Front Page Titles (by Subject) MEMMS. RESPECT'G THE MILITIA, APRIL AND MAY, 1756. 1 - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
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MEMMS. RESPECT’G THE MILITIA, APRIL AND MAY, 1756. 1 - 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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MEMMS. RESPECT’G THE MILITIA, APRIL AND MAY, 1756.1
Answer ye the Governor that there are orders for drawing out all the ammunition, &c., from Fort Cumberland. Know of the Governor how they have apportioned the Regiments; whether into two Battalions or not; about Mr. Fairfax, and for blank Commissions. Whether the Field officers are allowed companies or not. The great disadvantage the Counties will labor under by appointing their draughts for so short a time; before they are raised they must be discharged. Another disadvantage, as we are to act upon the defensive is our delays in building Forts. It will be after mid-summer before they can be completed and if the Enemy are thick it can’t be done at all with[out] a great number of men to cover the workmen.
On Thursday the 29th of May,2 1756, divers expresses being first sent to the County Lieutenants of Fairfax, Prince William, and Culpeper, Mr. Dalton at the head of 31 volunteers and 54 militia from Fairfax came to town. On same day I received an express from Captain Broadwater at the gap of the Short Hills, informing me that himself and the Captains Ramsay, Minor and Hamilton with about 100 men, were at that place; that he had received my despatches to hurry on the militia and desired to know what number should be sent. I hereupon advised with Captain Dalton, who told me that ten men from each of those Companies were the complement intended by the commanding officer in Fairfax. I thereupon ordered that number to be immediately detached. Sunday morning they accordingly came under Captain James Hamilton, as did Captain Russel with 23 volunteers from Williams’s Gap.
This day I received another express from Captain Broadwater, setting forth that he had just received one from Colonel Carlyle ordering him to remain at that place till he heard from me and that he was scarce of provision and could not buy. I also about the same time received an express from Colonel Carlyle desiring me to order up such part of the said Militia as I thought necessary, upon which I sent to Captain Broadwater for a detachment of 25 more and ordered the others to be dismissed.
May 2d. The aforesaid detachment of 25 arrived, which made in the whole, including Volunteers (but of these 13 returned) 173 men.
May 3d. 100 of the aforesaid Militia under the Captains Minor and Hamilton were ordered to march for the Branch; the rest to join a Scouting Party of the Regiment that was ordered to search Back Country.
May 4th. The Parties marched. Captain Hamilton was ordered to consult Pearsal & the Kirkendal for the proper place to fix his Company at below the Troughs, and Captain Minor to advise with Colonel Vanmeter & Captain Waggener for fixing above. See their instructions in my orderly book dated May 4th.
Captain Dalton with his Volunteers and the rest of the Militia marched with the scouting party of the Regiment, he had orders to post the militia after he had finished their tour of duty and returned to Conogochieg, at any place where the generality of the people in those parts, but more especially Captain Swearing, would choose as the most convenient for protecting the whole; and to return to this place with his own company of volunteers. See his orders of the 4th May. This day 10 of Minor’s and Hamilton’s men deserted.
May 6th. The Prince William detachment consisting of 8 officers and 121 private Men arrived here, and about an hour or two after them came Colonel Ewel.
May 7th. Lieutenant Colonel Peyton came to town, and Captain Joseph Murdock, with 2 officers and 20 men from King George, sent up by Colonel Champe. A detachment of 50 privates left the County; the rest deserted on their march.
May 8th. The County Lieut. of Prince William, Colonel Henry Lee, arrived. This day we began to experience in a surprising degree the superlative insolence of the Prince William Detachment who made use of every means to treat not only the private soldiers, but the officers of the Virginia Regiment ill, and upon one of them being seized and ordered to the guard House, for abusing in the most insolent manner the officer [ * * ] one of their officers called for a number of Men to rescue him and pulled down the house, swore the officers of the Virginia Regiment were all scoundrels and that he could drive the whole corps before him. The fright that he received from one of them and his acknowledgments next morning sufficiently allowed for his imprudence. In the evening of this day Captain Dalton, with not only his Volunteers, but Captain Russel and his, with the remaining few of the Militia, came to town. Upon enquiring the reason of this I was answered that Captain Russel and his volunteers had got tired and must needs go home, and that the Militia, which were only 13, were too small to post at any pass as I had ordered, as indeed they were.
May 9th. Captains Dalton, Russel, with the Volunteers and Militia, set out on their return homewards; so that there only remains of the Fairfax militia those who went on to the Branch. 4 o’clock this evening I had an express from Colonel Slaughter, informing me that he was then as far as Perkins’s with about 200 of the Culpeper militia, upon which I ordered him to remain there, as the town had more already in it than they could lodge, and many quarrelsome fellows amongst them. He also informed me that they had not above 50 firelocks in the whole.
May 10th. He came into Town and informed me that beside himself there were—Officers whereof—were field Officers and—private Men; and that by a late supply his number of Arms were now about 80. Colonel Bailor with 4 Field Officers, 4 captains, 8 subalterns, 8 corporals & 8 sergeants and 170 privates arrived at this place from Caroline County.
May 11th. Colonel Spotswood from Spotsylvania, with 3 Field Officers, 5 captains, 10 subalterns, and 130 private Men, arrived here and encamped in Colonel Wood’s meadow. Colonel Henry Fitzhugh, with 2 captains, 4 subalterns, 1 clark, 4 sergeants and 102 privates, also came to Town, as did 9 of the King George Deserters. The Prince William Militia were ordered to march to-morrow under the Command of a captain and 4 subalterns to strengthen the Forts on Patterson’s Creek, with a superintendent and 20 men, and to build another at the mouth of Little Cocapenon,1 but Colonel Henry Peyton who had received a special commission from his Honour, the Governor, insisted upon going out to command them. I expostulated with him on the absurdity of it: and represented the unnecessary charge it would run the country to, employing of supernumerary officers, but nothing would put aside his intentions. He said his only motive in going was to serve his country and that he expected no reward or gratuity for his trouble; and that unless he went, he was sure the men would desert. Present, Colonel Lee, Captain Mercer and Mr. Kirkpatrick.
May 12th was the first time I could get a return of the number of Carpenter’s that were among the militia. In the Evening about 5 o’clock, Lieutenant-Colonel Peyton with the Prince William Detachment, marched, consisting of himself, 1 captain, 4 subalterns & 96 privates, as per return. See his orders at large in my orderly book.
This day also the King George Militia had orders to march to Mendenhalls Fort to protect the inhabitants under those Mountains. The Officers and Soldiers of the Militia begin to discover great uneasiness at their stay and want much to return, thinking they have performed a sufficient tour of duty by marching to Winchester.
May 13th. An express came from Colonel Peyton informing that a Sergeant and 14 men deserted last night from him at Paris’s Fort, and desiring Reinforcement. I was obliged to countermand the Orders to the King George Militia and to send them to join him with orders to remain in Ashby’s Fort, and they accordingly marched 29 in number under Lieutenant Nugent. The rest were sick & deserted, and this night 4 out of the 29 also marched off. Many complaints from the officers of Militia about the insufficiency of the allowance of Provisions for the men (tho’ they have one pound of meat and the same quantity of flour per day, which is the same that the soldiers have) obliged me to order the Commissary to deliver the officer’s allowance to the private men in order to appease their clamours. This I did to prevent increasing the allowance and setting bad examples. But this proving insufficient also, I was obliged to order the allowance to be increased to 1¼ of Flour and as much flesh per Day.
May 14th. The Orange Militia under Colonel Talliaferro consisting of 2 Field officers, 4 Captains, 4 subalterns and 100 private men, came to town, as did Colonel Barrat with 130 men from Louisa. In the Evening of this day I summoned all the Field officers to meet, that we might advise and consult on proper expedients to be taken with the militia. See a copy of the proceedings in my orderly Book. In consequence of these resolves and advise from Colonel Martin & Mr. Commissary Walker, knowing the situation of our frontiers, I ordered the Commanding Officers of each Militia to furnish the following number of men, which was proportioned equally among those that were here, and appointed them to remain as below:
Fairfax and Prince William have furnished a larger number of men than the other Countys because they arrived with those Number’s and were ordered on to assist and relieve the Inhabitants on the Branch, and [?] it would have run the Country to considerable additional Expense to relieve them now, and to no very great purpose as we soon expected to receive the draughts.
May 15th. The Council being finished the aforesaid number of Men were ordered to be draughted, and the remainder to receive provision to carry them back and to be discharged. The said several draughts were ordered to get ready to march in the morning to their respective Posts.
May 16th. The commanding officers of each Militia (Culpeper excepted) reported that several of their Men had deserted; upon which I sent out to see if they could be taken. The commissary also reported that he had been trying and could not procure a Wagon to transport the necessary stock of Provisions and ammunition with them and was therefore obliged to postpone their March one day longer. By this time I had engaged 70 Carpenters from the militia to work at 6d. extra pay on the Fort, and also had their own officers to overlook and manage them.
May 17th. Some time last night an express from the Branch arrived with letters from Ashby’s Fort and Pearsall’s Fort informing that a considerable body of Indians were about again and had taken a prisoner. Upon this all the Militia of Louisa and Stafford, save 6 of the first and 8 of the latter deserted, and the Caroline Detachment being reduced to 40 Rank & file, the Spotsylvania to 22 and the Orange being lessened also, was obliged to add the 6 Louisa men to the Carpenters till the return of their officers, who I immediately sent in pursuit of them; the 8 Stafford men to those of Spotsylvania, & to alter the disposition that was first made to the one following viz—
The reason for this disposition, to guard the Inhabitants that still remained, to secure their grain and stock, to help in with their harvest and to be contiguous to the people and to each other that they might unite occasionally and go in quest of the Enemy. Besides the Militia officers that were sent after their deserters, I ordered out one from the Regiment with a party of 8 or 10 Men mounted, to go in pursuit of them. Our strength being so much reduced by the number of Deserters that had gone off that upon the return of Ashby’s [?] I immediately dispatched an express to Colonels Barrat, Talliaferro and Slaughter, who were the last that had left this place, ordering them to return with their Men. In the Evening the Colonels Barrat & Talliaferro returned without any men, informed me that many of them had taken different roads homewards and that those who were with Colonel Talliaferro upon hearing that they were ordered back charged their pieces and continued their march towards their County in defiance of the officers.
May 18th. Last night Mr. Bullet, the officer who I had sent out, returned with 14 of the deserters, who to avoid punishment enlisted in the Virginia regiment.
19th. The Express returned from Colonel Slaughter who also informed that his men were dispersed, but if they could be gathered again he would return on Thursday.
May 20th. About 9 o’clock this night an Express came to me from Colonel Slaughter, who informed me that he had met at the place appointed for the Rendezvous of his Militia but that only 8 or 9 appeared, desired to know if he should farther rendezvous to collect. He believed it might be done so soon as they recovered a little from the fatigue of their march. I wrote him by this Express & desired him, as I had heard nothing of the Enemy since, to postpone bringing up any Men till they were drafted, which I recommended to him to be done with the greatest expedition; also, if it would not be contrary to the governor’s orders to him, to march his Men so soon as drafted to this place, as it would save much time and expence.
[1 ]These memoranda cover a few pages of note book, and were made from day to day as the events noted occurred. They are curious as giving a very good picture of the little reliance that could be put in the colonial militia.
[2 ]Error for April.
[1 ]Probably Cacapehon.