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"Major Grant's Piper" - by Robert Griffing

Signed & Nubmered Limited Edition Print

Image size: 25 1/2" x 18 3/4"

Edition size: 750 S/N

Issue price: $150 (When this is sold out it will only be available on our secondary market--call then for current price and availability--800-237-6077)

In 1758 General John Forbes assembled nearly 10,000 men for his campaign to capture Fort Duquesne. His approach would be slow and methodical. Fort Littleton, Fort Louden, Fort Bedford, Fort Ligonier, and a dozen smaller posts marked the advance of his army. By September, the army was massed at Fort Ligonier, only 30 miles from The Point and Fort Duquesne. In keeping with his methodical strategy, he decided to send a scouting party to Fort Duquesne. This seemingly sound military decision would lead to one of the bloodiest chapters in The Point's history.

Major James Grant of the 77th Highland Regiment was chosen to lead the scouting expedition. Under his command were 300 of his own 77th Highlanders, 100 of the 60th Royal American Regiment, 150 Virginia Provincials, 100 Maryland Provincials and 100 Pennsylvania Provincials along with an unspecified number of Native American scouts. On September 9, Major Grant and his little army left the protection of Fort Ligonier and begun the march west. The plan was simple and had every chance of success, but the forks of The Ohio had a way of turning things around.

On September 13, Grant was prepared to spring his trap. The Major positioned his main body of troops on the trail in an area his scouts assured him was no more than ten miles from Fort Duquesne. From this staging area 200 men were sent under the command of Major Lewis of the Virginia Regiment to lay in ambush five miles from the fort. At this point, Grant sent Ensign Chew, also of the Virginia Regiment, with 20 men to scout around the fort in an attempt to draw some of the French and Indians into Lewis' waiting ambush. But, Lewis returned the next day to inform Major Grant that they were in fact more than 15 miles from Fort Duquesne.

Infuriated, Grant moved his force forward finally coming within sight of the French fort. He laid his ambush and under the cover of darkness sent the Virginians ahead again. The unsuccessful Virginians straggled back to the hill at the break of dawn, many of them lost in the woods. To make matters worse, a detachment left a few miles behind to guard the supplies, had become concerned and started moving forward. Major Grant was outraged thathe no longer had the element of surprise. His plan began to crumble more with each passing moment. His troops were scattered and lost. Confusion ruled the day.

In order to regroup his scattered troops, Grant ordered the pipes played from atop a nearby hill. As the Scottish pipes echoed down the Ohio Valley for the first time, Grant's men reorganized. The Major wondered why in spite of all that had transpired, the French and Indians had not reacted. Not a sound was heard from the fort. In a fit of unexplained zealousness, he formed his own Highlanders into position and marched straight on to the open plain in front of Fort Duquesne. This calm before the storm is the moment depicted in Robert Griffing's "Major Grant's Piper."

Suddenly like an angry nest of hornets, The Point swarmed with French and Indians. An estimated force of 800 French and Indians threw themselves at the approaching Highlanders. The fight that Grant had planned so carefully had now begun. The native warriors advanced up the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers and cut off any chance for Grant's troops to retreat. Within 30 minutes, Grant's men were surrounded and giving way. Panic gripped the men as Indians poured a murderous fire on them from the cover of the forest. In a letter about the battle to Colonel Forbes, Grant wrote, "Orders were to no purpose. Fear had then got the better of every other passion and I hope I shall never see again such panic amongst the troops."

By 11:00 Major Grant and his remaining 12 men found themselves completely surrounded. With the dignity of a Highland gentleman, Grant surrendered. Over 300 of the original 750 men were killed, wounded, or missing. The remaining stragglers returned to Fort Ligonier beaten and exhausted. Major Grant and many of his officers would spend the next year in a Quebec prison. In November of the same year, General Forbes would successfully reclaim The Point for England. Yet, for the memory of the Highlanders still mingling with the fall from Braddock's defeat, it was a hard won victory.

 

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