Original Document
Original Document
Washington's Journal on the Jumonville Affair

May 27. Mr. Gist arrived early in the morning with news that M. La Force with 50 men, whose tracks he had seen , had gone to his plantation the day before noon, and that they would have killed a cow and broken everything in his hous, if they had not been prevented by two Indians, whom he had left to guard his house. Immediately I sent out 75 men under the command of Captain Hog with suitable instructions.

The French had made much inquiry at Mr. Gist's on the subject of Half King. I did not fail to let some young men know about this, who were in our camp, and this had the effect I wanted. I made them understand that the French wanted to kill the Half King. Immedately they offered to chase after the French with our men; and if it was true that they had either insulted or killed him, on of them would go promptly to carry the news to Mingo villages and arouse the warriors to strike. One of these young Indians was sent out toward Mr. Gist's, and in case he did not meet Half King, he was to send him a speech by a Delaware.

About eight o'clock in the evening, I received an express from the Half King, who informed me that, as he was coming to join us, they had seen along the road the tracks of two men which went down into a gloomy hollow, and that he imagined that the whole party was hidden there. Instantly I sent out fourty men; I ordered our munitions put in a secure place, for fear that this was a stratagem of the French to attack our camp. I left a guard there to defend it, and with the rest of my men began to march through a heavy rain, with the night as black as pitch and by a path scarely wide enough for a man. We were often astray for 15 or 20 minutes before we could find the path again, and often we would jostle each other without being able to see. We continued our march all night long, and about sunrise we arrived at the camp of the Indians, where after holding council with the Half King, we decided to strike jointly.

Therefore, he sent out a couple of scouts to see where they were and how they were arranged, and also to reconnoiter the vicinity, after which we carried out our arrangements to surround them, and we began to march in Indian fashion, one after the other. We had advanced quite near them according to plan, when they discovered us. Then I gave my men orders to fire; my fire was supported by Mr. Wage's, and my men and his received the entire fire of the French during most of the action, which lasted only a quarter of an hour until the enemy were routed.

We killed M. de Jumonville, commanding this party, with nine others; we wounded one and made 21 prisoners, among whom were M. La Force, M. Drouillon, and two cadets. The Indians scalped the dead, and took most of their arms. Afterward, we marched with the prisoners under guard to the camp of the Indians, where again I haed council with the Half King, ect. There I informed him that the Governor wanted to see him, and was waiting for him at Winchester. He replied that that was impossible for the time being, as his men were in too grave danger from the French whom they had just attacked; that he must send messengers to all the allied nations to invite them to take up the hatchet. In fact, he sent the message, and sent with it a French scalp, to the Delawares by one of their young men. This man wished to have a part of the presents which were intended for them, and that the rest should be kept for another occasion. He intended to go and find his family and several others, in order to bring them toward Mr. Gist's, whither he asked me to send some horses and men to aid them in coming to our camp. Afterward, I proceeded with the prisoners. They informed me that they had been sent with a summons for me to retire, a specious pretense so that they could reconnoiter our camp and learn our forces and our situation. It was so evident that they had come to reconnoiter us that I admired their assurance in declairng to me that they had come as an embassy. Their instructions stated that they were to get information about the roads and rivers and about the country as far as Potomac. Instead of coming as an ambassador should, publicly and in an open manner, they came with the greatest secrec and looked for the most hidden retreats, much more suitable for deserters than for an ambassador. They camped there, they remained hidden there for two whole days, when they were no more than 5 miles from us. They sent out spies to reconnoiter our camp; the whole company retraced its steps for two miles; two messengers were sent, as mentioned in the instructions, to warn M. de Contrecoeur of the place where we were and of our arrangement, so that he could send out his detachment to enfore the summons as soon as it should be given.

Besides, that was an escort worthy of a prince serving as ambassador, instead of which it was only a mere French petty officer; spies are not needed by an ambassador, whose dignity is always sacred. If they came with good intentions, why stay for two days five miles away from us with imparting the summons to me, or revealing anything relating to his embassy. That alone would be sufficient to give birth to the strongest supicions, and we ought to do them this justice, that if they wanted to hide, they could not have chosen better than they did.

The summons is so insolent, and looks so much like bragging, that if two men had come to bring it openly, it would have been an excessive indulgence to have suffered them to return.

The Half King's opinion in this case is that they had evil designs, and that it was a mere pretext; that they had never pretended to come to us as anything but enemies, and that if we had been so foolish as to let them go, he would never help us to capture other Frenchmen.

They pretend that they called to us as soon as we were discovered. This is an absolute falsehood, for I was then at the head of the file going towards them, and I can affirm that, as soon as they saw us, they ran for their arms without calling, which I shold have heard if they had done so.

Contrecoeur's Copy of George Washington's Journal for 1754. Edited by Donald H. Kent. Reprinted from PENNSYLVANIA HISTORY, Vol. XIX, No. 1. January, 1952. for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
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