BECK index

GEORGE WASHINGTON
A War Breaks Out

by Sanderson Beck

This screenplay has been published in the book GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Dramatic Series. For ordering information, please click here.

INTERIOR GOVERNOR'S PALACE IN WILLIAMSBURG - DAY

GEORGE WASHINGTON stands before GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.

DINWIDDIE
Major Washington,
I authorize you to enlist one hundred men
from Augusta and Frederick counties.

WASHINGTON
Yes, sir.

DINWIDDIE
The Indian trader Captain William Trent
has been directed to raise a similar force
on the western frontier.
By the time these two hundred men reach the Ohio,
the four hundred should be enlisted
I am requesting from the General Assembly.
These with the companies from other colonies
and with the conjunction of our friendly Indians,
I hope will make a good impression on the Ohio
and be able to defeat the designs of the French.

WASHINGTON
Very good, sir.
How are these hundred men to be raised,
if I may ask?

DINWIDDIE
Lord William Fairfax is to supply
fifty from Frederick County
and James Patton the same from Augusta.
The soldiers' pay of fifteen pounds of tobacco per day
should induce volunteers,
and if needed there will be a draft by lottery.
The two detachments will be sent to Alexandria
where you are to train and discipline them.

WASHINGTON
May I have leave to procure
Jacob van Braam as an officer?
He is much experienced in military training.

DINWIDDIE
Of course, and I might add,
you may hope for an esteemed commission yourself.
What position do you desire?

WASHINGTON
I don't think I have the experience
to be the commander,
but if I could be second to a qualified senior,
I believe I would not fail, sir.
What is to be the colonial officers' pay?

DINWIDDIE
Fifteen shillings per day.

WASHINGTON
Isn't that considerably less
than that of British officers?

DINWIDDIE
Not when you consider that in addition
the colonials will receive provisions and meals.

WASHINGTON
I leave for Alexandria, sir.

DINWIDDIE
Farewell.

INT. FAIRFAX MANSION - DAY

Washington is seated in conversation with LORD WILLIAM FAIRFAX.

WASHINGTON
Lord Fairfax, are you saying that
you haven't been able to raise a single man?

FAIRFAX
There was no roll of the men
liable to military duty.
We have only the tax-lists.
In this county there is
a defiance of the proposed draft,
and I'm not even sure
I have the authority to execute it,
as the House of Burgesses has not approved it yet.

INT. GOVERNOR'S PALACE - DAY

Washington stands before Dinwiddie.

WASHINGTON
Sir, you may, with almost equal success,
attempt to raise the dead to life again,
as the force of Frederick County.

DINWIDDIE
I know.
My own council has discovered
a technicality in the law,
making the draft questionable.

WASHINGTON
I don't believe people
realize the impending danger
or the importance of
keeping the French out of Ohio, sir.

DINWIDDIE
Tomorrow I'll present your report
and the entire situation
at the opening session
of the General Assembly of Burgesses
which I have called for this emergency.

INT. HOUSE OF BURGESSES - DAY

Governor Dinwiddie is concluding his address to the Assembly.

DINWIDDIE
Therefore, in conclusion, in order to combat
the fifteen hundred French with their Indian allies
who are preparing to advance early in the spring
to build many more fortresses on the Ohio,
I appeal to you,
on behalf of our English on the frontier,
to vote for adequate supplies
so that we can defend the colony of Virginia.

As Dinwiddie sits down, there is an outbreak of dissenting opinions from various BURGESSES.

FIRST BURGESS
A fiction and a scheme to promote
the interest of the private Ohio Company!

SECOND BURGESS
Maybe the region does belong to the French.

THIRD BURGESS
Treason!
I say we must fight for our frontier!

INT. WILLIAMSBURG TAVERN - DAY

Washington enjoys a beer with ROBINSON, Speaker of the Assembly.

ROBINSON
As Speaker of the Assembly,
I am proud to inform you, Major Washington,
that we have voted you a reward of fifty pounds
for your recent mission to the French post.

WASHINGTON
Thank you, Mr. Robinson.
That's an honor,
though it hardly covers my expenses.
Governor Dinwiddie is only going to pay
the colonial officers fifteen shillings a day.
What do you think of that?

ROBINSON
I'd say it's far too low.
Why should colonials receive less than the British?

WASHINGTON
Why, indeed!

ROBINSON
The House finally voted ten thousand pounds
for the protection of our frontiers,
but we included a committee
of fourteen distinguished men,
any nine of whom can decide
how to spend the money.
With the Governor's approval, of course.

WASHINGTON
Of course.
How did Dinwiddie respond to that?

ROBINSON
He said we clogged this bill
with things unconstitutional
and derogatory to the prerogatives of the crown.
He's afraid we're very much
in a republican way of thinking.
If it weren't for the fact that he needed these funds,
I'm sure he would have dissolved the Assembly.
He did close the session
as soon as we passed the bill.

EXT. FIELD IN ALEXANDRIA - DAY

Washington is watching as VAN BRAAM attempts to train about one hundred twenty raw RECRUITS without uniforms, many without coats or shirts or shoes and socks.

VAN BRAAM
All right, men, at ease.
Most of you know George Washington,
as he has recruited many of you.
I am proud to announce that he has been promoted
to Lieutenant Colonel and has been placed
second in command of the expedition by the Governor.

There are a few cheers and hoots.

VAN BRAAM (Cont'd.)
Colonel Fry is our commander,
but until he joins us, Washington is in charge.
I served under him in a recent journey to Ohio,
and he is a man of courage and good common sense.

WASHINGTON
Thank you.
We still need more men, horses, and wagons,
so if your friends can help us out, let us know.

RECRUIT
What about our uniforms?

WASHINGTON
I'm writing the Governor on that matter.
Tomorrow at dawn we begin our march to Winchester.
This company will be under Jacob van Braam,
and that company under Peter Hoge.
So make your preparations.
Dismissed.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS IN ALEXANDRIA - EVENING

Washington is meeting with his officers: van Braam, PETER HOGE, who is Scottish and 51 years of age, and JOHN CARLYLE, who is Commissary of Supply.

WASHINGTON
All right, gentlemen.
I've received a letter
with instructions from Governor Dinwiddie.
First there is the unpleasant matter of our salaries.
Now they are to be less
than those of the British officers,
even less than the Governor told me personally.

HOGE
This is an outrage!

WASHINGTON
Yes, I considered resigning,
but the Lord Fairfax convinced me to stay on,
and he promised he would endeavor
to get us more money.
As for myself,
I'd almost rather volunteer without pay
than to have to suffer
this insult to colonial Americans.

VAN BRAAM
We know you are fighting on our behalf, sir.

WASHINGTON
Then to our immediate orders:
since the French are expected
to move early in the season to the Ohio,
it makes it necessary for us to march
what soldiers we have immediately to that region,
and escort some wagons with necessary provisions.

HOGE
What about Colonel Fry?

WASHINGTON
He is to follow as soon as possible.

VAN BRAAM
So, we're on our own.

WASHINGTON
Let me read Dinwiddie's exact instructions as to
how we are to conduct ourselves
in relation to the French:
"You are to act on the defensive,
but in case any attempts are made
to obstruct the works
or interrupt our settlements by any persons whatever,
you are to restrain all such offenders,
and in case of resistance
to make prisoners of or kill and destroy them.
For the rest, you are to conduct yourself
as the circumstances of the service shall require,
and to act as you shall find best
for the furtherance of His Majesty's service
and the good of his dominion."

HOGE
That's vague enough.

VAN BRAAM
And strong enough.

HOGE
To be sure,
considering war hasn't even been declared.

CARLYLE
Sir, where are we to get the wagons and horses?
We only have two wagons now.

WASHINGTON
At Winchester wagons are supposed to be ready for us;
if they aren't, we'll have to impress them.
When we get to Wills Creek,
we'll leave the wagons and use pack animals.
There is still too much mud
and rough country beyond there.
Also the heavy artillery guns will have to be left here
until the sun can dry out the roads.
This way at least we'll have a chance
of getting to the Ohio forks before the French do.

CARLYLE
Sir, as Commissary, I still need to know
how we'll get horses at Wills Creek.

WASHINGTON
Good point.
Right now let's you and I
draft a letter to Captain William Trent,
asking him to collect the required horses,
so they'll be ready when we get there.

EXT. ALEXANDRIA OUTSKIRTS - DAWN

Washington's troops and the two wagons begin their march to the northwest. Washington is riding one of the best horses.

EXT. SHENANDOAH VALLEY - DAY

The troops march on a road through otherwise virgin country.

EXT. WINCHESTER - AFTERNOON

As the troops reach the town, CAPTAIN ADAM STEPHEN, who is a confident 30 years old, and another OFFICER ride out to greet Washington.

STEPHEN
Sir, I am Captain Adam Stephen
in charge of forty men
raised here at Winchester.
Welcome.

WASHINGTON
Glad to meet you.

STEPHEN
I'm surprised you are here so soon,
but your headquarters have been prepared.

WASHINGTON
We covered seventy-four miles in seven days.
When I used to survey,
Winchester always meant a bed and sheets.

STEPHEN
It's all ready, sir.

WASHINGTON
Captain Stephen, you've raised some men.
How many wagons do you have?

STEPHEN
Wagons, sir?

WASHINGTON
Yes, wagons.
We requested at least a dozen wagons.

STEPHEN
There are no extra ones around, sir.

WASHINGTON
Then we'll just have to impress some, won't we?

STEPHEN
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WINCHESTER - EVENING

Washington sits at a table and faces PRIVATE HAMILTON and FOUR ENLISTED MEN. There are also a couple of GUARDS present.

WASHINGTON
Yes?

HAMILTON
Sir, I felt it was my duty to inform you
that these four men were planning to desert.

WASHINGTON
How did you discover this?

HAMILTON
They asked me to join them, sir.

WASHINGTON
I see.
Men, is this true?

The four enlisted men ashamedly nod their heads.

WASHINGTON
You know the penalty for desertion is usually death.
Why did you want to leave?

ENLISTED MAN
We're just not cut out for the army life, sir.

WASHINGTON
You should have thought of that before.
Men, let me tell you something---
the army can give you training,
discipline, and a sense of duty.
As you are apparently lacking in these,
then you can derive great benefit.
If I absolve you of any punishment,
will you stay and serve your terms as soldiers?

ENLISTED MEN
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Then you can return to your company.
If you desert and are caught, you will be shot.
Dismissed.
Private Hamilton remain.

The four enlisted men go out.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
Here is a reward of six shillings
for each of the four men
whom you have saved from entering a bad road.

HAMILTON
Thank you, sir.

EXT. WINCHESTER - AFTERNOON

Washington and Carlyle look over the ten wagons and their haggard teams of horses.

WASHINGTON
Ten wagons out of how many did we impress?

CARLYLE
Seventy-four, sir.

WASHINGTON
And we've been here over a week.

CARLYLE
The law is that two men must appraise their value
and set a daily allowance in tobacco
for public use of the property.
We could get two neighbors to say their worth,
but delivery of the wagons and teams
is hard to enforce.

WASHINGTON
Look at these horses;
they must be the oldest and poorest in the county.
Well, do you think we have enough
to carry all the supplies and food we'll need?

CARLYLE
I suppose.

WASHINGTON
Then we'll leave in the morning.

EXT. HILLSIDE ROAD - DAY

The men help push the wagons up the hill. Washington has ridden ahead a little way with van Braam, and happens to meet a hurrying horseman MESSENGER.

MESSENGER
Who's in charge of this company?

WASHINGTON
I am. I've ridden ahead to look for a campsite.

VAN BRAAM
This is Lieutenant Colonel Washington.

MESSENGER
I carry letters from Captain Trent.

Washington eagerly opens the sealed letters and reads them.

WASHINGTON (to van Braam)
Captain Trent appeals for reinforcements
at the forks of the Ohio with all possible speed.
Eight hundred French troops are approaching,
and he is expecting an attack at any hour.

VAN BRAAM
And we're weeks away, obviously too late.

WASHINGTON (to Messenger)
You may sup with us.
I will dispatch another messenger right away
to take these to Colonel Fry in Alexandria.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WILLS CREEK - DAY

Washington discusses transport with Carlyle.

WASHINGTON
You mean Trent has not provided us
with a single horse?

CARLYLE
And none are on the road either.

WASHINGTON
Well, that's the end of our rapid advance.
Take some men back down to the Potomac River
to hire wagons and horses.

Some commotion is heard outside. They go out to look.

EXT. WILLS CREEK - DAY

ENSIGN EDWARD WARD rides into town, asking for the way to the commander.

WARD
Who's in charge here?

SOLDIER
Lieutenant Colonel Washington.

Washington goes up to Ward.

WARD
Sir, I am Ensign Ward.
The French have taken the fort at the forks.

WASHINGTON
Please come in to my headquarters.
Major Carlyle,
gather van Braam, Hoge, and Stephen
to hear the news.

CARLYLE
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WILLS CREEK - DAY

Washington, Ward, Carlyle, van Braam, Hoge, and Stephen are seated around a table.

WASHINGTON
Tell us what happened, Ensign.

WARD
Trent was contracted
by the Ohio Company to build a fort.
When it was decided to shift the site
to the fork at the mouth of the Monongahela,
Governor Dinwiddie authorized the enlistment
of a hundred men for the protection of the builders.
At that time I was commissioned Ensign,
and John Frazier was made Lieutenant.

WASHINGTON
What happened to Trent and Frazier?

WARD
Trent had come here to Wills Creek for provisions,
and Frazier stayed at his trading post on Turtle Creek,
as his obligation was only to visit the fort once a week,
or as often as he felt necessary.
Meanwhile a trader by the name of Callender
showed us a letter from John Davison
warning that a large force of French
could be expected at the forks in four days.
So I sent a copy of the letter to Captain Trent
and went myself to consult Frazier at Turtle Creek.

WASHINGTON
What did Frazier say?

WARD
He felt the report was correct,
but the only thing he could suggest
was to talk to Half King who was nearby.
Half King recommended building a stockade.
Frazier agreed, but wouldn't come with us to the fort
because of some business transaction
he was involved in.
Well, that made me angry.
I decided to hold the fort as long as we could,
rather than have it recorded the English retreated
even before the French arrived.
Why, we would have lost
the respect of our Indian allies.

WASHINGTON
That's right.

WARD
So Half King and some braves went with me
to build the stockade.
Half King proudly laid the first log.
In two days we set all the uprights
and were completing the last gate
when the French arrived as predicted by Davison.
They sounded a parley
and gave us one hour to surrender
or face bombardment.
Half King suggested that I say
I didn't have authority to answer their demand;
so I asked permission
to forward it to my superior officer.

WASHINGTON
The French know that trick
and obviously wanted the fort immediately.

WARD
Yes, but they allowed us to leave
carrying our arms, tools, and supplies.
As they had about a thousand men to our forty-one,
I felt it was our best option.

WASHINGTON
What sort of equipment and transport did they have?

WARD
About three hundred canoes and sixty bateaux,
each boat carrying four men.
They brought eighteen cannon
including three nine-pounders.
Here are two papers:
one is the French commander's summons
served on us;
the other has speeches from Half King
to the Governors of Virginia and Pennsylvania,
and to you, sir.

Washington looks over the documents.

WARD (Cont'd.)
You see how the French
are more antagonistic to the Ohio Company
that has the interest of trade
than to any conflict
between Great Britain and France.

WASHINGTON
Yes, a politically safe document.

WARD
They told me that if I came by orders,
I could withdraw,
but if our expedition was for trade,
then our men would be seized
and our property confiscated.

WASHINGTON
Half King requests our urgent help
as he is ready to fight.
He will even go to the Governors in person,
if need be,
to get their help against the French.
Well, gentlemen,
what do you think we should do?

HOGE
Even with those from the fort,
we have only two hundred men.
How can we possibly march on one thousand?

STEPHEN
We need reinforcements from Colonel Fry.

VAN BRAAM
And from the Indians who have been promised.

HOGE
What about the other colonies?
Is Virginia supposed to take on the French alone?

WASHINGTON
I agree with you all,
but we must make positive movement,
or we may lose the support of the Indians
who are already loyal to us and ready to fight.

HOGE
If we advance ourselves,
I think we're taking a large risk.
Why not wait for reinforcements?

WASHINGTON
By taking a more advanced position,
we will be more prepared
when the reinforcements do arrive.
We must advance as far as we can.

VAN BRAAM
I support that.

STEPHEN
I'm with you.

HOGE (Reluctantly)
All right.

WASHINGTON
Major Carlyle, roll out that map of the area.

Carlyle spreads out a map on the table.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
Here we are at Wills Creek.
Up here is the fort
where the Monongahela, the Allegheny,
and the Ohio meet.
Ensign Ward, didn't Trent build a storehouse here
where Red Stone Creek meets the Monongahela?

WARD
Yes, sir, he did.

WASHINGTON
If we could get there,
then we could float down the Monongahela
all the way to the forks
when our forces are assembled.
Now the most direct route takes us over
the Little Crossing at Castleman River,
the Great Crossing over the Youghiogheny,
through Great Meadows,
and into Gist's New Settlement.

VAN BRAAM
We traveled that last year.

WASHINGTON
Yes, the most difficult part will be from there
across Chestnut Ridge to Red Stone Creek.
We'll have to widen the trail
into a road for the guns and wagons.

STEPHEN
Very good, sir.

WASHINGTON
Now I will write to Dinwiddie
and directly to the Governors
of Pennsylvania and Maryland
to plead for reinforcements.
This will save the time that would be lost
if we waited for Dinwiddie to contact them.
Ensign Ward,
will you go with an Indian to Williamsburg
with Half King's speech
and my letter to the Governor?

WARD
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
You can take one of my good horses.

WARD
Thank you, sir.

WASHINGTON
I will also write to Half King
to tell him we are coming,
and to ask him to meet us along the road.
Captain Hoge,
I place you in charge of work on the road,
and make use of Trent's men as they arrive.

HOGE
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS - RAINY DAY

Carlyle brings news to Washington.

CARLYLE
Sir, I've brought several wagons from the Potomac
and some cannons from Alexandria.

WASHINGTON
Fine.
Put the cannons in a place of safety for now.
As soon as the wagons are loaded,
we'll start the advance.

CARLYLE
Yes, sir.

Captain Hoge knocks and enters.

WASHINGTON
Come in. Oh, Captain Hoge.
How is the road coming along?

HOGE
Very slowly, sir---about two or three miles a day.
Sir, we've got problems with Trent's men.
These men were enlisted as militia
instead of as volunteers,
and Trent promised to pay them two shillings a day
which is three times the pay of our men,
and they won't work for less.
Besides, these men are rowdy adventurers
and are causing dissension among our men.

WASHINGTON
We'll have to separate them from our troops,
and we're definitely not paying them
more than our men.
They'll just have to sit around.

HOGE
There's liable to be more trouble, sir,
or most of them will probably leave.

WASHINGTON
I can't invoke martial law against militia.
Just keep them out of our camp.
If they go, they go.

HOGE
Yes, sir.

EXT. WILDERNESS ROAD - DAY

Washington is overseeing the leveling of tree stumps and the making of the road when ROBERT CALLENDER arrives on horseback.

CALLENDER
Are you George Washington?

WASHINGTON
Yes.

CALLENDER
My name is Robert Callender,
and I have news for you.

WASHINGTON
Where have you been?

CALLENDER
At Gist's New Settlement I met
a party of five French under Commissary La Force.

WASHINGTON
What were they doing there?

CALLENDER
They claimed to be searching for deserters,
but I'd say they were reconnoitering
and studying the country.
I also bring word from Half King.

WASHINGTON
Good.
Did he get my speech?

CALLENDER
Yes, and he found satisfaction in it.
He is marching with fifty men to join you,
though La Force tried to bribe the Indians
over to the French side.

WASHINGTON
Captain Stephen!

STEPHEN
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
I want you to take twenty-five men to reconnoiter
and meet Half King on the road.
Try to find out if we can move supplies
by water to Red Stone Creek.

STEPHEN
Yes, sir.

CALLENDER
Are you headed for Red Stone Creek?

WASHINGTON
Yes. Do you know the territory?

CALLENDER
I know you'll have a hell of a time
trying to get these wagons over Chestnut Ridge.
You might try the Youghiogheny River
to see if you could get your supplies
down to the falls of the Ohio
or opposite to Red Stone Creek.

WASHINGTON
Thanks for the advice.

INT. WASHINGTON'S TENT BY THE YOUGHIOGHENY - DAY

Ward has brought news from Williamsburg to Washington, Stephen, van Braam, and Hoge. He hands Washington some letters.

WARD
Sir, Colonel Fry has arrived at Winchester
with five wagons and a cart.

HOGE (Laughing)
That's our army.

WARD
He left some men in Alexandria to procure more.

WASHINGTON
I see Dinwiddie approves of the caution
in our advance to Red Stone Creek.
And he wants Trent and Frazier court-martialed
for leaving the fort.
I'll send a message to Half King with an Indian,
but not the Governor's letter,
so he'll be eager to come here.
Dinwiddie wants to meet with him in Winchester,
and I wouldn't mind
hunting down a few French first.
I hear they're pretty close.

WARD
Also the Governor says
you can expect an independent company
from South Carolina and two from New York.
Besides the regulars,
some men from North Carolina are on the march.

WASHINGTON
"Independent" means
they don't belong to any regiment
but are commanded by officers
who have received their commissions from the King.

HOGE
And that means their pay is higher,
and their rank is valued more than ours.

WASHINGTON
Dinwiddie says in here
that punctilios about command
should not interfere with the expedition.

STEPHEN
Sir, the officers have met and found this intolerable.
We have a letter for the Governor to inform him
that if the officers are not put on equal terms,
we will all resign.

WASHINGTON
I will send it to the Governor
with a letter of my own.
As for me, I will not resign,
but would continue as a volunteer.
Tomorrow we should be able
to cross the Youghiogheny.
In the morning I'm taking four men
and an Indian guide
downstream in a canoe
to see if it is a passable route.

EXT. YOUGHIOGHENY RIVER - AFTERNOON

Washington, FOUR MEN, and an INDIAN GUIDE are on a raft where Laurel Hill Creek and Casselman's River empty into the Youghiogheny. The Indian refuses to go farther, as he gets off the raft on shore.

INDIAN GUIDE
No go more!

Washington reaches into his pack and pulls out a ruffled shirt and presents it to the Indian, who is pleased at the gift and points the correct way.

EXT. YOUGHIOGHENY RIVER NEAR A FALL - DAY

The party is on land, as Washington, one man, and the Indian in the ruffled shirt climb down the rocky terrain to see that the sharp drop-offs in the river make it impossible for transport.

WASHINGTON
Well, that's the end of this route!

EXT. WILDERNESS CAMP - AFTERNOON

Washington has rejoined the main camp and is met by Captain Stephen.

STEPHEN
On my last reconnoitering trip
I got some information.

WASHINGTON
Well, what is it?

STEPHEN
A young French officer called Jumonville
has been prowling around the Monongahela
with some soldiers,
but the rain sent him scurrying back to Fort Duquesne,
which is their name for the fort at the Ohio forks.

WASHINGTON
Any information on the fort?

STEPHEN
For five pounds payment,
a man went and came back
with detailed information on the number of men,
their daily works, the number sick,
the dimensions of the fort and the ditch around it.

WASHINGTON
Wait a minute.
If he got all that information,
he must be in with the French.

STEPHEN
That's what I figured, sir;
so I came back to the main force.

WASHINGTON
Terrific!
Our spy is a traitor,
and now they probably know
what you were up to.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - AFTERNOON

An Indian TRADER is giving Washington news.

TRADER
Yesterday I saw two Frenchmen
at Gist's New Settlement,
and I'm sure there is
a hostile detachment on the march.

WASHINGTON
Thank you.

He calls over Captain Hoge.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
Captain Hoge,
we will camp in the middle of this clearing.
Set the men to work making defensive preparations.
Place the wagons between those two gulleys
and station men in the trenches.
I've heard too many rumors of French on the march.

HOGE
Yes, sir.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS CAMP - MORNING

Washington instructs the officers.

WASHINGTON
Van Braam, I want you to detach
small groups of scouting parties
to search the surrounding area
for any sign of the French.
Captain Stephen, your men will work
clearing the meadow around the camp
of all bushes and anything
that would obstruct gun-fire or hide men.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS CAMP - NIGHT

A SENTRY hears something in the forest to the west and sounds an alarm bell. He fires his rifle.

SENTRY
On the west side!

A few others fire also, but the woods are quiet.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS CAMP - DAWN

Washington has been waiting with the troops who have rifles. Hoge reports to him.

HOGE
Sir, there are six men missing
with all their possessions.

WASHINGTON
Deserters, do you think?

HOGE
I'd say so.

WASHINGTON
That must have been the disturbance last night.
Of all the scouts we sent out in the last two days,
not one has seen a Frenchman.

Washington commands the soldiers.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
All right, men,
you can retire and get some rest now.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS CAMP - MORNING

Van Braam notifies Washington that CHRISTOPHER GIST is approaching.

VAN BRAAM
Sir, it's our old friend, Chris Gist!

WASHINGTON
Hold your fire!

Gist rides up to Washington and dismounts.

GIST
George, good to see you!

WASHINGTON
My good friend, how are you?

GIST
Perturbed at the French!

WASHINGTON
What happened?

GIST
You remember Commissary La Force?

WASHINGTON
Of course.

GIST
Well, yesterday he and fifty soldiers
were at the New Settlement
where I left two Indians in charge.
The French were going to kill my cow
and ransack my belongings,
but the Indians pleaded with them
until they changed their minds.
When I heard about it, I hurried off to warn you.

WASHINGTON
Thanks.

GIST
About five miles from here
I found tracks of a group of white men
who must have been the ones at my place yesterday.
Also the canoes of their advance
are at Red Stone Creek.

Washington calls over Hoge.

WASHINGTON
Captain Hoge, take seventy-five men
and find that French party.

HOGE
Gladly, sir.

Hoge goes off to organize his men, while Washington turns to Gist.

WASHINGTON
Will you stay with us, Chris?

GIST
I must leave for Winchester
to sit in on the conference
with the Indians as an advisor to the Governor.

WASHINGTON
Can you wait until I write Dinwiddie a letter?

GIST
Of course.

INT. WASHINGTON'S TENT AT GREAT MEADOWS - RAINY NIGHT

An Indian messenger to be known as SILVERHEELS is speaking to Washington.

SILVERHEELS
Half King says he sees footprints
of two Frenchmen on trail six miles from here.
Half King says a French party near him.

WASHINGTON
Can you lead us there, tonight?

SILVERHEELS
Dark night in rain, but I show you.

EXT. WILDERNESS TRAIL - NIGHT

Silverheels guides Washington, Stephen, and about forty men on foot through the dark and wet woods. The conversation is whispered.

STEPHEN
Sir, my men can hardly see the trail,
and our powder is getting wet.

WASHINGTON
Tell them to hold hands if they need to.

STEPHEN (Commands)
Maintain touch with the man in front of you.
Pass it on.

EXT. WILDERNESS SHELTER - DAWN

Washington's party arrives at a crude shelter to find HALF KING, MONAKATOOCHA, and about TEN INDIANS, only four of whom have rifles. They all agree to fight together, and Half King sends out two braves to find the French, while everyone else waits quietly in the woods. After a while the braves return and draw on the ground a map of the French camp. Washington and Half King diagram their plan of attack.

EXT. JUMONVILLE CAMP - MORNING

As the French are getting up, washing, eating, etc., Washington and some men sneak up on the right flank, Stephen and his men on the left, and the Indians further to the left. When they are about a hundred yards from the French, the rest of the area between is open. Washington's men are the most exposed, as Washington steps forward and is noticed by the French who run for their guns. Both sides are firing at each other. JUMONVILLE is shot immediately. Most of the French are firing at Washington and his men. Near Washington a LIEUTENANT WAGGENER and another man are wounded, and one man is killed. As Stephen advances with his men followed by the Indians, the French begin to turn and run, but a sharp order from DRUILLON induces all but one to stop, throw down their guns, and put up their hands. The Indians rush in and brain and scalp the wounded and dead---ten in all, missing one wounded man. Washington is furious with the Indians, shouting at them.

WASHINGTON
Stop! They surrender!
Don't scalp them!

He rushes over to Half King who is scalping a man.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
Half King, stop!

Half King's reply is interpreted by Silverheels.

SILVERHEELS
Half King has killed their leader!
The French who murdered, boiled, and ate
Half King's father meet their revenge!

As the English count and identify the prisoners, the Indians plunder the camp, but find little food except bread. A soldier finds some papers on Jumonville's body, and gives them to Washington.

SOLDIER
Sir, these were found on Jumonville.

DRUILLON
He was commander.
Now I am. Je m'apelle Druillon.

WASHINGTON
You'll have to use what English you can
until we reach our camp.
Well, it's Commissary La Force.

LA FORCE and Druillon were caught half undressed, but since the Indians have plundered the goods, they must remain that way for a while.

EXT. HALF KING'S SHELTER - DAY

Washington confers with Half King via Silverheels.

WASHINGTON
This man led us to you.
We are grateful.

SILVERHEELS
Half King says I am now called Silverheels.

WASHINGTON
All right, Silverheels, ask Half King
if he will meet with the Governor at Winchester.

SILVERHEELS
No, first we must keep our people
safe from French attack.
We need a guard to bring them to English camp.

WASHINGTON
As soon as we get there ourselves,
we'll send some men.

EXT. WILDERNESS TRAIL - DAY

As they march, Druillon complains to Washington.

DRUILLON
Sir, I protest.
We are embassy, ambassadors, not prisoners.

WASHINGTON
If you were, you should have approached us
openly in a small number,
instead of hiding as you did.

INT. WASHINGTON'S TENT AT GREAT MEADOWS - AFTERNOON

Washington gives Druillon and La Force each a shirt from his own clothes, as van Braam translates the French documents.

WASHINGTON
I've been losing more shirts.

VAN BRAAM
This summation was signed
by Contrecoeur at Fort Duquesne
on May twenty-third, seventeen fifty-four.
The French here order the English
to retire from the lands of the King of France.
Here, this paper tells Jumonville
to find the road the English had opened.
They say the British wish to attack the French,
which they call unbelievable in a time of peace.

WASHINGTON
I'd say those letters are to protect spies
which their actions have loudly declared.

DRUILLON
Sir, are we to be ambassadors or prisoners?

WASHINGTON
Prisoners, sir.
You will be sent to the Governor at Winchester.

INT. HEADQUARTERS AT GREAT MEADOWS - DAY

Washington discusses food supplies with the COMMISSARY SERGEANT.

SERGEANT
Sir, our supply of flour has just run out,
so we can make no more bread.
The men will have to be content
with tough fresh beef.

WASHINGTON
But I just bought some flour from a trader
four days ago for an outrageous price.

SERGEANT
Yes, but all the Indians insist on an equal share,
which you approved.

Washington commands an AIDE.

WASHINGTON
Call in Half King and Queen Aliquippa.

AIDE
Yes, sir.

Half King enters with Silverheels and QUEEN ALIQUIPPA.

WASHINGTON
Hello Queen Aliquippa.
Half King, our bread is gone.
We've been giving all the Indians equal shares
including the women and children,
but now I think it would be better
to send all but the braves to English settlements.

Silverheels serves as translator and responds for Half King.

SILVERHEELS
We think on this and tell you
when Chief Monakatoocha here.

WASHINGTON
Fine.

The Indians go out. There is some activity outside.

AIDE
Sir, Christopher Gist has arrived from Wills Creek.

WASHINGTON
Bring him in.

Gist enters.

GIST
Well sir, how did you like your first real battle?

WASHINGTON
It was very exciting.
I could hear bullets whistling all around me---
a rather charming sound!

GIST
I have some sad news.
Colonel Fry suffered a fall from his horse
and has died.
I guess that places you
in command of the expedition.

WASHINGTON
Yes. Did you notice
we made a fort here on the meadows?

GIST
Yes, if you can call it that.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - DAY

Three new companies arrive led by MAJOR MUSE, CAPTAINS STOBO and LEWIS, and LIEUTENANT MERCER. Stobo drives his covered wagon and is drinking from a mug. Washington and his officers greet them.

WASHINGTON
Sir, I am Lieutenant Colonel Washington.
Welcome.

MUSE
Major Muse here, sir.
Here are some letters from Governor Dinwiddie.

Hoge is talking with Stobo.

HOGE
Captain Stobo, what are you drinking?

STOBO
Madeira, sir!
I have a butt of it in the back of the wagon.

HOGE
At this camp, we all share the provisions equally.

STOBO
Well then, get your cups!

Stobo begins dispensing the wine convivially, as Muse shows Washington some swivel guns and introduces him to ANDREW MONTOUR who looks European although his face is painted like an Indian's. He is dressed according to the following description: "He wore a brown broadcloth coat, a scarlet damaskin lapel waistcoat, breeches over which his shirt hung, a black cordovan neckerchief decked with silver bugles, shoes and stockings and a hat. His ears hung with pendants of brass and other wires plaited together like the handle of a basket."

MUSE
Sir, these are swivel guns
which can fire horizontally in any direction.

WASHINGTON
Very interesting.

MUSE
I'd like you to meet the son of
the Oneida Chief Big Tree and Madame Montour,
a good friend of the English---Andrew Montour.

MONTOUR
Hello Washington.

WASHINGTON
Glad to meet you.

MONTOUR
I speak good English and French
as well as several Indian tongues of the area;
I live among the Six Nations.

WASHINGTON
Then I'm sure you can be of some use to us.

INT. GREAT MEADOWS HEADQUARTERS - AFTERNOON

Washington is meeting with the officers and Half King who receives a medal.

WASHINGTON
For our recent success,
the Governor has sent medals for Half King,
Monakatoocha, Colonel Fry, and myself.
After he heard of Colonel Fry's death
he ordered the following promotions:
I am to take Fry's place and become Colonel.
George Muse, you advance to Lieutenant Colonel,
and Captain Stephen, you are made Major.
Colonel James Innes, an old and experienced officer,
has been named Commander-in-Chief of all the forces,
but it doesn't say when he is to arrive.

STEPHEN
What about our rank and pay
compared to British officers?

WASHINGTON
I've been arguing with the Governor
on that for some time;
he says the Assembly
must pass more money for the extra pay.

MUSE
That's something anyway.

WASHINGTON
Soon some independent companies
will be arriving under Captain Mackay
who has a royal commission.
Dinwiddie writes we should treat them
with particular esteem to avoid disagreements,
which is rather vague.

STEPHEN
Does that mean a Captain
is to command a Colonel like you,
or even be exempt from your orders
when he is three grades below you?

WASHINGTON
We shall see.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - DAY

Washington is leading a company of 130 white men and 30 Indians out of the fort. On his way he gives orders to Muse, as he passes by their camp.

WASHINGTON
Lieutenant Colonel Muse,
I have received word from Indian scouts
that there are ninety Frenchmen nearby;
so I'm going out to capture them.
Move your men into the fort,
mount the swivel guns,
and hold the defenses until we return.

MUSES
Yes, sir.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - AFTERNOON

Washington and his men ride back into the fort and are greeted by Muse.

MUSE
Did you find them, sir?

WASHINGTON
What there is of them.
Ninety had been misunderstood
for nine French deserters.
The Indians are bringing them in.

MUSE
Colonel Washington, the food supply is about gone.

WASHINGTON
We'll just have to wait for more to arrive.
If we had an adequate supply of flour
at least we could march to Red Stone Creek.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - DAY

Washington has ridden out to greet CAPTAIN JAMES MACKAY who is riding in a carriage like a gentleman. He is accompanied by 100 men.

WASHINGTON
Sir, I am Colonel George Washington.

MACKAY
My name is James Mackay, and I am Captain
of this company from South Carolina.
We were delayed by lack of wagons
and could not bring the artillery.

WASHINGTON
How much food did you bring?

MACKAY
Sixty head of cattle, but only five days' flour.

WASHINGTON
I'm glad you made it.
You're welcome to choose your own campsite.

MACKAY
Thank you.

INT. GREAT MEADOWS HEADQUARTERS - AFTERNOON

Washington and Mackay politely chat.

MACKAY
Sir, as an officer of the King,
I cannot place myself under the command
of a colonial colonel commissioned by a governor.
Therefore my company is independent.

WASHINGTON
Then may I consult and advise you, sir?

MACKAY
My force is separate.

WASHINGTON
I see.
We are working on a road to Red Stone Creek.
Will your troops share in the labor?

MACKAY
Certainly,
for their regular pay of one shilling a day.

WASHINGTON
But I cannot pay your men
more than mine for the same work.

MACKAY
I have no authority
to compel my men to work for less.

WASHINGTON
I don't think your company and mine
should remain together.
As you have nowhere to go,
you can remain here at the Meadows,
while I take my men and some provisions
and start off for Red Stone Creek.

MACKAY
Very good, sir.

WASHINGTON
We'll leave in the morning.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - MORNING

Washington and his men have started their march, but have been delayed by broken wagons.

MUSE
Sir, another wagon wheel has broken off.

WASHINGTON
Well, fix it.

MUSE
Yes, sir.

Mackay and some of his men look at the colonial troops with disdain.

INT. CABIN AT GIST'S NEW SETTLEMENT - DAY

About forty Indians are gathering for a council with Washington, Montour, and GEORGE CROGHAN who is a famous trader, Indian interpreter and diplomat. Half King is present, and the Delawares are led by CHIEF SHINGISS. Washington confers with Montour and Croghan.

WASHINGTON
Keep an eye on those Mingoes over there;
they discuss the French a lot and may be spies.

CROGHAN
All of the Six Nations are gathered here,
plus the Delawares under Shingiss, and the Shawnee.
We should be able to gain many allies.

WASHINGTON
Croghan, whatever happened to
the ten thousand pounds of flour
and two hundred horses
you promised us two weeks ago?

CROGHAN
I was lucky to get twenty-five horses.
These are rough times.
The Governor had predicted Virginia would get
a thousand Indians from the Cherokees and Catawbas,
but not one has shown up.

WASHINGTON
Andrew, tell our Indian brothers
that we have come to fight by their sides.
We invite their women and children
to join our English settlements.
Let all Indians of the Ohio
choose between the English and the French,
and take the consequences.
Tell them I am sorry
I don't have more than these gifts
for them at this time.

INT. WASHINGTON'S CABIN - EVENING

Andrew Montour and three Indians sit with Washington.

MONTOUR
Croghan has had trouble
getting the Indians to join the detachment.
Chief Shingiss says he may be persuaded
by a great war-belt
to side with the English,
but the Shawnee have vanished without a word.

WASHINGTON
What about those Mingoes that we suspected?

MONTOUR
I did as you bid me,
and told them
we are continuing the road to the fort.
I sent some of our Indian friends
with them to counter-spy.

WASHINGTON
What about Half King?

MONTOUR
Croghan delivered the wampum and invited him here
to welcome the arrival of Monakatoocha;
rumor says that chief burned his village at Logstown,
but Half King claims to be injured and cannot come.

WASHINGTON
How many Indians in our camp now?

MONTOUR
About thirty.

WASHINGTON
And only half of those are any good to us.

MONTOUR
Most tribes feel the French
are stronger than the English.

Washington commands Captain Lewis.

WASHINGTON
Captain Lewis, you are to take your sixty men
and these Indians as scouts
and begin to clear the road to Red Stone Creek.
Be sure to place adequate guards
to warn you of the French.
The rest of us will stay here at the settlement.

LEWIS
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S CABIN - MORNING

Major Stephen brings news.

STEPHEN
Sir, a message from Monakatoocha states
he was at Fort Duquesne two days ago
and saw French reinforcements.
He heard the French say
they were going to march forward
and attack the English
with eight hundred soldiers and four hundred Indians.

WASHINGTON
Monakatoocha is a trustworthy man.

STEPHEN
Also two men are reported missing since yesterday.

WASHINGTON
That could give the French
intelligence of our position.
If they know our situation,
I'm sure they'll advance on us.

STEPHEN
Any orders, sir?

WASHINGTON
Yes, bring Lewis's detachment
back here to the settlement.
I'll send a dispatch
asking Mackay's independent company
to join us here.

STEPHEN
Yes, sir, right away.

INT. WASHINGTON'S CABIN - EVENING

Washington is holding a council of war with Mackay, Muse, Stephen, Stobo, Lewis, Mercer, Hoge, van Braam, Montour, and a couple of Indians.

WASHINGTON
All right, gentlemen, you've heard the reports.
We have four hundred men and very little food.
The French can be expected any day.
What do you think?

VAN BRAAM
Well, sir, here at the settlement
I think we're more vulnerable
than we would be at Great Meadows.
Here they could surround us
and cut off convoys of supply;
they could narrow the grazing land for our cattle,
and then starve us out.

STEPHEN
Or with a force three times ours
they could attack us directly,
and our retreat through the woods
could be destroyed by Indian ambushes.

HOGE
If we could get back to Great Meadows,
we'd be closer to our supplies,
and they'd be farther from theirs.

WASHINGTON
Also, we'd know what road they'd be coming on,
and could get an early report of their advance.

MONTOUR
The Indians say that
unless we withdraw to the Meadows,
they will abandon us.

WASHINGTON
This area would be treacherous without Indian scouts.

MONTOUR
Definitely.

WASHINGTON
Well, we seem to be in agreement.
Tomorrow we'll leave for Great Meadows.
With those swivel guns and everything,
it'll take us more than two days anyway,
so we'll pack and leave in the early afternoon
so as not to tire ourselves out the first day.

EXT. GIST'S NEW SETTLEMENT - DAY

The wagons are being loaded, but Washington sees that there is not going to be enough room for the ammunition. He speaks to Lieutenant Mercer.

WASHINGTON
Here, Lieutenant, you can use my horse
to pack some more ammunition.
I'd rather walk
than have to leave a single round behind.
Also offer some soldiers four pistoles each
to carry my baggage on their backs.

STEPHEN
I am also giving up my horse, sir,
and the other officers are doing likewise.

WASHINGTON
Thank you, Adam.

STEPHEN
Mackay's men refuse to help
with the loading of the ammunition
or the transport of the guns.
They say it's not proper work for soldiers,
which is spreading dissension among our own men.

WASHINGTON
Oh, the injustice of it!
The officers will just have to enforce discipline
and set good examples themselves.
The Alleghenies are no easy climb.

STEPHEN
Yes, sir.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - LATE AFTERNOON

A tired and hungry army arrives back at Great Meadows.

EXT. GREAT MEADOWS - DAY

Men are building palisades out of timber, digging trenches, and completing the oblong quadrilateral to include water from a brook.

WASHINGTON
I think we'll call it Fort Necessity.

MUSE
What about a further retreat, sir?
The last convoy brought only a few bags of flour.

WASHINGTON
No, the men are too tired to travel.
Besides two independent companies
are due in from New York.

INT. FORT NECESSITY HEADQUARTERS - AFTERNOON

Stephen reports to Washington.

STEPHEN
Sir, all the Indians are gone from their camp.

WASHINGTON
Without a word?

STEPHEN
They silently departed---even Half King.

WASHINGTON
How many men do we have now, Major Stephen?

STEPHEN
A total of four hundred, sir,
but the hospital reports
over a hundred are sick or exhausted,
and cannot fight.

WASHINGTON
Place double sentinels along
all the possible lines of attack before sunset.

STEPHEN
Yes, sir.

EXT. FORT NECESSITY - DAWN

A shot rings out from the forest. Washington comes out of his room to look over the wall. Word is passed into the fort.

SOLDIER
A sentry has been wounded in the heel!

WASHINGTON (to Muse)
All troops report to their positions,
armed and ready.

MUSE
Yes, sir.

As the sleepy soldiers get prepared, a rain begins to fall.

EXT. FORT NECESSITY - RAINY MORNING

The trenches are filling up with water and mud. Stephen reports to Washington.

STEPHEN
Sir, we have two reports.
One says there are
French and Indians in great strength,
and all of them naked, within four miles.
The other indicates nine hundred French
on the march from the Monongahela to attack us.

WASHINGTON
Tell the men to try to keep their powder dry.

EXT. FORT NECESSITY - NOON

The French have appeared in formation, and whoops of Indians can be heard. Washington has a line of troops dressed in good order outside the fort. At 600 yards the French halt and open fire, but the English receive no loss. Washington speaks to Stephen.

WASHINGTON
Don't let them fire yet;
wait until they are closer.

Now the French begin to move forward more quickly.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
Have the men drop back into the trenches
and prepare to fire a volley.

STEPHEN
Move into the trenches and prepare to fire!

WASHINGTON
All right, fire when ready.

Just then the charging French soldiers drop to the ground, scatter, and hide behind trees, stumps, mounds, rocks, and bushes.

STEPHEN
Fire when ready!

Both sides are shooting. As both sides are fairly well protected, the French shoot every horse, cow, and dog around the camp.

STEPHEN (Cont'd.)
They're shooting all the animals, sir!

WASHINGTON
There goes our transport and our meat.
Do not fire in volleys,
but pass the word
the men are to fire at every Frenchman
who lifts his head above a rock
or peers from behind a tree.

The fighting has continued in this manner when suddenly there is a cloudburst, and a tremendous rain drenches them. The men try to keep their ammunition dry, but even the powder in the driest part of the stockade has gotten wet. The water in the trenches is mixed with blood and has a few floating bodies. The English firing ceases, and then the French firing also.

EXT. FORT NECESSITY - TWILIGHT

A call is heard from the French.

FRENCH OFFICER
Voulez-vous parler?

Washington consults with van Braam.

WASHINGTON
What do they want?

VAN BRAAM
They want to send someone to talk.

WASHINGTON
I think they just want to see
the inside of our fort and the trenches around it,
so they can plan an attack.
Tell them no.

VAN BRAAM
No parler ici!

The French ask if the commander would send out an officer who could speak French to receive a proposal.

VAN BRAAM
Sir, they say we can send to them
an officer who speaks French.

WASHINGTON
All right, van Braam.
You go out and bring back their proposal.

Van Braam walks over to the French side with a white flag, as Washington confides with Stephen.

WASHINGTON
Our powder is wet,
a third of our fighting force is killed or wounded,
our horses and cattle are killed,
and there is barely three days rations of food left
to keep us from hunger.
We don't have much choice.

STEPHEN
I think the men have broken into the rum supply, sir.

WASHINGTON
I don't see how we could go on fighting.
The muskets are wet,
and we have only two screws to remove the wet charges.
Soon many men will be drunk.

Van Braam has just returned.

VAN BRAAM
The French will permit us
to leave the fort and return to Virginia
without becoming prisoners of war.

WASHINGTON
That's reasonable, but rather vague.
Go back and get exact details in writing.

VAN BRAAM
Yes, sir.

INT. FORT NECESSITY HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT

Van Braam is translating verbally the French document to Washington, Mackay, and Stephen. It is hard to read the wet paper by candle flame.

VAN BRAAM
It's called the "Capitulation of Fort Necessity."
The French have no intention to disturb
the peace and harmony between the two princes,
but only to avenge---I can't make out this word,
I guess it means the death or killing,
of one of their officers.

WASHINGTON
Oh, Jumonville.
What are the conditions?

VAN BRAAM
First, there will be no insult by the French,
and they will try to restrain the Indians.
Second, the English can carry away their belongings
except artillery and munitions of war.
Third, we are to receive the honors of war
as we march out
with drum beating and one small cannon.
Four, as soon as the terms are signed,
we are to strike the English colors.
Five, at daybreak we are to march out
and leave the fort to the French.
Six, since we have no transport animals,
we can leave some supplies en cache
until we can send draft animals for them.
For this we can place a guard
provided they do not work on any establishment
on this side of the mountains for a year.
Last, the prisoners taken at the, uh,
assailing or killing of Jumonville,
must be liberated
and delivered by escort to Fort Duquesne.
As surety they require two Captains as hostages
who will be returned in two and a half months.

WASHINGTON
We must have one change.
Tell them we need to be armed when we leave,
otherwise the Indians could kill
and scalp every last one of us.
Ask them to strike out the words "munitions of war,"
and we will agree.

Van Braam departs.

WASHINGTON
Major Stephen, call in all the Captains at once.

STEPHEN
Yes, sir.

INT. FORT NECESSITY HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT

Hoge, Lewis, Mercer, and Stobo have assembled with Washington, Stephen, and Mackay.

WASHINGTON
The French require two officers as hostages.
I'm sure you will be treated with courtesy.
If you have a good reason for eliminating yourself
from this duty, speak now.

HOGE
Sir, begging your pardon, I only got married
two weeks before this expedition started.

LEWIS
Sir, I also have a family
and responsibilities in Augusta.

MERCER
I have no family, sir,
but my company has lost our lieutenant,
and our ensign must stay
at the fort to assist the wounded.

WASHINGTON
I guess that leaves you, Captain Stobo,
and Captain van Braam,
who is a logical choice, because he speaks French.

Van Braam returns with the document.

WASHINGTON
Did they accept the change?

VAN BRAAM
Yes, sir, they have crossed out those words.

WASHINGTON
Fine.
Jacob, I am nominating you
and Stobo as the hostages.

VAN BRAAM
All right, sir.
I'll write in the names then.
Now here is where the commanding officer signs.

WASHINGTON
Washington signs calmly.

MACKAY
I will have to sign also
for the South Carolina Company.

He signs a little above Washington's name.

WASHINGTON
What day is it?

STEPHEN
It's about midnight, sir,
between July third and fourth.

WASHINGTON
Do I hear a pick and shovel?

VAN BRAAM
Yes, sir, the French are burying their dead.

WASHINGTON
Captains Hoge and Lewis,
I put you in charge of that detail for us.
Major Stephen, remove the flag.
We leave in the morning, gentlemen.
Good night.

EXT. FORT NECESSITY - MORNING

The English are packing what they can on their backs and assisting the wounded, as the French oversee. Major Stephen is not wearing his uniform as he wades in the mud halfway up to his thighs; his hands and face are red from handling powder. His AIDE notices a Frenchman carrying away his case.

AIDE
Major,
a Frenchman has carried off your clothes!

Stephen notices his case on the shoulder of a running Frenchman disappear into a crowd of men. He runs after him, grabs the case, and kicks the Frenchman. On his way back, two French officers stop him.

FRENCH OFFICER
If you strike our soldiers,
we cannot be responsible for the capitulation.

STEPHEN
Sir, I will strike any man who is a thief!

FRENCH OFFICER
How dare you speak to us like that!
Are you an officer?

Stephen commands his aide.

STEPHEN
Open my portmanteau.

AIDE
Yes, sir.

The aide pulls out a "flaming suit of laced regimentals," complete with decorations, which Stephen immediately puts on.

FRENCH OFFICER
Well sir,
you should have demanded two hostages,
while giving two.
We are desirous of going to Virginia,
where we heard there are
a great many fair young ladies.

They laugh and walk off. Meanwhile Washington is selling a superfine broadcloth coat with silver fringe and an elegant scarlet, full-laced waistcoat to van Braam.

WASHINGTON
You can have them for six pounds and seven pounds.

VAN BRAAM
Why not? Add it to my debt.
I'll sign over two months pay to you.

WASHINGTON
Good. I'll have less to carry.

EXT. FORT NECESSITY - LATE MORNING

The English are finally marching out on foot, helping the wounded. Washington speaks to Stephen.

WASHINGTON
We owe our thanks to divine providence
to even get out of here alive.

EXT. ROADSIDE CAMP - MORNING

Washington is holding a brief council.

STEPHEN
We retrieved the three wounded
who wanted to join us, sir.

WASHINGTON
Very good. George Muse, step forward.

MUSE
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
I'm sorry to say that you have been accused
of cowardice in the line of duty,
having run into the stockade with your Virginia troops,
leaving the independent company unsupported
in its defense of the trenches.
What do you have to say for yourself?

MUSE
I admit it, sir, but there were many as bad as I.

WASHINGTON
Sir, your conduct is unbefitting for an officer,
and from now on you will not be considered as such
by me on this expedition.
I am proud to say that
Captain Mackay and his company
fought bravely in your stead.
Now where is that ensign who reads French?

ENSIGN
Here, sir.

WASHINGTON
What did you find in this document?

ENSIGN
The words "assassination" and "assassinated," sir.
They claim we had assassinated
one of their officers,
and they were merely avenging it.
Now this document shows
that the English admit this.

WASHINGTON
Captain Mackay, do you remember van Braam
ever using that word?

MACKAY
No, sir, not once.
I think he said "death" or "killing."

WASHINGTON
Yes, I agree with you on that.
Thank you for the information, Ensign.

ENSIGN
Yes, sir.

INT. HEADQUARTERS AT WINCHESTER - DAY

Washington and Mackay report to COL. JAMES INNES.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Innes, as you know,
the fort at Great Meadows has been lost.
The dead number thirty with seventy wounded.
Also many deserted on our return journey.

INNES
Thank you for the report, Colonel Washington.
It is unfortunate
you did not receive more reinforcments.

WASHINGTON
Sir, now that you are in command here,
Captain Mackay and myself request permission
to take two horses to ride to Williamsburg
to deliver the capitulation terms to the Governor.

INNES
Granted.

INT. GOVERNOR'S PALACE - DAY

Washington and Mackay report to Dinwiddie.

DINWIDDIE
I'm giving orders to Colonel Innes
to build a log fort at Wills Creek
and to store up six months' provisions.

WASHINGTON
I think it is prudent, Governor,
not to march on the Ohio
till we have sufficient force to attack the enemy,
and that we may be properly provided for that purpose.

DINWIDDIE
I quite agree.
Well, Washington,
you are quite a hero in Virginia
because of that Jumonville skirmish,
and you are not blamed for the defeat of Fort Necessity,
though that word "assassination" is an outrage.
You might be curious to know
the King read your comment in the London Magazine
that you found
something charming in the sound of bullets.
The King predicted you would not say so
if you had been used to hearing many.
Well, you and Captain Mackay are to be congratulated
for your noble efforts.

WASHINGTON
Thank you, sir.

DINWIDDIE
You realize, of course,
these little skirmishes could mean
the beginning of a bloody war
between France and England?

WASHINGTON
I cannot help that, sir,
but I am glad to do my duty for King and country.


--end of the second episode in a series on GEORGE WASHINGTON--

Copyright 1996, 2008 by Sanderson Beck

This screenplay has been published in the book GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Dramatic Series. For ordering information, please click here.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

Wilderness Diplomacy
A War Breaks Out
General Braddock's Defeat
Virginia Patriot
Fight for Independence
Maintaining an Army
On to Victory
The Constitution
First President
Second Term

BECK index