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Hess: Washington identifies a ‘messy situation’

Published 4:27pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012

By Bob Hess

American Heritage: Did You Know?

The British having received the news that the French had moved into the area of the Fork, commissioned by Dinwiddie was given a commission to drive the French out of the area. George Washington desired to be involved with the action and volunteered.

Washington was appointed to lead a small force of around 200 poorly trained men, who were poorly equipped, into battle against the French. On April 2, 1754, Washington left Williamsburg. He was now headed back into the area known as the Forks. When he arrived there, he was supposed to “act on the defensive,” according to his orders. He was supposed to kill or take as prisoners anyone who stood in his way.

While on the way, Washington received word that Captain Claude Pierre Pecaudy de Contrecouer had run Ensign Edward Ward, his men and the Indian Half King, who had accompanied Washington on his previous mission into this area, out of the Forks area. The Captain had also destroyed their fort.

How would he handle this situation? Washington decided to call a war council. He wrote a letter to Half King to try to get him to join him in his move into the Fork area.

While Washington was getting his plans in order, the French were busy building Fort Duquesne. The massive fort had walls that were 12-foot thick. They were made with logs and earth. There was a dry moat along with eight cannons protecting the fort.

The British captain had received a report  Washington was coming into the area. He sent Ensign Joseph Coulon de Jumonville to meet Washington and his men to tell them to get off what they considered French land.

Things were about to become a bit messy.

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