George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Francis Fauquier, 25 September 1758

To Francis Fauquier

[Raystown, 25 September 1758]

To The Honorable Govr Fauquier.
Honble Sir.

I think it incumbent upon me to give you the following account, altho’ it is with very great concern I am furnished with the occasion.1

The 12th instant Major Grant, of the Highland-Battalion, with a chosen Detachment of 8,00 men, marched from our advanced Post, at Loyal-Hannon, for Fort du Quesne, what to do there (unless to meet the fate he did) I can not certainly inform you: however, to get intelligence and annoy the Enemy, was the ostensible plan. On the 13th in the night, they arrived near that place—formed upon the Hill in two columns, and sent a Party to the Fort to make discoveries, which they accomplished accordingly, and burned a Log-house not far from the walls without interruption: Stimulated by this success, the Maj. kept his post and disposition until day, then detached Major Lewis, and part of his command 2 miles back to their Baggage-guard, and sent an Engineer with a covering party in full view of the fort, to take a plan of the works—at the same time causing the Revilé2 to beat in several different places.

The enemy hereupon sallied out, and an obstinate Engagement began—for the particulars of which I beg leave to refer your Honr to the enclosed letters3 and return of the Regt.4 Major Lewis it is said met his fate in bravely advancing to sustain Maj. Grant.5 Our Officers and men have acquired very great applause for their gallant Behaviour during the action—I had the honor to be publickly complimented yesterday by the Genl on the occasion—The Havock that was made of them is a demonstrable proof of their obstinate defence; having 6 officers killed, and a 7th wounded, out of 8. Major Lewis, who chearfully went upon this Enterprize (when he found there was no dissuading Colonel Bouquet from the attempt) frequently there and afterwards upon the march, desired his friends to remember, that he had opposed the undertaking to the utmost. He is a great loss to the Regiment and is universally lamented. Captn Bullett’s behaviour is matter of great admiration: and Capt. Walter Stewart, the other surviving officer, distinguished himself greatly while he was able to act—he was left in the Field, but made his escape afterwards.6

What may be the consequence of this affair, I will not take upon me to decide; but this I may venture to declare, that our affairs in general appear with a greater gloom than ever; and I see no probability of opening the Road this Campaign: How then can we expect a favourable issue to the Expedition? I have used my best endeavours to supply my men with the necessaries they want: 70 Blankets I got from the General, upon the promise to return them again: I therefore hope your Honor will direct that number to be sent to Winchester for his use. I must also beg the favour of having blank-commissions sent to me—it will take near a dozen for the promotions and vacancies: I must fill up the vacancies with the volunteers I have, and some of the best Sergeants. I marched to this camp the 21st instant, by order of the General.

Having little else of moment to relate; I beg leave to assure your Honour that I am your most obedient, & most humble Servant,

G:W.

LB (recopied), DLC:GW.

1For a brief description and other references to James Grant’s expedition, see GW to George William Fairfax, this date, n.1.

2The copyist wrote “Kevilé.”

3The enclosed letters informing GW of Grant’s defeat have not been found, but one of them may have been a missing letter from Bouquet to GW. In his letter to Forbes of 17 Sept. describing Grant’s disastrous encounter with the French and Indians at Fort Duquesne, Bouquet wrote: “I wrote Colonel Washington to march to Raystown, leaving 100 men at Cumberland, until the arrival of the Maryland militia. This reinforcement was necessary to protect our convoys on the communication” (Stevens, Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 2:517–22). Until GW got this word from Bouquet, he was under instructions to march up Braddocks Road with the Virginia troops at Fort Cumberland as soon as General Forbes should give the signal. On 4 Oct. Fauquier sent to the House of Burgesses this letter from GW as well as those that GW enclosed (see Fauquier to GW, 7 Oct., n.1).

4The return may have been GW’s listing of casualties in the 1st Virginia Regiment, which is printed below as an enclosure, but GW’s letter to Fauquier of 28 Sept. indicates that he enclosed a copy of the full report of Grant’s casualties, which has been summarized in note 2, GW to George William Fairfax, this date.

5For Andrew Lewis’s fate, see Lewis’s letter to GW of 31 October. See also GW to Fauquier, 28 Sept., for the news of Lewis’s survival.

6Bouquet wrote Forbes on 17 Sept. that all of Grant’s forces “would probably have been cut to pieces but for Captain [Thomas] Bullet of the Virginians who with 100 men sustained the battle with all their forces until, having lost two-thirds of his men, he was pushed in the direction of the river, where he found the poor major [Grant]” (Stevens, Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 2:517–22). Walter Steuart was wounded in this action. The chaplain Andrew Bey added to the story: “Capt. Bullet was the last that left the field & seeing Maj. Grant sitting on a log without a wound or any hurt, and asked him if he would come away; but he absolutely refused, saying his heart was broke, upon which Capt. Bullet left him, and knows not what became of him after wards” (diary entry, 19 Sept., in Walkinshaw, Annals of Southwestern Pennsylvania description begins Lewis Clark Walkinshaw. Annals of Southwestern Pennsylvania. 4 vols. New York, 1939. description ends , 1:224). What Bullitt in fact did according to John Burk in his History of Virginia was to embrace “an expedient contrary to all the established laws of arms, and which under any other circumstances would have been wholly unjustifiable. As the Indians pressed on . . . Bullet held out the signal for capitulation. In a moment the detachment in a suppliant position and with their arms inverted, proceeded slowly towards the enemy, whose impatience would hardly permit them to wait the form of a surrender. Already the tomahawk was grasped for the purpose of vengeance . . . when the terrible word charge was uttered by Bullet . . . a most destructive volley at only eight yards distance” followed by “a furious onset with fixed bayonets effected a complete discomfiture and route” (3:232–33). A similar account, a privately printed memoir, is to be found in Bullitt, My Life at Oxmoor description begins Thomas W. Bullitt. My Life at Oxmoor: Life on a Farm in Kentucky before the War. Louisville, Ky., 1911. description ends , 3.

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