Archived Story

American Heritage: Wine makes the French talk

Published 9:14pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

George Washington started his quest to find some natives in this area so he could find some information on the French. Soon, he found an Indian named Tanacharison, or “Half King.” Washington made a successful effort to become friends with Tanacharison and those who were with him.

Finally, Half-King, along with three other Indians, led Washington on his journey to a trading post at Venango. The trading post was about 70 miles away. The weather wasn’t very cooperative. They were greeted with rain, snow and drizzle for the whole trip.

On Dec. 4, they finally arrived at their destination. Upon their arrival, they met with Capt. Phillipe Thomas de Joncaire, the acting commander.

According to his journal, Washington stated that the French men with whom he supped and fellowshipped began to drink quite a bit of wine. As they did, they began to release some helpful information to Washington. As they drank and talked, Washington listened and learned. Before the “party” was over, he learned how many troops were in the area, as well as the locations of the forts that housed them. One thing that Washington learned, but did not want to hear was that the captain was not going to accept his letter from Dinwiddie. The commander, who was to be the one to accept the letter, died before Washington’s arrival. Washington was going to have to continue his journey to another fort.

After being detained by the captain for a few days, Washington was able to start his journey on Dec. 7. Again, the journey was complicated by more heavy rains and snow. Swamps and muddy trails plagued the way.

Then, on Dec. 11, they arrived at their destination — Fort Le Boeuf. He presented his letter to Jacques Le Gardeur de Saint-Pierre.

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