George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Augustine Washington, 31 May 1754

To John Augustine Washington

[Camp in the Great Meadows, Pa.,
31 May 1754]

Dr John

Since my last we have arrived at this place, where 3 days agoe we had an engagemt wth the French that is, between a party of theirs & Ours; Most of our men were out upon other detachments, so that I had scarcely 40 men under my Command, and about 10, or a doz. Indians, nevertheless we obtained a most signal Victory. The Battle lasted abt 10, or 15 minutes, sharp firing on both sides, when the French gave ground & run, but to no great purpose; there were 12 killed, among which was Monsr De Jumonville the Commandr, & taken 21 prisoners with whom are Monsieurs La Force, Druillong, together with 2 Cadets. I have sent them to his Honr the Governor at Winchester conducted by Lieut. West & a guard of 20 men. We had but one man killed, 2 or 3 wounded and a great many more within an Inch of being shott; among the wounded on our side was Lieut. Waggoner, but no danger will ensue.

We expect every Hour to be attacked by a superior Force, but shall if they stay one day longer be prepared for them; We have already got Intrenchments & are about a Pallisado’d Fort, which will I hope be finished today. The Mingo’s have struck the French & I hope will give a good blow before they have done, I expect 40 odd of them here to night, wch with our Fort and some reinforcements from Colo. Fry, will enable us to exert our Noble Courage with Spirit. I am Yr Affe Bror

Geo. Washington

I fortunately escaped without a wound, tho’ the right Wing where I stood was exposed to & received all the Enemy’s fire and was the part where the man was killed & the rest wounded. I can with truth assure you, I heard Bulletts whistle and believe me there was something charming in the sound.1

Copy, MHi: Alexander C. Washburn Autograph Collection. There is on the manuscript the following notation written in another hand: “apparently copied by Edmund Pendleton.” Another version of the letter, with differences in wording but of similar sense, appeared in the London Magazine, Aug. 1754.

John Augustine Washington (1736–1787), often referred to as Jack, was one of GW’s younger brothers. It was he who became resident manager of Mount Vernon while GW was serving as colonel of the Virginia Regiment on the frontier in the years following Braddock’s defeat.

1Of this statement, George II is reputed to have observed: “He would not say so, if he had been used to hear many” (Walpole, Memoirs description begins Horace Walpole. Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Second. 2d ed. 3 vols. London, 1847. description ends , 1 : 400).

Index Entries