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my return; but before I had fully satisfied myself, she disappeared, and for six years I did not hear from her; but a few days ago, I learned she was in New York.”
“ Where has she been?”
“So I have been informed, and that is the reason I am going to the city.”
“ Captain Stevens, give over your idea for the present,” urged the colonel. “I need your services.”
After some persuasion, Captain Stevens was induced to forego his visit to New York and accompany Colonel Washington.
On the recommendation of Lieutenant-Colonel Washington, Captain Trent was sent forward with his recruits to construct a fort at the forks of the Ohio, the present site of the city of Pittsburg. Early in April, Lieutenant-Colonel Washington left Alexandria with a small force and proceeded to Wills Creek (now Cumberland), which he reached on the 20th of the same month. On the Monongahela, he was met by a swift runner sent by the friendly chief Half-King, urging the English to come to their assistance. The French had been seen embarking on the Alleghany at Venango, and news of their hostile movements had spread dismay among all the barbarians friendly to the English. After giving the runner food and a flask of rum, Washington sent him back with a belt, saying:
“ Tell Half-King, your friend and brother is coming; be strong and patient.”
As the Virginians approached Wills Creek, Washington was met by another runner, who said the French were at the forks. The English had commenced the construction of the fort at the forks, when a large body of French under Captain Contrecoeur drove them away and took possession of the unfinished works. The Virginians hastened back to meet Washington, who, with one hundred and fifty men and three or four pieces of light artillery, was hastening across the mountains. The French completed the fort and named it Du Quesne, in honor of the governor of Canada.
As Colonel Fry had not yet joined the advance, the young lieutenant-colonel assumed the responsibility of pressing forward with his handful of raw recruits, through the rain, with a scant supply of provisions, dragging their light cannon over the wooded hills, felling trees, bridging streams, and making causeways over marshes, even removing great rocks that the main army might march easier, so that, late in May, they stood on the banks of the Youghiogeny forty miles from Fort Du Quesne. Here Washington received a messenger from Half
King warning him to be on his guard, as the French intended to strike the first English whom they should see..
Ignorant of the numbers of the French, Washington fell back to a fertile plain called the great meadows, and hastily constructed a stockade which he named Fort Necessity. This fort was constructed near the modern national road between Cumberland and Wheeling, in the southern part of Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Gist, who had a settlement near, went on a scout and returned on the second day, saying:
“ Colonel Washington, the French are coming." “ Have you seen them?” asked Washington.
“No; but I have found their tracks within five miles of the great meadows.”
Washington cast a glance eastward and said:
"I wish Colonel Fry would come; but we must not wait on him. Better complete our fort at once."
Washington and Noah Stevens were in the tent of the former, when news came that a messenger from Half-King was waiting.
“He brings important information, send him to me at once,” said. Washington.
The Indian came and, through an interpreter, Washington asked:
" What information do you bring ?”.
“There is a party of Frenchmen not far away lying in ambush."
“How far?” asked Washington. The Indian knew nothing of miles, but reiterated that it was not far, and they could soon reach them. Would he guide them to the spot? Of course, nothing would give the savage more satisfaction than to pilot the English to the hated French.
Washington turned to Noah Stevens, who still remained, and asked:
“Would you like to see the war for possession of the valley of the Ohio begun?”
“I would as soon hear the first shots now, as at any time.”
“The king has authorized our governor to hold the valley, and our governor has authorized me to hold it, and, notwithstanding it is intensely dark and raining, I believe I will set out for the camp of the friendly Mingo chief and make arrangements to surprise the common foe.”
“Permit me to accompany you."
George Washington, like all successful men, never hesitated when his plans were formed.
He set out with forty men to the Mingo camp. The night was consumed in the journey, and it was sunrise when the Virginians and Indians, each marching in parallel lines, in single file, sought the hiding-place of the foe. In a deep, rocky pass, covered with bushes and stately trees, was the ambuscade of the French.
Washington was at the head of the file of Virginians, carrying a musket on his shoulder, and Noah was next. The rays of the early morning sun fell like slanting gleams of gold into the dark crater-like pit in which were ensconced the French. Something bright glittered in the sunlight, and the eagle eye of Washington knew it was a French bayonet.
“ They are still there!” he said in an undertone. “ Bend low; steady; forward !"
His line of men, at his command, wheeled on the left flank and, deploying as skirmishers, slowly and carefully advanced, occasionally encouraged by a low command of their beardless leader.
Just as they rose over the brow of the hill, or precipice, the French were seen beyond.
"Fire!” cried Washington, at the same time discharging his gun. A rattling crash of fire-arms broke the morning stillness, and two or three Frenchmen fell. The French were about fifty in number, under Jumonville, a brave officer, who fought desperately, until a bullet crashed through his brain and ended his life. The Virginians adopted the Indian style of fighting from behind trees and stones, and soon had slain ten of the enemy. The fight lasted fifteen minutes, and