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Hess: French march toward Washington

Published 10:22am Thursday, November 8, 2012

American Heritage: Did You Know?

By Bob Hess

NOTE: In my last article, I inserted the word British erroneously in place of French in the last paragraph where I stated that the “British captain had received a report.” It was actually to read that the French captain received the report. I missed the error when I proofed the article.

It is now May 24, 1754. Washington now establishes his camp approximately 50 miles south of his destination. He has 160 men in his company.
Meanwhile, the French captain sent Ensign Joseph Coulon to order Washington to get out of “French” territory.

Washington and his troops were exhausted. Their journey included constructing a road in order to reach their destination. This road was also necessary for reinforcements and heavy equipment to reach their encampment.

Washington finally received an answer from Half King, to his letter. It was not good news. It warned that the French were marching in their direction to attack them. It would take Half King and his help at least five days to arrive and to assist Mr. Washington. Even then, there was no guarantee on how many men he would be able to bring with him.

With this word, Washington decided to have his men prepare for battle. “Dig in” and “be alert” were the orders for the day. His friend, Christopher Gist, arrived in camp on May 27. His news for Washington was that the French had been at his house, a short time ago, with about 50 soldiers and headed this direction. It was only a 13-mile journey from Gist’s house.

Next, Washington receives a message from Half King. The message tells him that the French were encamped in an area that seemed to make the French vulnerable to an attack. Washington had to make a decision

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