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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Which sallied from Fort Duquesne under the orders of M


Twice

the attacking column had crossed the Monongahela by fording; it was leaving the plain which extended to some distance from Fort Duquesne, to enter the wood-path, when the advance-guard was all at once brought up by a tremendous discharge of artillery; a second discharge came almost immediately from the right. The English could not see their enemy; they were confused, and fell back upon General Braddock and the main body of the detachment who were coming up to their aid. The disorder soon became extreme. The regular troops, unaccustomed to this kind of warfare, refused to rally, in spite of the efforts of their general, who would have had them manoeuvre as in the plains of Flanders; the Virginia militia alone, recurring to habits of forest warfare, had dispersed, but without flying, hiding themselves behind the trees, and replying to the French or Indian sharpshooters.

[Illustration: Death of General Braddock----203]

Before long General Braddock received a mortal wound; his staff had fallen almost to a man; Colonel Washington alone, reserved by God for another destiny, still sought to rally his men. "I have been protected by the almighty intervention of Providence beyond every human probability," he wrote to his brother after the action. "I received four balls in my clothes, and I had two horses killed under me; nevertheless I came out of it safe and sound, whilst death was sweeping down my comrades around

me." The small English corps was destroyed; the fugitives communicated their terror to the detachment of Colonel Dunbar, who was coming to join them. All the troops disbanded, spiking the guns and burning the munitions and baggage; in their panic the soldiers asked no question save whether the enemy were pursuing them. "We have been beaten, shamefully beaten," wrote Washington, "by a handful of French whose only idea was to hamper our march. A few moments before the action we thought our forces almost a match for all those of Canada; and yet, against every probability, we have been completely defeated and have lost everything." The small French corps, which sallied from Fort Duquesne under the orders of M. de Beaujeu, numbered only two hundred Canadians and six hundred Indians. It was not until three years later, in 1758, that Fort Duquesne, laid in ruins by the defenders themselves, at last fell into the hands of the English, who gave to it, in honor of the great English minister, the name of Pittsburg, which is borne to this day by a flourishing town.

The courage of the Canadians and the able use they had the wits to make of their savage allies still balanced the fortunes of the war; but the continuance of hostilities betrayed more and more every day the inferiority of the forces and the insufficiency of the resources of the colony. "The colonists employed in the army, of which they form the greater part, no longer till the lands they had formerly cleared, far from clearing new ones," wrote the superintendent of Canada; "the levies about to be made will still further dispeople the country. What will become of the colony? There will be a deficiency of everything, especially of corn; up to the present the intention had been not to raise the levies until the work of spring was over. That indulgence can no longer be accorded, since the war will go on during the winter, and the armies must be mustered as early as the month of April. Besides, the Canadians are decreasing fast; a great number have died of fatigue and disease. There is no, relying," added the superintendent, "on the savages save so long as we have the superiority, and so long as all their wants are supplied." The government determined to send re-enforcements to Canada under the orders of the Marquis of Montcalm.


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