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INEFFICIENCY OF THE MILITIA-CROSS-PURPOSES.
but five men answered to his summons. In an- | men, chiefly officers. "With this small compaother place, where three companies had been ny of irregulars," says he, "with whom order, ordered to the relief of a fort, attacked by the regularity, circumspection, and vigilance were Indians, all that could be mustered were a cap-matters of derision and contempt, we set out, tain, a lieutenant, and seven or eight men.
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 soldiers!" How lively a picture does this give of the militia system at all times, when not subjected to strict military law.
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 What rendered this year's service peculiarly indignity. They would sooner starve than irksome and embarrassing to Washington, was carry a few days' provisions on their backs. On the nature of his correspondence with Governor the march, when breakfast was wanted, they Dinwiddie. That gentleman, either from the would knock down the first beeves they met natural hurry and confusion of his mind, or with, and, after regaling themselves, march on from a real disposition to perplex, was extill dinner, when they would take the same meth-tremely ambiguous and unsatisfactory in most od; and so for supper, to the great oppression of his orders and replies. "So much am I kept 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. Not one was in a posture of defence, few but might be surprised with the greatest ease. At one fort, the Indians rushed from their lurkingplace, 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 the 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 colonies.
From the Catawba he was escorted along a range of forts by a colonel, and about thirty
in the dark," says Washington, in one of his letters, "that I do not know whether to prepare for the offensive or défensive. 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
MILITARY AFFAIRS AT THE NORTH-DELAYS OF LORD LOUDOUN.
Fort Cumberland; and represented it in such | his sympathy with the public distress been more light to Lord Loudoun, as to draw from his powerful than his self-love. He determined, he lordship an order that it should be kept up; and said, to bear up under these embarrassments in an implied censure of the conduct of Washing- the hope of better regulations when Lord Louton in slighting a post of such paramount im- doun should arrive; to whom he looked for the portance. "I cannot agree with Colonel Wash- future fate of Virginia. ington," 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."
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 headThus powerfully supported, Dinwiddie went quarters of military operation, until the 25th so far as to order that the garrisons should be of June. He billeted his soldiers upon the withdrawn from the stockades and small fron- town, much to the disgust of the inhabitants, tier forts, and most of the troops from Win- and talked of ditching and stockading it, but chester, to strengthen Fort Cumberland, which postponed all exterior enterprises until the arwas now to become head-quarters; thus weak-rival of Lord Loudoun; then the campaign was ening the most important points and places, to to open in earnest. 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.
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 French. 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
"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 meas-awaited the arrival at Albany of Lord Loudoun, ures 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, tomorrow disapproved."
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
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 disgust-place, between the Mohawk River and Wood ing 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
Creek, when he received news that Oswego was reduced, and its garrison captured. While the British commanders had debated, FieldMarshal the Marquis de Montcalm, newly ar
MONTCALM'S ACTIVITY-WASHINGTON'S LETTER TO LORD LOUDOUN.
rived from France, had acted. He was a differ
"I cannot conceive," writes Dinwiddie in re
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 & month, therefore, before the time of 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.
ent kind of soldier from Abercrombie or Lou-ply, "what service you can be of in going there, doun. A capacious mind and enterprising spirit as the plan concerted will, in course, be comanimated a small, but active and untiring frame.municated to you and the other officers. HowQuick in thought, quick in speech, quicker still ever, as you seem so earnest to go, I now give in action, he comprehended every thing at a you leave." 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 twentyone cannon, fourteen mortars, six vessels of war, a vast number of bateaux, 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.
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."
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 Gov-delphia, showed him at once that his long, ex
ernor Dinwiddie for permission to attend it.
The manner in which Washington was received by Lord Loudoun on arriving at Phila
planatory letter had produced the desired effect,
MONTCALM ON LAKE GEORGE-HIS TRIUMPHS.
ly 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.
Scarce had the tidings of his lordship's de
and that his character and conduct were justly | for Halifax with all the troops he could collect, appreciated. During his sojourn in Philadelphia | amounting to about six thousand men, to join he was frequently consulted on points of fron- with Admiral Holbourne, who had just arrived tier service, and his advice was generally adopt-at that port with eleven ships of the line, a ed. On one point it failed. He advised that fire-ship, bomb-ketch, and fleet of transports, an attack should be made on Fort Duquesne, having on board six thousand men. With this simultaneous with the attempts on Canada. united force Lord Loudoun anticipated the cerAt such time a great part of the garrison would tain capture of Louisburg. be drawn away to aid in the defence of that province, and a blow might be struck more like-parture 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 deIn the course of July, Lord Loudoun set sail struction of the British defences on this frontier,
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 headquarters, while Fort Cumberland was left to be occupied by a Maryland garrison. Washington was instructed, likewise, to correspond and cooperate, 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 Acadia.
DISASTERS AT LOUISBURG-OFFICIAL CENSORIOUSNESS.
returned once more in triumph with the spoils | assing service of defending a wide frontier with
of victory, to hang up fresh trophies in the churches of Canada.
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 vindicat
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 seventeened himself warmly from the alleged aspersions, 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 thir-know, and it is the highest consolation I am cateen hundred Indians.
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 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 har
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
pable 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 pleasure.