Washington led his demoralized militia back to Virgina and the French returned to Fort Duquesne. They burned Gist’s settlement and the storehouse at Redstone Creek along the way. This left no British flag flying west of the Alleghenies. The First Nations returned to their respective territories to prepare for their fall hunt.
The following spring the British came to the aid of the embattled Virginian Militia. They sent two companies of 500 crack regulars each along with General Edward Braddock as their commander. Braddock was a seasoned general fresh from the battlefields of Europe. He had the reputation of being a stern disciplinarian and master tactician. An enlistment of four hundred more men bolstered his army to 1,400 soldiers.
France wasn’t about to sit on their laurels. When the heard of the British movement they began making plans to counter the move. Eighteen war ships were being fitted to sail to America. They would carry six battalions of French regulars, 3,000 men in all, along with Baron Ludwig Dieskau and Marquis de Vaudreuil. Dieskau was a German born General in the French army with a reputation equal to Braddock. Vaudreuil was the son of the former governor of New France by the same name and was to replace the ailing Duquesne. The clouds of war loomed menacing on the horizon.
In the meantime Duquesne received a direct order from the King to bestow upon Sieur Charles Langlade a commission of ensign unattached to serve the troops maintained in Canada. This was the same Langlade that had such spectacular success at Pickawillany. Duquesne then asked Langlade to raise a war party of First Nations to aid in the defence of Fort Duquesne.
Ensign Langlade left Michilimackinac in the spring of 1755 with a party of Saulteaux Ojibway warriors. He picked up more Ojibway fighters at Saginaw and headed toward Detroit. Even more Saulteax Ojibway joined him from the St. Clair region. Leading war chiefs at the time were Wasson or Catfish from Saginaw, Animikeence or Little Thunder from Aamjiwnaang (Lower Lake Huron) and Sekahos or Hunter from the Thames River/Swan Creek region.
The newly commissioned ensign finally arrived at his old friend Pontiac’s village which was on the Detroit River opposite Fort Ponchartrain. A war council was called with the Wyandotte’s leading chief Sastaretsi, Pontiac and the other Ojibwa war chiefs in attendance. The conclusion was unanimous; they must come to their French ‘father’s’ aid.
Langlade left Detroit with a war party of 637 Ojibway, Ottawa and Wyandotte warriors including war chiefs. However the vast majority were Ojibway. The impressive war party made their way to the southern shore of Lake Erie by way of the Bass Islands. They turned east and skirted the shore until they arrived at Presque Isle where the short portage led to the head of French Creek and Fort Le Boeuf.
French Creek was a small waterway that emptied into the Allegheny River at the Indian Town of Venago. There was an old Indian trail that skirted along the east side of the creek but at this time of the year it was quite navigable in their light bark canoes. Once they reached Venago they headed down the Allegheny to the confluence of the Monongahela and Fort Duquesne. Langlade had been travelling for about a month but was still fresh and ready for battle. They set up their camps on the west side of the Allegheny directly across for the Fort and awaited instructions.
NEXT WEEK: The Rout of Braddock 1755 – Part 2