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.
Fort Loudoun, 19 December, 1756.
Your letter of the 10th came to hand the 15th; in consequence of which I despatched orders immediately to all the garrisons on the Branch to evacuate their forts, and repair to Pearsall’s, where they would meet the flour, &c. from this place, and to escort it to Fort Cumberland. I expect the provisions purchased for the support of these forts, and now lying in bulk, will be wasted and destroyed, notwithstanding I have given directions to the assistant commissary on the Branch, and to Waggener’s company, to use their utmost diligence in collecting the whole, and securing them where his company is posted. An escort, with all the flour we have been able to procure (which amounts to an insufficient quantity for want of water), sets out from this on Tuesday next. I expect to depart sooner myself, after leaving directions with Captain Mercer, whom I have appointed to command here, and shall repair as expeditiously as possible to Fort Cumberland.
I am a little at loss to understand the meaning of your Honor’s orders, and the opinion of the Council, when I am directed to evacuate all the stockade forts, and at the same time to march only one hundred men to Fort Cumberland, and to continue the like number here to garrison Fort Loudoun. If the stockade forts are all abandoned, there will be more men than are required for these two purposes, and the communication between them, of near eighty miles, will be left without a settler, unguarded and exposed.1 But I mean nothing by asking this question, than to know your Honor’s intentions, which I would willingly pay strict obedience to.
Mr. Walker has been here, settled his accompts, and gone home again, fully resolved no longer to continue commissary. I acquainted him with the contents of your Honor’s letters of November, and he has wrote you (he tells me) his reasons for resigning. What Indian goods were left by Colo. Innes I know not; no return was ever given to me, nor to the commanding officer, when he went away, if I am rightly informed.
I shall when I arrive at Fort Cumberland get a return of them, and transmit to your Honor.
A return of the stores at this place is enclosed. I should have sent it before, but waited to add those at Fort Cumberland, of which there are none yet come down.
If Captain McNeill goes to the Cherokee nation, it would be well for him to conduct the Catawbas home. But when I recommended an officer’s going with them, it was with a view of engaging a body of their men to come to our assistance in the spring, and to march in with their warriors, not choosing to trust altogether to their unmeaning promises and capricious humors. But your Honor will be pleased to direct as you see proper in this affair. I have advanced very little money hitherto to the masters of servants, because I waited your directions on this head. I received forty-one last night from Captain McNeill, who desires leave to continue recruiting. I do not consent to it, until I know whether it is agreeable to your Honor, and whether I may send out as many other officers as can be spared for the same service. If this is approved of I should be glad that your Honor would send me general instructions, that I may know how to give mine, and to act consistently with the rules for recruiting servants for his Majesty’s regiments. I should have been exceedingly glad, if your Honor and the Council had directed in what manner Fort Cumberland is to be strengthened; i. e., whether it is to be made cannon-proof or not; and that you would fix the sum beyond which we shall not go, for I must look to you for the expense, knowing that the country has already rejected some articles of this. Immediately upon receiving your Honor’s letter to McCarty, I enclosed it to Colonel Fairfax (as directed), and desired him to do what is needful in regard to the commission, as it was not in my power to deal with him as he deserved: first, because he has left this service; and next, because if he was still in it, we have no martial law to punish him, the mutiny and desertion act having expired in October last. The same with respect to the soldiers, but their penitent behavior induced me to pass by their faults. I have read that paragraph in Lord Loudoun’s letter, (which your Honor was pleased to send me,) over and over again, but am unable to comprehend the meaning of it. What scheme it is, I was carrying into execution without waiting advice, I am at a loss to know, unless it was building the chain of forts along our frontiers, which I not only undertook conformably to an act of Assembly, and by your own orders, but, with respect to the places, in pursuance of a council of war. If, under these circumstances, my “conduct is responsible for the fate of Fort Cumberland,” it must be confessed, that I stand upon a tottering foundation indeed. I cannot charge my memory with either proposing, or intending, to draw the forts nearer to Winchester. The garrison of Fort Cumberland, it is true, I did wish to have removed to Cox’s, which is nearer to Winchester by twenty-five miles; but not further from the enemy than where it now is, if a road from thence to the Little Meadows, which is about twenty miles distant, and the same from that place (i. e. Fort Cumberland,) and more in the warriors’ path, was opened. However, I see with much regret, that His Excellency Lord Loudoun seems to have prejudged my proceedings, without being thoroughly informed what were springs and motives, that have actuated my conduct. How far I have mistaken the means to recommend my services, I know not, but I am certain of this, that no man ever intended better, or studied the interest of his country with more affectionate zeal, than I have done; and nothing gives me greater uneasiness and concern, than that his Lordship should have imbibed prejudices so unfavorable to my character, as to excite his belief that I was capable of doing any thing, “that will have a bad effect as to the Dominion, and no good appearance at home.”
As I had your Honor’s permission to be down when his Lordship shall favor us with a visit, I desired Colonel Carlyle to inform me when he should pass thro’ Alexandria, and I will set out accordingly. I hope nothing has intervened to alter this indulgence. It is a favor I should not have thought of asking, had I believed the service would suffer in my absence; but I am convinced it will not. And I cannot help saying, I believe we are the only troops upon the continent, that are kept summer and winter to the severest duty, with the least respite or indulgence.
Captn. Pearis came to town the other day with six Cherokees and two squaws. He brought no orders from your Honor, and applies to me for direction of his services. I have desired him to carry the Indians to Fort Cumberland—as we can make nothing of them without an interpreter—and there wait the return of your Honor’s instructions. Lt. Baker has leave of absence upon very urgent business, relative to an estate left him. He applied to your Honor and, having received no answer, I made free to grant this indulgence in so material a point. Lt. Lowry has applied for permission to quit the service; I referred him to your Honor, and he now waits your answer in a state of much anxiety and sickness. His resignation I apprehend will occasion no void or any loss to the service. I have therefore allowed him to go down, in order to support his spirits and comply with your Honor’s pleasure, whatever that be. While Lt. Baker is absent, I would offer it to your Honor as expedient, he should make interest among the Tusks and Nottoways. His intimacy with these nations may be of service in engaging some assistance from them, and I think him very capable of the undertaking. He might also recruit, if your Honor approves of the proposal I have already offered.
The delay of the soldiers’ clothes occasions unaccountable murmurs and complaints, and I am very much afraid we shall have few men left, if they arrive not in a week or two. Your Honor would be astonished to see the naked condition of the poor wretches. And how they possibly can subsist, much less work, in such severe weather, [is not easy to conceive.] Had we but blankets to give them, or any thing to defend them from the cold, they might perhaps be easy.
I have formerly hinted to your Honor our necessity for a speedy supply of cash, and have advised with the Speaker likewise, that he might not be unprepared. I purpose to send down by the 10th of next month or sooner if I could be served. The men are quite impatient, and the want of small bills is very prejudicial to their peace. I should be glad your Honor would advise per return of Jenkins how soon I may send down. I cannot supply your Honor with a return of our strength as yet, because our scattered disposition hinders a regular discharge of the adjutant’s duty. I am, &c.
[1 ]“I heartily commiserate the poor, unhappy inhabitants, left by this means exposed to every incursion of a merciless enemy, and wish it were in my power to offer them better support, than good wishes (merely) will afford. You may assure the settlement, that this unexpected, and, if I may be allowed to say, unavoidable step was taken without my concurrence and knowledge; that it is an express order from the Governor, and can neither be evaded nor delayed. Therefore, any representations to me of their danger, and the necessity of continuing troops among them, will be fruitless; for, as I before observed, I have inclination, but no power left, to serve them. It is also the Governor’s order, that the forts be left standing for the inhabitants to possess if they think proper.”—To Captain William Bronaugh, 17 Dec., 1756. A similar order was sent to the commanders of other forts on the South Branch.