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TO WILLIAM FAIRFAX. 2 - 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 WILLIAM FAIRFAX.2
Alexandria, 11 August, 1754.
Since my last to you, I have received, by Mr. Splitdorph, the letter therein alluded to, of the 1st inst. the contents of which are nearly the same with the other received from the Governour four days before dated the 3d inst. The following is an exact copy of it.
“The Council met yesterday, and, considering the present state of our forces, and having reason to think that the French will be reinforced next spring, it was resolved, that the forces should immediately march over the Allegany mountains, either to dispossess the French of their fort, or build one in a proper place, that may be fixed upon by a council of war. Colonel Innes has my orders for executing the above affair. I am, therefore, now to order you to get your regiment completed to three hundred men, and I have no doubt, that you will be able to enlist what you are deficient of your number very soon, and march directly to Will’s Creek to join the other forces; and, that there may be no delay, I order you to march what companies you have complete, and leave orders with the officers remaining to follow you, as soon as they shall have enlisted men sufficient to make up their companies. You know the season of the year calls for despatch. I depend upon your former usual diligence and spirit to encourage your people to be active on this occasion. Consult with Major Carlyle what ammunition which may be wanted, that I may send it up immediately. I trust much to your diligence and despatch in getting your regiment to Will’s Creek as soon as possible.
“Colonel Innes will consult you in the appointment of officers for your regiment. Pray consider, if practicable, that, to send a party of Indians &c to destroy the corn at the fort and Logstown would be of great service to us, and a considerable disappointment to the enemy. I can say no more, but to press the despatch of your regiment to Will’s Creek, and that success may attend our arms and just expedition, is the sincere desire of, sir, yours &c.”1
Thus, Sir, you will see I am ordered, with the utmost despatch, to repair to Will’s Creek with the regiment; to do which, under the present circumstances, is as impracticable, as it is (as far as I can see into the thing) to dispossess the French of their fort; both of which, with our means, are morally impossible.
The Governor observes, that, considering the state of our forces at present, it is thought advisable to move out immediately to dispossess the French. Now that very reason, “the state of our forces,” is alone sufficiently opposed to the measure, without a large addition to them. Consider, I pray you, Sir, under what unhappy circumstances the men at present are; and their numbers, compared with those of the enemy, are so inconsiderable, that we should be harassed and drove from place to place at their pleasure. And to what end would the building of a fort be, unless we could proceed as far as Red-stone, where we should have to take water, and where the enemy can come with their artillery, &c., I cannot see, unless it be to secure a retreat, which we should have no occasion for, were we to go out in proper force and properly provided, which I aver cannot be done this fall; for, before our force can be collected, with proper stores of provisions, ammunition, working-tools, &c., it would bring on a season in which horses cannot travel over the mountains on account of snows, want of forage, slipperiness of the roads, high waters, &c. Neither can men, unused to that life, live there, without some other defence from the weather than tents. This I know of my own knowledge, as I was out last winter from the 1st of November till some time in January; and notwithstanding I had a good tent, was as properly prepared, and as well guarded, in every respect, as I could be against the weather, yet the cold was so intense, that it was scarcely supportable. I believe, out of the five or six men that went with me, three of them, though they were as well clad as they could be, were rendered useless by the frost, and were obliged to be left upon the road.
But the impossibility of supporting us with provisions is alone sufficient to discourage the attempt; for, were commissaries with sufficient funds to set about procuring provisions, and getting them out, it is not probable that enough can be conveyed out this fall to support us through the winter; for you are to consider, Sir, as I before observed, that the snows and hard frosts set in very early upon those mountains; and, as they are in many places almost inaccessible at all times, it is then more than horses can do to clamber up them. But allow that they could, for want of provender they will become weak and die upon the road, as ours did, though we carried corn with us for that purpose, and purchased from place to place. This reason holds good, also, against driving out live stock, which, if it could be done, would save some thousands of horse loads, that might be employed in carrying flour, which alone, (not to mention ammunition, tools, &c.) we shall find will require more horses, than at this present moment can be procured with our means.
His Honor also asks, whether it is practicable to destroy the corn at the fort and at Logstown? At this question I am a little surprised, when it is known we must pass the French fort and the Ohio to get to Logstown; and how this can be done with inferior numbers, under the disadvantages we labor, I see not; and, of the ground to hope, we may engage a sufficient party of Indians for this undertaking, I have no information, nor have I any conception; for it is well known, that notwithstanding the expresses, that the Indians sent to one another, and all the pains that Montour and Croghan (who, by vainly boasting of their interest with the Indians, involved the country in great calamity, by causing dependence to be placed where there was none,) could take, never could induce above thirty fighting men to join us, and not more than one half of those serviceable upon any occasion.1
I could make many other remarks equally true and pertinent; but to you, Sir, who, I am sensible, have acquired a pretty good knowledge of the country, and who see the difficulties that we labor under in getting proper necessaries, even at Winchester, it is needless. Therefore I shall only add some of the difficulties, which we are particularly subjected to in the Virginia regiment. And to begin, Sir, you are sensible of the sufferings our soldiers underwent in the last attempt, (in a good season) to take possession of the Fork of the Allegany and Monongahela. You also saw the disorders those sufferings produced among them at Winchester after they returned. They are yet fresh in their memories, and have an irritable effect. Through the indiscretion of Mr. Splitdorph, they got some intimation that they were again ordered out, and it immediately occasioned a general clamour, and caused six men to desert last night. This, we expect, will be the consequence every night, except prevented by close confinement.
In the next place, I have orders to complete my regiment, and not a 6d. is sent for that purpose. Can it be imagined, that subjects fit for this purpose, who have been so much impressed with, and alarmed at, our want of provisions, (which was a main objection to enlisting before,) will more readily engage now without money, than they did before with it? We were then from the 1st of February till the 1st of May, and could not complete our three hundred men by forty; and the officers suffered so much by having their recruiting expenses withheld, that they unanimously refuse to engage in that duty again, without they are refunded for the past, and a sufficient allowance made them in future. I have in the next place (to show the state of the regiment) sent you a report by which you will perceive what great deficiencies there are of men, arms, tents, kettles, screws (which was a fatal want before), bayonets, cartouch-boxes, &c., &c. Again, were our men ever so willing to go, for want of the proper necessaries of life they are unable to do it. The chief part are almost naked, and scarcely a man has either shoes, stockings, or hat. These things the merchants will not credit them for. The country has made no provision; they have not money themselves; and it cannot be expected, that the officers will engage for them again, personally, having suffered greatly already on this head; especially, now, when we have all the reason in the world to believe, they will desert whenever they have an opportunity. There is not a man that has a blanket to secure him from cold or wet. Ammunition is a material article, and that is to come from Williamsburg, or wherever the governor can procure it. An account must be first sent of the quantity which is wanted; this, added to the carriage up, with the necessary tools, &c., that must be had, as well as the time of bringing them round, will, I believe, advance us into that season, when it is usual, in more moderate climates, to retreat into winter-quarters, but here, with us, to begin a campaign.1
The promises of those traders, who offer to contract for large quantities of flour, are not to be depended upon; a most flagrant instance of which we experienced in Croghan, who was under obligation to Major Carlyle for the delivery of this article in a certain time, and who was an eyewitness to our wants; yet had the assurance, during our sufferings, to tantalize us, and boast of the quantity he could furnish, as he did of the number of horses he could command. Notwithstanding, we were equally disappointed of these also; for out of two hundred head he had contracted for, we never had above twenty-five employed in bringing the flour that was engaged for the camp; and even this, small as the quantity was, did not arrive within a month of the time it was to have been delivered.
Another thing worthy of consideration, is, that if we depend on Indian assistance, we must have a large quantity of proper Indian goods to reward their services, and make them presents. It is by this means alone, that the French command such an interest among them, and that we had so few. This, with the scarcity of provisions, was proverbial; would induce them to ask, when they were to join us, if we meant to starve them as well as ourselves. But I will have done, and only add assurances of the regard and affection with which I am, &c,
[2 ]William Fairfax was the son of Henry Fairfax, of Yorkshire, England, and grandson of Thomas the fourth Lord Fairfax. His father died when he was young, and he was educated under the care of his uncle, Lord Lonsdale. At the age of twenty-one he entered the army, and served in Spain. He went also to the East Indies, and after his return engaged in the expedition against Providence Island, at that time in possession of the pirates. He was appointed governor of the Island, after its reduction, and married, in 1724, the daughter of Thomas Walker, a major in the army, who had accompanied the expedition, and received the appointment of chief justice of the Bahama Islands. The climate not agreeing with the health of Mr. Fairfax, he removed to New England, where he resided, holding an office of considerable trust and emolument, till he was desired by his kinsman, Lord Fairfax, to remove to Virginia, and become the agent for managing his large tract of lands in that colony. His first residence was in Westmoreland county, where he remained several years; but he afterwards established himself at Belvoir, on the Potomac River, a little below Mount Vernon.
[1 ]While Washington was encamped at the Great Meadows, Mr. Fairfax wrote to him: “I will not doubt your having public prayers in the camp, especially when the Indian families are our guests, that they, seeing your plain manner of worship, may have their curiosity excited to be informed why we do not use the ceremonies of the French, which being well explained to their understandings will more and more dispose them to receive our baptism, and unite in strict bonds of cordial friendship.”
[1 ]“Mr. Washington had many of the Indians with him; but I observe these people remain unactive till they see how affairs go, and generally speaking side with the Conquerors, that in my opinion little dependence is to be put in them.”—Dinwiddie to Hamilton, July 31, 1754.
[1 ]There was a misunderstanding between the governor and the House of Burgesses, which prevented any appropriation of money at this juncture. It had been a custom in former times, that when the governor signed a patent for land, he should receive a fee of a pistole (about $3.60) for every such signature, which was a perquisite of his office. This fee had been revived by Governor Dinwiddie, but the House of Burgesses considered it an onerous exaction, and determined to resist it. As the governor refused to sign patents on any other terms, the Burgesses had the year before passed some spirited resolves, and sent an agent to England with a petition to the King’s Council, that this custom might be abolished. The agent was Peyton Randolph, then Attorney-General of Virginia, and afterwards President of the first American Congress. While he was absent, the governor wrote to a correspondent in England: “I have had a great deal of trouble and uneasiness from the factious disputes and violent heats of a most impudent troublesome party here, in regard to that silly fee of a pistole; they are very full of the success of their agent, which I give small notice to.” The Attorney-General returned, without effecting his whole object, but the Board of Trade made new regulations, by which relief was afforded in certain cases, and the fee was prohibited except where the quantity of land patented was more than one hundred acres.—Journal of the House of Burgesses for November, 1753.