The Military Empire

The Ohio Valley

The Jumonville Incident

Warned by his scouts of the approach of these forces, the commandant of Fort Duquesne, Claude Pécaudy de Contrecoeur, sent out a negotiating party of about 40 men under the command of Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville. However, on the morning of May 28, 1754, Washington's detachment of 400 Americans and their Amerindian allies attacked the little party. In 15 minutes, ten men were killed, including Jumonville; one was injured; and 21 were taken captive. Only one member of the party succeeded in escaping and returned to Fort Duquesne, a Canadian militiaman named Monceau.

We will doubtless never know for certain what happened on the site of the present-day town of Jumonville, Pennsylvania, on May 28, 1754, and the controversy will continue. According to some witnesses, Jumonville was killed while attempting to parley, something which Washington denied. For French-Canadian historians, it was murder pure and simple. However, according to many American historians, anxious to defend the reputation of the future father of their country, Jumonville fell into a trap, fire was exchanged, and he was one of the unlucky ones who lost their lives. Whatever the facts, this grave diplomatic faux pas seriously threatened the peace between England and France.