Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stewarts - Part 6 - The Battle of Monogahela

Stewarts, Washington, and General Braddock’s Defeat
(A historical story in 7 little parts)
By David L. Green

The Battle

The rangers urged the General to send scouts ahead and on the flanks so as not to be surprised by Indian attack. The General haughtily dismissed these suggestions.
As the advance group crossed the Monongahela River, the forest erupted in musket shot and war cries from Indians, Canadians, and Frenchmen. Suddenly men were falling like “leaves in autumn”, as one British officer recalled.
 (Ferling, 2010 )
The advance group quickly retreated and the British regulars rushed forward at the sound of the gunshots. Pandemonium ensued.  The British officers were ordering their men to stand and fight in their neat, orderly ranks. Meanwhile their comrades are falling all around them and they couldn’t even see the enemy who were cleverly hidden in the brush and behind the trees.
The “professional” soldiers are breaking ranks and retreating for their lives while the “provincials”, notably the Virginians, were fighting back in the “Indian way” and covering the retreat of the British. General Braddock was urging his men on – even hitting them with the broad of his sword – while calling them cowards for running.
During the battle, the General has four horses shot from under him. Col. Washington rides to the front to encourage his Virginians as they try to stay and continue to fight as long as possible.
Washington has two horses shot from under him and, though not wounded, he later finds 4 bullet holes in his coat. (Braddocks Defeat by George Washington) 
Riding to the aid of the General he arrives just as Braddock is struck with the fatal shot.
 One version of the story has Washington yelling at Capt. Robert Stewart, “Stewart, catch the General.” This, he supposedly did as the General slumped to the ground.  
Col. Washington assumes command of the fleeing army and orders a cart be pulled around and the General loaded upon it with a few other officers who had fallen.
The army, or what is left of it, retreats several miles to a safe place  (General Braddocks Defeat in the French and Indian War). Only a mile from Fort Necessity they finally take their rest.
It is here that General Braddock finally succumbs from the fatal wound. It is said that his final words were, “We shall know how to fight them next time.”(The Battle of Monongahela 1755 - Braddocks Defeat)
Knowing they are still being perused by the Indians and the French, Washington orders a grave to be dug in the middle of the road. The General’s body is laid to rest here.
The Chaplain has also been wounded and so it falls to Col. Washington to perform the funeral service. The grave is covered over and the remaining army marches over the place in order to disguise the grave so that it will not be desecrated and the General’s body ,”mistreated”. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stewarts - Part 5 - General Braddock

Stewarts, Washington, and General Braddock’s Defeat
(A historical story in 7 little parts)
By David L. Green

General Braddock 

A very frustrated and nervous Governor Dinwiddie called for help in his struggle with the French. In response, King George II sent one of his leading generals – Major General Edward Braddock- along with 2 British (Irish) Regiments and a “train of Royal Artillery”. 
It seems there were several delays in gathering up enough supplies and men for the expedition (The Battle of Monongahela 1755 - Braddocks Defeat). While still in camp and preparing for the battle to come, Washington and several others, including Benjamin Franklin (Abbott), tried to advise the General that the methods proven on the battlefields of Europe would not work with this enemy. War was fought differently here.
The British General was very proud and arrogant. He had no doubts that the French would see this great column of British regulars and just run and hide in fear of their obvious superiority. No amount of coaxing from these inferior colonists could persuade him otherwise.
So, with a long line of British regular troops, 2 companies of provincial “rangers” and “light horse“, several wagons, carts of supplies and camp followers (including  a young teamster by the name of Daniel Boone(Faragher), General Braddock set out across Va. to teach those pesky French a lesson. The procession was about 4 miles long on a narrow, winding road.
Following a group of “carpenters” and woodsmen, the column moved on as the woodsmen cut and cleared a 12 foot wide road through the wilderness. This, as you might imagine, was a very slow and tedious journey for all involved. 
Col. Washington and his rangers had become very adept at the “Indian way of fighting” as all early settlers and trappers had learned to survive in this hostile frontier. They knew that an army standing shoulder to shoulder in wide lines (wearing bright red coats) was probably not the smartest way to go about this.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stewarts - Part 4 - Capture and Escape

Stewarts, Washington, and General Braddock’s Defeat
(A historical story in 7 little parts)
By David L. Green

Capture and escape 

James Stewart is first mentioned in the county records when a road was commissioned to be built from “Stuarts Run” to Carters Mill on the Calfpasture River.
James served in the Virginia militia under Captain Dickenson and saw service during the Indian wars. I haven’t found much information concerning his military career as most accounts jump right to the unfortunate story of his tragic death.
In September of 1757 James and his son were captured by Indians. Several others who were also working outside an unguarded fort were also killed or taken captive. Most reports say they were Pawnee, but it is more likely that the Indians in question were from the Shawnee nation (Shawnee) as the Pawnee (Pawnee People) were located much further west.
The story goes that James Sr. was burned at the stake and his son was made to watch his father die. I cannot imagine a worse fate for either of these men.
The good news is that James the younger, 18 years old at the time; escaped from the Indians later that year and returned to his family. Details of the escape are sketchy and how young James found his way back to the Cowpasture is not detailed. However it is recorded that young James is at the settling of James Sr.’s will - his children were allowed to choose guardians to live with thereafter. (Mai, 1996)
James’s brother, Robert, went on to serve with George Washington at Braddock’s defeat at Fort Duquesne.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stewarts - Part 2 - The Stewart Boys

Stewarts, Washington, and General Braddock’s Defeat
(A historical story in 7 little parts)
By David L. Green

(Parts 2 & 3)
The Stewart Boys
Governor Dinwiddie ordered a road built to the Monongahela River to help defend the new fort. Again Mr. Washington was sent to lead the operation only to find the new fort was a newer fort called Duquesne and just full of Frenchmen. Horrors.
Washington, not to be outdone, went on to build a stockade fort called, appropriately, Fort Necessity near present-day Uniontown. On July 3, 1754 the French again laughed and swarmed this new fort. Washington was forced to surrender and again sent back to a very frustrated Gov. Dinwiddie.
Among the returning wounded was a young Captain Robert Stewart who served with and became one of Washington’s most prized officers.
In 1755 a new militia was raised and every able-bodied man was called to serve and defend the frontier from the “invading” French. Among those who served in the Virginia Militia were James Stewart (Roberts brother) and his son, James Stewart Jr.

(Part 3)
The Cowpasture 
James Sr. was born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1719 and moved with his family to Ireland during the “Ulster Plantation” experiment (Ulster Plantation). While the family was there, James followed in his father’s footsteps and married an Irish girl – Mary Ann Lafferty – around 1738 in Dublin, Ireland.
Mary was a member of the landed gentry as she was receiving rent from properties in Ireland after her husband’s death (1913)*. Her brother married one of James’ sisters.
*note: (1913) is not the date of death but is a reference in the bibliography at the end.
The family came to the colonies in about 1740 and settled in the Shenandoah Valley by the Tygart Valley in a place called “the Cowpasture” not far from “the Calfpasture” and “the Bullpasture” …don’t ask. That’s a story for another day. Let’s just say that the Indians, who stole the herd of cattle, had a hard time keeping the herd together.(Cowpasture River)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stewarts - Part 1 - Introduction

Stewarts, Washington, and General Braddock’s Defeat
(A historical story in 7 little parts)
By David L. Green
Our history books call it the “French and Indian War” or “The Seven Years War” and some (Bowen, 1998) have called it the “first World War”.
All the major powers in the world (mostly in Europe) were splitting up the rest of the world and vying for property around the globe. But basically here in North America, it was a war between the French and Spanish (who had a big chunk of Canada and central parts of what is now the United States) and the British (who were very keen on keeping and growing their fledgling colonies).
The British colonies were expanding westward and the French were expanding eastward and the inevitable result was a war on the western frontier. The colonies organized and sent their militias to confront the French and their allies – the Canadians and various tribes of Native American Indians. 
Virginia’s Lieutenant- Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, learned that the French were building forts that threatened the colonies interests in the Ohio Valley. He sent a young George Washington with a stern note for the French to withdraw or face the consequences… After the laughter died down, the small group of Virginians were dismissed and sent packing.
When Washington delivered the message to the Governor, he, the Governor, sent a small group of militia to build a fort at the forks of the Ohio River where Pittsburg is today. 
The French thought this was great fun. They attacked the fort, killed the majority of the defenders, and forced the surrender of the remaining brave lads. They were again sent back to the Governor and the French immediately built a bigger, better fort and called it Fort Duquesne (Fort Duquesne) (pron. Dew-kane) named for the new governor of “New France”.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

Greetings, readers,
Happy Samhain! Happy Halloween, All Saints Day, Day of the Dead - depending on which part of the globe or which time in history you prefer to celebrate.
I am glad to see some of you read the story from my childhood. I was prompted by several unrelated events which made me think it was time to write a story from my own history before it was lost. So many others have been lost because they were not written down and saved for the rest of us.
I am presently continuing the research on the Steuart/Stewart family who came here from Scotland and Ireland to become colonists, and frontiersmen, and heroes. Some of whom fought along side of some of the most famous names in our countries' history.
They came from landed gentry in those places and founded places here and grew families that became farmers and coalminers, preachers and teachers and maybe one musician/carpenter/blogger who now sells doors and windows at The Home Depot. Ha!
 God, we have come a long way.
I just wanted to wet your appetites for a really good story coming soon to a blog near you. Keep in touch and I'll be back soon with a really good one.