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rather than attempt to drive them from her | deposit of military stores, a residence for comfrontiers."

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

manding 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

ET. 24.]



which distinguished him throughout life, were | Ridge was likely soon to become virtually the
repeatedly and eloquently urged upon Governor frontier line of the province.
Dinwiddie, with very little effect. The plan
of a frontier line of twenty-three forts was per-
sisted 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, recom-
mended by Washington, should be erected.

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 palisadoed forts. ‘He could take any fort,” he said, "that would catch fire."

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 A party of two hundred and eighty provingallantry and devotion. They were empow-cials, resolute men, undertook to surprise, and ered, also, to aid with their judgment in the destroy this savage nest. It was commanded selection of places for frontier forts.

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

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, 1756.

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 awhile 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

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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."*

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, 66 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 shoulder.

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

* Letter from Col. Armstrong.



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.* We shall have to speak hereafter of his services when under the standard of Washington, whose friend and neighbor he subsequently became.t


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 reconnoitring 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,

"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.

† 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.

ET. 24.1


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.


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 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 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

of his orders and replies.

"So much am I kept

"The or

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 :
ders 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 respect-
ing Fort Cumberland. Washington had repeat-
edly 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 follow-
ing," 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 gov-
ernor is appointed.' Now, whether I am to un-
derstand this aye or no to the plain simple ques-
tion asked, Is the fort to be continued or re-
moved? 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 | 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."

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 head-quarters; 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, tomorrow 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

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 headquarters 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 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 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 carryingplace, 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, FieldMarshal the Marquis de Montcalm, newly ar

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