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Title: Colonel Washington
Author: Hulbert, Archer Butler, 1873-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Colonel Washington" ***

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    Colonel Washington.

    By Archer Butler Hulbert.

    Published from the Income
    _of_ the Francis G. Butler Publication
    Fund _of_ Western
    Reserve University. 1902.





    Entered according to Act of Congress
    in the year 1902 by
    in the Office of the Librarian of Congress
    at Washington, D. C.


The following pages contain a glimpse of the youth Washington when he
first stepped into public view. It is said the President and General
are known to us but “George Washington is an unknown man.” Those, to
whom the man is lost in the official, may well consider Edward
Everett’s oration in which the conduct of the youth Washington is
carefully described--that the orator’s audience might see “not an
ideal hero, wrapped in cloudy generalities and a mist of vogue
panegyric, but the real identical man.”

    A. B. H.
    Marietta, Ohio, Nov. 28, 1901.


      I. A Prologue: The Governor’s Envoy.

     II. The Story of the Campaign.

    III. Fort Necessity and Its Hero.


    Site of Fort Necessity                                 Frontispiece
    The Route Through the Alleghanies                           Page 26
    “Lowdermilk’s Map of Fort Necessity”                         "   32
    “Washington’s Rock,”                                         "   34
    Grape Shot Found Near Fort Necessity                         "   40
    Spark’s Map of Fort Necessity                                "   42
    Lewis’s Map of Fort Necessity                                "   48
    “Frontier Forts” Map                                         "   50
    Views of Remains of Fort Necessity                           "   52
    Diagrams of Fort Necessity                                   "   54

    [Illustration: SITE OF FORT NECESSITY.

    The outline of the Southern embankment is in the fore-ground.
    The hill is locally known as Mount Washington; the brick mansion
    stands on the old National road and was known as Sampey’s
    Tavern. From this hill the French first attacked the little
    Virginian army under Washington in the fort.]




A thousand vague rumors came over the Allegheny mountains during the
year 1753 to Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia, of French aggressions
into the Ohio River valley, the more alarming because vague and

Orders were soon at hand from London authorizing the Virginian
Governor to erect a fort on the Ohio which would hold that river for
England and tend to conciliate the Indians to English rule. But the
Governor was too much in the dark as to the operations of the French
to warrant any decisive step, and he immediately cast about him for an
envoy whom he could trust to find out what was really happening in the
valley of the Ohio.

Who was to be this envoy? The mission called for a person of unusual
capacity; a diplomat, a soldier and a frontiersman. Five hundred miles
were to be threaded on Indian trails in the dead of winter. This was
woodman’s work. There were cunning Indian chieftains and French
officers, trained to intrigue, to be met, influenced, conciliated.
This, truly, demanded a diplomat. There were forts to be marked and
mapped, highways of approach to be considered and compared, vantage
sites on river and mountain to be noted and valued. This was work for
a soldier and a strategist.

After failing to induce one or two gentlemen to undertake this
perilous but intrinsically important task, the services of a youthful
Major George Washington, one of the four adjutant-generals of
Virginia, were offered, and the despairing Scotch Governor, whose zeal
always approached rashness, accepted them.

But there was something more to the credit of this audacious youth
than his temerity. The best of Virginian blood ran in his veins, and
he had shown already a taste for adventurous service quite in line
with such a hazardous business. Acquiring, when a mere lad, a
knowledge of mathematics, he had gone surveying in Lord Fairfax’s
lands on the south branch of the Potomac. There he spent the best of
three years, far beyond the settled limits of Virginia, fortifying his
splendid physique against days of stress to come. In other ways this
life on his country’s frontier was of advantage. Here he had met the
Indians--that race upon which no man ever wielded a greater influence
than Washington. Here he learned to know frontier life, its charms,
its deprivations, its fears and its toils--a life for which he was
ever to entertain so much sympathy and so much consideration. Here he
studied the Indian traders, a class of men of much more importance, in
peace or war, than any or all others in the border land; men whose
motives of action were as hard to read as an Indian’s, and whose
flagrant and oft practiced deceptions on their fellow white men were
fraught with disaster.

It was of utmost fortune for his country that this youth went into the
West in his teens, for he was to be, under Providence, a champion of
that West worthy of its influence on human affairs. Thus he had come
to it early and loved it; he learned to know its value, to foresee
something of its future, to think for and with its pioneer developers,
to study its roads and rivers and portages: thus he was fortified
against narrow purposes, and made as broad in his sympathies and
ambitions as the great West was broad itself. No statesman of his day
came to know and believe in the West as Washington did; and it is not
difficult to think that had he not so known and loved it, the
territory west of the Allegheny mountains would never have become a
portion of the United States of America. There were far too many
serious men like Thomas Jefferson who knew little about the West and
boasted that they cared less. Yet today the seaboard states are more
dependent commercially and politically on the states between the
Alleghenies and Mississippi than are these central commonwealths
dependent on them.

The same divine Providence which directed this youth’s steps into the
Alleghenies had brought him speedily to his next post of duty, for
family influence secured him an appointment as adjutant-general (with
rank of major) over one of the four military districts into which
Virginia had been divided for purposes of defense, a position for
which he was as fitted by inclination as by frontier experience.

This lad now received Dinwiddie’s appointment. As a practical surveyor
in the wilderness he possessed the frontiersman’s qualifications; as
an apt and diligent student of military science, with a
brother--trained under Admiral Vernon--as a practical tutor, he had
in a degree a soldier’s qualifications; if not a diplomat, he was as
shrewd a lad as chivalrous old Virginia had within her borders; still,
at twenty-one, that boy of the sixty maxims, but hardened, steadied
and made exceeding thoughtful by his life on Virginia’s great black
forest-bound horizon. His keen eyes, quick perception and daring
spirit were now to be turned to something of more moment than a
tripod’s reading or a shabby line of Virginia militia. All in all, he
was far better fitted for this mission than anyone could have known or

It is not to be doubted that George Washington knew the dangers he
courted, at least very much better than we can appreciate them today.
He had not lived three years on the frontier for nothing. He had heard
of these French--of their bold invasion of the West, their growing
trade, their cunning conciliation of the Indian, their sudden passion
for fort building when they heard of the grant of land to the Ohio
Company to which his brothers belonged. Who can doubt that he looked
with envious eyes upon those fearless fleets of _coureur de bois_ and
their woodland pilgrimaging; who can doubt that the few stolid English
traders who went over the mountains on poor Indian ponies made a sorry
showing beside the roistering, picturesque, irrepressible Frenchmen
who knew and sailed those sweet, clear rivers that flowed through the
dark, green forests of the great West? But the forests were filled
with their sly, redskinned proselytes. One swift rifle ball might
easily be sent from a hidden covert to meet the stripling envoy from
the English who had come to spy out the land and report both its
giants and its grapes. Yet after one day’s preparation he was ready
to leave a home rich in comfort and culture, a host of warm friends,
and bury himself six hundred miles deep in the western forests, to
sleep on the ground in the dead of winter, wade rivers running with
ice and face a hundred known and a thousand unknown risks.

“Faith, you’re a brave lad,” broke out the old Scotch Governor, “and,
if you play your cards well, you shall have no cause to repent your
bargain,” and the Major Washington departed from Williamsburg on the
last day of October, but one, 1753. The first sentence in the
_Journal_ he now began suggests his avidity and promptness: “I was
commissioned and appointed by the Honourable _Robert Dinwiddie_, Esq;
Governor, _&c_ of _Virginia_, to visit and deliver a Letter to the
Commandant of the _French_ Forces on the _Ohio_, and set out on the
intended Journey the same Day.” At Fredericksburg he employed his old
fencing tutor, Jacob van Braam, as his interpreter, and pushed on
westward over the new road built by the Ohio Company to Will’s Creek
(Fort Cumberland, Maryland) on the upper Potomac, where he arrived
November 14th.

Will’s Creek was the last Virginian outpost, where Fort Cumberland was
soon erected. Already the Ohio Company had located a store house at
this point. Onward the Indian trail wound in and out through the
Alleghenies, over the successive ranges known as Wills’, Savage and
Meadow Mountains. From the latter it dropped down into Little Meadows.
Here in the open ground, covered with rank grasses, the first of the
western waters was crossed, a branch of the Youghiogeny River. From
“Little Crossings,” as the ford was called, the narrow trail vaulted
Negro Mountain and came down upon the upper Youghiogeny, this ford
here being named “Big Crossings.” Another climb over Briery Mountain
brought the traveller down into Great Meadows, the largest tract of
open land in the Alleghenies. By a zig-zag climb of five miles the
summit of the last of the Allegheny ranges--Laurel Hill--was reached,
where the path turned northward and followed the line of hills, by
Christopher Gist’s clearing on what is known as Mount Braddock, toward
the lower Youghiogeny, at “Stewart’s Crossing.” Thence the trail ran
down the point of land where Pittsburg now lies in its clouds of smoke
between the “Forks of the Ohio.”

This trace of the buffalo and portage path of the Indian had no name
until it took that of a Delaware Indian, Nemacolin, who blazed its
course, under the direction of Captain Thomas Cresap, for the Ohio
Company. To those who love to look back to beginnings, and read great
things in small, this Indian path, with its border of wounded trees,
leading across the first great divide into the central west, is worthy
of contemplation. Each tree starred whitely by the Indian’s axe spoke
of Saxon conquest and commerce, one and inseparable. In every act of
the great world-drama now on the boards this little trail with its
blazed trees lies in the foreground.

And the rise of the curtain shows the lad Washington and his party of
seven horsemen, led by the bold guide Christopher Gist, setting out
from Will’s Creek on the 15th of November, 1753. The character of the
journey is nowhere better described than in Washington’s words when he
engaged Gist’s services: “I engaged Mr. _Gist_ to pilot us out.”

It proved a rough voyage! A fierce, early winter came out of the
north, as though in league with the French to intimidate, if not drive
back, these spies of French aggression. It rained and snowed, and the
little roadway became well nigh impassable. The brown mountain ranges,
which until recently had been burnished with the glory of a mountain
autumn, were wet and black. Scarce eighteen miles were covered a day,
a whole week being exhausted in reaching the Monongahela. But this was
not altogether unfortunate. A week was not too long for the future
Father of the West to study the hills and valleys which were to bear
forever the precious favor of his devoted and untiring zeal. And in
this week this youth conceived a dream and a purpose, the dearest, if
not the most dominant, of his life--the union, commercial as well as
political, of the East and the West. Yet he passed Great Meadows
without seeing Fort Necessity, Braddock’s Run without seeing
Braddock’s unmarked grave, and Laurel Hill without a premonition of
the covert in the valley below, where shortly he should shape the
stones above a Frenchman’s grave. But could he have seen it all--the
wasted labor, nights spent in agony of suspense, humiliation, defeat
and the dead and dying--would it have turned him back?

The first roof to offer Washington hospitable shelter was the cabin of
the trader Frazier at the mouth of Turtle Creek, on the Monongahela,
near the death-trap where soon that desperate horde of French and
Indians should put to flight an army five times its own number. Here
information was at hand, for it was none other than this Frazier who
had been driven from Venango but a few weeks before by the French
force sent there to build a fort. Joncaire was spending the winter in
Frazier’s old cabin, and no doubt the young Virginian heard this
irrepressible French officer’s title read clear in strong German
oaths. Here too was a Speech, with a string of wampum accompanying, on
its way from the anti-French Indians on the Ohio to Governor
Dinwiddie, bringing the ominous news that the Chippewas, Ottawas and
Wyandots had taken up the hatchet against the English.

Washington took the Speech and the wampum and pushed on undismayed.
Sending the baggage down the Monongahela by boat he pushed on overland
to the “Forks” where he chose a site for a fort, the future site,
first, of Fort Duquesne, and later, Fort Pitt. But his immediate
destination was the Indian village of Loggstown, fifteen miles down
the Ohio. On his way thither he stopped at the lodge of Shingiss, a
Delaware King, and secured the promise of his attendance upon the
council of anti-French (though not necessarily pro-English) Indians.
For this was the Virginian envoy’s first task--to make a strong bid
for the allegiance of the redmen; it was not more than suggested in
his instructions, but was none the less imperative, as he well knew
whether his superiors did or not.

It is extremely difficult to construct anything like a clear statement
of Indian affiliations at this crisis. This territory west of the
Alleghenies, nominally purchased from the Six Nations, was claimed by
the Shawanese and Delawares who had since come into it, and also by
many fugitives from the Six Nations, known generally as Mingoes, who
had come to make their hunting grounds their home. Though the Delaware
King was only a “Half-King” (because subject to the Council of the
Six Nations) yet they claimed the land and had even resisted French
encroachment. “Half-King” and his Delawares believed that the English
only desired commercial intercourse and favored them as compared with
the French who had already built forts in the West. The northern
nations who were nearer the French soon surrendered to their
blandishments; and soon the Delawares (called _Loups_ by the French)
and the Shawanese were overcome by French allurements and were
generally found about the French forts and forces. In the spring of
the year Half-King had gone to Presque Isle and spoken firmly to
Marin, declaring that the land was not theirs but the Indians’.

Insofar as the English were more backward than the French in occupying
the land the unprejudiced Delawares and Mingoes were inclined to
further English plans. When, a few years later, it became clear that
the English cared not a whit for the rights of the redmen, the latter
hated and fought them as they never had the French. Washington was
well fitted for handling this delicate matter of sharpening Indian
hatred of the French and of keeping very still about English plans.

Here at Loggstown unexpected information was received. Certain French
deserters from the Mississippi gave the English envoy a description of
French operations on that river between New Orleans and Illinois. The
latter word “Illinois” was taken by Washington’s old Dutch interpreter
to be the French words “_Isle Noire_,” and Washington speaks of
Illinois as the “Black Islands” in his _Journal_. But this was not to
be old van Braam’s only blunder in the role of interpreter!

Half-King was ready with the story of his journey to Presque Isle,
which, he affirmed, Washington could not reach “in less than five or
six nights’ sleep, good traveling.” Little wonder, at such a season, a
journey was measured by the number of nights to be spent in the frozen
forests! Marin’s answer to Half-King was not less spirited because of
his own dying condition. The Frenchman frankly stated that two English
traders had been taken to Canada “_to get intelligence of what the
English were doing in Virginia_.” So far as Indian possession of the
land was concerned Marin was quickly to the point: “_You say this Land
belongs to you, but there is not the Black of my Nail yours. I saw
that Land sooner than you did, before the Shannoahs and you were at
War_: Lead _was the Man who went down, and took Possession of that
River: It is my Land, and I will have it, let who will stand-up for,
or say-against, it. I’ll buy and sell with the_ English, (mockingly).
_If People will be rul’d by me, they may expect Kindness, but not
else._” La Salle had gone down the Ohio and claimed possession of it
long before Delaware or Shawanese, Ottawa or Wyandot had built a
single fire in the valley! The claim of the Six Nations, only,
antedated that of the French--but the Six Nations had sold their claim
to the English for 400 pounds at Lancaster in 1744. And there was the

At the Council on the following day (26th), Washington delivered an
address, asking for guides and guards on his trip up the Allegheny and
Riviere aux Boeufs, adroitly implying, in word and gesture, that his
audience was the warmest allies of the English and equally desirous to
oppose French aggression. The Council was for granting each request
but the absence of the hunters necessitated a detention; undoubtedly
fear of the French also provoked delay and counselling. Little
wonder: Washington would soon be across the mountain again and the
rough Frenchman who claimed even the earth beneath his finger nails
and had won over Ottawas, Chippewas, and fierce Wyandots, would make
short work with those who housed and counselled with the English
envoy! And--perhaps more ominous than all--Washington did not announce
his business in the West, undoubtedly fearing the Indians would not
aid him if they knew it. When at last they asked the nature of his
mission he answered just the best an honest-hearted lad could. “This
was a Question I all along expected,” he wrote in his _Journal_, “and
had provided as satisfactory Answers to, as I could; which allayed
their Curiosity a little.” This youthful diplomat would have allayed
the burning curiosity of hundreds of others had he mentioned the
reasons he gave those suspicious chieftains for this five-hundred-mile
journey in the winter season to a miserable little French fort on the
Riviere aux Boeufs! It is safe to assume that could he have given the
real reasons he would have been saved the difficulty of providing
“satisfactory” ones.

For four days Washington remained, but on the 30th. he set out
northward accompanied only by the faithful Half-King and three other
Indians, and five days later (after four “nights sleep”) the party
arrived at the mouth of the Riviere aux Boeufs where Joncaire was
wintering in Frazier’s cabin. The seventy miles from Loggstown were
traversed at about the same poor rate as the one hundred and twenty
five from Will’s Creek. To Joncaire’s cabin, over which floated the
French flag, the Virginian envoy immediately repaired. He was
received with much courtesy, though, as he well knew, Legardeur de St
Piere, at Fort La Boeuf, the successor to the dead Marin, was the
French commandant to whom his letter from Dinwiddie must go.

However Washington was treated “with the greatest Complaisance” by
Joncaire. During the evening the Frenchmen “dosed themselves pretty
plentifully,” wrote the sober, keen-eyed Virginian, “and gave a
Licence to their Tongues. They told me, That it was their absolute
Design to take Possession of the _Ohio_, and by G-- they would do it:
For that altho’ they were sensible the _English_ could raise two Men
for their one; yet they knew, their Motions were too slow and dilatory
to prevent any Undertaking of theirs.” For a true picture of the man
Washington (who is said to be forgotten) what one would be chosen
before this: the youth sitting before the log fire in an Englishman’s
cabin, from which the French had driven its owner, on the Allegheny
river; about him sit leering, tipsy Gauls, bragging, with oaths, of a
conquest they were never to make; dress him for a five-hundred-mile
ride through a wilderness in winter, and rest his sober eyes
thoughtfully upon the crackling logs while oaths and boasts and the
rank smell of foreign liquor fill the heavy air. No picture could show
better the three commanding traits of this youth who was father of the
man: hearty daring, significant, homespun shrewdness, dogged,
resourceful patience. Basic traits of character are often displayed
involuntarily in the effervescence of youthful zest. These this lad
had shown and was showing in this brave ride into a dense wilderness
and a braver inspection of his country’s enemies, their works, their
temper, and their boasts. Let this picture hang on the walls of every
home where the lad in the fore-ground before the blazing logs is
unknown save in the role of the general or statesman he became in
later life.

How those French officers must have looked this tall, stern boy up and
down! How they enjoyed sneering in his face at English backwardness in
coming over the Alleghenies into the great West which their explorers
had honeycombed with a thousand swift canoes! As they even plotted his
assassination, how, in turn, that young heart must have burned to stop
their mouths with his hand. Little wonder that when the time came his
voice first ordered “Fire,” and his finger first pulled the trigger in
the great war which won the west from those bragging Frenchmen!

But with the boasts came no little information concerning the French
operations on the great lakes, the number of their forts and men.
Washington did not get off for Fort La Boeuf the next day for the
weather was exceedingly rough. This gave the wily Joncaire a chance to
tamper with his Indians, and the opportunity was not neglected! Upon
learning that Indians were in the envoy’s retinue he professed great
regret that Washington had not “made free to bring them in before.”
The Virginian was quick with a stinging retort: for since he had heard
Joncaire “say a good deal in Dispraise of the _Indians_ in general” he
did not “think their Company agreeable.” But Joncaire had his way and
“applied the Loquor so fast,” that lo! the poor Indians “were soon
rendered incapable of the Business they came about.”

In the morning Half-King came to Washington’s tent hopefully sober but
urging that another day be spent at Venango since “the Management of
the _Indians_ Affairs was left solely to Monsieur _Joncaire_.” To this
the envoy reluctantly acquiesced. But on the day after the embassy got
on its way, thanks to Christopher Gist’s influence over the Indians.
When Joncaire found them going, he forwarded their plans “in the
heartiest way in the world” and detailed Monsieur la Force (with whom
this Virginian was to meet under different circumstances inside half a
year!) to accompany them. Four days were spent in floundering over the
last sixty miles of this journey, the party being driven into “Mires
and Swamps” to avoid crossing the swollen Riviere aux Boeufs. On the
11th of December Washington reached his destination, having traveled
over 500 miles in forty-two days.

Legardeur St. Piere, the one-eyed commander at Fort La Boeuf, had
arrived but one week before Washington. To him the Virginian envoy
delivered Governor Dinwiddie’s letter the day after his arrival. Its
contents read:


     The Lands upon the River _Ohio_, in the Western Parts of the
     Colony of _Virginia_, are so notoriously known to be the
     Property of the Crown of _Great-Britain_; that it is a Matter
     of equal Concern and Surprise to me, to hear that a Body of
     _French_ Forces are erecting Fortresses, and making Settlements
     upon that River, within his Majesty’s Dominions.

     The many and repeated Complaints I have received of these Acts
     of Hostility, lay me under the Necessity, of sending, in the
     Name of the King my Master, the Bearer hereof, _George
     Washington_, Esq; one of the Adjutants General of the Forces of
     this Dominion; to complain to you of the Encroachments thus
     made, and of the Injuries done to the Subjects of
     _Great-Britain_, in the open Violation of the Law of Nations,
     and the Treaties now subsisting between the two Crowns.

     If these Facts are true, and you shall think fit to justify
     your Proceedings, I must desire you to acquaint me, by whose
     Authority and Instructions you have lately marched from
     _Canada_, with an armed Force; and invaded the King of
     _Great-Britain’s_ Territories, in the Manner complained of?
     that according to the Purport and Resolution of your Answer, I
     may act agreeably to the Commission I am honored with, from the
     King my Master.

     However, Sir, in Obedience to my Instructions, it becomes my
     Duty to require your peaceable Departure; and that you would
     forbear prosecuting a Purpose so interruptive of the Harmony
     and good Understanding, which his Majesty is desirous to
     continue and cultivate with the most Christian King.

     I persuade myself you will receive and entertain Major
     _Washington_ with the Candour and Politeness natural to your
     Nation; and it will give me the greatest Satisfaction, if you
     return him with an Answer suitable to my Wishes for a very long
     and lasting Peace between us. I have the Honour to subscribe

     Your most obedient,
     Humble Servant,

While an answer was being prepared the envoy had an opportunity to
take careful note of the fort and its hundred defenders. The fortress
which Washington carefully described in his _Journal_ was not so
significant as the host of canoes along the river shore. It was French
canoes the English feared more than French forts. The number at Fort
La Boeuf at this time was over two hundred, and others were being
made. And every stream flowed south to the land “notoriously known” to
belong to the British Crown!

On the 14th. Washington was planning his homeward trip. His horses,
lacking proper nourishment, exhausted by the hard trip northward, were
totally unfit for service, and were at once set out on the road to
Venango, since canoes had been offered the little embassy for the
return trip. Anxious as Washington was to be off, neither his business
nor that of Half-King’s had been forwarded with any celerity until
now; but this day Half-King secured an audience with St. Piere and
offered him the wampum which was promptly refused, though with many
protestations of friendship and an offer to send a load of goods to
Loggstown. Every effort possible was being put forth to alienate
Half-King and the Virginian frankly wrote: “I can’t say that ever in
my Life I suffered so much Anxiety as I did in this Affair.” This day
and the next the French officers out did themselves in hastening
Washington’s departure and retarding Half-King’s. At last Washington
complained frankly to St. Piere, who denied his duplicity--and doubled
his bribes! But on the day following Half-King was lured away, Venango
being reached in six long days, a large part of the time being spent
in dragging the canoes over icy shoals.

Four days were spent with Joncaire, when abandoning both horses and
Indians, Washington and Gist set out alone and afoot by the shortest
course to the Forks of the Ohio. It was a daring alternative but
altogether the preferable one. At Murdering Town, a fit place for
Joncaire’s assassin to lie in wait, some French Indians were
overtaken, one of whom offered to guide the travelers across to the
Forks. At the first good chance he fired upon them, was disarmed and
sent away. The two, building a raft, reached an island in the
Allegheny after heroic suffering but were unable to cross to the
eastern shore until the following morning. Then they passed over on
the ice which had formed and went directly to Frazier’s cabin. There
they arrived December 29th. On the first day of the new year, 1754,
Washington set out for Virginia. On the sixth he met seventeen horses
loaded with materials and stores, “for a Fort at the Forks of the
_Ohio_.” Governor Dinwiddie, indefatigable if nothing else, had
commissioned Captain Trent to raise a company of an hundred men to
erect a fort on the Ohio for the protection of the Ohio Company.

On the sixteenth of January the youthful envoy rode again into
Williamsburg, one month from the day he left Fort La Boeuf. St.
Piere’s reply to Governor Dinwiddie’s letter read as follows:


     As I have the Honour of commanding here in Chief, Mr.
     _Washington_ delivered me the Letter which you wrote to the
     Commandant of the _French_ Troops.

     I should have been glad that you had given him Orders, or that
     he had been inclined to proceed to _Canada_, to see our
     General; to whom it better belongs than to me to set-forth the
     Evidence and Reality of the Rights of the King, my Master, upon
     the Lands situated along the River _Ohio_, and to contest the
     Pretentions of the King of _Great-Britain_ thereto.

     I shall transmit your Letter to the Marquis _Duguisne_. His
     Answer will be a Law to me; and if he shall order me to
     communicate it to you, Sir, you may be assured I shall not fail
     to dispatch it to you forthwith.

     As to the Summons you send me to retire, I do not think myself
     obliged to obey it. What-ever may be your Instructions, I am
     here by Virtue of the Orders of my General; and I entreat you,
     Sir, not to doubt one Moment, but that I am determin’d to
     conform myself to them with all the Exactness and Resolution
     which can be expected from the best Officer.

     I don’t know that in the Progress of this Campaign any Thing
     has passed which can be reputed an Act of Hostility, or that is
     contrary to the Treaties which subsist between the two Crowns;
     the Continuation whereof as much interests, and is as pleasing
     to us, as the _English_. Had you been pleased, Sir, to have
     descended to particularize the Facts which occasioned your
     Complaint, I should have had the Honour of answering you in the
     fullest, and, I am persuaded, most satisfactory Manner.

     I made it my particular Care to receive Mr _Washington_, with a
     Distinction suitable to your Dignity, as well as his own
     Quality and great Merit. I flatter myself that he will do me
     this Justice before you, Sir; and that he will signify to you
     in the Manner I do myself, the profound Respect with which I

     Your most humble, and
     most obedient Servant,

Washington found the Governor’s council was to meet the day following
and that his report was desired. Accordingly he rewrote his _Journal_
from the “rough minutes” he had made. From any point of view this
document of ten thousand words, hastily written by a lad of twenty-one
who had not seen a school desk since his seventeenth year, is far more
creditable and remarkable than any of the feats of physical endurance
for which the lad is idolized by the youthful readers of our school
histories. It is safe to say that many a college bred man of today
could not prepare from rough notes such a succinct and polite document
as did this young surveyor, who had read few books and studied neither
his own nor any foreign language. The author did not “in the least
conceive ... that it would ever be published.” Speaking afterward of
its “numberless imperfections” he said that all that could recommend
it to the public was its truthfulness of fact. Certain features of
this first literary work of Washington’s are worthy of remark: his
frankness, as in criticising Shingiss’ village as a site for a fort as
proposed by the Ohio Company; his exactness in giving details (where
he could obtain them) of forts, men, and guns; his estimates of
distances; his wise conforming to Indian custom; his careful note of
the time of day of important events; his frequent observations of the
kinds of the land through which he passed; his knowlege of Indian

This mission prosecuted with such rare tact and skill was an utter
failure, considered from the standpoint of its nominal purpose. St.
Piere’s letter was firm, if not defiant. Yet Dinwiddie, despairing of
French withdrawal, had secured the information he desired. Already the
French had reached the Forks of the Ohio where an English fort was
being erected. Peaceful measures were exhausted with the failure of
Washington’s embassy.

England’s one hope was--war.



No literary production of a youth of twenty-one ever electrified the
world as did the publication of the _Journal_ of this dauntless envoy
of the Virginian Governor. No young man more instantly sprang into the
notice of the world than George Washington. The _Journal_ was copied
far and wide in the newspapers of the other colonies. It sped across
the sea, and was printed in London by the British government. In a
manly, artless way it told the exact situation on the Ohio frontier
and announced the first positive proof the world had had of hostile
French aggression into the great river valley of the West. Despite
certain youthful expressions, the prudence, tact, capacity and modesty
of the author were recognized by a nation and by a world.

Without waiting for the House of Burgesses to convene, Governor
Dinwiddie’s Council immediately advised the enlistment of two hundred
men to be sent to build forts on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers. The
business of recruiting two companies of one hundred men each was given
to the tried though youthful Major Washington, since they were to be
recruited from the northern district over which he had been
adjutant-general. His instructions read as follows:

     “_Instruct’s to be observ’d by Maj’r Geo. Washington, on the
     Expedit’n to the Ohio._

     Maj’r Geo. Washington: You are forthwith to repair to the Co’ty
     of Frederick and there to take under Y’r Com’d 50 Men of the
     Militia who will be deliver’d 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 rec’d the Men in Frederick. Having rec’d the
     Detachm’t, You are to train and discipline them in the best
     Manner You can, and for all Necessaries You are to apply
     Y’rself 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 Ohio with the Men under
     Com’d and there you are to finish and compleat in the best
     Manner and as soon as You possibly can, the Fort w’ch I expect
     is there already begun by the Ohio Comp’a. 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 Y’rself as the Circumst’s of the
     Service shall require and to act as You shall find best for the
     Furtherance of His M’y’s Service and the Good of His Dom’n.
     Wishing You Health and Success I bid you Farewell.”

The general command of the expedition was given to Colonel Joshua Fry,
formerly professor of mathematics in William and Mary College and a
geographer and Indian commissioner of note. His instructions were as

     “_Instruction’s to Joshua Fry, Esqr., Colo. and the
     Com’r-in-Chief of the Virg’a Regiment._

     March, 1754.

     “Sir: The Forces under Y’r Com’d are rais’d to protect our
     frontier Settlements from the incursions of the French and the
     Ind’s in F’dship with them. I therefore desire You will with
     all possible Expedition repair to Alexandria on the Head of the
     Poto. River, and there take upon You the com’d of the Forces
     accordingly; w’ch I Expect will be at that Town the Middle of
     next Mo. You are to march them to will’s Creek, above the Falls
     of Poto. from thence with the Great Guns, Amunit’n and
     Provisions. You are to proceed to Monongahela, when ariv’d
     there, You are to make Choice of the best Place to erect a
     Fort for mounting y’r Cannon and ascertain’g His M’y the King
     of G. B’s undoubt’d right to those Lands. My Orders to You is
     to be on the Defensive and if any foreign Force sh’d come to
     annoy You or interrupt Y’r quiet Settlem’t, and building the
     Fort as afores’d, You are in that Case to represent to them the
     Powers and Orders You have from me, and I desire they w’d
     imediately retire and not to prevent You in the discharge of
     your Duty. If they sh’d continue to be obstinate after your
     desire to retire, you are then to repell Force by Force. I
     expect a Number of the Southern Indians will join you on this
     expedit’n, w’ch with the Indians on the Ohio, I desire You will
     cultivate a good Understanding and Correspondence with,
     supplying them with what Provisions and other Necessaries You
     can spare; and write to Maj’r Carlyle w’n You want Provisions,
     who has my Orders to purchase and Keep a proper Magazine for
     Your dem’ds. Keep up a good Com’d and regular Discipline,
     inculcate morality and Courage in Y’r Soldiers that they may
     answer the Views on w’ch they are rais’d. You are to constitute
     a Court Martial of the Chief of Your Officers, with whom You
     are to advise and consult on all Affairs of Consequence; and as
     the Fate of this Expedition greatly depends on You, from the
     Opinion I have of Your good Sense and Conduct, I refer the
     Management of the whole to You with the Advice of the Court
     Martial. Sincerely recommending You to the Protection of God,
     wishing Success to our just Designs, I heartily wish You

This expedition was in no sense the result of general agitation
against French encroachment. And, as in Virginia, so it was in other
colonies to which Governor Dinwiddie appealed; the Governors said they
had received no instructions; the validity of English title to the
lands upon which the French were alleged to have encroached was
doubted; no one wished to precipitate a war through rash zeal.

Before the bill voting ten thousand pounds “for the encouragement and
protection of the settlers on the Mississippi,” as it was called,
passed the House of Burgesses, Governor Dinwiddie had his patience
well-nigh exhausted, but he overlooked both the doubts raised as to
England’s rights in the West, and personal slights, and signed the
bill which provided the expenses of this memorable expedition of the
Virginia Regiment in 1754.

Major Washington was located at Alexandria, on the upper Potomac, in
February where he superintended the rendezvous and the transportation
of supplies and cannon. It was found necessary to resort to
impressments to raise the required quota of men. As early as February
19th, so slow were the drafts and enlistments, Governor Dinwiddie
issued a proclamation granting two hundred thousand acres of land on
the Ohio to be divided among the officers and men who would serve in
the expedition. This had its effect.

By April 20th Washington arrived at Will’s Creek (Cumberland,
Maryland) with three companies, one under Captain Stephen joining him
on the way. The day previous, however, he met a messenger sent from
Captain Trent on the Ohio announcing that the arrival of a French army
was hourly expected. And on the day following, at Will’s Creek, he was
informed of the arrival of the French on what is now the site of
Pittsburg and the withdrawal of the Virginian force under Trent from
the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela whither they had been
sent to build a fort for the protection of the Ohio Company. This
information he immediately forwarded to the Governors of Virginia,
Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Fancy the state of mind of this vanguard of the Virginian army at the
receipt of this news. It was, then, at the last frontier fort, eleven
companies strong. Their order was to push on to the Ohio, drive off
the French (which was then reported to number a thousand men) and
build a fort. Before it the only road was the Indian path hardly wide
enough to admit the passage of a pack-horse.

A ballot was cast among Washington’s Captains--the youngest of whom
was old enough to have been his father--and the decision was to
advance. The Indian path could at least be widened and bridges built
as far as the Monongahela. There they determined to erect a fort and
await orders and reinforcements. The reasons for this decision are
given as follows in Washington’s _Journal_ of 1754:[1].

“_1st._ 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 the Ammunition may be laid up, our great guns
may also be sent by water whenever we shall think it convenient to
attack the Fort.

_3rd._ We may easily (having all these conveniences) preserve our men
from the ill consequences of inaction, and encourage the _Indians_ our
Allies to remain in our interests.”

    [1] The private _Journal_ kept by Washington on the expedition
    of the Virginia Regiment in 1754 was composed of rough notes
    only. It was lost with other papers at the Battle of Fort
    Necessity and was captured by the French and sent to Paris. Two
    years later it was published by the French government, after
    being thoroughly “edited” by a French censor. It was titled
    “MEMOIRE _contenant le Precis des Faits, avec leurs Pieces
    Justificatives, pour servir de Reponse aux_ OBSERVATIONS
    _envoyees, par les Ministres d’Angleterre, dans les Cours de
    l’Europe. A Paris; de l’Imprimerie Royale, 1756._”

    In this MEMOIRE, together with portions of Washington’s
    _Journal_ appear papers, instructions, etc., captured at
    Braddock’s defeat in 1755. Of the portion of Washington’s
    _Journal_ published, Washington himself said; “I kept no regular
    one (Journal) during the Expedition; rough notes of occurrences
    I certainly took, and find them as certainly and strangely
    metamorphised, some parts left out which I remember were
    entered, and many things added that never were thought of, the
    names of men and things egregiously miscalled, and the whole of
    what I saw Englished is very incorrect and nonsensical.” The
    last entry on the _Journal_ is on June 27th., six days previous
    to the Battle of Fort Necessity.

Thus Washington’s march westward in 1754 must be looked upon only as
the advance of a van-guard to open the road, bridge the streams and
prepare the way for the commanding officer and his army. Nor was
there, now, need of haste--had it been possible or advisable to
hasten. The landing of the French at the junction of the Allegheny and
Monongahela already thwarted Governor Dinwiddie’s purpose in sending
out the expedition “To prevent their (French) building any Forts or
making any Settlem’s on that river (Ohio) and more particularly so
nigh us as that of Loggstown (fifteen miles below the forks of the
Ohio.)” Now that a fort was building, with a French army of a thousand
men (as Washington had been erroneously informed) encamped about it,
nothing more was to be thought of than a cautious advance.

And so Washington gave the order to march on the 29th. of April, three
score men having been sent ahead to widen the Indian trail. The
progress was difficult, and exceedingly slow. In the first ten days
the hundred and fifty men covered but twenty miles. Yet each mile must
have been anticipated seriously by the young commander. He knew not
whether the enemy or his Colonel with reinforcements was nearest.
Governor Dinwiddie wrote him (May 4) concerning reinforcements, as

    “The Independ’t Compa., from So. Car. arriv’d two days ago; is
    compleat; 100 Men besides Officers, and will re-embark for Alexa
    next Week, thence proceed imediately to join Colo. Fry and You.
    The two Independ’t Compa’s from N. York may be Expected in ab’t
    ten days. The N. Car. Men, under the Com’d of Colo. Innes, are
    imagin’d to be on their March, and will probably be at the
    Randezvous ab’t the 15th. Itst.” ... “I hope Capt. McKay, who
    Com’ds the Independ’t Compa., will soon be with You And as he
    appears to be an Officer of some Experience and Importance, You
    will, with Colo. Fry and Colo. Innes, so well agree as not to
    let some Punctillios ab’t Com’d render the Service You are all
    engag’d in, perplex’d or obstructed.”

Relying implicitly on Dinwiddie, Washington pushed on and on into the
wilderness, opening a road and building bridges for a Colonel and an
army that was never to come! As he advanced into the Alleghenies he
found the difficulty of hauling wagons very serious, and, long before
he reached the Youghiogheny, he determined to test the possibility of
transportation down that stream and the Monongahela to his destination
at the mouth of the Redstone Creek. May 11th. he sent a reconnoitering
force forward to Gist’s, on Laurel Hill, the last spur of the
Alleghenies, to locate a French party, which, the Indians reported,
had left Fort Duquesne, and to find if there was possibility of water
transportation to the mouth of Redstone Creek, where a favorable site
for a fort was to be sought.

Slowly the frail detachment felt its way along to Little Meadows and
across the smaller branch of the Youghiogheny which it bridged at
“Little Crossings.” On the 16th, according to the French version of
Washington’s _Journal_, he met traders who informed him of the
appearance of French at Gist’s and who expressed doubts as to the
possibility of building a wagon road from Gist’s to the mouth of
Redstone Creek. This made it imperatively necessary for the young
Lieutenant-Colonel to attempt to find a water passage down the

The day following much information was received, both from the front
and the rear, vividly stated in the _Journal_ as follows:

     “The Governor informs me that Capt. McKay, with an independent
     company of 100 men, excluding the officers, had arrived, and
     that we might expect them daily; and that the men from New-York
     would join us within ten days.

     This night also came two _Indians_ from the _Ohio_ who left the
     French fort five days ago: They relate that the French forces
     are all employed in building their Fort, that it is already
     breast-high, and of the thickness of twelve feet, and filled
     with Earth, stones, etc. They have cut down and burnt up all
     the trees which were about it and sown grain instead thereof.
     The _Indians_ believe they were only 600 in number, although
     they say themselves they are 800. They expect a greater number
     in a few days, which may amount to 1600. Then they say they can
     defy the _English_.”


Arriving on the eastern bank of the Youghiogheny the next day, 18th,
the river being too wide to bridge and too high to ford, Washington
put himself “in a position of defence against any immediate attack
from the Enemy” and went straightway to work on the problem of water

By the 20th., a canoe having been provided, Washington set out on the
Youghiogheny with four men and an Indian. By nightfall they reached
“Turkey Foot,” (Confluence, Pennsylvania,) which Washington mapped as
a possible site for a fort. Below “Turkey Foot” the stream was found
too rapid and rocky to admit any sort of navigation and Washington
returned to camp on the 24th. with the herculean hardships of an
overland march staring him in the face. Information was now at hand
from Half-King, concerning alleged movements of the French; thus the
letter read;

     “To any of his Majesty’s officers whom this May Concern.

     As ’tis reported that the French army is set out to meet M.
     George Washington, I exhort you my brethren, to guard against
     them, for they intend to fall on the first _English_ they meet;
     They have been on their march these two days, the Half-King and
     the other chiefs will join you within five days, to hold a
     council, though we know not the number we shall be. I shall say
     no more, but remember me to my brethren the English.

     Signed The Half-King.”

At two o’clock of that same May day (24th.) the little army came down
the eastern wooded hills that surrounded Great Meadows, and looked
across the waving grasses and low bushes which covered the field they
were soon to make classic ground. Immediately upon arriving at the
future battle-field information was secured from a trader confirming
Half-King’s alarming letter. Below the roadway, which passed the
meadow on the hillside, the Lieutenant-Colonel found two natural
intrenchments near a branch of Great Meadows run, perhaps old courses
of the brook through the swampy land. Here the troops and wagons were

Great Meadows may be described as two large basins the smaller lying
directly westward of the larger and connected with it by a narrow neck
of swampy ground. Each is a quarter of a mile wide and the two a mile
and a half in length.

The old roadway descends from the southern hills, coming out upon the
meadows at the eastern extremity of the western basin. It traverses
the hill-side south of the western meadow. The natural intrenchments
or depressions behind which Washington huddled his army on this May
afternoon were at the eastern edge of the western basin. Behind him
was the narrow neck of low-land which soon opened into the eastern
basin. Before him to his left on the hillside his newly-made road
crawled eastward into the hills. The Indian trail followed the edge of
the forest westward to Laurel Hill, five miles distant, and on to Fort

On this faint opening into the western forest the little army and its
youthful commander kept their eyes as the sun dropped behind the hills
closing an anxious day and bringing a dreaded night. How large the
body of French might have been, not one of the one hundred and fifty
men knew. How far away they might be no one could guess. Here in this
forest meadow the little van-guard slept on their arms, surrounded by
watchful sentinels, with fifty-one miles of forest and mountain
between them and the nearest settlement at Will’s Creek. The darkling
forests crept down the hills on either side as though to hint by their
portentous shadows of the dead and dying that were to be.

But the night waned and morning came. With increasing energy, as
though nerved to duty by the dangers which surrounded him, the
twenty-two year old commander Washington gave his orders promptly. A
scouting party was sent on the Indian trail in search of the coming
French. Squads were set to threshing the forest for spies. Horsemen
were ordered to scour the country and keep look-out for the French
from neighboring points of vantage.

At night all returned, none the wiser for their vigilance and labor.
The French force had disappeared from the face of the earth! It may be
believed that this lack of information did not tend to ease the
intense strain of the hour. It must have been plain to the dullest
that serious things were ahead. Two flags, silken emblems of an
immemorial hatred, were being brought together in the Alleghenies. It
was a moment of utmost importance to Europe and America. Quebec and
Jamestown were met on Laurel Hill; and a spark struck here and now was
to “set the world on fire.”

However clearly this may have been seen, Washington was not the man to
withdraw. Indeed, the celerity with which he precipitated England and
France into war made him a criticised man on both continents.

Another day passed--and the French could not be found. On the
following day Christopher Gist arrived at Great Meadows with the
information that M. la Force (whose tracks he had seen within five
miles of Great Meadows) had been at his house, fifteen miles distant.
Acting on this reliable information Washington at once dispatched a
scouting party in pursuit.

The day passed and no word came to the anxious men in their trenches
in the meadows. Another night, silent and cheerless, came over the
mountains upon the valley, and with the night came rain. Fresh fears
of strategy and surprise must have arisen as the cheerless sun went

Suddenly, at eight in the evening, a runner brought word that the
French were run to cover! Half-King, while coming to join Washington,
had found la Force’s party in “a low, obscure place.”

It was now time for a daring man to show himself. Such was the young
commander at Great Meadows.

“That very moment,” wrote Washington in his _Journal_, “I sent out
forty men and ordered my ammunition to be put in a place of safety,
fearing it to be a stratagem of the French to attack our camp; I left
a guard to defend it, and with the rest of my men set out in a heavy
rain, and in a night as dark as pitch.”

Perhaps a war was never precipitated under stranger circumstances.
Contrecoeur, commanding at Fort Duquesne, was made aware by his Indian
scouts of Washington’s progress all the way from the Potomac. The day
before Washington arrived at Great Meadows Contrecoeur ordered M. de
Jumonville to leave Fort Duquesne with a detachment of thirty-four
men, commanded by la Force, and go toward the advancing English. To
the English (when he met them) he was to explain he had come to order
them to retire. To the Indians he was to pretend he was “travelling
about to see what is transacting in the King’s Territories, and to
take notice of the different roads.” In the eyes of the English the
party was to be an embassy. In the eyes of the Indians, a party of
scouts reconnoitering. This is clear from the orders given by
Contrecoeur to Jumonville.

Three days before, on the 26th, this “embassy” was at Gist’s
plantation where, according to Gist’s report to Washington, they
“would have killed a cow and broken everything in the house, if two
_Indians_, whom he (Gist) had left in charge of the home, had not
prevented them.”

From Gist’s la Force had advanced within five miles of Great Meadows,
as Gist ascertained by their tracks on the Indian trail.
Then--although the English commander was within an hour’s march--the
French retraced their steps to the summit of Laurel Hill and,
descending deep into the obscure valley on the east, built a hut under
the lea of the precipice and rested from their labors. Here they
remained throughout the 27th, while Washington’s scouts were running
their legs off in the attempt to locate them and the young
Lieutenant-colonel was in a fever of anxiety at their sudden, ominous
disappearance. Now they were found.

What a march was that! The darkness was intense. The path, Washington
wrote, was “scarce broad enough for one man.” Now and then it was lost
completely and a quarter of an hour was wasted in finding it. Stones
and roots impeded the way, and were made trebly treacherous by the
torrents of rain which fell. The men struck the trees. They fell over
each other. They slipped from the narrow track and slid downward
through the soaking leafy carpet of the forests.

Enthusiastic tourists make the journey today from Great Meadows to the
summit of Laurel Hill on the track over which Washington and his
hundred men floundered and stumbled that wet May night a century and a
half ago. It is a hard walk but exceedingly fruitful to one of
imaginative vision. From Great Meadows the trail holds fast to the
height of ground until Braddock’s Run is crossed near “Braddock’s
Grave.” Picture that little group of men floundering down into this
mountain stream, swollen by the heavy rain, in the utter darkness of
that night! From Braddock’s Run the trail begins its long climb on the
sides of the foot-hills, by picturesque Peddler’s Rocks, to the top of
Laurel Hill, two thousand feet above.

Washington left Great Meadows about eight o’clock. It was not until
sunrise that Half-King’s sentries at “Washington’s Spring,” saw the
van-guard file out on the narrow ridge, which, dividing the headwaters
of Great Meadow Run and Cheat River, made an easy ascent to the summit
of the mountain. The march of five miles had been accomplished, with
great difficulty, in a little less than two hours--or at the rate of
_one mile in two hours_.

Forgetting all else for the moment, consider the young leader of this
floundering, stumbling army. There is not another episode in all
Washington’s long, eventful, life that shows more clearly his strength
of personal determination and daring. Beside this all-night march from
Great Meadows to Washington’s Spring, Wolf’s ascent to the Plains of
Abraham at Quebec, was a past-time. The climb up from Wolf’s Cove (all
romantic accounts and pictures to the contrary notwithstanding) was an
exceedingly easy march up a valley that hardly deserved to be
called steep. A child can run along Wolfe’s path at any point from top
to bottom. A man in full daylight today, can walk over Washington’s
five mile course to Laurel Hill in half the time the little army
needed on that black night. If a more difficult ten-hour night march
has been made in the history of warfare in America, who led it and
where was it made? No feature of the campaign shows more clearly the
unmatched, irresistible energy of this twenty-two-year-old boy. For
those to whom Washington, the man, is “unknown,” there are lessons in
this little briery path today of value far beyond their cost.


Whether Washington intended to attack the French before he reached
Half-King is not known; at the Spring a conference was held and it was
immediately decided to attack. Washington did not know and could not
have known that Jumonville was an embassador. The action of the French
in approaching Great Meadows and then withdrawing and hiding was not
the behavior of an embassy. Half-King and his Indians were of the
opinion that the French party entertained evil designs, and, as
Washington afterwards wrote, “If we had been such fools as to let them
(the French) go, they (the Indians) would never have helped us to take
any other Frenchmen.”

Two scouts were sent out in advance; then, in Indian file, Washington
and his men with Half-King and a few Indians followed and “prepared to
surround them.”

Laurel Hill, the most westerly range of the Alleghenies, trends north
and south through Pennsylvania. In Fayette county, about one mile on
the summit northward from the National Road, lies Washington’s Spring
where Half-King encamped. The Indian trail coursed along the summit
northward fifteen miles to Gist’s. On the eastern side, Laurel Hill
descends into a valley varying from a hundred to five hundred feet
deep. Nearly two miles from the Spring, in the bottom of a valley four
hundred feet deep, lay Jumonville’s “embassy.” The attacking party,
guided by Indians, who had previously wriggled down the hillside on
their bellies and found the French, advanced along the Indian trail
and then turned off and began stealthily creeping down the

Washington’s plan was, clearly, to surround and capture the French. It
is plain he did not understand the ground. They were encamped in the
bottom of a valley two hundred yards wide and more than a mile long.
Moreover the hillside on which the English were descending abruptly
ended on a narrow ledge of rocks thirty feet high and a hundred yards

Coming suddenly out on the rocks, Washington leading the right
division and Half-King the left, it was plain in the twinkling of an
eye that it would not be possible to achieve a bloodless victory.
Washington therefore gave and received first fire. It was fifteen
minutes before the astonished but doughty French, probably now
surrounded by Half-King’s Indians, were compelled to surrender. Ten of
their number, including their “Embassador” Jumonville, were killed
outright and one wounded. Twenty-one prisoners were taken. One
Frenchman escaped, running half clothed through the forests to Fort
Duquesne with the evil tidings.

    “We killed,” writes Washington, “Mr. de Jumonville, the
    Commander of that party, as also nine others; we wounded one and
    made twenty-one prisoners, among whom were _M. la Force, and M.
    Drouillon_ and two cadets. The Indians scalped the dead and
    took away the greater part of their arms, after which we marched
    on with the prisoners under guard to the _Indian_ camp.... I
    marched on with the prisoners. _They informed me that they had
    been sent with a summons to order me to retire._ A plausible
    pretense to discover our camp and to obtain knowlege of our
    forces and our situation! It was so clear that they were come to
    reconnoiter what we were, that I admired their assurance, when
    they told me they were come as an Embassy; their instructions
    were to get what knowledge they could of the roads, rivers, and
    all the country as far as the Potomac; and instead of coming as
    an Embassador, publicly and in an open manner, they came
    secretly, and sought the most hidden retreats more suitable for
    deserters than for Embassadors; they encamped there and remained
    hidden for whole days together, at a distance of not more than
    five miles from us; they sent spies to reconnoiter our camp; the
    whole body turned back 2 miles; they sent the two messengers
    mentioned in the instruction, to inform M. de Contrecoeur of the
    place where we were, and of our disposition, that he might send
    his detachments to enforce the summons as soon as it should be
    given. Besides, an Embassador has princely attendants, whereas
    this was only a simple petty _French_ officer, an Embassador has
    no need of spies, his person being always sacred: and seeing
    their intention was so good, why did they tarry two days at five
    miles distance from us without acquainting me with the summons,
    or at least, with something that related to the Embassy? That
    alone would be sufficient to excite the strongest suspicions,
    and we must do them the justice to say, that, as they wanted to
    hide themselves, they could not have picked out better places
    than they had done. The summons was so insolent, and savored of
    so much Gasonade that if it had been brought openly by two men
    it would have been an excessive Indulgence to have suffered them
    to return.... They say they called to us as soon as they had
    discovered us; which is an absolute falsehood, for I was then
    marching at the head of the company going towards them, and can
    positively affirm, that, when they first saw us, they ran to
    their arms, without calling, as I must have heard them had they
    so done.”

    [Illustration: Ledge from which Washington opened fire upon
    Jumonville’s party.]

In a letter to his brother, Washington wrote “I fortunately escaped
without any wound; for the right wing where I stood, was exposed to,
and received all the enemy’s fire; and it was the part where the man
was killed and the rest wounded. I heard the bullets whistle; and,
believe me, there is something charming in the sound.” The letter was
published in the London Magazine. It is said George II. read it and
commented dryly: “He would not say so if he had been used to hear
many.” In later years Washington heard too much of the fatal music,
and once, when asked if he had written such rodomontade, is said to
have answered gravely, “If I said so, it was when I was young.” Aye,
but it is memorials of that daring, young Virginian, to whom whistling
bullets were charming, that we seek in the Alleghenies today. We catch
a similar glimpse of this ardent, boyish spirit in a letter written
from Fort Necessity later. Speaking of strengthening the
fortifications Washington writes: “We have, with nature’s assistance,
made a good entrenchment, and by clearing the bushes out of these
meadows, prepared a charming field for an encounter.” Over and above
the anxieties with which he was ever beset there shines out clearly
the exuberance of youthful zest and valor--soon to be hardened and
quenched by innumerable cares and heavy responsibilities.

Thus the first blow of that long, bloody, seven year’s war was struck
by the red-uniformed Virginians under Washington, at the bottom of
that Allegheny valley. He immediately returned to Great Meadows and
sent eastward to the belated Fry for reinforcements. On the 30th, the
French prisoners were sent eastward to Virginia, and the construction
of a fort was begun at Great Meadows, by erecting “small palisades.”
This was completed by the following day, June 1st. Washington speaks
of this fort in his Journal as “Fort Necessity” under date of June
25th. The name suggests the exigencies which led to its erection; lack
of troops and provisions. On June 2nd Washington wrote in his Journal:
“We had prayers in the Fort”; the name Necessity may not have been
used at first. On the 6th Gist arrived from Will’s Creek bringing the
news of Colonel Fry’s death from injuries sustained by being thrown
from his horse. Thus the command now devolved upon Washington who had
been in actual command from the beginning. On the 9th the remainder of
the Virginia regiment arrived from Will’s Creek, with the swivels,
under Colonel Muse. On the day following Captain Mackaye arrived with
the independent company of South Carolinians.

This reinforcement put a new face on affairs, and it is clear that the
new Colonel commanding secretly hoped to capture Fort Duquesne
forthwith. The road was finished to Great Meadows. For two weeks, now,
the work went on completing it as far as Gist’s, on Mount Braddock. In
the meantime a sharp lookout for the French was maintained and spies
were continually sent toward Fort Duquesne. Among all else that taxed
the energies of the young Colonel was the Indian question. At one time
he received and answered a deputation of Delawares and Shawanese which
he knew was sent by the French. Yet the answer of this youth to the
“treacherous devils,” as he calls them in his private record of the
day, was as bland and diplomatic as that of Indian Chieftain bred to
hypocrisy and deceit. He put little faith in the redskins, but made
good use of those he had as spies. He also did all in his power to
restrain the vagrant tribes from joining the French, and offered to
all who came or would come to him a hospitality he could ill afford.

On the 28th the road was completed to Gist’s, and eight of the sixteen
miles from Gist’s to the mouth of Redstone Creek. On this day the
scouts brought word of reinforcements at Fort Duquesne and of
preparations for sending out an army. Immediately Washington summoned
Mackaye’s company from Fort Necessity, and the building of a fort was
begun by throwing up entrenchments on Mount Braddock. All outlying
squads were called in. But on the 30th, fresher information being at
hand, it was decided at a council of war to retreat to Virginia rather
than oppose the strong force which was reported to be advancing up the

The consternation at Fort Duquesne upon the arrival of that single,
barefoot fugitive from Jumonville’s company can be imagined. Relying
on the pompous pretenses of the embassadorship and desiring to avoid
an indefensible violation of the Treaty of Utrecht--though its spirit
and letter were “already infringed by his very presence on the
ground”--Contrecoeur (one of the best representatives of his proud
King that ever came to America) assembled a council of war and ordered
each opinion to be put in writing. Mercier gave moderate advice;
Coulon-Villiers, half-brother of Jumonville, burning with rage, urged
violent measures. Mercier prevailed, and an army of five hundred
French and as many, or more, Indians, among whom were many Delawares,
formerly friends of the English, was raised to march and
meet Washington. At his request, the command was given to
Coulon-Villiers--_Le Grande Villiers_, so called from his prowess
among the Indians. Mercier was second in command. This was the army
before which Washington was now slowly, painfully, retreating from
Mount Braddock toward Virginia.

It was a sad hour--that in which the Virginian retreat was ordered by
its daring Colonel, eager for a fight. But, even if he secretly
wished to stay and defend the splendid site on Mount Braddock where he
had entrenched his army, the counsel of older heads prevailed. It
would have been better had the army stuck to those breastworks--but
the suffering and humiliation to come was not foreseen.

Backward over the rough, new road, the little army plodded, the
Virginians hauling the swivels by hand. Two teams and a few
pack-horses were all that remained of horse-flesh equal to the
occasion. Even Washington and his officers walked. For a week there
had been no bread. In two days Fort Necessity was reached, where,
quite exhausted, the little army went into camp. There were only a few
bags of flour here. It was plain, now, that the retreat to Virginia
was ill-advised. Human strength was not equal to it. So there was
nothing to do but send post-haste to Will’s Creek for help. But, if
strength were lacking--there was courage and to spare! For after a
“full and free” conference of the officers it was determined to
enlarge the stockade, strengthen the fortifications, and await the
enemy, whatever his number or power.

The day following was spent in this work, and famed Fort Necessity was
completed. It was the shape of an irregular square situated upon a
small height of land near the center of the swampy meadow. “The
natural entrenchments” of which Washington speaks in his _Journal_ may
have been merely this height of ground, or old courses of the two
brooks which flow by it on the north and on the east. At any rate the
fort was built on an “island,” so to speak, in the wet lowland. A
narrow neck of solid land connected it with the southern hillside,
along which the road ran. A shallow ditch surrounded the earthen
palisaded sides of the fort. Parallel with the southeastern and
southwestern palisades rifle pits were dug. Bastion gateways offered
entrance and exit. The work embraced less than a sixth of an acre of
land. All day long skirmishers and double picket lines were kept out
and the steady advance of the French force, three times the size of
the army fearlessly awaiting it, was reported by hurrying scouts.

No army ever slept on its arms of a night surer of a battle on the
morrow than did this first English army that ever came into the west.
_Le Grande Villiers_, thirsting for revenge, lay not five miles off,
with a thousand followers who had caught his spirit.

By earliest morning light on Wednesday, July third, an English sentry
was brought in wounded. The French were then descending Laurel Hill,
four miles distant. They had attacked the entrenchments on Mount
Braddock the morning before only to find their bird had flown, and now
were pressing after the retreating redcoats and their “buckskin

Little is known of the story of this day within that earthen fort save
as it is told in the meagre details of the general battle. There was
great lack of food, but, to compensate for this, as the soldiers no
doubt thought, there was much to drink! By eleven o’clock the French
and Indians, spreading throughout the forests on the northwest, began
firing at six hundred yards distance. Finally they circled to the
southeast where the forests approach nearer to the English trenches.
Washington at once drew his little army out of the fort and boldly
challenged assault on that narrow neck of solid land on the south
which formed the only approach to the fort.

    [Illustration: Grape Shot found near Fort Necessity. Actual

But the crafty Villiers, not to be tempted, kept well within the
forest shadows to the south and east--cutting off all retreat to
Virginia! Realizing at last that the French would not give battle,
Washington withdrew again behind his entrenchments, Mackaye’s South
Carolinians occupying the rifle-pits which paralleled the two sides of
the fortification.

Here the all-day’s battle was fought between the Virginians behind
their breastworks and in their trenches, and the French and Indians on
the ascending wooded hill-sides. The rain which began to fall soon
flooded Mackaye’s men out of their trenches. No other change of
position was made. And, so far as the battle went, the English
doggedly held their own. In the contest with hunger and rain however,
they were fighting a losing battle. The horses and cattle escaped and
were slaughtered by the enemy. The provisions were being exhausted and
the ammunition was spending fast. As the afternoon waned, though there
was some cessation of musketry fire, many guns being rendered useless
by the rain, the smoking little swivels were made to do double duty.
They bellowed their fierce defiance with unwonted zest as night came
on, giving to the English an appearance of strength which they were
far from possessing. The hungry soldiers made up for the lack of food
from the abundance of liquor, which, in their exhausted state had more
than its usual effect. By nightfall half the little doomed army was
intoxicated. No doubt, had Villiers dared to rush the entrenchments,
the English would have been annihilated. The hopelessness of their
condition could not have been realized by the foe on the hills.

But it was realized by the young Colonel commanding. And as he looked
about him in the wet twilight of that July day, what a dismal ending
of his first campaign it must have seemed. Fifty-four of his three
hundred and four men were killed or wounded in that little palisaded
enclosure. Provisions and ammunition were about gone. Horses and
cattle were gone. Many of the small arms were useless. The army was
surrounded by _Le Grande Villiers_, watchfully abiding his time. And
there was comedy with the tragedy--half the tired men were under the
influence of the only stimulant that could be spared. What mercy could
be hoped for from the brother of the dead Jumonville? A fight to the
death, or at least a captivity at Fort Duquesne or Quebec was all that
could be expected--for had not Jumonville’s party already been sent
into Virginia as captives?

        at the
        Great Meadows
        July 3^d 1751
        DRAWING IN
        “WRITINGS OF

At eight in the evening the French requested a parley and Washington
refused to consider the suggestion. Why should a parley be desired
with an enemy in such a hopeless strait as they? It was clear that
Villiers had resorted to this strategy to gain better information of
their condition. But the request was soon repeated, and this time
Villiers asked for a parley between the lines. To this Washington
readily acceded, and Captain van Braam went to meet le Mercier, who
brought a verbal proposition for the capitulation of Fort Necessity
from Villiers. To this proposition Washington and his officers
listened. Twice the commissioners were sent to Villiers to submit
modifications demanded by Washington. They returned a third time
with the articles reduced to writing--but in French. Washington
depended upon van Braam’s poor knowledge of French and mongrel English
for a verbal translation. Jumonville’s death was referred to as an
assassination though van Braam Englished the word “death”--perhaps
thinking there was no other translation of the French _l’assassinat_.
By the light of a flickering candle, which the mountain wind
frequently extinguished, the rain falling upon the company, George
Washington signed this, his first and last capitulation.

     ARTICLE 1st. We permit the English Commander to withdraw with
     all the garrison, in order that he may return peaceably to his
     country, and to shield him from all insult at the hands of our
     French, and to restrain the savages who are with us as much as
     may be in our power.

     ART. 2nd. He shall be permitted to withdraw and to take with
     him whatever belongs to his troops, _except the artillery,
     which we reserve for ourselves_.

     ART. 3d. We grant them the honors of war; they shall withdraw
     with beating drums, and with a small piece of cannon, wishing
     by this means to show that we consider them friends.

     ART. 4th. As soon as these articles shall be signed by both
     parties, they shall take down the English flag.

     ART. 5th. Tomorrow at daybreak a detachment of French shall
     lead forth the garrison and take possession of the aforesaid

     ART. 6th. Since the English have scarcely any horses or oxen
     left, they shall be allowed to hide their property, in order
     that they may return to seek for it after they shall have
     recovered their horses; for this purpose they shall be
     permitted to leave such number of troops as guards as they may
     think proper, _under this condition, that they give their word
     of honor that they will work on no establishment either in the
     surrounding country or beyond the Highlands during one year
     beginning from this day_.

     ART. 7th. Since the English have in their power an officer and
     two cadets, and, in general, all the prisoners whom they took
     _when they murdered Lord Jumonville_, they now promise to send
     them, with an escort to Fort Duquesne, situated on Belle River;
     and to secure the safe performance of this treaty article, _as
     well as of the treaty_, Messrs. Jacob van Braam and Robert
     Stobo, both Captains, shall be delivered to us as hostages
     until the arrival of our French and Canadians herein before

     We on our part declare that we shall give an escort to send
     back in safety the two officers who promise us our French in
     two months and a half at the latest.

     Copied on one of the posts of our block-house the same day and
     year as before.


The parts printed in italics were those misrepresented by van Braam.
The words “_pendent une annee a compter de ce jour_” are not found in
the articles printed by the French government, as though it repudiated
Villier’s intimation that the English should ever return. Yet within a
year--lacking nine days--an English army, eight times as great as the
one now capitulating, marched across this battle-field. The nice
courtesy shown by the young Colonel in allowing Captain Mackaye’s name
to take precedence over his own, is significant, as Mackaye, a King’s
officer, had never considered himself amenable to Washington’s orders,
and his troops had steadily refused to bear the brunt of the
campaign--working on the road or transporting guns and baggage. In the
trenches, however, the Carolinians did their duty.

And so, on the morning of July 4th, the red-uniformed Virginians and
the King’s troops marched out from Fort Necessity between the files of
French, with all the honors of war and _tambour battant_. Much baggage
had to be destroyed to save it from the Indians whom the French could
not restrain. Such was the condition of the men--the wounded being
carried on stretchers--that only three miles could be made on the
homeward march the first day. However glorious later July Fourths may
have seemed to Washington, memories of this distress and gloom and
humiliation served to temper his transports. The report of the
officers of the Virginia regiment made at Will’s Creek, where they
arrived July 9th, shows thirteen killed, fifty-three wounded, thirteen
left lame on the road, twenty-one sick, and one hundred sixty-five fit
for duty.

On August 30th, the Virginian House of Burgesses passed a vote of
thanks to “Colonel George Washington, Captain Mackaye of his Majesty’s
Independent Company, and the officers under his command,” for their
“gallant and brave Behavior in Defence of their Country.” The sting of
defeat was softened by a public realization of the odds of the contest
and the failure of Dinwiddie to forward reinforcements and supplies.

But the young hero was deeply chagrined at his being duped to
recognize Jumonville’s death as an assassination. Captain van Braam,
being held in disrepute for what was probably nothing more culpable
than carelessness, was not named in the vote of thanks tendered
Washington’s officers. But this chagrin was no more cutting than the
obstinacy of Dinwiddie in refusing to fulfil the article of the treaty
concerning the return of the French prisoners. For this there was
little or no valid excuse, and Dinwiddie’s action in thus playing fast
and loose with Washington’s reputation was as galling to the young
Colonel as it was heedless of his country’s honor and the laws of war.

Washington’s first visit to the Ohio had proven French occupation of
that great valley. This, his second mission, had proven their power.
With this campaign began his military career. “Although as yet a
youth,” writes Sparks, “with small experience, unskilled in war, and
relying on his own resources, he had behaved with the prudence,
address, courage, and firmness of a veteran commander. Rigid in
discipline, but sharing the hardships and solicitous for the welfare
of his soldiers, he had secured their obedience and won their esteem
amidst privations, sufferings and perils that have seldom been



On a plateau surrounded by low ground at the western extremity of
classic Great Meadows, Fort Necessity was built, and there may be seen
today the remains of its palisades.

The site was not chosen because of its strategic location but because,
late in that May day, a century and a half ago, a little army hurrying
forward to find any spot where it could defend itself, selected it
because of the supply of water afforded by the brooks.

From the hill to the east the young Commander no doubt looked with
anxious eyes upon this well watered meadow, and perhaps he decided
quickly to make his resistance here. As he neared the spot his hopes
rose, for he found that the plateau was surrounded by wet ground and
able to be approached only from the southern side. Moreover the
plateau contained “natural fortifications,” as Washington termed them,
possibly gullies torn through it sometime when the brooks were out of

Here Washington quickly ensconced his men. From their trenches, as
they looked westward for the French, lay the western extremity of
Great Meadows covered with bushes and rank grasses. To their
right--the north--the meadow marsh stretched more than a hundred
yards to the gently ascending wooded hillside. Behind them lay the
eastern sweep of meadows, and to their left, seventy yards distant,
the wooded hillside to the south. The high ground on which they lay
contained about forty square rods, and was bounded on the north by
Great Meadows brook and on the east by a brooklet which descended from
the valley between the southern hills.

When, in the days following, Fort Necessity was raised, the palisades,
it is said, were made by erecting logs on one end, side by side, and
throwing dirt against them from both sides. As there were no trees in
the meadow, the logs were brought from the southern hillside over the
narrow neck of solid ground to their place. On the north the palisade
was made to touch the waters of the brook. Without its embankments on
the south and west sides, two trenches were dug parallel with the
embankments, to serve as rifle-pits. Bastion gateways, three in
number, were made in the western palisade.

The first recorded survey of Fort Necessity was made by Mr. Freeman
Lewis, senior author, with Mr. James Veech, of “The Monongahela of
Old,” in 1816. This survey was first reproduced in Lowdermilk’s
“History of Cumberland”; it is described by Mr. Veech in “The
Monongahela of Old,” and has been reproduced, as authoritative, by the
authors of “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania” published in 1895 by the
State of Pennsylvania. The embankments are described thus by Mr. Veech
on the basis of his collaborator’s survey: “It (Fort Necessity) was in
the form of an obtuse-angled triangle of 105 degrees, having its base
or hypothenuse upon the run. The line of the base was about midway,
sected or broken, and about two perches of it thrown across the run,
connecting with the base by lines of the triangle. One line of the
angle was six, the other seven perches; the base line eleven perches
long, including the section thrown across the run. The lines embraced
in all about fifty square perches of land on (or?) nearly one third of
an acre.”

This amusing statement has been seriously quoted by the authorities
mentioned, and a map is made according to it and published in the
“Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania” without a word as to its
inconsistencies! How could a triangle, the sides of which measure six,
seven and eleven rods, contain fifty square rods or one third of an
acre? It could not contain half that amount.

The present writer went to Fort Necessity armed with this two page map
of Fort Necessity in the “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania” which he
trusted as authoritative. The present owner of the land, Mr. Lewis
Fazenbaker objected to the map, and it was only in trying to prove its
correctness that its inconsistencies were discovered.

The mounds now standing on the ground are drawn on the appended chart
“Diagrams of Fort Necessity” as lines C A B E. By a careful survey of
them by Mr. Robert McCracken C. E., sides C A and A B are found to be
the identical mounds surveyed by Mr. Lewis, the variation in direction
being exceedingly slight and easily accounted for by erosion. The
direction of Mr. Lewis’ sides were N 25 W and S 80 W: their direction
by Mr. McCracken’s survey are N 22 W and S 80.30 W. This proves beyond
a shadow of a doubt that the embankments surveyed in 1816 and 1901
are identical.

But the third mound B E runs utterly at variance with Mr. Lewis’
figure. By him its direction was 59¼ E; its present direction is S
76 E. The question then arises; Is this mound the one that Mr. Lewis
surveyed? Nothing could be better evidence that it is than the very
egregious error Mr. Lewis made concerning the area contained within
his triangular embankment. He affirms that the area of Fort Necessity
was fifty square rods. Now take the line of B E for the hypothenuse of
the triangle and extend it to F where it would meet the projection of
side A C. _That triangle contains almost exactly 50 square rods or
one-third of an acre!_ The natural supposition must be that some one
had surveyed the triangle A F B and computed its area correctly as
about fifty square rods. The mere recording of this area is sufficient
evidence that the triangle A F B had been surveyed in 1816, and this
is sufficient proof that mound B E stood just as it stands today and
was considered in Mr. Lewis’ day as one of the embankments of Fort


Now, why did Mr. Lewis ignore the embankment B E and the triangle A F
B which contained these fifty square rods he gave as the area of Fort
Necessity? For the very obvious reason that that triangle crossed the
brook and ran far into the marsh beyond. By every account the
palisades of Fort Necessity were made to extend on the north to touch
the brook, therefore it would be quite ridiculous to suppose the
palisades crossed the brook again on the east. Mr. Lewis, prepossessed
with the idea that the embankments must have been triangular in shape,
drew the line B C as the base of his triangle, bisecting it at M
and N, and making the loop M S N touch the brook. This design
(triangle A B C) of Fort Necessity is improbable for the following

1. It has not one half the area Mr. Lewis gives it.

2. It would not include much more than one-half of the high ground of
the plateau, which was none too large for a fort.

3. There is no semblance of a mound B C nor any shred of testimony nor
any legend of its existence.

4. The mound B E is entirely ignored though there is the best of
evidence that it stood in Mr. Lewis’ day where it stands today and was
considered an embankment of Fort Necessity. Mr. Lewis gives exactly
the area of a triangle with it as a part of the base line.

5. Loop M S N would not come near the course of the brook without
extending it far beyond Mr. Lewis’ estimate of the length of its

6. Its area is only about 5200 square feet which would make Fort
Necessity unconscionably small in face of the fact that more high
ground was available.

In 1759 Colonel Burd visited the site of Fort Necessity. This was only
five years after it was built. He described its remains as circular in
shape. If it was originally a triangle it is improbable that it could
have appeared round five years later. If, however, it was originally
an irregular square it is not improbable that the rains and frosts of
five winters, combined with the demolition of the Fort by the French,
would have given the mounds a circular appearance. Was Fort Necessity,
then, built in the form of an irregular square? There is the best of
evidence that it was.

In 1830--fourteen years after Mr. Lewis’ “survey,”--Mr. Jared Sparks,
a careful historian and author of the standard work on Washington,
visited Fort Necessity. According to him its remains occupied “an
irregular square, the dimensions of which were about one hundred feet
on each side.” Mr. Sparks drew a map of the embankments which is
incorporated in his “Writings of Washington.” This drawing has not
been reproduced in any later work, the authors of both “History of
Cumberland” and “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania” preferring to
reproduce Mr. Lewis’ inconsistent survey and speculation rather than
the drawing of what Mr. Sparks, himself, saw.

It is plain that Mr. Sparks found the embankment B E running in the
direction it does today and not at all in direction of the line B C as
Mr. Lewis drew it. By giving the approximate length of the sides as
one hundred feet, Mr. Sparks gives about the exact length of the line
B E in whatever direction it is extended to the brook. The fact that
such an exact scholar as Mr. Sparks does not mention a sign or
tradition of an embankment at B C, only fourteen years after Mr. Lewis
“surveyed” it, is evidence that it never existed which cannot come far
from convicting the latter of a positive intention to speculate.

Mr. Sparks gives us four sides for Fort Necessity. Three of these have
been described as C A, A B and the broken line B E D. Is there any
evidence of the fourth side such as indicated by the line C D? There

When Mr. Fazenbaker first questioned the accuracy of the map of Fort
Necessity in “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania,” he believed the fort
was a four sided construction and pointed to a small mound,
indicated at O, as the remains of the fourth embankment. The mound
would not be noticed in a hasty view of the field but, on examination
proves to be an artificial, not a natural, mound. It is in lower
ground and nearer the old course of the brook than the remains of Fort
Necessity. A mound here would suffer most when the brook was out of
banks, which would account for its disappearance.

    [Illustration: Western embankment of Fort Necessity marked with
    a line of white stones.]

    [Illustration: Remains of the Southern embankment of Fort
    Necessity. The low ground covered with rank grass, on the right,
    marks the rifle-pit. In the distance is the Eastern sweep of
    Great Meadows.]

Excavations in the other mounds had been unsuccessful; nothing had
been discovered of the palisades, though every mound gave certain
proof of having been artificially made. But excavations at mound O
gave a different result. At about four and one-half feet below the
surface of the ground, at the water line, a considerable amount of
bark was found, fresh and red as new bark. It was water-soaked and the
strings lay parallel with the mound above and were not found at a
greater distance than two feet from its center. It was the rough bark
of a tree’s trunk--not the skin bark such as grows on roots. Large
flakes, the size of a man’s hand, could be removed from it. At a
distance of ten feet away a second trench was sunk, in line with the
mound but quite beyond its northwestern extremity. Bark was found here
entirely similar in color, position, and condition. There is little
doubt that the bark came from the logs of the palisades of Fort
Necessity, though nothing is to be gained by exaggerating the
possibility. Bark, here in the low ground, would last indefinitely,
and water was reached under this mound sooner than at any other point.
No wood was found. It is probable that the French threw down the
palisades, but bark would naturally have been left in the ground. If
wood had been left it would not withstand decay so long as bark.
Competent judges declare the bark to be that of oak. An authority of
great reputation, expresses the opinion that the bark found was
probably from the logs of the palisades erected in 1754.

If anything is needed to prove that this slight mound O was an
embankment of Fort Necessity, it is to be found in the result of Mr.
McCracken’s survey. The mound lies in _exact line_ with the eastern
extremity of embankment C A, the point C, being located seven rods
from the obtuse angle A, in line with the mound C A, which is broken
by Mr. Fazenbaker’s lane. Also, the distance from C to D (in line with
the mound O) measures ninety-nine feet and four inches,--almost
exactly Mr. Sparks’ estimate of one hundred feet. Thus Fort Necessity
was in the shape of the figure represented by lines K C, C A, A B, and
B E, and the projection of the palisades to the brook is represented
by E D K, E H K, or L W K, (line B E being prolonged to L.) Mr.
Sparks’ drawing of the fort is thus proven approximately correct,
although Mr. Veech boldly asserts that it is “inaccurate,” (the
quotation being copied in the “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania”) and
despite the fact that two volumes treating of the fort, “History of
Cumberland,” and “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania,” refuse to give Mr.
Sparks’ map a place in their pages. It is of little practical moment
what the form of the fort may have been, but it is all out of order
that a palpably false description should be given by those who should
be authorities, in preference to Mr. Sparks’ description which is
easily proven to be approximately correct.

    [Illustration: Lewis’ plan of Fort Necessity: A, B, N, S, M, C.
    Enlarged triangle (containing “⅓ of an acre”): A, B, F. Sparks
    plan: A, B, L, W, K, C. Remains of Eastern embankment: O.
    Variation of Lewis’ triangle (given in “Fort Cumberland”): A, B,
    N, R, P, M, C. Actual shape of Fort Necessity according to last
    survey: K, C, A, B, E; the projection to the water may have been
    E, D, K, or E, H, K, or L, W, K. This detail is immaterial. The
    irregular square A, B, K, C, gives the general outline of the
    fortifications, CA, (save where the lane crosses it) AB, BE and
    O being still visible in 1901.]

Relics from Fort Necessity are rare and valuable, for the reason that
no other action save the one Battle of Fort Necessity ever took place
here. The barrel of an old flint-lock musket, a few grape shot, a
bullet mould and ladle, leaden and iron musket balls, comprise the few
silent memorials of the first battle in which Saxon blood was shed
west of the Allegheny Mountains. The swivels, it is said, were taken
to Kentucky to do brave duty there in redeeming the “dark and bloody
ground” to civilization.

       *       *       *       *       *

But, after all--and more precious than all--our study of this historic
spot in the Alleghenies and the memorials left near it becomes, soon,
a study of its hero, that young Virginian Colonel. Even the battles
fought hereabouts seem to have been of little real consequence, for
New France fell, never to rise, with the capture of Quebec--“amid the
proudest monuments of its own glory and on the very spot of its

And it is not of little consequence that there was here a brave
training school for the future heroes of the Revolution. For in what
did Colonel Washington need training more than in the art of
manoeuvring a handful of ill-equipped, discouraged men? What lesson
did that youth need more than the lesson that Right becomes Might in
God’s own good time? And here in these Allegheny glades we catch the
most precious pictures of the lithe, keen-eyed, sober lad, who, taking
his lessons of truth and uprightness from his widowed mother’s knee,
his strength hardened by the power of the mountain rivers, his heart,
now thrilled by the songs of the mountain birds, now tempered by a St.
Piere’s hauteur, a Braddock’s blind insolence, or the prejudiced
over-rulings of a Forbes, became the hero of Valley Forge and
Yorktown, the immeasurable superior of Piere, Braddock, Forbes,
Kaunitz or Newcastle.

For consider the record of that older Washington of 1775 beneath the
Cambridge elm. He had capitulated at Fort Necessity, with the first
army he ever commanded, after the first battle he ever fought! He had
marched with Braddock’s ill-starred army, in which he had no official
position whatever until defeat and rout threw upon his shoulders a
large share of the responsibility of saving the army from complete
annihilation. He had marched with Forbes, only to write his Governor
begging to be allowed to go to England to tell the King the sad story
of the campaign--of “how grossly his glory and interest and the public
money, have been prostituted.” For the past sixteen years he had led a
quiet life on his farms.

Why, now, in 1775, should he have had the unstinted confidence of all
men, in the hour of his country’s great crisis? Why should his journey
from Mt. Vernon to Cambridge have been a triumphal march? Professor
McMaster asserts that the General and the President are known to us,
“but George Washington is an unknown.” How untrue this was in 1775!
How the nation believed it knew the man! How much of reputation he had
gained while those by his side lost all of theirs! What a hero--of
many defeats! What a man to fight England to a standstill, after many
a wary, difficult retreat and dearly fought battle-field! Aye--but he
had been to school with Gates and Mercer, Lewis and Stephen and
Gladewin, on that swath of a road in the Alleghenies which led to Fort

Half a century ago multitudes were pointed to the man Washington in
the superb oratory of Edward Everett. But how, if not by quoting that
memorable extract from the letter of the _youthful surveyor_, who
boasted of earning an honest dubloon a day? Thus, the orator declared,
he presented to his audience “not an ideal hero, wrapped in cloudy
generalities and a mist of vague panegyric, but the real, identical
man.” And, again, did he not quote that pathetic letter from the
_youth_ Washington to Governor Dinwiddie from the bleeding Virginia
border, after Braddock’s defeat, that his hearers might “see it
all--see the whole man.”? Was Edward Everett mistaken, are these
letters not extant today, or are they unread? Surely the latter
supposition must be the true one if the man Washington is being

A candid review of the more popular school histories will bring out
the fact that the man Washington is almost forgotten, in so far as the
General and statesman do not portray him. In one of the best known
school histories there seems to be but one line, of five words, which
describes the character of Washington. Could we not forego, for once,
what the Indian chieftain said of his bearing a charmed life at
Braddock’s defeat, to make room for one little reason why Washington
was “completer in nature” and of “a nobler human type” than any and
all of the heroes of romance?

Mr. Otis Kendall Stuart has written a most interesting account of “The
Popular Opinion of Washington” as ascertained by inquiry among persons
of all ages, occupations and conditions. He found that Washington was
held to be a “broad,” “brave,” “thinking,” “practical,” man; an
aristocrat, so far as the dignity of his position demanded, but
willing to “work with his hands” and with a credit that was “A 1!”
Also, “when he did a thing, he did it,” and, if to the question, “Was
he a great general and statesman?” there was some hesitation, to the
question, “Was he a great man?” the answer was an unhesitating, “Yes.”

One may hold that such opinions as these have been gained from our
school histories, but I think they are not so much from the histories,
as from the popular legends of Washington, which, true and false, will
never be forgotten by the common people, until they cease to
represent,--not the patient, brave and wary general, or the calm,
far-seeing statesman, but the man--“simple, stainless, and robust
character,” as President Eliot has so beautifully described it, “which
served with dazzling success the precious cause of human progress
through liberty, and so stands, like the sunlit peak of Matterhorn,
unmatched in all the world.”

The real essence of that “simple, stainless, and robust character” is
nowhere so clearly seen as in these Allegheny vales where Colonel
Washington first touched hands with fortune. Here truly, we may still
“see it all--see the whole man.”

                                THE END.

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