Abbildungen der Seite


increased Washington's impatience at the delays of the expedition with which he was connected. He wished to rival these successes by a brilliant blow in the south. Perhaps a desire for personal distinction in the eyes of the lady of his choice may have been at the bottom of this impatience; for we are told that he kept up a constant correspondence with her throughout the campaign.

Understanding that the commander-in-chief had some thoughts of throwing a body of light troops in the advance, he wrote to Colonel Bouquet, earnestly soliciting his influence to have himself and his Virginia regiment included in the detachment. "If any argument is needed to obtain this favour," said he, " I hope, without vanity, I may be allowed to say that from long intimacy with these woods, and frequent scouting in them, my men are at least as well acquainted with all the passes and difficulties as any troops that will be employed."

He soon learnt to his surprise, however, that the road to which his men were accustomed, and which had been worked by Braddock's troops in his campaign, was not to be taken in the present expedition, but a new one opened through the heart of Pennsylvania, from Kaystown to Fort Duquesne, on the track generally taken by the northern traders. He instantly commenced long and repeated remonstrances on the subject, representing that Braddock's road, from recent examination, only needed partial repairs, and showing by clear calculation that an army could reach Fort Duquesne by that route in thirty-four days, so that the whole campaign might be effected by the middle of October; whereas the extreme labour of opening a new road across mountains, swamps, and through a densely wooded country, would detain them so late that the season would be over before they could reach the scene of action. His representations were of no avail. The officers of the regular service had received a fearful idea of Braddock's road from his own despatches, wherein he had described it as lying "across mountains and rocks of an excessive height, vastly steep, and divided by torrents and rivers," whereas the Pennsylvania traders, who were anxious for the opening of the new road through their province, described the country through which it would pass as less difficult, and its streams less subject to inundation; above all, it was a direct line and fifty miles nearer. This route, therefore, to the great regret of Washington and the indignation of the Virginian Assembly, was definitively adopted, and sixteen hundred men were immediately thrown in tht advance from Eaystown to work upon it.

The first of September found Washington still encamped at Fort Cumberland, his troops sickly and dispirited, and the brilliant expedition which he had anticipated dwindling down into a tedious operation of road-making. In the mean time his scouts brought him word that the whole force at Fort Duquesne on the 13th of August, Indians included, did not exceed eight hundred men; had an early campaign been pressed forward, as he recommended, the place by this time would have been captured. At length, in the month of September, he received orders from General Forbes to join him with his troops at Eaystown, where he had just arrived, having been detained by severe illness. He was received by the general with the highest marks of respect. On all occasions, both in private and at councils of war, that commander treated his opinions with the greatest deference. He, moreover, adopted a plan drawn out by Washington for the march of the army; and an order of battle which still exists, furnishing a proof of his skill in frontier warfare.

It was now the middle of September, yet the great body of men engaged in opening the new military road, after incredible toil, had not advanced above forty-five miles, to a place called Loyal Hannan, a little beyond Laurel Hill. Colonel Bouquet, who commanded the division of nearly two thousand men sent forward to open this road, had halted at Loyal Hannan to establish a military post and deposit.

He was still upwards of fifty miles from Fort Duquesne, and was tempted to adopt the measure, so strongly discountenanced by Washington, of sending a party on a foray into the enemy's country. He accordingly detached Major Grant with eight hundred picked men, some of them Highlanders, others, in Indian garb, the part of Washington's Virginian regiment sent forward by him from Cumberland under command of Major Lewis.


The instructions given to Major Grant were merely to reconnoitre the country in the neighbourhood of Fort Duquesne, and ascertain the strength and position of the enemy. He conducted the enterprise with the foolhardiness of a man eager for personal notoriety. His whole object seems to have been by open bravado to provoke an action. The enemy were apprised, through their scouts, of his approach, but suffered him to advance unmolested. Arriving at night in the neighbourhood of the fort, he posted his men on a hill, and sent out a party of observation, who set fire to a log house near the walls and returned to the encampment. As if this were not sufficient to put the enemy on the alert, he ordered the reveille to be beaten in the morning in several places ; then posting Major Lewis with his provincial troops at a distance in the rear to protect the baggage, he marshalled his regulars in battle array, and sent an engineer, with a covering party, to take a plan of the works in full view of the garrison.

Not a gun was fired by the fort; the silence which was maintained was mistaken for fear, and increased the arrogance and blind security of the British commander. At length, when he was thrown off his guard, there was a sudden sally of the garrison, and an attack on the flanks by Indians hid in ambush. A scene now occurred similar to that at the defeat of Braddock. The British officers marshalled their men according to European tactics, and the Highlanders for some time stood their ground bravely; but the destructive fire and horrid yells of the Indians soon produced panic and confusion. Major Lewis, at the first noise of the attack, left Captain Bullitt, with fifty Virginians, to guard the baggage, and hastened with the main part of his men to the scene of action. The contest was kept up for some time, but the confusion was irretrievable. The Indians sallied from their concealment, and attacked with the tomahawk and scalping-knife. Lewis fought hand to hand with an Indian brave, whom he laid dead at his feet, but was surrounded by others, and only saved his life by surrendering himself to a French officer. Major Grant surrendered himself in like manner. The whole detainment was put to the rout with dreadful carnage.

Captain Bullitt rallied several of the fugitives, and pre

pared to make a forlorn stand, as the only chance where the enemy was overwhelming and merciless. Despatching the most valuable baggage with the strongest horses, he made a barricade with the baggage waggons, behind which he posted his men, giving them orders how they were to aot. All this was the thought and the work almost of a moment, for the savages, having finished the havoc and plunder of the field of battle, were hastening in pursuit of the fugitives. Bullitt suffered them to come near, when, on a concerted signal, a destructive fire was opened from behind the baggage waggons. They were checked for a time; but were again pressing forward in greater numbers, when Bullitt and his men held out the signal of capitulation, and advanced as if to surrender. "When within eight yards of the enemy they suddenly levelled their arms, poured a most effective volley, and then charged with the bayonet. The Indians fled in dismay, and Bullitt took advantage of this check to retreat with all speed, collecting the wounded and the scattered fugitives as he advanced. The routed detachment came back in fragments to Colonel Bouquet's camp at Loyal Hannan, with the loss of twentyone officers and two hundred and seventy-three privates killed and taken. The Highlanders and the Virginians were those that fought the best and suffered the most in this bloody battle. Washington's regiment lost six officers and sixty-two privates.

If Washington could have taken any pride in seeing his presages of misfortune verified, he might have been gratified by the result of this rash " irruption into the enemy's country," which was exactly what he had predicted. In his letters to Governor Fauquier, however, he bears lightly on the error of Major Bouquet. "From all accounts I can collect," says he, " it appears very clear that this was a very ill-concerted or a very ill-executed plan, perhaps both; but it seems to be generally acknowledged that Major Grant exceeded his orders, and that no disposition was made for engaging."

Washington, who was at Kaystown when the disastrous news arrived, was publicly complimented by General Forbes on the gallant conduct of his Virginian troops, and Bullitt's behaviour was "a matter of great admiration." 1758.] ADVANCES AGAINST FORT DUQUESNE.


The latter was soon after rewarded with a major's commission.

As a further mark of the high opinion now entertained of provincial troops for frontier service, Washington was given the command of a division, partly composed of his own men, to keep in the advance of tho main body, clear the roads, throw ont scouting parties, and repel Indian attacks.

It was the 5fh of November before the whole army assembled at Loyal Hannan. Winter was now at hand, and upwards of fifty miles of wilderness were yet to be traversed, by a road not yet formed, before they could reach Fort Duquesne. Again, Washington's predictions seemed likely to be verified, and the expedition to be defeated by delay; for in a council of war it was determined to be impracticable to advance further with the army that season. Three prisoners, however, who were brought in, gave such an account of the weak state of the garrison at Fort Duquesne, its want of provisions, and the defection of the Indians, that it was determined to push forward. The march was accordingly resumed, but without tents or baggage, and with only a light train of artillery.

Washington still kept the advance. After leaving Loyal Hannan, the road presented traces of the late defeat of Grant; being strewed with human bones, the sad relics of fugitives cut down by the Indians, or of wounded soldiers who had died on the retreat; they lay mouldering in various stages of decay, mingled with the bones of horses and of oxen. As they approached Fort Duquesne these mementos of former disasters became more frequent; and the bones of those massacred in the defeat of Braddock, still lay scattered about the battle field, whitening in the sun.

At length the army arrived in sight of Fort Duquesne, advancing with great precaution, and expecting a vigorous defence; but that formidable fortress, the terror and scourge of the frontier, and the object of such warlike enterprise, fell without a blow. The recent successes of the English forces in Canada, particularly the capture and destruction of Fort Frontenac, had left the garrison without hope of reinforcements and supplies. The whole force,

« ZurückWeiter »