiers said,
"The number of their dead and wounded moved me
to ]Mty, notwithstanding my resentment for their



hnving in such a manner taken away my brother's
life. The savages, who in everything had adhered to
my wishes, claimed the right of plunder, but I re-
strained them ; however, tlie English being fright-
ened (led, and left their tents and one of their colors."
But Washington, commenting on these statements of
De Villiers, said, in a letter written not long after-
wards, "That we left our bagg.ige and horses at the
Uleadows is certain ; that there was not even a possi-
bility to bring them away is equally certain, as wc
had every horse belonging to the camp killed or taken
away during the action, so that it was impracticable
to bring anything otT that our shoulders were not able
to bear, and to wait there was impossible, for we had
scarce three days' provisions, and were seventy miles
from a supply, yet to say that we came off precipi-
tately is absolutely false, notwithstanding they did,
contrary to the articles, suffer their Indians to pillage
our baggage' and commit all kinds of irregularity.
Wc were with them until ten o'clock the next day ;
we destroyed our powder and other stores, nay, even
our private baggage, to prevent its falling into their
hands, as wc could not bring it off. When we had
got about a mile from the place of action we missed
two or three of the wounded, and sent a party back
to bring them up; this is the party he speaks of.
We brought them all safe oft", and encamped within
three miles of the Jleadows. are circum-
stances, I think, that make it evidently clear that we
were not very apprehensive of danger. The colors
lie speaks of as left were a large flag of immense size
and weight; our regimental colors were brought off,
and are now in my possession."-'

From his camping-ground, three miles southeast
of the demolished fort, the Virginia regiment, with
Mackay's South Carolinians, moved forward in the
morning of the 5th of .luly, and fording the Youghio-
gheny at the Great Crossings, retraced their steps
over the route previously traveled, and reached Wills'
Creek after a slow and very toilsome journey. From
that place Washington went to Alexandria, and the
"Virginia troops returned to their homes. Mackay's

1 "Wo nU know tliat the Froiicli are n people tliat never pny any re-
gard to treaties lou?:er than tlie.v ninl tlicni consistent witli tlieir interest,
anil this troalv [iho Fort S.n-ssity rapitnlation articles] tliey brolje ini-
mediatt'ly, iv iriiiuj iln li. ;i m- i. m h-li and destroy everything onr
people liit'l. ' -i . : I' II- r . tiiat uur wounded should meet

with no nil „ III Col. J.iiiia Iiiaa lo Gov.


s Unit

the Half King






iud freely

expressed that

opiiuon to the India

1 agent and interpreter, Con

nid Weise.

who reiwrted

it as follows:
"Tile colonel [Washington] was a good-nature<l man, but h:id no e.x-

would have tliein evei-y day upon the scotil. and to attack the enemy by
themselves, but would by no means take advice frx>Di the Indians, lie
lay in one place from one full uioon to the other, without making any
furtitications except that little thing on the Meadow, whereas had ho
taken advice and built such fortifications as he [Tanacliarisun] advised
kim, he might easily have bent otT the French. But the French in the
eugagement," he said, "acted like cowards, and the English like fools."

Carolina company remained at Wills' Creek, and to-
gether with two independent companies from New
York, — all under command of Col. James Innes, —
erected the fortification afterwards called " Fort Cum-
berland." This was then the western outpost of Eng-
lish power, and in all the country west of the moun-
tains there was left r.o bar to Freiuli oecui'atii n and


i;i!Ari|iiH'K'.S liXPKDITIOX IX 1705.

' The news of Washington's defeat, and the conse-
quent domination of the French over the broad terri-
! tory west of the AUeghenies, was forwarded without
delay to England, where it produced a general alarm
I and excitement, and roused the ministry to a dcter-
1 mination to retrieve the disaster and expel the French,
i at whatever cost, from the valleys of the Mononga-
hela and Allegheny Rivers. In pursuance of this de-
termination, it was decided to send out a military
I force, to march from the Potomac to the " Forks of
' the Ohio," there to wrest from the French, by force
' of arms, their most menacing possession, — Fort du
! Quesne.-'

The expeditionary force, which was intended to be
a very formidable one (for that early day), was to be
i composed of the Forty-fourth and Forty-eighth Royal
Regiments of Foot,* commanded respectively by Col.
Sir Peter Hulket and Col. Thomas Dunbar, with
some other troops to be raised in Virginia and other
American provinces. The command of the expedi-
tion was given to Major-General Edward Braddock,
of the regular British army, who was also made
commander-in-chief of all his JIajcsty's forces in
{ Gen. Braddock sailed from Cork, Ireland, on the
14th of January, with the two regular regiments, on
board the fleet of Admiral Keppel, of the British
I navy. The fleet arrived iu Hampton Roads on the
I 20th of February, and the general, with the admiral,
disembarked there and proceeded to Williamsburg,
Va., for conference with Governor Dinwiddle. There,
also, the general met his quarterma.ster-gcneral. Sir
John Sinclair, who had preceded him to America, and
had already visited Fort Cumberland to make the
preliminary arrangements for the campaign. "Vir-
ginia levies" had already been raised for the purpose
of being incorporated with the Forty-fourth and
Forty-eighth Regiments, and these levies had been
ordered to Alexandria, whither, also, the fleet wa-s
ordered for disembarkation of the troops.

» There were, however, two other expeditions projected,— one against
Kiagara anil Fronten;ic, under Gen. Shirley, and another against Crown
Point, under Gen. William Johnson ; hut the principal one was that in-
tended for the reduction of Fort dii Qiiosne.

■< These regiments, however, were far from being full, numbering only
about tive hundred men each.



Leaving Williamsburg, Gen. Braddock, Sir John
Sinclair, and the admiral arrived on the 26lh at Alex-
andria, which place was the headquarters of the ex-
pedition for nearly two months, during which time
(on the 14th of April) a council was held there, com-
posed of the commander-in-chief, Admiral Keppel,
Gov. Dinwiddle, of Virginia, Gov. Shirlej', of Mas-
sachusetts, Gov. Delaucey, of New York, Gov. Morris,

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 7 of 193)