During the last year Loudon, filled with vain schemes against Louisbourg, had left the French scalping-parties to their work of havoc on the western borders. In Virginia Washington still toiled at his hopeless task of defending with a single regiment a forest frontier of more than three hundred miles, and in Pennsylvania the Assembly thought more of quarrelling with their governor than of protecting the tormented settlers. Fort Duquesne, the source of all the evil, was left undisturbed. In vain Washington urged the futility of defensive war, and the necessity of attacking the enemy in his stronghold. His position, trying at the best, was made more so by the behavior of Dinwiddie. That crusty Scotchman had conceived a dislike to him, and sometimes treated him in a manner that must have been unspeakably galling to the proud and passionate young man, who nevertheless, unconquerable in his sense of public duty, curbed himself to patience, or the semblance of it.
Dinwiddie was now gone, and a new governor had taken his place. The conduct of the war, too, had changed, and in the plans of Pitt the capture of Fort Duquesne held an important place. Brigadier John Forbes was charged with it. He was a Scotch veteran, forty-eight years of age, who had begun life as a student of medicine, and who ended it as an able and faithful soldier. Though a well-bred man of the world, his tastes were simple; he detested ceremony, and dealt frankly and plainly with the colonists, who both respected and liked him. In April he was in Philadelphia waiting for his army, which as yet had no existence; for the provincials were not enlisted, and an expected battalion of Highlanders had not arrived. It was the end of June before they were all on the march; and meanwhile the General was attacked with a painful and dangerous malady, which would have totally disabled a less resolute man.
His force consisted of provincials from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, with twelve hundred Highlanders of Montgomery’s regiment and a detachment of Royal Americans, amounting in all, with wagoners and camp followers, to between six and seven thousand men. The Royal American regiment was a new corps raised, in the colonies, largely from among the Germans of Pennsylvania. Its officers were from Europe; and conspicuous among them was Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Bouquet, a brave and accomplished Swiss, who commanded one of the four battalions of which the regiment was composed. Early in July he was encamped with the advance-guard at the hamlet of Raystown, now the town of Bedford, among the eastern heights of the Alleghanies. Here his tents were pitched in an opening of the forest by the banks of a small stream; and Virginians in hunting-shirts, Highlanders in kilt and plaid, and Royal Americans in regulation scarlet, labored at throwing up intrenchments and palisades, while around stood the silent mountains in their mantles of green.