Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 139

cordial and affectionate friendship.




XVI

BRADDOCK'S EXPEDITION


The British government, not chusing to permit the union of the
colonies as propos'd at Albany, and to trust that union with their
defense, lest they should thereby grow too military, and feel their
own strength, suspicions and jealousies at this time being entertain'd
of them, sent over General Braddock with two regiments of regular
English troops for that purpose. He landed at Alexandria, in Virginia,
and thence march'd to Frederictown, in Maryland, where he halted for
carriages. Our Assembly apprehending, from some information, that he
had conceived violent prejudices against them, as averse to the
service, wish'd me to wait upon him, not as from them, but as
postmaster-general, under the guise of proposing to settle with him
the mode of conducting with most celerity and certainty the despatches
between him and the governors of the several provinces, with whom he
must necessarily have continual correspondence, and of which they
propos'd to pay the expense. My son accompanied me on this journey.

We found the general at Frederictown, waiting impatiently for the
return of those he had sent thro' the back parts of Maryland and
Virginia to collect waggons. I stayed with him several days, din'd
with him daily, and had full opportunity of removing all his
prejudices, by the information of what the Assembly had before his
arrival actually done, and were still willing to do, to facilitate his
operations. When I was about to depart, the returns of waggons to be
obtained were brought in, by which it appear'd that they amounted only
to twenty-five, and not all of those were in serviceable condition.
The general and all the officers were surpris'd, declar'd the
expedition was then at an end, being impossible, and exclaim'd against
the ministers for ignorantly landing them in a country destitute of
the means of conveying their stores, baggage, etc., not less than one
hundred and fifty waggons being necessary.

I happen'd to say I thought it was pity they had not been landed
rather in Pennsylvania, as in that country almost every farmer had his
waggon. The general eagerly laid hold of my words, and said, "Then
you, sir, who are a man of interest there, can probably procure them
for us; and I beg you will undertake it." I ask'd what terms were to
be offer'd the owners of the waggons, and I was desir'd to put on
paper the terms that appeared to me necessary. This I did, and they
were agreed to, and a commission and instructions accordingly prepar'd
immediately. What those terms were will appear in the advertisement I
publish'd as soon

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