Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

CAPTAIN JACK AND HIS BAND.

129

as many of their horses as possible might be used as packhorses. Here was the difficulty. Brought up, many of them, in fashionable and luxurious life, or the loitering indulgence of country quarters, they were so encumbered with what they considered indispensable necessaries, that out of two hundred and twelve horses generally appropriated to their use, not more than a dozen could be spared by them for the public service. Washington, in his own case, acted up to the advice he had given. He retained no more clothing and effects with him than would about half fill a portmanteau, and gave up his best steed as a packhorse, which he never heard of afterwards.1

During the halt at the Little Meadows, Captain Jack and his band of forest rangers, whom Croghan had engaged at Governor Morris's suggestion, made their appearance in the camp; armed and equipped with rifle, knife, hunting-shirts, leggings and moccasins, and looking almost like a band of Indians as they issued from the woods.

The captain asked an interview with the general, by whom, it would seem, he was not expected. Braddock received him in his tent, in his usual stiff and stately manner. The " Black Eifle" spoke of himself and his followers as men inured to hardships, and accustomed to deal with Indians, who preferred stealth and stratagem to open warfare. He requested his company should be employed as a reconnoitering party, to beat up the Indians in their lurking-places and ambuscades.

Braddock, who had a sovereign contempt for the chivalry of the woods, and despised their boasted strategy, replied to the hero of the Pennsylvania settlements in a manner to which he had not been accustomed. "There was time enough," he said, "for making arrangements; and he had experienced troops, on whom he could completely rely for all purposes."

Captain Jack withdrew, indignant at so haughty a reception, and informed his leathern-clad followers of his rebuff. They forthwith shouldered their rifles, turned their hacks upon the camp, and, headed by the captain, departed in Indian file through the woods, for the usual scenes of

1 Letter to J. Augustine Washington. Sparks, ii., 81.

K

their exploits, where men knew their value, the banks of the Juniata or the Conococheague.* •

On the 19th of June Braddock's first division set out, with less than thirty carriages, including those that transported ammunition for the artillery, all strongly horsed. The Indians marched with the advanced party. In the course of the day, Scarooyadi and his son being at a small distance from the line of march was surrounded and taken by some French and Indians. His son escaped, and brought intelligence to his warriors; they hastened to rescue or revenge him, but found him tied to a tree. The French had been disposed to shoot him, but their savage allies declared they would abandon them should they do so; having some tie of friendship or kindred with the chieftain, who thus rejoined the troops unharmed.

Washington was disappointed in his anticipations of a rapid march. The general, though he had adopted his advice in the main, could not carry it out in detail. His military education was in the way; bigoted to the regular and elaborate tactics of Europe, he could not stoop to the make-shift expedients of a new country, where every difficulty is encountered and mastered in a rough-and-ready style. "I found," said Washington, "that instead of pushing on with vigour, without regarding a little rough road, they were halting to • level every mole hill, and to erect' bridges over every brook, by which means we were four days in getting twelve miles."

For several days Washington had suffered from fever, accompanied by intense headache, and his illness increased in violence to such a degree that he was unable to ride, and had to be conveyed for a part of the time in a covered waggon. His illness continued without intermission until the 23d, "when I was relieved," says he, "by the general's absolutely ordering the physician to give me Dr. James's powders, one of the most excellent medicines in the world. It gave me immediate relief, and removed my fever and other complaints in four days' time."

! On the Conococheague and Juniata are left the history of their exploits. At one time you may hear of the band near Fort Augusta,next at Fort Franklin, then at Loudon, then at Juniata,—rapid were the movements of this hardy band.— Hazards Beg. Fenn., iv., 380; also, v., 194,

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

He was still unable to bear the jolting of the waggon, but it needed another interposition of the kindly-intended authority of General Braddook to bring him to a halt at the great crossings of the Youhiogany. There the general assigned him a guard, provided him with necessaries, and requested him to remain, under care of his physician, Dr. Craik, until the arrival of Colonel Dunbar's detachment, which was two days' march in the rear; giving him his word of honour that he should, at all events, be enabled to rejoin the main division before it reached the French fort.*

This kind solicitude on the part of Braddock shows the real estimation in which he was held by that officer. Dr. Craik backed the general's orders, by declaring that should Washington persevere in his attempts to go on in the condition he then was his life would be in danger. Orme also joined his entreaties, and promised, if he would remain, he would keep him informed by letter of every occurrence of moment.

Notwithstanding all the kind assurances of Braddock and his aide-de-camp Orme, it was with gloomy feelings that Washington saw the troops depart; fearful he might not be able to rejoin them in time for the attack upon the fort, which, he assured his brother aide-de-camp, he would not miss for five hundred pounds.

Leaving Washington at the Youhiogany, we will follow the march of Braddock. In the course of the first day (June 24th), he came to a deserted Indian camp; judging from the number of wigwams, there must have been about one hundred and seventy warriors. Some of the trees about it had been stripped and painted with threats, and bravadoes, and scurrilous taunts written on them in the French language, showing that there were white men with the savages.

The next morning at daybreak, three men venturing beyond the sentinels, were shot and scalped; parties wore immediately sent out to scour the woods, and drive in the stray horses.

The day's march passed by the Great Meadows and Fort Necessity, the scene of Washington's capitulation.

3 Letter to John Augustine Washington. Sparks, ii.., 80.

Several Indians were seen hovering in the woods, and the light horse and Indian allies were sent out to surround them, but did not succeed. In crossing a mountain beyond the Great Meadows, the carriages had to be lowered with the assistance of the sailors, by means of tackle. The camp for the night was about two miles beyond Fort Necessity. Several French and Indians endeavoured to reconnoitre it, but were fired upon by the advanced sentinels.

The following day (26th) there was a laborious march of but four miles, owing to the difficulties of the road. The evening halt was at another deserted Indian camp, strongly posted on a high rock, with a steep and narrow ascent; it had a spring in the middle, and stood at the termination of the Indian path to the Monongahela. By this pass the party had come which attacked Washington the year before, in the Great Meadows. The Indians and French too, who were hovering about the army, had just left this camp. The fires they had left were yet burning. The French had inscribed their names on some of the trees with insulting bravadoes, and the Indians had designated in triumph the scalps they had taken two days previously. A party was sent out with guides, to follow their tracks and fall on them in the night, but again without success. In fact, it was the Indian boast, that throughout this march of Braddock, they saw him every day from the mountains, and expected to be able to shoot down his soldiers "like pigeons."

The march continued to be toilful and difficult; on one day it did not exceed two miles, having to cut a passage over a mountain. In cleaning their guns the men were ordered to draw the charge, instead of firing it off. No fire was to be lighted in front of the pickets. At night the men were to take their arms into the tents with them.

Further on, the precautions became still greater. On the advanced pickets, the men were in two divisions, relieving each other every two hours. Half remained on guard with fixed bayonets, the other half laid down by their arms. The picket sentinels were doubled.

On the 4th of July they encamped at Thicketty Eun. The country was less mountainous and rocky, and the woods, consisting chiefly of white pine, were more open. The general now supposed himself to be within thirty miles 1755.] FUNERAL OF AN INDIAN WARRIOR.

133

of Fort Duquesne. Ever sinoe his halt at the deserted camp on the rock beyond the Great Meadows, he had endeavoured to prevail upon the Croghan Indians to scout in the direction of the fort, and bring him intelligence, but never could succeed. They had probably been deterred by the number of French and Indian tracks, and by the recent capture of Scarooyadi. This day, however, two consented to reconnoitre; and shortly after their departure Christopher Gist, the resolute pioneer, who acted as guide to the general, likewise set off as a scout.

The Indians returned on the 6th. They had been close to Fort Duquesne. There were no additional works there; they saw a few boats under the fort, and one with a white flag coming down the Ohio; but there were few men to be seen, and few tracks of any. They came upon an unfortunate officer, shooting within half a mile of the fort, and brought a scalp as a trophy of his fate. None of the passes between the camp and fort were occupied; they believed there were few men abroad reconnoitering.

Gist returned soon after them. His account corroborated theirs; but he had seen a smoke in a valley between the camp and the fort, made probably by some scouting party. He had intended to prowl about the fort at night, but had been discovered and pursued by two Indians, and narrowly escaped with his life.

On the same day, during the march, three or four men loitering in the rear of the grenadiers were killed and scalped. Several of the grenadiers set off to take revenge. They came upon a party of Indians, who held up boughs and grounded their arns, the concerted sign of amity. Not perceiving or understanding it, the grenadiers fired upon them, and one fell. It proved to be the son of Scarooyadi. Aware too late of their error, the grenadiers brought the body to the camp. The conduct of Braddock was admirable on the occasion. He sent for the father and the other Indians, and condoled with them on the lamentable occurrence; making them the customary presents of expiation. But what was more to the point, he caused the youth to be buried with the honours of war; at his request the officers attended the funeral, and a volley was fired over the grave.

« ZurückWeiter »