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Battle of Fort Necessity & Braddock's Defeat

From the Manuscript of George Washington

Continued (Section III)

Scribner's Magazine


Williamsburg Responds

Of the direful consequences of this measure, G. W., in a visit which he immediately made to Williamsburgh, a visit that brought the Governor and Council of Virginia acquainted. But in vain did they remonstrate against the march of the B. [British] troops to that place to the officer commanding them. They thus proceeded to augment their own, the command of which under a very enlarged and dignified commission, to command all the troops now raised, or to be raised in the Colony, was given to him [George Washington] with very extensive powers, and blank commissions to appoint all new officers. About this time also or soon after it, the discontents and clamours of the Provincial Officers and the remonstrance of G. W. in person to Genl. Shirley, the then Commander in Chief of the British forces in America, and through the Governor and Council to the King's Minister, with respect to the degrading situation in which they were placed, a new arrangement took place by the King's order, by which every Provincial officer was to rank according to the commission he bore, but to be Junior to those of the same grade in the established course.

Defending the Frontier

As G. W. foresaw, so it happened, the frontiers were continually harassed but not having force enough to carry the war to the gates of Duquesne,Ft. Duquesne he could do no more than distribute the troops along the frontiers in stochaded forts; more with a view to quiet the fears of the inhabitants than from any expectation of giving security on so extensive a line to the settlements. During this interval in one of his tours along the frontier posts, he narrowly escaped according to the account afterwards given by some of our people who were prisoners with them, and eye witnesses at the time of the [undecipherable] falling by an Indian party who had waylaid (for another purpose) the communication a1ong which with a small party of horse only, he was passing ?the road in this place formed a curve, and the prey they were in weight for being expected at the reverse part, the Captn. of the party had gone across to observe the number and manner of their movement &c. in order that he might make his disposition accordingly, leaving orders for the party not to take notice of any passengers the other way till he returned to them in the meantime, in the opposite direction I passed and escaped almost certain destruction, for the weather was raining and the few carbines unfit for use if we had escaped the first fire. This happened near Fort Vass.  

Second Campaign Against Ft. Duquesne with Gen. Forbes

Never ceasing, in the meantime, in his attempts to demonstrate to the Legislature of Virginia and to Lord Louden that the only means of preventing the devastations to which the middle states were exposed, was to remove the cause. But the war by this time raging in another quarter of the continent, all applications were unheeded till the year 1758, when an expedition against Fort Duquesne was concerted and undertaken under the conduct of Genl. Forbes; who though a brave and good officer, was so much debilitated by bad health, and so illy supplied with the means to carry on the expedition, that it was November before the troops got to Loyallianning fifty or sixty miles short of DuQuesne, and even then was on the very point of abandoning the exhibition when some seasonable supplies arriving, the army was formed into three brigades? took up its march and moved forward; the brigade commanded by G. W. being the leading one. Previous to this, and during the time the army lay at Loyalhanning, a circumstance occurred which involved the life of G. W. in 'as much jeopardy as it had ever been before or since.

Friendly Fire Incident

The enemy sent out a large detachment to reconnoitre our camp, and to ascertain our strength; in consequence of intelligence that they were within two miles of the camp a party commanded by Lieut. Colo. Mercer, of the Virginia Line (a gallant and good officer) was sent to dislodge them, between whom a severe conflict and hot firing ensued, which lasting some time and appearing to approach the camp, it was conceived that our party was yielding the ground, upon which G. W. with permission of the Genl. called (per dispatch) for volunteers and immediately marched at their head, to sustain, as was conjectured, the retireing troops. Led on by the firing till he came within less than half a mile, and it ceasing, he detached scouts to investigate the cause, and to communicate his approach to his friend Colo. Mercer, advancing slowly in the meantime. But it being near dusk, and the intelligence not having been fully dissiminated among Colo. Mercer's corps, and they taking us for the enemy who had retreated approaching in another direction, commenced a heavy fire upon the relieving party which drew fire in return in spite of all the exertions of the officers, one of whom, and several privates were killed and many wounded before a stop could be put to it, to accomplish which G. W. never was in more imminent danger, by being between two fires, knocking up with his sword the presented pieces.

Fort Duquesne Abandoned

When the army had got within about twelve or fifteen miles of the Fort the enemy dispairing of its defense, blew it up, having first embarked their artilery, stores and Troops, and retreated by water down the Ohio, to their settlements below. Thus ended that Campaign, a little before Christmas, in very inclement weather; and the last one made during that War by G. W. whose health by this time (as it had been declining for many months before, occasioned by an inveterate disorder in his bowels) became so precarious as to induce hint? (having seen quiet restored by this event to the frontiers of his own country, which was the principal inducement to his taking arms) to resign his military appointments. Frontier FortsThe sollicitation of the troops which he commanded to continue? their affectionate farewell address to him when they found the situation of his health and other circumstances would not allow it, affected him exceedingly, and in grateful sensibility he expressed the warmth of his attachment to them on that, and his inclination to serve them on every other future occasion.

The information given in these sheets, though related from memory, is, it is believed to be depended upon. It is hastily and incorrectly related but not so much for these reasons, as some others, it is earnestly requested that after Colo. Humphreys has extracted what he shall judge necessary, and given it in his own language, that the whole of what is here contained may be returned to G. W., or committed to the flames? some of the enumerations are trifling; and perhaps more important circumstances omitted; but just as they occurred to the memory, they were committed. If there are any grains among them, Colo. H. can easily seperate them from the chaff.

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