May 28, 1754:
Day of Infamy
Copyright © September, 2002
The Monongahela Press
25 Mulberry Street
Belle Vernon, PA
A recent visit to Jumonville Glen found the hollow deserted. The plaque on the spot below the limestone outcropping where the French camped says Washington split his forty men into groups of twenty and even depicts some of Captain Stephen’s detachment firing down on the French from the rock face. It also tells how Monceau, the Frenchman who escaped Washington’s ambush, walked barefoot to Fort Duquesne. These are good stories, but they aren’t quite true. Monceau walked barefoot only as far as the mouth of Redstone Creek, near modern Brownsville, where he continued his journey to Fort Duquesne by canoe, and although the exact number is unlikely to be discovered, Washington’s forty men were closer to eighty.
If this is true, where did the National Parks Service historians get the bogus facts they cast into bronze. The nineteenth century historian James Veech seems to be the source of exaggeration about Monceau, Washington about the number of men he commanded. Washington’s diary, captured by the French at Fort Necessity, punctures both myths. Washington writes that Jumonville’s party left canoes at the mouth of Redstone Creek. Veech says Washington is mistaken, since the French came by way of Nemacolin’s Trail, as if the trail didn’t follow the creek.
In his diary, Washington says he sent forty men out upon hearing the whereabouts of Jumonville and followed later with the rest. When the French published his diary, he accused them of altering it. We now know they did not. Why did Washington say they did, if not to cover up his misrepresentations of the Jumonville Glen incident? Ghosts of the truth haunt the glen and need to be put to rest.
Jumonville Glen, May 28, 1754: Day of Infamy
Japan’s sneak attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, whose sixtieth anniversary was commemorated with heightened emotion after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, bears comparison to the clash of arms that began the French and Indian, or Seven Years’ War. Both were planned, early morning, surprise attacks in remote areas which led to world wars comparable only to each other in significance. evidence for a comparison to Pearl Harbor as a criminal act is beyond dispute.1 Conversely, justification for Lt. Col. Washington’s actions there, largely supplied by himself, is unconvincing. For instance, how many men did Washington command that morning? Forty is the answer that has come down to us,2 taken by early historians from Washington’s reports and letters written shortly after the incident, and still accepted by Fred Anderson in his Crucible of War, published in the year 2000.3 Probably false in itself and certainly misleading as to the total number of English troops engaged, the figure forty stands in need of revision.
Fred Anderson’s detailed account of what happened at Jumonville Glen is revisionist and sparks controversy, qualities largely missing from the rest of his book, except perhaps for his Introduction. In regard to the number of English troops at Jumonville Glen, Anderson’s interpretation
is not specifically helpful, yet it gives legitimacy and crucial support to jettisoning the traditional view of Washington’s actions there as heroic. Had Anderson realized that there were more soldiers ambushing the French than historians have allowed, his argument would be strengthened. Using sources traditionally discounted, Indians, privates, Frenchmen, and what he calls a Neo-Progressive approach,
Anderson paints the clearest picture to date. Still, his canvass is shy forty or so men, the sinister figure of Tanaghrisson not fully developed, and the ghostly presence of Private Shaw given too much prominence. As is science, history is necessarily conservative, but as the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the event draws near, an even more accurate account of the Jumonville Glen incident than Anderson provided is overdue.
If by trying George Washington in absentia for war crimes, focusing on the number of his accomplices, a more accurate version of what happened on Pennsylvania’s Chestnut Ridge emerges, collateral damage to his reputation and national pride needs to take second place, at least for scholars. Hagiography and propaganda have their place, but for too long American historians have been notoriously provincial in their patriotism. In 1925, John Fitzgerald recognized that his most prominent predecessor in Washingtonian scholarship, Dr. Joseph M. Toner, was “handicapped at times by a too worshipful enthusiasm.”4 Washington’s confession of assassinating Jumonville in his capitulation after the battle of Fort Necessity continues to be routinely dismissed without examining its basis in fact and testimony, or their implications. Anderson choose to make Jumonville’s horrific murder the subject of Crucible
of War’s “Prologue,” perhaps a shock therapy to counter inertia created by nationalists who cast the youthful Washington as an unqualified hero.
A related example of how a larger than life perception of Washington and his accomplishments distorts history is illustrative. In 1816, while surveying the trenches Washington had ordered dug outside Fort Necessity, the tiny Great Meadows stockade burned by the French, Freeman Lewis mistook them for the remains of the fort itself. Lewis assumed trenches outside his lines were filled up, and roundly ridiculed earlier reports that “the fort was round! with a house in it!”5 Archaeologists excavating the site in the early nineteen fifties for its two hundredth anniversary discovered the truth and the structure that had been erroneously erected in 1931 was replaced by a small, round fort with a house in it.6 At that time a revision of the Jumonville Glen story should also have been undertaken, given the significance of the 1952 publication of the Papiers Contrecoeur,7 yet historians quailed, perhaps because academics with views that might be taken as unAmerican were being fired during the early days of the Cold War.
Cold warriors are still with us and continue to write about the “near-perfect result”8 of Washington’s leadership at Jumonville Glen in elegiac tones. Introduced here as an example of right-wing political interpretation, Robert Leckie’s version of the incident will be quoted in full later. Anderson calls such scholars “Neo-Whigs,” and opposes them to “Neo-Progressives” concerned with economic and social inequities experienced by “ordinary people—farmers, artisans, laborers, women–and such dispossessed or marginalized groups as blacks, Indians, and the poor.”9 A
more accurate term for the latter perspective is Marxist, which remains a slur although its truths are universally accepted, subconsciously for most people as Marxist principles are rarely formally taught below the graduate school level, if there. Above all, Marxism is international and partisan, always on the side of the lowest class. Great men and nationalism are the twin loyalties of the opposing view. Anderson charges American historians of both schools err by assuming that the American Revolution was inevitable and that it began “in 1763 with the Peace of Paris,”10 favoring instead May 28, 1754 and Jumonville Glen as the starting date.
His extensive analysis of the event for the first time seriously examines the reports of a French survivor of the massacre; a Native American; a participant who deserted, probably also Native American; and an illiterate soldier’s hearsay account, along with Washington’s curtailed, deceptive version. In other words, by including the testimony of ordinary and marginal social classes Anderson analysis is “Neo-Progressive” and pregnant with implications. Although Anderson stops just short of indicting Washington and perpetuates Washington’s self-glorifying myth that he overwhelmed the French with only forty men and a few Indians, his work is ground-breaking, a much needed reversal of the traditional view, and perhaps as far as he thought he could go in revising it.
Lt. Colonel Washington, “159 men and eleven officers, had left Winchester about April 18, bound for Wills Creek, eighty miles to the west.”11 Their mission from Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie was to support Captain Trent, commander of the force building Fort Prince
George at the Forks of the Ohio, who had been ordered “to keep Possession of His M’y’s Lands in the Ohio and the Waters thereof and to dislodge and drive away, in case of refusal and resistance to kill or destroy or take prisoners all and every person and Persons not Subjects of the King of G.B. who now are or hereafter come to settle and take Posses’n of any Lands on said River Ohio, or on any Branches of Waters thereof.”12 Dinwiddie’s charge to Washington was equally clear: “You are to act on the Difensive, but in Case of any Attempts are made to obstruct the Works or interrupt our Settlem[en]ts by any Persons whatsoever. You are to restrain all such Offendrs & in Case of resistance to make Prisoners of or kill & destroy them.”13 As a member of the Ohio Company, one of several Virginia companies formed to profit from enormous frontier land grants, Dinwiddie’s warlike attitude is understandable, but hostilities were to commence only upon “refusal and resistance” by the French and Washington was to act on the defensive.14 Washington violated Dinwiddie’s instructions and the rules of war in attacking the French at Jumonville Glen.
French officers were fastidious observers of military etiquette, as Washington had learned six months earlier when he traveled to Fort Le Boeuf to deliver a warning from Dinwiddie.15 Twenty-one-year-old George Washington was not Dinwiddie’s first choice for the mission,16 but he had done well on the difficult winter journey; while the French were being “impeccably polite and hospitable,” the Virginian used his free time at Le Boeuf to make “notes on the dimensions and defenses of the small square palisade and the barracks that lay outside its walls, . . .”17 A few
months later the French descended the Allegheny with an overwhelming force to confront the small English garrison at the forks of the Ohio, who they treated with their usual courteousness and restraint. Upon reaching Wills Creek, modern-day Cumberland, Maryland, Washington met Ensign Ward,18 who was returning after surrendering Fort Prince George. “The French, he reported later, behaved
with great civility, one officer remarking to him, ‘It might be our turn before long to surrender the fort again, so we will set the English a good example.”19 Hungry for military glory, twenty-two-year-old “Washington, at the mouth of Will’s Creek, on learning of Ward’s retreat, courageously
but foolishly decided to march to the Monongahela with only a few hundred men as against nearly a thousand under Contrecoeur.”20 Foolish, indeed, but Albert James’ characterization of Washington’s action at Jumonville Glen as “unfortunate” is far too generous.21
Washington’s ally cum co-conspirator there was Tanaghrisson, a Seneca chief also called the Half King, overlord of the various Ohio River tribes. Pro-British, he claimed the French had killed and eaten his father.22 The Half King had accompanied Washington to Le Boeuf and warned the French to abandon their fort; he felt deeply humiliated by them.23 When Fort Prince George fell, he was with Ensign Ward, who said “he ‘storm’d greatly’ at the French, shouting that it was he who had ordered the place to be built and had laid the first log. The French ignored him.”24 Forced to leave his home at Logstown, modern Ambridge, Pennsylvania, after losing most of his influence over the Mingoes, Delaware, and Shawnees who were his charges and in violation of his instructions from the Iroquois
council at Onondaga to remain neutral in the dispute between the European powers, his position had become untenable.25 His frustration and hatred of the French reached the boiling point at Jumonville Glen, but he had already coolly prepared the ground with a false message to Washington “that the French had marched from the fort, and meant to attack the first English they should meet.”26
Alarmed, Washington hurried his men to a “charming field for an encounter,” the Great Meadows between Laurel Hill and Chestnut Ridge, on May 24, 1754. Reports of French forces in the area and rumors of an imminent attack spread among the men as they dug entrenchments and cleared the underbrush around their camp. “About two o’clock in the night [May 25, 1754] an alarm was given. The sentries fired upon what they mistook for prowling foes, the troops sprang to arms and remained on alert until daybreak. Not an enemy was to be seen. The roll was called and six men were missing, having deserted.”27 Forty-eight hours later Christopher Gist arrived with a startling message.
Gist was well known to Washington, having been his guide to and from Fort Le Boeuf the previous winter. Both men kept journals and a comparative reading of them reveals the youthful Washington’s arrogance and self-promotion. Gist, along with Andrew Montour, George Croghan, Sir William Johnson, and Conrad Weiser, was “one of the few representatives of the English who understood Indians.”28 As an employee of the Ohio Company, “Christopher Gist and a Negro servant boy explored the Ohio River valley for seven months in the winter of 1750-51”29 as far as Kentucky. Soon after he
established a plantation in the foothills west of Chestnut Ridge, the last of Pennsylvania’s Appalachian ranges. It was from this furthest remaining outpost of the Ohio Company that he was scurrying with more alarming news: a party of French had raided his settlement the day before!
The details of Gist’s story are recorded in Washington’s journal, as is his response, the dispatching of seventy-four of his men to intercept the French:
May 27th. Mr Gist arrived early in the morning,
who told us that Mr la Force, with fifty men whose
tracks he had seen five miles from here, had been at
his plantation the day before, towards noon, and
would have killed a cow, and broken everything in
the house, if two Indians whom he had left in charge
of the house, had not persuaded them from carrying
out their design: I immediately detached 65 men
under the command of Captain Hog, Lieutenant
Mercer, Ensign La Peronie, three Sergeants and
three corporals, with instructions.30
Five weeks later, Washington’s journal for this period would fall into French hands after the surrender of Fort Necessity. It is currently missing, but it was quickly translated into French and a few years later retranslated back into English. Both versions were met with considerable and understandable skepticism in the English speaking world; however, since 1952, it has not taken an act of faith to accept that the above and other quotations taken from Fitzgerald’s edition of Washington’s journal are accurate. “For 200 years, historians and scholars have assumed that
the French had doctored the journal to make it serve as a propaganda vehicle justifying their actions in North America. Washington himself charged that the records had been ‘metamorphosed,’ with ‘many things added that were never thought of.'”31 Even today, when we know Washington misrepresented the translation as untrue, American historians are reluctant to say Washington lied. To do so would raise the troubling question, why? Instead, fifty years of embarrassed silence have passed.
George Washington lied to cover-up a war crime. Of course, this is not news to French or international historians. Among respectable American scholars, so far only Anderson has come close to disclosing this obvious conclusion in writing: “Thus on the day of the massacre Washington returned to Great Meadows and carefully composed his diary account. The next day, May 29, he wrote his official letters to describe the incident in ways just technically shy of falsehood and sent the prisoners (or, as he said, spies) under guard to Dinwiddie, along with an urgent request for more supplies and reinforcements.”32 While massacre is an apt description of what happened in Jumonville Glen, “technically shy of falsehood” is an overly generous one for Washington’s official account of it. Perhaps Anderson is paying tribute to Washington’s mastery of prevarication, as PFC (ret.) Marvin Kitman does in his 1970 George Washington’s Expense Account for the years of the Revolutionary War.33 This is another “Neo-Progressive” perspective on Washington’s inflated reputation for integrity, particularly revealing of the general’s penchant for brutal punishment of infractions by enlisted men, which he balanced with magnanimous
payments for the services of his washer-women.
Seventy-four men were detached to look for the French, leaving about ninety. Contrary to Washington’s journal, historians agree that, “. . . an Indian named Silverheels brought a message from the Half King that his men had located the party of French marauders. Although Captain Hogg and Lieutenant Mercer were still out with about half his force, Washington put his ammunition under guard and assembled Captain Stephen, Lieutenants Van Braam and Waggoner and forty of his men,” to march on the French.34 No one has questioned the number or the certainty with which historical markers, such as the plaque erected July 4, 1908, to commemorate Jumonville’s death, assert that Washington commanded forty men.35 Again, it is Anderson who comes closest when he writes, “setting off before ten o’clock ‘in a heavy Rain and a Night as dark as Pitch’ with forty-seven men (half of the number left at Great Meadows), Washington made for Tanaghrisson’s camp.”36 Why leave half his men in camp? Some historians refer to the “strong guard”37 Washington put on the baggage.
If this assumption were true, it would have been a foolish use of Washington’s men. More sensibly, Anderson shanghais seven of the guard to arbitrarily increase the number of Washington’s men departing Great Meadows to forty-seven, allowing for the seven that historians know got lost on the trail in the darkness and rain,38 leaving the traditional forty for the attack. Both figures are as unhistorical as the first reconstruction of Fort Necessity and Washington’s account of that battle.39 Most historians ignore Washington’s loss of seven men, otherwise they would have to account for Washington surrounding the
French with an equal number of men, thirty-three.
Around ninety soldiers were at Great Meadows when Half King’s messenger arrived about eight in the evening with the news that the French were found. Washington writes in his journal: “That very moment I sent out forty men and ordered my ammunition to be put in a place of safety, fearing it to be a stratagem of the French to attack our camp; I left a guard to defend it, and with the rest of my men [italics added] set out in a heavy rain, and in a night as dark as pitch, . . .”40 As Anderson does above,
many historians quote the phrase about the rain and pitch-dark, but why no scholar has quoted the important part of the passage remains a mystery. Needless to say, Washington contradicts himself as to the number of men he commanded at Jumonville Glen.
It may well be that Washington was at the head of forty men when he left camp, which minus the guard he left behind and the forty he had already dispatched would account for the men at his disposal. Thus, he could prevaricate about the forty men under his command. Private Shaw confirms that two groups of forty soldiers left the Great Meadows the evening of May 27. Although not an eyewitness and often mistaken, such as miscalling the leader of one group of forty men Captain Hogg,41 Shaw’s numbers are believable. Furthermore, it makes no sense strategically that Washington would try to surround and attack a French force of fifty, as Gist reported, or even the thirty-five that Silverheels may have more accurately counted, with only forty men. Finally, even with surprise as a factor, the one-sidedness of the fight argues against the accepted scenario.
Washington’s journal is the best evidence that many more than forty English were at Jumonville Glen, despite letters and official reports he sent back to Virginia, “just technically shy of falsehood” according to Anderson. For instance, although ninety men remained in his charge, in a letter dated May 31, 1754, he writes: “Most of our men were out upon detachment, so that I had scarcely 40 men
remaining under my command, and about 10 or 12 Indians; nevertheless we obtained a most signal victory.”42 It is easy to see how historians are misled by Washington, but not without an uncomfortable feeling of squirming that nearly ever recounting of the Jumonville Glen incident exhibits. Note Francis Parkman’s qualifying “probably” in his summary: “The French sent out a scouting party under M. Jumonville, with the design, probably, of watching his movements, but, on a dark and stormy night, Washington surprised them, as they lay lurking in a rocky glen not far from his camp, killed the officer, and captured the whole detachment.”43 Rather than lurking, Private Shaw describes some French eating and others still sleeping in their bark shelters when Washington attacked not long after daybreak.
Despite Washington’s brevity in recording what happened after his night march, which Stephenson and Dunn attribute to his “instinctive reserve and his extreme modesty,”44 there is sufficient incriminating evidence that a war crime is planned and executed:
All night long we continued our route, and
on the 28th about sun-rise we arrived at the Indian
camp, where after having a council with the Half
King, we concluded to attack them together; so we
sent out two men to discover where they were, as
also their position and what sort of ground was
thereabout, after which we prepared to surround
them marching one after the other Indian fashion.
We advanced pretty near to them, as we thought
when they discovered us, I ordered my company
to fire; my fire was supported by that of Mr.
Waggener and my company and his received the
whole fire of the French, during the greater part of
the action, which only lasted a quarter of an hour
before the enemy was routed. We killed Mr. de
Jumonville, the Commander of the party, as also
nine others, we wounded one and made twenty-one
prisoners, among whom were M la Force, M.
Drouillon and two cadets. The Indians scalped the
dead and took away the greater part of their
arms. . . .45
Most significant and damning in this account is Washington’s astounding admission that his plan was to
“attack” the French, after surrounding them. Historians have ignored the confession, a few half-heartedly advancing the claim that one of the French fired first to justify the slaughter. If that had been the case, surely Washington would have mentioned it somewhere in his accounts of the action. Instead, he tells us that he ordered his company to open fire merely upon being “discovered.” Missing from the body count was “one man, a Canadian who had wandered into the woods to relieve himself, escaped, he walked barefoot to Fort Duquesne to tell his story to Captain Contrecouer and to the world.”46 What was his story?
Captain Contrecoeur wrote to the Marquis Duquesne in Montreal that Jumonville’s man, Monceau, called Mouceau by most historians, had seen that morning, about seven o’clock, his comrades
surrounded by the English on one Side and the
Indians on the Other. The English gave them
two volleys, but the Indians did not fire. Mr. de
Jumonville, by his Interpreter, told them to desist,
that he had something to tell them. Upon which
they ceased firing. Then Mr. de Jumonville ordered
the Summons which I [Contrecoeur] had sent them
to retire, to be read. . . . The aforesaid Monceau
saw all our Frenchmen coming up close to Mr. de
Jumonville, whilst they were reading the Summons,
so that they were all in Platoons, between the
English and the Indians, . . .47
Monceau chose to steal away at this point. As he descended Chestnut Ridge, he must have felt relieved not to have been taken prisoner and that no gunfire echoed from the mountain top behind him. Without shoes, it would take him more than five hours to reach the Monongahela at the mouth of Redstone Creek, where the party had left their canoes, and nearly as many more of steady paddling to reach Fort Duquesne. It was the route soon followed by one of Tanaghrisson’s Indians, whose information that an English bullet had killed his subordinate Contrecoeur included in his letter to Montreal, “that Mr. de Jumonville was killed by a Musket-shot in the Head, whilst they were reading the Summons; and the English would afterwards
have killed all our Men, had not the Indians who were present, by rushing between them and the English,
prevented their Design.”48 In reporting the news to the Marquis de Duquesne, Contrecoeur must have wondered why Monceau had not heard the shot that killed Jumonville or why the French-hating Half King would suddenly turn into their protector. Clearly, there was more to the story.
An entirely contradictory but clarifying version of Jumonville’s murder reached Fort Duquesne on June 30, a month after the incident, brought by a deserter named Denis Kaningen, “whose name suggests that he was a Catholic Iroquois and thus most likely a member of Tanaghrisson’s party.”49 Picking up the story from where Monceau left off, Kaningen describes Washington withdrawing to read the summons delivered to him by Jumonville, who, “having been wounded and having fallen Thaninhison
[Tanaghrisson], a savage, came up to him and had said, Thou art not yet dead, my father, and struck several hatchet blows which killed him.”50 Although the story was known to early historians, it was not credited until relatively recently, when Robert Alberts and others began to accept that Jumonville was “apparently killed by the Half King’s hatchet.”51 If Contrecoeur questioned the earlier report that the English shot Jumonville and Tanaghrisson intervened to save the rest of the French, Kaningen’s story would have explained why Monceau had not heard the shot and why Tanaghrisson should suddenly want to appear pro-French. Ever treacherous, Tanaghrisson had by this time abandoned the English and fled east, to drink himself to death early in the fall at George’s Croghan’s base in central Pennsylvania,
Aughwick. Jumonville’s half-brother, Captain Louis Coulon
de Villiers, had left Fort Duquesne on June 28 with a large force of French and Indians bent on revenge; it was to his camp on Redstone Creek that Kaningen had first fled.
Among Washington’s reinforcements arriving mid-June was illiterate, twenty-year-old Private John Shaw, whose second-hand account of the Jumonville affair Fred Anderson calls the most plausible and relatively complete:
That an Indian and a White Man haveing brought
Col. Washington Information that a Party of French
consisting of five and thirty Men were out [scouting]
and lay about six miles off upon which Col.
Washington with about forty Men and Capt. Hog
with a Party of forty more and the Half King and his
Indians consisting of thirteen immediately set out
in search of them, but haveing taken different Roads
Col. Washington and his Men and the Indians first
came up with them and found them encamped
between two Hills[. It] being early in the morning
some of them were asleep and some eating, but
haveing heard a Noise they were imediately in great
Confusion and betook themselves to their Arms and
as this Deponent has heard, one of [the French] fired
a Gun upon which Col. Washington gave the Word
for all his Men to fire. Several of them being killed,
the Rest betook themselves to flight, but our Indians
haveing gone round the French when they saw them
imediately fled back to the English and delivered up
their Arms desiring Quarter which was accordingly
promised them. Some Time after the Indians came up the
Half King took his Tomahawk and split the Head of
the French Captain haveing first asked if he was an
Englishman and haveing been told that he was a
French Man. He then took out his Brains and
washed his Hands with them and then scalped him.
All this he [Shaw] has heard and never heard it
contradicted but knows nothing of it from his own
Knowledge only he has seen the Bones of the
Frenchmen who were killed in Number about 13 or
14 and the Head of one stuck upon a Stick for none
of them were buried, and he has also heard that one
of our men was killed at that Time.52
Although Anderson is correct in accepting Shaw’s testimony as validation of Kaningen’s account of Jumonville murder, it contains questionable details and outright errors which Anderson confirms, beginning with, “As in Washington’s account, the French fire first, . . .”53 Washington does not mention the French firing first, only that his force was “discovered,” upon which he ordered his men to fire. Unnecessary and misguided, Anderson’s attempt to give Shaw’s testimony more weigh than it deserves muddies the waters and weakens his analysis.
More egregious and misleading are Anderson’s assertions that “Shaw correctly describes the division of the English command into parties commanded by Hogg and Washington; he gets the size of Washington’s party and its Indian escort exactly right and the distance from Great Meadows to the glen approximately so.“54 Private Shaw is wrong that Hogg commanded forty men, that the Half King and his Indians were at Great Meadows, escorted the
march, and numbered thirteen; and that Captain Hog and Washington took different roads. Clearly Shaw was not at the Great Meadows on May 27, or he would have separated the arrival of Gist early in the morning with news of fifty French and the appearance of Silverheels late in the evening. Acting on Gist’s information, Washington dispatches Captain Hogg: ‘I immediately detached seventy-five men in pursuit of them, who I hope will overtake them before they get to Redstone, where their canoes lie.”55 About eight that night, Silverheels arrives with Tanaghrisson’s news that he has located the French encampment. At that “very moment,” Washington sends off forty men, and at about ten o’clock sets off the rest, which may have also numbered forty as he later claimed,56 or less likely, the forty-seven Anderson gives. A steady rain was falling and the march was all uphill, progressively steeper. It took Washington all night to reach the Half King’s camp and he had lost seven men in the dark. “Daylight was breaking when the file reached the Half King. Monacatootha was with him, but they had only 10 or 11 warriors, only a few of whom had firearms,”57 fewer than the thirteen Anderson says Shaw gets exactly right. The Indian force might have been fewer still, “nine or ten Indians altogether, two of them boys, only four of them with firearms.”58
A council is held at which Washington and the Indians agree to reconnoiter the French, then “fall on the camp together,”59 after which they march to the hollow, about two miles away. The English wait nearby as two Indians scout the French position, then move forward single file with Washington at the head of his company: “We were advanced pretty near to them, as we thought, when they
discovered us, whereupon I ordered my company to fire, mine was supported by that of Mr. Wag[gon]er’s, and my company and his received the whole Fire of the French, during the greatest Part of the Action, which only lasted a Quarter of an Hour, before the Enemy was routed.”60 Washington makes it sound as if he was discovered prematurely, before the planned encirclement could be completed, but he would also write that “the right wing where I stood, was exposed to and received all the enemy’s fire, . . .”61 A left wing that received none of the French fire is implied in both accounts, as is complete encirclement, “surrounded by the English on one Side and the Indians on the Other,” in Monceau’s report to Contrecoeur. The Indians were not on the left however, but hiding downstream to surprise the French in retreat, which is what occurred. Presumably mirroring the right wing, the English left probably consisted of two companies, the lead one commanded by Captain Stephen and supported by Lieutenant Van Braam’s or Lieutenant West’s. It makes sense that the left flank would not receive much French fire, protected as it would have been on that side by a twenty-five-foot high limestone cliff under which the French were camped, whereas Washington and Waggoner’s men on the opposite embankment would have had only trees for cover. Consequently, it is not surprising that the only English casualty mentioned by name was on the right flank: “among the wounded on our side was Lieutenant Waggoner, but no danger, it is hoped will ensue.”62
Although the number of English companies beyond the two on the right wing is conjecture, it stretches credibility to maintain that Washington surrounded 32
French with ten Indians and forty soldiers and routed them in a firefight. Forty as the number of men Washington commanded at Jumonville Glen originates with him, and is contradicted in his journal. Anderson lists some of the reasons why Washington might want to “conceal the truth of what happened at Jumonville’s Glen.”63 Anderson allows that Washington’s reaction to the Half King’s shattering of Jumonville’s skull could “have unmanned him long enough to allow the Indians to kill most of the wounded prisoners”;64 still, as the commander, he was ultimately responsible for the massacre, making “sense of Washington’s abbreviated account, which collapsed events to make it seem as if all ten dead French soldiers had been killed in battle. It also explains Washington’s insistence that the French were spies and his repeated urgings to Dinwiddie to believe nothing of what the prisoners said.”65 As Anderson also notes, Washington was sensitive about his competence as a military leader. By saying he commanded only forty men, Washington made it appear that the fight had been fair, his strategy brilliant, his leadership inspirational, and his courage heroic.
Anderson says “the anxious undertones of the letters he wrote following the skirmish belied their veneer of bravado.”66 Most historians have not been sensitive to Washington’s underlying feelings or his blatant misrepresentations; indeed, they typically treat the incident with as much inaccuracy, brutality, and brevity as he did. One recent example is Robert Leckie:
Jumonville de Villiers, the French leader, was
slain in the first volley. After Washington’s Indians
had brained and scalped the wounded, there were
ten French dead, one wounded, and twenty-one
captured, against Washington’s losses of one
wounded. It had been the youthful commander’s
first fight, and he was elated at the near-perfect
result. In fact, his biggest difficulty came in keeping
his fierce ally Half King from killing and scalping
It’s true, the slaughter might have been worse. “The Indians demanded that the prisoners be turned over to them. Washington refused,”68 much to his credit. Not that it would make much difference to Robert Leckie. Robert Alberts, on the other hand, cares enough about Washington’s reputation to invent a scenario that absolves him of blame for the capitulated French murdered: “Washington went down to accept the surrender, but the Indians were ahead of him, scalping the dead and killing and scalping the wounded.”69 There might be some excuse for Washington’s failure to stop their atrocities had Indian numbers been large or his own soldiers rendered ineffective because of French fire, but, as he wrote home, “we had but one man killed, and two or three wounded,”70 and of the ten or so Indians, two were boys.
Of all the accounts that Washington composed about the incident, none matches the following entry in his journal for hysteria, bad conscience, exaggeration, hypocrisy, transparent rationalization and outright villainy:
After this I marched on with the prisoners.
They informed me that they had been sent with a
summons to order me to retire. A plausible pretence
to discover our camp and to obtain knowledge of
our forces and our situation! It was so clear that
they had come to reconnoiter what we were, that I
admired their assurance, when they told me they
were come as an Embassy; their instructions were to
get what knowledge they could of the roads, rivers,
and all the country as far as the Potowmack; and
instead of coming as an Embassador, publicly and in
an open manner, they cam secretly, and sought the
most hidden retreats more suitable for deserters than
for Embassadors; they encamped there and remained
hidden for whole days together, at a distance of not
more than five miles from us; they sent spies to
reconnoiter our camp; the whole body turned back 2
miles; they sent the two messengers mentioned in
the instructions, to inform M. de Contrecoeur of the
place where we were, and our disposition, that he
might send his detachments to enforce the summons
as soon as it should be given. Besides, an
Embassador has princely attendants, wheras this was
only a simpl petty French officer, an Embassador has
no need of spies, his person being always sacred:
and seeing their intention was so good, why did
they tarry two days at five miles’ distance from us
without acquainting me with the summons, or at
least, with something that related to the Embassy?
That alone would be sufficient to excit the strongest
suspicions, and we must do them the justice to say,
that, as they wanted to hide themselves, they could
not have picked out better places than they had
done. The summons was so insolent, and savored of
so much Gasconade, that if it had been openly
brought by two men it would have been an excessive
Indulgence to have suffered them to return.
It was the opinion of the Half-King in this
case that their intentions were evil and that it was
pure pretence; that they had never intended to come
to us otherwise than as enemies, and if we had been
such fools as to let them go they would never have
helped us to take any other Frenchmen. They say
they called to us as soon as they discovered us;
which is an absolute falsehood, for I was then
marching at the head of the company going towards
them, and can positively affirm, that, when they first
saw us, they ran to their arms, without calling, as I
must have heard them had they so done.”71
As Washington was writing this, it is possible that Jumonville’s brains were fresh stains on his red uniform. Yet he cites Tanaghrisson as an authority on the evil intentions of the French. Among his exaggerations, Washington says the French tarried for “whole days together” at “five miles’ distance,” but he knows they were at Gist’s two days before his dawn attack and how far he marched to reach them. What was he thinking as he wrote that an ambassador’s person is always sacred? Six months earlier La Force, now his prisoner, had wined and dined Washington on his ambassador’s mission with a summons
for the French. At Fort Le Boeuf, he spent his free time pacing off the fort’s dimensions, now he’s railing against spies, insolent summons, and Gasconade. Washington
makes it sound as if he first hears of the French summons while marching the prisoners away from the glen, but we know from Monceau, Tanaghrisson’s messenger, and Kaningen that it was in Washington’s hands when the Half King murdered the wounded Jumonville.
If the journal entry quoted above fails to justify Washington’s surprise attack on the French, the murder of Jumonville, or the killing and scalping of the wounded, it is helpful in settling the number of French dead. Anderson says that “Shaw gives a more accurate tally of the French dead than Washington–‘thirteen or fourteen,’ he says, as opposed to ten–a particularly significant detail since he takes care to note that he himself saw the remains.”72 Occasionally an expansive Washington exaggerates the body count at Jumonville Glen, but most often he says ten of the French were killed, one wounded, and twenty-one captured. This adds up to thirty-two, which, along with the two French messengers to Contrecoeur that Washington complains of and escaped Monceau, gives a total of thirty-five, the accepted number of Jumonville’s party.
Washington’s journal fell into French hands after the battle of Fort Necessity. It was sent to Montreal, where the Marquis Duquesne gained valuable insights into England’s colonial problems from it.73 In September, he sent Contrecoeur a translation, calling “it in his accompanying letter: priceless. Contrecoeur read and reread the document with close attention, for on Duquesne’s order he was to profit by its content and return it with a commentary.”74 Published in the Papiers Contrecoeur in 1952: “This obviously authentic and undoctored version validates in every essential respect the French version published for
propaganda purposes.”75 Although it was accurate and complete except for a few unimportant entries, Washington denied the accuracy of his journal when it was retranslated into English and published in London and New York in 1759.76 Meanwhile, “in France, Monsieur Voltaire wrote to a friend, ‘I was formerly of the English party, but am that no longer, since the English assassinate our officers in America.”77 The original of Washington’s journal is now lost, but its reconstruction by John C. Fitzpatrick for his 1925 The Diaries of George Washington 1748-1799 rings true is every way, stylistically, psychologically, and factually, as Washington saw or wished other people to see the events he chronicled.
Until “Neo-Progressive” historians began to examine the testimony of “little people,” great man Washington’s view of Jumonville Glen, vigorously asserted and defended by “Neo-Whigs,” dominated American history. Note the Washington-like economy with which the nineteenth century’s most eminent American historian, Francis Parkman, describes the engagement:
They were in fact there; and they snatched
their guns the moment they saw the English.
Washington gave the word to fire. A short fight
ensued. Coulon de Jumonville, an ensign in
command, was killed, and none escaped but a
Canadian who had fled at the beginning of the fray.
After it was over, the prisoners told Washington
that the party had been sent to bring him a summons
from Contrecoeur, the commandant at Fort Duquesne.78
Parkman follows these few lines with three and a half tortured pages justifying Washington’s actions. It is the same strategy Washington uses to cover-up his crime, and equally unconvincing. Washington’s denials are Parkman’s first line of defense, to Jumonville’s interpreter calling out to the attacking English for a parley and to the French claim that Jumonville was killed while the summons was being read: “This is also denied by Washington, and rests only on the assertion of the Canadian who ran off at the outset, and on the alleged assertion of Indians who, if present at all, which is unlikely, escaped like the Canadian before the fray began.”79 Parkman’s second line of defense is to dismiss the testimony of Monceau and the Indian eyewitnesses as unworthy of examination. If he knew of it, Parkman ignores Private Shaw’s disposition to the governor of South Carolina, where Captain Mackay’s independent company was based, joining Washington two weeks after the ambush.
Parkman’s third line of defense is to cite French support for his position, such as the deserters who told Washington that Jumonville’s party were spies who were only to show the summons if confronted by a superior force. His proof, “This last assertion is confirmed by the French officer Pouchot, who says that Jumonville, seeing himself the weaker party, tried to show the letter he had brought,”80 contradicts both Parkman’s version of the incident and Washington’s denials. As with Washington, Parkman’s convolutions trip him up and inadvertently reveal the truth about Jumonville’s murder, but he keeps at his task, finishing two pages later with his opinion that “the Chevalier de Levis, second in command to Montcalm, probably expresses the true opinion of Frenchmen best fitted to judge
when he calls it ‘a pretended assassination.'”81 There is a rising social trajectory from French deserters to the most authoritative if remote French opinion, that of the Chevalier de Levis, in Parkman’s elegant analysis, if it can be called an analysis. A more accurate description would be, case for the prosecution against Jumonville, even though Parkman is clearly acting as Washington’s defense attorney. For him and most American historians, the question has always been: “Was Coulon de Jumonville an envoy, or was he a spy?”82
It’s a false dilemma, of course. Washington was both an envoy and a spy on his mission to Le Boeuf, despite objections that, “If what he did was spying, the word needs a new definition.”83 The distinction between Washington openly gathering intelligence at Le Boeuf and Jumonville’s secretiveness breaks down in the face of the evidence; on the one hand, Washington’s journal entries detailing his daring, surreptitious maneuvers to gather information about the Le Boeuf’s defenses, and on the other, the evil intentions of Jumonville. Parkman says Jumonville was killed because “He lurked nearly two days within five miles of Washington’s camp, sent out scouts to reconnoitre it, but gave no notice of his presence; played to perfection the part of the skulking enemy, and brought destruction on himself by conduct which can only be ascribed to a sinister motive on the one hand, or to extreme folly on the other.”84 One need not look into Jumonville’s soul to find the motive for his conduct, as a glimpse at his orders from Contrecoeur shows. Under orders from Duquesne not to fire the first shot, Contrecoeur’s instructions to Jumonville “were: to find a road to the English position; to hand the commander the summons [to withdraw], and to report back his reply; but
not to harass the English column if it were still east ‘of the Great Mountain.'”85 Parkman has read Contrecoeur’s orders and knows that the ensign was neither fool nor secret villain, but the historian puts the interests of his guilty client above abstractions such as truth, justice, or honor.
Parkman is not alone. In order to get their man acquitted, historians have not only perjured themselves on the witness stand, but as character witnesses inflated Washington’s reputation for honesty to mythic proportions. The following is from 1940: “A further characteristic of him was his unsparing truthfulness. To dissemble was for him an impossibility. One of the fixed characteristics of all his later career is holding his own life lightly, playing gaily with death, as if life and death were but counters in a delightful game. To such a nature lies are absurdities.”86 A revolution in American scholarship has intervened to render such cherry-tree sentiments laughable. By 1948, reverence for Washington weakened to the point that Douglas Freeman could call him by his first name, but the gain in
understanding of events past or present remained equally superficial: “The surprise had been complete; George’s first skirmish had achieved the ideal of the soldier, the destruction of the adversary as a fighting force. The commander of the French party, Joseph Coulon, Sieur de Jumonville, had been killed by the Half King, or at least the Chief so boasted.”87 Still, the gain has significance. If the Half King killed Jumonville, then Washington had covered it up; without conceding Washington’s crimes, American historians have conspired to hide them. One strategy has been to cite his “conviction that the French seizure of the fort at the forks had been an act of war. In the minds of
Washington and the other Englishmen, the French already were the enemy,”88 but that hardly excuses his surprise attack, any more than it would the Japanese for attacking Pearl Harbor or the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center.
Other justifications historians use to excuse Washington’s surprise attack include self-defense and, sooner or later, his youth: “Coolness of judgment, a profound sense of public duty, and a strong self-control, were even then the characteristics of Washington; but he was scarcely twenty-two, was full of military ardor, and was vehement and fiery by nature.”89 This is Parkman’s oblique way of saying young Washington was rash, selfish, and vain glorious, traits of youth and ambition Freeman also finds in Washington’s letter to Dinwiddie the day after the fight with Jumonville, in which he complains that “he was receiving almost ten shillings less per day than an officer of like rank on the regular establishment would receive, to say nothing of the fact that he had no prospect of half-pay upon retirement. . . . Not until he made this completely, indeed tediously, plain, did he even announce to the Governor the victory he had won.”90 This is the same public-spirit in Washington that allowed him to lead the Continental Army without pay during the Revolution, only expenses, which came to half a million dollars in eighteenth century currency. To return to Parkman’s comments about Washington’s youth at Jumonville Glen:
Yet it is far from certain that, even when age
and experience had ripened him, he would have
forborne to act as he did, for there was every reason
for believing that the designs of the French were
hostile, and though by passively waiting the event he
would have thrown upon them the responsibility of
striking the first blow, he would have exposed his
small party to capture or destruction by giving them
time to gain reinforcements from Fort Duquesne.91
As well as anyone, Parkman knows Jumonville’s designs were not hostile, his party of thirty-three no threat to Washington’s force, Contrecoeur unprepared to send reinforcements, and Washington’s surprise attack certain to expose his men to capture or destruction, as it did. When history becomes a matter of speculation, beliefs, and intentions, it is inevitably false.
Falsification of history is not exclusively an American phenomenon, but the repercussions have grown proportionally with the nation’s ability to impact the world. Of all the lessons that grow out of a study of the Jumonville Glen massacre, perhaps none is more striking than the perpetual danger posed by the military mind, the warrior mentality. It may be that Washington inherited his. When he came to Logstown at the end of 1753 to council with the Indians before traveling on to Fort Le Boeuf, the Half King addressed him as Conotocarius, the “Destroyer of Villages,” after his grandfather. In 1675, Col. John Washington made war against the Susquehannocks. “The Indians against whom he was operating were induced to parley, while they were entirely off their guard, his men fell upon them and brutally massacred them.”92 As far as is known, the elder Col. Washington did not lie about the number of men he commanded.
- Alfred P. James. The Ohio Company: It’s Inner History. Pittsburgh, PA: U. of Pittsburgh, Press, 1959, footnote, p, 101, (hereafter cited as James).
- “Washington with forty men, set out that dark and rainy night for the Indian camp; where, after council held, an attack was determined to be made at once.” James Veech. The Monongahela of Old or Historical Sketches of Southwestern Pennsylvania to the Year 1800. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1975. Originally published 1852 and 1892, p. 76, (hereafter cited as Veech).
- “Confused, untrained, and wretched, the forty soldier who had somehow held together through the night were hardly prepared to fight an enemy, let alone one experienced in forest warfare. Nonetheless the tall Virginian led them on, following the Indian warrior who had come to warn them of their peril.” Fred Anderson. Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Face of Empire in British America, 1754-1766. New York, NY: Knopf, 2000, p. 5, (hereafter cited as Anderson).
- John C. Fitzpatrick. The Diaries of George Washington, 1748-1799. Vol One. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1925, p. xiii, (hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick).
- Veech, p. 53
- Robert Van Atta. “Vignettes,” Tribune-Review,
December 16, 2001, p. 25.
- Robert C. Alberts. The Most Extraordinary Adventures of Major Robert Stobo. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1965, p. 119, (hereafter cited as Alberts, Stobo).
- Robert Leckie. “A Few Acres of Snow”: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars. New York, NY: John Wiley Sons, Inc., 1999, p. 275, (hereafter cited as Leckie).
- Anderson, p. xvii.
- Anderson’s “Introduction” to Crucible of War quite correctly begins with a flat assertion that the Seven Years’ War is the most important event to occur in eighteenth-century North America and that Americans generally ignore their pre-Revolutionary past, limiting their ability to see the continuities with the present. However, his charge that “Neo-Progressives share nationalistic assumptions with “Neo-Whigs” is false and self-serving, a blatant attempt to distance himself even as he co-opts the “Neo-Progressive” analysis of history. His radical centrist analysis of the Jumonville Glen incident as a massacre is an important contribution to scholarship. Still, he remains between two stools, off balance, leaning forward to a time when American historians are willing to have their war criminals tried before the World Court. As for continuity, there is no end to it. Historical periods are all more or less arbitrary, a matter of convention. One could with as much justice give the June 21, 1752 Pickawillany massacre as the start of the Seven Years’ War and with more historical accuracy
recognize the King of the Fur Traders, George Croghan, as its prime instigator, rather than the twenty-two year old George Washington. Anderson, p. xvii.
- Alberts, Stobo, p. 33.
- Lois Mulkearn, ed. George Mercer Papers: Relating to the Ohio Company of Virginia. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1964, p. 440 (hereafter cited as Mulkearn).
- Anderson, p. 51.
- The Ohio Company is formed October 24, 1747 to take up “500,00 acres of land on the branches of Allegany and settling a Trade with the several nations of Indians according to our Agreement in Company.” It was proposed that there should be twenty partners, including: John Hanbury, a London merchant, Thomas Lee Esqr., Col. Thomas Cresap, Francis Thornton, William Nimmo, Daniel Cresap, John Carlisle, Lawrence Washington, Augustine Washington, George Fairfax, Jacob Giles, Nathaniel Chapman, James Woodrop, and James Wardrop. [Mulkearn, p. 2.] Under the Treaty of Lancaster of July 2, 1744, various grants were applied for in Virginia. April 26, 1745, leave was granted to John Robinson Esqr, John Smith, James Patton, and Henry Downes for 300,000 acres upon the waters of the Ohio; November 4, 1745, leave was granted to John Blair Esqr., William Russell and Company for 100,000 acres; and April 1, 1747 William McMachon and nineteen others were granted 60,000 acres adjoining
Blair’s grant.” Mulkearn, p. 233.
- Fitzpatrick, pp. 43-53.
- “Dinwiddie informed the Board of Trade that ‘The person [William Russell] sent by the Commissioner to the Commandant of the French Forces, neglected his Duty & went no further than Logstown on the Ohio, reports the French were then one hundred & fifty Miles further up the River, & I believe was afread to go to them.'” Mulkearn, p. 436.
- Anderson, p. 44
18, Captain William Trent had returned to Wills Creek for desperately needed provisions, leaving Ensign Ward and forty men to finish the stockade. Ward was the half-brother and Trent the brother-in-law and business partner of fellow Pennsylvanian George Croghan, known far and wide among the Indians as the Buck. Another Pennsylvania trader and associate of Croghan’s, Lieutenant Fraser, was Trent’s second in command. Fraser’s post on the Allegheny at Venango had been taken over by the French and he had moved his operation to the mouth of Turtle Creek on the Monongahela. Washington had stopped at both places on his way to and from Fort Le Boeuf and in 1755 Fraser’s burnt-out cabin on the Monongahela would be the scene of Braddock’s defeat. Business must have been good, for when Ward sent an urgent message for Fraser to assume command as the French approached, he declined for economic reasons that would take six days to settle.
Historians have never adequately explained why these Pennsylvania traders, including Croghan and his associate Andrew Montour, were commissioned by the Virginia based Ohio Company. Montour, a mixed-blood ordered by Dinwiddie to recruit Native American scouts, instead hired Croghan’s out of work trappers and frontiersmen. Croghan’s reason for helping the Virginians must have been their promise to uphold the land grants the Iroquois overlords of the Ohio country had given him: 40,000 acres from the forks of the Ohio up the east bank of the Allegheny to Plum Creek; 60,000 acres centered on his Youghiogheny River trading post at the mouth of Sewickley Creek; and 100,000 acres of the southern bank of the Ohio from the Monongahela to Raccoon Creek. But what would the Virginians gain from helping Croghan? The handful of historians who can answer this question have not been able to overcome the obscurity and neglect into which the most important person on the colonial frontier has fallen. Wainwright, Nicholas B. George Croghan: Wilderness Diplomat. Chapel Hill, N.C.: U. of North Carolina Press, 1959, pp. 8-83.
- Alberts, Stobo, p. 35.
- James, p. 101.
- Leckie, p. 27.
- Donald H. Kent. The French Invasion of Western
Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1981, p. 73.
- Alberts, Stobo, p. 35.
- Although the Iroquois contemptuously called their old foes, the Delaware, women because the men wore their hair long and because they and the Shawnees had to ask the Onondaga Council for land to resettle on in the Ohio country when forced out of eastern Pennsylvania by encroaching whites, there is no evidence of either tribe being defeated in war by the Iroquois, as the following quotation states: “The Iroquois chiefs’ ‘aggressive neutrality’ enabled them to manipulate both French and British imperial authorities. Representing themselves as the spokesmen for the Far Indians, acting on behalf of previously conquered dependent peoples such as the Delaware and Shawnees, and maintaining that they were the rightful overlords of vast western territories, the Iroquois seized and for half a century maintained the diplomatic initiative within North America, particularly in dealing with the British. Most significantly, they were able to use these tactics to claim suzerainty over the Ohio Country, a region that for a long time lay beyond the reach of either the French or the British, but which was nonetheless a zone of great strategic importance to both.” Anderson, pp. 16-17.
- Francis Parkman. Moncalm and Wolfe, Vol. One. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Co., 1899, p. 151, (hereafter cited as Parkman, Montcalm).
- James Hadden. Washington’s and Braddock’s Expeditions. Uniontown, PA: James Hadden, 1910, pp. 22-23.
- Alberts, Stobo, p. 119.
- Ibid., p. 17
- Fitzpatrick, p. 86.
- Alberts, Stobo, p. 119.
- Anderson, p. 59.
- “For the eight years of the war against British tyranny General Washington turned in an expense account of $449,261.51. . . . This sum of $441,261.51 may seem staggering when compared to the $48,000 General Washington would have received had he gone on the payroll for eight years like the other patriot generals. Marvin Kitman PFC (Ret.), George Washington’s Expense Account. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1970, p. 31.
- Robert C. Alberts. A Charming Field for an Encounter: The Story of George Washington’s Fort Necessity. Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1975, p. 16, (hereafter cited as Alberts, Charming).
- Hadden, p. 28.
- Anderson, p. 53.
- Hadden, P. 23.
- “Seven of his men were lost in the woods and left behind.” Parkman, Montcalm, p. 152.
- “The first account of the Fort Necessity engagement, given by Colonel Washington and Captain Mackay, published in the Virginia Gazette and reprinted in othercolonial papers, spoke of heavy French losses in killed and wounded and made the battle look like a stand-off by describing an agreement that ‘each side should retire without molestation, they to the fort at the Monongahela, and we to Wills Creek’; but no one was deceived.” Alberts, Stobo, p. 108.
- Fitzpatrick, Journal, p. 87.
- Private John Shaw’s second-hand account: “That an Indian and a White Man haveing brought Col. Washington Information that a Party of French consisting of five and thirty men were out [scouting] and lay about six miles off upon which Col. Washington with about forty men and Capt. Hogg with a Party of forty more and the Half King with his Indians consisting of thirteen immediately set out in search of them, but haveing taken different Roads Col. Washington with his Men and the Indians first came up with them and found them encamped between two Hills[. It] being early in the morning some of them were asleep and some eating, but haveing heard a Noise they were immediately in great Confusion and betook themselves to their Arms and as this deponent has heard, one of [the
French] fired a Gun upon which Col. Washington gave the Word for all his Men to fire.” Anderson, p. 55.
- Thomas J. Fleming, ed. Affectionately Yours, George Washington: A Self-Portrait in Letters. New York: W. W. Norton Co., 1967, p. 17, (hereafter cited as Fleming).
- Francis Parkman. Edgar Pelham, ed. The Struggle for a Continent. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., pp. 336-37, (hereafter cited as Parkman, Struggle).
- Nathaniel Wright Stephenson and Waldo Hilary Dunn. George Washington. Vol. One: 1732-1777. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1940, p. 93, (hereafter cited as Stephenson).
- Fitzpatrick, pp. 87-88.
- Alberts follows Veech’s error of having Monceau walk all the way to Fort Duquesne barefoot; Contrecoeur’s letter to Duquesne states Monceau made his way partly through the woods and partly along the Monongahela River in a small canoe [Anderson, p. 54]. Alberts, Stobo, p. 45.
- Anderson, p. 54
- Ibid. p. 57.
- Alberts, Charming, p. 19.
- Anderson, p. 55.
- Ibid., p. 56.
- “This latter idea [that the French had canoes at the mouth of Redstone Creek] seems to have been in error,” says James Veech, “. . . for the French came by the Nemacolin path,” Here, Washington’s information is more reliable than Veech’s for a number of reasons. First of all, Nemacolin’s path, blazed by the Delaware Indian and Christopher Gist for the Ohio Company, terminated at Redstone, not the Forks of the Ohio. There was a trail to Fort Duquesne that split off the Nemacolin path at Gist’s plantation, but the usual, quick, and easy method of getting there was not overland. Thus, Monceau, the survivor of the Jumonville massacre, walks barefoot to the mouth of the Redstone and travels by a small canoe to Fort Duquesne, as he reports to Contrecoeur. It is also Washington’s route, and Coulon de Villiers’ coming the other way with six hundred French and one hundred Indians. Veech, p. 76.
- Frank Donovan. The George Washington Papers. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead Co., 1964, p. 27.
- Alberts, Charming, p. 16.
- Ibid., p. 44.
- Anderson, p. 5.
- Ibid., p. 55.
- Veech, p. 76.
- Fleming, p. 17.
- Anderson, p. 58.
- Ibid., p. 59.
- Leckie, p. 275.
- Alberts, Charming, p. 19.
- Ibid., p. 45.
- Fleming, p. 17.
- Fitzpatrick, pp. 88-89.
- Anderson, p. 56.
- “How much desertion! How many difficulties in the provinces through which Washington passed! How much dissention in these troops from the different provinces which aspire to independence! That is what makes me believe that we shall always beat a troop which is as ill-constituted as i is unwarlike.” Alberts, Stobo, p. 119.
- Ibid., p. 118.
- “The French deleted certain passages–mainly those that explained Villier’s difficulties and reasons for offering liberal terms at Fort Necessity–but they made no other alterations to the text. This stunning historical discovery has been thoroughly treated in a 38-page pamphlet, Contrecoeur’s Copy of George Washington’s Journal of 1754, edited by Donald H. Kent for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, but it has received comparatively little attention elsewhere.” Alberts, Stobo, pp. 119-20.
- “The French Government published Washington’s journal in Paris in 1758 in a ‘white paper’ titled Memorial Containing the Summary of Facts, with Supporting Documents, to Serve as a Reply to the ‘Observations’ Sent by the Ministers of England to the Courts of Europe.” Alberts, Stobo, p. 119
- Ibid., p. 48.
- Parkman, Montcalm, p. 153.
- Ibid., p. 154.
- Ibid., p. 156..
- Walter O’Meara. Guns at the Forks. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1965, p. 86, (hereafter cited as O’Meara).
- Stephenson, p. 78.
- Parkman, Montcalm, p. 154.
- O’Meara, p. 86.
- Stephenson, p. 33.
- Freeman, p. 54.
- Parkman, Montcalm, p. 155.
- Freeman, p. 55.
- Parkman, Montcalm, pp. 155-156.
- Stephenson, p. 17.