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Captain Trent actively engaged in raising recruits for his company, which at the time was thought to be at the new fort, at the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela Rivers; but great was the disappointment of Washington, when, on the evening of the same day, Ensign Ward, who had been left in command by Captain Trent, entered his camp and informed him, that on the 17th instant the fort had been surrendered to the French. This work had but lately been commenced, and was not, when threatened, in a fit condition for defence. It was garrisoned by but forty-one men, and the captain and lieutenant were both absent. Mr. Ward reported that on the 17th of April, Captain Contrecœur advanced against the incomplete works, with a thousand men and eighteen cannon, which had been transported from Venango in three hundred canoes and sixty batteaux. The French captain planted his artillery against the fort, drew up his men, and sent a summons to the English, demanding their surrender within an hour. Seeing no alternative, Mr. Ward surrendered the works, and was permitted to retire with his men, arms, and working tools.


HE capture of this military post by the French

was considered by Washington as an actual invasion of the frontiers of the colony, a commencement of the war, and he conceived it to be his duty, in compliance with his instructions, to march forward, and prepare to meet the invaders wherever they might appear. This opinion was confirmed by a council of war; and it was resolved to proceed immediately to the mouth of the Red Stone Creek, which enters the Monongahela about thirty-seven miles above the fort taken by the French, and there to construct such defences as circumstances would admit, and await the reinforcements which were expected under Colonel Fry. Accordingly, on the 1st of May, the little army, having been reinforced by the company of Captain Stephens, and now numbering three companies of fifty men each, set out from Will's Creek, and advanced by slow marches through the wilderness, making the roads as they advanced fit for the transportation of stores and cannon. In this way they advanced until they arrived at the Great Meadows, where, having certain information of the advance and near approach of the French, Washington cleared a space of its brush and underwood, and threw up a slight intrenchment. On the morning of the 27th of May, Mr. Gist arrived in camp and reported

that he had seen the trail of a party which he was sure were French within five miles of the Great Meadows. Leaving a strong guard at the intrenchment, Washington advanced with forty men in search of the French. He started about ten o'clock at night, and arrived at the French encampment a short time before sunrise. Tanacharison, or the Half-King, accompanied Washington in this expedition with a few Indians. When they arrived in sight of the French camp, which was in a retired position, Washington made his dispositions for the attack, placing his men on the right and the Indians on the left. Advancing in this manner, they were soon discovered by the French, who ran to their arms and prepared for their defence. Washington then ordered his men to fire, and a skirmish commenced, which continued for about fifteen minutes, when the French, to the number of twenty-one, surrendered. The number of their killed was ten, including their commander Jumonville. Washington's loss was one man killed and two or three wounded.

A loud clamor was raised on this occasion by the French, who declared that Jumonville was merely the bearer of a summons, and that his death was an act of positive assassination. Washington did not deign to reply to such an absurd charge; but his friends have observed, that the great numbers of the French, and their cautious mode of approaching, did not at all accord with the representation of their being political envoys, but, coupled with the previous violence, gave every ground to believe that they intended to make good their pretensions by force.

Colonel Fry had at length raised three additional companies, and was advancing to take the command, but died suddenly on the way. The command then devolved upon Washington, who was soon after reinforced by two companies of regulars under Captain Mackey, increasing the forces at the Great Meadows to about four hundred men. Having enlarged the entrenchments at the Great Meadows, and erected palisades, Washington, leaving the regulars under Captain Mackey to defend the post, advanced with the remainder of his forces towards the fort at the forks, which the French had named Du Quesne. He had proceeded but thirteen miles, when he was met by some friendly Indians, who informed him that a body of eight hundred French and four hundred Indians were advancing rapidly to meet him. In this extremity, a council of war was held, and the great superiority of the enemy, which had been clearly ascertained, leaving no hope of successful resistance, a retreat was determined upon. In two

days they reached the Stockade fort at the Great Meadows, and the soldiers being excessively fatigued and the horses weak for want of food, it was found impossible to retreat farther. Accordingly, Washington had no choice but to strengthen the defences of the small fort, which was now named, from the circumstances of its use, Fort Necessity, and wait the arrival of reinforcements, or meet the enemy behind the enclosure, imperfect as it was.

HOSE of the soldiers who were not completely worn out by their incessant duties were immediately employed in felling trees to increase the height of the breastwork, and digging a ditch around the entrenchment. Their labours, however, were far from being completed, when,

on the morning of the 3d of July, a wounded sentinel ran into the enclosure and gave infor

mation of the near approach of the French, with their savage allies. They appeared before Fort Necessity about eleven o'clock, in number between nine hundred and a thousand, and commanded by Monsieur de Villiers.

Washington having stationed his small body of men on the outside of the trenches, bravely awaited the approach of the enemy, who without leaving the woods commenced firing at the distance of six hundred yards. As they showed no intention of approaching nearer, Washington withdrew his men to the enclosure, with orders to fire at discretion. The French kept their position. behind the trees and among the high grass, where they maintained an incessant fire of musketry till eight o'clock in the evening. The Americans fought with intrepidity, firing wherever an enemy presented himself, or aiming at the flash or smoke caused by the discharge of their muskets. During the greater part of the day the rain fell in torrents, rendering the position of the small garrison very uncomfortable, and making it difficult to use their arms with precision or certainty. In this way the battle continued with no signal advantage on either side until dark, when De Villiers demanded a parley. This was at first refused by Washington, who thought it only a feint to introduce a Frenchman within the enclosure to discover and report the weakness of the garrison; but it being soon after renewed, with the request that he would send an officer to the French camp, to confer with the commanding officer, at the same time giving the strongest assurances of the safety of the officer, Washington hesitated no longer, but sent out his old interpreter Captain Van Braam, who soon returned with


proposed articles of capitulation. The proposals first made were rejected by Washington, but some changes having been effected by mutual agreement, both parties signed the articles of capitulation about midnight.*

By the terms of capitulation, the English were allowed to march out of the fort the next morning with all the honours of war, with drums beating and colours flying. They were permitted to retain their baggage, and every thing in their possession except their artillery; and were assured of a safe retreat into the inhabited parts of the country. As the greater part of the horses had been killed, Washington was allowed to leave his baggage, under a guard, until he could forward horses to remove it, while he on his part agreed to restore the prisoners who had been taken in the skirmish with Jumonville.

About 10 o'clock, on the morning of the 4th of July, 1754, Washington, at the head of his regiment, and with the honours of war, evacuated Fort Necessity, and took up the line of march in perfect order for Virginia. Fifty-eight of the Virginians, and two hundred of the French had been killed and wounded during the engagement. The safe conduct granted by De Villiers was violated, he suffering the Indians which were attached to his army to plunder the retreating soldiers.

The courage and ability of Washington, in thus successfully resisting for a whole day an army of more than twice his number, and then obtaining honourable terms of capitulation, raised him in the estimation of the whole country, and he received the cordial approbation of the governor, as soon as he returned to Williamsburg. When the House of Burgesses assembled, they unanimously voted the thanks of the assembly to Colonel Washington and his officers and soldiers, «for their bravery, and the gallant manner in which they had conducted themselves in the defence of the country." A resolution was also passed, granting an appropriation of four hundred pistoles to be distributed among the soldiers who had aided the expedition.

The assembly met in October, 1754, and made an appropriation of twenty thousand pounds for the public service, and soon after ten thousand pounds, in specie, was forwarded from England for the same purpose. The governor immediately enlarged the army to ten companies of one hundred men each, and reduced the whole to the establishment of independent companies, thus making captains the highest officers in the Virginia regiments. And even * Sparks.

they, inferior to those of the same grade holding the commission of the king. This new arrangement, reducing Colonel Washington to the rank of captain, and placing him under officers whom he was accustomed to command, rendered his continuance in the army very disagreeable.*

Professional pride and dignified self-respect were always among Washington's most marked characteristics. Notwithstanding his ardent devotion to a military life, he resolved at once to resign a station which he believed was no longer to be held without personal dishonour, and his commission was immediately returned into the hands of the governor of Virginia. He retired to Mount Vernon, and there resided until a new call was made upon his services, in that name to whose appeal he was never deaf or wanting.†

After the unsuccessful expedition of Washington, the colonists began seriously to feel the want of some general system of cooperation against their formidable enemy. Those who were most immediately exposed to attack, complained that upon them alone was thrown the whole burden of repelling it; and the English government was at length induced to recommend the meeting of a convention of delegates at Albany, to form a league with the Six Nations of Indians, and to concert among themselves a plan of united operations for defence, against the common enemy. The New England States, together with New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, adopted the advice, and appointed deputies, who assembled in June, 1754, and after a pacific treaty with the Six Nations undertook the more important subject committed to their deliberations. The delegates were unanimous in resolving that a union of the colonies was essential to the general safety, and ought to be accomplished as speedily as possible. But then the difficulty of proposing such a plan of union as would be at the same time. acceptable to the colonies and the British government, arose, and put an end to unanimity. Among the delegates from Pennsylvania, appeared Benjamin Franklin, who even at this early date ranked as one of the most intelligent and distinguished citizens of America. Rising from the humble station of journeyman printer, he had already acquired a paramount influence in his own state of Pennsylvania, and had been appointed postmastergeneral of America, a situation which he retained until near the commencement of the Revolution, when he was displaced by the British court. He proposed to his fellow-members of the con*Sparks, p. 56, 57.

† Ed. Cyclo.

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