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'After taking Fort Duquesne,' said ho, 'I am to proceed to Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow time; and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or four days: and then I can see nothing that can obstruct my march to Niagara.'
"Having before revolved in my mind," continues Franklin, " the long line his army must make in their march by a very narrow road, to be cut for them through the woods and bushes, and also what I had heard of a former defeat of fifteen hundred French, who invaded the Illinois country, I had conceived some doubts and some fears for the event of the campaign; but 1 ventured only to say, 'To be sure, sir, if you arrive well before Duquesne with these fine troops, so well provided with artillery, the fort, though completely fortified, and assisted with a very strong garrison, can probably make but a short resistance. The only danger I apprehend of obstruction to your march, is from the ambuscades of the Indians, who, by constant practice, are dexterous in laying and executing them; and the slender line, nearly four miles long, which your army must make, may expose it to be attacked by surprise on its flanks, and to be cut like thread into several pieces, which, from their distance, cannot come up in time to support one another.'
"He smiled at my ignorance, and replied: 'These savages may indeed be a formidable enemy to raw American militia, but upon the king's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they should make any impression.' I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing with a military man in matters of his profession, and said no more." 1
As the whole delay of the army was caused by the want of conveyances, Franklin observed one day to the general that it was a pity the troops had not been landed in Pennsylvania, where almost every farmer had his waggon. "Then, sir," replied Braddock, "you who are a man of interest there can probably procure them for me, and I beg you will." Franklin consented. An instrument in writing was drawn up, empowering him to contract for
1 Autobiography of Franklin. Sparks' Edition, p. 190.
one hundred and fifty waggons, with four horses to each waggon, and fifteen hundred saddle or packhorses for the service of his majesty's forces, to be at Wills' Creek on or before the 20th of May, and he promptly departed for Lancaster to execute the commission.
After his departure, Braddock, attended by his staff, and his guard of light horse, set off for Wills' Creek by the way of Winchester, the road along the north side of the Potomac not being yet made. "This gave him," writes Washington, "a good opportunity to see the absurdity of the route, and of damning it very heartily." *
Three of Washington's horses were knocked up before they reached Winchester, and he had to purchase others. This was a severe drain of his campaigning purse; fortunately he was in the neighbourhood of Greenway Court, and was enabled to replenish it by a loan from his old friend Lord Fairfax.
The discomforts of the rough road were increased with the general by his travelling with some degree of state in a chariot which he had purchased of Governor Sharpe. In this he dashed by Dunbar's division of the troops, which he overtook near Wills' Creek; his body-guard of light horse galloping on each side of his chariot, and his staff accompanying him, the drums beating the Grenadier's march as he passed. In this style, too, he arrived at Fort Cumberland, amid a thundering salute of seventeen guns.*
By this time the general discovered that he was not in a region fitted for such display, and his travelling chariot was abandoned at Fort Cumberland, otherwise it would soon have become a wreck among the mountains beyond.
By the 19th of May the forces were assembled at Fort Cumberland. The two royal regiments, originally one thousand strong, now increased to fourteen bundled by men chosen from the Maryland and Virginia levies: two provincial companies of carpenters, or pioneers, thirty men each, with subalterns and captains; a company of guides, composed of a captain, two aids, and ten men; the troop of Virginia light horse, commanded by Captain
* Draft of a letter, among Washington's papers, addressed to Major John Carlyle. s Journal of the Seamen's detachment.
Stewart; the detachment of thirty sailors, with their officers; and the remnants of two independent companies from New York, one of which was commanded by Captain Horatio Gates, of whom we shall have to speak much hereafter in the course of this biography.
Another person in camp, of subsequent notoriety, and who became a warm friend of Washington, was Dr. Hugh Mercer, a Scotchman, about thirty-three years of age. About ten years previously he had served as assistantsurgeon in the forces of Charles Edward, and followed his standard to the disastrous field of Culloden. After the defeat of the "chevalier," Mercer had escaped, by the way of Inverness, to America, and taken up his residence in Virginia. He was now with the Virginia troops, rallying under the standard of the House of Hanover, in an expedition led by a general who had aided to drive the chevalier from Scotland.4
Another young Scotchman in the camp was Dr. James Craik, who had become strongly attached to Washington, being about the same age, and having been with him in the affair of the Great Meadows, serving as surgeon in the Virginia regiment, to which he still belonged.
At Fort Cumberland Washington had an opportunity of seeing a force encamped according to the plan approved of by the council of war, and military tactics enforced with all the precision of a martinet.
The roll of each company was called over morning, noon, and night. There was strict examination of arms and accoutrements, the commanding officer of each company being answerable for their being kept in good order.
The general was very particular in regard to the appearance and drill of the Virginia recruits and companies, whom he had put under the rigorous discipline of Ensign Allen. "They performed their evolutions and firings as well as could be expected," writes Captain Orme, "but their languid, spiritless, and unsoldier-like appearance, considered with the lowness and ignorance of most of their officers, gave little hopes of their future good behaviour."1
* Braddock had been an officer under the Duke of Cumberland in his campaign against Charles Edward. 5 Orme's Journal.
He doubtless echoed the opinion of the general. How completely were both to be undeceived as to their estimate of these troops!
The general held a levee in his tent every morning from ten to eleven. He was strict as to the morals of the camp. Drunkenness was severely punished. A soldier convicted of theft was sentenced to receive one thousand lashes, and to be drummed out of his regiment. Part of the first part of the sentence was remitted. Divine service was performed every Sunday, at the head of the colours of each regiment, by the chaplain. There was the funeral of a captain who died at this encampment. A captain's guard marched before the corpse, the captain of it in the rear, the firelocks reversed, the drums beating the dead march. When near the grave, the guard formed two lines, facing each other, rested on their arms, muzzles downwards, and leaned their faces on the butts. The corpse was carried between them, the sword and sash on the coffin, and the officers following two and two. After the chaplain of the regiment had read the service, the guard fired three volleys over the grave, and returned."
Braddock's camp, in a word, was a complete study for Washington during the halt at Fort Cumberland, where he had an opportunity of seeing military routine in its strictest forms. He had a specimen, too, of convivial life in the camp, which the general endeavoured to maintain even in the wilderness, keeping a hospitable table; for he is said to have been somewhat of a bon vivant, and to have had with him "two good cooks, who could make an excellent ragout out of a pair of boots, had they but materials to toss them up with."7
There was great detention at the fort, caused by the want of forage and supplies, the road not having been finished from Philadelphia. Mr. Kichard Peters, the secretary of Governor Morris, was in camp to attend to the matter. He had to bear the brunt of Braddock's complaints. The general declared he would not stir from Wills' Creek until he had the governor's assurance that the road would be opened in time. Mr. Peters requested
8 Orme's Journal. Journal of the Seamen's detachment.
guards to protect the men, while at work, from attacks by the Indians. Braddock swore he would not furnish guards for the woodcutters — "let Pennsylvania do it!" He scoffed at the talk about danger from Indians. Peters endeavoured to make him sensible of the peril which threatened him in this respect. Should an army of them, led by French officers, beset him in his march, he would not be able, with all his strength and military skill, to reach Fort Duquesne without a body of rangers, as well on foot as horseback. The general, however, "despised his observations."8 Still, guards had ultimately to be provided, or the work on the road would have been abandoned.
Braddock, in fact, was completely chagrined and disappointed about the Indians. The Cherokees and Catawbas, whom Dinwiddie had given him reason to expect in such numbers, never arrived.
George Croghan reached the camp with but about fifty warriors, whom he had brought from Aughquick. At the general's request he sent a messenger to invite the Delawares and Shawnees from the Ohio, who returned with two chiefs of the former tribe. Among the sachems thus assembled were some of Washington's former allies — Scarooyadi, alias Monacatoocha, successor to the halfking; White Thunder, the keeper of the speech-belts; and Silver Heels, so called, probably, from being swift of foot.
Notwithstanding his secret contempt for the Indians, Braddock, agreeably to his instructions, treated them with great ceremony. A grand council was held in his tent, where all his officers attended. The chiefs, and all the warriors, came painted and decorated for war. They were received with military honours, the guards resting on their fire-arms. The general made them a speech through his interpreter, expressing the grief of their father, the great king of England, at the death of the half-king, and made them presents to console them. They in return promised their aid as guides and scouts, and declared eternal enmity to the French, following the declaration with the war-song, "making a terrible noise."
The general, to regale and astonish them, ordered all the.
8 Colonial Record8, vi., 396.