Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

port of provisions, the supplying of which must greatly depend on your province." *

Unfortunately the governor of Pennsylvania had no money at his command, and was obliged, for expenses, to apply to his Assembly, "a set of men," writes he, "quite unacquainted with every kind of military service, and exceedingly unwilling to part with money on any terms." However, by dint of exertions, he procured the appointment of commissioners to explore the country, and survey and lay out the roads required. At the head of the commission was George Croghan, the Indian trader, whose mission to the Twightwees we have already spoken of. Times had gone hard with Croghan. The French had seized great quantities of his goods. The Indians, with whom he traded, had failed to pay their debts, and he had become a bankrupt. Being an efficient agent on the frontier, and among the Indians, he still enjoyed the patronage of the Pennsylvania government.

When Sir John St. Clair had finished his tour of inspection, he descended Wills' Creek and the l'otomac for two hundred miles in a canoe to Annapolis, and repaired to Virginia to meet General Braddock. The latter had landed on the 20th of February at Hampton, in Viiginia, and proceeded to Williamsburg to consult with Governor Dinwiddie. Shortly afterwards he was joined there by Commodore Keppel, whose squadron of two th'ps-of-war, and several transports, had anchored in the Chesapeake. On board of these ships were two prime regiments of about five hundred men each; one commanded by Sir Peter Balket, the other by Colonel Dunbar; together wilh a train of artillery, and the necessary munitions of war. The regiments were to be augmented to e-even hundred men each by men selected by Sir John St. Clair from Virginia companies recently raised.

Alexandria was fixed upon as the place where the troops should disembark and encamp. The ships were accordingly or dered up to that place, and the levies directed to repair thither.;

The plan of the campaign included the use of Indian

2 Colonial Records, vol. vi., p. 300.

allies. Governor Dinwiddie had already sent Mr. Gist, son of the pioneer, W ashington's guide in 1753, to engage the Cherokees and Catawbas, the bravest of the Southern tribes, whom he had no doubt would take up the hatchet for the English, peace being first concluded, through the mediation of his government, between them and the Six Nations; and he gave Braddock reason to expect at least four hundred Indians to join him at Foit Cumberland. He laid before him also contracts that he had made for cattle, and promises that the Assembly of Pennsylvania had made of flour; these, with other supplies, and a thousand ban-els of beef on board of the transports, would furnish six months' provisions for lour thou:-and men.

General Braddock apprehended difficulty in procuring waggons and horses sufficient to attend him in his march. Sir John St. Clair, in the course of his tour of inspection, had met with two Dutch settlers, at the foot of the Blue Bidge, who engaged to furnish two hundred waggons, and fifteen hundred carrying horses, to bo at Fort Cumberland early in May.

Governor Sharpe was to furnish above a hundred waggons for the transportation of stores, on the Maryland side of the Fotomac.

Keppel furnished four cannons from his ships, for the attack on Fort Duquesne, and thirty picked seamen to assist in dragging them over the mountains; for " soldiers," said he, "cannot be as well acquainted with the nature of purchases, and making use of tackles, as seamen." They were to aid also in passing the troops and artillery on floats or in boats, across the rivers, and were under the command of a midshipman and lieuienant."

"Everything," writes Captain Robert Orme, one of the general's aides-de-camp, "seemed to promise so far the greatest success. The transports were all airived safe, and the men in health. Provisions, Indians, carriages, and horses, were already provided; at least were to be esteemed so, considering the authorities on which they were promised to the general.''

Trusting to these arrangements, Braddock proceeded to

* Keppel's Life of Keppel, p. 205.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Alexandria. The troops had all been disembarked before his arrival, and the Virginia levies selected by Sir John St. Clair, to join the regiments of regulars, were arrived. There were beside two companies of hatchet men, or carpenters; six of rangers; and one troop of light horse. The levies, having been clothed, were ordered to march immediately for Winchester, to be armed, and the general gave them in charge of an ensign of the 44th, "to make them as like soldiers as possible."4 The light horse were retained by the general as his escort and body guard.

The din and stir of warlike preparation disturbed the quiet of Mount Vernon. Washington looked down from his rural retreat upon the ships of war and transports, as they passed up the Potomac, with the array of arms gleaming along their decks. The booming of cannon echoed among his groves. Alexandria was but a few miles distant. Occasionally he mounted his horse and rode to that place; it was like a garrisoned town, teeming with troops, and resounding with the drum and fife. A brilliant campaign was about to open under the auspices of an experienced general, and with all the means and appurtenances of European warfare. How different from the starveling expeditions he had hitherto been doomed to conduct. What an opportunity to efface the memory of his recent disaster. All his thoughts of rural life were put to flight. The military part of his character was again in the ascendant; his great desire was to join the expedition as a volunteer.

It was reported to General Braddock. The latter was apprised by Governor Dinwiddie and others, of Washington's personal merits, his knowledge of the country, and his experience in frontier service. The consequence was, a letter from Captain Eobert Orme, one of Braddock's aides-de-camp, written by the general's order, inviting Washington to join his staff; the letter concluded with frank and cordial expressions of esteem on the part of Orme, which were warmly reciprocated, and laid the foundation of a soldierlike friendship between them.

A volunteer situation on the staff of General Braddock

Orme's Journal.

offered no emolument nor command, and -would be attended with considerable expense, beside a sacrifice of his private interests, having no person in whom he had confidence, to take charge of his affairs in his absence; still he did not hesitate a moment to accept the invitation. In the position offered to him, all the questions of military rank which had hitherto annoyed him, would be obviated. He could indulge his passion for arms without any sacrifice of dignity, and he looked forward with high anticipation to an opportunity of acquiring military experience in a corps well organized and thoroughly disciplined, and in the family of a commander of acknowledged skill as a tactician.

His mother heard with concern of another projected expedition into the wilderness. Hurrying to Mount Vernon, she entreated him not again to expose himself to the hardships and perils of these frontier campaigns. She doubtless felt the value of his presence at home, to manage and protect the complicated interests of the domestic connection, and had watched with solicitude over his adventurous campaigning, where so much family welfare was at hazard. However much a mother's pride may have been gratified by his early advancement and renown, she had rejoiced on his return to the safer walks of peaceful life. She was thoroughly practical and prosaic in her notions; and not to be dazzled by military glory. The passion for arms which mingled with the more sober elements of Washington's character, would seem to have been inherited from his father's side of the house; it was, in fact, the old chivalrous spirit of the De Wessyngtons.

His mother had once prevented him from entering the navy, when a gallant frigate was at hand, anchored in the waters of the Potomac : with all his deference for her. which he retained through life, he could not resist the appeal to his martial sympathies, which called him to the head quarters of General Braddock at Alexandria.

His arrival was hailed by his young associates, Captains Orme and Morris, the general's aides-de-camp, who at once received him into frank companionship, and a cordial intimacy commenced between them, that continued throughout the campaign.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

He experienced a courteous reception from the general, who expressed in flattering terms the impression he had received of his merits. Washington soon appreciated the character of the general. He found him stately and somewhat haughty, exact in matters of military etiquette and discipline, positive in giving an opinion, and obstinate in maintaining it; but of an honourable and generous, though somewhat irritable nature.

There were at that time four governors, beside Dinwiddie, assembled at Alexandria, at Braddock's request, to concert a plan of military operations; Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts; Lieutenant-governor Delancey, of New York; Lieutenant-governor Sharpe, of Maryland; Lieutenant-governor Morris, of Pennsylvania. Washington was presented to them in a manner that showed how well his merits were already appreciated. Shirley seems particularly to have struck him as the model of a gentleman and statesman. He was originally a lawyer, and had risen not more by his talents, than by his implicit devotion to the crown. His son Willam was military secretary to Braddock.

A grand council was held on the 14th of April, composed of General Braddock, Commodore Keppel, and the governors, at which the general's commission was read, as were his instructions from the king, relating to a common fund, to be established by the several colonies, towards defraying the expenses of the campaign.

The governors were prepared to answer on this head, letters to the same purport having been addressed to them by Sir Thomas Eobinson, one of the king's secretaries of state, in the preceding month of October. They informed Braddock that they had applied to their respective Assemblies for the establishment of such a fund, but in vain, and gave it as their unanimous opinion, that such a fund could never be established in the colonies without the aid of Parliament. They had found it impracticable, also, to obtain from their respective governments the proportions expected from them by the crown, toward military expenses in America; and suggested that ministers should find out some mode of compelling them to do it; and that, in the mean time, the general should make use of his credit upon


« ZurückWeiter »