Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

OF THE LIFE OF

Gen. Washington.

THIS illustrious character, the second son by a second mar

1 riage of AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON, was born on the 11th of February, 1732, in the county of Westinoreland, in the state of Virginia. His ancestors removed from Yorkshire, in England, about the year 1657, and settled in America. The particular objects of his juvenile studies, were, a critical knowledge of grammar, mathematics, particularly surveying, of which he became the most elegant and correct master ; geography, his. tory and natural and moral philosophy.

[ocr errors]

In the year 1753 the French and Indians having committed depredations on our defenceless frontiers, along the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, the governor of Virginia, solicitous of forwarding a remonstrance on this subject, to the commander in chief of the enemies forces, and of preventing farther inroads on our settlements, used every precaution to find a proper character for this purpose, when our American hero, at that time not 21 years of age, inspired with true fortitude, offered his voluntary services on this hardy and perilous enterprize ; and, after having executed the important duties required of him, with great promptitude and sagacity, returned to Virginia, where he received the sincerest congratulations, and warmest thanks, of the governor and council; and, as a mark of the high estimation in which they viewed his talents and merit, was appointed a major, and also adjutant-general of the Virginia troops. Two years after he became colonel of a regiment of Virginians; and, although not yet 23 years old, displayed the greatest address and valor, by marching into the western country, in the most inclement season, under difficulties that none

but a Washington could have surmounted and there for a cone siderable time maintained a war against the French and Indians, whose force exceeded his at least three times in number; and, finally, after a severe and bloody conflict, defeated them,

The enemy being soon after reinforced with a number of fresh troops, reduced the gallant Washington, after a defence which evidenced the most unexampled bravery, to capitulate; . on terms, however, highly honorable. He quitted the fort at the head of his troops with the honors of war, and carried with him all his military stores and baggage. Soon after, the unfortu. nate Braddock, by his zeal and impetuous valor, was led into an ambuscade, in which he not only lost his own life, but the greater part of his army were either slain or put to flight--the remnants of which the military genius and address of colonel Washington, who, upon this melancholy occasion acted as a voluntary aid, soon rallied, and brought off in perfect safety, although under a pressure of perhaps the most imminent danger that ever presented itself. He was the only officer on horseback who was not either killed or wounded. .

The ensuing campaign being crowned with success, rendered it no longer necessary for him to continue his military pursuits ; he, therefore, retired to the walks of private life, where he continued until after a lapse of about twenty years. During this period he filled many of the most important offices, in the execution of which he was celebrated for his promptitude, accuracy and integrity. In the year 1759 he married the present Mrs. Washington, then the amiable and beautiful widow Custis, with a fortune of thirty thousand pounds sterling.

In the year 1774 our first congress, composed of the most illustrious characters, were assembled to devise such plans as would be likely to secure our liberties, now threatened by the powerful hand of Great-Britain. In this dignified assembly he contributed essentially in pointing out the wise measures, which were adopted by that honorable body. The fatal blow having at length been struck by Great-Britain, it became immediately necessary to raise an army for our defence, at the head of which

the undaunted Washington was placed without disunion of vote or even a competition. ?

IN 1775 at Cambridge he entered upon the duties of his dig. nified and important station of commander in chief-and here the eloquence of man would be too feeble to describe the ardu. ous task he had undertaken, in order to introduce discipline into his new raised arny, to obtain from them any effective services, to supply them with arms and ammunition, with provisions, , with clothing and other essential necessaries ; in short, to make them assume, even in a small degree, the appearance of an army fit to contend with the veteran bands of Great-Britain. Early in 1776 the British army, which he had for sometime confined within the narrow limits of the town of Boston, were, in a great measure, by his consummate prudence, reduced to the huniiliating necessity of evacuating that place. In consequence of this event he not only received a most flattering and affectionate address from the people of Massachusetts, but also the most dis. tinguished mark of esteem from congress, viz. a medal struck with appropriate emblems to perpetuate its remembrance.

His next positions were New-York and Long-Island, where difficulties pressed upon him much greater than those he had experienced at Boston. His army was composed of some regular troops, and an undisciplined militia. In opposition to which were 30,000 of the best troops Great-Britain could boast of, seconded by the most powerful navy in the world. Thus circumstanced, like the famous Fabius, he confined himself to a defensive war ;-he held a post as long as he could, and then retreated to some more favorable position; and thus by delay obtained that conquest which he could not wrest from the ene." mies hands by active force. This prudent system of retreat drew much clamor and invective upon him from the malevolent, time-serving, little politicians of the day, some of whom even dared to doubt that courage and decision, ample proofs of which he has since so often manifested, during his inilitary career :but his prudential and sound policy ; nay, his genuine magnanimity, submitted to these approbrious insinuations, whereby he not only concealed from the enemy the real situation of his

army, but also prevented the country from being overwhelmed with a general panic. In the autumn of 1776 the British troops having been generally successful in all their enterprizes against our feeble force, pursued our retreating army into the state of New-Jersey, under the strongest conviction, that they would soon reduce it to perfect submission ; and indeed this event was the more to be apprehended, as the whole garrison of Fort Washington on the Hudson river, was about this time made prisoners of war. Immediately succeeded the retreat of the flying camp and several militia corps, whose times of enlistinent were expired, and who respectively claimed their discharge. The whole army of general Washington now consisted of about 3000 men, without blankets, shoes, tents, or necessary supplies of any kind. Under these discouraging circumstances what was to be done? The wise, the persevering Washington, conducted this little but virtuous band across the Delaware into Penn-' sylvania, pursued by an enemy elated with success and pressing: hard on his rear. In this juncture of our affairs many proselytes were made, who joined the royal standard ; among whom were some distinguished characters from New-Jersey and Penn-, sylvania. The spirit of the country, for the first time, began to flag, and serious doubts were entertained by many, as to our obtaining the object of our wishes, independence. Washington, notwithstanding, stood firm and unshaķen. The state of Pennsylvania, whose metropolis was daily threatened by the enemy, made a feeble but well-timed exertion by marching 2000 of the flower of her militia to head-quarters, With this detachment and the small force already at camp, the general's undaunted spirit conceived the bold and enterprizing idea of ręcrossing the Delaware and attacking the Hessians, then encamped near Tren, ton. On the memorable 26th of December, 1776, propitious heaven crowned the hazardous undertaking with complete success. Their commanding officer vas slain, and one thousand killed, wounded and made prisoners. Immediately after succeeded one of the most brilliant achievements of general Washington's life. The consummate address, courage and enterprize, which he displayed in silently retiring, under cover of the night, I from the face of a powerful enemy, and attacking, many miles in their fear, a strong detachment posted at Princeton, and en, i

« ZurückWeiter »