How to Spell Pittsburgh
"I Have Called the Place Pittsburgh"
by George T. Fleming -- 1922
We come now to the narration of events that have placed the name of Braddock on many pages of American history--a disheartening narrative wherein contemplation of that veteran soldier of Europe in his pathetic end awakens only compassion. Braddock is immortal through defeat, but his name eternal as human things are because it has been applied to a great industrial community and in that application suggestive of mighty works and wonderful accomplishments. Vast history is opened up by the name Braddock. Vast not only in significance, but in results. The disaster of July 9, 1755, served but to incense and made more determined the British ministry to drive the French out of the "Debatable Land about the Ohio." There was a loud cry, too, for vengeance which though slow in coming, arrived on two most memorable occasions; first at the Forks of the Ohio, November 25, 1758, with John Forbes the "Head of Iron," and that day was the natal day of Pittsburgh. It came again in all completeness September 13, 1759, in the grey dawn of morning on the Plains of Abraham. For one hundred and sixty-seven years able and accomplished writers of history have told, in several languages, the tragic story of Braddock's Field, and in varying veins, from compassionate to deeply incisive, have placed the character of Edward Braddock before the world. Able artists have touched the pencil and the brush to give us divergent and somewhat impossible views of the battle and have more or less, as imagination dictated, depicted the fall, the death and burial, of the brave but stubborn general in command. The fame of the modern town of Braddock, that has spread far beyond the locus of the battle, is such that every detail of the strange contest maintains an absorbing interest.
Across the Monongahela opposite the town there is a wooded hill known as Kennywood and beneath this hill the army of General Edward Braddock halted on its march from the mouth of the Youghiogheny on the fateful day, July 9, 1755, and form this hillside the army marched with all the pomp and pageantry of martial array--down to the river's edge and through the shallow waters of the Monongahela, past the deserted cabin of John Frazier, the trader, at the mouth of Turtle Creek, and debouching to the left, the veterans of many fields climbed the slight hill to t the ravines in their front. A thousand rifles blaze out and the warhoops from 700 red throats sound as the crack of doom. Braddock is immortal through defeat. Three days later with dying breath the fated warrior murmured to his faithful attendants: "Who would have thought it?"
Today from these same heights, gazing across the placid river towards the scenes of slaughter of 1755, one can repeat the inquiry of the contrite general. We may consider his last words also: "Next time we shall know better," for the next time a British army came was November, 1758; then Forbes and Victory--and PITTSBURGH. With these remarks we may proceed to the story of Braddock's Expedition.
The British Government finally determined to oppose with energy the growing power of the French in America and to regain possession of the territory upon the Ohio, war or no war. This determination led to the dispatch of Braddock's Expedition, so called in history. The plan was to send two regiments on foot from Ireland to Virginia to be reinforced there by Colonial troops. Governor Shirley of Massachusetts and Sir William Pepperell were to raise two regiments of one thousand men each in New England to be commanded by themselves, and three thousand were to be enlisted in Pennsylvania, the whole to be placed at the disposal of a commander-in-chief sent from England. This was Major-Gen. Edward Braddock, appointed January 14, 1755, to this service and the command of all the Royal forces in North America. The two infantry regiments, the 44th and 48th, each of five hundred men, sailed from Cork in January and arrived at Alexandria, Virginia, February 20, 1755. The 48th was commanded by Col. Thomas Dunbar, and the 44th by Col. Sir Peter Halket.
"The following account of the proceedings of the army for a few days before and after the battle," writes Craig, "is taken from the Diary of a person, who was evidently a participator in all those transactions, and is the best narrative we have seen; for which reason we insert it in full." It seems curious that Craig did not say that this account, taken from the King's Mss., was written by Orme. However, the account as Craig has it, reads as follows:
General Braddock's Expedition, 1755--King's Library; Vol. 212, p. 87, to the End. (1)From this part two of our Indians were prevailed upon to go for intelligence towards the French fort, and also (unknown to them), Gist, the General's guide. The Indians returned on the 6th and brought in a French officer's scalp, who was shooting within a half mile of the Fort. They informed the General that they saw very few men there or tracks, nor any additional works; that no pass was possessed by them between us and the Fort, and that they believed very few men were out upon observation. *** They saw some boats under the Fort, and one with a white flag coming down the Ohio. (Allegheny). Gist returned a little after, the same day, whose account corresponded with theirs, excepting that he saw smoke in a valley between our camp and Duquesne. He had concealed himself with an intent of getting close under the Fort in the night, but he was discovered and pursued by two Indians who had very near taken him. At this camp the provisions from Colonel Dunbar, with a detachment of a captain and 100 men, joined us, and we halted here one day. On the 6th of July we marched about six miles to Monakatuca Camp, which was called so from an unhappy accident that happened upon the march. Three or four people loitering on the rear of the Grenadiers were killed by a party of Indians and scalped. Upon hearing the firing, the General sent back the Grenadier company, on whose approach the Indians fled. They were discovered again a little after by our Indians in the front, who were going to fire upon them, but were prevented by some of our out-rangers, who mistaking these, our Indians, for the enemy, fired upon them and killed Monakatuca's son, notwithstanding they made the agreed countersign, which was holding up a bough and grounding their arms. When we came to our grounds, the General sent for the father and the other Indians, condoled with and made them the usual presents and desired the officers to attend the funeral, and gave an order to fire over the body.
July 4th--We marched about six miles to Thickettyrun; the country was now less mountainous and rocky, and the woods rather more open, consisting chiefly of white oak.
This behavior of the General was so agreeable to the Indians, that they afterwards were more attached to us, quite contrary to our expectation.
The line of carrying horses, extending very often a prodigious length, it was almost impossible to secure them from insults, though they had yet marched without an interruption. Every Bat-man having been ordered to carry his fire-lock, and small parties kept constantly on their flanks. The disposition of march for these horses had varied almost every day according to the nature of the country, but the most common was to let them remain upon the ground an hour after the march of the line, under guard of a captain and one hundred men, by which means there was no confusion in leaving the ground, and the horses were much eased. They were now ordered, when the roads would permit, to march upon the flanks, between the subaltern's picket and the line; but whenever a country was closed or rocky, they were then to fall in the rear, and a strong guard marched thither for their security, which was directed to advance or fall back in proportion to the length of the line of carrying horses, taking particular care always to leave parties upon flanks.
Orders at Monakatuca Camp.
If it should be ordered to advance the van, or send back the rear guard, the advanced parties detached from them are permitted to remain at the posts facing outwards. Whenever there is a general halt, half of each of the subaltern's parties are to remain under arms with fixed bayonets, facing outwards, and the other half may sit down by their arms.
On the 7th of July, we marched from hence, and quitting the Indian path, endeavored to pass Turtle Creek about twelve miles from the mouth, to avoid the dangerous pass of the Narrows. We were led to a precipice which it was impossible to descend. The general ordered Sir John St. Clair to take a captain and one hundred men, with the Indians, guides and some light horses, to reconnoitre very well the country. In about two hours he returned and informed the General he had found a ridge which led the whole way to Fort Duquesne, and avoided the Narrows and Frazier's, but that some work was to be done would make it impossible to move further that day; we therefore encamped here, and marched the next morning about eight miles to the camp near the Monongahela.
When we arrived here, Sir John St. Clair mentioned, (but not to the General), the sending a detachment that night to invest the Fort, but being asked whether the distance was not too great to reinforce that detachment in case of an attack, and whether it would not be more advisable to make the Pass of the Monongahela, or the Narrows, whichever was resolved upon, with our whole force, and then send the detachment from the next camp, which would be six or seven miles from the fort. Sir John immediately acquiesced, and was of the opinion that would be a much more prudent measure.
The guides were sent for, who described the Narrows to be a narrow pass about two miles, with a river on the left, and a very high mountain on the right and it would require much repair to make it passable by carriages. They said the Monongahela had two extremely good fords, which were very shallow, and the banks not steep. It was, therefore, resolved to pass this river the next morning, and Lieut. Col. Gage was ordered to march before the break of day, with two companies of Grenadiers, 160 rank and file, of the 44th and 48th, Capt. Gates' Independent Company, and two six pounders, with proper guides, and he was instructed to pass the Fords of the Monongahela, and to take the post after the second crossing, to secure the passage of that river. Sir John St. Clair was ordered to march at four o'clock, with a detachment of 250 men, to make roads for the artillery and baggage, which was to march with the remainder of the troops at five.
Orders at the Camp Near Monongahela.
All the men are to draw and clean their pieces, and the whole are to load to-morrow on the beating of the General, with fresh cartridges. No tents or baggage are to be taken with Lieut. Col. Gage's party.
July 9th--The whole marched agreeable to the orders before mentioned, and about eight in the morning, the General made the first crossing of the Monongahela by passing over about 150 men in the front, to whom followed half the carriages; another party of 150 men headed the second division; the horses and cattle then passed, and after all the baggage was over, the remaining troops which till then possessed the heights, marched over in good order. The General ordered a halt, and the whole formed in their proper line of march.
When we had moved about a mile, the General received a note from Lieut. Col. Gage, acquainting him with his having passed the river the second time without any interruption, and having posted himself agreeably to his orders.
When we got to the crossing, the bank on the opposite not being yet made passable, the artillery and baggage drew up along the beach, and halted till one, when the General passed over the detachment of the 44th, with the pickets of the right. The artillery wagons carrying the horses followed, and then the detachment of the 48th with the left pickets, which had been posted during the halt upon the heights. When the whole had passed, the General again halted till they formed according to the annexed plan.
It was now near two o'clock, and the advanced party under Lieut. Col. Gage, and the working party under Sir John St. Clair, were ordered to march on until three. No sooner were the pickets upon their respective flanks and the word given to march, but we heard an excessive quick and heavy firing in the front. The General imagining the advanced parties were very warmly attacked, and being willing to free himself from the incumbrance of the baggage, ordered Lieut. Col. Burton to reinforce them with the vanguard, and the line to halt. According to this disposition, eight hundred men were detached from the line, free from all embarrassments, and four hundred were left for the defence of the artillery and baggage, posted in such a manner as to secure them from attacks or insults. The General sent word forward an aid-de-camp to bring him an account of the nature of the attack, but the fire continuing, he moved forward himself, leaving Sir Peter Halket with command of the baggage. The advance detachments soon gave way, and fell back upon Lieut. Col. Burton's detachment, who was forming his men to face a rising ground upon the right. The whole were now got together in great confusion. The colors were advanced in different places to separate the men of the two regiments. The General ordered the officers to endeavour to form the men, and tell them off into small divisions, and to advance with them but neither entreaties nor threats could prevail.
The advanced flank parties, which were left for the security of the baggage all but one ran in. Their baggage was then warmly attacked, a great many horses and some drivers killed, and others escaped by flight. Two of the cannon flanked the baggage, and for some time kept the Indians off; the other cannon which was disposed of in the best manner, and fired away most of their ammunition, were of some service, but the spot being so woody, they could do little or no execution.
The enemy had spread themselves in such a manner that they extended from front to rear, and fired upon every part. The place of action was covered with trees and much underwood upon the left, without opening but the road, which was only about twelve feet wide. At the distance of about 220 yards in front, and upon the right, were two rising grounds covered with trees.
When the General found it impossible to persuade them to advance, and no enemy appeared in view; and nevertheless a vast number of officers were killed by exposing themselves before the men, he endeavored to retreat them in good order but the panic was so great that he could not succeed. During this time they were loading as fast as possible, and firing in the air. At last, Lieut. Col. Burton got together about 100 of the 48th regiment, and prevailed upon them, by the General's order, to follow him toward the rising ground on the right, but being disabled by his wounds, they faced about to the right and returned.
When the men had fired away all their ammunition, and the general and most of the officers were wounded, they, by one common consent left the field, running off with the greatest precipitation. About fifty Indians pursued us to the river, and killed several men in the passage. The officers used all possible endeavors to stop the men, and to prevail upon them to rally; but a great number of them threw away their arms and ammunition,, and even their clothes, to escape the faster. About a quarter of a mile on the other side the river, we prevailed upon near 100 of them to take post on an advantageous spot, about two hundred yards from the road. Lieut. Col. Burton posted some small parties and sentinels. We intended to have kept possession of that ground till we could have been reinforced. The General and some wounded officers remained there about an hour, till most of the men ran off. From that place the General sent Mr. Washington to Col. Dunbar, with orders to send wagons for the wounded, some provisions and hospital stores, to be escorted by the two youngest grenadier companies to meet him at Gist's plantation, or nearer if possible. It was found impracticable to remain here, as the General and officers were left almost alone; we therefore retreated in the best manner we were able. After we had passed the Monongahela the second time, we were joined by Lieut. Col. Gage, who had rallied near 60 men. We marched all that night, and the next day, and about 10 o'clock that night we got to Gist's plantation.
July 11--Some wagons, provisions and hospital stores arrived. As soon as the wounded were dressed, and the men had refreshed themselves, we retreated to Col. Dunbar's camp, which was near Rock Fort. The General sent a Sergeant's party back with provisions to be left on the road on the other side of the Yoxhio Geni for the refreshment of any men who might have lost their way in the woods. Upon our arrival at Col. Dunbar's camp, we found it in the greatest confusion. Some of his men had gone off upon hearing of our defeat, and the rest seemed to have forgot all discipline. Several of our detachment had not stopped till they had reached this camp. It was found necessary to clear some wagons for the wounded, and as it was impossible to move the stores, the howitzer shells, some twelve pound shot, powder and provisions, were destroyed or buried.July 13--We marched from hence to camp near the Great Meadows, where the General died of his wounds. (2)
No accurate list of the casualties was ever attained. Lists vary; of eighty-nine commissioned officers twenty-six were killed and thirty-seven wounded. Sparks adds to this sixty-three officers. Judge Veech says 1,450 officers and men were engaged, of whom 456 were killed and 421 wounded. James Hadden's total is 830; the killed in excess of the wounded. Veech gets his figures from Orme as published by Sargent ("Expedition," p. 238). The French casualties were trifling. Three officers, including Beaujeu, were killed, and four wounded; four regular officers were wounded. About thirty were killed of the Canadians and Indians--mainly Indians.
In the Baptismal Register of Fort Duquesne it is recorded that one French soldier was buried on the field of battle, two men and Ensign la Perade died of their wounds, and that M. Dericherville was killed in the battle. N. B. Craig published a translation of this matter in the "Register," in the "Pittsburgh Gazette," July 5, 1858. A battle where losses were so disproportionate has had few equals in the annals of war. It was truly, as Charles McKnight has Halket put it, "A sorra day." ( 3)
The number of women and servants killed could never be ascertained, since their names were not entered on the army rosters. It is known that only three servants were spared. The wagoners escaped to a man. Of the whole number who set out, two never returned--one having died of disease and the other was killed by the Indians while on the march.
Washington's part in this astounding battle is often reverted to; it shows him the real soldier. Washington, very ill, had been left behind under the care of Dr. Craik and came up on the evening of the 8th with a hundred men convoying provisions and pack horses which he had joined on July 3rd. Washington was hauled in a covered wagon. On the day of the battle he had ridden on a pillow, so enfeebled was he from his attack of fever. He formed and covered the retreat, and at night rode miles to find Dunbar for wagons, provisions and hospital stores. His journey lasted all night in rain and darkness, and he reached Dunbar at daybreak. To quote Irving here:
Washington was disappointed in his anticipations of a rapid march. The general, though he had adopted his advance in the main, could not carry it out in detail. His military education was in the way; he could not stoop to the makeshift expedient of a new country, where every difficulty is encountered and mastered in a rough-and-ready style. "I found," said Washington, "that instead of pushing on with vigor, without regarding a little rough road, they were halting to level every molehill, and to erect bridges over every brook, by which means we were four days in getting twelve miles."
For several days Washington had suffered from fever, accompanied by intense headache, and his illness increased in violence to such a degree that he was unable to ride, and had to be conveyed for a part of the time in a covered wagon. At the Great Crossing of the Youghiogheny the general assigned him a guard, provided him with necessaries, and requested him to remain, under the care of his physician, Dr. Craik, until the arrival of Colonel Dunbar's detachment, which was two days' march in the rear; giving him his word of honor that he should, at all events, be enabled to join the main division before it reached the French fort. This kind solicitude on the part of Braddock shows the real estimation in which Washington was held by that officer. But notwithstanding these kind assurances, it was with gloomy feelings that Washington saw the troops depart, fearful he might not be able to rejoin them in time for the attack upon the fort, which, he assured his brother aide-de-camp, he would not miss for five hundred pounds. (4)
Washington wrote: "On July 8, I rejoined the advanced division of the army under the immediate command of the General. On the 9th I attended him on horseback though low and weak. This day he was attacked and defeated by a band of French and Indians. When all hope of rallying the dismayed troops and recovering the ground had been expired, our provisions and stores being given up, I was ordered to Dunbar's Camp." Washington wrote his brother John A., May 30, 1755, as follows:
Upon my return from Williamsburgh, I found that Sir John St. Clair with Major Chapman and a detachment of 500 men, had marched to the Little Meadows in order to prepare the roads, establish a small post, and to lay a deposit of provisions there. The 2nd of June Mr. Spendelow discovered a communication from Fort Cumberland to the old road, leading to the crossing of the Youghiogany, avoiding the enormous mountain which had proved so destructive to our wagon horses. This communication was opened along a branch of Will's Creek, and finished by the 7th, when Sir Peter Halket, with the First Brigade of the Line, began its march, and encamped within a mile of the old road (which is about 5 miles from the Fort) the same day. This encampment was first called Grove Camp, but was afterwards altered to Spendelow's Camp.
This day also, Capt. Gates' Independent company, the remaining companies of the Provincial troops, and the whole park of artillery, were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march at an hour's warning, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Burton: and they accordingly did so on the 9th following, but with great difficulty got up to Sir Peter Halket's Brigade at Grove, or Spendelow's Camp, the same day.
This march, from the number of wagons, occasioned a council of war to be held upon the arrival of the General (with Colo. Dunbar's regiment) at this camp. In this council it was determined to retrench the number of wagons, and to increase the transportation by pack-horses. In order, thereto, the officers were called together and the General represented to them the necessity there was to procure all the horses possible for His Majesty's service, advised them to send back such of their baggage as they could do without and apply the horses (which by that means could be spared) to carry provisions for the army. This they accordingly did with great cheerfulness and zeal. (5)
Washington remained at Fort Cumberland for a few days, in feeble condition, still suffering from the effects of his illness. While there he wrote the following letter to Gov. Dinwiddie of Virginia:
Fort Cumberland, July 18, 1755.
As I am favored with an opportunity, I should think myself inexcusable were I to omit giving you some account of our late action with the French on the Monongahela, the 9th instant. We conducted our march from Fort Cumberland to Frazer's, which is about seven miles from Fort Duquesne, without meeting any extraordinary event, having only a straggler or two picked up by the French Indians. When we came to this place we were attacked (very unexpectedly I must own) by about 300 French and Indians. Our number consisted of about 1,300 chosen men, well armed, chiefly regulars who were immediately struck with such a deadly panic that nothing but confusion and disobedience of orders prevailed among them. The officers in general behaved with incomparable bravery, for which they greatly suffered, there being nearly 60 killed and wounded, a large proportion out of the number we had.
Our poor Virginians behaved like men and died like soldiers, for I believe out of three companies that were there that day scarce 30 were left alive. Captain Peyrouny and all his officers, down to a corporal, were killed. Captain Polson shared almost as hard a fate, for only one of his escaped; in short the dastardly behavior of the English soldiers exposed all those that were inclined to do their duty to almost certain death, and at length, in despite of every effort, broke and ran like sheep before the hounds, leaving the artillery, ammunition and provisions and every individual thing amongst us as a prey for the enemy; and when we endeavored to rally them, in hopes of regaining our invaluable loss, it was with as much success as if we had attempted to stop wild boars on the mountains.
The General was wounded behind the shoulder and in the breast, of which he died the third day after. His two aides-de-camp were both wounded, but are in a fair way of recovery. Col. Burton and Sir John Sinclair were also wounded, and I hope will get over it.
Sir Peter Halket, with many other brave officers, was killed on the field. I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me.
It is supposed we left 300 or more dead on the field; about that number we brought off wounded, and it is imagined, with great notice, too, that two-thirds of both these numbers received their shots from our own cowardly dogs of soldiers who gathered themselves into a body, contrary to orders, 10 or 12 deep; would then level and fire and shoot down the men before them.
I tremble at the consequence this defeat may have on the back inhabitants, who I suppose will all leave their habitations unless proper measures are taken for their security. Col. Dunbar, who commands at present, intends as soon as his men are recruited at this place, to continue his march to Philadelphia into winter quarters, so that there will be none left here unless the poor remains of the Virginia troops who now are and will be too small to guard our frontier.
As Capt. Orme is now writing to your Honor, I doubt not that he will give you a circumstantial account of all things which will make it needless for me to add more.
Washington arrived home at Mt. Vernon on June 26. Dunbar left for England in November. Washington wrote to his mother from Fort Cumberland, 18th July, 1755, in almost the same words, adding:
Captains Orme and Morris, two of the aides-de-camp, were wounded early in the engagement, which rendered the duty harder upon me, as I was the only person then left to distribute the general's orders; which I was scarcely able to do, as I was not half recovered from a violent illness that had confined me to my bed and a wagon for above ten days. I am still in a weak and feeble condition, which induces me to halt here two or three days, in the hope of recovering a little strength, to enable me to proceed homewards, from when I fear, I shall not be able to stir till towards September; so that I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till then, unless it be in Fairfax....
Washington began this letter by addressing his mother, "Honored Madam," and in conclusion said: "I am, Honored Madam, your most dutiful son." To his brother, John Augustine, he wrote at the same time:
As I have heard since my arrival at this place a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first and of assuring you that I have not yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt; although death was levelling my companions on every side of me. (6 )
Major Patrick Mackellar, who afterward attained distinction at Quebec, accompanied Braddock as engineer, with Robert Gordon and one Williamson as assistants. All three were wounded. It is remarkable that amid the turmoil and panic of that terrible day they were able to make the maps which are still available. Parkman, who has used everything pertaining to this history, reproduces them in his work "Montcalm and Wolfe."
For the purpose of illustrating the ground, Mackellar's maps as printed by Parkman are presented, and the references also, and afterwards apportioned to the present locus, that is, as we know the ground. The following notes are from Mackellar's map No. 1, entitled: "A sketch of the field of Battle of July 9th upon the Monongahela seven miles from Fort Du Quesne, showing the Disposition of the Troops when the Action began."
It is obvious Mackellar's reference characters must be described. The parallelograms indicate British troops, the long lines expressing the number of files. Small circles show French and Indians; black crosses, cannon and howitzers; square with a short vertical line on the top, wagons, carts and tumbrils; the heavy letter I, cattle and pack horses. Mackellar's verbatim references are: A--French and Indians when first discovered by the Guides. B--Guides and six light Horse. C--Vanguard of the Advanced Party. D--Advanced Party commanded by Lt. Col. Gage. E--Working Party commanded by Sir John St. Clair. F--Two Field Pieces. G--Waggons with Powder and Tools. H--Rear Guard of Advanced Party. I--(light letter) Light Horse leading the Convoy. K--Sailors and Pioneers with a Tumbril of Tools, etc. L--Three Field Pieces. M--The General's guard. N--Main Body upon the Flanks of the Convoy, with the Cattle and Pack Horses between them and the Flank Guard. O--Field Piece in ye Rear of ye Convoy. P--Rear Guards. Q--Flank Guards. R--A Hollow Way. S--A Hill which the French and Indians did much of their Execution from. T--Frazier's Horse [House?]. The tumbrils were two-wheeled carts conveying tools, etc.
Mackellar's map No. 2 is entitled: "A sketch of the Field of Battle showing the disposition of the troops about 2 o'clock when the whole of the main body had joined the advance and working partys, then beat back from the ground they occupied as in plan No. 1."
His notes are as follows: A--French and Indians skulking behind Trees round the British. B--Two Field Pieces of advanced Party abandoned. C, D, E, H, K, M, N, Q--Whole Body of British joined with little or no Order; but endeavoring to make Fronts towards ye Enemies Fire. L--The 3 Field Pieces of the Main Body. P--Rear Guard divided (round rear of Convoy now closed up) behind Trees having been attacked by a few Indians. N. B.--The Disposition on both Sides continued about two hours nearly as here represented, the British endeavoring to recover the guns (F) and to gain the Hill (S) to no purpose. The British were at length beat from the Guns (L). The General was wounded soon after. They were at last beat across the Hollow Way (R) and made no further stand. The Retreat was full of Confusion and Hurry, but after a few Miles there was a Body got to rally.
With reference to present topography, the first map shows that the British left was at the Pennsylvania railroad and Corey avenue, the right at the river and Turtle Creek at Frazier's; the convoy spread out from this point as far west as Thirteenth street. The "Hollow Way" is just beyond Braddock Station on the Pennsylvania railroad. The British advance got as far north as Kirkpatrick avenue and Corey street in North Braddock borough. The French and Indians were massed on the south side of the railroad about Copeland Station; the main body of the British were north of the present line of the Pennsylvania tracks.
The second map shows the British huddled about the location of Braddock Station of that road, perhaps slightly above, surrounded on three sides, with an open way to the east. The convoys are shown at the railroad in front of the furnaces, a few Indians are on their left flank; French and Indians on right flank (though scattered) as far east as Bessemer Station, with skulking parties behind trees endeavoring to entirely surround the British. At the time of the battle Frazier's house was deserted. From there it was eight miles to Fort Duquesne by a rough path.
Mackellar was with Gage in the advance. Parkman says his map was never fully approved by the chief officers, presumably Gage and Burton, but it does correspond closely to one made by Capt. Orme, whose plan, the last of six, was engraved in 1758 and published by Jeffreys in his work, "General Topography of North America and the West Indies," London, 1768. This work contains a plan of Fort Duquesne also, which Jeffreys calls "le Quesne."
The defeat of Braddock and the flight of Dunbar left all the English frontiers open to the incursions of the Indians in alliance with the French, and most mercilessly they pressed the advantage. Though a chain of forts was built along the frontiers of Pennsylvania they were inadequate, too few in number and too far apart, hence easily avoided. The Delawares unders Shingiss and Captain Jacobs from Kittanning were the worst, if such could be, of all the demons that ravished the Province. Colonel John Armstrong, to punish these miscreants, marched from Fort Shirley, now Shirleysburg, in Huntingdon county, August 29, 1756, and reached Kittanning with his little force of 300 men September 7th at night. The town consisted of forty log cabins. A furious attack was made by Armstrong at daybreak, but the Indians fought with great desperation and maintained their position until Armstrong had the buildings set on fire. The whole town was destroyed and many Indians killed, including Captain Jacobs and his family, and a large amount of provisions and ammunition furnished by the French was consumed. Eleven English prisoners were released. Armstrong lost sixteen killed, twelved wounded and eighteen missing. Captain Hugh Mercer was among the wounded and left behind, and as from Braddock's battle was obliged to make his way back to the settlements. He lived to return with Forbes two years later.
There was now a tremendous outcry and a general panic. The Indians, hounded on by the French and swarming in from the north and west, frequently led, too, by Canadian partisans, threw themselves upon the almost defenceless frontier of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and rolled it back amid an orgie of blood and fire and tears; while Washington in command of 1,000 ill-disciplined and badly officered militiamen, was set the hopeless task of defending a line of nearly 400 miles in length.
He was only three and twenty, but was regarded as the natural protector of the colonies now threatened, and his letters from the western settlements of Virginia throughout this autumn, winter and spring give a harrowing picture of the Indian terror that he was endeavoring to combat. From the thrifty settlements of the Scotch Irishmen, and the more adventurous among the Germans which were thickly sprinkled along the eastern trough of the Alleghenies, came flying in crowds, horse, foot and wagons, through the mountain passes. "They came through by the fifties at a time," writes Washington, "and talk of surrendering to the French if no help comes from below." Braddock's road from the Ohio he speaks of as being beaten hard with moccasined feet, as if an army had been over it, while all the Western forests were alive with Indians. In Maryland, a little later, he counted 300 wagons in three days hurrying from the wasted settlements. From North Carolina to Western New York men were scalped and murdered by hundreds, and women and children in still greater numbers either treated in like fashion or driven into captivity behind the Alleghenies. The tears and supplications of the refugees were a daily torment to this at once tender and brave-hearted young leader of men, who chafed at the impotence to which he was consigned by bad and inefficient soldiers, worse officers, and a lack of everything but scurrilous abuse.
Regarding the question of precedence, Irving states in his "Life of Washington," Knickerbocker Edn., Vol. I, pp. 287-288:
February 4, 1756, Washington set out for Boston, to consult with Major-general Shirley, who had succeeded Braddock in the general command of the colonies. In those days the conveniences of traveling, even between our main cities, were few, and the roads execrable. The party, therefore, traveled in Virginia style, on horseback, attended by their black servants in livery. In this way they accomplished a journey of five hundred miles in the depth of winter, stopping for some days at Philadelphia and New York. Those cities were then comparatively small, and the arrival of a party of young Southern officers attracted attention. The last disastrous battle was still the theme of every tongue, and the honorable way in which these young officers had acquitted themselves in it made them objects of universal interest. Washington's fame, especially, had gone before him, and by the public honors decreed him by the Virginia Legislature. "Your name," wrote his former fellow-campaigner, Gist, in a letter dated in the preceding autumn, "is more talked of in Philadelphia than that of any other person in the army, and everybody seems willing to venture under your command."
Washington remained ten days in Boston, attending with great interest the meetings of the Massachusetts Legislature, in which the plan of military operations was ably discussed. After receiving the most hospitable attentions from the polite and intelligent society of the place, he returned to Virginia, for the French had made another sortie from Fort Duquesne, accompanied by a band of savages, and were spreading terror and desolation though the country. Horrors accumulated at Winchester. Every hour brought its tale of terror, true or false, of houses burnt, families massacred, or beleaguered and famishing in stockade forts. The danger approached. A scouting party had been attacked in the Warm Spring Mountain, about twenty miles distant, by a large body of French and Indians, most on horseback. The captain of the scouting party and several of his men had been slain, and the rest put to flight.
An attack on Winchester was apprehended, and the terrors of the people rose to agony. They turned to Washington as their main hope. The women surrounded him, holding up their children, and imploring him with tears and cries to save them from the savages. The youthful commander looked around on the suppliant crowd with a countenance beaming with pity, and a heart wrung with anguish. A letter to Governor Dinwiddie shows the conflict of his feelings.
"I am too little acquainted with pathetic language to attempt a description of these people's distresses. But what can I do? I see their situation; I know their danger, and participate in their sufferings, without having it in my power to give them further relief than uncertain promises." "The supplicating tears of the women, and moving petitions of the men, melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy provided that would contribute to the people's ease." (8)
The unstudied eloquence of this letter drew from the governor an instant order for a militia force from the upper countries to his assistance. The Legislature, too, began, at length to act, but timidly and inefficiently. "The country knows her danger," writes one of the members, "but such is her parsimony that she is willing to wait for the rains to wet the powder, and the rats to eat the bowstrings of the enemy, rather than attempt to drive them from her frontiers." (9)
The historian Bradley draws a sorry picture of the indifference of the aristocracy of Virginia and the character of the troops recruited for border service. The utter apathy of the landed gentry was appalling. The region about Fort Duquesne was claimed by Virginia. The incursions of the red marauders began at that French fort and extended to the Carolinas. The scenes of horror depicted in the accounts were the same on all parts of the frontier. The French while in control of the Upper Ohio region brought as great horrors upon Virginia as Pennsylvania. The four years of French control were absolutely years of horror. One may quote the incisive Bradley again:
He had now been over two years at the frontier village of Winchester, in the valley of Virginia, eating his heart out in vain endeavors to stem the hordes of Indians led by Frenchmen, who swarmed across the stricken borders of the middle colonies. "I have been posted," he wrote in the preceding spring, "for more than twenty months on our cold and barren frontiers to perform, I think I may say, an impossibility; that is, to protect from the cruel incursion of a crafty savage enemy, a line of inhabitants more than three hundred and fifty miles in extent, with a force inadequate to the task." He was still only twenty-five, but a head and shoulders above any colonial soldier outside of New England. He had no chance of gain or glory with his thousand or so "poor whites," ill-paid and discontented, and recruited with infinite difficulty. His officers were often of no better discipline. One of them he tells us, sent word on being ordered to his post, that he could not come as his wife, his family and his corn crop, all required his attention. "Such," says Washington, "such the behavior of the men, and upon such circumstances the safety of this country depends." Three colonies, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, with some half-million whites, to say nothing of rude and populous North Carolina, could only wring from this large population a wretched, half-hearted militia of 2,000 men, recruited largely from the burnt-out victims of the frontier. Where, one may well ask, were the squires of Virginia and Maryland, who swarmed along the eastern counties of both provinces, and whose comfortable homesteads reached to within a hundred miles of the scene of this bloody war, of their fellow-countrymen's long agony, and of the impudent invasion of their country? To mention a dozen or two young men of this class who rallied to Washington, would only be to aggravate the case, if such were possible, in the face of these statistics. Men of substance and education, accustomed to horse and gun, by feelings of patriotism or vengeance, and apparently untouched by the clash of arms and the ordinary martial instincts of youth. Their grandfathers had fought; their sons were to fight; their descendants were in the last civil war to be among the bravest of the brave. What was this generation doing at such a moment? Washington, whose local patriotism no one will dispute and whose example shone like a beacon light amid the gloom, cursed them often and soundly in his letters for doing nothing. It was fortunate for these colonies that Pitt came forward to save them.
Washington was giving up a life of ease and comfort, neglecting an estate to whose management he was greatly attached, and those field sports, which, next to fighting, were the passion of his life. Here, however, on this shaggy blood-stained frontier, without means to fight effectively, neither glory nor even thanks were to be gained. He lost his temper more than once, and wrote incontrovertible but imprudent letters to the Virginia authorities at Williamsburg, falling thereby into the bad books of the gentlemen who regarded the State of the frontier with such prodigious equanimity. (10)
The groundwork for the account of Forbes' expedition that follows will be found in that admirable work of Francis Parkman, to which reference may be had.
The plans of Pitt to drive the French from their American possessions designed to capture Louisburg on Cape Breton Island, Forts Ticonderoga and Duquesne. Louisburg fell, Ticonderoga was saved by the skill of Montcalm. Frontenac, however, fell also, and with its fall Duquesne was untenable. Far off in the wilderness it was cut off from its base of supplies and the garrison could not live off the country. Forbes found that out later.
As to Forbes, properly a few words of biography are in order. He was born in Pittincrief, Fifeshire, Scotland, in 1710. He was educated for a physician, but preferring a military life entered the British army, and in 1745 had advanced to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, serving in the Scots Greys. He served under the Duke of Cumberland as acting quartermaster-general and late in 1757 came to America a brigadier-general. He had seen hard service in the continental wars. April, 1758, found Forbes still in Philadelphia, as yet without an army. The provincials were yet to be enlisted and the Highlanders had not arrived. It was about this time that the general was attacked with the painful and dangerous malady which would have disabled a less resolute man, and which ultimately caused his death.
The forces as made up for Forbes' little army consisted of provincials from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, the Highlanders, 1,200 in number, and a detachment of Royal Americans, amounting in all, says Parkman, to between 6,000 and 7,000 men. Other historians estimate the force at 8,000 men. Parkman's estimate includes the wagoners and camp followers.
These were crude material, unruly and recalcitrant to discipline. They brought a mass of worthless stuff to the rendezvous at Carlisle. Old provincial muskets, the locks of many tied on with strings, fowling pieces, now known as shot guns; some carried only walking sticks, and not a few had never fired a gun in their lives. Except a few of the officers, and these of the higher ranks, Forbes characterized the whole body of officers to Pitt as "an extremely bad collection of broken innkeepers, horse jockeys and Indian traders." Forbes was no more flattering toward the men. It was a strangely heterogeneous body that came under his command; but in the end "they were moulded into an efficient organization." (11)
One can read with tender feelings the extracts from Forbes' letters en route. Restoring order at Carlisle, in suffering he writes: "I have been and still am poorly, today with a cursed flux, but shall move day after tomorrow." But he did not. It was August 9th when he wrote again: "I am now able to write after three weeks of the most violent and tormenting distemper, which, thank God, seems now abated as to pain, but has left me as weak as a new-born infant. However, I hope to have strength enough to set out from this place on Friday next." Forbes' malady was an inflammation of the stomach, involving other vital organs. When Forbes should have been in bed with complete repose, he was disturbed, yea, distressed, with the details and worries of an extremely arduous campaign for which he was in no wise physically competent.
The delays and vexations that wearied the staunch Scotch commander have taken up pages of history. Indeed, the whole story of Francis Parkman, John Fiske, Justin Winsor, Isaac D. Rupp, Albert Bushnell Hart--what historian has not been impressed with the story of the "Head of Iron" and the capture of Fort Duquesne without a blow?
One thing commendable in Forbes was his method of marching--not encumbered like Braddock with immense trains in the wilderness. When finally Forbes had got under way he pushed on by slow stages and "did not hesitate," says Parkman, "to embrace heresies which would have driven Braddock to fury."
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Bouquet, a brave and accomplished Swiss, commanded one of the battalions of the Royal Americans, a new organization containing many Pennsylvania Germans. Early in June, Bouquet, with the advance guard, encamped at Raystown, where he built Fort Bedford.
Dinwiddie had been superseded as governor of Virginia by Lieutenant-Governor Francis Fauquier, a friend of Washington, to whom Dinwiddie had taken a violent dislike and treated the country's future father with contempt.
Washington prepared to join Forbes' expedition against Fort Duquesne although his intention had been to abandon a military life. He proceeded to gather his scattered regiments at Winchester and found the assembling forces destitute of everything needful. This necessitated the journey of the youthful colonel to Williamsburg and it was on this journey that he met the fair young widow, best known in history as Martha Washington.
Washington proceeded with his force to Fort Cumberland on the Potomac, arriving there July 2, 1758, and then proceeded to open a road, a distance of thirty miles, to Raystown, now Bedford, Pennsylvania, where Col. Bouquet was stationed.
The fate of Braddock had impressed itself deeply on the British commanders. It inspired a caution that was necessary. Washington, skilled in frontier service, at once became a valuable aid and adviser to both Bouquet and Forbes.
Forbes, who relied greatly on Bouquet, liked also Colonel James Burd. He treated Washington with consideration and respect. He expressed disgust for Sir John Sinclair, who had been Braddock's quartermaster-general, and his inefficiency. He was justly displeased with his provincial troops.
August 11th, Forbes left Carlisle, carried on a kind of a litter made of a hurdle slung between two horses. No wonder he was compelled to stop at Shippensburg complaining that the journey had raised his disorder and pains to such a degree that they became intolerable. He lay helpless in Shippensburg until late in September, writing anon of his weak state and excruciating pains and his sufferings both of body and mind. His letters are pathetic in the full sense of the word. He unjustly condemns Washington in the dispute that arose as to the route, Washington in the interest of Virginia favoring the Braddock road, necessitating the march of the army to Fort Cumberland at Wills Creek on the Potomac to make the start. Forbes, however, made his own road, which has gone into history under his name.
Few people think of Pittsburgh as the scene of a battle, yet many of us tread daily a battle ground unthinkingly. Forbes was then on his way to Raystown, arriving at the Loyalhanna, October 5th.
October 14, 1758, the rear division was marching on Loyalhanna and the advance party there had been attacked two days previously by a force of 1,700 French and two hundred Indians, the engagement lasting from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., when the enemy drew off. They returned to the attack at night, but were repulsed. Here the casualties of Forbes' troops were twelve killed, seventeen wounded and thirty-one missing. Grant had lost two hundred and seventy killed, forty-two wounded and some prisoners. The founding of Pittsburgh it will be noted, was not altogether without bloodshed. It was not until November 18th that Forbes, with the rear division, was able to advance. He arrived at the Forks on the night of the 25th. His feelings of joy may be imagined. His toils and his sufferings had won reward. Neither were over. There was the return to civilization, and the increase in pain with each day to be reckoned with. The bare facts of history in the march and victory of Forbes are thrilling enough. When we include the human interest side, our feelings are swayed by the grandeur of the man and the pathos of his condition.
It was not an exultant army that came over the rugged Alleghenies in the winter, whose bloodless victory under their intrepid, invalid commander won for England a magnificent point of vantage and struck a mortal blow to French power in America.
It was not a cheerful occasion for the founding of a great city. We can see a weary, half starved body of once hardy men in the bleakness of that November day looking only on desolation and solitude. The inspiration of their dying chief must have been supreme. His iron will and unconquerable spirit must have strongly appealed to these men. It buoyed them up; it raised their hopes. Undoubtedly they communed with each other saying: "If our suffering general can stand it, why not we?" They too were brave spirits of their stormy times.
Inauspicious as the birth of our city is shown to have been, in the story of its founding we read courage, devotion, success, triumph. Had not the French retreated, what the battle the intrepid Forbes had waged? Retreat he could not. It was victory or death. No wonder in his lurid language the great leader so vehemently expressed himself. He knew the peril, the extreme peril, of his position. He must show no shadow of doubt--fear he could not. It was not in him.
We may well believe that Forbes saw the advantage of the Forks of the Ohio as a military situation and that he knew in the new land of America the fortification became the nucleus of the town that soon grew around it. Washington five years previously had made a note of the topography and carefully examined it. (Journal 1753, November 23rd). Forbes not only named the fort he ordered to be built immediately, but doubly honored the great Premier by bestowing it upon the place also, and then and there Forbes gave our city its name, spelling the name as it is authoritatively spelled. In a letter to Governor Denny of Pennsylvania on November 26th, the day after the capture, he says: "I have called the place Pittsburgh."
Eight days later Bouquet, in the minutes of a conference with the Delaware, signed them: "At Pitts-bourgh, December 4, 1758."
In stern justice, Forbes could have honored or had himself honored in the name Forbesburg, and the whole British nation would have applauded. But the heroic soul was modest, so he honored the great Commoner, with keen appreciation of the master mind of William Pitt. So Pittsburgh it has ever been, and we of Pittsburgh, sensible of the appropriateness, and recognizing the self-sacrifice and modesty of the suffering hero, have been ever proud of the name and mindful that it commemorates one of the world's great characters--the brilliant, eloquent, popular prime minister of Great Britain, in later years the Earl of Chatham, friend of the colonists of the British Empire in North America, who when he became the first minister of the realm saw with enlightened vision the policy of treating those colonies with generosity and confidence, thus gaining their affections and bringing such generous support to the government in the war with the French and Indians that the conquest of Canada was achieved and French dominion in North America utterly destroyed. Within the city's limits that bears the name of Pitt, the first staggering blow was struck by the indomitable Forbes and the French dream--passion for empire--first began to fade away. In the founding of that city there were few formalities and these military in character. Practically the name Pittsburgh preceded the birth, for the first physical act was the erection of the small fort for the garrison, necessary to hold the place. It will appear that here again the fates were kind, for the winter that ensued was of such rare severity that the French and Indians could not return to drive Mercer and his little band away, or capture them.
The founding of the city as usually regarded was by the occupation of the peninsula between the two rivers by Forbes' army. Then too, the sovereignty of the region changed. A new king exercised the power, the Hanoverian soldier, George the Second, destined to reign but two years longer, and then his grandson, George the Third. In the promulgation of the change of sovereignty a new standard was raised--it was the royal standard of St. George. A bas then the fleur-de-lis, marking an end of French intrigue and French power forever. Exit the Gaul and all things Gallic. Enter a virile race, and a new regime begins; to last seventeen years.
The inclination to dwell upon this historic scene is strong. It is possible to dress it in garments of rich imagery. We of Pittsburgh, familiar with the locality, passing our lives within easy reach of it, knowing well the weather conditions of the late season and the November skies when dusk has come and night is coming on, can readily call up the bleakness of the hour and see the driving eddies as the snow falls briskly on the dismal bivouac of Forbes' men. We can hear the swish of the rapid waters of the Allegheny as they sweep past--as we have heard them many a time and oft. We know well the wide expanse of water where the more sluggish and less clear Monongahela joins to form the Beautiful River; we know the background now, and may picture its appearance then--the rugged, wooded hills with an extensive flat extending towards the rivers, and interspersed with morass and ponds. We can ponder on the solemnity of the ceremony; the formal taking possession. We may ascribe deep thankfulness in Forbes' heart and can believe he murmured to himself: "Now I can die content. I have given my life to King and country, and in the last of my slowly ebbing days I have won a long sought goal. I have earned fame, too; God has been kind to me. My name will live."
A Pittsburgh historian pictures the scene aptly: "As a wild snowstorm was deepening the dusk into black night, the banner of England was hoisted over one of the ruined bastions by Colonel Armstrong; and the 'Iron Head' christened the place anew. Bearing in mind the great statesman who brought about the change of flags, and had honored him by making him the instrument for its attainment, Forbes called the collection of ruined cabins PITTSBURGH."
"Long as the Monongahela and the Allegheny shall flow to form the Ohio, long as the English tongue shall be the language of freedom in the boundless valley which their waters traverse, his name shall stand inscribed on the Gateway of the West." (12)
The march of Forbes and his little army was exhausting in the extreme and only the grim determination of the commander brought success. Bradley, an Englishman, writing of the weather conditions of the season, says:
Autumn on the Atlantic slope of North America is of all seasons the most stimulating and delightful. Rain, as a rule, falls sparingly, or in short spells, and nature decked in a raiment gorgeous beyond dreams, and rarely ruffled by storm or tempest, slumbers in balmy silence beneath an azure sky. Poor Forbes, like Washington, upon nearly the same ground four years earlier, encountered, and in an even worse degree, one of those climatic exceptions that prove the rule. Rain fell persistently, and fell in torrents, while premature snow storms filled his cup of misery to the brim. On the lower grounds the new-made road was impassable with liquid mud; on the mountain slopes the torrents swept it away as fast as it was made. Forage began to get scarce and the horses became poor and weak. The prospect lately so hopeful, seemed now well-nigh desperate. Bouquet labored hard, against the warring elements, the miry swamps, the torrent-riven mountains, and with transport horses growing daily weaker. Forbes, whose indomitable will, rather than improving health, had forced him on to the soaking misery of Loyalhanna, still gave his orders in person. Tortured with pain, and scarce able to stand, he would listen to no suggestions of abandoning in the attempt or of himself returning to those comforts which were his only chance of life.
On the return to Philadelphia, through all the wilderness part of the march, the men each day built a rude hut in which they placed a stone fireplace for the comfort of the dying general. One night, through some mishap, the suffering Forbes became insensible through long waiting in the bitter cold, before fire and shelter could be provided. It took some time to bring him to by applications of cordials and other stimulants. However, the return march was not made with the gloom of the march out. Forbes left here December 3, 1758, as Post records in his Journal, and reached Philadelphia on his return January 14, 1759. His condition was pitiful in the extreme. The terrible journey of about five hundred miles in winter, carried all the way, is unimaginable. Great enthusiasm greeted him in the city. He had completeed his task and all was well but himself. He survived two months only, dying on March 9th, having drawn the breath of pain and anguish for many days. No one has a better title to honor and remembrance than he. We have Forbes street [today Forbes Avenue] in his commemoration. It is slight enough.
In the building of the first Fort Pitt or the fort temporarily used the first winter of the English occupation, Forbes had but little part. He remained at the site of Fort Duquesne but eight days. When the fort was under way he left. It was a matter of extreme doubt whether or not his faithful men would not carry him into Philadelphia a corpse.
Craig says that: "Mr. Ross used to relate a story that had come down by tradition. The disease which proved fatal to Forbes increased so rapidly on the march, that in approaching Fort Duquesne he had to be carried on a litter. This excited remark and derision among the Indians. To counteract unfavorable impressions, it was stated that the British chief had a temper so impetuous and irascible and combative that it was not thought safe to trust him at large, even among his own people, but that the practice was to let him out on the eve of battle." (13) This assertion of Forbes' irascibility has been ascribed to Conrad Weiser, always politic and a diplomat by instinct and intuition.
Craig has furnished us these items, from Franklin's newspaper, headed, "Death of General Forbes:"
Extract from the Pennsylvania Gazette, published at Philadelphia on the 18th of January, 1759.
Last night General Forbes arrived in town, when the guns were fired and bells rung.
The following notice of the death of General Forbes is from the same paper of the 15th of March, 1759:
"On Sunday, last, died of a tedious illness, John Forbes, Esq., in the 49th year of his age, son to ----- Forbes, Esq., of Pittencrief, in the Shire of Fife, in Scotland, Brigadier General, Colonel of the 17th Regiment of Foot, and Commander of his Majesty's troops in the Southern Provinces of North America; a gentleman generally known and esteemed, and almost sincerely and universally regretted. In his younger days he was bred to the profession of physic, but, early ambitious of the military character, he purchased into the regiment of Scot's Grey Dragoons, where, by repeated purchases and faithful services, he arrived to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His superior abilities soon recommended him to the protection of General Campbell, of Earl of Stair, Duke of Bedford, Lord Ligonier, and other distinguished characters in the army: with some them as an aid; with the rest in the familiarity of a family man. During the last war he had the honor to be employed in the post of Quarter-Master General, in the army under his Royal Highness, the Duke, which he discharged with accuracy, dignity and dispatch. His services in America are well known. By a steady pursuit of well concerted measures, in defiance of disease and numberless obstructions, he brought to a happy issue a most extraordinary campaign, and made a willing sacrifice of his own life to what he valued more--the interests of his king and country. As a man he was just and without prejudice; brave without ostentation; uncommonly warm in his friendships, and incapable of flattery; acquainted with the world and mankind, he was well bred, but absolutely impatient of formality and affectation. As an officer, he was quick to discern useful men and useful measures, generally seeing both at first view, according to their real qualities; steady in his measures, and open to information and council; in command he had dignity without superciliousness; and though perfectly master of the forms, never hesitated to drop them, when the spirit and more essential parts of the service required it.
Most graphically Dahlinger describes the arrival of Forbes in Pittsburgh:
In the morning the entire army moved forward, eagerly but cautiously. The commander would not allow haste for fear of running into some unknown danger. During the last three miles of the march, the army passed the scattered bodies of those who had fallen two months before, at the defeat of Grant. The route fell into a long open racepath, where the savages had been wont to pass their prisoners through the ordeal of the gauntlet. On either side, a long row of naked stakes was planted in the ground, on each of which, grinned in decaying ghastliness, the severed head of a Highlander, while beneath was exhibited his kilt. This was the Indians' way of displaying their contempt for the "petticoat warriors" who had run away at the time of Grant's rout.
The early winter dusk was stealing on when the army emerged from the leafless woods and reached the height where Grant had been so terribly punished. Here a short halt was ordered. Before them on the level plain below, were the smoking ruins of the fort. Thirty chimneys rose naked above the ashes of as many houses. Not a Frenchman was to be seen. After the commands had been reformed, with flags flying, drums beating and bagpipes playing, the army marched down the elevation to the plain and onward to the fort. The southern Indians were in advance; after them Colonel Washington and Colonel Armstrong, at the head of the provincials led the way. Of the provincials, Washington's Virginians in their hunting shirts and Indian blankets came first; then followed the Pennsylvanians in green uniforms turned up with buff. Most of the other provincials marched in the dress, now torn and ragged, that they had worn when leaving their usual vocations; interspersed were frontiersmen dressed in buckskins with fringed hunting shirts, leggins and moccasins, and wearing coon-skin caps. Then came General Forbes, now terribly wasted, reclining on his own litter, but with bright eyes and eager interest, directing the march. Colonel Bouquet rode in front of the Royal Americans, who followed the provincials. Their three-cornered hats, and dark scarlet uniforms faced with blue, contrasted markedly with the diversely-clad provincials. The Highlanders, in bonnets and kilts and belted plaids, in a long picturesque line, under their colonel, Montgomery, brought up the rear. Not a spectator was there to observe that imposing martial array but a few vagabond Indians, who had remained to tell of the departure of the Frenchmen. (15)
Washington was present alongside of Forbes and Bouquet and John Armstrong and Hugh Mercer and other noted soldiers of the time at the occupation of the site of Fort Duquesne, November 25, 1758. Of the fort but some smoking ruins of the stockade remained. In a letter to Governor Fauquier of Virginia, dated "Camp at Fort Duquesne, 28 November, 1758," Washington writes:
Sir:--I have the pleasure to inform you that Fort Du Quesne, or the ground rather on which it stood was possessed by his Majesty's troops on the 25th instant. The enemy after letting us get within a day's march of the place, burned the Fort, and ran away by the light of it, at night, going down the Ohio by water to the number of about five hundred men, according to our best information. This possession of the Fort has been a matter of surprise to the whole army, and we cannot attribute it to more probable causes than the weakness of the enemy, want of provisions, and the defection of the Indians.
Of these circumstances we were luckily informed by three prisoners, who providentially fell into our hands at Loyal Hanna, where we despaired of proceeding further.
A council of war determined that it was not advisable to advance this season beyond that place but the above information caused us to march on without tents or baggage, and with only a light train of artillery. We have thus happily succeeded. It would be tedious, and I think unnecessary, to relate every trivial circumstance that has happened since my last. To do this, if needful, shall be the employment of a leisure hour when I shall have the pleasure to pay my respects to Your Honor.
The general intends to wait here a few days to settle matters with the Indians, and then all the troops except a sufficient garrison to secure the place, will march to their respective governments.
Note that Pittsburgh was founded at the time by mere chance--the capture of the prisoners who gave the information that pushed the tired and hungry troops the fifty miles that lay between them and the fort. Of the fatiguing character of the expedition Washington reminds the governor in these words:
I cannot help premising in this place, of the hardships they (the Virginia troops) have undergone, and of their naked condition that you may judge if it is not essential for them to have some little recess from fatigue and time to provide themselves with necessaries. At present they are destitute of every comfort of life. If I do not get your orders to the contrary, I shall march the troops under my command directly to Winchester. They may then be disposed of as you shall afterwards direct.
Washington is here hopeful of lasting results. He urges the maintenance of a strong garrison at the "Forks" and urges that Virginia should not neglect any means in her power to hold the place. This was Washington's second visit to the Forks of the Ohio, the first in 1753 with Gist, coming down the Monongahela from Frazier's cabin at Turtle Creek.
About five hundred French retreated, part going down the Ohio, and some overland with the French commander, De Lignery, to Presque Isle and Venango. The fort at the latter place was called by the French Machault. Bancroft's description is pertinent. He says:
As Armstrong's own hand raised the British flag over the ruined bastions of the fortress, as the banners of England floated over the waters, the place at the suggestion of Forbes was with one voice called Pittsburgh.
It is the most enduring monument to William Pitt. America raised to his name statues that have been wrongfully broken and piles of granite of which not one pile remains upon another, but as long as the Allegheny shall flow to form the Ohio, as long as the English tongue shall be the language of freedom, in the boundless valley which their waters traverse, his name shall stand inscribed on the gateway of the West.
John Burk, followed by Irving, says Washington raised the flag over the ruins. Burk should have known. He lived in Virginia in Washington's years and had opportunity to learn the fact. Historians generally ascribe the flag raising to Col. John Armstrong, hero of Kittanning. (16)
Bradley tells well the story of subsequent events:
It now only remained to make the fort good for the reception of a winter garrison, and to re-name it. The heroic Forbes had entirely collapsed from the fatigue of the march, and for some days his life was hanging in the balance. Once again, however, the strong will conquered and he was carried out among his men to superintend their operations. A new and suitable name for the conquered fortress was not hard to find, and Duquesne became Fort Pitt, after the great minister whose spirit had here, as everywhere, been the source of British triumph. Colonel Mercer, with some Virginians and Pennsylvanians, was left in charge of the fort, and towards the close of December, Forbes stretched upon his litter, was borne feet foremost in the midst of his remaining troops on the weary homeward journey through the freezing forests. Though his weakness and his suffering grew worse rather than better, his mind at last, was now at ease. His task was accomplished and Ticonderoga was the only failure of the year. The French were driven from the West, their connections between Canada and Louisiana severed, their prestige with the Indians broken, and the demon of Indian warfare on the Allegheny frontier apparently laid. That all this might have been achieved the next year, or the year after, is no answer to the decisive nature of Forbes' work. There might have been no next year, or year after, for military achievements in America. Peace in Europe was at any moment possible. Events there might take a sudden turn that would make boundary lines on the American wilderness appear to most men a secondary matter. Pitt cherished no such illusions now; his intentions to drive the French from America were fixed and clear. But circumstances at home might weaken his arm; or he might die, for his life was none of the best, and it was of vital import that every stroke should be driven home before a general peace was made. A French garrison anywhere in America would have been hard to move by diplomatic means when once the sword was sheathed. (17)
The little garrison left by General Forbes to hold the now historic Forks of the Ohio had much to do. Their first duties were sad in the extreme. The bodies of those who had fallen in the fatal engagement on Grant's Hill yet lay scattered on the field, scalped and mutilated. These were gathered and given Christian interment. Then burial parties went to Braddock's battleground and gathered the whitened bones of those sacrificed there, and these were also committed to soldiers' graves. The capture of Fort Duquesne was hailed everywhere throughout the colonies as a harbinger of better days. The ambitious views of the French in extending their settlements to the Mississippi had been frustrated; the friendship of the Indians had been regained. They were no longer the allies of the French and herein is the story of the daring and suffering of Christian Frederick Post. Conferences were immediately held at the site of Duquesne and the Delawares were the first to sue for peace. This conference was held by Colonel Bouquet, with George Croghan, deputy under Sir William Johnson, commissioner of Indian affairs, present, and Col. John Armstrong and other officers also, with Capt. Henry Montour interpreter.
Subsequent conferences were held at the new Fort Pitt, participated in by Colonel Mercer, Croghan, Trent and Thomas McKee, assistants to Croghan, with Montour, "Joe" Hickman and other interpreters. All the tribes that ranged the region seem to have participated and everything went along nicely until Pontiac decreed otherwise.
The French had occupied their stronghold here and the key to the West but a short time comparatively. Four years and eight months in all, but in that time an appalling amount of suffering and bloodshed had fallen upon the English. It was a period memorable for the terrors and cruelties of unsparing warfare from the time Ensign Edward Ward had been foiled at the approach of the formidable and motley-manned flotilla of Contrecoeur, leaving the unfinished fortification upon which rose Fort Duquesne, and happy indeed was the day when the proud flag of England floated in triumph from its fire-scathed walls.
Dr. Cyrus Townsend Brady esteems Forbes a hero if ever there was one. He calls attention to the fact that there is no mention of him in the "Encyclopedia Brittanica" and none in a monumental work entitled "The Dictionary of National Biography." Brady says Forbes was "a man of liberal and enlightened views, courteous in his bearing, and tactful in his methods, but determined--terribly resolute. By his generous and kindly manner, he attached to himself those whom Braddock and his officers had alienated by their contempt. The general was in himself a host."
Parkman says: "If Forbes' achievement was not brilliant, its solid value was above price. It opened the great West to English enterprise, took from France half her savage allies and relieved the Western borders from the scourge of Indian war. The frontier population had cause to bless the memory of the steadfast and all-enduring soldier."
It was the beginning of the end of New France in America, the passing of that strange civilization Parkman has so beautifully described when in reverie, to him:
Again their ghostly camp-fires seem to burn, and the fitful light is cast around on the lord and vassal and black-robed priest, mingled with wild forms of savage warriors, knit in close fellowship on the same stern errand. A boundless vision grows upon us, an untamed continent; vast wastes of forest verdure; mountains silent in primeval sleep; river, lake, and glimmering pool; wilderness oceans mingling with the sky. Such was the domain which France conquered for civilization. Plumed helmets gleamed in the shade of its forests, priestly vestments in its dens and fastnesses of ancient barbarism. Men steeped in antique learning, pale with the close breath of the cloister, here spent the noon and evening of their lives, ruled savage hordes with a mild hand, parental sway, and stood serene before the direst shapes of death. Men of courtly nurture, heirs to the polish of a far-reaching ancestry, here, with their dauntless hardihood, put to shame the boldest sons of toil.
It all passed, and in its stead there came that civilization that grew out of the march of the pioneers, whose emblem, an axe, was the symbol of progress. One highway of the marchers was through Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh grew apace thereby. Speaking of the Valley of the Mississippi a recent historian says:
The valley heard, as I have said, hardly a sound of the Seven Years' War, the "Old French War" as Parkman called it. Only on its border was there the slightest bloodshed. All it knew was that the fleur-de-lis flag no longer waved along its river and that after a few years, men came with axes and plows through the passes in the mountains carrying an emblem that had never grown in European fields--a new flag among national banners. They were bearing, to be sure, a constitution and institutions strange to France, but only less to England, and perhaps no less strange to other nations of Europe.
I emphasize this because our great debt to the English antecedents has obscured the fact that the great physical heritage between the mountains, consecrated of Gallic spirit, came, in effect, directly from the hands that won its first title, the French, into the hands of American settlers, at the moment when a "separate and individual people" were "springing into national life."
But this is the story of the "Winning of the West," in which Pittsburgh had its full share.
General Forbes and his army left Pittsburgh on December 3, 1758, and arrived in Philadelphia on January 17, 1759. The winter having set in, there was no possibility of erecting a permanent fort at the Forks, not alone by reason of weather conditions but for lack of workmen and materials. It was the firm intention of the British Government to hold the place at all hazards, for as it had been a vantage point for the French, it was to be likewise for the new power in control. Accordingly Forbes' men had immediately set to work to build a temporary fortification, the site slightly southeast of the ruins of Fort Duquesne. The cabins that had stood around the French fort were most destroyed, and as there had been much ground cleared about it, there was no delay in preparing a site for the new work. This was a square stockade with a bastion at each angle, and was erected on the banks of the Monongahela between what is now Liberty and West streets. The Map of Pittsburgh in 1795 shows that the eastern bastion crossed West street, and the western bastion extended to within 125 feet of the southerly line of Liberty street. From the plan obtained by William G. Johnston, the distance from one stockade to the opposite was 290 feet. (18)
Craig in his history states that it is not known precisely when this temporary work was completed; most probably about January 1, 1759, for Colonel Mercer, who was left in command, wrote on January 8th: "This garrison now consists of 280 men and is capable of some defense though huddled up in a very hasty manner, the weather being extremely severe."
A letter from William Pitt to Governor Denny, of Pennsylvania, shows that Fort Pitt was built by special orders from the King. The letter is dated Whitehall, January 23, 1759. An extract reads:
- (1) This is part of "Orme's Journal." See "History Expedition Against Fort Duquesne, etc;" Sargent, p. 349 et seq. "History of Pittsburgh;" Craig (Edition 1917). Return to Text
- (2) Orme's "Journal" ends here somewhat abruptly. See Sargent's "Expedition," etc., p. 357. Also "The Monongahela of Old," Chap. V. Return to Text
- (3) "Captain Jack, or Old Fort Duquesne," and "Our Western Border One Hundred Years Ago;" Charles McKnight. Both published in Pittsburgh. Return to Text
- (4) "Life of Washington;" W. Irving, Vol I, pp. 183-185. Return to Text
- (5) "Writings of George Washington, 1748-1757;" W. C. Ford, Vol. I, pp. 160-161. Return to Text
- (6) These letters in Spark's "Writings of Washington;' Vol II, pp. 86-89/ See also "George Washington;" W. C. Ford, Braddock matter, Vol I, p. 58, et seq. Washington closed the letter to John: "I am dear Jack your most affectionate brother, George Washington." Letter to mother in Niles' "Register," 1816, Vol. X, pp. 249-251. To Dinwiddie, "Pa. Mag. of Hist.," Vol. IX, pp. 237-239. Return to Text
- (7) "Fight with France," pp. 104-105. Return to Text
- (8) "Writings of George Washington;" W. C. Ford, Vol. I, p. 248. Return to Text
- (9) "Life of Washington;" Irving, Vol. I, pp. 226-229. Return to Text
- (10) "Fight with France for North America;" pp. 203-206. Return to Text
- (11) See "Expedition of Gen. Forbes Against Fort Duquesne;" Publications Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh, 1908, and "Letters of Gen. Forbes;" Ibid., Feb.-May, 1909. Return to Text
- (12) "1758--Being a Sketch of the Founding of Pittsburgh;" by Charles W. Dahlinger, 1908, p. 17. "History United States;" Bancroft, Vol. II, p. 495. Return to Text
- (13) "Olden Time;" Vol. I, p. 265. Senator James Ross, of Pittsburgh, is most probably referred to. Return to Text
- (14) "Olden Time;" Vol. I, pp. 189-190. Return to Text
- (15) "1758--Being a Sketch of the Founding of Pittsburgh, etc;" C. W. Dahlinger, pp. 16-17. Return to Text
- (16) "History of the United States;" Bancroft, Vol. II, p. 495. Irving's "Washington;" Vol. I, p. 288, and "History of Virginia;" Burk, Vol. III, p. 236, where we read: "A short time after the explosion, Colonel Washington, with the advanced guard, entered the fortress amidst the ruins still smoking, and planted the British flag; but the enemy were beyond reach of attack, having dropt down to their settlement at Presque'-isle and Venango." Return to Text
- (17) "Fight with France for North America;" pp. 283-284. Return to Text
- (18) "Life and Reminiscences," W. G. Johnston. See plan opposite his p. 22. Return to Text
By George T. Fleming, in Americana July 1922, pp 199-233.