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   Chapter 13 POLITICAL INTRIGUE AND OFFICIAL CONFUSION

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 3380

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


Early in 1756, in order to get the necessary co-operation among the colonies, to settle the bitter quarrels as to rank among officers, and to give the Virginia colony a better idea of the plan for the war, Washington decided to visit General Shirley, at Boston. General Shirley had succeeded General Braddock as commander-in-chief of all the colonies.

Washington, with his aides in brilliant uniform, taken care of by a retinue of colored servants in finest livery, all riding in a pompous cavalcade, representing the style of aristocratic Southern gentlemen, made a profound social sensation all along the line of their travel, especially in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. After ten days' conference in Boston, his mission being successful, he returned to Virginia as he had come.

On Washington's return to his headquarters at Winchester, he found the people in more desperate terror than ever, and this time with good reason. The French and Indians were indeed ravaging the country within twenty miles. Any hour the enemy might sweep down upon the wretched town and destroy the people. If Washington could not save them they were indeed lost. It is said that the women surrounded him with terror-stricken cries, holding up their children, and imploring him to save them from the savages.

The feelings of the young commander may be appreciated from the letter he wrote to Governor Dinwiddie.

"I am too little acquainted with pathetic language," he said, "to attempt a description of these people's distresses. But what can I do? I see their situation; I know their danger, and participate in their sufferings, without having it in my power to give them further relief than

uncertain promises. The supplicating tears of the women, and the moving petitions of the men, melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to the people's ease."

But the Virginia newspapers very freely cast the blame for the Indian's success on the military management. Washington was deeply stung with these attacks and he declared that he would resign at once, if it were not for the immediate dangers pressing so hard upon them. Then his friends began writing him encouraging letters and he was strengthened to see the issues through to some end.

"The country knows her danger," said one of the Virginia legislators, "but such is her parsimony that she is willing to wait for the rains to wet the powder, and the rats to eat the bowstrings of the enemy, rather than attempt to drive her foes from her frontiers."

But gradually through more blundering and still more confusion of purpose, after the French had begun to lose heavily in the North, a course of concerted action was once more organized against Fort Duquesne, as the center of supplies for the French and Indians in their frontier warfare. Scouts continually brought in reports that Fort Duquesne had become greatly weakened and it was believed by all that this place should now be taken to make good the success on the northern frontier.

At length such an expedition was on the way, and Washington wrote to the Commander, General Forbes, to be allowed to join the expedition with his command. This request was accepted, and, on July 2, 1758, Washington arrived at Fort Cumberland.

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