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, 23 May, 1756.
The method I shall use to inform your Honour of the proceedings of the militia, is to enclose a transcript of my journal that relates to that affair, and to send a copy of a council of war held here by the field-officers of these counties, you were pleased to order to our assistance.2 These I hope will be sufficient to discover the springs that actuated my conduct.
The spirit of desertion was so remarkable in the militia, that it had a surprising effect upon the regiment, and encouraged many of the soldiers to desert: but as I never had failed in sending officers on different roads upon the first reports, so neither did I neglect it now, and luckily caught two, who being brought to trial, were both convicted, as your Honor will see by the court’s proceedings. James Thomas, one of them, was among the first of my followers, and always behaved himself with the greatest sobriety, honesty and diligence, so far as I have ever seen or heard. And I imagine if he did not lose the money, as he says in his defence, he might be prevailed upon to spend a part in liquor, and then was afraid to meet his officer with the rest.
The other criminal, Henry Campbell, is a most atrocious criminal, and richly deserves an ignominious death for a former as well as the present offence. He was once a sergeant and entrusted with some goods from Alexandria, part of which he embezzled, and, because it could not be absolutely proved, was only reduced. After that (in December last,) he deserted, and carried several men with him; and, upon the most solemn promises of good behaviour, was pardoned, but for this only reason—we had no power to hold general courts martial. And now he was instrumental in carrying off seven others, two only of whom were taken. For these reasons I hope your Honor will think him as worthy an example against desertion, as Lewis against cowardice, whose execution I have delayed until the arrival of the drafts. These examples and proper encouragement for good behaviour will I hope, bring the soldiers under proper discipline.
I found it absolutely impossible to go to Fort Cumberland at this time, without letting matters of greater importance suffer in my absence here; such a multiplicity of different kinds of business am I at present engaged in. Governor Innes is gone up, who, I hope, will assist with his advice in settling things to rights, if any irregularities have been practised contrary to the custom of the army; but I cannot find by any inquiries that I have been able to make, that there have been.
I have ordered a sufficiency of officers to be left at Fort Cumberland, and the rest to repair to this place, in order to proceed to Fredericksburg, agreeably to your Honor’s commands. And as soon as the gentlemen Associators arrive here, I shall take that place in my way to Williamsburg, to settle my accounts, and receive more money, which is already scarce with me. I am heartily glad, your Honor has fixed upon those gentlemen to point out the place for erecting of forts, but am sorry to find their motions so slow.1 The summer season will be so far advanced, that, if we meet with opposition in conducting the work, the difficulties and delays that must attend the execution cannot be described.
It gave me infinite concern to find the Assembly had levied their troops until December only. By the time they shall have entered into the service, they will claim a discharge. To get the least smattering of the duty they cannot, and we find by experience, that our poor and ragged soldiers would kill the most likely militia in five days’ marching, so little are the latter acquainted with fatigue. Men would almost as soon have entered the service for seventeen months, as for seven, and in that time I am convinced we could have enlisted them all upon our own terms. As it is, some perhaps may be got. Pray does your Honor approve that they should. One of those would be of more worth than two of the others.
Your Honor in a letter of the—ult. approved the scheme I sent down for forming the regiment into two battalions of twenty companies, (giving the field-officers each one,) but never gave any directions concerning the appointment. Nor do I think there can be any plan judiciously concerted, until we know what number of forts are to be built upon our frontiers, as the number of our companies must in a great measure depend upon the divisions of the regiment. As the case now stands, there are several vacancies in the regiment, and I have but one blank commission. Though, if I had, I should not think it prudent to fill up more, until matters are a little better regulated.
At this place I have begun the fort according to your orders, and found, as little of the matter as I know myself, that the work would not be conducted, if I was away, which was one among many reasons, that detained me here.1 I have also ordered Captain Stewart, who commands at Conococheague, to fortify that place as well as he can, with the tools he can procure, and shall endeavour in all things, so far as I am capable, to act for the best.
Mr. Dick, (who is just returned from the northward,) says, there are orders for drawing out all the ammunition and other stores that belong to the train at Fort Cumberland, and to send them immediately round to New York. I have thought it expedient to give your Honor the earliest advice that you may order accordingly; for should this be done, it will leave that place entirely defenceless, and stop the source that can supply us otherwise. I have given Colonel Stephen previous notice of it, and have desired he will work on the conductor of the train, (in whose care it is left,) to have the forts of Ashby, Cockes &c., plentifully furnished, before such an order arrives.1 I am, &c.
[2 ]The militia, who had assembled at Winchester upon the recent alarm, had given the commander infinite trouble and anxiety. On this subject Colonel William Fairfax wrote to him:—
[1 ]This company appears to have originated among the lawyers and the association was entered into on May 3d. On the 8th the governor wrote that “these gentlemen will march from north to south, with your advice, to propose the proper places to erect these forts.” They then numbered about one hundred men with the attorney general, Peyton Randolph, at their head. Being volunteers, serving at their own cost, the Governor gave them no orders. They marched towards Winchester, but the alarm subsided before they had an opportunity of putting their martial spirit to the test.
[1 ]This fort, built at Winchester, was called Fort Loudoun.
[1 ]“The Assembly have resolved that their troops shall not march out of the colony. Whether this is binding on the whole, or only the drafts, I know not, and therefore I would not advise your going into Maryland, unless it be to procure some manifest advantage to Virginia, in keeping the enemy out of it, &c. To range for and search them in another province I cannot think consistent with the intention of the Assembly. Nor is it the design of the Assembly or Governor, as the men are raised solely for the defence of the Colony, and not acting in conjunction with other corps, that Governor Sharpe, or his officers, shou’d have any connection with them. You are therefore to pay no regard to any orders that you may receive from him, or any other than the governor of Virginia, myself, or your superior officers in the Virginia Regiment.”—To Captain Robert Stewart, 2 June, 1756.