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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.
SLOW OPERATIONS-WASHINGTON ORDERS OUT THE MILITIA-MISSION TO WILLIAMSBURG—HALT AT MR. CHAMBERLAYNE'S-MRS. MARTHA CUSTIS-A BRIEF COURTSHIP-AN ENGAGEMENT-RETURN TO WINCHESTER-THE RIFLE DRESS-INDIAN SCOUTS-WASHINGTON ELECTED TO THE HOUSE OF BURGESSES-TIDINGS OF AMHERST'S SUCCESS-THE NEW ROAD TO FORT DUQUESNE-MARCH FOR THE FORT-INDISCREET CONDUCT OF MAJOR GRANT-DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES-WASHINGTON ADVANCES AGAINST FORT DUQUESNE-END OF THE EXPEDITION— WASHINGTON RETURNS HOME-HIS MARRIAGE.
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 militia 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
MRS. MARTHA CUSTIS.
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