Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
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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.
Winchester, 3 May, 1756.
I received your two letters of the 23d and 26th ultimo.
I have sent down an Indian scalp, which was taken off at the place where Captain Mercer had his engagement. He was found thrust under some rocks, and stones piled up against them. They have reason to believe there were more killed, from the quantity of blood found on the ground where the Indians fired from, and from other discoveries of their attempts to make more graves. But a hard shower of rain prevented their making a farther search.
We have some reason to believe, the Indians are returned to Fort Duquesne, as some scouts from Fort Cumberland saw their tracks that way; and many corroborating accounts affirm, that the roads over the Allegany Mountains are as much beaten, as they were last year by General Braddock’s army. From these and other circumstances we may judge their numbers were considerable. Whether they are gone for the season, or only to bring in a larger party, I am at a loss to determine.
For which reason, and from the scarcity of provisions on this side Fort Cumberland, I must beg leave humbly to offer it to your Honor’s superior judgment, if it would not be advisable to stop all the militia, that are ordered from the ten counties, save about five or six hundred from the adjacent ones? which will serve to cover our frontiers on this quarter, (which is the only part that ever will or can be much exposed,) until the regiment is completed by drafts, and until they can erect fortresses, if the country intend a chain of forts for their defence. Drafts, if they are judiciously chosen, will be of infinitely more service, and much less expense to the country, and can be immediately put to their posts.
I am convinced, that, if your Honor has a mind to stop any part of the militia, you will have full time, notwithstanding they are ordered to rendezvous at this place on the 10th instant. I never knew any yet to appear in ten days after they were expected; and I am also apprehensive, that having so many of the militia out will be the means of retarding the drafts, which, above all things, I wish to see.
Though I have often troubled you on this head, I must again beg leave to desire your particular instructions and information, of what is to be done, as, being in a state of uncertainty, without knowing the plan of operations, or what scheme to go upon, reduces me to the greatest straits, and leaves me to guess at every thing. Orders, that are absolutely necessary to be despatched to the officers one day, appear the next as necessary to be contradicted; so that I really cannot tell how to act for the good of the service, or satisfaction of any individual. Was the regiment complete, and things put on a proper footing, the whole would go on smoothly and regularly, which is now rendered impossible. So much am I kept in the dark, that I do not know whether to prepare for the offensive or defensive; and what might be absolutely necessary in the one, would be quite useless in the other.
Great inconveniences arise from our being so dispersed through the country. The men cannot be regularly paid or supplied. If every company had its proper post assigned, pay might be sent to them, and necessaries always provided in due season. We could also have the same advantages were we collected in one place. But there are so many detachments out, one officer may command men of every company of the regiment, and if necessaries are sent them he is removed from his command, and those things cannot be stopped out of their pay. So by this method the country loses money, the men are badly supplied, and always discontented.
I find the act of Assembly against mutiny and desertion quite insufficient, except in those two particular crimes. There is no notice, nor can a court-martial be held, by virtue of this act against any officer or soldier who is charged with cowardice, holding correspondence with the enemy, quitting or sleeping upon a post, nay, many other crimes, which are provided against in the articles of war. I think, at this time, it would be for the good of the service to make an act to enforce the articles of war in general, except two or three particular ones, such as impressing wagons, &c. They are in force in our mother country. They think them the best calculated for keeping soldiers under discipline; and none of them would prove burthensome, or inconvenient, either to the public or any individual, and I cannot, nor I imagine few others can assign any reason, why we should pretend to quit that which by long experience has been found the best, to introduce one quite insufficient.
There are now in town about one hundred and fifty of the Fairfax militia. Three hundred are expected from Prince William. With the soldiers and militia now here, I intend to go out and scour the woods hereabouts for three or four days until the others arrive.
I want very much to go to Fort Cumberland to regulate affairs there, but fear I cannot spare time, as my presence will be very necessary here.
Clothes for the men are very much wanted. There are none in store, and some men, who have been enlisted these two months, to whom we could give nothing but a blanket, shoes, and shirt, are justly dissatisfied at having two pence per day stopped from them.1 Provision here is scarce, and the commissary much wanted to lay in more. I have been, and still am, obliged to do this duty, as well as most others, which I would take upon me, rather than let any thing be wanting for the good of the country, which I could do.
I enclose your Honor the sentence of a general court-martial, which was held here upon a sergeant for running away with his party.1 They have, I think, very justly adjudged him to suffer death, which sentence I hope you will approve of as there never was a fitter object to make an example of, being the second time he has been guilty of the same crime, nor a better time, as the newly drafted recruits for the regiment may be here by that time to see it executed, and it will be a good warning to them. * * *
[1 ]The soldiers were paid eight pence a day. Out of this amount two pence a day were reserved for supplying them with clothes. The system of stoppages may be best illustrated by the orders that Washington gave to the paymaster in November, 1775: two pence per month was to be deducted from “each non-commissioned officer and soldier for purchasing medicines. This is to be paid to the surgeon quarterly. There is also six-pence per month to be stopped from the drummers, to be paid to the Drum major for teaching them and repairing the drums. . . . If any non-commissioned officer or soldier should happen to die, he is to be continued on the pay-roll as an effective man for twenty eight days, to pay for his coffin, &c.”
[1 ]Nathan Lewis, who had shown his cowardice in the affair at Edwards’ Fort in which John Mercer was killed.