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"Your approved love to your king and country, and your uncommon perseverance in promoting the honour and true interest of the service, convince us that the most cogent reasons only could induce you to quit it; yet we, with the greatest deference, presume to entreat you to suspend those thoughts for another year, and to lead us on to assist in the glorious work of extirpating our enemies, towards which so considerable advances have been already made. In you, we place the most implicit confidence. Your presence only will cause a steady firmness and vigor to actuate in every breast, despising the greatest dangers and thinking light of toils and hardships, while led on by the man we know and love.
"But if we must be so unhappy as to part, if the exigencies of your affairs force you to abandon us, we beg it as our last request that you will recommend some person most capable to command, whose military knowledge, whose honour, whose conduct, and whose disinterested principles we may depend upon.
"Frankness, sincerity, and a certain openness of soul, are the true characteristics of an officer, and we flatter ourselves that you do not think us capable of saying any thing contrary to the purest dictates of our minds. Fully persuaded of this, we beg leave to assure you, that, as you have hitherto been the actuating soul of our whole corps, we shall at all times pay the most invariable regard to your will and pleasure, and will always be happy to demonstrate by our actions with how much respect and esteem we are, &c."
Thus had Washington, in his twenty-sixth year, secured for himself the love and esteem of all who knew him. He was the boast of Virginia; and his name was blessed in all her families and settlements as the saviour of her land from pillage, her property from destruction, and her sons and daughters from the bloody war-knife of the savage.
The same high opinion of his character and merits had been adopted by the British officers with whom he had come in contact. “The duties he performed, though not splendid, were arduous; and were executed with zeal, and with judgment. The exact discipline he established in his regiment, when the temper of Virginia was extremely hostile to discipline, does credit to his military character; and the gallantry the troops displayed, whenever called into action, manifests the spirit infused into them by their commander.
"The difficulties of his situation, while unable to cover the fron
tier from the French and Indians who were spreading death and desolation in every quarter, were incalculably great; and no better evidence of his exertions under these distressing circumstances can be given, than the undiminished confidence still placed in him, by those whom he was unable to protect.
"The efforts to which he incessantly stimulated his country for the purpose of obtaining possession of the Ohio; the system for the conduct of the war which he continually recommended; the vigorous and active measures always urged on those by whom he was commanded; manifested an ardent and enterprising mind tempered by judgment, and quickly improved by experience."*
HILE the gigantic efforts and slow movements of the English in Virginia and Pennsylvania were accomplishing the expulsion of five hundred men from the wilderness fortress of Du quesne, the same policy, on a proportionate scale, was pursued against the stronger French posts in Canada. In the council of governors, already mentioned as having been held at New York, in 1756, three expeditions were planned, in which twenty-one thousand men were to be employed against Crown Point, Niagara, and Fort Duquesne. The operations of Generals Abercrombie and Loudoun, who arrived successively as commanders-in-chief, were retarded by their own want of energy, and disputes with the provincial officers concerning rank. While the British were deliberating on the best mode of opening the campaign, the Marquis de Montcalm, an officer of high spirit, who and succeeded Baron Dieskau in the chief command of the French
forces in Canada, suddenly disconcerted all their plans by commencing offensive operations.
He made a rapid march at the head of five thousand men to Lake Ontario, and invested one of the forts occupied by the British at Oswego. He began the siege on the 10th of August. The scanty supply of ammunition possessed by the besieged was soon exhausted, when Colonel Mercer, the commandant, spiked his guns, and carried his troops without the loss of a man to the other fort. Montcalm immediately opened a heavy fire upon. the remaining fort, and the brave Mercer having been killed by a cannon-ball, the garrison, dismayed by his loss, demanded a capitulation, and surrendered themselves, to the number of fourteen hundred, prisoners of war. By the surrender of the fort at Oswego, the French obtained possession of one hundred and twenty-one cannon, fourteen mortars, a great quantity of military stores and provisions, as well as several sloops and boats.
In consequence of this disastrous event, the British abandoned all their plans of offensive operations, and confined their attention to the strengthening of the posts which still remained to them on the Northern and Western frontiers. In 1757, Montcalm, always watchful and active, took advantage of a blunder made by Lord Loudoun. That nobleman withdrew his main army to Halifax, with the intention of attempting the reduction of Louisburg. No sooner was this movement known to the French general than he marched with nine thousand men, and in the beginning of August laid siege to Fort William Henry, which was garrisoned by three thousand men under Colonel Monroe. Montcalm pressed the siege with such vigour and skill, that he compelled the garrison to surrender on capitulation in six days. The defenders stipulated that they should be allowed to march out of the fort with the honours of war, and be escorted to Fort Edward by French troops, as a security against the savages. These terms, however, were violated by the Indians; for no sooner had the British laid down their arms, than they began to strip them of their clothing, killing and scalping whoever made the slightest resistance. Scarcely one half of the garrison of Fort William Henry reached Fort Edward, and they arrived in small squads and in the most miserable condition. The neglect of Montcalm, on this dreadful occasion, kindled through the colonies a deep thirst for vengeance; and such was the number of determined volunteers that began to arm in the New England colonies, and pour into Fort Edward, and the exposed strongholds in the neighbourhood,
that the French thought it inexpedient to pursue their victory farther during that year.
This massacre, manifesting the insensibility of the French to the barbarous conduct of their Indian allies, may be considered as the pivot on which the fortunes of the war turned. Hitherto, it had been an almost uninterrupted series of disasters and disgrace to the British arms. In
Europe similar results followed the feeble measures of the cabinet. But the spirit of the nation being now aroused, forced into power William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, the most able and accomplished statesman that Britain had yet produced. Disapproving military operations on the continent of Europe, he turned his main attention to the North American colonies, and by vigorously announcing his resolution of speedily bringing the war to a successful termination, drew from them the most powerful aid. Lord Loudoun was recalled, and superseded by General Amherst, a more able commander; while a subordinate command was assigned to General Wolfe, a young officer in whom the discerning eye of Pitt discovered a rising military genius.
In the campaign of 1758, three expeditions were again determined on; the first against Louisburg, under the command of Generals Amherst and Wolfe, aided by the fleet under Admiral Boscawen; the second against Ticonderoga and Crown Point, under the command of General Abercrombie; and the third against Fort Duquesne, under General Forbes.
We have already witnessed the success of the last of these, in which Washington was personally engaged.
General Abercrombie, at the head of sixteen thousand men, marched towards Ticonderoga. On the road he fell in with a detachment of the enemy, who attacked Abercrombie, and by their first fire killed Lord Howe, a young officer of high promise, and much beloved in America. The superior numbers of the British, however, bore down all opposition, and defeating their