George Washington: The Forge of Experience, 1732-1775

By James Thomas Flexner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
8
Defeat and Perhaps Disgrace

BACK AT HIS camp on the Great Meadows the day after the Jumonville Affair, Washington wrote Dinwiddie, "I shall expect every hour to be attacked, and by unequal numbers, which I must withstand if there are five to one, or else I fear the consequences will be we shall lose the Indians, if we suffer ourselves to be drove back.... I doubt not, if you hear I am beaten, but you will at the same [time] hear we have done our duty in fighting as long [as] there was any possibility of hope....

"For my own part I can answer," Washington continued. "I have a constitution hardy enough to encounter and undergo the most severe trials, and, I flatter myself, the resolution to face what any man durst." 1 This was not a boast but a statement of fact. Washington was a physical giant, and, as far as was possible for an intelligent man, he did not know fear. Whether this immunity was altogether an advantage is another matter: it encouraged him to advance into perils which more ordinarily endowed commanders would have evaded.

Washington ordered his men to fix logs upright into the ground, thus finishing in a few days "a small palisaded fort" which he called Fort Necessity. He wrote that inside it, "with my small numbers, I shall not fear the attack of 500 men." How

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