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Title: The Early Life of Washington - Designed for the Instruction and Amusement of the Young
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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                              EARLY LIFE

                           DESIGNED FOR THE
                       INSTRUCTION AND AMUSEMENT
                              THE YOUNG.

                         By a Friend of Youth.

                      KNOWLES, VOSE AND COMPANY.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by Knowles,
Vose & Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the
District of Rhode-Island.



Washington’s birth――his ancestors――the first school he attended――family
anecdotes――death of his father.


Family anecdote――George lives with his half-brother Augustine about
three years, and attends Mr. Williams’s school――his manuscript book of
forms――his rules of behavior.


Came very near entering the British Navy at the age of fourteen――attends
school at Fredericksburg――becomes a practical surveyor at the age of
sixteen――the Indian war dance――continues surveying three years――is
appointed Adjutant General of the Militia, with the rank of Major, at
the age of nineteen――accompanies his half-brother Lawrence to
Barbadoes――Lawrence dies and leaves George the Mount Vernon estate.


Washington’s mission from the Governor of Virginia to the French
commandant, at the age of twenty-one――narrowly escapes being killed by
an Indian――came near being drowned in the Allegany river――visits Queen


Major Washington, at the age of twenty-two, is appointed to command the
regular Virginia forces, consisting of two companies――being increased
to six companies, he is raised to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and
made second in command――his modesty――the fort, just begun at the fork
of the Ohio, surrenders to the French――Washington attacks and defeats a
party of French.


Battle of the Great Meadows――vote of thanks to Colonel Washington and
his officers――disapproving of the arrangement of the Virginia troops,
he retires from the service.


Is invited by General Braddock to join his expedition as a
volunteer――accepts the invitation――Battle of Monongahela――Washington
conducts the retreat with ability, and retains the confidence of the


Anecdote――Washington is appointed to command the Virginia forces――his
visit to Boston――commands the advance division at the taking of Fort
Du Quesne――resigns his military commission――marries――devotes himself
chiefly to agricultural pursuits till called to take command of the
American armies in the war of Independence.


The following is a narrative of him, who has been justly styled “The
Father of his Country.” It comprises the first twenty-seven years of
his life. Though this is the least brilliant portion of Washington’s
life, it is a _valuable_ portion of it; because it exhibits those
traits of character which laid the foundation of his future greatness,
and are worthy the attention and imitation of youth.

The author, in remarking that he has drawn his information from the
most authentic sources, acknowledges his obligations to the works of
Weems, Ramsay, Marshall, and M’Guire, and especially to the valuable
notes and observations of Sparks.



Washington’s birth――his ancestors――the first school he attended――family
anecdotes――death of his father.

George Washington was born in Virginia, on the 22d of February, 1732.
The particular place of his birth was Pope’s Creek, Washington parish,
in the county of Westmoreland. The name of his great grandfather was
John Washington, who came from the north of England and settled on
Pope’s Creek, in Virginia, in the year 1655. He afterwards married
Miss Pope, the daughter of the gentleman from whom the Creek took its
name. John Washington is believed to have been a military man in early
life. His will, now at Mount Vernon, is endorsed thus: “The will of
Lieutenant Colonel Washington.” This will contains a small bequest to
the church, and affords evidence that he was a pious man. As the parish
in which he lived has always borne his name, he was probably very
instrumental in establishing it.

John Washington had three children, Lawrence, John and Ann. Lawrence
Washington, the oldest son and the grandfather of George, inherited the
Pope’s Creek farm.――Augustin Washington, the son of Lawrence and the
father of George, was born in the year 1694. He was probably the eldest
son of Lawrence, as he inherited the patrimonial estate at Pope’s Creek.

Augustin Washington was married twice. His first wife was Jane Butler,
by whom he had four children, viz. Butler, Lawrence, Augustin, jun. and
Jane. Butler and Jane died young. Lawrence and Augustin lived to be
men. The second wife was Mary Ball, a young lady of highly respectable
family in the northern part of Virginia.――George was the first fruit of
this union. He was the oldest of six children, viz. George, Elizabeth,
Samuel, John Augustin, Charles and Mildred. Mildred died very
young.――George was baptized April the 5th, 1732.

The church of England was then almost the only denomination of
Christians in the colony of Virginia. The parents of George Washington
were members of this church, and brought up their family in the habit
of regular attendance on public worship.

The first school that George attended, was kept by Mr. Hobby, an
elderly man, who was both the school master and the sexton of the
parish. By this old man, the father of his country was first taught to
read. Although George’s father sent him to this school, he took upon
himself the oversight of his education, and the pleasing duty of early
instilling into his mind the principles of piety and virtue. His manner
of doing this appears by the following anecdotes, which were related to
the Rector of Mount Vernon Parish, by a venerable lady now deceased,
who, as a friend and relative, spent many of her youthful days in the

One fine morning in the autumn of 1737, Mr. Washington, having George,
then five years old, by the hand, came to the door and invited cousin
Washington and myself to walk with them to the orchard, promising to
show us a fine sight. On arriving at the orchard, we were presented
with a fine sight indeed. The ground, as far as we could see, was
covered with mellow apples, and yet the trees were bending under the
weight of their fruit. “George,” said his father, “don’t you remember,
my son, when this good cousin of yours brought you that fine large
apple, last spring, that I could hardly prevail upon you to divide
it with your brothers and sisters? And don’t you remember I then told
you we ought to be generous to each other because the Almighty is so
bountiful to us?” Poor George could not say a word, but hanging down
his head, looked quite confused. “Now look around, my son,” continued
his father, “and see how kindly the Almighty has treated us, and learn
from this how we ought to treat our fellow creatures.” George looked a
while in silence on the abundance of fruit before him, then lifting his
eyes to his father, he said, with emotion, “Well, father, only forgive
me this time, and see if I am ever so stingy any more.”

Mr. Augustine Washington took great pains early to inspire his son
George with the love of truth. The following anecdote shows that his
endeavors were not without success.

When George was about six years old, he became the owner of a hatchet,
with which, like most other little boys, he was very much delighted.
He went about chopping every thing that came in his way. One day, in
the garden, he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet upon the body
of a beautiful young English cherry tree, which he cut so badly that
the tree never recovered from the injury. The next morning his father
seeing what had befallen the tree, which, by the by, was a great
favorite with him, came into the house, and with much warmth, asked
who had done the mischief, declaring at the same time, that he would
not have taken five guineas for the tree.――Nobody could tell him any
thing about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance.
“George,” said his father, “do you know who cut that beautiful cherry
tree yonder in the garden?” George was taken by surprise. He hesitated
for a moment; but he soon recovered himself.――Looking at his father,
he said, “I will not tell a lie, father, I cut it with my hatchet.”
The delighted father, embracing his child, said, “No matter about the
tree, George; you have frankly told me the truth. Though you saw I
was offended, you were not afraid to do right. The pleasure I enjoy
to witness this noble conduct in my son is of more value to me than a
thousand such trees.”

Mr. Washington took the following method to impress upon his son the
existence and wisdom of God from the evidence of design in his works.

On a bed in the garden, well prepared for the purpose, he traced with
a stick the letters of his son’s name. He then very carefully sowed
seed in the small furrows made by the stick, covered it over and
smoothed the ground nicely with a roller. In a few days the seed came
up, and exhibited in large letters, the words GEORGE WASHINGTON.――They
soon caught the eye for which they were intended. Again and again the
astonished boy read his name, springing up from the earth, fresh and
green. He ran to his father and exclaimed, “O father! come here! come
with me and I will show you such a sight as you never saw in all your
life.” Eagerly seizing his father’s hand, he tugged him along through
the garden to the spot. “Look there, father,” said he, “did you ever
see such a sight before?” “It is a curious affair, indeed, George.”
“But, father, who made my name there?” “It grew there, my son.” “I
know it grew there, but who made the letters so as to spell my name?”
“Did they not grow so by chance, my son?” “O no, sir, they never grew
so by chance.” “Why not, my son?” “Nobody,” said George, “ever saw a
single letter grow up by chance; and how could a whole name grow up so
even and be spelled so exactly right by chance? Somebody planted it
so.” “That is true, George. I planted it so,” said Mr. Washington, and
showed him how he did it. “Now, George, if letters could not grow so as
to spell your name by chance, how could the world and all the things
and creatures in it be made so exactly suited to each other and to some
useful purpose, by chance?”

Thus happily and profitably to young Washington passed the days of
his earliest years. Mr. Washington’s family government was steady and
reasonable; his treatment of his children was kind and affectionate.
George was an intelligent boy and a dutiful son. Never were parent and
child more strongly attached. But, in the providence of God, only a few
years more were to be allowed them for the enjoyment of each other’s
society, on earth.

About the year 1739, when George was about seven years old, his father
removed from his estate on Pope’s Creek to a farm which he owned in
Stafford county, on the Rappahannock river, directly opposite to

Lawrence Washington, the elder of George’s two half-brothers, became
of age in 1739, and soon afterwards received a Captain’s commission
in a regiment raised in America, and served with the British forces
in the unsuccessful siege of Carthagena, conducted by Admiral Vernon
and General Wentworth. Having been absent in the army about two years,
Captain Washington returned to Virginia. A few months after his return,
his father was taken ill.――George was then on a visit to some of
his acquaintances, living in Chotanct, in King George county, about
twenty miles from his father’s residence. Mr. Washington was at first
unwilling to interrupt George in the enjoyment of his visit; but after
his sickness became alarming, George was sent for, and reached home but
just in time to receive the parting blessing of his beloved father. He
died on the 12th of April, 1743, at the age of forty-nine years. George
was then eleven years old.


Family anecdote――George lives with his half-brother Augustine about
three years, and attends Mr. Williams’s school――his manuscript book of
forms――his rules of behavior.

About this time, Captain Lawrence Washington married Ann, the daughter
of Mr. William Fairfax, a relation of Lord Thomas Fairfax.

Mr. Augustine Washington left his estate on the river Potomac, in
Fairfax county, to his eldest son, Lawrence, who called it Mount
Vernon, in honor of Admiral Vernon. He left his estate at Pope’s
Creek to his second son, Augustine. Mrs. Augustine Washington and her
family continued to reside on the farm near Fredericksburg.――Upon her
now devolved the care of the plantation. Her first born son, George,
continued to live with her some months after his father’s death.
During this period, a circumstance happened which shows that George,
though a good boy on the whole, was not wholly exempt from youthful
rashness. His mother owned a beautiful colt, which, never having been
broken, was remarkably wild. George delighted to look at this colt
as he pranced about the pasture, snuffing up the wind, wheeling and
halting and displaying his fine proportions. He often wished himself
upon the colt’s back. One day he engaged some of his school companions
to come early the next morning and help him to take a ride before
breakfast.――They came, and found the colt at no great distance from
the house. After a great deal of difficulty they contrived to corner
him and put a bridle upon him. Several boys held the bridle while
George leaped upon his back. A violent struggle followed.――The horse
seemed determined to shake off his rider, and his rider seemed equally
determined to keep his seat. At length the noble animal, in the fury
of his plunges, fell headlong and burst a blood vessel. This killed
him instantly. George received no injury by the fall; but when he saw
the poor creature lie dead, and considered his mother’s attachment
to the animal, he began to look very serious. The call to breakfast
was soon heard. Some of George’s companions had been invited to take
breakfast with him that morning. The boys were all remarkably silent at
the table. Whether Mrs. Washington had any suspicions that all was not
right, is uncertain. But she inquired if they had seen any thing of her
fine sorrel colt, in their rambles. Neither of the boys replied to this
question. She repeated it. There was now no escape.――George’s character
for truth and frankness had been tried when he was much younger. It
did not then fail; it must not now fail. “Your sorrel colt is dead,
mother,” replied George. “Dead, George!” exclaimed Mrs. Washington,
with surprise. “Yes, he is dead.” “How came he dead, George?”――“I
will tell you, mother. I am the one in fault.” He then related all the
circumstances just as they happened. “I very much regret the loss of my
colt,” said Mrs. Washington; “but I rejoice to hear my son frankly tell
the truth, without showing any disposition to cast his own faults upon

Soon after this occurrence, George was sent to Pope’s Creek, the place
of his nativity, to live with his half-brother Augustine. The chief
object of sending him there was that he might have the benefit of a
respectable school in the neighborhood, kept by a Mr. Williams. He
remained with his half-brother and attended that school about three
years. An old gentleman, who was one of Mr. Williams’s scholars at
that time, has often said that such was George’s reputation for truth,
impartiality and good judgment among his schoolmates, that they were
continually referring their disputes to him, and so great was their
confidence in him, that his decisions were seldom called in question.
He said nothing was more common, when the boys were in high dispute
about some question of fact, than for one of them to call out, “Well,
boys, George Washington was there! George Washington was there! He
knows all about it; and if he don’t say it was so, why then we will
give it up.”

Though George Washington was naturally of a resolute and martial
spirit, he was habitually gentle and obliging in his conduct. He never
quarrelled with his companions; and he would always endeavor to settle
their quarrels with each other. If he could not calm their passions and
prevent their fighting by his arguments, he would inform the instructor
of their barbarous intentions; though by doing so he often brought upon
himself their censure at the time.

At Mr. Williams’s school, George was taught Arithmetic, English
Grammar, Book Keeping, Surveying and Geography.[1] He wrote his school
exercises in arithmetic and geometry in a remarkably neat, fair hand.
The number and accuracy of his geometrical figures, shows the strong
bent of his inclination to mathematical studies. When he was thirteen
years old, he began a manuscript book, which he entitled “_Forms of
Writing_.” In it he copied out with great care and exactness, forms of
different kinds used in the transaction of business, such as a note of
hand, a bill of exchange, a bond, an indenture, a lease, a will. Then
follow two or three select pieces of poetry. Among them are “Lines on
True Happiness.”――Then follow a collection of a hundred and ten maxims,
written out and numbered.――These he entitles “_Rules of civility and
proper behavior in company and conversation_.” He does not mention
from what source he derived these rules. They seem well calculated to
improve the manners and morals of a young person, and no doubt had a
favorable influence in forming the future deportment and character of
Washington. The following is a selection from these rules.

    [1] Weems.

1. Every action in company ought to be respectful to those present.

2. In the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming noise,
nor drum with your fingers or feet.

3. Sit not while others are standing; speak not when you should hold
your peace; walk not on when others stop.

4. Turn not your back to others, especially in speaking; jog not the
table or desk on which another is reading or writing; lean not on any

5. Be no flatterer.

6. Read no letters, books or papers in company, unless there is
necessity for doing it, and then ask leave. Come not near the books or
writings of any one, so as to read them, unless desired; nor give your
opinion of them unasked: also look not nigh when another is writing a

7. Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat

8. Show not yourself glad at the misfortunes of another, though he were
your enemy.

9. When you meet a superior at a door or in a narrow passage, give way
for him to pass.

10. They that are in dignity, or in office, have in all places the

11. It is good manners to prefer those to whom we speak before
ourselves; especially if they be above us, with whom we ought not to

12. Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.

13. When visiting the sick, do not be too ready to play the physician.

14. In writing or speaking, give to every person his due title,
according to his degree and the custom of the place.

15. Undertake not to teach another in the art which he professes: it
savors of arrogancy.

16. When a person does all he can, do not blame him, though he does not

17. Being about to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it
ought to be done in public or in private, presently or at some other
time, in what terms to do it; and in reproving, show no signs of
choler, but do it with mildness.

18. Mock not, nor jest at any thing serious.

19. Wherein you reprove another, be unblamable yourself; for example is
more prevalent than precept.

20. Use no reproachful language against any one, neither curse, nor

21. Be not hasty to believe reports to the disadvantage of others.

22. In your apparel be modest, and endeavor to accommodate nature
rather than to procure admiration; keep to the fashions of your equals:
such as are civil and orderly with respect to times and places.

23. Play not the peacock, looking every where about your person to see
if you be well decked, and if your clothes set handsomely.

24. Associate with persons of good character, if you have a regard for
your own; for it is better to be alone, than in bad company.

25. Let your conversation be without malice or envy; and in all cases
of passion, admit reason to govern.

26. Be not immodest in urging your friend to discover a secret.

27. Utter not base or frivolous things among grave or learned men; nor
introduce deep subjects or difficult questions among the ignorant; nor
things hard to be believed.

28. Jest not where none takes pleasure in mirth; laugh not loud, nor at
all, without occasion. Deride no man’s misfortune.

29. Speak not injurious words, neither in jest nor in earnest; scoff at
none, though they give occasion.

30. Be not forward, but friendly and courteous; the first to salute,
hear and answer.

31. Detract not from others; neither be excessive in commending.

32. Give not advice without being asked.

33. Reprehend not the imperfections of others; for that belongs to
parents, masters and superiors.

34. Gaze not at the marks, or personal blemishes of others; nor ask how
they came.

35. Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out
your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.

36. When another speaks, be attentive and disturb not the audience. If
a person hesitate in his words, do not in general help him out, nor
prompt him without being desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him,
till he has done speaking.

37. Treat with men about business only at fit times. Whisper not in

38. Make no injurious comparisons; and if any of the company be
commended for a brave or virtuous action, commend not another
immediately upon it for a similar action.

39. Be not apt to relate news if you know not the truth of it. In
conversing of what you have heard, do not always name your author.
Discover not a secret.

40. Be not curious to know the affairs of others; neither approach
those who are speaking in private.

41. Undertake not what you cannot perform; but be careful to keep your

42. Be not tedious in discourse; make not many digressions, nor repeat
the same thing often.

43. Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

44. Eat not with greediness; lean not on the table.

45. Set not yourself at the upper end of the table; but if the master
of the house will have it so, contend not, lest you trouble the company.

46. When you speak of God, or his attributes, let it be seriously and
with reverence. Honor and obey your natural parents.

47. Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.

48. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial
fire called conscience.


Came very near entering the British Navy at the age of fourteen――attends
school at Fredericksburg――becomes a practical surveyor at the age of
sixteen――the Indian war dance――continues surveying three years――is
appointed Adjutant General of the Militia, with the rank of Major, at
the age of nineteen――accompanies his half-brother Lawrence to
Barbadoes――Lawrence dies and leaves George the Mount Vernon estate.

While George lived with his half-brother Augustine at Pope’s Creek,
he was taught the manual exercise by Adjutant Muse, a Westmoreland
volunteer, who had been in the service with his other half-brother,
Lawrence. He was also instructed in the art of fencing, by Mr. Van
Braam, who afterwards accompanied him against the French as his

    [2] J. Sparks.

In the summer of 1746, George left Mr. Williams’s school in
Westmoreland county, and returned home to his mother’s, in Stafford
county. He was then about fourteen years old. Soon after his return
he became very desirous to enter the British navy.――His half-brother
Lawrence approved his choice. Mr. William Fairfax, the father-in-law
of Lawrence, was desirous that George’s inclination for the navy
should be gratified. They both used their influence with his mother
in favor of the project. She at first seemed to consent, though
reluctantly.――Lawrence procured him a midshipman’s warrant. But as
the time of separation drew near, her maternal feelings and more
mature reflection caused his mother to waver in her decision. She
suggested many objections to the plan; and seemed to listen with more
satisfaction to those who opposed, than to those who approved of it.
In September, during her suspense upon the subject, George went to see
and further consult his brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon, and other
friends in the county of Fairfax. On this occasion he spent a little
time at the house of Mr. William Fairfax, who is said to have been an
amiable and excellent man. During this visit, George told Mr. Fairfax
that he was willing to follow the advice of his brother Lawrence,
as his best friend. On his return home, however, George found his
mother so decidedly opposed to his going to sea, and her feelings so
tenderly affected at the thought of his leaving her, that he gave it up
entirely; thinking it his duty to sacrifice his inclinations, in this
case, to her happiness. When we consider that this scheme was suited
to captivate his youthful fancy, that it was encouraged by some of
his most judicious friends, and that the necessary preparations were
made for carrying it into effect, it is evident that the sacrifice
was great, and a proof of filial affection and dutiful regard highly
honorable to him. It must be admitted that the mother’s feelings were
truly parental, and her wishes reasonable, when it is considered that
George was her eldest son, that his father was dead, and that she was
left with five younger children.――This decision was probably an event
of Providence, upon which the very existence of the United States, as
an independent nation, depended.

After this, George lived a part of his time with his brother Lawrence,
at Mount Vernon, and a part of the time with his mother, near
Fredericksburg, and went to school in that town. Here he made great
improvement in the art of surveying.

In March, 1748, being then sixteen years old, he engaged as a surveyor
of lands, associated with Mr. George Fairfax, in the employ of Lord
Thomas Fairfax. They set out on a surveying tour to the western parts
of Virginia, on the 13th of March, accompanied by their assistants,
and travelled in a north westerly direction, nearly in range with the
Potomac. The first day they rode to the residence of Lord Fairfax, in
Frederick county, passing through beautiful groves of sugar trees, and
admiring the richness of the land upon the river Shenandoah. The next
day they sent on their baggage to a place now called Winchester, and
worked industriously for several succeeding days, surveying land in the
neighborhood. They then travelled about forty miles further into the
country, in a continual rain, swimming their horses over the rivers,
which were then very high. Just after the rain ceased and the weather
had cleared away, they were agreeably surprised by the appearance of
more than thirty friendly Indians, returning from war. The surveying
party remained to witness the performance of their war dance. After
clearing a large space of ground and making a fire in the middle of it,
the Indians seated themselves around the fire. The speaker then made a
grand speech, in which he told them in what manner they were to dance.
When the speech was ended, the best dancer jumped up as if suddenly
awaked from sleep, and ran and jumped about the ring in a most comical
manner. He was soon followed by the others, in a similar style. Their
dance was accompanied by appropriate music.――One Indian beat time upon
a deer-skin stretched tightly over a vessel half full of water, while
another rattled a gourd shell with shot in it, and a piece of a horse’s
tail tied to it, to make it look finely.

One windy night, about a week after, the straw on which Washington
was asleep, in the tent, took fire; but one of the party fortunately
awoke in time to extinguish it. A few days after, their tent was
blown down by the violence of the wind. They occasionally shot a wild
turkey or two, which they cooked upon forked sticks instead of spits,
and ate upon large chips instead of plates. After becoming fatigued
by travelling about all day, they usually camped out in the forest,
and slept with their clothes on all night. During this tour, young
Washington and his party surveyed between two and three thousand acres
of land, and arrived safely home on the 12th of April, having been
absent just one month.

For three years, young Washington was occupied nearly all the
time, when the season would permit, in surveying wild lands among
the Alleghany mountains and on the southern branches of the river
Potomac.[3] His surveying expeditions were attended with so many
hardships and privations, that he was rarely out more than a few weeks
at a time, upon any one of them. In the intervals of these expeditions,
he made it his home with his brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon, though
he passed a part of his time with his mother.[4]

    [3] J. Sparks.

    [4] J. Sparks.

In the year 1751, young Washington, though but nineteen years of age,
was appointed Adjutant General of the northern division of the Virginia
militia, with the rank of Major.[5]

    [5] Marshall.

The health of his brother Lawrence had been declining for several
years. He had made a voyage to England, and afterwards passed some
time at the Bath springs, in Virginia, without receiving any material
benefit from either. In the autumn of 1751, he decided to take a voyage
to the West Indies, as the last remedy proposed by his physicians.
By his request, his brother George, to whom he was much attached,
accompanied him on this voyage. They sailed for the island of Barbadoes
on the 28th of September, and arrived there about the 3d of November.
They procured a pleasant and airy place to board, near the sea shore,
and were treated with great hospitality and attention by the principal
inhabitants on the island. George was pleased with the richness of the
soil, the value of the crops, the variety and excellence of the fruits,
and the elevated and beautiful prospects in every direction. He was
seized with the small pox on the 17th of November, and it was nearly a
month before he recovered from it. On the 22d of November, he embarked
on board a vessel called the Industry, for Virginia, leaving his
brother still at Barbadoes. After a tempestuous passage of more than
five weeks, he arrived in Virginia.

Lawrence, not receiving the relief expected from the climate of
Barbadoes, went to Bermuda, in March. His health continuing to fail, he
returned home in the course of the summer, and died at Mount Vernon,
July 26, 1752. George was at Mount Vernon when his brother died, and
immediately took charge of his affairs. On opening his will, it was
found that he had given to George the Mount Vernon estate, and some
valuable lands in Berkley county, Virginia.


Washington’s mission from the Governor of Virginia to the French
commandant, at the age of twenty-one――narrowly escapes being killed by
an Indian――came near being drowned in the Allegany river――visits Queen

Information had been received, from time to time, that the French were
making encroachments on what was deemed British territory, beyond
the Allegany mountains, and that a French army was approaching from
Canada to build forts on the Ohio river and to take possession of
the whole country. As this territory was supposed to be within the
limits of Virginia, the Governor of that colony[6] resolved to send a
messenger with a letter to the French commandant on the Ohio, to demand
of him an answer, to ascertain important facts, and to make useful
observations. Major George Washington was selected for this arduous
undertaking. His knowledge of the Indians, his habits of living and
travelling in the woods acquired on his surveying expeditions, and
certain traits in his character, well fitted him for this delicate and
important mission, though he was not yet twenty-two years of age.――He
was commissioned by the Governor on the 30th of October, 1753, and the
same day set out upon his dangerous journey.――On the 14th of November
he arrived at the mouth of Wills Creek, now Cumberland, on the river
Potomac, having engaged a French interpreter and procured the necessary
supply of provisions, horses, &c., on the way. Here he engaged Mr.
Gist, an experienced Indian trader, to accompany him; also, an Indian
interpreter, and four other men as attendants; and with these men, left
the place the next day. The excessive rains and the vast quantities of
snow which had fallen, prevented their reaching the river Monongahela
till the 22d of November.――Here they learned that expresses had been
sent down the river a few days before, with information of the French
General’s death, and the return of the greater part of the French
troops into winter quarters.

    [6] Dinwiddie.

As the late rains had rendered the rivers impassable without swimming
their horses, Washington sent two of his men, with the baggage, in a
canoe, about ten miles down the river Monongahela, to meet the rest of
the party at the fork of the Ohio, now Pittsburg. As young Washington
arrived at the fork before the canoe, he spent some time in viewing the
two rivers, Monongahela and Allegany, at and near their junction which
forms the Ohio, and examining the land in the fork, which, having the
command of both rivers, he thought well situated for a fort.

On the Allegany river, about two miles above the fork, lived Shingiss,
King of the Delawares, an Indian chief friendly to the English.
Washington, with his attendants, called upon this chief, and invited
him to attend a council at a place called Logstown, about twenty miles
west of his residence. He accepted the invitation, and accompanied
Washington and his men to Logstown.――They arrived about sunset.
Washington found that the friendly chief, called the Half-King, whom
he particularly wished to see, was out at his hunting cabin on little
Beaver Creek, about fifteen miles distant. Washington, by his Indian
interpreter, informed the Half-King’s principal man at Logstown that
he was a messenger to the French commandant, and was ordered to call
upon the Sachems of the Six Nations and inform them of the fact. He
then gave him a string of wampum and a twist of tobacco, and desired
him to send for the Half-King. The man promised to dispatch a runner
for him the next morning. Washington invited him and other chief men
to his tent in the evening. They came and staid about an hour. About
three o’clock in the afternoon of the next day, the Half-King arrived.
He told Washington that the French had lately built two forts about
fifteen miles apart, one on Lake Erie, and the other on French Creek,
which falls into the Allegany from the north, and near a small lake.
He gave Washington a plan of both these forts, of his own drawing. He
said the present French commandant was at the fort on French Creek,
and that he could not reach in less than five or six nights sleep,
in good travelling. The next day, Washington met several chiefs in
council, and delivered a friendly speech to them, in which he briefly
stated the object of his visit, and requested an escort of warriors to
the French commandant. This was replied to in the same spirit by the
Half-King.――Runners were dispatched very early the next morning, for
the purpose of assembling a more full council, but not many came.――It
was, however, agreed to furnish Washington and his men a convoy,
to consist of three chiefs, namely, Half-King, Jeskakake and White
Thunder, and one of their best hunters.

They all set out from Logstown on the 30th of November, and travelled
in continual bad weather till the 4th of December, when they reached
Venango, a settlement at the place where French Creek falls into the
Allegany river. This place is now the town of Franklin, the capital
of Venango county. They saw the French colors flying at a house in
Venango. Washington went immediately to the house to inquire where
the commandant resided. Here he found a Captain and three other
French officers.――The Captain informed him that he, himself, had the
immediate command on the river, but that there was a general officer
at the first fort above, to which he advised him to proceed with his
dispatches. He invited Washington and his party to sup with him and his
officers, and treated them with great complaisance. The badness of the
weather and the winning treatment which the Indians received from the
French, combined to detain Washington and his party at Venango three
days. Monsieur La Force, commissary of the French stores, with three
soldiers, accompanied them up the Creek. The travelling was so bad they
did not reach the fort on French Creek till the 12th of December.

The French commandant was the Chevalier de Saint Pierre, a knight of
the military order of St. Louis. Washington waited on him soon after
his arrival, and was received and conducted to him by the second
officer in command. Washington acquainted the Chevalier with his
business, and presented his commission and letter. While the commandant
was in consultation with his officers upon the communication from the
Governor of Virginia, in a private apartment, Washington embraced the
opportunity of examining the strength and taking the dimensions of
the fort, and of making other observations. He was satisfied that the
garrison contained upwards of a hundred soldiers. One of his people,
by his direction, took an account of upwards of two hundred canoes,
hauled up and prepared to convey the French forces down the river at
the proper season.

On the 14th, the snow was so deep that Washington sent off his horses
very lightly loaded, in the care of four of his men, to Venango, having
determined to go down himself, with the remainder of his party, in
a canoe. Young Washington had to contend with a variety of mild and
artful means used to detain his convoy of Indians, and to draw them
away from the English interests. He was at length obliged to assume
a tone of remonstrance before he could induce the French and Indians
to part.――The French commandant, at last, ordered a plentiful store
of provisions to be put on board Washington’s boat, and appeared very
friendly and complaisant. They had a tedious passage down the Creek.
They found it extremely crooked. Several times they came near being
staved against the rocks. At times they were all hands obliged to get
out, and remain in the water half an hour or more, getting over the
shoals. At one place, the ice had lodged and blocked up the passage by
water, so that they were obliged to carry their boat a quarter of a
mile across a neck of land. They did not reach Venango till the 22d.
Here they found their horses.

The next day, when Washington was prepared to leave Venango, he
inquired of the Half-King whether he intended to go down with him by
land or to go by water. He replied that White Thunder had hurt himself
badly, and was sick and unable to walk, and that he must carry him
down in a canoe. As Washington found that the Half-King intended to
stay behind a few days, he cautioned him against the flatteries of
the French. He desired Washington not to be concerned, for he knew
the French too well to be influenced by them against the English. He
offered to order the young hunter to attend Washington and his party,
and procure provisions for them on their journey. He said he should
soon be at the forks, and there deliver a speech, to be carried to
his Honor the Governor of Virginia. Washington then took leave of the
Half-King, and with his party left Venango.

They had not proceeded far, before the horses seemed to be so feeble,
and the baggage so heavy for them, that Washington and his party,
except the drivers, dismounted and went on foot with packs on their
backs to help forward the baggage. Washington, in an Indian walking
dress, continued with his men three days under this arrangement, till
he found there was no probability of his reaching home in this manner,
in any reasonable season. He then committed the party to the charge of
his French interpreter with proper directions, tied himself up in a
watch coat, put his necessary papers into his pack with his provisions,
took his gun in his hand, and set forward with Mr. Gist, fitted in the
same manner, the nearest way home through the woods. The day following,
just after they had passed a place called _Murdering Town_, they fell
in with a party of Indians in the French interest, who had been lying
in wait for them. One of the Indians fired at Washington, not fifteen
steps from him, but providentially missed him. They instantly took the
fellow into custody, and kept him with them till about nine o’clock in
the evening, when they let him go, and walked all night without making
any stop, that they might get so far the start of the Indians as to be
out of the reach of their pursuit the next day, having no doubt their
tracks would be followed as soon as it was light.

The next day they continued travelling till it was quite dark, when
they reached the Allegany river about two miles above the forks of
the Ohio. There was no way for them to get over the river but upon a
raft. The next morning they set about making one, with the assistance
of but one poor hatchet, and finished it just after sunset.――The next
day they launched it, went on board and pushed off; but before they
were half across the river, they were so wedged in between flakes of
ice running forcibly down stream, that they expected every moment their
raft would sink and themselves perish. Young Washington put out his
setting pole to stop the raft, that the ice might pass by it, when the
rapidity of the stream threw the ice with so much violence against his
pole that it jerked him into the river. He instantly seized hold of
one of the raft logs and saved himself from the dashing flakes of ice,
by springing to his former station on the raft. In spite of all their
efforts they could not get to either shore; but were obliged to quit
their raft and pass from one mass of ice to another, till they reached
a small island in the river. Here they spent the night. The cold was
so extremely severe that Mr. Gist had all his fingers and part of his
toes frozen. They left the island the next morning, on the ice, without
difficulty, and went to the house of a trader, on the Monongahela, a
few miles distant. About three miles from this house, there was an
Indian settlement on the spot where the Monongahela and Youghiogany
rivers unite, where the Indian Queen Alliquippa held her rude court.
She had expressed great concern that Washington and his party had
passed her by without attention, on his way to the French fort; and, as
he was now waiting for horses, (which, by the by, he failed to obtain,)
he took this opportunity to make a visit to her majesty. Though it is
evident that Queen Alliquippa, like persons of similar rank and birth
in Europe, was very tenacious of the respect due to royalty, we are not
informed by Washington, with what particular marks of attention she
received him. We may, however, form some idea of the style which he
found prevalent at court, from the nature of the present which he made
her. He presented her with a box coat.

About thirty miles from this Indian settlement, Washington bought a
fresh horse, rode on to Wills Creek, and reached Williamsburg on the
16th of January, 1754.――He immediately waited upon the Governor,
delivered his letter from the French commandant, together with a
journal of his proceedings and observations during the tour. This
journal was published in England, and has been several times reprinted
in this country. Major Washington thus completed his perilous
expedition, and accomplished the objects of it in such a faithful and
able manner as gave entire satisfaction.


Major Washington, at the age of twenty-two, is appointed to command the
regular Virginia forces, consisting of two companies――being increased
to six companies, he is raised to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and
made second in command――his modesty――the fort, just begun at the fork
of the Ohio, surrenders to the French――Washington attacks and defeats a
party of French.

By the then existing law of Virginia, the militia could not be
required to march more than five miles beyond the boundary line of the
colony. For this reason, if for no other, the militia alone could not
be depended upon for the defence of the colony. After Washington’s
return, the Governor and council of Virginia determined to raise
two companies, of one hundred men each, by enlistment, and send them
to erect and defend a fort at the fork of the Ohio, now Pittsburg,
that being the spot pointed out by Washington as well situated for a
fort. Major Washington, then but twenty-two years old, was appointed
to command these two companies. He was to enlist one of the companies
himself, and he did enlist about fifty men. Captain Trent, having
partly filled the other company in the back settlement, was ordered
immediately to the place of destination. It was soon determined,
however, to increase this force to three hundred men, and to divide
them into six companies. In a letter to a friend of his, then a member
of the Governor’s council, Major Washington says: “The command of this
whole force I neither expect nor desire; for I must be impartial enough
to confess, it is a charge too great for my youth and inexperience.
Knowing this, I have too sincere a love for my country to undertake
that which may tend to the prejudice of it.”

Young Washington was, however, raised to the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel, and made second in command. He left Alexandria with his
troops, for the frontier, on the 2d of April, 1754, and being joined by
a small detachment in his route, arrived at Wills Creek on the 20th,
with one hundred and fifty men. He was here met by Captain Trent’s
ensign, Mr. Ward, directly from the fort just begun at the fork of
the Ohio, with the unpleasant information that he had been obliged to
surrender to a French force of one thousand men, with eighteen pieces
of cannon, on the 17th of April. He said that the Captain and the
Lieutenant (Frazier) were both absent at the time, and that the whole
number of men under his command was but forty-one. He stated that the
French commander approached near the fort, halted his troops, and sent
in an officer with a summons to surrender, allowing him but one hour
to consider of it, and directing him to come to the French camp at the
expiration of the hour, with his determination in writing. He asked the
Half-King, who was in the fort at the time, what it was best to do.
The chief advised him to inform the French that he was not an officer
of rank, nor invested with power to answer their summons, and request
them to wait till his commander should arrive. He accordingly went with
this reply to the French camp, accompanied by the Half-King; but the
French commander refused to wait, telling them that he must have an
immediate and decisive answer, or he should take possession of the fort
by force. He then agreed to surrender, with liberty to depart with his
men the next day. The French commander invited the ensign to supper in
the evening, and treated him with much civility. The seizure of this
post was considered by the British, at the time, the first open act of
hostility in the memorable French war which followed it. The French
fortified the post strongly, and called it Fort Du Quesne.

Colonel Washington considered that the British territory was now
actually invaded, and that it was his duty, in compliance with his
orders, to march forward prepared to meet the invading foe. A council
of war was held, which confirmed this opinion, and resolved to proceed
to the junction of Red Stone Creek with the river Monongahela,
thirty-seven miles south of Fort Du Quesne, there build a fort and wait
for reinforcements. Colonel Fry, the chief in command, being detained
by bad health, Lieutenant Colonel Washington with his one hundred and
fifty men, moved on through the wilderness and over the mountains with
all possible dispatch. He first sent forward sixty men to prepare a
passage by mending the road, and in some places making a new one; and
on the 1st of May, followed them with the main body. In the course of
the march, the friendly Indians brought to Washington frequent reports
of French scouts being seen in the woods. When he had advanced about
fifty miles beyond Wills Creek, he met a messenger from the Half-King,
informing him that a French force (how large he could not tell) was on
its march to attack the English, and warning him to be on his guard.
This induced Washington to fall back a few miles to a favorable place
for meeting the enemy, called the Great Meadows. Here he immediately
employed his men in clearing away the bushes and throwing up an
intrenchment, and sent a small party to look out for the enemy and
observe their strength and motions. But the party returned without
seeing any thing of them. The troops were, however, alarmed in the
night, and were under arms during the latter part of it.

On the morning of May 27th, an English trader who lived in the
neighborhood, came to the camp from his residence, where a detachment
of fifty Frenchmen, he said, had been seen the day before at noon.
He added that he saw their tracks himself about five miles distant.
Washington immediately sent out seventy-five men in pursuit of this
party; but they returned without discovering it. Washington sent a
messenger to the Half-King, who was encamped with some of his people
about six miles distant. This messenger returned about nine o’clock
in the evening, with information from the Half-King that he had seen
the tracks of two Frenchmen across the road, which had been traced to
an obscure part of the woods, and that he thought the main body of
them must be concealed at no great distance.――Washington, suspecting
a design to surprise him, set out that night with forty men for the
Indian’s camp. The night was dark and rainy, and they often lost the
path and were unable to find it again for fifteen or twenty minutes.
They, however, arrived at the Indian’s camp before sunrise. The
Half-King agreed “to go hand in hand with their brothers the English,”
(as they called them,) “and strike the French.” Accordingly they set
out together, and proceeded through the woods in single file, after the
manner of the Indians, till they came to the place where the tracks
were. The Half-King then sent two Indians to follow these tracks again,
till they should find the very spot where the enemy lay. The two
Indians soon discovered them about half a mile from the road, in a very
retired place, surrounded by rocks. The men were immediately formed
for the attack. They then advanced, with Washington at their head,
till they came very near the French. The moment the French discovered
them, they seized their arms. Washington gave the order to fire, and
a brisk engagement ensued, which continued about fifteen minutes. The
French were defeated with the loss of their whole party, except one who
escaped, ten men being killed, including Jumonville, their commander,
one wounded and twenty-one taken prisoners. Colonel Washington’s loss
was one man killed, and a Lieutenant and two privates wounded. As the
French directed their fire chiefly at Washington’s men, the Indians
received no injury. This skirmish took place on the 28th of May, 1754,
at about seven o’clock in the morning. It was the first battle in which
Washington had ever been engaged.


Battle of the Great Meadows――vote of thanks to Colonel Washington and
his officers――disapproving of the arrangement of the Virginia troops,
he retires from the service.

Colonel Fry died at Wills Creek on the 31st of May. By his death,
the command of the expedition devolved on Washington. Reinforcements
were soon forwarded, so that the whole number composing the Virginia
regiment under his immediate command, was three hundred men. There was
also with him an independent company from South Carolina, consisting
of about one hundred men. With this force Colonel Washington advanced
slowly and cautiously beyond the Great Meadows, employing his soldiers
in repairing the road, and sending out scouting parties to watch the
motions of the enemy. He also sent a party forward to clear a passage
towards the mouth of Red Stone Creek, the place of the intended fort.
He also held councils with several Indian chiefs who came to him for
that purpose, heard and delivered speeches, exchanged belts of wampum,
and went through the usual ceremonies on such occasions. But all this
was to little purpose; for some of the Indians were spies from the
French, and the only motive of others was to obtain presents of goods
and provisions. In this mode of gaining friends, the French were more
successful than the English, as they were better supplied with such
articles as the Indians wanted.

While these operations were going on, reports were continually brought
in by French deserters and Indians that reinforcements had arrived at
Fort Du Quesne, and that a large force would soon come out to attack
the English. These accounts came from many different sources, some
of which were so authentic that a council of war was held, in which
it was unanimously resolved that the army should return to the Great
Meadows, there fortify themselves in the best manner they could,
and wait for a supply of provisions and reinforcements. The retreat
immediately commenced. They had so few horses that the Colonel loaded
his own horse with ammunition and other public stores, marched on foot
himself, and paid the soldiers from his own purse for carrying his
private baggage. Other officers followed his example. The troops were
short of provisions, and having to carry their baggage on their backs
and draw nine swivels over a very broken road, they did not reach the
Great Meadows till the 1st of July. The Colonel immediately sent off
an express to hasten on the expected supplies and reinforcements, but
they did not arrive. He set his men to felling trees, preparing and
drawing together logs, and raising and strengthening the breastworks.
This entrenchment was called _Fort Necessity_, on account of the
circumstances attending the erection and original use of it.

On the third of July, early in the morning, an alarm was given by
a sentinel who had been wounded by the enemy. At nine o’clock,
intelligence was received that the whole body of the French, amounting
to nine hundred men, was only four miles distant. They were commanded
by M. De Villiers, brother of Jumonville. At eleven o’clock they
approached the fort, and began to fire, at the distance of six hundred
yards, but without effect. Colonel Washington had drawn up his men on
the open and level ground outside of the trenches, awaiting the attack,
which he supposed would be made immediately, having ordered his men to
reserve their fire till the enemy were so near that it would certainly
do execution. But the French kept up a distant firing from the woods.
Washington considered this as a stratagem to draw his men into the
woods and there take them at a disadvantage. He therefore maintained
his position till he found that the French did not incline to leave
the woods and attack the fort by assault, as he had thought they
would, considering their superiority of numbers. He then drew his men
back within the trenches, and gave them orders to fire as they found
favorable opportunities of doing so with effect. The French and Indians
remained on the side of a piece of rising ground near the fort, and
sheltered by the trees, kept up a brisk fire of musketry upon it, but
never appeared upon the open plain below.

In this way, the battle continued till eight o’clock in the evening,
when the French called out and proposed a parley. Suspecting this to
be a mere feint in order to procure the admission of a French officer
into the fort to spy out his condition, the Colonel at first declined
the proposal; but when the call was repeated, with the request that an
officer might be sent to them, and with the pledge of their parol of
honor for his safety, he sent out Captain Van Braam, the only person
under his command who could speak French, excepting the Chevalier De
Payrouny, an ensign in the Virginia regiment, who was dangerously
wounded and disabled. Van Braam returned, and brought with him M. De
Villiers and the proposed articles of capitulation. These he read and
interpreted. After making some alterations in the articles, by mutual
agreement, both parties signed them about midnight.

By the terms of the capitulation, the whole garrison was to march out
of the fort the next morning, with the honors of war, their drums
beating and their colors flying; and to return home with every thing in
their possession, excepting their artillery, unmolested by the French
or the savages. As the French had killed all the horses and cattle,
Colonel Washington had no means of carrying away his heavy baggage and
stores; and the French agreed that a guard might be left to protect
them, till horses could be sent to take them away. It was agreed that
the prisoners taken at the skirmish with Jumonville should be returned;
and to secure the performance of this article, Captain Van Braam and
Captain Stobo were delivered up to the French to be retained by them as
hostages. Early the next morning, Colonel Washington began his march
from the fort in good order; but he had not proceeded far, when a body
of one hundred Indians came upon him and could hardly be restrained
from attacking his men. They pilfered the baggage and did other
mischief. He proceeded on, however, with as much speed as possible,
till he arrived at Wells Creek settlement, now Cumberland, in the State
of Maryland. Thence he proceeded to Williamsburg, and communicated to
the Governor in person the events of the campaign. Much dissatisfaction
was expressed with some of the articles of capitulation, when they
were made public. The legislature of Virginia, however, after maturely
considering them, passed a vote of thanks to Colonel Washington and
his officers for their brave defence of the country. Indeed, all the
proceedings of the campaign, though not finally successful, were
generally approved and applauded.

The exact number engaged in the action at the Great Meadows, cannot be
ascertained. According to a return made by Colonel Washington himself,
the Virginia regiment, including officers, consisted of three hundred
and five men, of which twelve were killed and forty-three wounded. The
company of South Carolinians was said to contain about one hundred;
but the number of them killed and wounded is not known. The French
force was probably not far from nine hundred. M. De Villiers says he
left Fort Du Quesne with five hundred Frenchmen and eleven Indians. The
number of French is probably correct; but the Indians were much more
numerous when they arrived at the scene of action.

Although there was at this time a disagreement between the Governor and
the Legislature of Virginia, which prevented the appropriation of money
for the service, the Governor and his counsel resolved to renew the
contest with the French without delay. When Washington was informed of
this, he expostulated so warmly against attempting such an enterprise,
without money, men, or provisions, that it was abandoned.

The Assembly met in October, 1754, and granted £20,000. The Governor
received from England £10,000 in specie, with the promise of as
much more, and two thousand fire arms. The Governor and his counsel
then resolved that the army should be divided into ten independent
companies, of one hundred men each, and should contain no officer
above the rank of Captain. Washington, disapproving of this singular
arrangement as unfavorable to the interest of the service, retired from
the army to his farm.


Is invited by General Braddock to join his expedition as a
volunteer――accepts the invitation――Battle of Monongahela――Washington
conducts the retreat with ability, and retains the confidence of the

On the 20th of February, 1755, General Braddock arrived in Virginia,
from England, as Commander in Chief of all the military forces in
North-America. He brought with him two Regiments of the British Army,
consisting of five hundred men each. One of them was commanded by Sir
Peter Halket, and the other by Colonel Dunbar. These were accompanied
by a proper train of artillery and sufficient military supplies and
provisions. The General made his first head quarters at Alexandria.
He addressed, through his Aid-de-Camp, a polite letter to Colonel
Washington, inviting him, as he had declined any military command
under the Virginia regulations, to join his family as a volunteer, and
accompany him upon his intended expedition against Fort Du Quesne,
as one of his aids, and desiring him to consult his own pleasure and
convenience, as to the particular time of joining the army. Colonel
Washington accepted this invitation. General Braddock marched from
Alexandria for Fort Cumberland at the mouth of Wills Creek on the 20th
of April. Colonel Washington left Mount Vernon on the 23d, and overtook
the army in a few days at Fredericktown, in Virginia. The army arrived
at Fort Cumberland about the middle of May. It then consisted of more
than two thousand men. About one thousand of them were colonial troops.
The army was detained at this post three weeks; nor could it then have
moved on, but for the personal exertions of Benjamin Franklin, and his
influence among the Pennsylvanian farmers, in procuring horses and
wagons, to transport the artillery, provisions, and baggage. During
the detention of the army at Fort Cumberland, Colonel Washington was
dispatched to Williamsburg, in the eastern part of Virginia, to obtain
£4000 in money, for the use of the army, and to bring it on to the
camp. He promptly and successfully executed this commission, taking
with him at Winchester, on his return, a sufficient guard of militia
through the most unfrequented and dangerous part of the route.

About the first of June, a detachment was sent forward to open the
roads as far as a place called Little Meadows, about twenty miles
beyond Fort Cumberland, and there to erect a small Fort. The main
body soon followed this detachment, and when they came up with it,
the whole army was divided into two divisions. The advanced division
under General Braddock, consisted of about twelve hundred men. The
other division, consisting of about eight hundred men under Colonel
Dunbar, was left in the rear to proceed with the baggage by slow
marches. Washington says in a letter to his brother John Augustine,
(the father of Judge Lund Washington,) written on the march, that the
advance of the first division of the army, though retarded by many real
obstacles and difficulties, was yet unnecessarily slow, in consequence
of halting to level too many mole hills, and to build bridges over too
many brooks. Colonel Washington accompanied the advanced division until
a fever with which he was taken on the march became so violent, that he
was obliged to fall in the rear, into Colonel Dunbar’s division.

General Braddock arrived with his division, all in fine health and
spirits, at the junction of the Monongahela and Youghiogany rivers
on the 8th of July. On the same day Colonel Washington, though but
partially recovered from his fever, reached that place in a covered
wagon, and joined the advanced division. Owing to a bend in the
Monongahela, it was necessary for the army in approaching Fort Du
Quesne, now about fifteen miles distant, to ford the river twice. The
remarkable dryness of the season rendered this practicable. Early in
the morning of the 9th of July, all things were in readiness, and
the whole train, a little below the mouth of the Youghiogany, passed
through the river Monongahela, and proceeded in perfect order along
the southern margin of it. Colonel Washington, though feeble, attended
the General on horseback. He was often heard to say, in the course of
his after life, that one of the most beautiful spectacles he had ever
seen, was the display of the British troops on this eventful morning.
Every man was neatly dressed in full uniform. The soldiers were
arranged in columns and marched in exact order. The sun gleamed upon
their burnished arms. The river flowed tranquilly on their right, and
the deep forest often overshadowed them on their left. When they had
marched about five miles, they arrived to the second crossing place,
ten miles from Fort Du Quesne. They halted a little, and then began to
ford the river and gain its northern bank. As soon as they had crossed,
they came to a level plain, nearly half a mile in extent. At the end
of the plain was a piece of gently rising ground, covered with trees,
bushes and long grass. The road to Fort Du Quesne led across this
plain. It then led up the rising ground, between two ravines from eight
to ten feet deep, and of sufficient extent to contain five hundred
men each. Owing to the trees, bushes and high grass, these ravines
could not be seen from the road, nor without coming within a few feet
of them. By the order of march, a body of three hundred men under
Lieutenant Colonel Gage, afterwards commander of the British forces in
Boston at the beginning of the revolution, formed the advanced party.
This was followed by about two hundred. Next came General Braddock with
the main body, the artillery and baggage. He sent out no scouts nor
guards in advance and on the wings of the army to make discoveries and
prevent a surprise. Washington advised him to proceed more cautiously,
but he was self-confident and disregarded the advice.

At 1 o’clock P. M. the whole army had crossed the river; and almost at
the same moment a sharp firing was heard upon the advanced parties,
who were now ascending the rising ground. A heavy discharge of
musketry poured in upon their front, gave them the first notice that
an enemy was near. This was suddenly followed by another discharge
upon their right flank.――These were followed by others in continual
and rapid succession. They were filled with the greater consternation
because no enemy was in sight, and the fire seemed to come from an
invisible foe. They fired, however, in their turn, but at random and
without effect. The General speedily advanced to the relief of the
detachments; but before he could reach them, they gave way and fell
back upon the artillery and other columns, causing extreme confusion,
and striking the whole mass with such a panic that no order could
afterwards be restored. The yell of the savages with which the woods
resounded, struck terror into the hearts of the British soldiers, and
added to the consternation. The General and his officers behaved with
the utmost courage. They made every effort to rally the men and bring
them to order, but all in vain.――In this state they continued nearly
three hours, huddling together in confused bodies, firing irregularly,
shooting down their own officers and comrades, and doing little or no
harm to the enemy. The Virginians were the only troops who seemed to
retain their senses. They behaved with bravery and resolution. They
adopted the Indian mode, and fought each man for himself behind a tree.
This was forbidden by the General, who endeavored to form the men into
platoons and columns, as if he were manœvering them upon the plains of
Flanders.――During all this time, the French and Indians concealed in
the ravines and behind trees, kept up a continual and deadly discharge
of musketry, singling out their objects, taking deliberate aim, and
producing a carnage almost unparalleled in the annals of modern
warfare. More than half of that whole army which had crossed the river
in such proud array only three hours before, were either killed or
wounded. General Braddock, after having five horses shot under him, had
received a mortal wound, and many of his best officers had fallen by
his side. Sir Peter Halket was killed upon the spot. Colonel Washington
had two horses shot under him, and his clothes were shot through in
several places. The bodies left on the field were stripped and scalped
by the Indians. All the artillery, ammunition, provisions, baggage,
everything in the train of the army fell into the enemy’s hands, and
were given up to be pillaged by the savages.

When the battle was over, and the remnant of the army had gained in
their flight the opposite bank of the river, Colonel Washington was
dispatched by the General to meet Colonel Dunbar, and order forward
wagons for the wounded with all possible speed; but they could not be
procured till after the wounded had suffered much from pain, fatigue
and hunger. The General was at first brought off the field in a
cart.――He was then set on horseback, but being unable to ride, was
carried by the soldiers. They reached Dunbar’s camp, near the Great
Meadows, to which the panic had already extended. A day was passed
there in great confusion. General Braddock died on the 13th, and was
buried in the road, for the purpose of concealing his body from the
Indians. The spot is still pointed out within a few yards of the
present national road, about a mile west of the site of Fort Necessity,
at the Great Meadows, in Pennsylvania. On the 17th, the sick and
wounded arrived at Fort Cumberland on Wills Creek, and were soon after
joined by Colonel Dunbar with the remnant of the army. The French sent
out a party as far as Dunbar’s camp and destroyed every thing that had
been left behind.

As to the numbers engaged in the battle of Monongahela, on the side of
the French, Washington conjectured, as appears by his letters, that
they amounted to no more than three hundred. Doctor Franklin, in his
account of the battle, considers them as not exceeding four hundred at

It appears by the French narratives of this battle, that while the
commandant of Fort Du Quesne, considering his force too small to
encounter his approaching enemy, was hesitating what measures to adopt,
M. De Beaujeu, a Captain in the French service, obtained from his
commandant a detachment of French troops, with leave to advance with
them and meet the enemy on their march. After much persuasion, Beaujeu
induced a considerable party of Indians to join him. He began his
march at an early hour on the morning of the 9th of July, intending to
make a stand at the second fording place, there to annoy the English
while passing the river, and then to retreat and make another stand
at the rising ground where the whole contest actually took place.
Captain Beaujeu and his party did not, however, arrive quite in
time to make a stand at the ford, and thus failed to carry the first
part of their plan into execution. They however immediately placed
themselves in ambush, partly in front and partly concealed in the
ravines flanking the road up the rising ground, and there waited till
Braddock’s advanced columns came up. The French gave the first fire in
front.――This was repelled by so heavy a discharge from the British,
that the Indians thought it came from artillery, and showed symptoms of
wavering and retreat. At this moment M. De Beaujeu was killed. M. Dumas
immediately took the command, rallied the Indians with great presence
of mind, ordered his officers to lead them to the wings, while, with
the French troops, he maintained the position in front. This order was
promptly obeyed; the attack became general, and the English columns got
into confusion.

As to the French accounts of their numbers, the highest states them at
two hundred and fifty French and Canadians and six hundred and forty
Indians, and the lowest at two hundred and thirty French and Canadians
and six hundred Indians. A medium between the two will make the whole
number under De Beaujeu eight hundred and sixty. The French admit,
including Indians, thirty-three killed and thirty-four wounded.

When these French statements, the nature of the ground, and the
mismanagement of General Braddock are duly considered, the result of
the action will not appear very surprising. That the English should
say “they were fighting with an invisible foe,” and that “they could
only tell where the enemy were by the smoke of their muskets,” is no
mystery, for it was literally true. Had Braddock known the position of
his enemy, and raked the ravines with his artillery, or charged through
them with the bayonet, they would have been cleared immediately.

Colonel Washington lost no ground in the confidence of the public by
Braddock’s defeat. It was the general opinion that if _he_ had been
commander, the defeat would not have happened. By his firm conduct
during the action, and his skilful management of the retreat, he gained
additional reputation.


Anecdote――Washington is appointed to command the Virginia forces――his
visit to Boston――commands the advance division at the taking of Fort
Du Quesne――resigns his military commission――marries――devotes himself
chiefly to agricultural pursuits till called to take command of the
American armies in the war of Independence.

About fifteen years after Braddock’s defeat, as Washington was
exploring wild lands near the Ohio river with a party of woodmen, a
company of Indians came to them with an interpreter, headed by an aged
and venerable chief. This chief told the party that, at the battle of
Monongahela, he had singled out Colonel Washington as a conspicuous
object, fired his rifle at him many times, and directed his young
warriors to do the same, but to his utter astonishment, none of their
balls took effect. He was then persuaded that the young man was under
the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, and stopped firing at
him any longer. He said he had come a great way to pay his respects to
a man who was the peculiar favorite of Heaven, and could never die in

    [7] J. Sparks.

About a fortnight after Washington returned home from Braddock’s
defeat, he was appointed to the chief command of the Virginia forces,
now increased to sixteen companies, with authority to appoint his own
officers, together with an aid-de-camp and Secretary. In this command
he continued three years, defending with energy and resolution three
hundred and sixty miles of frontier against the continual incursions
of a warlike and a savage foe, though furnished with very inadequate
means for the arduous undertaking. His discipline was reasonable and
steady, but rigid. Quarreling and fighting, drunkenness, card playing
and profane swearing were promptly punished.

       *       *       *       *       *

In March, 1756, Colonel Washington went with his aid to Boston on
military business with General Shirley. He was treated with much
politeness and attention at Boston. He attended with interest the
proceedings of the Legislature of Massachusetts, and visited Castle
William and other places worthy of a stranger’s notice. On his return
home, he passed through Providence, Newport, New London, New York, and
Philadelphia, and spent several days in each of the two last mentioned

The design of the British to carry the war into Canada, being known
to the French Governor of Canada, he recalled the greater part of the
French troops from the Ohio river. Only about five hundred men were
left for the defence of the French possessions.

In 1758, another expedition marched against Fort Du Quesne, under the
command of General Forbes. Colonel Washington commanded the advanced
division of this army, which was sent forward to clear and prepare the
way for the main body.――The night before the expedition reached Fort
Du Quesne, the French, amounting to about five hundred men, set the
Fort on fire, embarked on board their boats by the light of it, and
sailed down the Ohio; so that the army had nothing to do but to take
possession of the spot where the Fort stood. This they did on the 25th
of November, 1758. General Forbes called the place Pittsburg, in honor
of Mr. Pitt.

Immediately after his return to Virginia from this expedition,
Colonel Washington resigned his military commission. On the 6th of
January, 1759, at the age of twenty-seven, he married Martha Custis,
the widow of Daniel Parke Custis, and daughter of John Dandridge.
Colonel Washington, though absent at the time, was elected a member
of the Virginia Assembly by a large majority over three active rival
candidates. He attended the session of the Assembly held in the
month of February. The house had resolved, without the knowledge of
Washington, to return their thanks to him in a public manner for the
distinguished services he had rendered his country. This duty devolved
on Mr. Robinson, the Speaker. As soon as Colonel Washington took his
seat, the Speaker, following the impulse of his feelings, discharged
the duty assigned him with dignity, but with such warmth and strength
of expression as entirely confounded the young hero. He rose to
express his acknowledgments for the honor done him, but such was his
trepidation and confusion that he could not give distinct utterance to
a single sentence. He blushed, stammered and trembled for a moment,
when the Speaker relieved him by a stroke of address that would have
done honor to Louis the Eighteenth in his proudest and happiest moment.
“Sit down, Colonel Washington,” said he, with a conciliating smile,
“your modesty is equal to your valor; and that surpasses the power of
any language that I possess.”[8]

    [8] Wirt’s Life of Patrick Henry, page 45.

When the session closed, the Colonel repaired, with Mrs. Washington,
to his residence at Mount Vernon. Here he enjoyed the pleasures of
domestic life and his favorite agricultural occupations for sixteen
years, until called by the voice of his country to take command of
the American armies at the commencement of the war of the Revolution.
He cultivated and improved his lands with remarkable judgment. He
conducted his business upon a regular system. Economy was observed
through every department of it. His accounts were inspected weekly. The
divisions of his farm were numbered, an exact account was kept of the
produce of each lot together with the expense of cultivating it, so
that the profit or loss of any crop as well as the relative advantages
of different modes of husbandry might be seen at one view.

During Washington’s retreat from military life he was a magistrate of
the county in which he resided, and frequently a member of the Virginia
Legislature. He was hospitable and charitable; a friend to the church
in the parish where he lived, and ever ready to do all in his power to
promote the interests of morality and religion. He was indeed a friend
of his country and a friend of mankind.


The first Congress of the United Colonies met at Philadelphia in 1774.
Washington was a leading member of that body, and took an active
part in opposition to the principles assumed by the then British
administration and parliament in relation to the American colonies.

He was unanimously elected by Congress, General and Commander-in-chief
of the United Colonies and of all their forces. When the President of
Congress communicated this election, Washington thus addressed him:

“Mr. President――Although I am truly sensible of the high honor done
me by this appointment, I feel a consciousness that my abilities and
military experience may not be equal to the extensive trust. However,
as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty and
exert every power I possess in their service and in support of our
glorious cause. I beg they will accept my most cordial thanks for this
distinguished testimony of their approbation.

“But unless some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my
reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room
that I this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, I do not think
myself equal to the command with which I am honored. I beg leave, sir,
to assure the Congress, that, as no pecuniary consideration could have
tempted me to accept this arduous employment, at the expense of my
domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it.
I will keep an exact account of my expenses. These, I doubt not, the
Congress will discharge, and that is all I desire.”

Under what privations, difficulties and discouragements, Washington
led our fathers through their revolutionary struggle, to victory and
national independence, is well known. His agency in establishing that
independence upon the basis of union in a national constitution, and
his excellent administration of the government as the first President
of the United States under that constitution, is equally well known.

       *       *       *       *       *

Washington was exactly six feet high. His limbs were well formed and
indicated strength. His eyes were greyish, and his hair of a brown
color. His complexion was light, and his countenance serene and

His manners were graceful, manly and dignified. His general appearance
never failed to engage the respect and esteem of all who approached
him. He possessed the most perfect self-government, and in a remarkable
degree the faculty of hiding the weaknesses inseparable from human
nature. He ever bore his distinguished honors with meekness and
equanimity. Reserved but not haughty in his disposition, he was
accessible to all but he unbosomed himself only to his confidential

He was not so much distinguished for brilliancy of intellect, as for
industry of application, solidity of judgment and consummate prudence
of conduct. He was not so eminent for any single quality as for a union
of great, amiable, and good qualities, rarely combined in the same
character.――_Bancroft’s Life of Washington._

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Stewart, the eminent portrait painter, used to say there were
features in the face of Washington, different from any he had ever
observed in any other human being. The sockets for the eyes were larger
than he had ever met with before, and the upper part of his nose

He always spoke with great diffidence, and sometimes hesitated for a
word; but it was always to find one well adapted to his meaning. His
language was manly and expressive.

Few persons ever found themselves for the first time in the presence
of Washington, without being impressed with a degree of veneration
and awe; nor did those emotions subside on a closer acquaintance; on
the contrary, his person and deportment were such as tended rather
to augment them. The whole range of history does not present to our
view a character upon which we can dwell with such entire and unmixed
admiration. The long life of Washington is unstained by a single blot.
He was indeed a man of such rare endowments, and such a fortunate
temperament, that every action he performed was equally exempted from
the charge of vice or weakness. Whatever he said or did, or wrote, was
stamped with a striking and peculiar propriety. His qualities were
so happily blended and so nicely harmonized, that the result was a
great and perfect whole. The passions of his mind and the dispositions
of his heart were admirably suited to each other. His views, though
liberal, were never extravagant. His virtues, though comprehensive and
beneficent, were discriminating, judicious and practical.

Yet his character, though regular and uniform, possessed none of the
littleness which may sometimes belong to these descriptions of men.
It formed a majestic pile, the effect of which was not impaired, but
improved by order and symmetry. There was nothing in it to dazzle by
wildness, and surprise by eccentricity. It was of a higher species of
moral beauty. It contained every thing great and elevated, but it had
no false and tinsel ornament. It was not the model cried up by fashion
and circumstance: its excellence was adapted to the true and just moral
taste, incapable of change from the varying accidents of manners, of
opinions and times. General Washington is not the idol of a day, but
the hero of ages!

Placed in circumstances of the most trying difficulty at the
commencement of the American contest, he accepted that situation
which was pre-eminent in danger and responsibility. His perseverance
overcame every obstacle; his moderation conciliated every opposition;
his genius supplied every resource; his enlarged views could plan,
revise, and improve every branch of civil and military operation. He
had the superior courage which can act or can forbear to act, as policy
dictates, careless of the reproaches of ignorance either in power or
out of power. He knew how to conquer by waiting, in spite of obloquy,
for the moment of victory; and he merited true praise by despising
undeserved censure. In the most arduous moments of the contest, his
prudent firmness proved the salvation of the cause which he supported.

His conduct was, on all occasions, guided by the most pure
disinterestedness. Far superior to low and grovelling motives, he
seemed even to be uninfluenced by that ambition which has justly been
called the instinct of great souls. He acted ever as if his country’s
welfare, and that alone, was the moving spring. His excellent mind
needed not even the stimulus of ambition, or the prospect of fame.
Glory was a secondary consideration. He performed great actions; he
persevered in a course of laborious utility, with an equanimity that
neither sought distinction, nor was flattered by it. His reward was
in the consciousness of his own rectitude, and in the success of his
patriotic efforts.

As his elevation to the chief power was the unbiassed choice of his
countrymen, his exercise of it was agreeable to the purity of its
origin. As he had neither solicited nor usurped dominion, he had
neither to contend with the opposition of rivals, nor the revenge of
enemies. As his authority was undisputed, so it required no jealous
precautions, no rigorous severity. His government was mild and gentle;
it was beneficent and liberal; it was wise and just. His prudent
administration consolidated and enlarged the dominion of an infant
republic. In voluntarily resigning the magistracy which he had filled
with such distinguished honor, he enjoyed the unequalled satisfaction
of leaving to the state he had contributed to establish, the fruits of
his wisdom and the example of his virtues.

It is some consolation, amidst the violence of ambition and the
criminal thirst of power, of which so many instances occur around us,
to find a character whom it is honorable to admire, and virtuous to
imitate. A conqueror, for the freedom of his country! a legislator,
for its security! a magistrate, for its happiness! His glories were
never sullied by those excesses into which the highest qualities are
apt to degenerate. With the greatest virtues, he was exempt from the
corresponding vices. He was a man in whom the elements were so mixed
that “Nature might have stood up to all the world” and owned him as
her work. His fame, bounded by no country, will be confined to no age.
The character of Washington, which his contemporaries admire, will be
transmitted to posterity; and the memory of his virtues, will remain
while patriotism and virtue are esteemed among men.――_From an English

       *       *       *       *       *

 Transcriber’s Notes:

 ――Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 ――Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 ――Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 ――Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

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