Front Matter Our Country Long Ago The Barbarous Indians The Mounds Where the Northmen Went The Northmen in America Queer Ideas Prince Henry the Navigator Youth of Columbus Columbus and the Queen "Land! Land!" Columbus and the Savages Home Again Columbus Ill-treated Death of Columbus How America Got its Name The Fountain of Youth "The Father of Waters" The French in Canada French and Spanish Quarrels The Sky City Around the World Nothing but Smoke Smith's Adventures The Jamestown Men Smith Wounded Pocahontas Visits England Hudson and the Indians The Mayflower Plymouth Rock The First Thanksgiving Snake Skin and Bullets The Beginning of Boston Stories of Two Ministers Williams and the Indians The Quakers The King-Killers King Phillip's War The Beginning of New York Penn and the Indians The Catholics in Maryland The Old Dominion Bacon's Rebellion A Journey Inland The Carolina Pirates Charter Oak Salem Witches Down the Mississippi La Salle's Adventures Indians on the Warpath Two Wars with the French Washington's Boyhood Washington's Journey Washington's First Battle Stories of Franklin Braddock's Defeat Wolfe at Quebec England and her Colonies The Stamp Tax The Anger of the Colonies The Boston Tea Party The Minutemen The Battle of Lexington Bunker Hill The Boston Boys The British leave Boston Declaration of Independence A Lady's Way of Helping Christmas Eve The Fight at Bennington Burgoyne's Surrender Winter at Valley Forge The Quaker Woman Putnam's Adventures Indian Cruelty Boone in Kentucky Famous Sea Fights The "Swamp Fox" The Poor Soldiers The Spy A Traitor's Death Two Unselfish Women Surrender of Cornwallis British Flag hauled down Washington's Farewell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Washington's First Battle

When the Virginians learned that the French had driven their men away from the forks of the Ohio, and had taken possession of the fort they had just begun, they were naturally very angry. Seeing that they would lose all claim to the land unless they drove the French away, they now determined to raise enough men and money to equip an army. Before long, therefore, Washington was sent out with about three hundred men, and he was busy erecting a small breastwork (called Fort Necessity) at Great Meadows, when he heard that the French were near there.

Setting out immediately, he surprised and defeated this force; but learning that more troops were coming, he prudently retreated to Fort Necessity, at Great Meadows, which he once described as "a charming field for an encounter." Here the French and Indians soon attacked him in such numbers that, in spite of his valor, he was forced to surrender, on July 4, 1754. Washington's men had behaved so bravely that the French allowed them to march out with the honors of war; that is, taking their flag and their arms with them.

In describing this battle, Washington is reported to have said: "I heard the bullets whistle, and believe me, there is something charming in the sound." But later on, when he had seen what a sad thing war really is, and some one asked if he had ever said this, he quietly answered: "If I said so, it was when I was young!"

When Washington and his troops came back to Virginia after the battle at Great Meadows, the colonies saw that the French were fully determined to leave them no land west of the Alleghanies. They had felt so sure of this that a few weeks before the battle they sent men to Albany to discuss how they could best resist their enemies, and keep what they claimed as their own.

Still, in one sense, neither French nor English had any right to this land, for as a bewildered Indian chief remarked when he first heard of the dispute: "If the French claim all the land north of the river, and the English all the land south of it, where is the land of the Indians?"