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   Chapter 14 MILITARY VICTORY AND A HAPPY MARRIAGE

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 3283

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


Washington now had charge of the advance on Fort Duquesne. He left Loyal Hannon over the road Major Grant had taken. The whole fifty miles were strewn with the bones of oxen, horses and men. What remained of the bodies of their comrades, they buried. Then they arrived at the scene of Braddock's defeat, where the same duty was done for the dead, a sad reminder of the folly of arrogance and ambition in commanders.

They had expected to have a hard fight for the capture of Fort Duquesne. But the success of the English in Canada, and the fall of Fort Frontenac had left the French at Fort Duquesne without any chance for supplies or reinforcements. The fort was already at the point of being abandoned from necessity. Accordingly, the commander waited until the English were within a day's march of him, when he withdrew his force of five hundred men, destroyed what he could not take away, set fire to all that would burn, embarked at night in their long, light batteaux, by the flames of their fort, and floated down the Ohio, giving up their hopeless fight for the possession of the Ohio Valley.

On the morning of November 5, 1758, Washington with his advanced guard marched in and hoisted the British flag over the ruins. The enemy was gone. The Indians having lost the support of their French friends withdrew into the depths of the forest.

Washington rebuilt the place, garrisoned it with two hundred men and named it Fort Pitt in honor of the illustrious British minister, William Pitt.

Washington's military schooling, if we may so term it, in the light of great events to follow, was now ended. He had been engaged for m

arriage several months with Mrs. Martha Custis, a widow of the noblest womanly character, and considerable wealth. The marriage was accordingly celebrated January 6, 1759, the month before he was twenty-seven years of age. He now settled down, away from war, into the life of a business man, as his mother, herself a business woman, had so fondly desired.

The objects for which the French and Indian war had begun were now achieved for the colonists. But England was carrying the war further, aiming at nothing less than the conquest of Canada. The first gun had been fired at Washington at the time he was beaten in the race with the French for the forks of the Ohio. The last gun was fired at Quebec when all Canada became a possession seized by might of the British arms.

The French were greatly grieved at their loss, but their great statesmen prophesied that it was a fatal victory for the English mastery of North America.

The Duke de Choiseul said that it would awaken the colonies to their liberty and their power. It would bring the ideals of the wilderness in sharp contrast with the imperialism of England. "They will no longer need her protection," said he, "she will call on them to contribute toward supporting the burdens they have helped bring on her, and they will answer by striking off their dependence."

How true this was as a prophecy, the school histories all show to every pupil of the schools, who will try to get a view of the progress and development of historical events. Fact will then be stranger than fiction, and history will be a more romantic story, richer in the lessons of life, than any novel.

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