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to the fort, I made her a present of a watch coat, and a bottle of rum, which latter was thought much the best present of the two.
Tuesday, the first of January, we left mr. Frazier's house, and arrived at mr. Gist's at Monongahela, the second, where I bought a horse, saddle &c. The sixth, we met seventeen horses loaded with materials and stores for a fort at the forks of Ohio, and the day after, some families going out to settle. This day, we arrived at Will's creek, after as fatiguing a journey as it is possible to conceive, rendered so by excessive bad weather. From the first day of December to the fifteenth, there was but one day on which it did not rain or snow incessantly; and throughout the whole journey, we met with nothing but one continued series of cold, wet weather, which occasioned very uncomfortable lodgings, especially after we had quitted our tent which was some screen from the inclemency of it.
On the 11th, I got to Belvoir where I stopped one day to take necessary rest ; and then set out and arrived in Williamsburg, the 16th ; when I waited upon his honour the governor with the letter I had brought from the French commandant; and to give an account of the success of my proceedings. This I beg leave to do by offering the foregoing narrative, as it contains the most remarkable occurrences which happened in my journey.
I hope what has been said will be sufficient to make your honour satisfied with my conduct ; for that was my aim in undertaking the journey, and chief study throughout the prosecution of it.
The author is indebted, for the letter alluded to, to the etlitor
of the Lancaster Journal. Sir, I am really sorry that I have it not in my power to answer your request, in a more satisfactory manner. If you had favoured me with the journal a few days sooner, I would have examined it carefully, and endeavoured to point out such errors as might conduce to your use, my advantage, and the public satisfaction ; but now, it is out of my power.
I had no time to make any remarks upon that piece which is called my journal. The inclosed, are observa, tions on the French notes. They are of no use to me separated, nor will they, I believe, be of any to you, yet I send them unconnected and incoherent as they were taken ; for I have no opportunity to correct them.
In regard to the journal, I can only observe in general, that I kept no regular one during that expedition: rough minutes of occurrences I certainly took; and find them as certainly, and strangely metamorphosed: some parts left out, which I remember were entered, and many things added, that never were thought of; the names of men and things egregiously miscalled ; and the whole of what I saw Englished, is very incorrect and nonsensical : yet, I will not pretend to say that the little body who brought it to me, has not made a literal translation, and a good one.
Short as my time is, I cannot help remarking on Villiers' account of the battle of, and transactions at, the Meadows, as it is very extraordinary, and not less erroneous than inconsistent. He says the French received the first fire. It is well known that we received it at six hundred paces distance. He also says, our fears obliged us to retreat in the most disorderly manner after the capitulation. How is this consistent with his other account? he acknowledges that we sustained the attack, warmly, from ten in the morning, until dark; and that he called first to parley, which strongly indicates that we were not totally absorbed in fear. If the gentleman in his account had adhered to the truth, he must have confessed, that we looked upon his offer to parley, as an artifice to get into and examine our trenches, and refused on this account, until they desired an officer might be sent to them, and gave their parole for his safe return. He
might also, if he had been as great a lover of the truth, as he was of vain glory, have said, that we absolutely refused their first and second proposals, and would consent to capitulate on no other terms than such as we obtained. That we were wilfully, or ignorantly deceived by our interpreter, in regard to the word assassination, I do aver, and will to my dying moment ; so will every officer that was present. The interpreter was a Dutchman, little acquainted with the English tongue, therefore, might not advert to the tone and meaning of the word in English; but, whatever his motives were for so doing, certain it is, he called it the death, or the loss of the sieur Jumonville. So we received, and so we understood it, until to our great surprise and mortification, we found it otherwise in a literal translation. That we left our baggage and horses at the Meadows is certain; that there was not even a possibility to bring them away, is equally certain, as we had every horse belonging to the camp killed, or taken away during the action; so that it was impracticable to bring any thing off that our shoulders were not able to bear; and to wait there, was impossible, for we had scarce three days provisions, and were seventy miles from a supply, yet, to say we came off precipitately is absolutely false, notwithstanding they did, contrary to articles, suffer their Indians to pillage our baggage, and commit all kinds of irregularity ; we were with them until ten o'clock the next day; we destroyed our powder and other stores, nay, even our private baggage to prevent its falling into their hands, as we could not bring it off. When we had got about a mile from the place of action, we missed two or three of the wounded, and sent a party back to bring them up ;....this is the party he speaks of. We brought them all safe off, and encamped within three miles of the Meadows. These are circumstances, I think, that make it evidently clear, that we were not very apprehensive of danger. The colours he speaks of to be left, was a large flag of immense size and weight ; our regimental colours were brought off and are now in my possession. Their
gasconades, and boasted clemency, must appear in the most ludicrous light to every considerate person who reads Villiers' journal ;....such preparations for an attack, such vigour and intrepidity as he pretends to have conducted his march with, such revenge, as by his own account appeared in his attack, considered, it will hardly be thought that compassion was his motive for calling a parley. But to sum up the whole, mr. Villiers pays himself no great compliment, in saying, we were struck with a panic when matters were adjusted. We surely could not be afraid without cause, and if we had cause after capitulation, it was a reflection upon himself.
I do not doubt, but your good nature will excuse the badness of my paper, and the incoherence of my writing ....think you see me in a public house in a crowd, surrounded with noise, and you hit my case. You do me particular honour in offering your friendship: I wish I may be so happy as always to merit it, and deserve your correspondence, which I should be glad to cultivate.
We your most obedient and affectionate officers, beg . leave to express our great concern, at the disagreable news we have received of your determination to resign the command of that corps, in which we have under you long served.
The happiness we have enjoyed, and the honour we have acquired together, with the mutual regard that has always subsisted between you and your officers; have implanted so sensible an affection in the minds of us all, that we cannot be silent on this critical occasion.
In our earliest infancy you took us under your tuition, trained us up in the practice of that discipline, which
alone can constitute good troops ; from the punctual observance of which you never suffered the least deviation.
Your steady adherence to impartial justice, your quick discernment, and invariable regard to merit, wisely intended to inculcate those genuine sentiments of true honour and passion for glory, from which the greatest military achievements have been derived, first heightened our natural emulation, and our desire to excel. How much we improved by those regulations, and your own example: with what alacrity we have hitherto discharged our duty, with what cheerfulness we have encountered the severest toils, especially while under your particular directions ; we submit to yourself, and flatter ourselves that we have in a great measure answered your expectations.
Judge then, how sensibly we must be affected with the loss of such an excellent commander, such a sincere friend, and so affable a companion. How rare is it to find those amiable qualifications blended together in one man? how great the loss of such man! adieu to that superiority, which the enemy have granted us over other troops, and which even the regulars and provincials have done us the honour publicly to acknowledge! adieu to that strict discipline and order, which you have always maintained! adieu to that happy union and harmony, which have been our principal cement!
It gives us additional sorrow, when we reflect, to find our unhappy country will receive a loss, no less irreparable, than our own. Where will it meet a man so experienced in military affairs ? one so renowned for patriotism, conduct, and courage. Who has so great a knowledge of the enemy we have to deal with? who so well acquainted with their situation and strength? who so much respected by the soldiery? who, in short, so able to support the military character of Virginia?
Your approved love to your king and country, and your uncommon perseverance in promoting the honour and true interest of the service, convince us that the most