Front Page Titles (by Subject) COUNCIL OF WAR ON FORT CUMBERLAND. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
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COUNCIL OF WAR ON FORT CUMBERLAND. - 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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COUNCIL OF WAR ON FORT CUMBERLAND.
A Council of War, held at Fort Cumberland, October 30th, 1756, in pursuance of an Order received from Colonel George Washington, agreeable to an order from Governor Dinwiddie to consult whether it is most for the advantage of His Majesty’s Service, to keep or demolish Fort Cumberland.
Lieut. Colo: Adam Stephen, President.
In the first place, the particular situation and structure of the Fort was considered, namely,—Its being built of stockades about nine feet high above ground and never intended for defence against artillery.—That it is commanded by a rising ground about 150 yards N. W. of the stockades, and overlooked by several Hills within cannon shot; so that no person can move about the place without being seen. This is verified in the instance of a French spy lately taken; who gave an account exactly of the number of Sergeants and Soldiers in the Garrison.—That the Barracks are without the Fort; ill-built, & easily set on fire by the enemy; as any number of men can come under the banks of Potomac and Will’s Creek, within pistol shot of the Barracks, and fort itself, without being exposed to a shot from cannon or small arms—That notwithstanding its small strength & situation, it is the only place to the southward of Albany exposed, to an attack from cannon, as there is no other road for carriages of any kind, leading thro’ any pass of the Alleghany Mountains.—That there is no water to be had except from the river or creek—to the latter of which there is a subterraneous passage opened lately, but not to be depended upon, without a strong Garrison to defend it. Secondly; As to the situation of Fort Cumberland respecting Virginia in particular, it was considered—That it was a great distance from the inhabitants, and consequently the more difficult to be supplied with provisions, &c.—That a strong Fortress with a numerous garrison, situated somewhere toward the head of the waters of Patterson’s creek, wou’d contribute more to the immediate protection of the Frontiers, as that wou’d be nearer the inhabitants, and as near the enemy and warriors’ path, much frequented by scalping parties of them designed against the Virginia frontiers.—Thirdly—Upon consideration of the situation of Fort Cumberland, as it regards His Majesty’s service, and Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania in general.—It appears, that a strong Fortress near that place, or more advanced towards the enemy, well garrisoned, is absolutely necessary, and wou’d be of the greatest service for the protection of the Frontiers of the three colonies for the following reasons. 1st. The nearer we are to enemy well supported, the more will they dread our incursions; and we the more easily command the passes of the Alleghany mountains. 2ly.—It appears to us the most imprudent step, to leave the only road fit for wheel-carriages, in the power of the enemy. 3ly. The command of the River Potomack, being one of the principal objects which the enemy has in view on this quarter is by all means to be guarded. Their being masters of it wou’d forward their designs & help them to penetrate more readily into the Heart of the Country. It is to be observed, that it is only about 70 miles land-carriage, from the river of Monongahela to this place, & that the advantageous navigation by small craft and battoes, is well known to the French.
4ly. That Fort Cumberland is about 30 miles from Rays-town, on the Frontiers of Pennsylvania, thro’ which passes an Indian road, much frequented by the enemy marching against that province, and the Frontiers of Maryland. That it is not much farther from the waters of a creek called the Loyal Hanan, alias, Camihony;1 upon which lies the common hunting ground of the Indians as they march to and return from War—That the infesting these roads and interrupting them thereabouts wou’d contribute most of all to the protection of the three provinces, next to making incursions into the enemy’s country, and going against their Towns.
It has likewise been considered that the moving the Guns, &c, from Fort Cumberland to Winchester would raise the spirits of the Enemy, and encourage them to make a vigorous attack upon some of the small Forts and the Inhabitants of the Branch. That it wou’d be leaving every thing to chance and running the greatest risque of losing all, to move them to any other place on the frontiers, before provision is made for reception of the Stores, and mounting of the cannon.—In case they are removed to Winchester there is the greatest reason to think, that the whole South Branch Settlement will break up, and that the neighbourhood of Winchester, nay, even to the Blue Ridge of mountains, will in a short time be as much depopulated, as the neighbourhood of Fort Cumberland is at present. After a deliberation of two days on the above circumstances—the Question being proposed—What was most advisable to be done?—it was unanimously agreed as follows; vizt.: That being sensible of the great advantages of a strong Garrison in Fort Cumberland,—or at a place further to the westward, to His Majesty’s Service—that Garrison with equity to be supported and maintained by the three provinces as it would contribute equally to the protection of all, and be of the greatest service, in case of an expedition carried on from Potomack to Ohio in the Spring. Fort Cumberland and the Store-houses there wou’d be particularly useful; but in the mean time, to pretend to maintain a Fort most exposed to an attack of any on the continent, with a Garrison of 160 men, and the place not proof against cannon, would be ridiculous & absurd.
The matter being of so great importance, it is possible, that on a just representation of circumstances, His Excellency, The Right Honble. the Earl of Loudoun, will give orders about strengthening His Majesty’s Fort at Will’s Creek and reinforcing the Garrison, so as to make it useful in covering the frontiers of the three provinces. We also are of opinion, that as the designs of the Enemy against this place may be retarded for some time, by the late capture of a couple of their Spies; and that their intelligence received from Deserters will be rendered of less effect, from the pulling down the Redoubt, and erecting a sort of — — in another place—That it is most advisable to apply to Colonel Washington for an immediate reinforcement to the Garrison—That some of the most valuable Stores—not immediately useful for the defence of the Fort, be removed to Winchester. That the works begun for the strengthening of the Fort, by orders of the Commandant, upon hearing the Enemy were on their march against it, be continued, and that we defer giving our judgment with respect to keeping or demolishing Fort Cumberland, the only fort belonging to His Majesty on this Quarter—and desire that our consideration of the case, and narration of circumstances, be transmitted to Governor Dinwiddie, to whom, or to His Excellency, the Right Honble. the Earl of Loudoun, we leave the decision of the fate of Fort Cumberland.—Resolving in the mean time to maintain it as far as lies in our power, until we receive Orders on that head—begging that we may do so as soon as possible, having certain intelligence of the enemy’s designs against us, as soon as it shall be in their power to attack us.
[1 ]This place is variously spelled in the colonial records, the more frequent forms being Loyal Hanning, Loyal Hening, and Loyal Hanna or Hanny.