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68

THE RETREAT-DEATH OF BRADDOCK.

[1755.

and a servant, placed him in a tumbril. It was waggons for the wounded, under the escort of with much difficulty they got him out of the two grenadier companies. It was a hard and field-in his despair he desired to be left there.* a melancholy ride throughout the night and the The rout now became complete. Baggage, following day. The tidings of the defeat prestores, artillery, every thing was abandoned. | ceded him, borne by the waggoners, who had The waggoners took each a horse out of his mounted their horses, on Braddock's fall, and team, and fled. The officers were swept off fled from the field of battle. They had arrived, with the men in this headlong flight. It was haggard, at Dunbar's camp at mid-day; the Inrendered more precipitate by the shouts and dian yell still ringing in their ears. "All was yells of the savages, numbers of whom rushed lost! they cried. "Braddock was killed! forth from their coverts, and pursued the fugi- They had seen wounded officers borne off from tives to the river side, killing several as they the field in bloody sheets! The troops were dashed across in tumultuous confusion. For all cut to pieces! A panic fell upon the tunately for the latter, the victors gave up the camp. The drums beat to arms. Many of the pursuit in their eagerness to collect the spoil. soldiers, waggoners, and attendants, took to flight; but most of them were forced back by the sentinels.

The shattered army continued its flight after it had crossed the Monongahela, a wretched wreck of the brilliant little force that had recently gleamed along its banks, confident of victory. Out of eighty-six officers, twenty-six had been killed, and thirty-six wounded. The number of rank and file killed and wounded was upwards of seven hundred. The Virginia corps had suffered the most; one company had been almost annihilated, another, besides those killed and wounded in the ranks, had lost all its officers, even to the corporal.

About a hundred men were brought to a halt about a quarter of a mile from the ford of the river. Here was Braddock, with his wounded aides-de-camp and some of his officers; Dr. Craik dressing his wounds, and Washington attending him with faithful assiduity. Braddock was still able to give orders, and had a faint hope of being able to keep possession of the ground until reinforced. Most of the men were stationed in a very advantageous spot about two hundred yards from the road; and Lieutenant-Colonel Burton posted out small parties and sentinels. Before an hour had elapsed, most of the men had stolen off. Being thus deserted, Braddock and his officers continued their retreat; he would have mounted his horse but was unable, and had to be carried by soldiers. Orme and Morris were placed on litters borne by horses. They were subsequently joined by Colonel Gage with eighty men whom he had rallied.

Washington, in the mean time, notwithstanding his weak state, being found most efficient in frontier service, was sent to Colonel Dunbar's camp, forty miles distant, with orders for him to hurry forward provisions, hospital stores, and

* Journal of the Seamen's detachment.

Washington arrived at the camp in the evening, and found the agitation still prevailing. The orders which he brought were executed during the night, and he was in the saddle early in the morning accompanying the convoy of supplies. At Gist's plantation, about thirteen miles off, he met Gage and his scanty force escorting Braddock and his wounded officers. Captain Stewart and a sad remnant of the Virginia light horse still accompanied the general as his guard. The captain had been unremitting in his attentions to him during the retreat. There was a halt of one day at Dunbar's camp for the repose and relief of the wounded. On the 13th they resumed their melancholy march, and that night reached the Great Meadows.

The proud spirit of Braddock was broken by his defeat. He remained silent the first evening after the battle, only ejaculating at night, "Who would have thought it!" He was equally silent the following day; yet hope still seemed to linger in his breast, from another ejaculation: "We shall better know how to deal with them another time!"*

He was grateful for the attentions paid to him by Captain Stewart and Washington, and more than once, it is said, expressed his admiration of the gallantry displayed by the Virginians in the action. It is said, moreover, that in his last moments, he apologized to Washington for the petulance with which he had rejected his advice, and bequeathed to him his favorite

Captain Ormo, who gave these particulars to Dr. Franklin, says that Braddock "died a few minutes after." This, according to his account, was on the second day;

whereas the general survived upwards of four days. Orme, being conveyed on a litter at some distance from the general, could only speak of his moods from hearsay.

ET. 23.]

LETTERS OF WASHINGTON TO HIS FAMILY.

charger and his faithful servant, Bishop, who had helped to convey him from the field.

CHAPTER XVII.

69

THE obsequies of the unfortunate Braddock being finished, the escort continued its retreat with the sick and wounded. Washington, as

over his comrades Orme and Morris. As the horses which bore their litters were nearly knocked up, he despatched messengers to the commander of Fort Cumberland, requesting that others might be sent on, and that comfortable quarters might be prepared for the reception of those officers.

Some of these facts, it is true, rest on tradition, yet we are willing to believe them, as they impart a gleam of just and generous feeling to his closing scene. He died on the night of the 13th, at the Great Meadows, the place of Wash-sisted by Dr. Craik, watched with assiduity ington's discomfiture in the previous year. His obsequies were performed before break of day. The chaplain having been wounded, Washington read the funeral service. All was done in sadness, and without parade, so as not to attract the attention of lurking savages, who might discover and outrage his grave. It is doubtful even whether a volley was fired over it, that last military honor which he had recently paid to the remains of an Indian warrior. The place of his sepulture, however, is still known, and pointed out.

On the 17th, the sad cavalcade reached the fort, and were relieved from the incessant apprehension of pursuit. Here, too, flying reports had preceded them, brought by fugitives from the battle; who, with the disposition usual in such cases to exaggerate, had repre

Reproach spared him not, even when in his grave. The failure of the expedition was at-sented the whole army as massacred. Fearing tributed both in England and America to his obstinacy, his technical pedantry, and his military conceit. He had been continually warned to be on his guard against ambush and surprise, but without avail. Had he taken the advice urged on him by Washington and others to employ scouting parties of Indians and rangers, he would never have been so signally surprised and defeated.

Still his dauntless conduct on the field of battle shows him to have been a man of fearless spirit; and he was universally allowed to be an accomplished disciplinarian. His melancholy end, too, disarms censure of its asperity. Whatever may have been his faults and errors, he, in a manner, expiated them by the hardest lot that can befall a brave soldier, ambitious of renown-an unhonored grave in a strange land; a memory clouded by misfortune, and a name forever coupled with defeat.

NOTE.

In narrating the expedition of Braddock, we have frequently cited the journals of Captain Orme and of the "Seamen's Detachment;" they were procured in England by the Hon. Joseph R. Ingersoll, while Minister at the Court of St. James, and recently published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: ably edited, and illustrated with an admirable Introductory Memoir by Winthrop Sargent, Esq., member of that Society.

* * *

these reports might reach home, and affect his
family, Washington wrote to his mother, and
his brother, John Augustine, apprising them of
his safety. "The Virginia troops," says he, in
a letter to his mother, "showed a good deal of
bravery, and were nearly all killed.
The dastardly behavior of those they called
regulars, exposed all others that were ordered
to do their duty, to almost certain death; and,
at last, in despite of all the efforts of the officers
to the contrary, they ran, as sheep pursued by
dogs, and it was impossible to rally them."

To his brother, he writes: "As I have heard, since my arrival at this place, a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you that I have not composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability, or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, though death was levelling my companions on every side of me!

"We have been most scandalously beaten by time prevent me from giving you any of the a trifling body of men, but fatigue and want of details, until I have the happiness of seeing you at Mount Vernon, which I now most earnestly wish for, since we are driven in thus far. A feeble state of health obliges me to halt here for two or three days to recover a little strength, that I may thereby be enabled to proceed homeward with more ease."

.70

TRIUMPH OF THE FRENCH-COSTS OF CAMPAIGNING.

[1755.

Dunbar arrived shortly afterward with the | cading party returned in triumph with a long remainder of the army. No one seems to have train of packhorses laden with booty, the savshared more largely in the panic of the vulgar ages uncouthly clad in the garments of the than that officer. From the moment he receiv- slain, grenadier caps, officers' gold-laced coats, ed tidings of the defeat, his camp became a and glittering epaulettes; flourishing swords scene of confusion. All the ammunition, stores, and sabres, or firing off muskets, and uttering and artillery were destroyed, to prevent, it was fiendlike yells of victory. But when De Consaid, their falling into the hands of the enemy; trecœur was informed of the utter rout and debut, as it was afterwards alleged, to relieve the struction of the much-dreaded British army, terror-stricken commander from all incum- his joy was complete. He ordered the guns of brances, and furnish him with more horses in the fort to be fired in triumph, and sent out his flight towards the settlements. troops in pursuit of the fugitives.

At Cumberland his forces amounted to fifteen hundred effective men; enough for a brave stand to protect the frontier, and recover some of the lost honor; but he merely paused to leave the sick and wounded under care of two Virginia and Maryland companies, and some of the train, and then continued his hasty march, or rather flight, through the country, not thinking himself safe, as was sneeringly intimated, until he arrived in Philadelphia, where the inhabitants could protect him.

The affair of Braddock remains a memorable event in American history, and has been characterized as "the most extraordinary victory ever obtained, and the farthest flight ever made." It struck a fatal blow to the deference for British prowess, which once amounted almost to bigotry, throughout the provinces. "This whole transaction," observes Franklin, in his autobiography, "gave us the first suspicion that our exalted ideas of the prowess of British regular troops had not been well founded."

CHAPTER XVIII.

WASHINGTON arrived at Mount Vernon on the 26th of July, still in feeble condition from his long illness. His campaigning, thus far, had trenched upon his private fortune, and impaired one of the best of constitutions.

The true reason why the enemy did not pursue the retreating army was not known until some time afterwards, and added to the disgrace of the defeat. They were not the main force of the French, but a mere detachment of 72 regulars, 146 Canadians, and 637 Indians, 855 in all, led by Captain de Beaujeu. De Contrecœur, the commander of Fort Duquesne, had received information, through his scouts, that the English, three thousand strong, were within six leagues of his fort. Despairing of making an effectual defence against such a superior force, he was balancing in his mind whether to abandon his fort without waiting their arrival, or to capitulate on honorable terms. In this dilemma Beaujeu prevailed on him to let him sally forth with a detachment to form an ambush, and give check to the enemy. De Beau--my expenses borne! I was then appointed, jeu was to have taken post at the river, and disputed the passage at the ford. For that purpose he was hurrying forward when discovered by the pioneers of Gage's advance party. He was a gallant officer, and fell at the beginning of the fight. The whole number of killed and wounded of French and Indians, did not exceed seventy.

"I

In a letter to his brother Augustine, then a member of Assembly at Williamsburg, he casts up the result of his frontier experience. was employed," writes he, "to go a journey in the winter, when I believe few or none would have undertaken it, and what did I get by it?

with trifling pay, to conduct a handful of men to the Ohio. What did I get by that? Why, after putting myself to a considerable expense in equipping and providing necessaries for the campaign, I went out, was soundly beaten, and lost all! Came in, and had any commission taken from me; or, in other words, my command reduced, under pretence of an order from home (England). I then went out a volunteer with General Braddock, and lost all my horses, and many other things. But this being a vol

Such was the scanty force which the imagination of the panic-stricken army had magnified into a great host, and from which they had fled in breathless terror, abandoning the whole fron-untary act, I ought not to have mentioned it; tier. No one could be more surprised than the nor should I have done it, were it not to show French commander himself, when the ambus- that I have been on the losing order ever since

ET. 23.]

MEASURES FOR PUBLIC SAFETY-WASHINGTON TO HIS MOTHER.

71.

I entered the service, which is now nearly two | ulations, would be a little incongruous, and years."

What a striking lesson is furnished by this brief summary! How little was he aware of the vast advantages he was acquiring in this school of bitter experience! "In the hand of heaven he stood," to be shaped and trained for its great purpose; and every trial and vicissitude of his early life, but fitted him to cope with one or other of the varied and multifarious duties of his future destiny.

But though, under the saddening influence of debility and defeat, he might count the cost of his campaigning, the martial spirit still burned within him. His connection with the army, it is true, had ceased at the death of Braddock, but his military duties continued as adjutantgeneral of the northern division of the province, and he immediately issued orders for the county lieutenants to hold the militia in readiness for parade and exercise, foreseeing that, in the present defenceless state of the frontier, there would be need of their services.

carry with it the face of self-sufficiency. "If," added he, "the command should be offered to me, the case will then be altered, as I should be at liberty to make such objections as reason, and my small experience, have pointed out."

While this was in agitation, he received letters from his mother, again imploring him not to risk himself in these frontier wars. His answer was characteristic, blending the filial deference with which he was accustomed from childhood to treat her, with a calm patriotism of the Roman stamp.

"Honored Madam: If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I shall; but if the command is pressed upon me by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor on me to refuse it; and that, I am sure, must, and ought to, give you greater uneasiness, than my going in an honorable command. Upon no other terms will I accept it. At present I have no proposals made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except from private hands."

On the very day that this letter was de

Tidings of the rout and retreat of the army had circulated far and near, and spread consternation throughout the country. Immediate incursions both of French and Indians were ap-spatched (Aug. 14), he received intelligence of prehended; and volunteer companies began to form, for the purpose of marching across the mountains to the scene of danger. It was intimated to Washington that his services would again be wanted on the frontier. He declared instantly that he was ready to serve his country to the extent of his powers; but never on the same terms as heretofore.

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On the 4th of August, Governor Dinwiddie convened the Assembly, to devise measures for the public safety. The sense of danger had quickened the slow patriotism of the burgesses; they no longer held back supplies; forty thousand pounds were promptly voted, and orders issued for the raising of a regiment of one thousand men.

Washington's friends urged him to present himself at Williamsburg as a candidate for the command; they were confident of his success, notwithstanding that strong interest was making for the governor's favorite, Colonel Innes.

his appointment to the command on the terms specified in his letters to his friends. His commission nominated him commander-in-chief of all the forces raised, or to be raised in the colony. The Assembly also voted three hundred pounds to him, and proportionate sums to the other officers, and to the privates of the Virginia companies, in consideration of their gal lant conduct, and their losses in the late battle.

The officers next in command under him were Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Stephens, and Major Andrew Lewis. The former, it will be recollected, had been with him in the unfortunate affair at the Great Meadows; his advance in rank shows that his conduct had been meritori

ous.

The appointment of Washington to his present station was the more gratifying and honorable from being a popular one, made in deference to public sentiment; to which Governor Dinwiddie was obliged to sacrifice his strong inclination in favor of Colonel Innes. It is thought that the governor never afterwards regarded Washington with a friendly eye. His conduct towards him subsequently was on various occasions cold and ungracious.*

With mingled modesty and pride, Washington declined to be a solicitor. The only terms, he said, on which he would accept a command, were a certainty as to rank and emoluments, a right to appoint his field officers, and the supply of a sufficient military chest; but to solicit the command, and, at the same time, to make stip- Sparks' Writings of Washington, vol. ii., p. 161, note.

72

WASHINGTON IN COMMAND-HEAD-QUARTERS AT WINCHESTER.

[1755.

It is worthy of note that the early popularity | the young commander with his counsels or his of Washington was not the result of brilliant sword. achievements nor signal success; on the contrary, it rose among trials and reverses, and may almost be said to have been the fruit of defeats. It remains an honorable testimony of Virginian intelligence, that the sterling, enduring, but undazzling qualities of Washington, were thus early discerned and appreciated, though only heralded by misfortunes. The admirable manner in which he had conducted himself under these misfortunes, and the sagacity and practical wisdom he had displayed on all occasions, were universally acknowledged; and it was observed that, had his modest counsels been adopted by the unfortunate Braddock, a totally different result might have attended the late campaign.

An instance of this high appreciation of his merits occurs in a sermon preached on the 17th of August by the Rev. Samuel Davis, wherein he cites him as "that heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for some important service to his country." The expressions of the worthy clergyman may have been deemed enthusiastic at the time; viewed in connection with subsequent events they appear almost prophetic.

His services were soon put in requisition. Washington, having visited the frontier posts, established recruiting places, and taken other measures of security, had set off for Williamsburg on military business, when an express arrived at Winchester from Colonel Stephens, who commanded at Fort Cumberland, giving the alarm that a body of Indians were ravaging the country, burning the houses, and slaughtering the inhabitants. The express was instantly forwarded after Washington; in the mean time, Lord Fairfax sent out orders for the militia of Fairfax and Prince William counties to arm and hasten to the defence of Winchester, where, all was confusion and affright. One fearful account followed another. The whole country beyond it was said to be at the mercy of the savages. They had blockaded the rangers in the little fortresses or outposts provided for the protection of neighborhoods. They were advancing upon Winchester with fire, tomahawk, and scalping-knife. The country people were flocking into the town for safety-the townspeople were moving off to the settlements beyond the Blue Ridge. The beautiful valley of the Shenandoah was likely to become a scene of savage desolation.

Having held a conference with Governor In the height of the confusion Washington Dinwiddie at Williamsburg, and received his rode into the town. He had been overtaken instructions, Washington repaired, on the 14th by Colonel Stephens' express. His presence of September, to Winchester, where he fixed inspired some degree of confidence, and he suchis head-quarters. It was a place as yet of tri-ceeded in stopping most of the fugitives. He fling magnitude, but important from its position; being a central point where the main roads met, leading from north to south, and east to west, and commanding the channels of traffic and communication between some of the most important colonies and a great extent of frontier.

Here he was brought into frequent and cordial communication with his old friend Lord Fairfax. The stir of war had revived the spark of that military fire which animated the veteran nobleman in the days of his youth, when an officer in the cavalry regiment of the Blues. He was lord-lieutenant of the county. Greenway Court was his head-quarters. He had organized a troop of horse, which occasionally was exercised about the lawn of his domain, and he was now as prompt to mount his steed for a cavalry parade as he ever was for a fox chase. The arrival of Washington frequently brought the old nobleman to Winchester to aid

would have taken the field at once against the savages, believing their numbers to be few; but not more than twenty-five of the militia could be mustered for the service. The rest refused to stir-they would rather die with their wives and children.

Expresses were sent off to hurry up the militia ordered out by Lord Fairfax. Scouts were ordered out to discover the number of the foe, and convey assurances of succor to the rangers said to be blocked up in the fortresses, though Washington suspected the latter to be " more encompassed by fear than by the enemy." Smiths were set to work to furbish up and repair such firearms as were in the place, and waggons were sent off for musket balls, flints, and provisions.

Instead, however, of animated co-operation, Washington was encountered by difficulties at every step. The waggons in question had to be impressed, and the waggoners compelled by

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