WASHINGTON WAS EVERYWHERE!
OCTOBER 12, 2008
These top 4 pictures were taken in the Jumonville Glen area.
Directly across 40 from the entrance to the Summit Inn is the road to Jumonville Glen. George Washington
during the winter of 1753-54 had been in the area as the emissary sent by the British basically to tell the French
to stop it and go away. The French were not impressed by the young man and ignored him. He went back, then,
to Virginia to tell the Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, that the French intended to stay.
The Governor was, well, not pleased and right away assembled a force of men to go back into the
Forks of the Ohio area and construct a fort themselves. Washington, only 22, was a Lieutenant Colonel
and in charge of the expedition. Four miles east of Jumonville Glen is a large, natural clearing called
Great Meadows. Washington made camp here by late May, planning to use it as his base. He hadn't
been there long before he heard that a group of French soldiers were camped fairly close. May 27th, during
a dark and stormy night, he led about 40 of his men on an all-night march through the forest...not an easy
task...to confront the French and find out why they were there. About dawn he was joined by an Indian
chief called the Half King, who had his own agenda.
The French had not posted sentries. Their commander, Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville, was an
emissary from the French to order Washington out of what they considered to be their territory, basically the same
mission Washington had been on during the previous winter. Washington and his men and the Indians who had joined
him, surrounded the unaware French. Someone fired a shot. No one knows exactly who fired it, and for the next 15
minutes the glen was the scene of a furious skirmish. Ten of the Frenchmen died and 21 were captured. One Frenchman
escaped and managed to get back to where the French were building Fort Duquesne at the Forks of the Ohio. Only
one of Washington's men had been killed and 2 or 3 wounded. This was George Washington's first experience under fire.
This is what he himself wrote about it: "I fortunately escaped without any wound, for the right wing, where I stood, was
exposed to and received all the enemy's fire, and it was the part where the man was killed and the rest wounded. I heard
the bullets whistle, and believe me, there is something charming in the sound." I must admit I've never quite understood
his use of the word 'charming' there.
Jumonville, captured and wounded, was kneeling while Washington read the documents he had given him. The Half King
strode up and split Jumonville's skull with his tomahawk and more of the French prisoners were also killed. Washington
sent the remaining prisoners to Williamsburg while he returned to Great Meadows. Since he knew now the French were
aware of his presence, he began construction of a small, round fortification to provide some defense from what he figured
would be a probable attack. The quickly assembled, rather flimsy little construction was known as "Fort Necessity." The
attack came five weeks after the skirmish at Jumonville Glen. (See bottom of this page for the Fort Necessity section.)
This incident here in the Glen was the Genesis of the entire French and Indian War.
(NOTE: In September of 2012 we did a wedding just below the Glen and the album for that is HERE . You can actually see
the rocks below which Washington camped in that album.)
(This is out of sequence historically, but is the order in which you come to the places as
you travel east on the road. So you have Jumonville Glen in May of 1754, Braddock's
defeat in July of 1755, then back to July of 1754 for Fort Necessity. One deals with the
jog of years as one makes one's way. The burial here on the Braddock Trace, then, is
one year to the month after the battle at Fort Necessity.)
On the way east on 40, we stopped here, which is the original Braddock Trace, along
which the wounded General was carried on a cart after the Battle of the Wilderness
in July 1755. Major General Edward Braddock was 60 years old and leading an
expedition against Fort Duquesne, at what is now the Point in Pittsburgh. He was
hauling huge siege cannon with him and the French at the fort knew it would not
withstand such firepower. Braddock was lugging it through over 100 miles of
wilderness. A group of about 250 soldiers and a bit over 600 Indians was dispatched
from the fort to intercept Braddock as he forded the Monongahela River. The British
crossed the fords before the French arrived and were making their way west through
the woods with cannons, both field and siege, a train of supply wagons, 200 sutlers,
and between 40 to 50 women. There were 2 regiments of British regulars in full
scarlet. Among them rode both George Washington and Daniel Boone.
The French had not attacked earlier in two places Braddock considered ideal for
ambush, so after crossing the river, he decided that there would be no ambush.
When they'd gotten a mile from the river, the two forces accidentally collided.
The French were still rushing toward the river to attack at the fords and the English
had crossed and then developed a false sense of security.
Lt. Col. Thomas Gage, leading the vanguard of of 330 British troops, was the first to
encounter the French and Indians. In the finest European tradition of battle, he ordered
his men into line to fire volleys. One ball did kill the French commander, Beaujeu, but
the Indians began streaming down both sides, taking aim from behind the trees in a scene
very like one from The Last of the Mohicans. The French had deployed in the forest,
and were almost invisible to the British. Gage ordered a retreat but ran straight into a
forward British work party and the baggage train that followed it, all hope of escape
blocked now by their own supplies!
Meanwhile, the main force of the British surged ahead at the sound of battle and a second
collision occurred on what was, actually, nothing more than a pathway through a forest.
The horses, frightened by the gunfire, the war whoops of the Indians, were out of control.
Gage's retreating force, mingled with the work party and the wagons, now had the main
body of the British troops crashing into it from the rear. The French and the Indians? Well,
they took advantage of the chaos and within an hour had the British completely surrounded.
Braddock had his horse shot out from under him four times. American militiamen decided it
was best to revert to what they knew of forest warfare, but in their attempt were mistaken
for Indians and killed by their own allies. Over two more endless hours the British tried to
get out of the trap they were in. Daniel Boone and Daniel Morgan left, deciding the whole
resistance was futile. Of the fighting men, nearly 2/3 were dead or wounded and George
Washington was the only member of Braddock's staff alive. The survivors broke, fleeing
back toward the ford. Stragglers were caught, tortured, then killed. Supply wagons, guns,
artillery, ammunition, cattle, horses, a chest of gold, Braddock's personal effects and papers,
all lay abandoned in the woods.
Several bullets had passed through Washington's clothing, but he was unharmed. Braddock,
though had been shot in the right arm and the bullet had traveled onward into his lung, a
fatal wound. He was carried off the field by Washington and another officer and put on a
cart as the retreat of what was left of the British troops continued southeastward. Four
days later as they made their way along an Indian trail not far from where Fallingwater
is today, the dying General gave his ceremonial sash to Washington. It is said that Washington
never was without that sash for the rest of his life, both as Commander of the Colonial Army
or during the time he was President.
When Braddock died, Washington had him buried right in the middle of the small road and then
ordered the men to march over the grave and the wagons to roll atop it so that the body would
not be found and desecrated. It's almost amazing somehow, walking down this road, because
you can still hear the creak of the wagon wheels, the jangle of harnesses, the pound of marching
feet. If you stop a moment, you can feel the weariness of the men who walked there, the pain
of their wounds, the stunned aftermath in their minds of what they'd just been through, the possibility
that there were still Indians in the thick forest. Because it looks so much the same, the feelings come
A small creek not far beyond where Braddock was originally buried.
Washington with the Bible doing a reading during Braddock's burial.
Steps lead down to the trace from both sides.
I took this on a visit here a few years back in the rain. That's Carl in the middle there.
George Washington presided over the burial service because their chaplain lay severely
wounded on a wagon. A crew of workers found human remains believed to be Braddock's
in 1804 and the remains were reburied atop a slope beside the trace. In 1913 a marble
monument was erected over the new grave. You can see that just to the left of the umbrella
in the picture above. The steps in the center of the picture lead down to the old trace. What
I like is that they have clearly marked where the trace leaves the woods at this point and
goes across the meadow, even across the bit of asphalt path.
The round Fort Necessity in the middle of Great Meadows. Not very impressive after having just been
to Fort Ligonier! Click HERE for Fort Ligonier album. George was at Ligonier, too, of course. George
Conestoga wagon near Necessity.
After Jumonville Glen, Washington wrote that he feared "we might be attacked by considerable forces" and built this
circular palisaded fort at the end of May and beginning of June, 1754. On June 9th he was joined by the rest of the
Virginia regiment, who brought nine swivel guns (see one at right of picture above) and more supplies. An independent
company of regular British troops from South Carolina, about 100 men, arrived several days later. The fort was
actually not to protect the men, most of whom never went inside it, but to protect the supplies FROM the men, both
British and French.
The South Carolinians stayed by the fort while Washington and his Virginians worked on opening a road from
the fort in the direction of the Forks of the Ohio. This is what occupied him for the rest of June, but at the end
of the month, he began to hear reports that a large force of French and Indians was heading his way, so he
withdrew to the Great Meadows, arriving on July 1st.
Standing inside the fort, looking out, the walls just didn't seem all that, um, 'protective' to me.
On July 2nd they tried to strengthen the fort by improving the trenches around the little stockade. There are small
creeks on either side of the fort and the land was already rather marshy. On the morning of July 3rd, 600 French
and 100 Indians took up positions in the woods. It rained all day. And I don't mean just rain rain, but blinding,
pouring rain, buckets of rain, that filled the trenches and turned the land to deep mud, that wet the gunpowder so
the muskets wouldn't fire. July 3rd was one miserable day.
The fighting continued all day with the British losses greater than the French and Indian. Around 8 PM
the commander of the French, who...wouldn't you just KNOW...was the brother of Jumonville himself...
ack ack ack...Captain Louis Coulon de Villiers, sent Washington a request for a truce so they might
discuss the terms of surrender...Washington's surrender, not the French.
Washington thought it was a trick and it took until midnight for him to be convinced otherwise and for them to
come to some sort of terms. The terms were written in French, which Washington did not speak, and his main
interpreter had been killed. He was left with one man who spoke a little German, a little French.
Carl speaking with the costumed guide at the fort.
The British would be allowed to withdraw from the field with the honors of war, to keep their
weapons and baggage but not the swivel guns. All well and good. BUT...and this is where the
trouble with translation comes in, alas, since it was Jumonville's brother writing the terms, he
inserted a clause that stated that George Washington was admitting he was responsible for and
guilty of the assassination of Jumonville. The specific term was 'assassination'. Washington, though,
was told it merely said 'death of'. With Washington's signature on the document, the French had
something they could use to great advantage with their propaganda. Washington later protested
this, saying he had no idea it said 'assassination', but it was too late...they had his signature.
The British troops left Great Meadows on the morning of July 4th, heading back to Virginia.
The French burned the little fort and then returned to Fort Duquesne. The next year Washington became part of
another British expedition to the Forks of the Ohio. This was under the command of General Edward Braddock.
See middle section of this page for the story of that.
In 1769, when he was 37, in one of the odder facts of history, Washington bought this meadow where the
battle had been fought. He paid 35 pounds, 15 shillings, and 8 pence for 234 1/2 acres which he called Mount
Washington. He held these acres for the rest of his life and in his will in 1799 directed it be sold to the highest
bidder. He had last visited here in 1784.
BACK TO JO'S OTHER PLACE
BACK TO 2012 ALBUM OF JUMONVILLE GLEN
BACK TO THE VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT
BACK TO AUTUMN OUT MY CAR WINDOW
BACK TO SUNLIT WATER
BACK TO IF I SHOULD SPEND AN HOUR ALONE
BACK TO FORT LIGONIER
BACK TO DOES A LEAF HAVE A TALE? part 1
BACK TO VICTORIAN BELLEFONTE
BACK TO WELLINGTON AUTUMN
BACK TO AN AUTUMN FARM ON THE WAY
BACK TO UPHILL AT DUFF IN AUTUMN
BACK TO AUTUMN BY MY HOUSE
BACK TO A BITTERSWEET DAY AT BUSHY RUN
BACK TO DOES A LEAF HAVE A TALE? part 2