« PreviousContinue »
extensive with the settled West, which is open to it by river, canal and railroad for thousands of miles.
Pittsburg occupies the site of the French Fort Du Quesne, which the French held possession of from 1754 to 1758, and whence, by instigating the Indians to hostilities, brought so much terror to the frontier settlements. About 10 miles from this place, on the north side of the Monongahela, while marching to attack this fort, Gen. Braddock, in 1755, fell into an ambuscade of French and Indians. Braddock was killed and his army defeated. Here Washington displayed his military skill, by conducting in a masterly manner, the retreat of the shattered forces. In Nov., 1758, an expedition under Gen. Forbes was so successful in striking terror into the enemy, that they burnt the fort and abandoned the place, though not without first routing an advanced detachment of 1,000 men under Maj. Grant.* The fort was repaired and received the name of Fort Pitt, in honor of Pitt, then at the head of the British ministry.
Until after the close of the Revolutionary war, Pittsburg continued to be only a small place. In 1775, there were but 25 or 30 dwellings in the limits of the city. But in 1784, the ground which belonged to Penn's manor, and was the property of the family, was laid out into town lots, and sold rapidly. Two years later, the Pennsylvania Gazette was published here, in which it was stated that there were about 100 houses in the village. The county of Allegheny was constituted in 1788, and in 1791, Pittsburg became the county town. The earliest authentic account of the population, is in the Pittsburg Gazette, Jan. 9, 1796; when, by a census then taken, it appeared that it amounted to 1,395. It was during this year that Louis Philippe, afterward the king of France, visited this place, and spent considerable time. Pittsburg was incorporated as a borough in 1864, and chartered as a city in 1816. On the 10th of April, 1845, a great fire consumed a large part of Pittsburg, causing a destruction of property to the amount of about $9,000,000. Notwithstanding this calamity, the city has continued to increase rapidly in wealth and population.
*The details of this event are from Howe's “Great West." “ The advanced guard, under Col. Boquet, having reached Loyal Hanna, in what is now Westmoreland county, that officer dispatched Maj. Grant to reconnoiter, with 800 Highland Scotch, and 200 Virginians, under Maj. Andrew Lewis, who subsequently commanded at the sanguinary battle of Point Pleasant.
As they drew near the fort undiscovered, Grant thought he could surprise the garrison, and thus disappoint his general of the honor of the conquest. Lewis, in vain, remonstrated against the folly of the attempt; but Grant, desirous of monopolizing all the honor, ordered Lewis, with his provincials, to remain behind with the baggage. Early in the morning, Grant, with his Scotch Highlanders, advanced to the attack by beating drums upon Grant's Hill, as it was afterward called, within the site of Pittsburg. This incautious bravado aroused the Indians, who, to the number of 1,500, were lying on the opposite side of the river, and soon Grant was surrounded by an overwhelming number, when the work of death went on rapidly, and in a manner quite novel to the Scotch Highlanders, who, in all their European wars, had never before seen men's heads skinned. Maj. Lewis soon perceiving, by the retreating fire, that Grant was overmatched, came to the rescue with his provincials, and falling on the rear of the Indians, made way for Grant and some of his men to retreat; but his own party was overwhelmed by numbers. This action proved disastrous to the English, more than one third of the whole force being killed. Grant and Lewis were both taken prisoners, and the remnant of the detachment was saved mainly through the bravery and skill of Capt. Bullet, of the Virginia provincials, the only officer who escaped unhurt.
The Indians would have killed Lewis had it not been for the interference of a French officer. When he was advancing to the relief of Grant, he met a Scotch Highlander, under speedy flight; and inquiring of him how the battle went, he replied, that they were 'o' beaten, and he had seen Donuid M'Donald, up to his hunkers in mud, and a' the skeen af him head.""
The following are the details of Gen. Braddock's defeat, July 9, 1755:
Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock arrived in this country early in the year 1755, with two regiments of veteran English troops. He was joined, at Fort Cumberland, by a large number of provincial troops to aid in the contemplated reduction of Fort Du Quesne. Dividing his force, he pushed onward, with about 1,200 chosen men, through dark forests, and over pathless mountains.
Braddock's Battle Field. Col. George Washington, who was a volunteer aid of Braddock, but had been left behind on account of illness, overtook the general on the evening of the 8th of July, at the mouth of the Youghiogheny River, fifteen miles from Du Quesne, the day before the battle.
The officers and soldiers were now in the highest spirits, and firm in the conviction that they should, within a few hours, victoriously enter within the walls of Fort Du Quesne. Early on the morning of the 9th, the army passed through the river a little below the mouth of the Youghiogheny, and proceeded in perfect order along the southern margin of the Mononga hela. Washington was often heard to say, during his lifetime, that the most beautiful spectacle he had ever beheld, was the display of the British troops on this eventful morning. Every man was neatly dressed in full uniform, the soldiers were arranged in columns, and marched in exact order, the sun gleamed from their burnished arms; the river flowed tranquilly on their right, and the deep forest overshadowed them with solemn grandeur on their left. Officers and men were equally inspirited with cheering hopes, and confident anticipation.
In this manner they marched forward until about noon, when they arrived at the second crossing place, 10 miles from Fort Du Quesne. They halted but a little time, and then began to ford the river, and regain its northern bank. As soon as they had crossed, they came upon a level plain, elevated only a few feet above the surface of the river, and extending northward neurly half a mile from its margin. They commenced a gradual ascent on an angle of about 30, which terminated in hills of a considerable hight at no great distance beyond. The road, from the fording place to Fort Du Quesne, led across the plain and up this ascent, and thence proceeded through an uneven country, at that time covered with wood.
By the order of march, 300 men under Col. Gage made the advanced party, which was immediately followed by another of 200. Next came the general with the columns of artillery, the main body of the army and the baggage. About one o'clock the whole had crossed the river, and almost at this moment, a sharp firing was heard upon the advanced parties, who were now ascending the hill, and had proceeded about 100 yards from the termination of the plain. A heavy discharge of musketry was poured in upon their front, which was the first intelligence they had of an enemy; and this was suddenly followed by another upon their right flank. They were filled with the greatest consternation, as no enemy was in sight, and the firing seemed to come from an invisible foe. They fired in turn, however, but quite at random, and obviously without effect.
The general hastened forward to the relief of the advanced parties ; but before he could reach the spot which they occupied, they gave way and fell back upon the artillery and the other columns of the army, causing extreme confusion, and striking the whole mass with
such a panio, that no order could afterward be restored. The general and the officers behaved with the utmost courage, and used every effort to rally the men, and bring them to order, but all in vain. In this state they continued nearly three hours, huddling together in confused bodies, firing irregularly, shooting down their own officers and men, and doing no perceptible harm to the enemy. The Virginia provincials were the only troops who seemed to retain their senses, and they behaved with a bravery and resolution worthy of a better fate. They adopted the Indian mode, and fought, each man for himself, behind a tree. This was prohibited by the general, who endeavored to form his men into platoong and columns, as if they had been maneuvering on the plains of Flanders. Meantime, the French and Indians, concealed in the ravines and behind trees, kept up a deadly and unceasing discharge of rifles, singling out their objects, taking deliberate aim, and producing a carnage almost unparalleled in the annals of modern warfare. More than half the whole army, which had crossed the river in so proud an array only three hours before, were either killed or wounded. The general himself received a mortal wound, and many of his best officers fell by his side.
During the whole of the action, Col. George Washington,* then 23 years of age, behaved with the greatest courage and resolution. The other two aids-de-camp were wounded, and on him alone devolved the duty of distributing the orders of the general. He rode in every direction, and was a conspicuous object for the enemy's sharp shooters. He had four bullets through his coat, and had two horses shot under him, and yet escaped unhurt. So bloody a contest has rarely been witnessed. Out of the 1200 men, 714 were either killed or wounded ; of 86 officers, more than two thirds were among the killed or wounded. Braddock was mortally wounded by a provincial named Fausett. The enemy lost only about 40 men. They fought in deep ravines, and the balls of the English passed over their heads.
The remnant of Braddock's army, panic stricken, fled in great disorder to Fort Cumberland. The enemy did not pursue them. Satiated with carnage and plunder, the Indians could not be tempted from the battle-field.
The army of Braddock had been carefully watched, by some Indian spies, from the time they left Fort Cumberland. There was no force in Fort Du Quesne that could cope with the English, and the French commandant had expressed the necessity of either retreat or surrender. By accident, 400 or 500 Indians happened to be at the fort of the French garrison. One officer of inferior rank, Capt. Beaujeau, strenuously urged that, for the honor of the French arms, some resistance should be made. Beaujeau consulted the Indians, who volunteered to the number of about 400. With much difficulty, the young hero obtained from his commander permission to lead out to a certain limit, such French soldiers as chose to join in the desperate enterprise. Of the number, only about 30 volunteered, and with these 430 men, the gallant Frenchman marched out to attack more than threefold their number.
In the meantime, Braddock rejected every remonstrance from Washington and other colonial officers with insult, and advanced into the snare just as far as the enemy desired, when destruction to the greater part of the army was almost the certain result.
When the victory was reported to the commandant at Fort Du Quesne, his transports were unbounded. He received Beaujeau with open arms, loaded him with the most extravagant honors, and, in a few days, sent to report the victory to the governor of Canada. But behold! when the dispatches were opened, they consisted of criminal charges against Beaujeau in his office of paymaster, and other charges equally culpable. Under these accusations, this injured man was tried, broke, and ruined. So matters rested until, in the revolutionary war, the subject of Braddock's defeat happened to come into conversation between Washington and Lafayette, when the real facts were stated to the latter. He heard them with unqualified astonishment; but with his powerful sense of justice, determining to do all in his ability to repair what he considered a national act of cruelty and injustice, he took and preserved careful notes, and on his return to Europe, had inquiries made for Beaujeau. He was found in a state of poverty and wretchedness, broken down by advancing years and unmerited obloquy. The affair was brought before the government of France, and as the real events were made manifest, the officer was restored to his rank and honors.
When Washington went to the Ohio, in 1770, to explore the wild lands near the mouth of the Kanawha, he met an aged Indian chief, who told him, through an interpreter, that, at the battle of Braddock's field, he had singled him out as a conspicuous object, fired his rifle at him many times, and directed his young men to do the same, but none of their balls took effect. He was then persuaded that the young hero was under the especial guardianship of the Great Spirit, and ceased firing at him. He had now come a great way to pay homage to the man who was the particular favorite of Heaven, and who could never die in battle.
After Braddock fell, the retreating soldiers carried their wounded general for four days, when he expired. He was buried in the center of the road
which his army had cut. About • 40 or 50 years since, some laborers at work, disinterred some bones which, from the military trappings, were at once known by the old settlers, to be those of Braddock. One and another took several of the most prominent bones, and the remainder were reinterred under a tree a few rods distant. In the annexed view, the two figures mark the spot where the bones were disinterred, and the tall tree on the right, the
place where a part were re-buried. A plain shingle, marked “ Braddock's Grave," is nailed to the tree. Day, in his History of Pennsylvania, says:
There had long existed a tradition in this region, that Braddock was killed by one of his own men, and more recent developments leave little or no doubt of the fact. Hon. Andrew Stewart, of Uniontown, says he knew, and often conversed with, Tom Fausett, who did not hesitate to avow, in the presence of his friends, that he shot Gen. Braddock. Fausett was a man of gigantic frame, of uncivilized half-savage propensities, and spent most of his life among the mountains as a hermit, living on the game which he killed. He would occasionally come into town and get drunk. Some times he would repel inquiries into the affair of Braddock's death, by putting his fingers to his lips, and uttering a sort of buzzing sound ; at others he would burst into tears, and appear greatly agitated by conflicting passions.
In spite of Braddock's silly order that the troops should not protect themselves behind the trees, Joseph Fausett had taken such position, when Braddock rode up in a passion, and struck him down with his sword. Tom Fausett, who was but a short distance from his brother, saw the whole transaction, and immediately drew up his rifle and shot Braddock through the lungs, partly in revenge for the outrage on his brother, and partly, as he always alleged, to get the general out of the way, and thus save the remainder of the gal. lant band who had been sacrificed to his obstinacy and want of experience in frontier warfare.
Altoona is on the Pennsylvania Railroad, 117 miles E. of Pittsburg, and 236 W. of Philadelphia, at the eastern base of the Allegheny Mountains. In 1850, it had but one dwelling, a log house: it is now the great center of the business of the Pennsylvania Railroad, with many fine residences, seven handsome churches, and about 6,000 inhabitants. Twelve miles W. from here is the great tunnel” on the railroad, 3,670 feet long, and 210 feet below the top of the mountain.
Erie, a port of entry, and capital of Erie county, is situated on Lake Erie, 120 miles N. from Pittsburg, 90 S. W. from Buffalo, 100 from Cleveland, and 130 by turnpike from Harrisburg. It is situated on a bluff opposite Presque Isle, formerly a peninsula. The harbor, which is one of the largest and best on the lake, is three and a half miles long, and over one mile in width, and from 9 to 25 feet deep. The island is four miles long and one wide. Erie is connected with the east and west by railroad, and with the Ohio River by the Erie Extension Canal, and is a place of extensive trade. Population about 8,000.
The town of Erie was laid out in 1795, by Gen. Irvine and Andrew Ellicott, in conformity to an act passed in that year. Reservations were made of
lots for the use of the United States, for forts, magazines, etc. Col. John Reed was the first white settler in the place. Large sums have been expended in improving and fortifying the harbor, and in erecting a lighthouse. The first section of the town was incorporated as a borough in 1805. Gen. Wayne died at the garrison here in 1796, in a small log cabin, and was buried at his own request at the foot of the ilag staff. In 1809, his remaius were removed to Delaware county by his son. It was here that Com. Perry, in 1813, in the war with Great Britain, fitted out his vessels with which he gained the important victory over the British fileet.
The Whisky Insurrection. In the year 1791, congress enacted laws laying duties upon spirits distilled in the United States, and upon stills. From the very commencement of the operation of these laws, combinations were formed in the four western counties of Pennsylvania, to defeat them, and violences were repeatedly committed. The western insurgents followed, as they supposed, the example of the American revolution in opposing an excise law. Þistilling was then considered a reputable business, and was very extensively carried on in western Pennsylvania. "Rye, their principal crop, was too bulky to transport across the mountains; therefore, having no market for it, they were obliged to convert it into the more easily transported article of whisky, which was their principal item to pay for their salt, sugar, and iron. They had cultivated their lands for years, at the peril of their lives, with little or no protection from the federal government, and when at last they were enabled to raise a little surplus grain, to meet their expenses of living, they were met by a law which forbade them doing as they pleased with the fruits of their labors. In effect, it was as bad as a government tax on wheat would be at the present day to the western farmer.
The indignation of the people at this law was universal. Public meetings were held, composed of the most influential men, denouncing the law and resolutions passed recommending the public to treat all persons holding the office of collector of the tax with contempt. The tax collectors were subjected to all sorts of indig. nities from the populace. In September, 1791, Robert Johnson, the collector for Allegheny and Washington, was waylaid, dragged from his horse, his hair cut off, and he was tarred and feathered. The officer sent to serve the process against these offenders was treated in a similar manner. The next month a man named Wilson was torn from his bed by persons in disguise, carried several miles to a blacksmith's shop, stripped naked, burnt with a red-hot iron, and covered with a coat of tar and feathers. Not long after, one Rosebury was tarred and feathered for speaking in favor of the law.
Congress, in May, 1792, passed material modifications to the law, but all to no purpose. The excitement increased; not only were collectors visited with violence, but those distillers who complied with the law. The adversaries of the law went so far as to burn the barns and tear down the houses of the collectors and others, and threaten with death those who should disclose their names.
So strong was the public feeling that one word in favor of the law was enough to ruin any man. It was considered as a badge of toryism. No clergyman, physician, lawyer, nor merchant, was sustained by the people unless his sentiments were in opposition.
On the 16th of July, 1794, a band of about forty individuals attacked the mansion of Gen. John Neville, chief inspector of western Pennsylvania, situated seven miles S. W. of Pittsburg. It was defended by Maj. Kirkpatrick, with eleven men from the garrison at Pittsburg. The attack was previously made with small arms, and fire having been set to the house the garrison were obliged to surrender. One of the insurgents was killed.
Gen. Neville was one of the most zealous patriots of the revolution, and a man of great wealth and unbounded benevolence. During the "starving years” of the early settlements in that region, he had largely contributed to the necessities of the suffering pioneers; and, when necessary, he had divided his last loaf with the needy. In accepting the office he was governed by a sense of public duty. It was done at the hazard of his life, and the loss of all his property. All his revolu