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surprised, let them come at what hour they will, and this is as much as I can promise; but my best endeavors shall not be wanting to effect more. I doubt not if you hear I am beaten, but you will hear at the same time that we have done our duty in fighting as long as there is a shadow of hope."
The fact is, that Washington was in a high state of military excitement. He was a young soldier; had been for the first time in action, and been successful. The letters we have already quoted show, in some degree, the fervor of his mind, and his readiness to brave the worst; but a short letter, written to one of his brothers, on the 31st, lays open the recesses of his heart.
"We expect every hour to be attacked by superior force; but if they forbear but one day longer we shall be prepared for them. We have already got intrenchments, and are about a palisade, which, I hope, will be finished to-day. The Mingoes have struck the French, and, I hope, will give a good blow before they have done. I expect forty odd of them here to-night, which, with our fort, and some reinforcements from Colonel Fry, will enable us to exert our noble courage with spirit."
Alluding in a postscript to the late affair, he adds: "I fortunately escaped without any wound; for the right wing, where I stood, was exposed to, and received, all the enemy's fire; and it was the part where the man was killed and the rest wounded. I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound."
This rodomontade, as Horace Walpole terms it
reached the ears of George II. "He would not say so,' observed the king, dryly, "if he had been used to hear many."*
Washington himself thought so when more experienced in warfare. Being asked, many years afterwards, whether he really had made such a speech about the whistling of bullets, "If I said so," replied he quietly, "it was when I was young."† He was, indeed, but twenty-two years old when he said it; it was just after his first battle; he was flushed with success, and was writing to a brother.
* This anecdote has hitherto rested on the authority of Horace Walpole, who gives it in his memoirs of George II., and in his correspondence. He cites the rodomontade as contained in the express despatched by Washington, whom he pronounces a “brave braggart." As no despatch of Washington contains any rodomontade of the kind; as it is quite at variance with the general tenor of his character; and as Horace Walpole is well known to have been a "great gossip dealer," apt to catch up any idle rumor that would give piquancy to a paragraph, the story has been held in great distrust. We met with the letter recently, however, in a column of the London Magazine for 1754, page 370, into which it must have found its way not long after it was written.
Gordon, Hist. Am. War, vol. ii., p. 203.
SCARCITY IN THE CAMP-DEATH OF COLONEL FRY-PROMOTIONS—MAOKAY AND HIS INDEPENDENT COMPANY-MAJOR MUSE-INDIAN CEREMONIALS -PUBLIC PRAYERS IN CAMP-ALARMS-INDEPENDENCE OF AN INDEPENDENT COMPANY-AFFAIRS AT THE GREAT MEADOWS-DESERTION OF THE INDIAN ALLIES-CAPITULATION OF FORT NECESSITY-VAN BRAAM AS AN INTERPRETER-INDIAN PLUNDERERS-RETURN TO WILLIAMSBURG-VOTE OF THANKS OF THE HOUSE OF BURGESSES-SUBSEQUENT FORTUNES OF THE HALF-KINGCOMMENTS ON THE AFfair of JUMONVILLE AND THE CONDUCT OF VAN BRAAM.
SCARCITY began to prevail in the camp. Contracts had been made with George Croghan for flour, of which he had large quantities at his frontier establishment; for he was now trading with the army as well as with the Indians. None, however, made its appearance. There was mismanagement in the commissariat. At one time the troops were six days without flour; and even then had only a casual supply from an Ohio trader. In this time of scarcity the half-king, his fellow sachem, Scarooyadi, and thirty or forty warriors, arrived, bringing with them their wives and children
so many more hungry mouths to be supplied. Washington wrote urgently to Croghan to send forward all the flour he could furnish.
News came of the death of Colonel Fry at Wills' Creek, and that he was to be succeeded in the command of the expedition by Colonel Innes of North Carolina, who was actually at Winchester with three hundred and fifty North Carolina troops. Washington, who felt the increasing responsibilities and difficulties of his situation, rejoiced at the prospect of being under the command of an experienced officer, who had served in company with his brother Lawrence at the siege of Carthagena. The colonel, however, never came to the camp, nor did the North Carolina troops render any service in the campaign-the fortunes of which might otherwise have been very different.
By the death of Fry, the command of the regiment devolved on Washington. Finding a blank major's commission among Fry's papers, he gave it to Captain Adam Stephens, who had conducted himself with spirit. As there would necessarily be other changes, he wrote to Governor Dinwiddie in behalf of Jacob Van Braam. "He has acted as captain ever since we left Alexandria. He is an experienced officer, and worthy of the command he has enjoyed."
The palisaded fort was now completed, and was named Fort Necessity, from the pinching famine that had prevailed during its construction. The scanty force in camp was augmented to three hundred, by the arrival from Wills' Creek of the men who had been under Colonel Fry. With them came the surgeon of the regiment, Dr. James Craik, a Scotchman by birth, and one destined to become a faithful and confidential friend of Washington for the remainder of his life.
A letter from Governor Dinwiddie announced, how
ever, that Captain Mackay would soon arrive with an independent company, of one hundred men, from South Carolina.
The title of independent company had a sound ominous of trouble. Troops of the kind raised in the colonies, under direction of the governors, were paid by the crown, and the officers had king's commissions ; such, doubtless, had Captain Mackay. "I should have been particularly obliged," writes Washington to Governor Dinwiddie, "if you had declared whether he was under my command, or independent of it. I hope he will have more sense than to insist upon any unreasonable distinction, because he and his officers have commissions from his majesty. Let him consider, though we are greatly inferior in respect to advantages of profit, yet we have the same spirit to serve our gracious king as they have, and are as ready and willing to sacrifice our lives for our country's good. And here, once more, and for the last time, I must say, that it will be a circumstance which will act upon some officers of this regiment, above all measure, to be obliged to serve upon such different terms, when their lives, their fortunes, and their operations are equally, and, I dare say, as effectually exposed as those of others, who are happy enough to have the king's commission."
On the 9th arrived Washington's early instructor in military tactics, Adjutant Muse, recently appointed a major in the regiment. He was accompanied by Montour, the Indian interpreter, now a provincial captain, and brought with him nine swivels, and a small supply of powder and ball. Fifty or sixty horses were forthwith sent to Wills' Creek, to bring on further sup