Fort Edwards Archiveon theWeb
Reprinting Articles from Old Publications
Subject: George Washington Remembers
Battle of Fort Necessity & Braddock's Defeat
From the Manuscript of George Washington
See: Preface to this Manuscript
note: Please bear in mind that this document reflects the spelling and grammar of over 200 years ago. This text tries to follow the handwritten manuscript of George Washington as closely as possible. However, for the reader's sake the editor has inserted in brackets words that may help the reader's understanding. Paragraphs have been formatted since most of the handwritten document has only a few paragraphs. We have also inserted aditional graphics. Note that items in brackets "[ ]" are editorial additions. Also note that the chapter headings are modern additions to help you navigate the document.
George Washington was asked by a
friend to write his rememberances of his earlier life; he
offered his friend this collection of memories of the early
years in the military including his time with Gen. Edward
Braddock and concluding with the expedition of Gen. John
Forbes to finish Braddock's original goal. Col. Washington
held an important role in both of these
Departure from Alexandria
indefatigable industry of the Lieutenant Colonel [George Washington] and the officers who seconded his measures, the Regiment was in great forwardness at Alexandria (the place of general rendezvous) early in the spring of 1754, and without waiting till the whole should be completed, or for a detachment from the independent companies of regulars in the southern provinces (which had been required by the Executive of Virginia for this service), or for troops which were raising in North Carolina and destined in conjunction to oppose the incroachment of the French at our Western frontiers(?) He began his march in the month of May in order to open the road, and this he had to do almost the whole distance from Winchester (in the County of Frederick not more than eighty miles from Alexandria to the Ohio)?deposits &c.? and for the especiall purpose of siezing, if possible, before the French should arrive at it, the important post at the conflux of the Alligany and Monongahela; with the advantages of which he was struck the preceding year; and earnestly advised the securing of with militia, or some other temporary force. But notwithstanding all his exertions, the new and uncommon difficulties he had to encounter (made more intolerable by incessant rains and waters of which he had many to cross), he had but just ascended the Laurel Hill 50 m. short of his object after a march of 230 miles from Alex. [Alexandria] when he received information from his scouts that the French had in force siezed the post he was pushing to obtain; having descended from Presque Isle by the rivers Lebeouf and Alligany to this place by water with artillery &c. &c.
Attack on Jumonville
The object of his precipitate advance being thus defeated, the detachment of regulars which had arrived at Alexandria by water, and under his orders being far in his rear and no account of the troops from North Carolina, it was thought advisable to fall back a few miles, to a place known by the name of the Great Meadows, abounding in forage, more convenient for the purpose of forming a magazine and bringing ?up the rear, and to advance from (if we should ever be in force to do it) to the attack of the post which the enemy now occupied, and had called DuQuesne. At this place, some days after, we were joined by the above detachment of regulars, consisting (before they were reduced on the march by desertion, sickness, &c.) of a Captain McKay, a brave and worthy officer, three subalterns and 100 rank and file. But previous to this junction the French sent a detachment to reconnoitre our lines and to obtain intelligence of our strength and position; notice of which being given by the scouts, G. W. marched at the head of a party, attacked, killed 9 or 10, and captured 20 odd. This, as soon as the enemy had assembled their Indian allies, brought their whole force upon him, consisting, according to their own, compared with the best acct. that could be obtained from others, of about 1500 men. His force consisted of the detachment above mentioned, also between two & 300 Virginians; for the few Indians which till now had attended him, and who by reconnoitering the enemy in their march had got terrified at their numbers and resolved to retreat as they advised us to do also, but which was impracticable without abandoning our stores, baggage &c. as the horses which had brought them to this place, and returned for provision, had left us previous to the attack.
Battle of Fort Necessity
About 9 o'clock on the 3rd of July the enemy advanced with shouts and dismal Indian yells to our entrenchments, but was opposed by so warm, spirited and constant a fire, that to force the works in that way was abandoned by them. They then, from every little rising, tree, stump, stone, and bush kept up a constant galding fire upon us; which was returned in the best manner we could till late in the afternoon when their fell the most tremendous rain that can be conceived, filled our trenches with water, wet, not only the ammunition in the cartoosh boxes and fire locks, but that which was in a small temporary stockade in the middle of the entrenchment called Fort Necessity erected for the sole purpose of its security, and that of the few stores we had; and left us with nothing but a few (for all were not provided with them) bayonets for defense. In this situation and no prospect of bettering it, terms of capitulation were offered to us by the French which with some alterations that were insisted upon were the more readily acceded to, as we had no salt provisions, and but indifferently supplied with fresh, which from the heat of the weather would not keep; and because a full third of our numbers, officers as well as privates were, by this time, killed or wounded.
The next morning we marched out with the honors of war, but were soon plundered, contrary to the articles of capitulation, of great part of our baggage by the Savages. Our sick and wounded were left with a detachment under the care and command of the worthy Doctr. Craik (for he was not only Surgeon to the Regiment, but a Lieutenant therein) with such necessaries as we could extend and the remains of the Regim?, and the detachment of regulars, took up their line for the interior country. And at Winchester met 2 companies from North Carolina on their march to join them. These being fresh, and properly provided, were ordered to proceed to Will's Creek and establish a post (since called Fort Cumberland) for the purpose of covering the frontiers. Where they were joined by a company from Maryland which, about this time, had been raized? Captn. McKay with his detachment remd. [remained] at Winchester; and the Virginia Regiment proceeded to Alexandria in order to recruit, and get supplied with cloathing and necessarys of which they stood much in need.
Aide to Gen. Braddock
manner the winter was employed, when advice was received of the force destined for this service under the orders of G. W. [George Washington] and the arrival of Sir John St. Clair the Q. Master Genl. with some new arrangement of rank by which no officer who did not immediately derive his comn. [commission] from the King could command one who did. This was too degrading for G. W. to submit to; accordingly he resigned his military employment determining to serve the next campaign as a volunteer; but upon the a'rival of Genl. Braddock he was very particularly noticed by that General, taken into his family as an extra Aid, offered a Captain's commission by brevet (which was the highest grade he had it in his power to bestow) and had the compliment of several blank Ensigncies given him to dispose of to the Young Gentlemen of his acqe. [acquaintance] to supply the vacancies in the 44 and 48 Regts. which had arrived from Ireland.
In this capacity he commenced his second campaign and used every proper occasion till he was taken sick and left behind in the vicinity of Fort Cumberland, to impress the Genl. and the principal officers around him, with the necessity of opposing the nature of his defense to the mode of attack which more than probably be would experience from the Canadian French and their Indians on his march through the mountains and covered country, but so prepossessed were they in favor of regularity & discipline and in such absolute contempt were those people held, that the admonition was suggested in vain.