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The flattering accounts of the forage on the Rays-Town road could not but be exaggerated. It was agreed by all unprejudiced men, acquainted with the country, that the mountains on that road were still more inaccessible than on General Braddock's. They were barren on both roads, and between them were rich valleys affording great quantities of grass.
The objection made to Braddock's road on account of the high waters was not well founded. The Yohogany, which was the most rapid, and soonest filled, he had himself crossed with a body of troops, after more than thirty days of almost constant rain. The Monongahela might be avoided, if necessary, by passing a defile.
The objections to the numerous defiles on General Braddock's road were equally applicable to the other road.
The difference in distance was extremely inconsiderable; and the advantage gained in that respect would admit of no comparison with the disadvantage of being compelled to open a new road, one hundred miles, over almost inaccessible mountains. Should this be attempted, he feared they would be able to do nothing more than to fortify some post on the other side the mountains, and prepare for another campaign. This he prayed Heaven to avert, unless it should really be found impracticable, during the present, to prosecute with prudence the enterprise now in hand.
He was also opposed to the scheme which had been suggested,
gested, of dividing the army, and marching by the two different routes.
He objected to this measure, first, because it divided their strength, and put it absolutely out of the power of the columns to support each other on the march, since there neither was, nor could be, any communication between the roads.
Secondly, if the divisions should set out at the same time, and should make no deposits on the way, that marching by the road from Rays-Town must arrive first, because unincumbered with waggons; and, if the enemy should be in force, would be exposed even in their intrenchments to insult and hazard. If the enemy should not be strong enough for this, the whole body would have but little to fear from them, in whatever manner or by whatever road they might march.
Thirdly, if the division escorting the convoy should be directed to march first, they would risk almost every thing, and be ruined if any accident should befall the artillery and military stores: and, lastly, if they should advance on both roads by deposits, they must double their number of guards over the mountains, and distress themselves by victualling them at the places of deposit ; in addition to which, they must lose the proposed advantage of stealing a march on the enemy.
Having stated these objections to the plan in contemplation, he then recommended an order of march by Braddock's road, which would bring the whole army before Fort du Quesne in
thirty-four days, with a supply of provisions for eighty-six CHAP. I. days.
He at the same time addressed a letter to Major Halket, aid of General Forbes, in which he says, "I am just returned from a conference held with Colonel Bouquet: I find him fixed, I think I may say unalterably fixed, to lead you a new way to the Ohio, through a road every inch of which is to be cut, at this advanced season, when we have scarcely time left to tread the beaten track, universally confessed to be the best passage through the mountains.
If Colonel Bouquet succeeds in this point with the General, all is lost indeed! Our enterprise is ruined, and we shall be stopped at the Laurel Hill this winter; but not to gather laurels, except of the kind which cover the mountains: the southern Indians will turn against us, and these colonies will be desolated by such an accession to the enemy's strength. These must be the consequences of a miscarriage, and a miscarriage the almost necessary consequence of an attempt to march the army by this route."
Colonel Washington's remonstrances and arguments were, however, unavailing, and the new route was resolved on. His chagrin at this measure, and at the delays resulting from it, was extreme, and was expressed in most anxious letters to M. Fauquier, then Governor of Virginia, and to the Speaker of the House of Burgesses.
To the Speaker, from Fort Cumberland, he says, "We are
still encamped here, very sickly and dispirited at the prospect
"We have certain intelligence that the French strength at Fort du Quesne did not exceed eight hundred men the thirteenth ultimo, including about three or four hundred Indians. See how our time has been mispent; behold how the golden oppor
tunity is lost, perhaps never more to be regained! How is it to be accounted for? Can General Forbes have orders for this? Impossible. Will, then, our injured country pass by such abuses? I hope, not. Rather let a full representation of the matter go to His Majesty; let him know how grossly his glory and interests, and the public money, have been prostituted."
Colonel Washington was soon afterwards ordered to Rays-Town, before which time Major Grant had been detached from the advanced post at Loyal Hanna, with a select corps of eight hundred men, to reconnoitre the country about Fort du Quesne. In the night he reached a hill near the fort, where he posted his men in different columns, and sent forward a party for the purpose of discovery. They burnt a log-house near the walls, and returned. Next morning Major Grant detached major Lewis, of Colonel Washington's regiment, with a baggage-guard two miles into his rear, and sent an engineer with a covering party, within full view of the fort, to take a plan of the works. In the mean time he ordered the reveillie to be beaten in different places. This parade drew out the enemy in great force, and an obstinate engagement ensued. As soon as the action commenced, Major Lewis left Captain Bullett, of Colonel Washington's regiment, with about fifty Virginians to guard the baggage, and advanced with the utmost speed to support Major Grant. The Defeat of MaEnglish were defeated with considerable loss, and both Major Grant and Major Lewis taken prisoners. In this action the Virginians behaved most gallantly, and evidenced the spirit with which they had been trained. Out of eight officers, five were killed, a sixth wounded, and a seventh taken prisoner. Captain Bullett, who defended the baggage with great resolution, and contributed