« AnteriorContinuar »
WHEN no more than fifteen years of age, he was enrolled as a midshipman in the British service, but his destiny had ordered it otherwise ; his mother entered her protest against the proceeding, and the idea was abandoned.
BEFORE he was a complete adult, and while under twenty, he obtained the rank of major in a Virginian battalion, the original office of adjutant general, as filled by his deceased brother, being trisected in authority and given to three several districts, as the province had increased in population equal to a justification of the division.
SHORTLY after this military induction, an event happened, which, in its progress, called into action those eminent powers for negotiation and politic address, which have been so conspicuously exerted since, in the defence of his country's immunities, and the arrangement of her full and equal laws.
IN 1753 the French, from the Canadas, suborned some Indian tribes to assist them in plundering the western frontiers, in the neighbourhood of the Alleghany and Ohio rivers. The imperial country hcaring of the aggression,instructed the governor and council of the Virginia province to repel the invasion by force : they, notwithstanding, believed it as the more prudent step to attempt an explanation with the French and Indians, and thereby prevent the effusion of human blood. It was resolved, on mature deliberation, to depute Major WASHINGTON on this arduous and critical embassy. He conveyed a letter to the commander in chief of the enemy's 'forces, explanatory of the violation, and made some friendly overtures to the six nations and their allies, to induce them
to become attached to the British interest : · he began his journey in the earlier part of
the winter, accompanied by a few persons, and after traversing immense forests and pathless deserts, he happily arrived at the quarters of Monsieur de St. Pierre, to whom he communicated the nature and letter of his mission, and the interview was conducted on his part with so much precaution, temper, and firmness, that it was ultimately successful. His management of the Indians was not less propitious. For this moment. ous service, he received the warm approval of lieutenant governor Dinwiddie in particular,
and his country in general. He kept a diary or journal during this novel progress, which has been since published to the world, and proved entertaining and instructive, but more especially to those who have travelled into those remote parts of the continent. It was in this publication that he first mani. fested that love of method, force of reasoning, and constancy to a resolution comprehensively founded, which have since so characterised him in arranging the elements of order, and establishing the liberties of his nation.
ALTHOUGH Major WASHINGTON had per.. fected the object of his embassy, so far as a written stipulation could bind, it was soon discovered that the enemy was not faithful to his word and bond of honour, as the war. like movements on the western frontier plainly evinced. In this distressing time, an order arrived from Britain to embody the troops of the colonies for their common defence : the state of Virginia was the first in obedience to this command, and in the year 1754, raised an appropriate sum of money and a regiment of 400 men, to assemble on the frontiers of their colony. Mr. Fry, a pro
fessor in the College of William and Mary, had the command of this corps, and Major WASHINGTON, at the age of twenty three, was nominated Lieutenant Colonel. The commander dying before the regiment was perfected, his rank and power devolved on the subject of this memoir.
COLONEL WASHINGTON thus invested, redoubled his diligence in exercising his men, fixing magazines, and opening roads : it was his hope to have established a military post at the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers, a measure of precaution which he had warmly recommended to the council the preceding year. To this important spot (now called Pittsburg) he directed his march in May, without waiting for reinforcements, either regular or provincial, so great was his eagerness to fortify that station.
"In his progress he encountered a considerable party of French and Indians, at a place called Redstone : he instantly charged and routed them, making prisoners and destroying fifty, among the captives was Monsieur De La Force, and two other officers. Colonel WASHINGTON then understood the perils of
his situation, as these gentlemen informed him that the French had 1000 regular troops on the Ohio and a numerous party of savages; and what was more immediately distressing, that they had pre-occupied the post at the confluence of the rivers, and had named it fort Du Quesne.
In this dilemma, he took his stand at a spot called Great Meadows, to procure forage, and erected a stockade for his stores, which he called Fort Necessity. He waited the arrival of succours from the neighbouring colonies, but was only strengthened by Captain Mackay's regulars, which made his force, in the aggregate, but 400 efficient men. The enemy lay dormant until July, when he understood that a strong reconnoitring party was approaching rapidly : he was prompt in his decision on the aspect of danger ; he sallied out with his little army and defeated his foe; but this vigorous effort for his security was ineffectual, as shortly after, a large detachment of French and Indians, to the amount of 1500 men, under the command of the Sieur de Villiers, attacked him in his temporary fortification the assailed made a firm resistance, and killed 200 of the enemy,