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of Frontenac. The fort mounted sixty guns and several mortars; yet, though a place of such importance, the garrison consisted of merely one hundred and ten men and a few Indians. These either fled or surrendered at discretion. In the fort was an immense amount of merchandise and military stores, part of the latter intended for the supply of Fort Duquesne. Li the harbour were nine armed vessels, some of them carrying eighteen guns—the whole of the enemy's shipping on the lake. Two of these Colonel Bradstreet freighted with part of the spoils of the fort, the others he destroyed; then, having dismantled the fortifications, and laid waste everything which he could not carry away, he re-crossed the lake to Oswego, and returned with his troops to the army on Lake George.
Slow Operations—Washington orders out the Militia—Hission to Wil
brief Courtship—An Engagement—Return to Winchester—The Rifle Dress—Indian Scouts—Washington elected to the House of Burgesses— Tidings of Amherst's Success — The New Road to Fort Duquesne—March for the Fort—Indiscreet Conduct of Major Grant —Disastrous Consequences—Washington advances against Fort Duquesne—End of the Expedition—Washington returns Home—His
Operations went on slowly in that part of the year's campaign in which Washington was immediately engaged —the expedition against Fort Duquesne. Brigadiergeneral Forbes, who was commander-in-chief, was detained at Philadelphia by those delays and cross-purposes incident to military affairs in a new country. Colonel Bouquet, who was to command the advanced division, took his station, with a corps of regulars, at Eaystown, in the centre of Pennsylvania. There, slowly assembled troops from various parts; three thousand Pennsylvanians, twelve hundred and fifty South Carolinians, and a. few hundred men from elsewhere.
Washington, in the mean time, gathered together his scattered regiment at Winchester, some from a distance of two hundred miles, and diligently disciplined his recruits.
1758.] MRS. MARTHA CUST1S. 195
He had two Virginia regiments under him, amounting, when complete, to about nineteen hundred men. Seven hundred Indian warriors, also, came lagging into his camp, lured by the prospect of a successful campaign.
The president of the council had given Washington a discretionary power in the present juncture to order out militia for the purpose of garrisoning the fort in tho absence of the regular troops. Washington exercised the power with extreme reluctance. He considered it, ho said, an affair of too important and delicate a nature for him to manage, and apprehended the discontent it might occasion. In fact, his sympathies were always with the husbandmen and the labourers of the soil, and he deplored the evils imposed upon them by arbitrary drafts for military service; a scruple not often indulged by youthful commanders.
The force thus assembling was in want of arms, tents, field-equipage, and almost every requisite. Washington had made repeated representations, by letter, of the destitute state of the Virginia troops, but without avail; he was now ordered by Sir John St. Clair, the quartermastergeneral of the forces under General Forbes, to repair to Williamsburg, and lay the state of the case before the council. He set off promptly on horseback, attended by Bishop, the well-trained military servant, who had served the late General Braddock. It proved an eventful journey, though not in a military point of view. In crossing a ferry of the Pamunkey, a branch of York Eiver, he fell in company with a Mr. Chamberlayne, who lived in the neighbourhood, and who, in the spirit of Virginian hospitality, claimed him as a guest. It was with difficulty Washington could be prevailed on to halt for dinner, so impatient was he to arrive at Williamsburg and accomplish his mission.
Among the guests at Mr. Chamberlayne's was a young and blooming widow, Mrs. Martha Custis, daughter of Mr. John Dandridge, both patrician names in the province. Her husband, John Parke Custis, had been dead about three years, leaving her with two young children and a large fortune. She is represented as being rather below the middle size, but extremely well shaped, with an agreeable countenance, dark hazel eyes and hair, and those frank, engaging manners, so captivating in Southern women. We are not informed whether Washington had met with her before; probably not during her widowhood, as during that time he had been almost continually on the frontier. We have shown that, with all his gravity and reserve, he was quickly susceptible to female charms; and they may have had a greater effect upon him when thus casually encountered in fleeting moments snatched from the cares and perplexities and rude scenes of frontier warfare. At any rate, his heart appears to have been taken by surprise.
The dinner, which in those days was an earlier meal than at present, seemed all too short. The afternoon passed away like a dream. Bishop was punctual to the orders he had received on halting; the horses pawed at the door; but for once Washington loitered in the path of duty. The horses were countermanded, and it was not until the next morning that he was again in the saddle, Spurring for Williamsburg. Happily the White House, the residence of Mrs. Custis, was in New Kent County, at no great distance from that city, so that he had opportunities of visiting her in the intervals of business. His time for courtship, however, was brief. Military duties called him back almost immediately to Winchester; but he feared, should he leave the matter in suspense, some more enterprising rival might supplant him during his absence, as in the case of Miss Philipse, at New York. He improved, therefore, his brief opportunity to the utmost. The blooming widow had many suitors, but Washington was graced with that renown so ennobling in the eyes of woman. In a word, before they separated, they had mutually plighted their faith, and the marriage was to take place as soon as the campaign against Fort Duquesne was at an end.
Before returning to Winchester, Washington was obliged to hold conferences with Sir John St. Clair and Colonel Bouquet, at an intermediate rendezvous, to give them information respecting the frontiers and arrange about the marching of his troops. His constant word to them was forward! forward! For the precious time for action was
slipping away, and he feared their Indian allies, so important to their security while on the march, might, with their usual fickleness, lose patience and return home.
On arriving at Winchester, he found his troops restless and discontented from prolonged inaction; the inhabitants impatient of the burdens imposed on them, and of the disturbances of an idle camp; while the Indians, as he apprehended, had deserted outright. It was a great relief, therefore, when he received orders from the commanderin-chief to repair to Fort Cumberland. He arrived there on the 2nd of July, and proceeded to open a road between that post and head-quarters at Eaystown, thirty miles distant, where Colonel Bouquet was stationed.
His troops were scantily supplied with regimental clothing. The weather was oppressively warm. He now conceived the idea of equipping them in the light Indian hunting garb, and even of adopting it himself. Two companies were accordingly equipped in this style, and sent under the command of Major Lewis to head-quarters. "It is an unbecoming dress, I own, for an officer," writes Washington, " but convenience rather than show, I think, should be consulted. The reduction of bat-horses alone would be sufficient to recommend it; for nothing is more certain than that less baggage would be required."
The experiment was successful. "The dress takes very well here," writes Colonel Bouquet, " and, thank God, we see nothing but shirts and blankets. * * * Their dress should be one pattern for this expedition." Suoh was probably the origin of the American rifle dress, afterwards so much worn in warfare, and modelled on the Indian costume.
The army was now annoyed by scouting parties of Indians hovering about the neighbourhood. Expresses passing between the posts were fired upon; a waggoner was shot down. Washington sent out counter-parties of Cherokees. Colonel Bouquet required that each party should be accompanied by an officer and a number of white men. Washington complied with the order, though he considered them an encumbrance rather than an advantage. "Small parties of Indians," said he, "will more effectually harass the enemy, by keeping them under continual alarms, than any parties of white men can do. For small parties of the latter are not equal to the task, not being so dexterous at skulking as Indians; and large parties will be discovered by their spies early enough to have a superior force opposed to them." With all his efforts, however, he was never able fully to make the officers of the regular army appreciate the importance of Indian allies in these campaigns in the wilderness.
On the other hand, he earnestly discountenanced a proposition of Colonel Bouquet, to make an irruption into the enemy's country with a strong party of regulars. Such a detachment, he observed, could not be sent without a cumbersome train of supplies, which would discover it to the enemy, who must at that time be collecting his whole force at Fort Duquesne; the enterprise, therefore, would be likely to terminate in a miscarriage, if not in the destruction of the party. We shall see that his opinion was oracular.
As Washington intended to retire from military life at the close of this campaign, he had proposed himself to the electors of Frederick County as their representative in the House of Burgesses. The election was coming on at Winchester; his friends pressed him to attend it, and Colonel Bouquet gave him leave of absence, but he declined to absent himself from his post for the promotion of his political interests. There were three competitors in the field, yet so high was the public opinion of his merit that, though Winchester had been his head quarters for two or three years past, and he had occasionally enforced martial law with a rigorous hand, he was elected by a large majority. The election was carried on somewhat in the English style. There was much eating and drinking at the expense of the candidate. Washington appeared on the hustings by proxy, and his representative was chaired about the town with enthusiastic applause and huzzaing for Colonel Washington.
On the 21st of July arrived tidings of the brilliant success of that part of the scheme of the year's campaign con