Page images
PDF
EPUB

summons.

in the army, came to America with two regiments early in 1755, and called a council of royal governors at Alexandria, to arrange a regular campaign against the French. Braddock soon heard, from every lip, encomiums of the character of Colonel Washington, and he invited him to Alexandria. Mount Vernon was only a little more than an hour's ride distant, and Washington, whose military ardor was again aroused by preparations for conflict, was swift to obey the

From Mount Vernon he had looked upon the ships-of-war and transports upon the bosom of the Potomac

that bore Braddock and his troops, and the thought that only a few miles from his dwelling, preparations were in progress for a brilliant campaign, under the command of one of the most experienced generals of the British army, stirred the very depths of his soul, and made him yearn to go again to the field.

At the residence of Jonathan Carey, where Braddock made his head-quarters, the young provincial colonel and the veteran general first met, at the close of Marchi. Carey's was then the finest house in Alexandria, sur

rounded by a noble lawn that was shaded by lofty forest trees, and its gardens extending down a gentle slope to the shore of the Potomac. Now it

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THE CAREY HOUSE IN 1859

stands within the city, hemmed in by buildings and paved streets, and forms a part of Newton's Hotel. The convention of governors met in it in April, and there the ensuing campaign was planned.

Braddock invited Washington to join his military family, as aid, with the rank he had lately borne. The mother of the young colonel hastened to Mount Vernon to persuade him not to accept it. She urged the claims of his and her own affairs upon his attention, as strong reasons for him not to enter the army again, and for two days she held his decision in abeyance, for filial obedience was one of the strongest sentiments of Washington's nature. But it was not strong enough to restrain him on this occasion —or, rather, God's will must be obeyed--and he left Mount Vernon for Alexandria, after her departure for the Rappahannock, and was welcomed into Braddock's family with joy by Captains Orme and Morris.

On the 9th of July following we behold him upon the bloody field of the Monongahela, shielded by God's providence, untouched by ball or bayonet, arrow or javelin, while carnage was laying its scores of victims around him, and his commander was borne mortally wounded from the field-we behold him riding from point to point, bringing order out of confusion, and leading away from that aceldama the shattered battalions of the proud army of the morning to a place of safety and repose. Then he retuuned to Mount Vernon, weak from recent sickness and exposure in the field. In his little library there he wrote to his brother, then a member of the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg, and thus summed up his military career :

“I was employed to go a journey in the winter, when ]

believe few or none would have undertaken it, and what did I get by it? · My expenses borne! I was then appointed, with trifling pay, to conduct a handful of men to the Ohio. What did I get by that? Why, after putting myself to a considerable expense in equipping and providing necessaries for the campaign, I went out, was soundly beaten, and lost all! Came in, and had my commission taken from me; or, in other words, my command reduced, under pretence of an order from home. I then went out a volunteer with General Braddock, and lost all, my horses, and many other things. But this being a voluntary act, I ought not to have mentioned it; nor should I have done it, were it not to show that I have been on the losing order ever since I entered the service, which is now nearly two years.

But what wonderful and necessary lessons for the future had Washington learned during that time!

Mount Vernon saw but little of its master during the next four years; for the flame of war lighted up the land from Acadia, and along the St. Lawrence, away down to the beautiful Cherokee country, in Western Georgia and Carolina, and Washington was most of the time in camp, except from December, 1757, until March, 1758, when he was an invalid at home.

In February, 1756, we find him, accompanied by two aides, journeying to Boston, to confer with General Shirley concerning military rank in Virginia. Little did he then think that twenty years later he would again be there directing a siege against the New England capital, in command of rebels against the crown he was then serving!

We find him lingering in New York, on his return. The young soldier, apparently invincible to the mortal weapons of war,

was sorely smitten there by the “sly archer" concealed in the bright eyes, blooming cheeks, and winning ways of Mary Phillipse, the heiress of a broad domain, stretching many a mile along the Hudson. The young soldier lingered

MARY PHILLIPSE.

in her presence as long as duty would permit, and he would fain have carried her with him to Virginia as a bride, but his natural diffidence kept the momentous question unspoken in his heart, and his fellow aide-de-camp in Braddock's family, Roger Morris, bore away the prize. Mary Phillipse did not become the mistress of Mount Vernon, but reigned, as beauteous queen, in a more stately mansion on the bank of the Harlem River, where, twenty years later, Washington, as leader of a host of Americans, in arms against the king, held his head-quarters, the master and mistress of the mansion being proscribed as “enemies to their country!”

MORRIS'S HOUSE.

But, three years later, there was a presiding angel over the mansion on Mount Vernon. Meanwhile the tramp of steeds, the clangor of arms, and every sound betokening warlike preparations, were heard there, and the decisive campaign of 1758 was opened.

Washington went to the camp as soon as his health would permit; and toward Fort du Quesne, at the confluence of the forks of the Ohio, quite a large army made its way. Wasting delays and weary marches consumed the summer time; and late in autumn, having traversed deep forests and rugged mountains, the invading army found rest, beyond the Alleghanies. Colonel Washington, with an advanced guard, took possession of all that was left of Fort du Quesne, where Pittsburg now stands. It had been the prize for which Braddock contended the nest from which came the vultures that

« PreviousContinue »