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INTERIOR BELVOIR MANSION - AFTERNOON
GEORGE WASHINGTON, COL. WILLIAM FAIRFAX, GEORGE WILLIAM FAIRFAX, and JOHN CARLYLE are playing cards, as SALLY FAIRFAX sews nearby.
I'll bet three pence.
With your brother Lawrence's will finally settled,
I understand you've leased Mount Vernon, George.
Yes, I've always had a liking for the place.
Mr. Carlyle here,
has been so good to keep accounts for me.
You've won this hand, George.
So you've retired from the army to a plantation.
I thought you were strongly bent for the military life.
I am, but the colonial officers
have been deprived of our honors
in favor of the royal commissions.
How is that?
Instead of my former position as Colonel,
I am supposed to apply to the King
to become only a provincial Captain without seniority.
Why, I'd be outranked by every captain
bearing the King's commission,
every half-pay officer or other,
appearing with such a commission.
That's three ranks below Colonel;
I hear they're raising quite a campaign
to meet the French next spring.
Yes, both our own Virginia Governor Dinwiddie
and Governor Sharpe of Maryland
are ambitious to become its commander-in-chief.
I doubt if I could learn much of the military art
from either one of them.
They're building a fort at Wills Creek.
Yes, Fort Cumberland.
And Dinwiddie hopes to raise two thousand men.
We'll see about that in a few months.
What do you think about all this, Sally?
I don't rightly know, but I'd say
it's harder to raise soldiers than tobacco.
EXTERIOR BELVOIR GARDEN - FEBRUARY AFTERNOON
Washington is having tea with Sally and George Fairfax. Sally shows him a newspaper article.
Have you seen what's
in the Virginia Gazette, George?
The British have sent
Major General Edward Braddock
as His Majesty's Commander-in-Chief
of the forces in North America.
What experience does he have?
He fought in the War of the Austrian Succession.
Washington looks at the newspaper article.
I see here he is accompanied by Captain Orme
and is to be attended by Mr. Shirley, secretary,
and another aide-de-camp, Roger Morris.
Yes, Shirley is the son
of the Governor of Massachusetts.
Morris must be related
to the Governor of Pennsylvania.
I think I'll write a letter
congratulating the General on his arrival in America.
INT. MOUNT VERNON STUDY - MORNING
A SERVANT hands Washington some mail.
A letter from Williamsburg, sir.
Washington opens it, and we hear him reading it in his mind.
WASHINGTON (v. o.)
It looks like it's from Braddock's staff.
"Sir: The General having been informed
that you expressed some desire
to make the campaign,
but that you declined it
upon the disagreeableness
that you thought might arise
from the regulation of command,
has ordered me to acquaint you
that he will be very glad
of your company in his family
by which all inconveniences
of that kind will be obviated."
The letter is signed "Your most obedient servant, Robert Orme, aide de camp." Washington sits down at his desk and starts to write a letter.
INT. BRADDOCK'S HEADQUARTERS IN ALEXANDRIA - DAY
GENERAL BRADDOCK is about 60 years old, short and stout, with an energetic personality. His quarters reflect the elegance of Alexandria. Washington has just been introduced by CAPTAIN ORME to the General, towering over him physically.
Sir, this is Colonel Washington
who has written to us.
You are exceptionally tall, aren't you?
Have a seat.
I have heard of the diligence and courage
with which you accounted yourself
against the French on the frontier,
and I am hopeful that you will choose to join us.
I'm sure we could benefit from your knowledge
and experience in the wilderness with the Indians
in last year's little expedition.
It certainly was nothing compared
to the campaign you are organizing this year, sir.
This is war, young man;
we mean to rid our territory
of the stench of the French.
Very good, sir.
The highest position that I have authority
to offer you is a captain's commission,
but I promise you that
you will serve on my personal staff
and will receive your orders directly from me.
Thank you for the offer, sir.
I have recently settled on a plantation
and have much business to attend to.
I'm happy to make sacrifices to serve the cause,
but now I do need some time to devote to my affairs.
If I could have leave to do this
until you establish headquarters at Wills Creek,
I would be grateful.
I think that could be arranged.
Thank you, sir.
I will endeavor to give you
an early answer as to my decision
regarding your offer.
Very good, Washington.
I look forward to having you
join my little family of officers.
show Washington around camp at his leisure.
EXT. CAMP AT ALEXANDRIA - DAY
Orme and Washington have been joined by WILLIAM SHIRLEY, a young man.
George Washington, this is William Shirley,
the General's Secretary.
Glad to meet you.
Isn't your father the Governor?
Yes, of Massachusetts.
what's it like serving on the General's staff?
Oh, he treats us, his "family" very well,
with some affection I might say.
However, he doesn't care much
for colonials in general.
To him the English are far superior soldiers.
They see a man with a bottle stroll by with his arm around the waist of a lower class woman.
He doesn't like that kind of behavior.
He's a severe disciplinarian.
Those who are found drunk are denied their rations.
This woman must be one of the washerwomen
brought over for the hospital.
Some of them demanded higher wages,
but Braddock fired all those
who wouldn't work for six pence a day and provisions.
All deserters are to be shot,
even if they do return to camp.
Unfortunately these British regiments
don't have the best reputation,
having fled from the battle
against the "young Pretender" in Europe---
under different officers of course.
Some of the Irish feel
they've been exiled here in America.
Where are the Virginia troops?
They've been split up in these two regiments
under Halkett and Dunbar.
INT. MOUNT VERNON - MORNING
Washington is packing his bags and preparing to leave. A servant
gives him news.
your mother has just arrived!
The servant opens the door and lets in MRS. WASHINGTON.
My dear George, where are you going?
Hello Mother, what an unexpected visit!
I'm going to join General Braddock's staff.
Oh? Can we sit down a moment?
Now, George, I don't think you ought to go.
You know what happened
to your brother Lawrence
when he went to the Indies.
I know, but you forbade me to go also,
and I'm doing fine.
You almost died of small pox.
Yes, but now I'm immune.
But what about your new plantation here?
Who will take care of everything?
I've engaged my brother Jack---
certainly I can trust him.
My little John Augustine---why he's just a boy!
Mother, he is twenty years old,
and I am now twenty-three.
My dear George, I know you're of age,
but I insist that you respect my wishes.
What about the disagreement concerning rank?
I've decided to serve as a volunteer,
if they'll have me,
and I'll be free to come and go as I please,
and return as soon as the campaign is over.
No one can say I'm serving merely
for my own personal financial advantage,
as I'm making considerable sacrifices on that account.
But for what, George?
To serve my country
with the hope of meriting its love
and the friendly regard of my acquaintances.
INT. BRADDOCK'S HEADQUARTERS ALEXANDRIA - DAY
GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE, Washington, and Orme are present as JOHN ST. CLAIR, the Deputy Quartermaster General, makes a report to Braddock.
Sir, I had a full view of the mountains
on each side of the Potomac above Wills Creek,
and from what I could see,
there is a road easily to be made
across the country to the mouth of Savage River,
which will be gaining thirty miles.
Remembering Washington's experience
of last year, sir,
the transport of supplies
can be back-breaking and time-consuming.
For colonials maybe,
but I trust St. Clair's judgment here.
The road from Winchester to Wills Creek
still is abominable, sir, and has to be improved.
But I'm sure that beyond Wills Creek,
the barrier is not excessively difficult.
Washington and Dinwiddie look at each other in astonishment at what they are hearing.
Our troops must work together
to assure us an early start from Wills Creek.
It's doubtful whether there will be grass
on the other side of the Allegheny Mountains
before the end of April,
which indeed is as soon as
it will probably be in my power to get there.
William Shirley enters with an announcement.
Sir, the Governors have arrived
and are here with Commodore Keppel.
Show them in.
Orme and Washington, you will have to excuse us
while we hold our conference in secret.
Washington and Orme go out as the GOVERNORS of NEW YORK, SHIRLEY of Massachusetts, SHARPE of Maryland, MORRIS of Pennsylvania, and COMMODORE KEPPEL join Braddock and Dinwiddie.
Since you all could not meet
with me recently at Annapolis,
I hope you didn't mind coming here to Alexandria.
It might have expedited the conference at Annapolis
if you'd given a date in your letter.
Braddock spreads out a map on the table.
Never mind that now, Governor Morris.
Here is a map of the northwest territory up into Canada.
Our plan was carefully drafted in Britain
chiefly by the Duke of Cumberland.
We are to attack the French at three points
forming a concave arc from the Ohio at Fort Duquesne
through Fort Niagara
to the southern end of Lake Champlain.
What is the order of attack?
First I am to march from Wills Creek
to the junction of the Allegheny
and Monongahela Rivers
and take Fort Duquesne.
Then I will move two hundred miles further north
to Fort Niagara on the west end of Lake Ontario.
However, Governor Shirley and your forces
with those of Pepperell will be there already,
and I will merely join you for the kill.
How am I to approach?
With two Independent Companies from New York
plus two of Pepperell's
you will restore and guard Fort Oswego
on the southern shore of Lake Ontario.
And the other point of attack?
Here at Crown Point on Lake Champlain
the French have a Fort Frederic
from which they threaten the whole Hudson Valley,
and by moving southward
they could sever New England from the other colonies.
That must be prevented.
Exactly, and William Johnson,
the famous Indian agent,
is the man to do it.
If we are successful in this plan,
you can see that our problems
with the French in America
will be at an end.
Now you know why we must have the full support
of all the colonies and their assemblies
for money and supplies.
EXT. FORT CUMBERLAND - DAY
Several Pennsylvania ROAD COMMISSIONERS huddle around St. Clair as he inspects some supplies.
Sir John St. Clair, we are from Pennsylvania
and have here a sketch of the route
for the proposed road to Shippensburg.
What about the supplies?
How dare you offer us a piece of paper
when you have caused us continual delay
by refusing to grant us
any of the provisions we need!
No wagons, no money, not to speak of no troops!
If our forces are killed by the French,
we can thank the Pennsylvanians
who couldn't lift a finger to help,
except to draw a map!
In nine days I am going to march
into Cumberland County
and force the residents to build a road;
I'll kill the cattle, carry away the horses,
and burn the houses.
If the French defeat us on account of the delays
of the people of your Province,
I'll march through
and treat the inhabitants as a parcel of traitors.
I swear to you I am in earnest.
If you don't believe me,
go to General Braddock,
and he'll give you ten bad words
for every one I've used.
EXT. FREDERICK CAMP - DAY
Braddock and St. Clair are inspecting the supplies.
The prices around here are unbelievable!
What is that horrible smell?
I'm afraid some of the meat has spoiled, sir.
Spoiled?! Rotted, I'd say.
Send around the countryside for more beeves.
Some wagons pull into camp, and a young OFFICER reports to Braddock.
Here are the wagons, sir.
How many wagons?
Hell and damnation!
A wagon collapses.
And these are falling apart.
Well, that's the end of this expedition.
I don't see how we can go on
under these primitive conditions.
Those foolish ministers in England
sent troops into a country
completely destitute of transportation.
I must have at least
one hundred fifty wagons right away!
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, 49 years old, casually approaches Braddock and St. Clair.
Sir, I can get you those wagons.
Who are you?
Benjamin Franklin from Philadelphia.
A Pennsylvanian, huh!
You're the worst.
I am aware of your opinion of us, sir,
and I am here to erase your prejudice against us.
Will you sign a contract
to deliver one hundred fifty wagons
and fifteen hundred horses
to Fort Cumberland by May tenth?
I'll need some money.
Pennsylvanians will want
to attend their teams as wagoners.
That makes the cost of a wagon, four horses and driver
fifteen shillings a day.
Horses can be had for two shillings per day.
Well then, I'll advance you eight hundred pounds.
How do I know I can trust you, Mr. Franklin?
Sir, you are speaking to the Postmaster of America.
I'm curious how you propose
to accomplish this difficult task.
FRANKLIN (Pointing to St. Clair)
Isn't that uniform like that of the Hussars,
the light cavalry who pillage
and forage in Central Europe?
Yes, quite similar.
I shall simply present you
as a Hussar to our German people
by printing handbills saying that you proposed
to send an armed force immediately into our counties
to seize as many of the best carriages
and horses as you should want,
and compel as many persons into the service
as would be necessary to drive and take care of them,
that the progress of the soldiers through the counties
would be attended with many
and great inconveniences to the inhabitants,
especially considering the temper you are in,
and your resentment against us.
You did threaten us with these things, didn't you?
To avert this calamity,
I am willingly undertaking
to see what can be done
by fair and equitable means.
I shall describe the service desired
and the price offered,
and say that if I do not procure
the necessary vehicles in fourteen days,
I will have to notify the General,
and I suppose Sir John St. Clair, the Hussar,
with a body of soldiers,
will immediately enter the province
for the purpose aforesaid.
EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - AFTERNOON
Washington sits under a tree re-reading a letter he has just written. Occasional flashes of Sally Fairfax are seen in his mind's eye.
WASHINGTON (v. o.)
"To Mrs. George William Fairfax," oh Sally.
"Bullskin, April 30, 1755.
In order to engage your correspondence,
I think it expedient just to deserve it;
which I shall endeavour to do
by embracing the earliest,
and every opportunity of writing to you.
"It will be needless to expatriate on the pleasures
that communication of this kind will afford me,
as it shall suffice to say;
a correspondence with my friends
is the greatest satisfaction I expect to enjoy,
in the course of the Campaign,
and that none of my friends are able to convey
more real delight than you can
to whom I stand indebted for so many obligations.
"If an old proverb can claim my belief
I am certainly without share of success;
for surely no man ever made a worse beginning,
than I have;
out of 4 horses which we brought from home,
one was killed outright,
and the other 3 rendered unfit for use;
so that I have been detained here three days already,
and how much longer I may continue to be so,
the womb of time must discover.
"I must beg my compliments
to Miss Hannah, Miss Dent,
and any others that
think me worthy of their enquirys.
"I am Madam Yr. most Obedt. Servt.
EXT. FORT CUMBERLAND - DAY
Washington sees a camp of about a hundred Indian men, women, and children. As he dismounts in the fort, he observes the Indian women mixing with the soldiers, receiving gifts, money, and liquor in exchange for affection.
INT. FORT CUMBERLAND HEADQUARTERS - 11 A.M.
Washington reports to Braddock and Orme, handing in some papers.
Sir, the orderly book has been written up,
and I have filled in names of qualified men
for the ensign commissions you authorized.
Please stay for our little conference
with the Indian leaders.
What do you know about
the Cherokees and Catawbas
Dinwiddie has promised from South Carolina?
He always promises them,
but I've never seen them, sir.
MONAKATOOCHA, WHITE THUNDER, and a couple other INDIANS enter. Washington greets them with enthusiasm.
Monakatoocha and White Thunder!
That's my Indian name, sir.
I see you are acquainted.
Let us sit down.
As Braddock speaks, one of the Indians interprets in sign language.
In regard to the problems
with your women in the camp---
the men have been forbidden
to give them liquor, money or any gift,
for I am sure you know
what they expect in such transactions.
It will help if you can keep the girls out of the camp.
We have sent patrols into the woods
to prevent secret meetings.
Now let me present this wampum
and let us have drams around
in the spirit of friendship.
I'm sorry our gifts for you have not arrived yet,
but they should be here in a few days.
I have come from England,
the great father country,
mightier than all the lands of the earth.
You who fight with us
we treat well as our friends,
but those Indians who do not join us
shall be our enemies.
Thank you for helping us,
and may many more tribes
become our friends as you have.
EXT. FORT CUMBERLAND - DAY
Washington talks with William Shirley as they walk through the camp. BRIGHT LIGHTNING is courted by several men.
Who is that?
That's White Thunder's daughter, Bright Lightning;
she's quite the belle of the camp.
What did you think of the Indian conference?
I don't think the chiefs were well pleased.
I don't know why our gifts
always seem to be lacking;
they are very important.
The General betrays a lack of respect
and a disdain for the savages,
which I'm sure they feel.
Not only the Indians,
but the colonists feel it too.
He sees and expects
the worst in the Americans,
while his own abilities
appear to me to be sadly lacking.
Captain Orme seems to be competent.
Yes, he does most of the real work for the General,
but the mainspring must be the mover;
secondary officers can only
correct the motions a little.
Besides Orme is inexperienced.
How do the other officers feel?
Colonel Hackett is jealous of Orme,
and swears that if he ever succeeds to the command
he would dismiss the General's favorite the next day.
It's hot again today.
The heat has spoiled some of the salt meat.
The men hate that stuff.
That's why I told the General to save the salt meat
for the road when we'll have nothing else,
and let the men have fresh meat now.
Have you seen the store that's been set up?
With so little food, it's ridiculous.
Only the officers and a few men
can afford to pay to add to their rations.
By the way, the army needs more money,
and the General wants to send someone to fetch it.
Maybe you'd like to go.
INT. FORT CUMBERLAND HEADQUARTERS - MORNING
Braddock instructs Washington.
Damned Virginians can't come up with a thing!
Sir, I doubt the whole colony is to blame.
If you could be more precise---
Governor Dinwiddie has deceived me
about Indian aid;
Michael Cresap has not sent us
an adequate supply of flour;
and Thomas Cresap tried to sell us pickled meat
that was so bad we had to bury it!
Michael's father, sir;
we had problems with him last year.
Tarnation, if he had been the French Commissary
he couldn't have acted more for their interest!
In every instance, except in my contract
for the Pennsylvania wagons with that guy Franklin,
who has been the only one
to deliver what he promised,
I have been deceived
and met with nothing but lies and villainy!
Sir, I am ready to leave for the money.
Yes, well, here are your instructions in writing.
Make haste to Hampton,
get the four thousand pounds
from the Paymaster Hunter,
or all he can raise in two days
if he doesn't have it all,
and hurry back.
EXT. WINCHESTER - DAY
Washington hands a letter to an EXPRESS RIDER.
I just came from Wills Creek.
I want you to ride directly to Hampton express,
and deliver this to John Hunter.
If you lose the letter, just tell him
to bring all the money he can collect
to Williamsburg for General Braddock.
I'll meet him there as soon as I can.
He'll pay you for your ride.
Very good, sir.
The express rides off.
EXT. BELVOIR STABLES - LATE AFTERNOON
Sally Fairfax shows Washington her riding horse.
Why, they just took a team of our horses
and our servant Simpson right from the plow
and carried them off.
I wrote you what happened
to my horses from Mount Vernon.
Indeed, I enjoy hearing
from my hero in the wilderness.
That means a great deal to me, Sally.
I'd like you to take my own riding horse,
because I know you'll need her more than I will.
I couldn't do that, Sally.
Now, George, I insist.
Look, it's almost evening.
Why don't you stay the night
here with my husband and me;
then leave in the morning?
Now that I've found a fresh horse,
that will be fine.
Are you going to stop and visit your mother
at Ferry Farm tomorrow, George?
I don't think I can spare the time.
They walk toward the house.
EXT. CLAIBORNE'S FERRY - DAY
Washington, tired, meets the express rider he sent from Winchester.
I'm on my way back to Winchester.
Here's a letter from governor Dinwiddie.
Washington opens and reads it.
So Hunter already went north for the money,
and Dinwiddie warns me I'll be disappointed.
Let me give you a letter to Captain Orme,
so the General will know what happened.
Then I'll go on to Williamsburg
to see what can be done.
INT. GOVERNOR'S PALACE - EVENING
Washington meets with JAMES BALFOUR in a side room.
I am Colonel Hunter's assistant,
and I have most
of the four thousand pounds you require.
I am confident that
with the help of the Governor and others
the sum will be complete tomorrow.
Thank you very much, Mr. Balfour.
I'll send a dispatch to Captain Orme.
INT. WILLIAMSBURG TAVERN - EVENING
Washington has dinner and a drink with his old friend, John Carlyle.
Today a bill was submitted
to divide Fairfax County.
That means two more representatives
from the Fairfax area,
and one Fairfax member may not run again.
How would you like to be
in the House of Burgesses, George?
Oh, I don't know;
I'll have to think about it.
You know, we might elect you,
without your knowing anything about it.
INT. WILLIAMSBURG STORE - MORNING
A CLERK waits on Washington.
May I help you, sir?
Yes, I need a couple of toothbrushes,
three pairs of gloves, four pairs of thread stockings,
and let's see what else.
EXT. TRAIL - AFTERNOON
Washington is carrying a small load when the horse trips and becomes lame. He dismounts.
WASHINGTON (v. o.)
Now I have to find more horses again.
Take it easy, girl.
EXT. FORT CUMBERLAND - DAY
Washington rides on a large bay horse accompanied by a guard of eight men. He is met by William Shirley and CAPTAIN ROGER MORRIS, a fellow aide-de-camp. He dismounts.
Everything is here.
He speaks to Roger Morris as they carry the baggage in to headquarters.
I had to wait two days for that guard
to be assembled in Winchester,
but I believe they would not have been
more than as many seconds dispersing
if I had been attacked.
Some of the companies started the march today.
EXT. ROAD CAMP - MORNING
Braddock speaks to his officers.
Progress is too damn slow.
If any of the officers have extra horses
which can be released to the army,
your generosity will not be forgotten.
EXT. ROAD - DAY
Washington rides up to Braddock on the slow march.
Sir, I believe I have a fever,
and I am getting sharp pains in the head.
That could be the typhoid fever
or the bloody flux that's going around.
As much as I hate to, sir,
I think I'll have to ride in a wagon.
Of course, Washington; don't hesitate.
Attend to Washington immediately;
he has a malady.
INT. BRADDOCK'S TENT - SUNSET
Washington, weak with illness, appears before Braddock.
You summoned me, sir.
You don't look good, Washington.
Sit down please.
But that's not why I called you.
We've made only twenty-two miles
in the last ten days---
impossibly slow if we are to reach the Ohio
before the French can reinforce Fort Duquesne.
You've been over this country;
what do you recommend?
Well, sir, there have been rumors
of French reinforcements,
but with the drought we've had,
I'd say their progress would be slow
in sending supplies down the shallow waters
of French Creek to Venango.
I suggest we push on more rapidly
with a chosen detachment supported by artillery.
Use pack animals instead of wagons.
Fort Duquesne could be taken
before their reinforcements arrive,
if we can get there in time.
I'd say leave our heavy wagons behind
in their slow march.
There should be no danger,
because our advance force will be ahead on the road.
Thank you very much, Washington.
Sir, I must warn you that the Indians
and even the French in this wilderness
cannot be attacked in formation
like in a European battle.
They will hide behind trees, bushes, and rocks,
and they'll shoot you down
while you can see no more than a cloud of smoke.
I would especially guard against
an ambush on the road.
Do you mean to tell me military tactics, Washington?
Just a warning, sir.
I can organize this battle, I assure you.
EXT. CAMP AT LITTLE MEADOWS - AFTERNOON
Roger Morris delivers a letter to the laid-up Washington.
George, the General is marching ahead
in an advance force using pack animals.
The slower wagons are to follow.
Quite a change of plans, isn't it?
Due to the doctor's advice,
the General orders you to remain here
until the doctor releases you.
Look, your life may be in danger!
You have a wagon at your command;
if the surgeon says you are strong enough,
then you can join us at the fort.
All right, Roger.
I hope I can make the battle in time.
It's an exciting plan, huh?
Yes, I wonder how he came up with it.
EXT. CAMP AT LITTLE MEADOWS - DAY
Washington is attended by a NURSE and DOCTOR MURDOCK, as he talks with COLONEL DUNBAR.
What news, Colonel Dunbar?
The General has taken most of the best horses
and left me to bring up the heavy wagons.
I'm going to have to go forward with half the wagons
and then send back the horses for the rest.
It'll take us three days for one day's journey!
I can't move at all,
and I've got to get to the front
in time for the battle at the fort.
Here, the General instructed me
to give you Doctor James's powders.
I've dissolved it in this water;
now drink it all down.
Yesterday when I spoke of
the methods of some of the distinguished officers
I've served under,
that Orme had the gall to say
I might as well talk of my grandmother.
"Sir," I said, "if she was alive,
she would have more sense, more good manners,
and know as much of military matters as you do."
But the General broke in and said,
"Gentlemen, you are both warm."
Colonel Halkett is supposed to keep
only one day's march ahead of me---that's a laugh.
Thank you, doctor.
Have the Indians been scouting the area?
More of theirs than ours---
Monakatoocha was captured and tied to a tree.
Fortunately he was rescued unhurt,
but some white families near Fort Cumberland
were killed and scalped.
We must send out more scouts.
Some frontiersmen led by a Captain Jack
offered to reconnoiter the country for Indians,
but Braddock refused, saying he had his own troops.
I can't believe it.
What does he know
of Canadian French and their Indians?
Now don't you move until you're strong enough.
Good day, Washington.
EXT. CAMP AT LITTLE MEADOWS - DAY
Washington is sitting up. He gives some money to the Nurse.
Thank you for your care.
With the help of that excellent medicine
I'm feeling much better.
You're still awfully weak, sir.
Yes, but I think I can make it.
Here is eight shillings for the eight days, Nurse.
I won't be requiring your services anymore.
Very good, sir.
You be careful now.
ADAM STEPHEN rides up and dismounts.
I heard you were here, sir.
Adam Stephen, my good friend!
General Braddock sent me with orders
to bring up some cattle
and a hundred horses loaded with flour
to replace what we lost in the last rain.
How are you feeling?
Oh, how I wish I could ride with you,
but I think the best I can do
is ride in a wagon right now.
I wouldn't miss Fort Duquesne
for five hundred pounds---
quite a campaign, isn't it?
One day's journey ought to get you to Fort Necessity.
It was just a year ago we fought there---July third.
How far has Braddock got?
On June thirtieth, he was just past Gist's settlement.
I'm glad we're not retreating from there this year.
In a week's time I ought to be able to catch up
with the front just before we hit Fort Duquesne.
I wish you the best, sir.
Thank you, Adam.
EXT. ARMY CAMP - SUNSET
Washington laying in a wagon is jolted and bounced as the wagon pulls into the main camp.
This is it, sir---Braddock's camp.
INT. BRADDOCK'S TENT - EVENING
Washington meets CHRISTOPHER GIST among Braddock, St. Clair, Halkett, and COLONEL GAGE.
Chris, good to see you.
I'm glad you made it, Washington.
This Mr. Gist has been scouting for us.
An excellent man, sir.
He should have told us he was out there.
He almost lost his scalp
at the hands of our own Indian scouts.
We already lost four men
who were picked off at the rear.
And Monakatoocha's son
who was killed by British fire.
He was mistaken for a French Indian.
I saw smoke between the English camp
and the French defenses.
It seems rather quiet though.
It always seems that way, sir.
Why don't we send a detachment
under the cover of darkness to investigate the fort?
That's not necessary.
We have fulfilled every regulation of European practice
demanded for the protection of troops
in proximity of the enemy.
We are prepared.
We'll march early in the morning for one more day.
Then we can undertake a night advance.
We're still twelve miles from Fort Duquesne.
What is the best approach?
We could march down the narrows
between the Monongahela and Turtle Creek,
but our guides say much work would be required
to make the trail passable.
I suggest we cross over the Monongahela
to the west bank near the mouth of Crooked Run.
A couple miles march over there would be easier.
Then we could cross back over another shallow ford
to the right bank, and from there
we'd have a straight advance to the fort.
I believe this is the safest
and most convenient plan, sir.
Colonel Gage, you will move before daybreak
with four hundred men and two six-pound cannons.
After crossing the second ford you will post yourself
on good ground to cover the others' passage.
St. Clair, you will follow
at four a. m. to prepare a road.
At five the main column will start
with the wagons and artillery.
Then goodnight, gentlemen.
EXT. ARMY CAMP - BEFORE DAWN
Washington is preparing his horse, tying some cushions into his saddle. Roger Morris approaches.
How are you feeling this morning, George?
Better. The pain and fever are gone,
but I'm still rather weak.
Isn't this your first day in a saddle
for about two weeks?
Yes. I've procured these cushions to make it easier.
Gage has left with the advance forces,
and St. Clair is taking the carpenters now.
Not much farther to go.
EXT. MONONGAHELA UPPER FORD - 8 A.M.
Washington rides with Braddock at the head of a column of about 750 troops. They cross the river.
The river is quite low because of the drought.
If we can make both crossings safely,
I think we'll be in good shape.
Form the line of march again after we've crossed.
EXT. MONONGAHELA LEFT BANK - MORNING
A MESSENGER brings news to Braddock.
Sir, Colonel Gage presents
his compliments to His Excellency
and begs to report that
he has completed the second crossing
without encountering opposition.
He has taken a position on the right bank
with his guns commanding the lower ford.
Any sign of the enemy?
En route to the first shallow,
we flushed out thirty Indians who ran away.
Ha ha, they're scared of us!
At the second ford our lead men
noticed that the water was still muddy
as if there had been a recent crossing,
and many footprints were found on the river bank.
Inform Colonel Gage of our position.
EXT. MONONGAHELA LOWER FORD - DAY
Just downstream from the mouth of Turtle Creek where Frazier's trading post can be seen, St. Clair's men are building a ramp up the right bank at the crossing. As the troops approach and see the guarded crossing, they begin to rejoice and hug each other.
A good sign, sir!
Draw up the vehicles on the bank,
and post pickets on the higher ground behind us.
EXT. MONONGAHELA LOWER FORD - 2 P.M.
The incline is ready.
Sir, the ramp is completed.
Instruct Gage and St. Clair
to start down the ridge with their detachments,
opening a road as they advance.
After one hour's march they are to bivouac
for the final advance on Fort Duquesne tomorrow.
prepare our column to cross the river.
All men fall in line for the crossing!
The soldiers who have been relaxing, line up as the men across the river start to march away.
All right, let's get across.
The column starts to cross the river, led by Braddock, Orme,
Washington, Morris, Shirley, and some other officers.
EXT. WOODS NEAR THE MONONGAHELA - 2:30 A.M.
A few GUIDES are riding ahead while an ENGINEER marks trees to be cut for a twelve-foot road. He is followed by Gage's covering party in files four deep. On the flanks are grenadier companies spread in parties of twenty men with each sergeant. Following in the march are carpenters and pioneers, two small cannons with an ammunition wagon and a guard. After a small gap and Braddock's officers, LIEUTENANT COLONEL BURTON leads the vanguard with wagons and guns followed by the rearguard with cannons under Colonel Halkett. HARRY GORDON, an engineer, has ridden ahead looking for the guides. Suddenly the guides appear hurrying back.
French and Indians coming this way!
Gordon looks through the forest and sees about three hundred men, French and Indians, stripped for action running toward him led by a FRENCH OFFICER who wears a piece of decorative armor at his neck. The guides and Gordon ride away, but soon the French commander sees the grenadiers and motions with his arms to the right and left. His men divide and begin to surround the head and flanks of the British, and the Indian warwhoop is heard. The grenadiers return the fire and manage to hit a few French officers and Indians.
EXT. WOODS NEAR THE FORD - AFTERNOON
Braddock and his men hear the firing and stop in their tracks.
Halt the column!
It's a heavy engagement.
Shirley, go forward
and find out what is happening.
Burton, advance with your men.
Shirley gallops into the woods, and Burton's vanguard marches forward.
EXT. BATTLE FRONT - AFTERNOON
The French and Indians have taken positions behind trees, rocks, and bushes in the woods, and in natural gulleys on each side of the British column. They begin to pick off the British, especially the officers who are on horses. Most of the English cannot even see the enemies they are shooting at. All but one of the British flanking parties have run back to the main column, the other is in danger of being cut off. The French have taken the hill to the column's right. The British force has retreated fifty yards before the officers can temporarily restore a line.
Stand and fight!
Form a line!
Several officers are killed and wounded, while others have horses shot out from under them. Colonel Gage attempts to rally the men.
Hold your position!
St. Clair has ridden forward to see what has happened, and is shot in the side. He manages to stay on his horse while losing blood and returns to order his men.
Cover the six-pounders!
Shirley arrives and is shot through the head. The British fall in confusion as they can see little except smoke and an occasional red face by a tree or in the grass.
The baggage train is attacked!
The rumor spreads, and many of Gage's men begin to retreat; St. Clair's workers abandon the cannons. They run into Burton's company which has halted because of firing from the hill on their right. The original T formation has collapsed like a folded umbrella. Burton forms a line on the left and sets up three cannons. In the confusion many British are shot in the back by their own men. Braddock rides up with Washington and DOBSON.
Orme and Morris have been wounded, sir.
Dobson, you're my new aide.
St. Clair struggles over to Braddock.
General, for God's sake, take the northern hill,
or we'll be surrounded.
St. Clair falls unconscious due to his wound.
Attend to him, Dobson.
CAPTAIN WAGGENER prepares his Virginia troops for an assault up the hill.
All right, men, we're going up that hill!
Get to that fallen tree trunk.
Waggener leads his men up to the huge tree trunk with the loss of only three men. However, some of the British troops begin firing at them.
Our own troops are shooting at us!
A BRITISH CAPTAIN still in the column discourages his men from following them.
Don't run away like they did.
Hold your ground!
Waggener commands his men.
We can't stay here.
We'll have to return to the column.
Returning under fire, Waggener's company loses about a third of its men, as thirty make it back.
Sir, we can make that hill
if you'll give me the provincial troops,
and let us go against it Indian-style.
Braddock shakes his head. Halkett's troops under junior officers have pushed up the road on the right, but are in as much confusion as the others. Although the British can hardly see any enemies, they continue to use their ammunition.
Load and fire!
Load and fire!
All right, Washington,
tell all the officers you can find
to organize one party of a hundred and fifty
to charge up the hill
and another of the same size to recover the cannon.
Washington rides off and almost immediately has his horse shot out from under him. He finds another horse, and rides over to a Captain.
Prepare your men to charge that hill!
I'll get a company to join you.
He rides over to Colonel Burton, as a bullet goes through his coat.
Colonel Burton, get your company ready
to advance on the hill!
Yes, sir. All right, men, line up!
He begins to form one hundred men for the charge. Braddock attempts to rally his forces.
Men, form a line!
We must recover those guns.
His efforts are futile. Washington rides through the forest strewn with bloody men, receives another bullet through his coat, not harming him, and then has this horse killed. He recovers and looks for another. He finds one, and also Adam Stephen.
Stephen, take your men
and see if you can secure the cannons!
Braddock begins a movement to the right and back toward the wagons, but has his horse shot twice.
Cover those wagons!
The General stands for a moment, looking for a horse, when a bullet comes through his right arm and into his lungs. He falls. Some men nearby attend to him.
Lay here, sir!
Keep fighting, men; keep fighting!
Colonel Burton leads his hundred men in a charge up the hill.
All right, men, charge!
They are able to advance part way up, but when Burton is wounded in the leg, the others give up and retreat back to the road. During all the firing the whoop of Indians can be heard.
EXT. BATTLE FRONT - ALMOST SUNSET
Most of the British have gathered around the wagons as no firing is heard. Suddenly a heavy barrage of shooting begins, and the wagoners cut loose their horses. The men mount the horses and ride off in retreat while others run for their lives. Many throw away their rifles and parts of their clothing to speed their escape down to the river through a shallow gully. Washington's efforts to stop the panic are completely disregarded.
Washington sees ROBERT STEWART assisting Braddock. He finds a small cart still possessing its horses, and helps Stewart place Braddock in it with some of his equipment. The terror-stricken have fled, but about two hundred remain who are marching in retreat. They reach the ford and cross over. Washington looks back and sees the Indians plundering the wagons, robbing the dead, and scalping the dead and wounded. Some infuriated Indians plunge into the river and kill the men who are too exhausted to go on. Washington confers with the wounded Burton and Orme.
Let's take a position on this side of the bank.
How about that high ground?
I'll get some of my men to serve as outposts.
We ought to be able to hold this spot
until Colonel Dunbar gets here.
General, we think it's best
to hold our ground here.
Your plan is good. I approve.
Washington, ride back
along the line of our morning advance
and rally the men who have fled.
Washington rides along the bank, exhorting the fleeing soldiers.
Join the men at the lower ford!
The troops are gathered back there!
Most of the soldiers continue to run. Washington reaches the upper ford, crosses the river, and finds Gage with about eighty men under some discipline.
I see you have these men under some control.
The General has taken a position
above the lower ford on the left bank.
Thank you, Washington.
Washington crosses the river again, and as he returns he sees more and more men fleeing. He reports to Braddock.
Gage has almost a hundred men
under discipline across the upper ford, sir.
Men are fleeing like rabbits.
We'll have to retreat.
I know you must be tired, Washington,
but you're the best man I can trust
to carry my orders to Colonel Dunbar.
You can speak for the General,
and you know the country.
Can you make the journey?
I'll have to, sir.
Tell Dunbar to forward provisions and liquor,
and to come up and cover our retreat.
Take two guides with you.
Thank you, sir.
EXT. MONONGAHELA UPPER FORD - DUSK
Washington and TWO GUIDES pass more fugitives, and once more cross the river.
EXT. WILDERNESS ROAD - NIGHT
In the dark, Washington and the guides struggle to stay on the trail. Cries from the wounded are heard, such as "Help me; I am dying!" and "Help, the pain!" The guides are walking their horses as they feel along the ground for the soft dirt of the trail.
Here's the trail!
They mount and proceed slowly, as the horses step over a corpse on the trail.
EXT. WILDERNESS ROAD - DAWN
It is just starting to get light as they wearily hold themselves in their saddles.
A little daylight, sir!
It's good to see you, my friend!
We still have a long ways to go to Dunbar's camp.
EXT. ROCK FORT CAMP - LATE MORNING
Dunbar's camp is where Jumonville's hiding place was the year before. Washington wearily reports to Dunbar.
Where is Colonel Dunbar?
Right this way.
Washington dismounts and walks over to Dunbar's tent. Dunbar meets him outside.
Washington! Come in and sit down.
Thank you, sir.
INT. DUNBAR'S TENT - DAY
Washington collapses on a camp chair.
I come from General Braddock.
At first we heard that you were wiped out.
Most of the men are lost,
but we still have a force
of a couple hundred or so retreating.
You must send them food, medical supplies, and liquor.
Ensign, see to it.
The General is badly wounded,
and Colonel Halkett is dead.
You may have to take command, sir.
The General says you must advance
to cover the retreat.
I can see you are tired, Washington.
Rest here on my bed.
I'll prepare the march.
Thank you, sir.
Washington sprawls on the bed exhausted. Dunbar goes out.
EXT. ROCK FORT CAMP - NOON
Dunbar instructs the drummers.
Call the men to arms.
As the drummers beat "To arms," panic sweeps the camp, and many men run away in spite of the efforts of the sentries and guards. When Dunbar sees what is happening, he stops the drummers.
Captain, tell the men
we'll hold our position here for the night.
Stop the men; we're staying here!
Form a strong guard for the wagons of supplies
we're sending this afternoon.
Then organize quietly
our two best companies of infantry
and more wagons to leave in the morning.
The rest of us will stay in the camp.
Very good, sir.
EXT. ROCK FORT CAMP - EVENING
Braddock on horseback and the main body of men with the wounded who could make it arrive at the camp. Dunbar and Washington assist the General into Dunbar's tent.
INT. DUNBAR'S TENT - EVENING
Braddock rests on the bed and speaks to Washington and Dunbar.
We got your supplies last night
and met your infantry today.
Why were you on horseback, sir?
They carried me on a hand-litter
until yesterday afternoon.
Then the men refused to carry me further,
so I mounted a horse, and here I am.
What next, sir?
Fortunately we're not pursued,
but we have so many wounded,
we'll have to retreat.
We have too far to go
to carry the wounded on litters,
even if we had the bearers.
We'll put all the wounded in the wagons.
I don't think we'll have enough horses
for all the wounded, the cannons, and the supplies, sir.
Then destroy all the ammunition and provisions
that we don't absolutely need.
We'll march as soon as we can.
I'll look to it immediately, sir.
EXT. ROCK FORT CAMP - DAY
Men are blowing up the powder, shattering shells, strewing flour and food on the ground or throwing it in the water.
EXT. WILDERNESS ROAD - EVENING
Braddock gives an order to Washington from a wagon.
Washington, call a halt,
and ask Dunbar to come here.
Braddock speaks to the wounded Orme who rides with him.
Who would have thought it?
We shall better know
how to deal with them another time.
Washington returns with Dunbar.
Why are we stopping, sir?
Oh, Colonel Dunbar.
I'm turning over my command to you,
Yes, sir, I accept.
you must tell Commodore Keppel what happened.
Tell him nothing could equal
the gallantry and good conduct of the officers
nor the bad behavior of the men.
He dies. Orme checks his pulse.
The General is dead.
Washington, you'll have to take charge of the burial.
EXT. WILDERNESS ROAD - MORNING
Washington oversees the honorable funeral, as Braddock's body is placed in a short, deep trench in the middle of the road. Washington sprinkles dirt over the body.
A brave soldier and noble officer
who fought valiantly for his country.
Honor guard, fire the salute.
They fire three volleys.
Cover the body and instruct the men
to stamp down the mound of dirt as they pass,
so there will be no mark of the grave
for the Indians to plunder.
EXT. WILDERNESS ROAD - DAY
As the wagons and men march over the grave, all traces of it are erased. Washington marches on foot next to Roger Morris, Orme, and Burton, all three of whom are on horse litters due to their wounds.
I'll write to Colonel Innes at Fort Cumberland
to send better horses to replace these,
and to prepare a room for the three of you.
Thank you, George.
Ask him also
to give the present my father, the Governor,
sent to the General and his family
into the hands of our steward, Mr. le Roy.
I will, Roger.
INT. FORT CUMBERLAND ROOM - DAY
Washington rereads a letter he has written to the Virginia Governor. During the account, flashbacks of the events described are seen.
WASHINGTON (v. o.)
This letter to Governor Dinwiddie
I can copy over and send to mother as well.
Let me check it over.
"Fort Cumberland, July 18, 1755.
As I am favored with an opportunity,
I should think myself excusable was I to omit
giving you some account of our late engagement
with the French on the Monongahela on the 9th.
"We continued our march from Fort Cumberland
to Frazier's (which is within 7 miles of Duquesne)
without meeting with any extraordinary event,
having only a straggler or two
picked up by the Indians.
When we came to this place, we were attacked
(very unexpectedly I must own)
by about 300 French and Indians;
our numbers consisted of about 1300 well armed men,
chiefly regulars, who were immediately struck
with such a deadly panic,
that nothing but confusion
and disobedience of orders prevailed amongst them:
the officers in general
behaved with incomparable bravery,
for which they greatly suffered,
there being 60 killed and wounded.
A large proportion, out of the number we had!
The Virginian Companies behaved like men
and died like soldiers;
for I believe out of the 3 Companies
that were there that day, scarce 30 were left alive:
Captain Peyrouny and all his officers,
down to a corporal, were killed;
Captain Polson shared almost as hard a fate,
for only one of his escaped.
In short the dastardly behavior of the English soldiers
exposed all those who were inclined to do their duty
to almost certain death;
and at length,
in despite of every effort to the contrary,
broke and ran as sheep before hounds,
leaving the artillery, ammunition, provisions,
and every individual thing we had with us
a prey to the enemy;
and when we endeavored to rally them
in hopes of regaining our invaluable loss,
it was with as much success as if we had attempted
to have stopped the wild boars of the mountains.
The General was wounded behind in the shoulder,
and into the breast, of which he died three days after;
his two aides-de-camp were both wounded,
but are in a fair way of recovery;
Colonel Burton and Sir John St. Clair
are also wounded,
and I hope will get over it;
Sir Peter Halkett, with many other brave officers
were killed in the field.
I luckily escaped without a wound
though I had four bullets through my coat
and two horses shot under me.
It is supposed that we left
300 or more dead in the field;
about that number we brought of wounded;
and it is imagined (I believe with great justice too)
that two-thirds of both these groups
received their shot
from our own cowardly English soldiers
who gathered themselves into a body
contrary to orders 10 or 12 deep,
would then level, fire
and shoot down the men before them."
A knock on the door is heard.
Colonel Dunbar and COLONEL INNES enter.
Hello Colonel Innes, Colonel Dunbar.
Please sit down.
I've decided to take our troops
to Philadelphia for winter quarters.
But that will leave the Virginia frontier unprotected.
The settlers will probably have to leave their homes.
It can't be helped.
You have your provincial troops.
What's left of them.
Sir, since my obligation was to General Braddock,
I've decided to leave the army
and go home as soon as I'm rested.
Suit yourself, Washington.
I heard there were reports of your death.
Some even credit you with a farewell speech.
I shall write my family
and tell them I am still here.
They go out. Washington starts a letter to his brother.
WASHINGTON (v. o.)
I'll write Jack.
"As I have heard since my arrival at this place,
a circumstantial account
of my death and dying speech,
I take this early opportunity of contradicting both,
and of assuring you that I now exist
and appear in the land of the living
by the miraculous care of Providence,
that protected me beyond all human expectation...."
INT. MOUNT VERNON LIVING ROOM - MORNING
Washington has tea with Sally Fairfax, ANN SPEARING, and ELIZABETH DENT.
Since you refused us the pleasure of seeing you
at Belvoir last night, George,
we just decided to let our legs carry us
right over here to Mount Vernon.
That's very kind of you young ladies,
for I am much fatigued.
Not too fatigued to tell us
all about your heroic adventures, I hope.
No, I suppose not.
-- end of the third episode in a series on GEORGE WASHINGTON --
This screenplay has been published in the book GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Dramatic Series. For ordering information, please click here.
A War Breaks Out
General Braddock's Defeat
Fight for Independence
Maintaining an Army
On to Victory