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COSTS OF CAMPAIGNING-MEASURES FOR IUBLIC BAFETY-WASHINGTON IN COM.
MAND-HEAD-QUARTERS AT WINCHESTER-LORD FAIRFAX AND HIS TROOP OF HORSE-INDIAN RAVAGES-PANIC AT WINCHESTER-CAUSE OF THE ALARM OPERATIONS ELSEWHERE-SHIRLEY AGAINST NIAGARA-JOHNSON AGAINST CROWN POINT-AFFAIR AT LAKE GEORGE_DEATH OF DIESKAU.
WASHINGTON arrived at Mount Vernon on the 26th of July, still in feeble condition from his long illness. His campaigning, thus far, had trenched upon his private fortune, and impaired one of the best of constitutions.
In a letter to his brother Augustine, then a member of Assembly at Williamsburg, he casts up the result of his frontier experience. “I was employed,” writes he, “ to go a journey in the winter, when I believe few or none would have undertaken it, and what did I get by it ?-my expenses borne! I was then appointed, with trifling pay, to conduct a handful of men to the Ohio. What did I get by that? Why, after putting myself to a considerable expense in equipping and providing necessaries for the campaign, I went out, was soundly beaten, and lost all ! Came in, and had my commission taken from me; or, in other words, my command reduced, under pretence of an order from home (England). I then went out a volunteer with General Braddock, and lost all my horses, and many other things. But this being a voluntary act, I ought not to have mentioned it; nor should I have done it, were it not to show that I have been on the losing order ever since I entered the service, which is now nearly two years.”
What a striking lesson is furnished by this brief summary! How little was he aware of the vast advantages he was acquiring in this school of bitter experience! " In the hand of heaven he stood,” to be shaped and trained for its great purpose ; and every trial and vicissitude of his early life, but fitted him to cope with one or other of the varied and multifarious duties of his future destiny.
But though, under the saddening influence of debility and defeat, be might count the cost of his campaigning, the martial spirit still burned within him. His connection with the army, it is true, had ceased at the death of Braddock, but his military duties continued as adjutant-general of the northern division of the province, and he immediately issued orders for the county lieutenants to hold the militia in readiness for parade and exercise, foreseeing that, in the present defenceless state of the frontier, there would be need of their services.
Tidings of the rout and retreat of the army had circulated far and near, and spread consternation throughout the country. Immediate incursions both of French and Indians were apprehended; and volunteer companies began to form, for the purpose of marching across the mountains to the scene of danger. It was intimated to Washington that his services would again be wanted on the frontier. He declared instantly that he was ready to serve his country to the extent of his powers; but never on the same terms as heretofore.
WASHINGTON TO HIS MOTHER,
On the 4th of August, Governor Dinwiddie convened the Assembly to devise nieasures for the public safety. The sense of danger had quickened the slow patriotism of the burgesses; they no longer held back supplies ; forty thousand pounds were promptly voted, and orders issued for the raising of a regiment of one thousand men.
Washington's friends urged him to present himself at Wil. liamsburg as a candidate for the command ; they were confident of his success, notwithstanding that strong interest was making for the governor's favorite, Colonel Innes.
With mingled modesty and pride, Washington declined to be a solicitor. The only terms, he said, on which he would accept a command, were a certainty as to rank and emoluments, a right to appoint his field officers, and the supply of a sufficient military chest; but to solicit the command, and, at the same time, to make stipulations, would be a little incongruous, and carry with it the face of self-sufficiency. "If," added he, “ the command should be offered to me, the case will then be altered, as I should be at liberty to make such objections as reason, and my small experience, bave pointed out."
While this was in agitation, he received letters from his mother, again imploring him not to risk himself in these frontier wars. His answer was characteristic, blending the filial deference with which he was accustomed from childhood to treat her, with a calm patriotism of the Roman stamp.
“ Honored Madam: If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I shall; but if the command is pressed upon me by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor on me to refuse it; and that, I am sure, must, and ought, to give you greater uneasiness, than my going in an honorable command. Upon no other terms will I accept it. At present I have no proposals made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except from private hands."
On the very day that this letter was despatched (Aug. 14), he received intelligence of his appointment to the command on the terms specified in his letters to his friends. His commission nominated him commander-in-chief of all the forces raised, or to be raised in the colony. The Assembly also voted three hundred pounds to him, and proportionate sums to the other officers, and to the privates of the Virginia companies, in consideration of their gallant conduct, and their losses in the late battle.
The officers next in command under him were LieutenantColonel Adam Stephens, and Major Andrew Lewis. The former, it will be recollected, had been with him in the unfortunate affair at the Great Meadows; his advance in rank shows that his con. dnet had been meritorious.
The appointment of Washington to his present station was the more gratifying and honorable from being a popular one, made in deference to public sentiment; to which Governor Dinwiddie was obliged to sacrifice his strong inclination in favor of Colonel Innes. It is thought that the governor never afterwards regarded Washington with a friendly eye. His conduct towards him subsequently was on various occasions cold and ungracious.*
It is worthy of note that the early popularity of Washington was not the result of brilliant achievements nor signal success; on the contrary, it rose among trials and reverses, and may almosi be said to have been the fruit of defeats. It remains an honora.
* Sparks' Writings of Washington, vol. ii., p. 161, note.
• WASHINGTON IN COMMAND,
ble testimony of Virginian intelligence, that the sterling, endur. ing, but undazzling qualities of Washington were thus cariy discerned and appreciated, though only heralded by misfortunes, The admirable manner in which he had conducted himself under these misfortunes, and the sagacity and practical wisdom he had displayed on all occasions, were universally acknowledged ; and it was observed that, had his modest counsels been adopted by the unfortunate Braddock, a totally different result might have attended the late campaign.
An instance of this high appreciation of his merits occurs in a sermon preached on the 17th of August by the Rev. Samuel Davis, wherein he cites him as “that heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for some important service to his country.” The expressions of the worthy clergyman may have been deemed enthusiastic at the time; viewed in connection with subsequent events thcy appear almost prophetic.
Having held a conference with Governor Dinwiddie at Wil. liamsburg, and received his instructions, Washington repaired, on the 14th of September, to Winchester, where he fixed his headquarters. It was a place as yet of trifling magnitude, but im. portant from its position ; being a central point where the main roads met, leading from north to south, and east to west, and commanding the channels of traffic and communication between some of the most important colonies and a great extent of frontier.
Here he was brought into frequent and cordial communication with his old friend Lord Fairfax. The stir of war had revived a spark of that military fire which animated the veteran nobleman in the days of his youth, when an officer in the cavalry regiment