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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Where It All Began

The American historian Francis Parkman wrote in 1897 of Jumonville that, "[j]udge it as we may, this obscure skirmish began the war that set the world on fire." The incident led to the French and Indian war in North America, and the Seven Years War as it was known in Europe, which in turn set the stage for the Revolutionary War as much as World War in set the stage for World War II.  Here is the scene:

George Washington had been sent to the region by Virginia's Royal Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, to advise French military personnel to leave.  After an initial such overture failed, Washington, now a Lieutenant Colonel in the militia, returned and allied with Indian chiefs Tanacharison and Monacatootha, and about 10 warriors.  Washington was accompanied by Captain Adam Sephen; between them, they had about 40 British soldiers.  They surprised Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville and his 31 soldiers camping here after prior negotiations failed.  The French were slaughtered, and Tanacharison bashed in the wounded Jumonville's skull.  The event set in motion the ensuing French and Indian War.

It is a remarkable place to stand and absorb what happened here, in this still preserved wildnerness niche.  Stephen and his men came over the ledge of rock, while Washington came from the left, and the Native Americans from the right, cutting off the French attempt at escape.

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