Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
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).
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.
TO GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE.
Fort Loudoun, 2 December, 1756.
When I wrote your Honor from Alexandria, I expected to have been at or near Fort Cumberland by this; but, upon coming here, and expecting wagons and provisions in readiness to go up with this escort, I received the enclosed from the commissary, which I send to evince that no delays or protracting of orders proceed from me. The return of our strength, which I called in so soon as I arrived, is herewith sent, signed by the adjutant, amounting, exclusive of the drafts, to eighty-one effectives, including the sick, and young drummers, who were sent here to learn.
When Captain Mercer went down, our strength consisted of about twenty-five more, including drafts, which have been sent ever since the middle of October, to Conococheague, Swearingen’s Ferry, &c, to encourage that body of inhabitants to stay at their places, who otherwise were determined to forsake them. Your Honor’s late and unexpected order has caused the utmost terror and consternation in the people, and will, I fear, be productive of numberless evils, not only to this place, and the public works erecting here, but to the country in general, who seem to be in the greatest dread for the consequences. The stores of every kind have all been brought from Fort Cumberland, save those indispensably necessary there, at a very great expense, and lie in the courthouse and other public buildings, to the no small inconvenience and detriment of the county. I have frequently been importuned by the members of the court, and other public officers, to remove them, and have as often by gentle persuasives protracted the time; which was the more cheerfully granted, as it was evident that there were no other places to receive them, and that I strove with the utmost diligence to prepare the proper receptacles. What course to take with them now, I know not, and hope you will direct.
I am convinced, were your Honor informed how much this place (which is in every degree our utmost and most exposed frontier, there being no inhabitants between this and the Branch, and none there but what are forted in,)—I say, I am convinced, if your Honor were truly informed of the situation of this place, of its importance and danger, you would not think it prudent to leave such a quantity of valuable stores exposed to the insults of a few; for a very few indeed might reduce them and the town too, to ashes. In the next place, as I observed in my last letter, the works, which have been begun and continued with labor and hardship, lie open, untenable, and exposed to the weather, to say no more; and the materials, which have been collected with cost and infinite difficulty, to the mercy of every pillager; our timber and scantling, used and burnt by the town’s people; our plank, which has been brought from far, stolen and destroyed; and the lime, if not stolen, left to be wasted, &c., &c. And this is not the worst. A building, which in time might and would have been very strong and defensible, and an asylum in the greatest danger, in a manner totally abandoned. As the case now stands, we have no place tenable, no place of safety; all is exposed and open to attacks; and by not having a garrison kept at this place, no convoys can get up to us, and the communication with the inhabitants entirely cut off, so that soldiers and inhabitants cannot be assisting each other.
In regard to myself residing at Fort Cumberland, I shall lay before your Honor such inconveniences as must unavoidably arise, while we pursue these defensive measures; in doing which, I think I only do my duty. First, as Fort Cumberland lying more advanced, and wide of all other forts, will prevent me from having the immediate direction of any but that. Secondly, the stores being at this place, and I at that, will render it impossible to deliver them regularly. I either must trust to a subaltern officer to order them discretionally, or else an express must be first sent to me, and then I must send to the storekeeper to deliver the necessaries wanting to each garrison. How inconsistent this is for many reasons, your Honor may judge; but more especially, when it is known that there is no travelling to Fort Cumberland but endangering of life, without a pretty strong escort. Thirdly, by being at Fort Cumberland a total stagnation of business must ensue, because money is lodged with me for discharging all contingent expenses arising in the service, and no persons will, or can, come to me there. In course they will be slack in furnishing us with wagons and necessaries of every kind, which now by due payment may be had at call. And lastly, Winchester is in the center, as it were, of all the forts, is convenient for receiving intelligence and distributing orders; and notwithstanding any thing to the contrary, lies in a vale of land, that has suffered more than any other from the incursions of the enemy. I hope, after receiving a peremptory order, the mentioning of these things will not appear presuming or odd. I do not hesitate a moment to obey; on the contrary, shall comply the minute I can. I mean nothing more than to point out the consequences, that must necessarily attend, as I apprehend your Honor was not thoroughly apprised of our situation. Some, Sir, who are inclined to put an unfavorable construction upon this generous recital, may say, that I am loath to leave this. I declare, upon my honor, I am not, but had rather be at Fort Cumberland, (if I could do my duty there,) a thousand times over: for I am tired of the place, the inhabitants, and the life I lead here; and if, after what I have said, you should think it necessary that I reside at that place, I shall acquiesce with pleasure and cheerfulness, and be freed from much anxiety, plague, and business. To be at Fort Cumberland sometimes, I think highly expedient, and have hitherto done it. Three weeks ago I came from that place.
I have used every endeavour to detain the drafts, but all in vain. They are home-sick and tired of work. They all declare, if an expedition is conducted in the spring, they will serve two, three, or four months; these tho’ are words of course. The Catawbas are out on the scout with an officer and some men of ours. They proposed, when I was at Fort Cumberland, to stay only one moon, and then to set out for their nation, with a report of the country and its conveniences to the enemy, (but rather with a report of our usage, I believe.) It therefore behooves us to reward them well, and keep them in temper. They applied to me for several necessaries, such as each a suit of clothes, wampum, pipe, tomahawks, and silver trinkets for the wrists and arms, &c. The wampum and tomahawks I have purchased. The want of the others may occasion some murmuring, and there are very few things suitable at Fort Cumberland. They seemed very desirous, that an officer should return with them, and gave strong assurances of his bringing in a number. If your Honor approves it, I shall endeavour to fix upon some officer, that falls most in with their customs, and send him upon this duty. The Indians expect to be sent back upon horses. Does your Honor approve that they should? I will not take upon me to buy horses without your orders. The Cherokees are not yet arrived, nor the arms from Augusta. I am, &c.