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Indians, in a dark rainy night surprised their encampment, and, after firing once, rushed in and surrounded them. The commanding officer, Mr. Jumonville, was killed, one person escaped, and all the rest immediately surrendered. Soon after this affair, Col. Fry died, and the command of the regiment devolved on Washington, who speedily collected the whole at the Great Meadows. Two independent companies of regulars, one from New York, and one from South Carolina, shortly after arrived at the same place. Col. Washington was now at the head of nearly four hundred men. A stockade, afterward called Fort Necessity, was erected at the Great Meadows, in which a small force was left, and the main body advanced with a view of dislodging the French from Fort Duquesne, which they had recently erected, at the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers. They had not proceeded more than thirteen miles, when they were informed by friendly Indians, " That the French, as numerous as pigeons in the woods, were advancing in an hostile manner toward the English settlements, and also, that Fort Duquesne had been recently and strongly reinforced.” In this critical situation, a council of war unanimously recommended a retreat to the Great Meadows, which was effected without delay, and every exertion made to render Fort Necessity tenable. Before the works intended for that purpose were completed, Mons. de Villier, with a considerable force, attacked the fort. The assailants, were covered by trees and high grass. The Americansreceived them with great resolution, and fought some within the stockade, and others in the sur
rounding ditch. Washington continued the whole day on the outside of the fort, and conducted the defence with the greatest coolness and intrepidity. The engagement lasted from ten in the morning till night, when the French commander demanded a parley, and offered terms of capitulation. His first and second proposals were rejected; and Washington would accept of none short of the following honourable ones, which were mutually agreed upon in the course of the night. The fort to be surrendered on condition that the garrison should march out with the honours of war, and be permitted to retain their arms and baggage, and to march unmolested into the inhabited parts of Virginia.” The legislature of Virginia, impressed with a high sense of the bravery and good conduct of their troops, though compelled to surrender the fort, voted their thanks to Col. Washington and the officers under his command, and they also gave three hundred pistoles to be distributed among the soldiers engaged in this action, but made no arrangements for renewing offensive operations in the remainder of the year 1754. When the season for action was over, the regiment was reduced to independent companies, and Washington resigned his command.
The controversy about the Ohio lands, which began in Virginia, was taken up very seriously by Great Britain, and two British regiments were sent to America to support the claims of his Britannic majesty. They arrived early in 1755, and were commanded by Gen. Braddock. That officer, being informed of the talents of George Washington, invited him to serve the campaign as
a volunteer aid de camp. The invitation was cheerfully accepted, and Washington joined Gen. Braddock near Alexandria, and proceeded with him to Will's Creek, afterward called Fort Cumberland. Here the army was detained till the 12th. of June, waiting for waggons, horses, and provisions. Washington had early recommended the use of pack horses, instead of waggons, for conveying the baggage of the army. The propriety of this advice soon became apparent, and a considerable change was made in conformity to it. The army had not advanced much more than ten miles from Fort Cumberland, when Washington was seized with a violent fever, but nevertheless continued with the army, being conveyed in a covered waggon, after he had refused to stay behind, though so much exhausted as to be unable to ride on horseback. He advised the general to leave his hcavy artillery and baggage behind, and to advance rapidly to Fort Duquesne, with a select body of troops, a few necessary stores, and some pieces of light artillery. Hopes were indulged that by this expeditious movement, Fort Duquesne might be reached in its present weak state, with a force sufficient to reduce it, before expected reinforcements should arrive. General Braddock approved the scheme, and submitted it to the consideration of a council held at the Little Mead. ows, which recommended that the commander in chief should advance as rapidly as possible with twelve hundred select men, and that Col. Dunbar should remain behind with the remainder of the troops and the heavy baggage. This advanced corps commenced its march with only thirty car
riages, but did not proceed with the rapidity that was expected. They frequently halted to level the road, and to build bridges over inconsiderable brooks. They consunied four days in passing over the first nineteen miles from the Litile Meadows. At this place, the physicians declared that Col. Washington's life would be endangered by advancing with the army. He was therefore ordered by Gen. Braddock to stay behind with a small guard till Dunbar should arrive with the rear of the army. As soon as his strength would permit, he joined the advanced detachment, and immediately entered on the duties of his office. On the next day, July 9th. a dreadful scene took place. When Braddock had crossed the Monongahela, and was only a few miles from Fort Duquesne, and was pressing forward without any apprehension of danger, he was attacked in an open road, thick set with grass. -An invisible enemy, consisting of French and Indians, commenced a heavy and well directed fire on his uncovered troops. The van fell back on the main body, and the whole was thrown into disorder. Marksmen levelled their pieces particularly at officers, and others on horseback. In a short time, Washington was the only aid de camp left alive and not wounded. On him, therefore, devolved the whole duty of carrying the general's orders. He was of course obliged to be constantly in motion, traversing the field of battle on horseback in all directions. He had two horses shot under him, and four bullets passed through his coat, but he escaped unhurt, though every other officer on horseback was either killed or wounded. Providence preserved him for further and greater services. Throughout the whole of the carnage and confusion of this fatal day, Washington displayed the greatest coolness and the most perfect selfpossession. Braddock was undismayed amidst a shower of bullets, and by his countenance and example, encouraged his men to stand their ground; but valour was useless, and discipline only offered surer marks to the destructive aim of unseen marksmen. Unacquainted with the Indian mode of fighting, Braddock neither advanced upon nor retreated from the assailants, but very injudiciously endeavoured to form his broken troops on the ground where they were first attacked, and where they were exposed uncovered to the incessant galling fire of a sheltered enemy. He had been cautioned of the danger to which he was exposed, and was advised to advance the provincials in front of his troops, to scour the woods and detect anbuscades, but he disregarded the salutary recommendation. The action lasted near three hours, in the course of which the general had three horses shot under him, and finally received a wound, of which he died in a few days in the camp of Dunbar, to which he had been brought by Col. Washington and others. On the fall of Braddock, his troops gave way in all directions, and could not be rallied till they had crossed the Monongahela. The Indians, allured by plunder, did not pursue: with vigour. The vanquished regulars soon fell back to Dunbar's camp, from which, after destroying such of their stores as could be spared, they retired to Philadelphia. The officers in the British regiments displayed the greatest bravery.