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TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889-1893). Vol. I (1748-1757).
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TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Will’s Creek, 15 April, 1754.
Captain Trent’s ensign, Mr. Ward, has this day arrived from the Fork of the Monongahela, and brings the disagreeable account, that the fort, on the 17th instant, was surrendered at the summons of Monsieur Contrecœur to a body of French, consisting of upwards of one thousand men, who came from Venango with eighteen pieces of cannon, sixty batteaux, and three hundred canoes. They gave him liberty to bring off all his men and working-tools, which he accordingly did the same day.1
Immediately upon this information I called a council of war, to advise on proper measures to be taken in this exigency. A copy of their resolves, with the proceedings, I herewith enclose by the bearer, whom I have continued express to your Honor for more minute intelligence.
Mr. Ward has the summons with him, and a speech from the Half-King, which I also enclose, with the wampum. He is accompanied by one of the Indians mentioned therein, who were sent to see where we were, what was our strength, and to know the time to expect us out. The other young man I have prevailed upon to return to the Half-King with the following speech:
“Sachems, Warriors of the Six United Nations, Shawanese, and Delawares, our friends and brethren. I received your speech by the Buck’s brother [Mr. Ward], who came to us with the two young men five sleeps after leaving you. We return you thanks from hearts glowing with affection for your steadfast adherence to us, for your kind speech, and for your wise counsels and directions to the Buck’s brother.
“The young man will inform you where he met a small part of our army advancing towards you, clearing the road for a great number of our warriors, who are immediately to follow with our great guns, our ammunition, and our provisions.
“I could not delay to let you know our hearts, and have sent back one of the young men with this speech to acquaint you with them. I have sent the other, according to your desire, to the governor of Virginia, with the Buck’s brother, to deliver your speech and wampum, and to be an eyewitness of the preparations we are making to come in haste to support you, whose interest is as dear to us as our lives. We resent the usage of the treacherous French, and our conduct will henceforth plainly show you how much we have it at heart.
“I cannot be easy without seeing you before our forces meet at the fork of the roads, and therefore I have the greatest desire that you and Escruniat, or one of you, should meet me on the road as soon as possible to assist us in council.
“To assure you of the good will we bear you, and to confirm the truth of what has been said, I herewith present to you a string of wampum, that you may thereby remember how much I am your brother and friend.”1
I hope my proceedings in these affairs will be satisfactory to your Honor, as I have, to the utmost of my knowledge, consulted the interest of the expedition and good of my country; whose rights, while they are asserted in so just a cause, I will defend to the last remains of life.
Hitherto the difficulties I have met with in marching have been greater than I expect to encounter on the Ohio, when possibly I may be surrounded by the enemy, and these difficulties have been occasioned by those, who, had they acted as becomes every good subject, would have exerted their utmost abilities to forward our just designs. Out of seventy-four wagons impressed at Winchester, we got but ten after waiting a week, and some of those so badly provided with teams, that the soldiers were obliged to assist them up the hills, although it was known they had better teams at home. I doubt not that in some points I may have strained the law; but I hope, as my sole motive was to expedite the march, I shall be supported in it, should my authority be questioned, which at present I do not apprehend, unless some busybody intermeddles.1
Your Honor will see by the resolves in council, that I am destined to the Monongahela with all the diligent despatch in my power. We will endeavour to make the road sufficiently good for the heaviest artillery to pass, and, when we arrive at Red-stone Creek, fortify ourselves as strongly as the short time will allow. I doubt not that we can maintain a possession there, till we are reinforced, unless the rising of the waters shall admit the enemy’s cannon to be conveyed up in canoes, and then I flatter myself we shall not be so destitute of intelligence, as not to get timely notice of it, and make a good retreat.
I hope you will see the absolute necessity for our having, as soon as our forces are collected, a number of cannon, some of heavy metal, with mortars and grenadoes, to attack the French, and put us on an equal footing with them.
Perhaps it may also be thought advisable to invite the Cherokees, Catawbas, and Chickasaws to march to our assistance, as we are informed that six hundred Chippewas and Ottawas are marching down Scioto Creek to join the French, who are coming up the Ohio. In that case I would beg leave to recommend their being ordered to this place first, that a peace may be concluded between them and the Six Nations; for I am informed by several persons that, as no good harmony subsists between them, their coming first to the Ohio may create great disorders, and turn out much to our disadvantage.
As I had opportunities I wrote to the governors of Maryland and Pennsylvania, acquainting them with these advices, and enclosed the summons and Indian speech, which I hope you will not think me too forward in doing. I considered that the Assembly of Maryland was to sit in five days, that the Pennsylvania Assembly is now sitting, and that, by giving timely notice, something might be done in favor of this expedition, which now requires all the force we can muster.
By the best information I can get, I much doubt whether any of the Indians will be in to treat in May. Are the Indian women and children, if they settle amongst us, to be maintained at our expense? They will expect it.1
This day, arrived the Men belonging to Captain Trent who by your Orders had been inlisted as Militia-Troops; the Officers having imprudently promised them Two Shillings per Day, they now refuse to serve for less Pay; Ward shall receive your Orders on that Head.
April 28. Some Pieces of Cannon reached us, which were taken to the Mouth of Patterson’s River.
[From the 29th of April to the 11th of May, the Journal deals only with Marches, and matters of little Consequence.]
[1 ]The position occupied by Captain Trent’s men was at the junction of the Monongahela and Allegany Rivers (now Pittsburg), which had been visited by Major Washington on his mission from the governor of Virginia to the French, and which he described in his Journal as well situated for a fort. (See p. 13.) The Ohio Company had already a small establishment there. When Contrecœur appeared before the fort, very little progress had been made in the work. Captain Trent was absent at Will’s Creek, and Lieutenant Frazier was at his residence ten miles distant. Ensign Ward, therefore, was left in the command. His whole number of men amounted only to forty-one. Contrecœur approached within a short distance of the fort, halted his troops, and sent in an officer with a summons, allowing Ensign Ward an hour to consider the subject, and directing him then to repair to the French camp with his determination in writing. He immediately counselled with the Indians, and the Half-King advised him to inform the French that he was not an officer of rank, nor invested with powers to answer their demands, and to request them to wait the arrival of the chief commander. He went accordingly with this reply to the French camp, accompanied by the Half-King; but Contrecœur refused to wait, and demanded an immediate decision, saying that he should otherwise take possession of the fort by force. Hereupon a capitulation was agreed to, and Ensign Ward marched off his men the next day, and ascended the Monongahela to the mouth of Red-stone Creek. Contrecœur invited him to supper the evening of the capitulation, and treated him with much civility.
[1 ]This was signed, “Your friend and brother, Washington, or Conotocarius.” The French editor of the Précis added this note: “Vrai-semblement c’est un nom sauvage qu’ avoit pris M. Washington, pour plaire aux nations qu’ il vouloit séduire.”
[1 ]By the militia law of Virginia the commander could impress provisions, boats, wagons, draft-horses, utensils, tools, and the like, necessary to facilitate military movements and operations. But no article could be impressed till its value had been appraised, and an estimate of the proper allowance for its daily use had been made by two reputable persons under oath. A receipt for the same was then to be given in writing to the owner by the commanding officer.—Hening’s Statutes at Large, vol. vi., p. 114.
[1 ]In the Précis des Faits, the last two paragraphs of this letter are wanting, but the following sentence is inserted: