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1754)

STATEMENT OF DE VILLIERS.

127

lish consent to sign that they had assassinated my brother in his camp."-" We caused them to abandon the lands belonging to the king.–We obliged them to leave their cannon, which consisted of nine pieces, &c." He further adds: “The English, struck with panic, took to flight, and left their flag and one of their colors." We

furt; too cumbrous to be transported by troops who could not carry their own necessary baggage. The regimental colors, as honorable symbols, were scrupulously carried off by Washington, and retained by him in after years.

M. de Villiers adds another incident intended to degrade his enemy. He says, “One of my Indians took ten Englishmen, whom he brought to me, and whom I sent back by another.” These, doubtless, were the men detached by Washington in quest of the wounded loiterers; and who, understanding neither French nor Indian, found a difficulty in explaining their peaceful errand. That they were captured by the Indian seems too much of a gasconade.

The public opinion at the time was that Van Braam had been suborned by De Villiers to soften the offensive articles of the capitula. tion in translating them, so that they sbould not wound the pride nor awaken the scruples of Washington and his officers, yet should stand on record against them. It is not probable that a French officer of De Villiers' rank would practise such a base perfidy, nor does the subsequent treatment experienced by Van Braam from the French corroborate the charge. It is more than probable the inaccuracy of translation originated in his ignorance of the precise weight and value of words in the two languages, neither of which was native to him, and between which he was the blundering agent of exchange.

CHAPTER XIIL

FOUNDING OF FORT CUMBERLAND-SECRET LETTER OF STOBO-THE INDIAN MES

SENGER-PROJECT OF DINWIDDIE—HIS PERPLEXITIES—A TAINT OF REPUBLICANISM IN THE COLONIAL ASSEMBLIES —DINWIDDIE'S MILITARY MEASURESWASHINGTON QUITS THE SERVICE-OVERTURES OF GOVERNOR SHARPE, OF MARYLAND-WASHINGTON'S DIGNIFIED REPLY-QUESTIONS OF RANK BETWEEN ROYAL AND PROVINCIAL TROOPS-TREATMENT OF THE FRENCH PRISONERSFATE OF LA FORCE—ANECDOTES OF STOBO AND VAN BRAAM.

Early in August Washington rejoined his regiment, which had arrived at Alexandria by the way of Winchester. Letters from Governor Dinwiddie urged him to recruit it to the former number of three hundred men, and join Colonel Innes at Wills' Creek, where that officer was stationed with Mackay's independent company of South Carolinians, and two independent companies from New York; and had been employed in erecting a work to serve as a frontier post and rallying point; which work received the name of Fort Cumberland, in honor of the Duke of Cumberland, captain-general of the British army.

In the mean time the French, elated by their recent triumph, and thinking no danger at hand, relaxed their vigilance at Fort Duquesne. Stobo, who was a kind of prisoner at large there, found means to send a letter secretly by an Indian, dated July

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LETTER OF STOBO.

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28, and directed to the commander of the English troops. It was accompanied by a plan of the fort. “There are two hundred men here," writes he, "and two hundred expected; the rest have gone off in detachments to the amount of one thousand, besides Indians. None lodge in the fort but contrecour and the guard, consisting of forty men and five officers; the rest lodge in bark cabins around the fort. The Indians have access day and night, and come and go when they please. If one hundred trusty Shawnees, Mingoes, and Delawares were picked out, they might surprise the fort, lodging themselves under the palisades by day, and at night secure the guard with their tomahawks, shut the sally-gate, and the fort is ours."

One part of Stobo's letter breathes a loyal and generous spirit of self-devotion. Alluding to the danger in which he and Van Braam, his fellow-bostage, might be involved, he says, “ Consider the good of the expedition without regard to us. When we engaged to serve the country it was expected we were to do it with our lives. For my part, I would die a hundred deaths to have the pleasure of possessing this fort but one day. They are so vain of their success at the Meadows it is worse than death to hear them. Haste to strike.” *

The Indian messenger carried the letter to Aughquick and delivered it into the hands of George Croghan. The Indian chiefs who were with him insisted upon his opening it. He did so, but on finding the tenor of it, transmitted it to the Governor of Pennsylvania. The secret information communicated by Stobo, may have been the cause of a project suddenly conceived by Governor Dinwiddie, of a detachment which, by a forced

* Hazard's Register of Penn., iv., 329.

Vol. I.-6*

march across the mountains, might descend upon the French and take Fort Duquesne at a single blow; or, failing that, might build a rival fort in its vicinity. He accordingly wrote to Washington to march forthwith for Wills' Creek, with such companies as were complete, leaving orders with the officers to follow as soon as they should have enlisted men sufficient to make up their companies. “The season of the year," added he, “ calls for despatch. I depend upon your usual diligence and spirit to encourage your people to be active on this occasion."

The ignorance of Dinwiddie in military affairs, and his want of forecast, led him perpetually into blunders. Washington saw the rashness of an attempt to dispossess the French with a force so inferior that it could be harassed and driven from place to place at their pleasure. Before the troops could be collected, and munitions of war provided, the season would be too far ad. vanced. There would be no forage for the horses; the streams would be swollen and unfordable; the mountains rendered impassable by snow, and frost, and slippery roads. The men, too, unused to campaigning on the frontier, would not be able to endure a winter in the wilderness, with no better shelter than a tent; especially in their present condition, destitute of almost every thing. Such are a few of the cogent reasons urged by Washington in a letter to his friend William Fairfax, then in the House of Burgesses, which no doubt was shown to Governor Dinwiddie, and probably had an effect in causing the rash project to be abandoned.

The governor, in truth, was sorely perplexed about this time by contradictions and cross-purposes, both in military and civil affairs. A body of three hundred and fifty North Carolinian troops had been enlisted at high pay, and were to form the chief

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REPUBLICANISM IN THE ASSEMBLIES.

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reinforcement of Colonel Innes at Wills’ Creek. By the time they reached Winchester, however, the provincial military chest was exhausted, and future pay seemed uncertain ; whereupon they refused to serve any longer, disbanded themselves tumultuously, and set off for their homes without taking leave.

The governor found the House of Burgesses equally unmanageable. His demands for supplies were resisted on what he considered presumptuous pretexts; or granted sparingly, under mortifying restrictions. His high Tory notions were outraged by such republican conduct. “There appears to me," said he, "an infatuation in all the assemblies in this part of the world." In a letter to the Board of Trade he declared that the only way effectually to check the progress of the French, would be an act of parliament requiring the colonies to contribute to the common cause, independently of assemblies ; and in another, to the Secretary of State, he urged the policy of compelling the colonies to their duty to the king by a general poll-tax of two and sixpence a head. The worthy governor would have made a fitting coun. sellor for the Stuart dynasty. Subsequent events have shown how little his policy was suited to compete with the dawning republicanism of America.

In the month of October the House of Burgesses made a grant of twenty thousand pounds for the public service; and ten thousand more were sent out from England, beside a supply of firearms. The governor now applied himself to military inatters with renewed spirit; increased the actual force to ten companies; and, as there had been difficulties among the different kinds of troops with regard to precedence, he reduced them all to independent companies; so that there would be no officer in a Vir. gioia regiment above the rank of captain.

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