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Duquesne, Fort,

A fortification erected by the French on the site of the city of Pittsburgh., Pa., in 1754. While Captain Trent and his company were building this fort, Captain Contrecoeur, with 1,000 Frenchmen and eighteen cannon, went down the Alleghany River in sixty bateaux and 300 canoes, took possession of the unfinished fortification, and named it Fort Duquesne, in compliment to the captaingeneral of Canada. Lieutenant-Colonel Washington, with a small force, hurried from Cumberland to recapture it, but was made a prisoner, with about 400 men, at Fort Necessity. In 1755 an expedition for the capture of Fort Duquesne, commanded by Gen. Edward Braddock (q. v.)marched from Will's Creek (Cumberland) on June 10, about 2,000 strong, British and provincials. On the banks of the Monongahela Braddock was defeated and killed on July 9, and the expedition was ruined.

Washington was a lieutenant-colonel under Braddock in the expedition against Fort Duquesne, in 1755, and in that of 1758. In the former he was chiefly instrumental in saving a portion of the British and provincial troops from utter destruction. At the battle near the Monongahela, where Braddock was killed, every officer but Washington was slain or wounded; and he, alone, led the survivors on a safe retreat. He was not injured during the battle. To his mother he wrote: “I luckily escaped unhurt, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me.” To his brother he wrote: “By the all-powerful dispensation of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation. Death was levelling my companions on every side.” An Indian chief, who, fifteen years afterwards, travelled a long way to see [165] Washington when he was in Ohio, said he had singled him out for death, and directed his fellows to do the same. He fired more than a dozen fair shots at him, but could not hit him. “We felt,” said the chief, “that some Manitou guarded your life, and that you could not be killed.”

The expedition of 1758 was commanded by Gen. John Forbes, who had about 9,000 men at his disposal at Fort Cumberland and Raystown. These included Virginia troops under Colonel Washington, the Royal Americans from South Carolina, and an auxiliary force of Cherokee Indians. Sickness and perversity of will and judgment on the part of Forbes caused delays almost fatal to the expedition. He was induced, by the advice of some Pennsylvania land speculators, to use the army in constructing a military road farther north than the one made by Braddock. Washington, who knew the country well, strongly advised against this measure, but he was unheeded, and so slow was the progress of the troops towards their destination, that in September, when it was known that there were not more than 800 men at Duquesne, Forbes, with 6,000 troops, was yet east of the Alleghany Mountains. Major Grant, with a scouting-party of Colonel

Bouquet's advance corps, was attacked (Sept. 21), defeated, and made a prisoner. Still Forbes went creeping on, wasting precious time, and exhausting the patience and respect of Washington and other energetic officers; and when Bouquet joined the army it was 50 miles from Fort Duquesne. The winter was approaching, the troops were discontented, and a council of war was called, to which

Capture of Fort Duquesne.

Forbes intended to propose an abandonment of the enterprise, when three prisoners gave information of the extreme weakness of the French garrison. Washington was immediately sent forward, and the whole army prepared to follow. When the Virginians were within a day's march of the fort, they were discovered by some Indians, who so alarmed the garrison by an exaggerated account of the number of the approaching troops that the guardians of Fort Duquesne, reduced to 500, set it on fire (Nov. 24), and fled down the Ohio in boats with such haste and confusion that they left everything behind them. The Virginians took possession the next day, and the name of the fortress was changed to Fort Pitt, in honor of the great English statesman.

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