Front Page Titles (by Subject) REMARKS ON THE COUNCIL OF WAR. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
REMARKS ON THE COUNCIL OF WAR. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
REMARKS ON THE COUNCIL OF WAR.
Upon receiving orders from His Honor Governor Dinwiddie to hold a Council of War upon the necessity of continuing or discontinuing Fort Cumberland—I immediately directed Lt. Col. Stephen (it being impracticable to attend myself, while absent on a tour reviewing the southern frontiers) to summon the officers of that Fort and the neighboring Garrisons to take the affair into their serious consideration. Their sentiments in my opinion are fully & impartially delivered on the other side, both in respect of its condition, situation & importance, as respecting Virginia, and the provinces of Pennsylvania & Maryland in general. The situation of Fort Cumberland is extremely unsuitable for defence, and in no ways fit for fortification—and a fort some-where in that neighbourhood rather more advanced to the westward, well-fortified and strongly garrisoned wou’d contribute much to the mutual safety & interest of these three Colonies.
Because it secures the only gap of the Alleghany at present made passable for wheel-carriages and which wou’d forward an Expedition to the Ohio. Now wou’d the three Colonies consent to furnish proportionable supplies for so beneficial and salutary a design—I shou’d think it highly expedient to maintain that pass by erecting a Fortress of strength towards the Little Meadows, in advance to the Enemy, which wou’d give us yet more advantages and Fort Cumberland wou’d still answer its present purposes without attempting its improvement while covered by the other. Or should Virginia herself take the weight of this Enterprize—or could it be accomplished by any means whatever,—I shou’d be extremely fond of the expedient. But to view Fort Cumberland in its present defenceless posture, relative to Virginia in particular,—and at this gloomy juncture of affairs—I can not entertain very favourable sentiments of supporting it, for these reasons, vizt.
1st. ’Tis evident the Maryland Assembly have given up, all their lands above the Tonollaways, by building Fort Frederick below—ordering in the Inhabitants above—and withdrawing their Troops from Fort Cumberland.—From them we may expect small succours—and what hope we may have of Pennsylvanias aid towards this salutary purpose, I am yet to learn. They have large and extensive frontiers, and have hitherto acted on the Defensive.
2ly. Fort Cumberland lying in the province of Maryland & remote from our Settlements, can of course contribute little to their protection, without a numerous garrison is kept therein to detach strong parties to reconnoiter at a distance, and waylay the enemy almost at their own homes; as there are various paths that lead to the inhabitants, without coming near Fort Cumberland.
3ly. Fort Cumberland being in Maryland, it prevents a great part of our Force from acting there; in consequence of an Act of Assembly, prohibiting those Troops to march out of the Colony. These forces, thus restricted are to be discharged the 1st December; by which means not only Fort Cumberland, but many other places will be rendered so weak (without immediate supplies; and how easily these are obtained, I appeal to sad experience) that their conquest wou’d be easy, if attempted. Lastly.—As to the works—they are already well described, as quite insufficient to resist a common swivel; and must require new improvement, if continued which wou’d be better be bestowed on a new and more suitable situation; and without the conjunction of the two provinces to carry on this proposal, it wou’d be next to impossible for Virginia (which has hitherto defrayed the charge and refuses any further supplies for that purpose) to maintain and support His Majesty’s fort under their present feeble force. For by putting a Garrison there of strength requisite to defend it, and keep up the difficult communication with the inhabitants at so great a distance wou’d employ more than half our men, and of consequence unguard the rest of our frontiers.—
As to the Address of the Council to me for reinforcement—they must have known that it was out of my power to grant it. The Garrison at that place was appointed in consequence of a former council of war; and a large proportion of our force alloted to act on the defensive there. Whilst the remainder were divided for the protection of other places; which wou’d be equally unadvisable to leave open and exposed.
Upon the whole, were it at any other time than this—knowing the weakness of our strength doubting the assistance of our neighbours, and dreading the consequence of leaving the place longer exposed, altho’ great part of the Stores is already removed—I shou’d vote for demolishing it. But the affair being of great importance, I only offer my sentiments; and submit to his Honor the Governor and the approaching Assembly, for a determination of the case.1
[1 ]On September 22d Lord Loudoun wrote from Albany: “And do hope and trust that the Government of Virginia will not suffer the post of Fort Cumberberland to be wrested from them.” Dinwiddie instructed Washington to maintain the fort if possible.