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The Life of George Washington, Volume I by Washington Irving

Part 4 out of 7

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declared that nothing but the imminent danger of the times prevented him
from instantly resigning a command from which he could never reap either
honor or benefit. His sensitiveness called forth strong letters from his
friends, assuring him of the high sense entertained at the seat of
government, and elsewhere, of his merits and services. "Your good health
and fortune are the toast of every table," wrote his early friend, Colonel
Fairfax, at that time a member of the governor's council. "Your endeavors
in the service and defence of your country must redound to your honor."

"Our hopes, dear George," wrote Mr. Robinson, the Speaker of the House of
Burgesses, "are all fixed on you for bringing our affairs to a happy issue.
Consider what fatal consequences to your country your resigning the command
at this time may be, especially as there is no doubt most of the officers
will follow your example."

In fact, the situation and services of the youthful commander, shut up in a
frontier town, destitute of forces, surrounded by savage foes, gallantly,
though despairingly, devoting himself to the safety of a suffering people,
were properly understood throughout the country, and excited a glow of
enthusiasm in his favor. The Legislature, too, began at length to act, but
timidly and inefficiently. "The country knows her danger," writes one of
the members, "but such is her parsimony that she is willing to wait for the
rains to wet the powder, and the rats to eat the bowstrings of the enemy,
rather than attempt to drive them from her frontiers."

The measure of relief voted by the Assembly was an additional appropriation
of twenty thousand pounds, and an increase of the provincial force to
fifteen hundred men. With this, it was proposed to erect and garrison a
chain of frontier forts, extending through the ranges of the Allegany
Mountains, from the Potomac to the borders of North Carolina; a distance of
between three and four hundred miles. This was one of the inconsiderate
projects devised by Governor Dinwiddie.

Washington, in letters to the governor and to the speaker of the House of
Burgesses, urged the impolicy of such a plan, with their actual force and
means. The forts, he observed, ought to be within fifteen or eighteen miles
of each other, that their spies might be able to keep watch over the
intervening country, otherwise the Indians would pass between them
unperceived, effect their ravages, and escape to the mountains, swamps, and
ravines, before the troops from the forts could be assembled to pursue
them. They ought each to be garrisoned with eighty or a hundred men, so as
to afford detachments of sufficient strength, without leaving the garrison
too weak; for the Indians are the most stealthy and patient of spies and
lurkers; will lie in wait for days together about small forts of the kind,
and, if they find, by some chance prisoner, that the garrison is actually
weak, will first surprise and cut off its scouting parties, and then attack
the fort itself. It was evident, therefore, observed he, that to garrison
properly such a line of forts, would require, at least, two thousand men.
And even then, a line of such extent might be broken through at one end
before the other end could yield assistance. Feint attacks, also, might be
made at one point, while the real attack was made at another, quite
distant; and the country be overrun before its widely-posted defenders
could be alarmed and concentrated. Then must be taken into consideration
the immense cost of building so many forts, and the constant and consuming
expense of supplies and transportation.

His idea of a defensive plan was to build a strong fort at Winchester, the
central point, where all the main roads met of a wide range of scattered
settlements, where tidings could soonest be collected from every quarter,
and whence reinforcements and supplies could most readily be forwarded. It
was to be a grand deposit of military stores, a residence for commanding
officers, a place of refuge for the women and children in time of alarm,
when the men had suddenly to take the field; in a word, it was to be the
citadel of the frontier.

Beside this, he would have three or four large fortresses erected at
convenient distances upon the frontiers, with powerful garrisons, so as to
be able to throw out, in constant succession, strong scouting parties, to
range the country. Fort Cumberland he condemned as being out of the
province, and out of the track of Indian incursions, insomuch that it
seldom received an alarm until all the mischief had been effected.

His representations with respect to military laws and regulations were
equally cogent. In the late act of the Assembly for raising a regiment, it
was provided that, in cases of emergency, if recruits should not offer in
sufficient number, the militia might be drafted to supply the deficiencies,
but only to serve until December, and not to be marched out of the
province. In this case, said he, before they have entered upon service, or
got the least smattering of duty, they will claim a discharge; if they are
pursuing an enemy who has committed the most unheard-of cruelties, he has
only to step across the Potomac, and he is safe. Then as to the limits of
service, they might just as easily have been enlisted for seventeen months,
as seven. They would then have been seasoned as well as disciplined; "for
we find by experience," says he, "that our poor ragged soldiers would kill
the most active militia in five days' marching."

Then, as to punishments: death, it was true, had been decreed for mutiny
and desertion; but there was no punishment for cowardice; for holding
correspondence with the enemy; for quitting, or sleeping on one's post; all
capital offences, according to the military codes of Europe. Neither were
there provisions for quartering or billeting soldiers, or impressing
waggons and other conveyances, in times of exigency. To crown all, no
court-martial could sit out of Virginia; a most embarrassing regulation,
when troops were fifty or a hundred miles beyond the frontier. He earnestly
suggested amendments on all these points, as well as with regard to the
soldiers' pay; which was less than that of the regular troops, or the
troops of most of the other provinces.

All these suggestions, showing at this youthful age that forethought and
circumspection which distinguished him throughout life, were repeatedly and
eloquently urged upon Governor Dinwiddie, with very little effect. The plan
of a frontier line of twenty-three forts was persisted in. Fort Cumberland
was pertinaciously kept up at a great and useless expense of men and money,
and the militia laws remained lax and inefficient. It was decreed, however,
that the great central fort at Winchester recommended by Washington, should
be erected.

In the height of the alarm, a company of one hundred gentlemen, mounted and
equipped, volunteered their services to repair to the frontier. They were
headed by Peyton Randolph, attorney-general, a man deservedly popular
throughout the province. Their offer was gladly accepted. They were
denominated the "Gentlemen Associators," and great expectations, of course,
were entertained from their gallantry and devotion. They were empowered,
also, to aid with their judgment in the selection of places for frontier

The "Gentlemen Associators," like all gentlemen associators in similar
emergencies, turned out with great zeal and spirit, and immense popular
effect, but wasted their fire in preparation, and on the march. Washington,
who well understood the value of such aid, observed dryly in a letter to
Governor Dinwiddie, "I am heartily glad that you have fixed upon these
gentlemen to point out the places for erecting forts, but regret to find,
their motions so slow." There is no doubt that they would have conducted
themselves gallantly, had they been put to the test; but before they
arrived near the scene of danger the alarm was over. About the beginning of
May, scouts brought in word that the tracks of the marauding savages tended
toward Fort Duquesne, as if on the return. In a little while it was
ascertained that they had recrossed the Allegany Mountain to the Ohio in
such numbers as to leave a beaten track, equal to that made in the
preceding year by the army of Braddock.

The repeated inroads of the savages called for an effectual and permanent
check. The idea of being constantly subject to the irruptions of a deadly
foe, that moved with stealth and mystery, and was only to be traced by its
ravages, and counted by its footprints, discouraged all settlement of the
country. The beautiful valley of the Shenandoah was fast becoming a
deserted and a silent place. Her people, for the most part, had fled to the
older settlements south of the mountains, and the Blue Ridge was likely
soon to become virtually the frontier line of the province.

We have to record one signal act of retaliation on the perfidious tribes of
the Ohio, in which a person whose name subsequently became dear to
Americans, was concerned. Prisoners who had escaped from the savages
reported that Shingis, Washington's faithless ally, and another sachem,
called Captain Jacobs, were the two heads of the hostile bands that had
desolated the frontier. That they lived at Kittanning, an Indian town,
about forty miles above Fort Duquesne; at which their warriors were fitted
out for incursions, and whither they returned with their prisoners and
plunder. Captain Jacobs was a daring fellow, and scoffed at palisaded
forts. "He could take any fort," he said, "that would catch fire."

A party of two hundred and eighty provincials, resolute men, undertook to
surprise, and destroy this savage nest. It was commanded by Colonel John
Armstrong; and with him went Dr. Hugh Mercer, of subsequent renown, who had
received a captain's commission from Pennsylvania, on the 6th of March,

Armstrong led his men rapidly, but secretly, over mountain, and through
forest, until, after a long and perilous march, they reached the Allegany.
It was a moonlight night when they arrived in the neighborhood of
Kittanning. They were guided to the village by whoops and yells, and the
sound of the Indian drum. The warriors were celebrating their exploits by
the triumphant scalp-dance. After a while the revel ceased, and a number of
fires appeared here and there in a corn-field. They were made by such of
the Indians as slept in the open air, and were intended to drive off the
gnats. Armstrong and his men lay down "quiet and hush," observing every
thing narrowly, and waiting until the moon should set, and the warriors be
asleep. At length the moon went down, the fires burned low; all was quiet.
Armstrong now roused his men, some of whom, wearied by their long march,
had fallen asleep. He divided his forces; part were to attack the warriors
in the corn-field, part were despatched to the houses, which were dimly
seen by the first streak of day. There was sharp firing in both quarters,
for the Indians, though taken by surprise, fought bravely, inspired by the
war-whoop of their chief, Captain Jacobs. The women and children fled to
the woods. Several of the provincials were killed and wounded. Captain Hugh
Mercer received a wound in the arm, and was taken to the top of a hill. The
fierce chieftain, Captain Jacobs, was besieged in his house, which had
port-holes; whence he and his warriors made havoc among the assailants. The
adjoining houses were set on fire. The chief was summoned to surrender
himself. He replied he was a man, and would not be a prisoner. He was told
he would be burnt. His reply was, "he would kill four or five before he
died." The flames and smoke approached. "One of the besieged warriors, to
show his manhood, began to sing. A squaw at the same time was heard to cry,
but was severely rebuked by the men." [Footnote: Letter from Col.

In the end, the warriors were driven out by the flames; some escaped, and
some were shot. Among the latter was Captain Jacobs, and his gigantic son,
said to be seven feet high. Fire was now set to all the houses, thirty in
number. "During the burning of the houses," says Colonel Armstrong, "we
were agreeably entertained with a quick succession of charged guns,
gradually firing off as reached by the fire, but much more so with the vast
explosion of sundry bags, and large kegs of powder, wherewith almost every
house abounded." The colonel was in a strange condition to enjoy such an
entertainment, having received a wound from a large musket-ball in the

The object of the expedition was accomplished. Thirty or forty of the
warriors were slain; their stronghold was a smoking ruin. There was danger
of the victors being cut off by a detachment from Fort Duquesne. They made
the best of their way, therefore, to their horses, which had been left at a
distance, and set off rapidly on their march to Fort Lyttleton, about sixty
miles north of Fort Cumberland.

Colonel Armstrong had reached Fort Lyttleton on the 14th of September, six
days after the battle, and fears were entertained that he had been
intercepted by the Indians and was lost. He, with his ensign and eleven
men, had separated from the main body when they began their march, and had
taken another and what was supposed a safer road. He had with him a woman,
a boy, and two little girls, recaptured from the Indians. The whole party
ultimately arrived safe at Fort Lyttleton, but it would seem that Mercer,
weak and faint from his fractured arm, must have fallen behind, or in some
way become separated from them, and had a long, solitary, and painful
struggle through the wilderness, reaching the fort sick, weary, and half
famished. [Footnote: "We hear that Captain Mercer was fourteen days in
getting to Fort Lyttleton. He had a miraculous escape, living ten days on
two dried clams and a rattlesnake, with the assistance of a few
berries."--_New York Mercury for October_ 4, 1756.] We shall have to
speak hereafter of his services when under the standard of Washington,
whose friend and neighbor he subsequently became. [Footnote: Mercer was a
Scotchman, about thirty-four years of age. About ten years previously he
had served as Assistant Surgeon in the forces of Charles Edward, and
followed his standard to the disastrous field of Culloden. After the defeat
of the "Chevalier," he had escaped by the way of Inverness to America, and
taken up his residence on the frontier of Pennsylvania.]



Throughout the summer of 1756, Washington exerted himself diligently in
carrying out measures determined upon for frontier security. The great
fortress at Winchester was commenced, and the work urged forward as
expeditiously as the delays and perplexities incident to a badly organized
service would permit. It received the name of Fort Loudoun, in honor of the
commander-in-chief, whose arrival in Virginia was hopefully anticipated.

As to the sites of the frontier posts, they were decided upon by Washington
and his officers, after frequent and long consultations; parties were sent
out to work on them, and men recruited, and militia drafted, to garrison
them. Washington visited occasionally such as were in progress, and near at
hand. It was a service of some peril, for the mountains and forests were
still infested by prowling savages, especially in the neighborhood of these
new forts. At one time when he was reconnoitering a wild part of the
country, attended merely by a servant and a guide, two men were murdered by
the Indians in a solitary defile shortly after he had passed through it.

In the autumn, he made a tour of inspection along the whole line,
accompanied by his friend, Captain Hugh Mercer, who had recovered from his
recent wounds. This tour furnished repeated proofs of the inefficiency of
the militia system. In one place he attempted to raise a force with which
to scour a region infested by roving bands of savages. After waiting
several days, but five men answered to his summons. In another place, where
three companies had been ordered to the relief of a fort, attacked by the
Indians, all that could be mustered were a captain, a lieutenant, and seven
or eight men.

When the militia were drafted, and appeared under arms, the case was not
much better. It was now late in the autumn; their term of service, by the
act of the Legislature, expired in December,--half of the time, therefore,
was lost in marching out and home. Their waste of provisions was enormous.
To be put on allowance, like other soldiers, they considered an indignity.
They would sooner starve than carry a few days' provisions on their backs.
On the march, when breakfast was wanted, they would knock down the first
beeves they met with, and, after regaling themselves, march on till dinner,
when they would take the same method; and so for supper, to the great
oppression of the people. For the want of proper military laws, they were
obstinate, self-willed, and perverse. Every individual had his own crude
notion of things, and would undertake to direct. If his advice were
neglected, he would think himself slighted, abused, and injured, and, to
redress himself, would depart for his home.

The garrisons were weak for want of men, but more so from indolence and
irregularity. None were in a posture of defence; few but might be surprised
with the greatest ease. At one fort, the Indians rushed from their
lurking-place, pounced upon several children playing under the walls, and
bore them off before they were discovered. Another fort was surprised, and
many of the people massacred in the same manner. In the course of his tour,
as he and his party approached a fort, he heard a quick firing for several
minutes; concluding that it was attacked, they hastened to its relief, but
found the garrison were merely amusing themselves firing at a mark, or for
wagers. In this way they would waste their ammunition as freely as they did
their provisions. In the mean time, the inhabitants of the country were in
a wretched situation, feeling the little dependence to be put on militia,
who were slow in coming to their assistance, indifferent about their
preservation, unwilling to continue, and regardless of every thing but of
their own ease. In short, they were so apprehensive of approaching ruin,
that the whole back country was in a general motion towards the southern

From the Catawba, he was escorted along a range of forts by a colonel, and
about thirty men, chiefly officers. "With this small company of
irregulars," says he, "with whom order, regularity, circumspection, and
vigilance were matters of derision and contempt, we set out, and, by the
protection of Providence, reached Augusta court-house in seven days,
without meeting the enemy; otherwise, we must have fallen a sacrifice,
through the indiscretion of these whooping, hallooing, _gentlemen_

How lively a picture does this give of the militia system at all times,
when not subjected to strict military law.

What rendered this year's service peculiarly irksome and embarrassing to
Washington, was the nature of his correspondence with Governor Dinwiddie.
That gentleman, either from the natural hurry and confusion of his mind, or
from a real disposition to perplex, was extremely ambiguous and
unsatisfactory in most of his orders and replies. "So much am I kept in the
dark," says Washington, in one of his letters, "that I do not know whether
to prepare for the offensive or defensive. What would be absolutely
necessary for the one, would be quite useless for the other." And again:
"The orders I receive are full of ambiguity. I am left like a wanderer in
the wilderness, to proceed at hazard. I am answerable for consequences, and
blamed, without the privilege of defence."

In nothing was this disposition to perplex more apparent than in the
governor's replies respecting Fort Cumberland. Washington had repeatedly
urged the abandonment of this fort as a place of frontier deposit, being
within the bounds of another province, and out of the track of Indian
incursion; so that often the alarm would not reach there until after the
mischief had been effected. He applied, at length, for particular and
positive directions from the governor on this head. "The following," says
he, "is an exact copy of his answer:--'Fort Cumberland is a _king_'s
fort, and built chiefly at the charge of the colony, therefore properly
under our direction until a new governor is appointed.' Now, whether I am
to understand this aye or no to the plain simple question asked, Is the
fort to be continued or removed? I know not. But in all important matters I
am directed in this ambiguous and uncertain way."

Governor Dinwiddie subsequently made himself explicit on this point. Taking
offence at some of Washington's comments on the military affairs of the
frontier, he made the stand of a self-willed and obstinate man, in the case
of Fort Cumberland; and represented it in such light to Lord Loudoun, as to
draw from his lordship an order that it should be kept up: and an implied
censure of the conduct of Washington in slighting a post of such paramount
importance. "I cannot agree with Colonel Washington," writes his lordship,
"in not drawing in the posts from the stockade forts, in order to defend
that advanced one; and I should imagine much more of the frontier will be
exposed by retiring your advanced posts near Winchester, where I understand
he is retired; for, from your letter, I take it for granted he has before
this executed his plan, without waiting for any advice. If he leaves any of
the great quantity of stores behind, it will be very unfortunate, and he
ought to consider that it must lie at his own door."

Thus powerfully supported, Dinwiddie went so far as to order that the
garrisons should be withdrawn from the stockades and small frontier forts,
and most of the troops from Winchester, to strengthen Fort Cumberland,
which was now to become headquarters; thus weakening the most important
points and places, to concentrate a force where it was not wanted, and
would be out of the way in most cases of alarm. By these meddlesome moves,
made by Governor Dinwiddie from a distance, without knowing any thing of
the game, all previous arrangements were reversed, every thing was thrown
into confusion, and enormous losses and expenses were incurred.

"Whence it arises, or why, I am truly ignorant," writes Washington to Mr.
Speaker Robinson, "but my strongest representations of matters relative to
the frontiers are disregarded as idle and frivolous; my propositions and
measures as partial and selfish; and all my sincerest endeavors for the
service of my country are perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are
dark and uncertain; to-day approved, to-morrow disapproved."

Whence all this contradiction and embarrassment arose has since been
explained, and with apparent reason. Governor Dinwiddie had never recovered
from the pique caused by the popular elevation of Washington to the command
in preference to his favorite, Colonel Innes. His irritation was kept alive
by a little Scottish faction, who were desirous of disgusting Washington
with the service, so as to induce him to resign, and make way for his
rival. They might have carried their point during the panic at Winchester,
had not his patriotism and his sympathy with the public distress been more
powerful than his self-love. He determined, he said, to bear up under these
embarrassments in the hope of better regulations when Lord Loudoun should
arrive; to whom he looked for the future fate of Virginia.

While these events were occurring on the Virginia frontier, military
affairs went on tardily and heavily at the north. The campaign against
Canada, which was to have opened early in the year, hung fire. The armament
coming out for the purpose, under Lord Loudoun, was delayed through the
want of energy and union in the British cabinet. General Abercrombie, who
was to be next in command to his lordship, and to succeed to General
Shirley, set sail in advance for New York with two regiments, but did not
reach Albany, the head-quarters of military operation, until the 25th of
June. He billeted his soldiers upon the town, much to the disgust of the
inhabitants, and talked of ditching and stockading it, but postponed all
exterior enterprises until the arrival of Lord Loudoun; then the campaign
was to open in earnest.

On the 12th of July, came word that the forts Ontario and Oswego, on each
side of the mouth of the Oswego River, were menaced by the Drench. They had
been imperfectly constructed by Shirley, and were insufficiently
garrisoned, yet contained a great amount of military and naval stores, and
protected the vessels which cruised on Lake Ontario.

Major-general Webb was ordered by Abercrombie to hold himself in readiness
to march with one regiment to the relief of these forts, but received no
further orders. Every thing awaited the arrival at Albany of Lord Loudoun,
which at length took place, on the 29th of July. There were now at least
ten thousand troops, regulars and provincials, loitering in an idle camp at
Albany, yet relief to Oswego was still delayed. Lord Loudoun was in favor
of it, but the governments of New York and New England urged the immediate
reduction of Crown Point, as necessary for the security of their frontier.
After much debate, it was agreed that General Webb should march to the
relief of Oswego. He left Albany on the 12th of August, but had scarce
reached the carrying-place, between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, when
he received news that Oswego was reduced, and its garrison captured. While
the British commanders had debated, Field-marshal the Marquis De Montcalm,
newly arrived from France, had acted. He was a different kind of soldier
from Abercrombie or Loudoun. A capacious mind and enterprising spirit
animated a small, but active and untiring frame. Quick in thought, quick in
speech, quicker still in action, he comprehended every thing at a glance,
and moved from point to point of the province with a celerity and secrecy
that completely baffled his slow and pondering antagonists. Crown Point and
Ticonderoga were visited, and steps taken to strengthen their works, and
provide for their security; then hastening to Montreal, he put himself at
the head of a force of regulars, Canadians, and Indians; ascended the St.
Lawrence to Lake Ontario; blocked up the mouth of the Oswego by his
vessels, landed his guns, and besieged the two forts; drove the garrison
out of one into the other; killed the commander, Colonel Mercer, and
compelled the garrisons to surrender prisoners of war. With the forts was
taken an immense amount of military stores, ammunition, and provisions; one
hundred and twenty-one cannon, fourteen mortars, six vessels of war, a vast
number of batteaux, and three chests of money. His blow achieved, Montcalm
returned in triumph to Montreal, and sent the colors of the captured forts
to be hung up as trophies in the Canadian churches.

The season was now too far advanced for Lord Loudoun to enter upon any
great military enterprise; he postponed, therefore, the great northern
campaign, so much talked of and debated, until the following year; and
having taken measures for the protection of his frontiers, and for more
active operations in the spring, returned to New York, hung up his sword,
and went into comfortable winter-quarters.



Circumstances had led Washington to think that Lord Loudoun "had received
impressions to his prejudice by false representations of facts," and that a
wrong idea prevailed at head-quarters respecting the state of military
affairs in Virginia. He was anxious, therefore, for an opportunity of
placing all these matters in a proper light; and, understanding that there
was to be a meeting in Philadelphia in the month of March, between Lord
Loudoun and the southern governors, to consult about measures of defence
for their respective provinces, he wrote to Governor Dinwiddie for
permission to attend it.

"I cannot conceive," writes Dinwiddie in reply, "what service you can be of
in going there, as the plan concerted will, in course, be communicated to
you and the other officers. However, as you seem so earnest to go, I now
give you leave."

This ungracious reply seemed to warrant the suspicions entertained by some
of Washington's friends, that it was the busy pen of Governor Dinwiddie
which had given the "false representation of facts," to Lord Loudoun. About
a month, therefore, before the time of the meeting, Washington addressed a
long letter to his lordship, explanatory of military affairs in the quarter
where he had commanded. In this he set forth the various defects in the
militia laws of Virginia; the errors in its system of defence, and the
inevitable confusion which had thence resulted.

Adverting to his own conduct: "The orders I receive," said he, "are full of
ambiguity. I am left like a wanderer in the wilderness to proceed at
hazard. I am answerable for consequences, and blamed, without the privilege
of defence. ... It is not to be wondered at, if, under such peculiar
circumstances, I should be sick of a service which promises so little of a
soldier's reward.

"I have long been satisfied of the impossibility of continuing in this
service, without loss of honor. Indeed, I was fully convinced of it before
I accepted the command the second time, seeing the cloudy prospect before
me; and I did, for this reason, reject the offer, until I was ashamed any
longer to refuse, not caring to expose my character to public censure. The
solicitations of the country overcame my objections, and induced me to
accept it. Another reason has of late operated to continue me in the
service until now, and that is, the dawn of hope that arose, when I heard
your lordship was destined, by his majesty, for the important command of
his armies in America, and appointed to the government of his dominion of
Virginia. Hence it was, that I drew my hopes, and fondly pronounced your
lordship our patron. Although I have not the honor to be known to your
lordship, yet your name was familiar to my ear, on account of the important
services rendered to his majesty in other parts of the world."

The manner in which Washington was received by Lord Loudoun on arriving in
Philadelphia, showed him at once, that his long, explanatory letter had
produced the desired effect, and that his character and conduct were justly
appreciated. During his sojourn in Philadelphia he was frequently consulted
on points of frontier service, and his advice was generally adopted. On one
point it failed. He advised that an attack should be made on Fort Duquesne,
simultaneous with the attempts on Canada. At such time a great part of the
garrison would be drawn away to aid in the defence of that province, and a
blow might be struck more likely to insure the peace and safety of the
southern frontier, than all its forts and defences.

Lord Loudoun, however, was not to be convinced, or at least persuaded.
According to his plan, the middle and southern provinces were to maintain a
merely defensive warfare; and as Virginia would be required to send four
hundred of her troops to the aid of South Carolina, she would, in fact, be
left weaker than before.

Washington was also disappointed a second time, in the hope of having his
regiment placed on the same footing as the regular army, and of obtaining a
king's commission; the latter he was destined never to hold.

His representations with respect to Fort Cumberland had the desired effect
in counteracting the mischievous intermeddling of Dinwiddie. The Virginia
troops and stores were ordered to be again removed to Fort Loudoun, at
Winchester, which once more became head-quarters, while Fort Cumberland was
left to be occupied by a Maryland garrison. Washington was instructed,
likewise, to correspond and co-operate, in military affairs, with Colonel
Stanwix, who was stationed on the Pennsylvania frontier, with five hundred
men from the Royal American regiment, and to whom he would be, in some
measure, subordinate. This proved a correspondence of friendship, as well
as duty; Colonel Stanwix being a gentleman of high moral worth, as well as
great ability in military affairs.

The great plan of operations at the north was again doomed to failure. The
reduction of Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, which had long been meditated,
was laid aside, and the capture of Louisburg substituted, as an acquisition
of far greater importance. This was a place of great consequence, situated
on the isle of Cape Breton, and strongly fortified. It commanded the
fisheries of Newfoundland, overawed New England, and was a main bulwark to

In the course of July, Lord Loudoun set sail for Halifax with all the
troops he could collect, amounting to about six thousand men, to join with
Admiral Holbourne, who had just arrived at that port with eleven ships of
the line, a fire-ship, bomb-ketch, and fleet of transports, having on board
six thousand men. With this united force Lord Loudoun anticipated the
certain capture of Louisburg.

Scarce had the tidings of his lordship's departure reached Canada, when the
active Montcalm again took the field, to follow up the successes of the
preceding year. Fort William Henry, which Sir Wm. Johnson had erected on
the southern shore of Lake George, was now his object; it commanded the
lake, and was an important protection to the British frontier. A brave old
officer, Colonel Monro, with about five hundred men, formed the garrison;
more than three times that number of militia were intrenched near by.
Montcalm had, early in the season, made three ineffectual attempts upon the
fort; he now trusted to be more successful. Collecting his forces from
Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and the adjacent posts, with a considerable
number of Canadians and Indians, altogether nearly eight thousand men, he
advanced up the lake, on the 1st of August, in a fleet of boats, with
swarms of Indian canoes in the advance. The fort came near being surprised;
but the troops encamped without it, abandoned their tents and hurried
within the works. A summons to surrender was answered by a brave defiance.
Montcalm invested the fort, made his approaches, and battered it with his
artillery. For five days its veteran commander kept up a vigorous defence,
trusting to receive assistance from General Webb, who had failed to relieve
Fort Oswego in the preceding year, and who was now at Fort Edward, about
fifteen miles distant, with upwards of five thousand men. Instead of this,
Webb, who overrated the French forces, sent him a letter, advising him to
capitulate. The letter was intercepted by Montcalm, but still forwarded to
Monro. The obstinate old soldier, however, persisted in his defence, until
most of his cannon were burst, and his ammunition expended. At length, in
the month of August, he hung out a flag of truce, and obtained honorable
terms from an enemy who knew how to appreciate his valor. Montcalm
demolished the fort, carried off all the artillery and munitions of war,
with vessels employed in the navigation of the lake; and having thus
completed his destruction of the British defences on this frontier,
returned once more in triumph with the spoils of victory, to hang up fresh
trophies in the churches of Canada.

Lord Loudoun, in the mean time, formed his junction with Admiral Holbourne
at Halifax, and the troops were embarked with all diligence on board of the
transports. Unfortunately, the French were again too quick for them.
Admiral de Bois de la Mothe had arrived at Louisburg, with a large naval
and land force; it was ascertained that he had seventeen ships of the line,
and three frigates, quietly moored in the harbor; that the place was well
fortified and supplied with provisions and ammunition, and garrisoned with
six thousand regular troops; three thousand natives, and thirteen hundred

Some hot-heads would have urged an attempt against all such array of force,
but Lord Loudoun was aware of the probability of defeat, and the disgrace
and ruin that it would bring upon British arms in America. He wisely,
though ingloriously, returned to New York. Admiral Holbourne made a silly
demonstration of his fleet off the harbor of Louisburg, approaching within
two miles of the batteries, but retired on seeing the French admiral
preparing to unmoor. He afterwards returned with a reinforcement of four
ships of the line; cruised before Louisburg, endeavoring to draw the enemy
to an engagement, which De la Mothe had the wisdom to decline; was
overtaken by a hurricane, in which one of his ships was lost, eleven were
dismasted, others had to throw their guns overboard, and all returned in a
shattered condition to England. Thus ended the northern campaign by land
and sea, a subject of great mortification to the nation, and ridicule and
triumph to the enemy.

During these unfortunate operations to the north, Washington was stationed
at Winchester, shorn of part of his force by the detachment to South
Carolina, and left with seven hundred men to defend a frontier of more than
three hundred and fifty miles in extent. The capture and demolition of
Oswego by Montcalm had produced a disastrous effect. The whole country of
the five nations was abandoned to the French. The frontiers of
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia were harassed by repeated inroads of
French and Indians, and Washington had the mortification to see the noble
valley of the Shenandoah almost deserted by its inhabitants, and fast
relapsing into a wilderness.

The year wore away on his part in the harassing service of defending a wide
frontier with an insufficient and badly organized force, and the vexations
he experienced were heightened by continual misunderstandings with Governor
Dinwiddie. From the ungracious tenor of several of that gentleman's
letters, and from private information, he was led to believe that some
secret enemy had been making false representations of his motives and
conduct, and prejudicing the governor against him. He vindicated himself
warmly from the alleged aspersions, proudly appealing to the whole course
of his public career in proof of their falsity. "It is uncertain," said he,
"in what light my services may have appeared to your honor; but this I
know, and it is the highest consolation I am capable of feeling, that no
man that ever was employed in a public capacity has endeavored to discharge
the trust reposed in him with greater honesty and more zeal for the
country's interest than I have done; and if there is any person living who
can say, with justice, that I have offered any intentional wrong to the
public, I will cheerfully submit to the most ignominious punishment that an
injured people ought to inflict. On the other hand, it is hard to have my
character arraigned, and my actions condemned, without a hearing."

His magnanimous appeal had but little effect. Dinwiddie was evidently
actuated by the petty pique of a narrow and illiberal mind, impatient of
contradiction, even when in error. He took advantage of his official
station to vent his spleen and gratify his petulance in a variety of ways
incompatible with the courtesy of a gentleman. It may excite a grave smile
at the present day to find Washington charged by this very small-minded man
with looseness in his way of writing to him; with remissness in his duty
towards him; and even with impertinence in the able and eloquent
representations which he felt compelled to make of disastrous mismanagement
in military affairs; and still more, to find his reasonable request, after
a long course of severe duty, for a temporary leave of absence to attend to
his private concerns peremptorily refused, and that with as little courtesy
as though he were a mere subaltern seeking to absent himself on a party of

The multiplied vexations which Washington had latterly experienced from
this man, had preyed upon his spirits, and contributed, with his incessant
toils and anxieties, to undermine his health. For some time he struggled
with repeated attacks of dysentery and fever, and continued in the exercise
of his duties; but the increased violence of his malady, and the urgent
advice of his friend Dr. Craik, the army surgeon, induced him to relinquish
his post towards the end of the year and retire to Mount Vernon.

The administration of Dinwiddie, however, was now at an end. He set sail
for England in January, 1758, very little regretted, excepting by his
immediate hangers-on, and leaving a character overshadowed by the
imputation of avarice and extortion in the exaction of illegal fees, and of
downright delinquency in regard to large sums transmitted to him by
government to be paid over to the province in indemnification of its extra
expenses; for the disposition of which sums he failed to render an account.

He was evidently a sordid, narrow-minded, and somewhat arrogant man;
bustling rather than active; prone to meddle with matters of which he was
profoundly ignorant, and absurdly unwilling to have his ignorance



For several months Washington was afflicted by returns of his malady,
accompanied by symptoms indicative, as he thought, of a decline. "My
constitution," writes he to his friend Colonel Stanwix, "is much impaired,
and nothing can retrieve it but the greatest care and the most circumspect
course of life. This being the case, as I have now no prospect left of
preferment in the military way, and despair of rendering that immediate
service which my country may require from the person commanding its troops,
I have thoughts of quitting my command and retiring from all public
business, leaving my post to be filled by some other person more capable of
the task, and who may, perhaps, have his endeavors crowned with better
success than mine have been."

A gradual improvement in his health, and a change in his prospects,
encouraged him to continue in what really was his favorite career, and at
the beginning of April he was again in command at Fort Loudoun. Mr. Francis
Fauquier had been appointed successor to Dinwiddie, and, until he should
arrive, Mr. John Blair, president of the council, had, from his office,
charge of the government. In the latter Washington had a friend who
appreciated his character and services, and was disposed to carry out his

The general aspect of affairs, also, was more animating. Under the able and
intrepid administration of William Pitt, who had control of the British
cabinet, an effort was made to retrieve the disgraces of the late American
campaign, and to carry on the war with greater vigor. The instructions for
a common fund were discontinued; there was no more talk of taxation by
Parliament. Lord Loudoun, from whom so much had been anticipated, had
disappointed by his inactivity, and been relieved from a command in which
he had attempted much and done so little. His friends alleged that his
inactivity was owing to a want of unanimity and co-operation in the
colonial governments, which paralyzed all his well meant efforts. Franklin,
it is probable, probed the matter with his usual sagacity when he
characterized him as a man "entirely made up of indecision."--"Like St.
George on the signs, he was always on horseback, but never rode on."

On the return of his lordship to England, the general command in America
devolved on Major-general Abercrombie, and the forces were divided into
three detached bodies; one, under Major-general Amherst, was to operate in
the north with the fleet under Boscawen, for the reduction of Louisburg and
the island of Cape Breton; another, under Abercrombie himself, was to
proceed against Ticonderoga and Crown Point on Lake Champlain; and the
third, under Brigadier-general Forbes, who had the charge of the middle and
southern colonies, was to undertake the reduction of Fort Duquesne. The
colonial troops were to be supplied, like the regulars, with arms,
ammunition, tents, and provisions, at the expense of government, but
clothed and paid by the colonies; for which the king would recommend to
Parliament a proper compensation. The provincial officers appointed by the
governors, and of no higher rank than colonel, were to be equal in command,
when united in service with those who held direct from the king, according
to the date of their commissions. By these wise provisions of Mr. Pitt a
fertile cause of heartburnings and dissensions was removed.

It was with the greatest satisfaction Washington saw his favorite measure
at last adopted, the reduction of Fort Duquesne; and he resolved to
continue in the service until that object was accomplished. In a letter to
Stanwix, who was now a brigadier-general, he modestly requested to be
mentioned in favorable terms to General Forbes, "not," said he, "as a
person who would depend upon him for further recommendation to military
preferment (for I have long conquered all such inclinations, and shall
serve this campaign merely for the purpose of affording my best endeavors
to bring matters to a conclusion), but as a person who would gladly be
distinguished in some measure from the _common run_ of provincial
officers, as I understand there will be a motley herd of us." He had the
satisfaction subsequently of enjoying the fullest confidence of General
Forbes, who knew too well the sound judgment and practical ability evinced
by him in the unfortunate campaign of Braddock not to be desirous of
availing himself of his counsels.

Washington still was commander-in-chief of the Virginia troops, now
augmented, by an act of the Assembly, to two regiments of one thousand men
each; one led by himself, the other by Colonel Byrd; the whole destined to
make a part of the army of General Forbes in the expedition against Fort

Of the animation which he felt at the prospect of serving in this
long-desired campaign, and revisiting with an effective force the scene of
past disasters, we have a proof in a short letter, written during the
excitement of the moment, to Major Francis Halket, his former companion in

"My dear Halket:--Are we to have you once more among us? And shall we
revisit together a hapless spot, that proved so fatal to many of our former
brave companions? Yes; and I rejoice at it, hoping it will now be in our
power to testify a just abhorrence of the cruel butcheries exercised on our
friends in the unfortunate day of General Braddock's defeat; and, moreover,
to show our enemies, that we can practise all that lenity of which they
only boast, without affording any adequate proof."

Before we proceed to narrate the expedition against Fort Duquesne, however,
we will briefly notice the conduct of the two other expeditions, which
formed important parts in the plan of military operations for the year. And
first, of that against Louisburg and the Island of Cape Breton.

Major-general Amherst, who conducted this expedition, embarked with between
ten and twelve thousand men, in the fleet of Admiral Boscawen, and set sail
about the end of May, from Halifax, in Nova Scotia. Along with him went
Brigadier-general James Wolfe, an officer young in years, but a veteran, in
military experience, and destined to gain, an almost romantic celebrity.
He may almost be said to have been born in the camp, for he was the son of
Major-general Wolfe, a veteran officer of merit, and when a lad had
witnessed the battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy. While a mere youth he had
distinguished himself at the battle of Laffeldt, in the Netherlands; and
now, after having been eighteen years in the service, he was but thirty-one
years of age. In America, however, he was to win his lasting laurels.

On the 2d of June, the fleet arrived at the Bay of Gabarus, about seven
miles to the west of Louisburg. The latter place was garrisoned by two
thousand five hundred regulars, and three hundred militia, and subsequently
reinforced by upwards of four hundred Canadians and Indians. In the harbor
were six ships-of-the-line, and five frigates; three of which were sunk
across the mouth. For several days the troops were prevented from landing
by boisterous weather, and a heavy surf. The French improved that time to
strengthen a chain of forts along the shore, deepening trenches, and
constructing batteries.

On the 8th of June, preparations for landing were made before daybreak. The
troops were embarked in boats in three divisions, under Brigadiers Wolfe,
Whetmore, and Laurens. The landing was to be attempted west of the harbor,
at a place feebly secured. Several frigates and sloops previously scoured
the beach with their shot, after which Wolfe pulled for shore with his
divisions; the other two divisions distracting the attention of the enemy,
by making a show of landing in other parts. The surf still ran high, the
enemy opened a fire of cannon and musketry from their batteries, many boats
were upset, many men slain, but Wolfe pushed forward, sprang into the water
when the boats grounded, dashed through the surf with his men, stormed the
enemy's breastworks and batteries, and drove them from the shore. Among the
subalterns who stood by Wolfe on this occasion, was an Irish youth,
twenty-one years of age, named Richard Montgomery, whom, for his gallantry,
Wolfe promoted to a lieutenancy, and who was destined, in after years, to
gain an imperishable renown. The other divisions effected a landing after a
severe conflict; artillery and stores were brought on shore, and Louisburg
was formally invested.

The weather continued boisterous; the heavy cannon, and the various
munitions necessary for a siege, were landed with difficulty. Amherst,
moreover, was a cautious man, and made his approaches slowly, securing his
camp by redoubts and epaulements. The Chevalier Drucour, who commanded at
Louisburg, called in his outposts, and prepared for a desperate defence;
keeping up a heavy fire from his batteries, and from the ships in the

Wolfe, with a strong detachment, surprised at night, and took possession of
Light House Point, on the north-east side of the entrance to the harbor.
Here he threw up batteries in addition to those already there, from which
he was enabled greatly to annoy both town and shipping, as well as to aid
Amherst in his slow, but regular and sure approaches.

On the 21st of July, the three largest of the enemy's ships were set on
fire by a bombshell. On the night of the 25th two other of the ships were
boarded, sword in hand, from boats of the squadron; one being aground, was
burnt, the other was towed out of the harbor in triumph. The brave Drucour
kept up the defence until all the ships were either taken or destroyed;
forty, out of fifty-two pieces of cannon dismounted, and his works mere
heaps of ruins. When driven to capitulate, he refused the terms proposed,
as being too severe, and, when threatened with a general assault, by sea
and land, determined to abide it, rather than submit to what he considered
a humiliation. The prayers and petitions of the inhabitants, however,
overcame his obstinacy. The place was surrendered, and he and his garrison
became prisoners of war. Captain Amherst, brother to the general, carried
home the news to England, with eleven pair of colors, taken at Louisburg.
There were rejoicings throughout the kingdom. The colors were borne in
triumph through the streets of London, with a parade of horse and foot,
kettle drums and trumpets, and the thunder of artillery, and were put up as
trophies in St. Paul's Cathedral.

Boscawen, who was a member of Parliament, received a unanimous vote of
praise from the House of Commons, and the youthful Wolfe, who returned
shortly after the victory to England, was hailed as the hero of the

We have disposed of one of the three great expeditions contemplated in the
plan of the year's campaign. The second was that against the French forts
on Lakes George and Champlain. At the beginning of July, Abercrombie was
encamped on the borders of Lake George, with between six and seven thousand
regulars, and upwards of nine thousand provincials, from New England, New
York, and New Jersey. Major Israel Putnam, of Connecticut, who had served
on this lake, under Sir William Johnson, in the campaign in which Dieskau
was defeated and slain, had been detached with a scouting party to
reconnoitre the neighborhood. After his return and report, Abercrombie
prepared to proceed against Ticonderoga, situated on a tongue of land in
Lake Champlain, at the mouth of the strait communicating with Lake George.

On the 5th of July, the forces were embarked in one hundred and twenty-five
whale-boats, and nine hundred batteaux, with the artillery on rafts. The
vast flotilla proceeded slowly down the lake, with banners and pennons
fluttering in the summer breeze; arms glittering in the sunshine, and
martial music echoing along the wood-clad mountains. With Abercrombie went
Lord Howe, a young nobleman brave and enterprising, full of martial
enthusiasm, and endeared to the soldiery by the generosity of his
disposition, and the sweetness of his manners.

On the first night they bivouacked for some hours at Sabbath-day Point, but
re-embarked before midnight. The next day they landed on a point on the
western shore, just at the entrance of the strait leading to Lake
Champlain. Here they were formed into three columns, and pushed forward.

They soon came upon the enemy's advanced guard, a battalion encamped behind
a log breastwork. The French set fire to their camp, and retreated. The
columns kept their form, and pressed forward, but, through ignorance of
their guides, became bewildered in a dense forest, fell into confusion, and
blundered upon each other.

Lord Howe urged on with the van of the right centre column. Putnam, who was
with him, and more experienced in forest warfare, endeavored in vain to
inspire him with caution. After a time they came upon a detachment of the
retreating foe, who, like themselves, had lost their way. A severe conflict
ensued. Lord Howe, who gallantly led the van, was killed at the onset. His
fall gave new ardor to his troops. The enemy were routed, some slain, some
drowned, about one hundred and fifty taken prisoners, including five
officers. Nothing further was done that day. The death of Lord Howe more
than counterbalanced the defeat of the enemy. His loss was bewailed not
merely by the army, but by the American people; for it is singular how much
this young nobleman, in a short time, had made himself beloved. The point
near which the troops had landed still bears his name; the place where he
fell is still pointed out; and Massachusetts voted him a monument in
Westminster Abbey.

With Lord Howe expired the master spirit of the enterprise. Abercrombie
fell back to the landing-place. The next day he sent out a strong
detachment of regulars, royal provincials, and batteaux men, under
Lieutenant-colonel Bradstreet, of New York, to secure a saw-mill, which the
enemy had abandoned. This done, he followed on the same evening with the
main forces, and took post at the mill, within two miles of the fort. Here
he was joined by Sir William Johnson, with between four and five hundred
savage warriors from the Mohawk River.

Montcalm had called in all his forces, between three and four thousand men,
and was strongly posted behind deep intrenchments and breastworks eight
feet high; with an abatis, or felled trees, in front of his lines,
presenting a horrid barrier, with their jagged boughs pointing outward.
Abercrombie was deceived as to the strength of the French works; his
engineers persuaded him they were formidable only in appearance, but really
weak and flimsy. Without waiting for the arrival of his cannon, and against
the opinion of his most judicious officers, he gave orders to storm the
works. Never were rash orders more gallantly obeyed. The men rushed forward
with fixed bayonets, and attempted to force their way through, or scramble
over the abatis, under a sheeted fire of swivels and musketry. In the
desperation of the moment, the officers even tried to cut their way through
with their swords. Some even reached the parapet, where they were shot
down. The breastwork was too high to be surmounted, and gave a secure
covert to the enemy. Repeated assaults were made, and as often repelled,
with dreadful havoc. The Iroquois warriors, who had arrived with Sir
William Johnson, took no part, it is said, in this fierce conflict, but
stood aloof as unconcerned spectators of the bloody strife of white men.

After four hours of desperate and fruitless fighting, Abercrombie, who had
all the time remained aloof at the saw-mills gave up the ill-judged
attempt, and withdrew once more to the landing-place, with the loss of
nearly two thousand in killed and wounded. Had not the vastly inferior
force of Montcalm prevented him from sallying beyond his trenches, the
retreat of the British might have been pushed to a headlong and disastrous

Abercrombie had still nearly four times the number of the enemy, with
cannon, and all the means of carrying on a siege, with every prospect of
success; but the failure of this rash assault seems completely to have
dismayed him. The next day he re-embarked all his troops, and returned
across that lake where his disgraced banners had recently waved so proudly.

While the general was planning fortifications on Lake George, Colonel
Bradstreet obtained permission to carry into effect an expedition which he
had for some time meditated, and which had been a favored project with the
lamented Howe. This was to reduce Fort Frontenac, the stronghold of the
French on the north side of the entrance of Lake Ontario, commanding the
mouth of the St. Lawrence. This post was a central point of Indian trade,
where the tribes resorted from all parts of a vast interior; sometimes a
distance of a thousand miles, to traffic away their peltries with the
fur-traders. It was, moreover, a magazine for the more southern posts,
among which was Fort Duquesne on the Ohio.

Bradstreet was an officer of spirit. Pushing his way along the valley of
the Mohawk and by the Oneida, where he was joined by several warriors of
the Six Nations, he arrived at Oswego in August, with nearly three thousand
men; the greater part of them provincial troops of New York and
Massachusetts. Embarking at Oswego in open boats, he crossed Lake Ontario,
and landed within a mile of Frontenac. The fort mounted sixty guns, and
several mortars, yet though a place of such importance, the garrison
consisted of merely one hundred and ten men, and a few Indians. These
either fled, or surrendered at discretion. In the fort was an immense
amount of merchandise and military stores; part of the latter intended for
the supply of Fort Duquesne. In the harbor were nine armed vessels, some of
them carrying eighteen guns; the whole of the enemy's shipping on the lake.
Two of these Colonel Bradstreet freighted with part of the spoils of the
fort, the others he destroyed; then having dismantled the fortifications,
and laid waste every thing which he could not carry away, he recrossed the
lake to Oswego, and returned with his troops to the army on Lake George.



Operations went on slowly in that part of the year's campaign in which
Washington was immediately engaged--the expedition against Fort Duquesne.
Brigadier-general Forbes, who was commander-in-chief, was detained at
Philadelphia by those delays and cross-purposes incident to military
affairs in a new country. Colonel Bouquet, who was to command the advanced
division, took his station, with a corps of regulars, at Raystown, in the
centre of Pennsylvania. There slowly assembled troops from various parts.
Three thousand Pennsylvanians, twelve hundred and fifty South Carolinians,
and a few hundred men from elsewhere.

Washington, in the mean time, gathered together his scattered regiment at
Winchester, some from a distance of two hundred miles, and diligently
disciplined his recruits. He had two Virginia regiments under him,
amounting, when complete, to about nineteen hundred men. Seven hundred
Indian warriors, also, came lagging into his camp, lured by the prospect of
a successful campaign.

The president of the council had given Washington a discretionary power in
the present juncture to order out militia for the purpose of garrisoning
the fort in the absence of the regular troops. Washington exercised the
power with extreme reluctance. He considered it, he said, an affair of too
important and delicate a nature for him to manage, and apprehended the
discontent it might occasion. In fact, his sympathies were always with the
husbandmen and the laborers of the soil, and he deplored the evils imposed
upon them by arbitrary drafts for military service; a scruple not often
indulged by youthful commanders.

The force thus assembling was in want of arms, tents, field-equipage, and
almost every requisite. Washington had made repeated representations, by
letter, of the destitute state of the Virginia troops, but without avail;
he was now ordered by Sir John St. Clair, the quartermaster-general of the
forces, under General Forbes, to repair to Williamsburg, and lay the state
of the case before the council. He set off promptly on horseback, attended
by Bishop, the well-trained military servant, who had served the late
General Braddock. It proved an eventful journey, though not in a military
point of view. In crossing a ferry of the Pamunkey, a branch of York River,
he fell in company with a Mr. Chamberlayne, who lived in the neighborhood,
and who, in the spirit of Virginian hospitality, claimed him as a guest. It
was with difficulty Washington could be prevailed on to halt for dinner, so
impatient was he to arrive at Williamsburg, and accomplish his mission.

Among the guests at Mr. Chamberlayne's was a young and blooming widow, Mrs.
Martha Custis, daughter of Mr. John Dandridge, both patrician names in the
province. Her husband, John Parke Custis, had been dead about three years,
leaving her with two young children, and a large fortune. She is
represented as being rather below the middle size, but extremely well
shaped, with an agreeable countenance, dark hazel eyes and hair, and those
frank, engaging manners, so captivating in Southern women. We are not
informed whether Washington had met with her before; probably not during
her widowhood, as during that time he had been almost continually on the
frontier. We have shown that, with all his gravity and reserve, he was
quickly susceptible to female charms; and they may have had a greater
effect upon him when thus casually encountered in fleeting moments snatched
from the cares and perplexities and rude scenes of frontier warfare. At any
rate, his heart appears to have been taken by surprise.

The dinner, which in those days was an earlier meal than at present, seemed
all too short. The afternoon passed away like a dream. Bishop was punctual
to the orders he had received on halting; the horses pawed at the door; but
for once Washington loitered in the path of duty. The horses were
countermanded, and it was not until the next morning that he was again in
the saddle, spurring for Williamsburg. Happily the White House, the
residence of Mrs. Custis, was in New Kent County, at no great distance from
that city, so that he had opportunities of visiting her in the intervals of
business. His time for courtship, however, was brief. Military duties
called him back almost immediately to Winchester; but he feared, should he
leave the matter in suspense, some more enterprising rival might supplant
him during his absence, as in the case of Miss Philipse, at New York. He
improved, therefore, his brief opportunity to the utmost. The blooming
widow had many suitors, but Washington was graced with that renown so
ennobling in the eyes of woman. In a word, before they separated, they had
mutually plighted their faith, and the marriage was to take place as soon
as the campaign against Fort Duquesne was at an end.

Before returning to Winchester, Washington was obliged to hold conferences
with Sir John St. Clair and Colonel Bouquet, at an intermediate rendezvous,
to give them information respecting the frontiers, and arrange about the
marching of his troops. His constant word to them was forward! forward!
For the precious time for action was slipping away, and he feared their
Indian allies, so important to their security while on the march, might,
with their usual fickleness, lose patience, and return home.

On arriving at Winchester, he found his troops restless and discontented
from prolonged inaction. The inhabitants impatient of the burdens imposed
on them, and of the disturbances of an idle camp; while the Indians, as he
apprehended, had deserted outright. It was a great relief, therefore, when
he received orders from the commander-in-chief to repair to Fort
Cumberland. He arrived there on the 2d of July, and proceeded to open a
road between that post and head-quarters, at Raystown, thirty miles
distant, where Colonel Bouquet was stationed.

His troops were scantily supplied with regimental clothing. The weather was
oppressively warm. He now conceived the idea of equipping them in the light
Indian hunting garb, and even of adopting it himself. Two companies were
accordingly equipped in this style, and sent under the command of Major
Lewis to head-quarters. "It is an unbecoming dress, I own, for an officer,"
writes Washington, "but convenience rather than show, I think, should be
consulted. The reduction of bat-horses alone would be sufficient to
recommend it; for nothing is more certain than that less baggage would be

The experiment was successful. "The dress takes very well here," writes
Colonel Bouquet; "and, thank God, we see nothing but shirts and blankets.
... Their dress should be one pattern for this expedition." Such was
probably the origin of the American rifle dress, afterwards so much worn in
warfare, and modelled on the Indian costume.

The army was now annoyed by scouting parties of Indians hovering about the
neighborhood. Expresses passing between the posts were fired upon; a
waggoner was shot down. Washington sent out counter-parties of Cherokees.
Colonel Bouquet required that each party should be accompanied by an
officer and a number of white men. Washington complied with the order,
though he considered them an encumbrance rather than an advantage, "Small
parties of Indians," said he, "will more effectually harass the enemy by
keeping them under continual alarms, than any parties of white men can do.
For small parties of the latter are not equal to the task, not being so
dexterous at skulking as Indians; and large parties will be discovered by
their spies early enough to have a superior force opposed to them." With
all his efforts, however, he was never able fully to make the officers of
the regular army appreciate the importance of Indian allies in these
campaigns in the wilderness.

On the other hand, he earnestly discountenanced a proposition of Colonel
Bouquet, to make an irruption into the enemy's country with a strong party
of regulars. Such a detachment, he observed, could not be sent without a
cumbersome train of supplies, which would discover it to the enemy, who
must at that time be collecting his whole force at Fort Duquesne; the
enterprise, therefore, would be likely to terminate in a miscarriage, if
not in the destruction of the party. We shall see that his opinion was

As Washington intended to retire from military life at the close of this
campaign, he had proposed himself to the electors of Frederick County as
their representative in the House of Burgesses. The election was coming on
at Winchester; his friends pressed him to attend it, and Colonel Bouquet
gave him leave of absence; but he declined to absent himself from his post
for the promotion of his political interests. There were three competitors
in the field, yet so high was the public opinion of his merit, that, though
Winchester had been his head-quarters for two or three years past, and he
had occasionally enforced martial law with a rigorous hand, he was elected
by a large majority. The election was carried on somewhat in the English
style. There was much eating and drinking at the expense of the candidate.
Washington appeared on the hustings by proxy, and his representative was
chaired about the town with enthusiastic applause and huzzaing for Colonel

On the 21st of July arrived tidings of the brilliant success of that part
of the scheme of the year's campaign conducted by General Amherst and
Admiral Boscawen, who had reduced the strong town of Louisburg and gained
possession of the Island of Cape Breton. This intelligence increased
Washington's impatience at the delays of the expedition with which he was
connected. He wished to rival these successes by a brilliant blow in the
south. Perhaps a desire for personal distinction in the eyes of the lady of
his choice may have been at the bottom of this impatience; for we are told
that he kept up a constant correspondence with her throughout the campaign.

Understanding that the commander-in-chief had some thoughts of throwing a
body of light troops in the advance, he wrote to Colonel Bouquet, earnestly
soliciting his influence to have himself and his Virginia regiment included
in the detachment. "If any argument is needed to obtain this favor," said
he, "I hope, without vanity, I may be allowed to say, that from long
intimacy with these woods, and frequent scouting in them, my men are at
least as well acquainted with all the passes and difficulties as any troops
that will be employed."

He soon learnt to his surprise, however, that the road to which his men
were accustomed, and which had been worked by Braddock's troops in his
campaign, was not to be taken in the present expedition, but a new one
opened through the heart of Pennsylvania, from Raystown to Fort Duquesne,
on the track generally taken by the northern traders. He instantly
commenced long and repeated remonstrances on the subject; representing that
Braddock's road, from recent examination, only needed partial repairs, and
showing by clear calculation that an army could reach Fort Duquesne by that
route in thirty-four days, so that the whole campaign might be effected by
the middle of October; whereas the extreme labor of opening a new road
across mountains, swamps, and through a densely wooded country, would
detain them so late, that the season would be over before they could reach
the scene of action. His representations were of no avail. The officers of
the regular service had received a fearful idea of Braddock's road from his
own despatches, wherein he had described it as lying "across mountains and
rocks of an excessive height, vastly steep, and divided by torrents and
rivers," whereas the Pennsylvania traders, who were anxious for the opening
of the new road through their province, described the country through which
it would pass as less difficult, and its streams less subject to
inundation; above all, it was a direct line, and fifty miles nearer. This
route, therefore, to the great regret of Washington and the indignation of
the Virginia Assembly, was definitively adopted, and sixteen hundred men
were immediately thrown in the advance from Raystown to work upon it.

The first of September found Washington still encamped at Fort Cumberland,
his troops sickly and dispirited, and the brilliant expedition which he had
anticipated, dwindling down into a tedious operation of road-making. In the
mean time, his scouts brought him word that the whole force at Fort
Duquesne on the 13th of August, Indians included, did not exceed eight
hundred men: had an early campaign been pressed forward, as he recommended,
the place by this time would have been captured. At length, in the month of
September, he received orders from General Forbes to join him with his
troops at Raystown, where he had just arrived, having been detained by
severe illness. He was received by the general with the highest marks of
respect. On all occasions, both in private and at councils of war, that
commander treated his opinions with the greatest deference. He, moreover,
adopted a plan drawn out by Washington for the march of the army; and an
order of battle which still exists, furnishing a proof of his skill in
frontier warfare.

It was now the middle of September; yet the great body of men engaged in
opening the new military road, after incredible toil, had not advanced
above forty-five miles, to a place called Loyal Hannan, a little beyond
Laurel Hill. Colonel Bouquet, who commanded the division of nearly two
thousand men sent forward to open this road, had halted at Loyal Hannan to
establish a military post and deposit.

He was upwards of fifty miles from Fort Duquesne, and was tempted to adopt
the measure, so strongly discountenanced by Washington, of sending a party
on a foray into the enemy's country. He accordingly detached Major Grant
with eight hundred picked men, some of them Highlanders, others, in Indian
garb, the part of Washington's Virginian regiment sent forward by him from
Cumberland under command of Major Lewis.

The instructions given to Major Grant were merely to reconnoitre the
country in the neighborhood of Fort Duquesne, and ascertain the strength
and position of the enemy. He conducted the enterprise with the
foolhardiness of a man eager for personal notoriety. His whole object seems
to have been by open bravado to provoke an action. The enemy were apprised,
through their scouts, of his approach, but suffered him to advance
unmolested. Arriving at night in the neighborhood of the fort, he posted
his men on a hill, and sent out a party of observation, who set fire to a
log house near the walls and returned to the encampment. As if this were
not sufficient to put the enemy on the alert, he ordered the reveille to be
beaten in the morning in several places; then, posting Major Lewis with his
provincial troops at a distance in the rear to protect the baggage, he
marshalled his regulars in battle array, and sent an engineer, with a
covering party, to take a plan of the works in full view of the garrison.

Not a gun was fired by the fort; the silence which was maintained was
mistaken for fear, and increased the arrogance and blind security of the
British commander. At length, when he was thrown off his guard, there was a
sudden sally of the garrison, and an attack on the flanks by Indians hid in
ambush. A scene now occurred similar to that at the defeat of Braddock.
The British officers marshalled their men according to European tactics,
and the Highlanders for some time stood their ground bravely; but the
destructive fire and horrid yells of the Indians soon produced panic and
confusion. Major Lewis, at the first noise of the attack, left Captain
Bullitt, with fifty Virginians, to guard the baggage, and hastened with the
main part of his men to the scene of action. The contest was kept up for
some time, but the confusion was irretrievable. The Indians sallied from
their concealment, and attacked with the tomahawk and scalping-knife. Lewis
fought hand to hand with an Indian brave, whom, he laid dead at his feet,
but was surrounded by others, and only saved his life by surrendering
himself to a French officer. Major Grant surrendered himself in like
manner. The whole detachment was put to the rout with dreadful carnage.

Captain Bullitt rallied several of the fugitives, and prepared to make a
forlorn stand, as the only chance where the enemy was overwhelming and
merciless. Despatching the most valuable baggage with the strongest horses,
he made a barricade with the baggage waggons, behind which he posted his
men, giving them orders how they were to act. All this was the thought and
the work almost of a moment, for the savages, having finished the havoc and
plunder of the field of battle, were hastening in pursuit of the fugitives.
Bullitt suffered them to come near, when, on a concerted signal, a
destructive fire was opened from behind the baggage waggons. They were
checked for a time; but were again pressing forward in greater numbers,
when Bullitt and his men held out the signal of capitulation, and advanced
as if to surrender. When within eight yards of the enemy, they suddenly
levelled their arms, poured a most effective volley, and then charged with
the bayonet. The Indians fled in dismay, and Bullitt took advantage of this
check to retreat with all speed, collecting the wounded and the scattered
fugitives as he advanced. The routed detachment came back in fragments to
Colonel Bouquet's camp at Loyal Hannan, with the loss of twenty-one
officers and two hundred and seventy-three privates killed and taken. The
Highlanders and the Virginians were those that fought the best and suffered
the most in this bloody battle. Washington's regiment lost six officers and
sixty-two privates.

If Washington could have taken any pride in seeing his presages of
misfortune verified, he might have been gratified by the result of this
rash "irruption into the enemy's country," which was exactly what he had
predicted. In his letters to Governor Fauquier, however, he bears lightly
on the error of Col Bouquet. "From all accounts I can collect," says he,
"it appears very clear that this was a very ill-concerted, or a very
ill-executed plan, perhaps both; but it seems to be generally acknowledged
that Major Grant exceeded his orders, and that no disposition was made for

Washington, who was at Raystown when the disastrous news arrived, was
publicly complimented by General Forbes, on the gallant conduct of his
Virginian troops, and Bullitt's behavior was "a matter of great
admiration." The latter was soon after rewarded with a major's commission.

As a further mark of the high opinion now entertained of provincial troops
for frontier service, Washington was given the command of a division,
partly composed of his own men, to keep in the advance of the main body,
clear the roads, throw out scouting parties, and repel Indian attacks.

It was the 5th of November before the whole army assembled at Loyal Hannan.
Winter was now at hand, and upwards of fifty miles of wilderness were yet
to be traversed, by a road not yet formed, before they could reach Fort
Duquesne. Again, Washington's predictions seemed likely to be verified, and
the expedition to be defeated by delay; for in a council of war it was
determined to be impracticable to advance further with the army that
season. Three prisoners, however, who were brought in, gave such an account
of the weak state of the garrison at Fort Duquesne, its want of provisions,
and the defection of the Indians, that it was determined to push forward.
The march was accordingly resumed, but without tents or baggage, and with
only a light train of artillery.

Washington still kept the advance. After leaving Loyal Hannan, the road
presented traces of the late defeat of Grant; being strewed with human
bones, the sad relics of fugitives cut down by the Indians, or of wounded
soldiers who had died on the retreat; they lay mouldering in various stages
of decay, mingled with the bones of horses and of oxen. As they approached
Fort Duquesne these mementoes of former disasters became more frequent; and
the bones of those massacred in the defeat of Braddock, still lay scattered
about the battle field, whitening in the sun.

At length the army arrived in sight of Fort Duquesne, advancing with great
precaution, and expecting a vigorous defence; but that formidable fortress,
the terror and scourge of the frontier, and the object of such warlike
enterprise, fell without a blow. The recent successes of the English forces
in Canada, particularly the capture and destruction of Fort Frontenac, had
left the garrison without hope of reinforcements and supplies. The whole
force, at the time, did not exceed five hundred men, and the provisions
were nearly exhausted. The commander, therefore, waited only until the
English army was within one day's march, when he embarked his troops at
night in batteaux, blew up his magazines, set fire to the fort, and
retreated down the Ohio, by the light of the flames. On the 25th of
November, Washington, with the advanced guard, marched in, and planted the
British flag on the yet smoking ruins.

One of the first offices of the army was to collect and bury, in one common
tomb, the bones of their fellow-soldiers who had fallen in the battles of
Braddock and Grant. In this pious duty it is said every one joined, from
the general down to the private soldier; and some veterans assisted, with
heavy hearts and frequent ejaculations of poignant feeling, who had been
present in the scenes of defeat and carnage.

The ruins of the fortress were now put in a defensible state, and
garrisoned by two hundred men from Washington's regiment; the name was
changed to that of Fort Pitt, in honor of the illustrious British minister,
whose measures had given vigor and effect to this year's campaign; it has
since been modified into Pittsburg, and designates one of the most busy and
populous cities of the interior.

The reduction of Fort Duquesne terminated, as Washington had foreseen, the
troubles and dangers of the southern frontier. The French domination of the
Ohio was at an end; the Indians, as usual, paid homage to the conquering
power, and a treaty of peace was concluded with all the tribes between the
Ohio and the lakes.

With this campaign ended, for the present, the military career of
Washington. His great object was attained, the restoration of quiet and
security to his native province; and, having abandoned all hope of
attaining rank in the regular army, and his health being much impaired, he
gave up his commission at the close of the year, and retired from the
service, followed by the applause of his fellow-soldiers, and the gratitude
and admiration of all his countrymen.

His marriage with Mrs. Custis took place shortly after his return. It was
celebrated on the 6th of January, 1759, at the White House, the residence
of the bride, in the good old hospitable style of Virginia, amid a joyous
assemblage of relatives and friends.



Before following Washington into the retirement of domestic life, we think
it proper to notice the events which closed the great struggle between
England and France for empire in America. In that struggle he had first
become practised in arms, and schooled in the ways of the world; and its
results will be found connected with the history of his later years.

General Abercrombie had been superseded as commander-in-chief of the forces
in America by Major-general Amherst, who had gained great favor by the
reduction of Louisburg. According to the plan of operations for 1759,
General Wolfe, who had risen to fame by his gallant conduct in the same
affair, was to ascend the St. Lawrence in a fleet of ships of war, with
eight thousand men, as soon as the river should be free of ice, and lay
siege to Quebec, the capital of Canada. General Amherst, in the mean time,
was to advance, as Abercrombie had done, by Lake George, against
Ticonderoga and Crown Point; reduce those forts, cross Lake Champlain, push
on to the St. Lawrence, and co-operate with Wolfe.

A third expedition, under Brigadier-general Prideaux, aided by Sir William
Johnson and his Indian warriors, was to attack Fort Niagara, which
controlled the whole country of the Six Nations, and commanded the
navigation of the great lakes, and the intercourse between Canada and
Louisiana. Having reduced this fort, he was to traverse Lake Ontario,
descend the St. Lawrence, capture Montreal, and join his forces with those
of Amherst.

The last mentioned expedition was the first executed. General Prideaux
embarked at Oswego on the first of July, with a large body of troops,
regulars and provincials,--the latter partly from New York. He was
accompanied by Sir William Johnson, and his Indian braves of the Mohawk.
Landing at an inlet of Lake Ontario, within a few miles of Fort Niagara, he
advanced, without being opposed, and proceeded to invest it. The garrison,
six hundred strong, made a resolute defence. The siege was carried on by
regular approaches, but pressed with vigor. On the 20th of July, Prideaux,
in visiting his trenches, was killed by the bursting of a cohorn. Informed
by express of this misfortune, General Amherst detached from the main army
Brigadier-general Gage, the officer who had led Braddock's advance, to take
the command.

In the mean time, the siege had been conducted by Sir William Johnson with
courage and sagacity. He was destitute of military science, but had a
natural aptness for warfare, especially for the rough kind carried on in
the wilderness. Being informed by his scouts that twelve hundred regular
troops, drawn from Detroit, Venango, and Presque Isle, and led by D'Aubry,
with a number of Indian auxiliaries, were hastening to the rescue, he
detached a force of grenadiers and light infantry, with some of his Mohawk
warriors, to intercept them. They came in sight of each other on the road,
between Niagara Falls and the fort, within the thundering sound of the one,
and the distant view of the other. Johnson's "braves" advanced to have a
parley with the hostile redskins. The latter received them with a
war-whoop, and Frenchman and savage made an impetuous onset. Johnson's
regulars and provincials stood their ground firmly, while his red warriors
fell on the flanks of the enemy. After a sharp conflict, the French were
broken, routed, and pursued through the woods, with great carnage. Among
the prisoners taken were seventeen officers. The next day Sir William
Johnson sent a trumpet, summoning the garrison to surrender, to spare the
effusion of blood, and prevent outrages by the Indians. They had no
alternative; were permitted to march out with the honors of war, and were
protected by Sir William from his Indian allies. Thus was secured the key
to the communication between Lakes Ontario and Erie, and to the vast
interior region connected with them. The blow alarmed the French for the
safety of Montreal, and De Levi, the second in command of their Canadian
forces, hastened up from before Quebec, and took post at the fort of
Oswegatchie (now Ogdensburg), to defend the passes of the St. Lawrence.

We now proceed to notice the expedition against Ticonderoga and Crown
Point. In the month of July, General Amherst embarked with nearly twelve
thousand men, at the upper part of Lake George, and proceeded down it, as
Abercrombie had done in the preceding year, in a vast fleet of whale-boats,
batteaux, and rafts, and all the glitter and parade of war. On the 22d, the
army debarked at the lower part of the lake, and advanced toward
Ticonderoga. After a slight skirmish with the advanced guard, they secured
the old post at the saw-mill.

Montcalm was no longer in the fort; he was absent for the protection of
Quebec. The garrison did not exceed four hundred men. Bourlamarque, a brave
officer, who commanded, at first seemed disposed to make defence; but,
against such overwhelming force, it would have been madness. Dismantling
the fortifications, therefore, he abandoned them, as he did likewise those
at Crown Point, and retreated down the lake, to assemble forces, and make a
stand at the Isle Aux Noix, for the protection of Montreal and the

Instead of following him up, and hastening to co-operate with Wolfe,
General Amherst proceeded to repair the works at Ticonderoga, and erect a
new fort at Crown Point, though neither were in present danger of being
attacked, nor would be of use if Canada were conquered. Amherst, however,
was one of those cautious men, who, in seeking to be sure, are apt to be
fatally slow. His delay enabled the enemy to rally their forces at Isle Aux
Noix, and call in Canadian reinforcements, while it deprived Wolfe of that
co-operation which, it will be shown, was most essential to the general
success of the campaign.

Wolfe, with his eight thousand men, ascended the St. Lawrence in the fleet,
in the month of June. With him came Brigadiers, Monckton, Townshend and
Murray, youthful and brave like himself, and like himself, already schooled
in arms. Monckton, it will be recollected, had signalized himself, when a
colonel, in the expedition in 1755, in which the French were driven from
Nova Scotia. The grenadiers of the army were commanded by Colonel Guy
Carleton, and part of the light infantry by Lieutenant-Colonel William
Howe, both destined to celebrity in after years, in the annals of the
American Revolution. Colonel Howe was brother of the gallant Lord Howe,
whose fall in the preceding year was so generally lamented. Among the
officers of the fleet, was Jervis, the future admiral, and ultimately Earl
St. Vincent; and the master of one of the ships, was James Cook, afterwards
renowned as a discoverer.

About the end of June, the troops debarked on the large, populous, and
well-cultivated Isle of Orleans, a little below Quebec, and encamped in its
fertile fields. Quebec, the citadel of Canada, was strong by nature. It was
built round the point of a rocky promontory, and flanked by precipices. The
crystal current of the St. Lawrence swept by it on the right, and the river
St. Charles flowed along on the left, before mingling with that mighty
stream. The place was tolerably fortified, but art had not yet rendered it,
as at the present day, impregnable.

Montcalm commanded the post. His troops were more numerous than the
assailants but the greater part were Canadians, many of them inhabitants of
Quebec; and he had a host of savages. His forces were drawn out along the
northern shore below the city, from the river St. Charles to the Falls of
Montmorency, and their position was secured by deep intrenchments.

The night after the debarkation of Wolfe's troops a furious storm caused
great damage to the transports, and sank some of the small craft. While it
was still raging, a number of fire-ships, sent to destroy the fleet, came
driving down. They were boarded intrepidly by the British seamen, and towed
out of the way of doing harm. After much resistance, Wolfe established
batteries at the west point of the Isle of Orleans, and at Point Levi, on
the right (or south) bank of the St. Lawrence, within cannon range of the
city. Colonel Guy Carleton, commanded at the former battery; Brigadier
Monckton at the latter. From Point Levi bombshells and red-hot shot were
discharged; many houses were set on fire in the upper town, the lower town
was reduced to rubbish; the main fort, however, remained unharmed.

Anxious for a decisive action, Wolfe, on the 9th of July, crossed over in
boats from the Isle of Orleans, to the north bank of the St. Lawrence, and
encamped below the Montmorency. It was an ill-judged position, for there
was still that tumultuous stream, with its rocky banks, between him and the
camp of Montcalm; but the ground he had chosen was higher than that
occupied by the latter, and the Montmorency had a ford below the falls,
passable at low tide. Another ford was discovered, three miles within land,
but the banks were steep, and shagged with forest. At both fords the
vigilant Montcalm had thrown up breastworks, and posted troops.

On the 18th of July, Wolfe made a reconnoitring expedition up the river,
with two armed sloops, and two transports with troops. He passed Quebec
unharmed, and carefully noted the shores above it. Rugged cliffs rose
almost from the water's edge. Above them, he was told, was an extent of
level ground, called the Plains of Abraham, by which the upper town might
be approached on its weakest side; but how was that plain to be attained,
when the cliffs, for the most part, were inaccessible, and every
practicable place fortified?

He returned to Montmorency disappointed, and resolved to attack Montcalm in
his camp, however difficult to be approached, and however strongly posted.
Townshend and Murray, with their brigades, were to cross the Montmorency at
low tide, below the falls, and storm the redoubt thrown up in front of the
ford. Monckton, at the same time, was to cross, with part of his brigade,
in boats from Point Levi. The ship Centurion, stationed in the channel, was
to check the fire of a battery which commanded the ford; a train of
artillery, planted on an eminence, was to enfilade the enemy's
intrenchments; and two armed, flat-bottomed boats, were to be run on shore,
near the redoubt, and favor the crossing of the troops.

As usual, in complicated orders, part were misunderstood, or neglected, and
confusion was the consequence. Many of the boats from Point Levi ran
aground on a shallow in the river, where they were exposed to a severe fire
of shot and shells. Wolfe, who was on the shore, directing every thing,
endeavored to stop his impatient troops until the boats could be got
afloat, and the men landed. Thirteen companies of grenadiers, and two
hundred provincials were the first to land. Without waiting for Brigadier
Monckton and his regiments; without waiting for the co-operation of the
troops under Townshend; without waiting even to be drawn up in form, the
grenadiers rushed impetuously towards the enemy's intrenchments. A sheeted
fire mowed them down, and drove them to take shelter behind the redoubt,
near the ford, which the enemy had abandoned. Here they remained, unable to
form under the galling fire to which they were exposed, whenever they
ventured from their covert. Monckton's brigade at length was landed, drawn
up in order, and advanced to their relief, driving back the enemy. Thus
protected, the grenadiers retreated as precipitately as they had advanced,
leaving many of their comrades wounded on the field, who were massacred and
scalped in their sight, by the savages. The delay thus caused was fatal to
the enterprise. The day was advanced; the weather became stormy; the tide
began to make; at a later hour, retreat, in case of a second repulse, would
be impossible, Wolfe, therefore, gave up the attack, and withdrew across
the river, having lost upwards of four hundred men, through this headlong
impetuosity of the grenadiers. The two vessels which had been run aground,
were set on fire, lest they should fall into the hands of the enemy.
[Footnote: Wolfe's Letter to Pitt, Sept. 2d, 1759.]

Brigadier Murray was now detached with twelve hundred men, in transports,
to ascend above the town, and co-operate with Rear-admiral Holmes, in
destroying the enemy's shipping, and making descents upon the north shore.
The shipping were safe from attack; some stores and ammunition were
destroyed; some prisoners taken, and Murray returned with the news of the
capture of Fort Niagara, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point, and that Amherst was
preparing to attack the Isle Aux Noix.

Wolfe, of a delicate constitution and sensitive nature, had been deeply
mortified by the severe check sustained at the Falls of Montmorency,
fancying himself disgraced; and these successes of his fellow-commanders in
other parts increased his self-upbraiding. The difficulties multiplying
around him, and the delay of General Amherst in hastening to his aid,
preyed incessantly on his spirits; he was dejected even to despondency, and
declared he would never return without success, to be exposed, like other
unfortunate commanders, to the sneers and reproaches of the populace. The
agitation of his mind, and his acute sensibility, brought on a fever, which
for some time incapacitated him from taking the field.

In the midst of his illness he called a council of war, in which the whole
plan of operations was altered. It was determined to convey troops above
the town, and endeavor to make a diversion in that direction, or draw
Montcalm into the open field. Before carrying this plan into effect, Wolfe
again reconnoitred the town in company with Admiral Saunders, but nothing
better suggested itself.

The brief Canadian summer was over; they were in the month of September.
The camp at Montmorency was broken up. The troops were transported to Point
Levi, leaving a sufficient number to man the batteries on the Isle of
Orleans. On the fifth and sixth of September the embarkation took place
above Point Levi, in transports which had been sent up for the purpose.
Montcalm detached De Bougainville with fifteen hundred men to keep along
the north shore above the town, watch the movements of the squadron, and
prevent a landing. To deceive him, Admiral Holmes moved with the ships of
war three leagues beyond the place where the landing was to be attempted.
He was to drop down, however, in the night, and protect the landing. Cook,
the future discoverer, also, was employed with others to sound the river
and place buoys opposite the camp of Montcalm, as if an attack were
meditated in that quarter.

Wolfe was still suffering under the effects of his late fever. "My
constitution," writes he to a friend, "is entirely ruined, without the
consolation of having done any considerable service to the state, and
without any prospect of it." Still he was unremitting in his exertions,
seeking to wipe out the fancied disgrace incurred at the Falls of
Montmorency. It was in this mood he is said to have composed and sung at
his evening mess that little campaigning song still linked with his name:

Why, soldiers, why
Should we be melancholy, boys?
Why, soldiers, why?
Whose business 'tis to die!

Even when embarked in his midnight enterprise, the presentiment of death
seems to have cast its shadow over him. A midshipman who was present,
[Footnote: Afterwards Professor John Robison, of Edinburgh.] used to
relate, that as Wolfe sat among his officers, and the boats floated down
silently with the current, he recited, in low and touching tones, Gray's
Elegy in a country churchyard, then just published. One stanza may
especially have accorded with his melancholy mood.

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

"Now, gentlemen," said he, when he had finished, "I would rather be the
author of that poem than take Quebec."

The descent was made in flat-bottomed boats, past midnight, on the 13th of
September. They dropped down silently with the swift current. "_Qui va
la?_" (who goes there?) cried a sentinel from the shore. "_La
France_," replied a captain in the first boat, who understood the French
language. "_A quel regiment?_" was the demand. "_De la Reine_"
(the queen's), replied the captain, knowing that regiment was in De
Bougainville's detachment. Fortunately, a convoy of provisions was expected
down from De Bougainville's, which the sentinel supposed this to be.
"_Passe_," cried he, and the boats glided on without further
challenge. The landing took place in a cove near Cape Diamond, which still
bears Wolfe's name. He had marked it in reconnoitering, and saw that a
cragged path straggled up from it to the Heights of Abraham, which might be
climbed, though with difficulty, and that it appeared to be slightly
guarded at top. Wolfe was among the first that landed and ascended up the
steep and narrow path, where not more than two could go abreast, and which
had been broken up by cross ditches. Colonel Howe, at the same time, with
the light infantry and Highlanders, scrambled up the woody precipices,
helping themselves by the roots and branches, and putting to flight a
sergeant's guard posted at the summit. Wolfe drew up the men in order as
they mounted; and by the break of day found himself in possession of the
fateful Plains of Abraham.

Montcalm was thunderstruck when word was brought to him in his camp that
the English were on the heights threatening the weakest part of the town.
Abandoning his intrenchments, he hastened across the river St. Charles and
ascended the heights, which slope up gradually from its banks. His force
was equal in number to that of the English, but a great part was made up of
colony troops and savages. When he saw the formidable host of regulars he
had to contend with, he sent off swift messengers to summon De Bougainville
with his detachment to his aid; and De Vaudreuil to reinforce him, with
fifteen hundred men from the camp. In the mean time he prepared to flank
the left of the English line and force them to the opposite precipices.
Wolfe saw his aim, and sent Brigadier Townshend to counteract him with a
regiment which was formed _en potence_, and supported by two
battalions, presenting on the left a double front.

The French, in their haste, thinking they were to repel a mere scouting
party, had brought but three light field-pieces with them; the English had
but a single gun, which the sailors had dragged up the heights. With these
they cannonaded each other for a time, Montcalm still waiting for the aid
he had summoned. At length, about nine o'clock, losing all patience, he led
on his disciplined troops to a close conflict with small arms, the Indians
to support them by a galling fire from thickets and corn-fields. The French
advanced gallantly, but irregularly; firing rapidly, but with little
effect. The English reserved their fire until their assailants were within
forty yards, and then delivered it in deadly volleys. They suffered,
however, from the lurking savages, who singled out the officers. Wolfe, who
was in front of the line, a conspicuous mark, was wounded by a ball in the
wrist. He bound his handkerchief round the wound and led on the grenadiers,
with fixed bayonets, to charge the foe, who began to waver. Another ball
struck him in the breast. He felt the wound to be mortal, and feared his
fall might dishearten the troops. Leaning on a lieutenant for support; "Let
not my brave fellows see me drop," said he faintly. He was borne off to the
rear; water was brought to quench his thirst, and he was asked if he would
have a surgeon. "It is needless," he replied; "it is all over with me." He
desired those about him to lay him down. The lieutenant seated himself on
the ground, and supported him in his arms. "They run! they run! see how
they run!" cried one of the attendants. "Who run?" demanded Wolfe,
earnestly, like one aroused from sleep. "The enemy, sir; they give way
every where." The spirit of the expiring hero flashed up. "Go, one of you,
my lads, to Colonel Burton; tell him to march Webb's regiment with all
speed down to Charles' River, to cut off the retreat by the bridge." Then
turning on his side; "Now, God be praised, I will die in peace!" said he,
and expired, [Footnote: Hist. Jour. of Capt. John Knox, vol. i., p.
79.]--soothed in his last moments by the idea that victory would obliterate
the imagined disgrace at Montmorency.

Brigadier Murray had indeed broken the centre of the enemy, and the
Highlanders were making deadly havoc with their claymores, driving the
French into the town or down to their works on the river St. Charles.
Monckton, the first brigadier, was disabled by a wound in the lungs, and
the command devolved on Townshend, who hastened to re-form the troops of
the centre, disordered in pursuing the enemy. By this time De Bougainville
appeared at a distance in the rear, advancing with two thousand fresh
troops, but he arrived too late to retrieve the day. The gallant Montcalm
had received his death-wound near St. John's Gate, while endeavoring to
rally his flying troops, and had been borne into the town.

Townshend advanced with a force to receive De Bougainville; but the latter
avoided a combat, and retired into woods and swamps, where it was not
thought prudent to follow him. The English had obtained a complete victory;
slain about five hundred of the enemy; taken above a thousand prisoners,
and among them several officers; and had a strong position on the Plains of
Abraham, which they hastened to fortify with redoubts and artillery, drawn
up the heights.

The brave Montcalm wrote a letter to General Townshend, recommending the
prisoners to British humanity. When told by his surgeon that he could not
survive above a few hours; "So much the better," replied he; "I shall not
live to see the surrender of Quebec." To De Ramsey, the French king's
lieutenant, who commanded the garrison, he consigned the defence of the
city. "To your keeping," said he, "I commend the honor of France. I'll
neither give orders, nor interfere any further. I have business to attend
to of greater moment than your ruined garrison, and this wretched country.
My time is short,--I shall pass this night with God, and prepare myself for
death. I wish you all comfort; and to be happily extricated from your
present perplexities." He then called for his chaplain, who, with the
bishop of the colony, remained with him through the night. He expired early
in the morning, dying like a brave soldier and a devout Catholic. Never did
two worthier foes mingle their life blood on the battle-field than Wolfe
and Montcalm. [Footnote: Knox; Hist. Jour., vol. i., p. 77.]

Preparations were now made by the army and the fleet to make an attack on
both upper and lower town; but the spirit of the garrison was broken, and
the inhabitants were clamorous for the safety of their wives and children.
On the 17th of September, Quebec capitulated, and was taken possession of
by the British, who hastened to put it in a complete posture of defence. A
garrison of six thousand effective men was placed in it, under the command
of Brigadier-general Murray, and victualled from the fleet. General
Townshend embarked with Admiral Saunders, and returned to England; and the
wounded General Monckton was conveyed to New York, of which he afterwards
became governor.

Had Amherst followed up his success at Ticonderoga the preceding summer,
the year's campaign would have ended, as had been projected, in the
subjugation of Canada. His cautious delay gave De Levi, the successor of
Montcalm, time to rally, concentrate the scattered French forces, and
struggle for the salvation of the province.

In the following spring, as soon as the river St. Lawrence opened, he
approached Quebec, and landed at Point an Tremble, about twelve miles off.
The garrison had suffered dreadfully during the winter from excessive cold;
want of vegetables and of fresh provisions. Many had died of scurvy, and
many more were ill. Murray, sanguine and injudicious, on hearing that De
Levi was advancing with ten thousand men, and five hundred Indians, sallied
out with his diminished forces of not more than three thousand. English
soldiers, he boasted, were habituated to victory; he had a fine train of
artillery, and stood a better chance in the field than cooped up in a
wretched fortification. If defeated, he would defend the place to the last
extremity, and then retreat to the Isle of Orleans, and wait for
reinforcements. More brave than discreet, he attacked the vanguard of the
enemy; the battle which took place was fierce and sanguinary. Murray's
troops had caught his own headlong valor, and fought until near a third of
their number were slain. They were at length driven back into the town,
leaving their boasted train of artillery on the field.

De Levi opened trenches before the town the very evening of the battle.
Three French ships, which had descended the river, furnished him with
cannon, mortars, and ammunition. By the 11th of May, he had one bomb
battery, and three batteries of cannon. Murray, equally alert within the
walls, strengthened his defences, and kept up a vigorous fire. His garrison
was now reduced to two hundred and twenty effective men, and he himself,
with all his vaunting spirit, was driven almost to despair, when a British
fleet arrived in the river. The whole scene was now reversed. One of the
French frigates was driven on the rocks above Cape Diamond; another ran on
shore, and was burnt; the rest of their vessels were either taken, or
destroyed. The besieging army retreated in the night, leaving provisions,
implements, and artillery behind them; and so rapid was their flight, that
Murray, who sallied forth on the following day, could not overtake them.

A last stand for the preservation of the colony was now made by the French
at Montreal, where De Vaudreuil fixed his headquarters, fortified himself,
and called in all possible aid, Canadian and Indian.

The cautious, but tardy Amherst was now in the field to carry out the plan
in which he had fallen short in the previous year. He sent orders to
General Murray to advance by water against Montreal, with all the force
that could be spared from Quebec; he detached a body of troops under
Colonel Haviland from Crown Point, to cross Lake Champlain, take possession
of the Isle Aux Noix, and push on to the St. Lawrence, while he took the
roundabout way with his main army by the Mohawk and Oneida rivers to Lake
Ontario; thence to descend the St. Lawrence to Montreal.

Murray, according to orders, embarked his troops in a great number of small
vessels, and ascended the river in characteristic style, publishing
manifestoes in the Canadian villages, disarming the inhabitants, and
exacting the oath of neutrality. He looked forward to new laurels at
Montreal, but the slow and sure Amherst had anticipated him. That worthy
general, after delaying on Lake Ontario to send out cruisers, and stopping
to repair petty forts on the upper part of the St. Lawrence, which had been
deserted by their garrisons, or surrendered without firing a gun, arrived
on the 6th of September at the island of Montreal, routed some light
skirmishing parties, and presented himself before the town. Vaudreuil found
himself threatened by an army of nearly ten thousand men, and a host of
Indians; for Amherst had called in the aid of Sir William Johnson, and his
Mohawk braves. To withstand a siege in an almost open town against such
superior force, was out of the question; especially as Murray from Quebec,
and Haviland from Crown Point, were at hand with additional troops. A
capitulation accordingly took place on the 8th of September, including the
surrender not merely of Montreal, but of all Canada.

Thus ended the contest between France and England for dominion in America,
in which, as has been said, the first gun was fired in Washington's
encounter with De Jumonville. A French statesman and diplomatist consoled
himself by the persuasion that it would be a fatal triumph to England. It
would remove the only check by which her colonies were kept in awe. "They
will no longer need her protection," said he; "she will call on them to
contribute toward supporting the burdens they have helped to bring on her,
and _they will answer by striking off_ all _dependence_."
[Footnote: Count de Vergennes, French ambassador at Constantinople.]



For three months after his marriage, Washington resided with his bride at
the "White House." During his sojourn there, he repaired to Williamsburg,
to take his seat in the House of Burgesses. By a vote of the House, it had
been determined to greet his instalment by a signal testimonial of respect.
Accordingly, as soon as he took his seat, Mr. Robinson, the Speaker, in
eloquent language, dictated by the warmth of private friendship, returned
thanks, on behalf of the colony, for the distinguished military services he
had rendered to his country.

Washington rose to reply; blushed-stammered-trembled, and could not utter a
word. "Sit down, Mr. Washington," said the Speaker, with a smile; "your
modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power of any language I

Such was Washington's first launch into civil life, in which he was to be
distinguished by the same judgment, devotion, courage, and magnanimity
exhibited in his military career. He attended the House frequently during
the remainder of the session, after which he conducted his bride to his
favorite abode of Mount Vernon.

Mr. Custis, the first husband of Mrs. Washington, had left large landed
property, and forty-five thousand pounds sterling in money. One third fell
to his widow in her own right; two thirds were inherited equally by her two
children,--a boy of six, and a girl of four years of age. By a decree of
the General Court, Washington was intrusted with the care of the property
inherited by the children; a sacred and delicate trust, which he discharged
in the most faithful and judicious manner; becoming more like a parent,
than a mere guardian to them.

From a letter to his correspondent in England, it would appear that he had
long entertained a desire to visit that country. Had he done so, his
acknowledged merit and military services would have insured him a
distinguished reception; and it has been intimated, that the signal favor
of government might have changed the current of his career. We believe him,
however, to have been too pure a patriot, and too clearly possessed of the
true interests of his country, to be diverted from the course which he
ultimately adopted. His marriage, at any rate, had put an end to all
travelling inclinations. In his letter from Mount Vernon, he writes: "I am
now, I believe, fixed in this seat, with an agreeable partner for life, and
I hope to find more happiness in retirement than I ever experienced in the
wide and bustling world."

This was no Utopian dream transiently indulged, amid the charms of novelty.
It was a deliberate purpose with him, the result of innate and enduring
inclinations. Throughout the whole course of his career, agricultural life
appears to have been his _beau ideal_ of existence, which haunted his
thoughts even amid the stern duties of the field, and to which he recurred
with unflagging interest whenever enabled to indulge his natural bias.

Mount Vernon was his harbor of repose, where he repeatedly furled his sail,
and fancied himself anchored for life. No impulse of ambition tempted him
thence; nothing but the call of his country, and his devotion to the public
good. The place was endeared to him by the remembrance of his brother
Lawrence, and of the happy days he had passed here with that brother in the
days of boyhood; but it was a delightful place in itself, and well
calculated to inspire the rural feeling.

The mansion was beautifully situated on a swelling height, crowned with
wood, and commanding a magnificent view up and down the Potomac. The
grounds immediately about it were laid out somewhat in the English taste.
The estate was apportioned into separate farms, devoted to different kinds
of culture, each having its allotted laborers. Much, however, was still
covered with wild woods, seamed with deep dells and runs of water, and
indented with inlets; haunts of deer, and lurking-places of foxes. The
whole woody region along the Potomac from Mount Vernon to Belvoir, and far
beyond, with its range of forests and hills, and picturesque promontories,
afforded sport of various kinds, and was a noble hunting-ground. Washington
had hunted through it with old Lord Fairfax in his stripling days; we do
not wonder that his feelings throughout life incessantly reverted to it.

"No estate in United America," observes he, in one of his letters, "is more
pleasantly situated. In a high and healthy country; in a latitude between
the extremes of heat and cold; on one of the finest rivers in the world; a
river well stocked with various kinds of fish at all seasons of the year,
and in the spring with shad, herrings, bass, carp, sturgeon, &c., in great
abundance. The borders of the estate are washed by more than ten miles of
tide water; several valuable fisheries appertain to it: the whole shore, in
fact, is one entire fishery."

These were, as yet, the aristocratical days of Virginia. The estates were
large, and continued in the same families by entails. Many of the wealthy
planters were connected with old families in England. The young men,
especially the elder sons, were often sent to finish their education there,
and on their return brought out the tastes and habits of the mother
country. The governors of Virginia were from the higher ranks of society,
and maintained a corresponding state. The "established," or Episcopal
church, predominated throughout the "ancient dominion," as it was termed;
each county was divided into parishes, as in England,--each with its
parochial church, its parsonage, and glebe. Washington was vestryman of two
parishes, Fairfax and Truro; the parochial church of the former was at
Alexandria, ten miles from Mount Vernon; of the latter, at Pohick, about
seven miles. The church at Pohick was rebuilt on a plan of his own, and in
a great measure at his expense. At one or other of these churches he
attended every Sunday, when the weather and the roads permitted. His
demeanor was reverential and devout. Mrs. Washington knelt during the
prayers; he always stood, as was the custom at that time. Both were

Among his occasional visitors and associates were Captain Hugh Mercer and
Dr. Craik; the former, after his narrow escapes from the tomahawk and
scalping-knife, was quietly settled at Fredericksburg; the latter, after
the campaigns on the frontier were over, had taken up his residence at
Alexandria, and was now Washington's family physician. Both were drawn to
him by campaigning ties and recollections, and were ever welcome at Mount

A style of living prevailed among the opulent Virginian families in those
days that has long since faded away. The houses were spacious, commodious,
liberal in all their appointments, and fitted to cope with the free-handed,
open-hearted hospitality of the owners. Nothing was more common than to see
handsome services of plate, elegant equipages, and superb carriage
horses--all imported from England.

The Virginians have always been noted for their love of horses; a manly
passion which, in those days of opulence, they indulged without regard to
expense. The rich planters vied with each other in their studs, importing
the best English stocks. Mention is made of one of the Randolphs of
Tuckahoe, who built a stable for his favorite dapple-gray horse,
Shakespeare, with a recess for the bed of the negro groom, who always slept
beside him at night.

Washington, by his marriage, had added above one hundred thousand dollars
to his already considerable fortune, and was enabled to live in ample and
dignified style. His intimacy with the Fairfaxes, and his intercourse with
British officers of rank, had perhaps had their influence on his mode of
living. He had his chariot and four, with black postilions in livery, for
the use of Mrs. Washington and her lady visitors. As for himself, he always
appeared on horseback. His stable was well filled and admirably regulated.
His stud was thoroughbred and in excellent order. His household books
contain registers of the names, ages, and marks of his various horses; such
as Ajax, Blueskin, Valiant, Magnolia (an Arab), &c. Also his dogs, chiefly
fox-hounds, Vulcan, Singer, Ringwood, Sweetlips, Forrester, Music,
Rockwood, Truelove, &c. [Footnote: In one of his letter-books we find
orders on his London agent for riding equipments. For example:

1 Man's riding-saddle, hogskin seat, large plated stirrups and every thing
complete. Double reined bridle and Pelham bit, plated.

A very neat and fashionable Newmarket saddle-cloth.

A large and best portmanteau, saddle, bridle, and pillion.

Cloak-bag surcingle; checked saddle-cloth, holsters, &c.

A riding-frock of a handsome drab-colored broadcloth, with plain double
gilt buttons.

A riding waistcoat of superfine scarlet cloth and gold lace, with buttons
like those of the coat.

A blue surtout coat.

A neat switch whip, silver cap.

Black velvet cap for servant.]

A large Virginia estate, in those days, was a little empire. The
mansion-house was the seat of government, with its numerous dependencies,
such as kitchens, smoke-house, workshops and stables. In this mansion the
planter ruled supreme; his steward or overseer was his prime minister and
executive officer; he had his legion of house negroes for domestic service,
and his host of field negroes for the culture of tobacco, Indian corn, and
other crops, and for other out of door labor. Their quarter formed a kind
of hamlet apart, composed of various huts, with little gardens and poultry
yards, all well stocked, and swarms of little negroes gambolling in the
sunshine. Then there were large wooden edifices for curing tobacco, the
staple and most profitable production, and mills for grinding wheat and
Indian corn, of which large fields were cultivated for the supply of the
family and the maintenance of the negroes.

Among the slaves were artificers of all kinds, tailors, shoemakers,
carpenters, smiths, wheelwrights, and so forth; so that a plantation
produced every thing within itself for ordinary use: as to articles of
fashion and elegance, luxuries, and expensive clothing, they were imported
from London; for the planters on the main rivers, especially the Potomac,
carried on an immediate trade with England. Their tobacco was put up by
their own negroes, bore their own marks, was shipped on board of vessels
which came up the rivers for the purpose, and consigned to some agent in
Liverpool or Bristol, with whom the planter kept an account.

The Virginia planters were prone to leave the care of their estates too
much to their overseers, and to think personal labor a degradation.
Washington carried into his rural affairs the same method, activity, and
circumspection that had distinguished him in military life. He kept his own
accounts, posted up his books and balanced them with mercantile exactness.
We have examined them as well as his diaries recording his daily
occupations, and his letter-books, containing entries of shipments of
tobacco, and correspondence with his London agents. They are monuments of
his business habits. [Footnote: The following letter of Washington to his
London correspondents will give an idea of the early intercourse of the
Virginia planters with the mother country.

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