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

easily, sharply.

 

 

 

 

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

was everywhere!

 

 

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