Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

this address, and payment was promised by the proposals for all waggons and horses lost; but the owners alleging that they knew nothing of the General, insisted on Franklin's bond for their due return. He had also to advance one thousand pounds in cash for the

government, at this time more than he received.

Hearing in this visit colonel Dunbar's officers complain of their want almost of the necessaries of a camp,

he suggested to the committee of the Pennsylvanian Assembly, that the supply of about twenty articles of provision and refreshment would be well received ; but this also must be accomplished with Franklinian method! Twenty horses therefore made their appearance in the camp one day, each laden with a parcel of the articles in question, addressed as a present to an officer; and our deputy left the camp the most popular man in the country.

Braddock's expedition, it is well known, was not successful. He was a mere disciplinarian, with a shallow mind; and, priding himself in his military education, had no idea of the difference between the European mode of warfare, and an American expedition through woods and morasses. Hence he treated with contempt the most essential local knowledge.

Franklin, while he characterizes him as a brave man, quickly saw the extent of his capacity. According to his own account, he was to take Fort Duquesne, which was a hundred and thirty miles from Wills' Creek, in a few days. Then, says he, “I am to proceed to Niagara, and having taken that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow time, and I suppose it will. Franklin observed to him, that certainly, when he should arrive with those troops and his train of artillery before Duquesne, though it was well fortified and garrisoned, it probably would soon fall; but that the danger he anticipated was from ambuscade, and the exposure of the army in its passage, as it must form a narrow line in its march, near four miles long, and might be cut like a thread into pieces by a watchful enemy, The General re

plied contemptuously, “ These savages may indeed be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia ; but upon the king's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they should make any impression.” He commenced his march on the 4th of June, at the head of about two thousand two hundred men; and, upon his arrival at the meadows where Washington kad been defeated the year before, he was informed that the French at Fort Duquesne expected a reinforcement of five hundred troops, and that he might therefore push forward with greater despatch; he left colonel Dunbar, with eight hundred men, at this place, to bring up the stores and baggage. He was not interrupted in his line of march in the

way

that Franklin had apprehended, but had arrived, on the 8th of July, within ten miles of Fort Duquesne, when a tremendous fire, which opened upon his advanced guard, gave him the first intimation of the presence of an enemy. So thick were the trees and bushes in this quarter, that no human being opposed to them could be seen; and his Indian guides having been dismissed in contempt, all was panic and confusion. The vanguard fell back upon the main body. Then the fire opened upon their Aank; and the general, instead of scouring the thickets and bushes, ordered his men to form with parade accuracy, as if to exhibit the officers more conveniently to the marksmen of the enemy.

They began to fall very fast ; and the soldiers, hearing no word of command, despaired of keeping together. Braddock at last, having had several horses shot under him, received a musket-ball through the lungs, and fell; then the route became general. Out of eighty-six officers, sixty-three were killed or wounded, and seven hundred and fourteen men. Şir Peter Falket fell hong the first fire, at the head of his regiment, and governor Shirley's son, Braddock's secretary, was killed soon after. The loss of the French and Indians is said to have hra siderable, as they were so well

ven very inconconcealed. Such of

the British as escaped, though not pursued, made their way to Dunbar's camp as fast as possible; where, communicating the like panic to him and his men, the whole decamped from the frontiers to Philadelphia. On the whole, says Dr Smollett, “ this was the most extraordinary victory that ever was obtained, and the farthest flight that ever was made."

Poor Braddock, being borne from the field with difficulty, died in a few days. One of his attendants told Franklin, that on the first day he was completely silent, and only said at night, “Who would have thought it!' On the second day he said nothing more than that he should know how better to deal with them another time, and expired shortly after. The waggons, baggage, and papers, of the general falling into the enemy's hands, Franklin was afterwards told in France, that there were copies of several, which Braddock had sent to the ministry, speaking highly of his services; but he had to meet at home with the more important opinions of the waggon-own ers and others. Some of them began tom. against him for his han

iu bring suits wunds, which amounted to 20,0001., and the payment of which would have been his complete ruin; but general Shirley appointed a commissioner to examine the claims, and finally ordered them to be discharged.

Just before the news of this defeat arrived at Philadelphia, some of Franklin's friends presented him with a subscription-paper for raising the expenses of an exhibition of fireworks, to be made when the news of taking Fort Duquesne should arrive. “It would, I think," said he, “ be time enough to prepare for the rejoicing, when we know we should have occasion to rejoice.

One of them afterwards said, he never liked Franklin's prognostications.

These events again roused Franklin's military ardour. A new volunteer association was formed, and 60,0001. voted by the assembly towards its establishment and expenses, to which the proprietaries themselves ordered 50001. to be added, as a sort of

The go:

apology for their exemption from the general tax. Franklin wrote a dialogue, proposing and answering all objections to such militia; and was prevailed upon, while the measure was maturing, to superintend the erection of a line of forts on the frontier. vernor gave him a sort of general's commission, with blank commissions for officers, to be distributed at his pleasure. His son, who had been an officer in the preceding war with Canada, acted as his aid-de-camp; and he soon had between five and six hundred men at his command.

In January 1756, sending forward one detachment of his men towards the Minisink, he proceeded with the main body to Guadenhut, a settlement of the Moravians near Salem, which had been recently destroyed by the enemy. They had first the unpleasant task of burying the numerous dead around them; when, considering this a good situation for the purpose, they proceeded to mark out one of their forts, which was to measure in circumference four hundred and fifty-five feet. Its external construction was of pines, formed into palisades of eighteen feet long, and an average of about one foot in diameter, planted in a trench of three feet deep within; a platform was erected of about six feet high, on which the men were to stand, and fire out of the loop-holes. Franklin says, that in six minutes their wood-cutters would cut down a pine of fourteen inches diameter. This fort, or stockade, was finished in a week, though the weather was very tempestuous; and though it mounted but one swivel-gun, was a sufficient defence against the Indians, who had no artillery. But they also had their tactics. Franklin was particularly struck with their mode of concealing their fires. Instead of kindling them on the surface of the ground, they dug holes of about three feet diameter, and as many deep, in which they burnt charcoal, and discovered neither fame, sparks, nor smoke.

While here, Franklin saw much of the manners of the Moravians; and remembering they had obtained

an act of parliament, exempting them from military duties in the colonies, was much surprised at first to find their chief settlement at Bethlehem so well de. fended and appointed. They had a regular fort, at which the brethren mounted guard regularly: they obtained from New York arms and ammunition, and actually crammed the windows of their houses with large stones, for their women to throw down upon the heads of the Indians. He frequented their church, and was much struck with what this sect had always been famous for the excellence of their music. The whole of each establishment was one family. All worked for a common stock, partook of a common table, and lodged in common dormitories; but their sermons were not delivered to mixed congregations. The married of each sex were separately addressed; as also the unmarried women and men, and the chile dren. Their behaviour, on all occasions, was discreet and methodical, but their general appearance unhealthy, and pensive. Franklin inquired respecting the use of the lot in their marriages, and was told, that it was by no means general; but as they lived much together, the young persons of each sex generally consulted the elders of their class as to their choice in marriage; and these persons, being observant of the tempers and dispositions of the young people, commonly gave them advice, upon which they acted. If it occurred, that two or more young women were thought equally proper for a young man, the lot was appealed to, and the decision final. When Franklin observed, that such matches, not made by mutual choice, might end unhappily, “So they might, said the Moravians, “if the parties were to choose for themselves.”

Our officer, with all his scepticism, had an established religion, and a zealous presbyterian minister, in his little camp. This gentleman, complaining that the men did not regularly attend prayers, Franklin called his attention to their punctuality in coming morning and evening for their half gill of rum,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »