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George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757) [1889]

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George Washington, 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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About this Title:

Vol. 1 covers the years 1748 to 1757 and includes some of his early journals and many letters.

Copyright information:

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.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Of this Letter-press Edition 750 Copies have been Printed for Sale


February, 1889

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
collected and edited by WORTHINGTON CHAUNCEY FORD
Vol. I.
The Knickerbocker Press
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Press of

G. P. Putnam’s Sons

New York

Edition: current; Page: [v]


  • Preface . . . . . . . . . page xvii
  • 1748.
    • Journal of a Survey . . . . . . . 1
    • To — . . . . . . . . . 7
    • To — . . . . . . . . . 7
  • 1752.
    • To Wm. Fauntleroy, Sr., May 20th . . . . 9
  • 1753.
    • Journal to the Ohio . . . . . . . 9
  • 1754.
    • To Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, March 7th . . . . . . . . 41

      Difficulties encountered in recruiting—Need of Clothing for soldiers.

    • To Richard Corbin, March . . . . . 43

      Asks for commission as lieutenant-colonel.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, March 20th . . . . 44

      Acknowledges the commission—About to march—As to promotions.

    • Journal, March-April . . . . . . 46
    • To Horatio Sharpe, Governor of Maryland, April 24th . . . . . . . . . 49

      Surrender of Ensign Ward to French—Progress of his march—Apology for writing.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 15th . . . . 52

      Ward’s surrender—Speech to the Half-King—Difficulties encountered on his march—The council of war—Attitude of the Indians.

      Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, May 9th . . . . 57

      Difficulties of transporting stores—Reinforcement of French—The southern Indians.

    • Journal, May 11th-18th . . . . . . 59
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, May 18th . . . . 61

      Activity of the French—The Half-King—As to a road to Red Stone Creek—Requests some treaty goods.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, May 18th . . . . 63

      Discontent of the officers—Desires to serve voluntarily—Clogs upon the expedition.

    • Journal, May 19th-21st. Letter to the Half-King, etc. 66
    • To Colonel Joshua Fry, May 23d . . . . 68

      Slow progress of the advance—Strength of the French—Demands of the Indians—Letter from the Half-King.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, May 27th . . . . 71

      News from the Half-King—Retreat to the Meadows—Arrival of Gist—Services of the Indians must be purchased.

    • Journal, May 27th . . . . . . . 73
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, May 29th . . . . 76

      No intention of resigning command—The question of pay—Would prefer to serve as a volunteer—British and Virginia officers compared—Combat with the French—Death of Jumonville; his instructions and conduct—Sense of the Half-King—To arouse the Indians—Awaiting an attack—The prisoners sent to Winchester.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie . . . . . . 87

      Reasons for regarding Jumonville as a spy.

    • Journal, May 29th-30th . . . . . . 89
    • To his Brother, May 31st . . . . . . 89

      Fight at the Great Meadows—Is fortifying himself—The Mingoes expected—Escaped unhurt.

    • Journal, June 1st-3d . . . . . . . 91
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, June 3d . . . . 91

      Arrival of the Half-King—French negotiations with the Indians—Scalps sent to Indian tribes—Montour’s services—Intelligence from French deserters.

    • Journal, June 5th-10th . . . . . . 95
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, June 10th . . . . 96

      Appointment of Innes—Disputes as to relative rank.

      Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, June 12th . . . . 99

      Deficiency in supplies—Movement of the Indians—Intelligence from Fort Duquesne—Promotions suggested—Peyrouny—Court-martial of Capt. Trent—Arrival of Capt. Mackay, and questions of rank.

    • Journal, June 12th-27th. Indian Council, etc. . 109
    • To William Fairfax, August 11th . . . . 124

      Resolution of the Virginia council—Impossibility of performance—Want of provisions—No recruiting money—Little dependence on traders for supplies.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, August 20th . . . 133

      Army matters requiring attention—Commissions for officers—Deserters and martial law.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, August 21st . . . 135

      Recommends Mr. Wright—Unequal cost of county musters.

    • To Colonel William Fitzhugh, November 15th . . 137

      Cannot return to service—Reduction of officers.

  • 1755.
    • To Robert Orme, March 15th . . . . . 141

      Thanking the General for appointment, which he accepts.

    • To Robert Orme, April 2d . . . . . 144

      Condition of accepting appointment.

    • To John Robinson, April 20th . . . . . 146

      Motive for joining the expedition—His losses at Fort Necessity—Asks recompense.

    • To William Byrd, April 20th . . . . . 148

      Reason for serving under General Braddock.

    • To William Fairfax, April 23d . . . . . 149

      Meeting of governors at Alexandria.

    • To William Fairfax, May 5th . . . . . 151

      Joins General Braddock—Reasons for the route taken by army.

    • To John A. Washington, May 6th . . . . 152

      His journey to camp—Relations with the General—The horse Gist.

    • To Major John Carlyle, May 14th . . . . 153

      Absurdity of route taken by army—Delays.

    • To Mrs. Fairfax, May 14th . . . . . 154

      The General at Alexandria—Prospect of delay—Is sent to Williamsburg.

      Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • To John A. Washington, May 14th . . . . 155

      Little prospect of an advance—French engaged by Gov. Shirley—Relations with the General—Incidents of journey—Suggests his nomination as Burgess.

    • To John A. Washington, May 25th . . . . 157

      Character of militia—Severe drought.

    • To William Fairfax, June 7th . . . . . 161

      Arrival at camp—Impatience of the General—Assistance from Pennsylvania—Troops about to march—News from the north.

    • To John A. Washington, June 28th . . . . 164

      Is taken with fever and compelled to leave the army—The troops discard baggage—Council of officers—His opinion requested, and accepted—Position of Dunbar’s troops—No letters from his friends—News from the army.

    • To Robert Orme, June 30th . . . . . 170

      Advance of Dunbar’s regiment—Prospect of his joining the General.

    • To Governor Innes, July 15th . . . . . 172

      Provision for receiving the General.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, July 18th . . . . 173

      Braddock’s defeat—Conduct of the Virginia troops—Cowardice of the regulars—The killed and wounded—Consequence of the defeat—Dunbar’s hasty retreat.

    • To John A. Washington, July 18th . . . . 175

      Rumor of his death—On his way to Mt. Vernon.

    • To Robert Jackson, August 2d . . . . . 177

      Reflections on the defeat.

    • To Augustine Washington, August 2d . . . 178

      Offers his services—His former experiences—Operations suggested.

    • To Mrs. Mary Washington, August 14th . . . 180

      Reasons for accepting a command.

    • To Warner Lewis, August 14th . . . . 181

      Unable to journey to Williamsburg—Is not inclined to offer his services—Powers and responsibilities of the commander—Difficulties to be encountered.

    • To John Robinson, September 11th . . . . 186

      Suggestions for supplying troops.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, October 8th . . . 189

      Recruiting, and needs of the forces—Lack of a militia law—Money required.

      Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • To Andrew Montour, October 10th . . . . 191

      Inviting him to join the army—Will reward him suitably.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, October 11th . . . 192

      Raising militia forces—Orders disobeyed—Distress of the inhabitants—Necessity of a military law—Reported incursion of Indians—State of the back settlements—Need of a commissary.

    • Advertisement, October 13th or 14th . . . 202
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, October 17th . . . 202

      Necessity of conciliating the Indians—Methods adopted by the French—Progress of recruiting.

    • To Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Stephen, November 18th 205

      Obedience to be enforced—Reward offered for the apprehension of deserters—Commissioners to the Cherokees.

    • To Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Stephen, November 28th . . . . . . . . . 208

      As to provisions—Fort Cumberland—The command of the forces—Negligence of recruiting officers.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, December 5th . . . 211

      Captain Dagworthy—Want of a mutiny bill—Supplies and recruiting—Harboring deserters.

    • To Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Stephen, December 28th . . . . . . . . . 214

      Shirley’s opinion on Dagworthy—Pay for recruits.

  • 1756.
    • To Robert Hunter Morris, Governor of Pennsylvania, January 5th . . . . . . . 217

      Obtaining intelligence—Inactivity of Pennsylvania—Vigorous measures needed.

    • Address to the Officers of the Virginia Regiment, January 8th . . . . . . . 219
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, January 14th . . . 220

      Expedition against the Shawnee Town—Forts to be constructed—Changes suggested in government of army—Appointments.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, January 14th . . . 224

      Dagworthy’s neglect of orders—Proposes to visit Governor Shirley—Dagworthy’s pretensions examined.

    • To Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen, February 1st . . 227

      Punishment of deserters—To visit Boston—Directions to be enforced in his absence.

      Edition: current; Page: [x]
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, February 2d . . . 229

      Want of artillery—Commission for holding courts-martial.

    • Notes on his Journey to Boston . . . . 231
    • Extracts from the Pennsylvania Gazette . . . 234
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 7th . . . . 234

      Incursion of the enemy—Vigorous measures called for—Inhabitants should be called in—Failure of Major Lewis’ expedition—Death of Douville; his instructions.

    • To Governor Morris, April 9th . . . . . 239

      Attack by French and Indians—Union of colonies—Resignation suggested.

    • To John Robinson, April 16th . . . . . 241

      Timidity of inhabitants prevents pursuit of Indians—A plan for organizing army—Marksmen only should be drafted.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 18th . . . . 245

      Representations against the Virginia troops.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 19th . . . . 247

      Defeat and death of Mercer.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 22d . . . . 248

      Distress of the inhabitants—Again urges vigorous measures—Ashby’s letter and reported move of the Indians.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 24th . . . . 252

      Alarm of the inhabitants—Militia called out—Indians should be employed—Dishonorable cabals in neighborhood.

    • To John Robinson, April 24th . . . . . 255

      Charges against troops—The proposed chain of forts—Reasons for a defensive campaign—Position of Fort Cumberland—Location of others.

    • To John Robinson, April 27th . . . . . 262

      Chain of forts discussed—Fort proposed at Winchester—Panic of the people.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 27th . . . . 264

      Deserted condition of frontier settlements—Indians are useful—A fort at Winchester—Disadvantageous position of Fort Cumberland.

    • Memms. Respect’g the Militia, April and May . . 269
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, May 3d . . . . 277

      Indians have retired—Militia should be ordered back—A definite plan of operations should be formed—Disposal of forces a disadvantage—Mutiny act criticised.

      Edition: current; Page: [xi]
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, May 23d . . . . 281

      Desertion among militia; two examples—Associators expected—Short term of service under new levies—Progress in the construction of forts.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, June 25th . . . . 286

      The chain of forts—Drafts of militia—Maryland builds a fort.

    • To Captain Waggener, July 13th . . . . 290

      Placed in command of company to construct forts.

    • Instructions for Captain Peter Hog . . . . 292
    • To Captain Stewart, July 22d . . . . . 293

      Plans of forts enclosed—Location of proposed fort described—Visit of Indians.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, August 4th . . . 295

      Council of officers on location of forts—Defeat of Rutherford—Enlistment of servants—Weakness of regiment—Desertion—Re-enlisting—Indians.

    • To John Robinson, August 5th . . . . 307

      Question of accounts—Fort Cumberland; its disadvantageous location—Payment for apprehension of deserters—Payment of soldiers—Dissatisfaction.

    • To Captain Waggener, August 5th . . . . 320

      Distribution of forces.

    • To Colonel Stephen, August 5th . . . . 322

      Allotment of troops—Discrepancy in returns.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, August 14th . . . 324

      Demand for reinforcements—Opinion of council of war—Murders of the inhabitants—Reported attack on Fort Cumberland—Requests leave of absence.

    • Address to his Command . . . . . . 328
    • To Lord Fairfax, August 29th . . . . . 329

      Position of the back settlements—His weakness—Need of a company.

    • To Colonel Stephen, September 6th . . . . 332

      Dinwiddie on Fort Cumberland—The Southern Indians—Loss of a horse, and directions as to strays.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, September 8th . . . 337

      As to enlisting servants—Rangers and Indians—Deserters—Frontiers should be protected.

      Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, September 23d . . . 345

      Matters concerning the Virginia regiment—Fort Cumberland—The new chain of forts—Number of troops required—Regulation of publicans.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, September 28th . . . 351

      Appointment of a commissary—The new forts.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, October 10th . . . 354

      Indian matters—Examination of forts—Condition of the militia.

    • To Major David Lewis, October 18th . . . 359

      Criticising his refusal to comply with a request for troops.

    • To Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen, October 23d . . 360

      Dinwiddie on Fort Cumberland—Council of officers ordered—Offensive campaign to be preferred.

    • Council of War on Fort Cumberland . . . 364
    • Remarks on the Council of War . . . . 368
    • Location of the Forts . . . . . . 371
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, November 9th . . . 373

      Inspection of forts—Disadvantages of militia—The garrisons—Wretched state of inhabitants—Vigorous campaign urged—Indians—Rewards for taking up deserters—Council on forts.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, November 24th . . . 383

      Explains terms in letter which Governor criticised.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, December 2d . . . 389

      Effect of the Governor’s orders—Stores at Fort Cumberland—Drafts of militia.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, December 4th . . . 393

      Wholesale desertion; the plot disclosed.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, December 10th . . . 395

      Capture of deserters—Recruiting servants—Condition of soldiers.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, December 19th . . . 397

      The Governor’s orders—Matters relating to the troops—Lord Loudoun’s letter examined.

    • To John Robinson, December 19th . . . . 403

      The Governor’s orders—Lord Loudoun prejudiced—Money needed.

    • To the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, December, 406

      Assembly incensed against the regiment—Difficulties of his position—Is willing to resign—Characters of officers.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • To the Worshipful the Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses . . . . . 409
  • 1757.
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, January [12th] . . . 411

      Trial of mutineers—Position of Mr. Walker—Works at Fort Cumberland—Evacuation of forts.

    • To the Earl of Loudoun, [March] . . . . 414

      Sketch of what had been done by Virginia—The Braddock expedition—Troops poorly provided for—Recruiting and acts of Assembly—Erection of forts—Military laws and regulations—The militia—His own position in the army.

    • To Richard Washington, Merchant, London, April 15th . . . . . . . . . 431

      His position on the frontier—The French on the Ohio, and efforts of Virginia—Sends tobacco for sale.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 16th . . . . 433

      Council on Governor’s orders—The Catawba Indians—Remonstrance of troops.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, April 29th . . . . 436

      Regimental matters—Martial law—Indians—Pay for servants and deserters; for troops—The construction of forts—Militia—Money accounts.

    • To John Robinson, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, May 30th . . . . . . 442

      Indian policy—Captain Gist.

    • To John Robinson, June 10th . . . . . 444

      Departure of Indians—Money and accounts.

    • To Colonel Stanwix, June 15th . . . . . 447

      Baker’s scout—Affairs at Fort Duquesne—Disposition of troops—Bat-men.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, June 16th . . . . 449

      Expected attack on Fort Cumberland—Militia ordered up.

    • To Colonel Stanwix, June 20th . . . . . 451

      Fort Duquesne—Strength of the French—Spotswood’s party.

    • To Colonel Stanwix, June 21st . . . . . 453

      Sortie from Fort Duquesne—Error of Captain Dagworthy.

    • To Colonel Stanwix, June 28th . . . . . 455

      On Capt. Beale’s proposition—Indian affairs.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, [July 11th] . . . . 458

      Capture of deserters—Their punishment—Promotion of Captain McNeill recommended—Return of strength—Requests leave of absence.

    • To Colonel Stanwix, July 15th . . . . . 462

      Indians—Militia—Deserters—Imprisonment of Cherokees—Philadelphia post.

    • To Governor Sharpe, July 20th . . . . . 464

      Deserters from Virginia—Requests aid in capturing them.

    • General Instructions to All the Captains of Companies, July 29th . . . . . . . . 466
    • To Colonel Stanwix, July 30th . . . . . 470

      Imprisonment of Cherokees—Drafts—Leave of absence—Indian depredations.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, August 27th . . . 472

      Drafts—Regimental returns—French incursions—Recruiting—Explains his position and replies to criticism.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, September 17th . . . 477

      Deserters—Army returns—Indian management—Attacks on frontiers—Stores at Fort Cumberland—Commissary.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, September 17th . . . 483

      Col. Corbin’s charges.

    • To Captain William Peachy, September 18th . . 487

      The assertions of Colonel Corbin.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, September 24th . . . 488

      Settlements deserted.

    • To Mrs. Mary Washington, September 30th . . 490

      Marriage of Charles Washington—Orders cloths.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, October 5th . . . 491

      Supplies—Recruiting service—Hostile movements of French—Arrival of Cherokees—Charge of ingratitude answered—French spies.

    • To Colonel Stanwix, October 8th . . . . 497

      Thefts by Hamilton—Incursion of enemy—Defence of country impossible.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, October 9th . . . 500

      Conduct of magistrates—Tippling-houses—Lewis’ expedition.

      Edition: current; Page: [xv]
    • To Governor Dinwiddie, October 24th . . . 504

      Necessity of reinforcements—Captains Hog and Rutherford—Indians.

    • To John Robinson, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, October 25th . . . . . 507

      Situation of inhabitants.

    • To Governor Dinwiddie, November 5th . . . 510

      Treatment of Indians.

Edition: current; Page: [xvi] Edition: current; Page: [xvii]


It would be impossible to approach a collection of the Writings of Washington without taking some notice of the labors of Mr. Jared Sparks, the earnest, conscientious, and, it must be added, often injudicious pioneer in that great task. It is just to pay first a high tribute to his indefatigable industry in gathering the material, his wide acquaintance with the sources of history of the time, and his extensive and generally accurate knowledge of the men engaged in and the affairs connected with the troublous period of the nation’s birth, with the crucial contest for a nation’s existence. He worked with imperfect instruments, much of almost vital importance to the truth escaped his attention, while family pride and individual selfishness shut him off from manuscript records that would in his hands have added greatly to the value and rounded out more completely the interest of his work. It is fitting that due acknowledgment should be made of the great debt that Americans owe to his efforts, and no one is in a better position to recognize the debt thus due than the writer, who has passed over much of the same territory, encountered the same difficulties, and through experience been Edition: current; Page: [xviii] brought to a full realization of the greatness of the task accomplished by Mr. Sparks. No small part of the results of his labors has been embodied in these volumes.

In spite, however, of all that can be said in praise of Mr. Sparks’ work, it must be admitted that his zeal led him into a serious error of judgment, so common to hero-worshippers, not only doing his own reputation, as an editor, an injury, but, what is of greater moment, conveying a distorted idea of Washington’s personal character and abilities—an idea that was rapidly developed into a cult, from which it is still difficult to break away, and in which it is dangerous to express unbelief. Finding that Washington had, at a late period of his life, carefully corrected some of his earlier letters, erasing and pruning liberally, and altering the arrangement of sentences and choice of words, wherever his more mature experience pointed out the need, Mr. Sparks took the same liberty with the rest of the letters and messages, and produced what is perhaps a more uniform work than could otherwise be obtained, but one that is singularly colorless when examined to discover the individuality of the writer. Not only did the editor omit sentences, words, proper names, and even paragraphs without notice to the reader, but he materially altered the sense and application of important portions of the letters. This has been done upon no well-defined principles, no general rules that could account for the expediency or necessity of a change so radical and, it must be admitted, often so misleading Edition: current; Page: [xix] and mischievous. The young colonel of the Virginia regiment, serving in the colonial wars, writes in Mr. Sparks’ volumes with the same maturity of style and thought as the president of the established republic. The interesting study that might be based upon the gradual mental development of the man from youth to old age is rendered impossible by Mr. Sparks’ methods of treating the written record, and consequently the real character of Washington as a man is as little known to-day as it was to the generation that followed him. The patient antiquary can discover a few inedited records of the man, written in the full freedom of friendly intercourse; but nothing of this nature appears in the collection of Mr. Sparks.

Some protest must be entered against the wholesale and indiscriminate charges of interested motives for his acts that it is now the fashion to bring against Mr. Sparks. The blame for many of the changes and omissions cannot be laid at his door. His correspondents often misled him, wilfully as well as unintentionally; his copyists and proof-readers were liable to err; while in other instances where he depended upon a printed version, the letters were mutilated before they reached his hands, as was the case with the correspondence with Richard Henry Lee, as published by the Lee family.

I have been fortunate enough to find among the Washington manuscripts in the Department of State the originals of two of the earlier letter-books of Washington, on which Mr. Sparks based his editorial Edition: current; Page: [xx] work, and which had been mislaid for so many years that their very existence was denied. They contain the original drafts of his letters, all but a few pages are his own writing, and the changes he made at a late period of his life are so distinctive, both in the form of the letters and the colors of the ink, as to make an error of date impossible. It is to be regretted that these books were not discovered until after the first pages of this volume were printed, when it was too late to utilize this remarkable discovery. I have, however, noted the differences in some of the letters written during the campaign of 1758 (Volume II. of this collection), and the general nature of the changes in construction and language can be recognized from them. As a matter of interest, a few sentences are taken from the earlier series, written during the Braddock campaign:—

George Washington
Washington, George


[As originally written.]

This I took as a gentle rebuke and polite manner of forbidding my corresponding with you and conceive this opinion is not illy founded when I reflect that I have hitherto found it impracticable to engage one moment of your attention. If I in this I hope you will excuse my present presumption and lay the imputation to elateness at my successful arrival. If on the contrary these are fearfull apprehensions only, how easy is it to remove my suspicion. 7 June, 1755.

[As corrected by Washington.]

Am I to consider the proposed mode of communication as a polite intimation of your wishes to withdraw your correspondence? To a certain degree it has that appearance; for I have not been honored with a line from you since I parted with you at Belvoir. If this was your object, in what manner shall I apologise for my present disobedience; but on the contrary, if it was the effect of your delicacy, how easy it is to remove my suspicion.

Edition: current; Page: [xxi]
George Washington
Washington, George
William Byrd
Byrd, William


For I can very truly say I have no expection of reward, but the hope of meriting the love of my country, and friendly regard of my acquaintance; and as to my prospect of obtaining a commission I have none, as I am perfectly well assured that it is not in Gen’l Braddock’s power to give such an one as I would accept of. 20 April 1755.

For I can truly say I have no expectation of either [fee or reward]. To merit its esteem, and the good will of my friends, is the sum of my ambition, having no prospect of obtaining a commission, being perfectly well assured &c.

It would be an ungrateful task, as well to the reader as to the editor, to attempt an exposition of how Mr. Sparks applied, as he thought, the same methods to the later correspondence of Washington, and of the regrettable consequences. A casual comparison between his collection and the present volumes will demonstrate the extent of the liberties taken with the text. For it has been the wish of the present editor to return to the originals, to give the letters as they were first written by Washington (omitting of course the rough drafts), with all their uncouth construction of sentences, curious use of words, old style of capitalization, and frequent abbreviations, the various spellings of proper names, even of words in ordinary use, and the awkward punctuation, so often calculated to confuse and mislead. In adopting this course I may have erred as much in one direction as Mr. Sparks did in another; but I can plead the requirements of the modern historical method, demanding fulness and accuracy of detail even to an extreme; not to mention the serious obstacles that any middle course would have entailed.

Edition: current; Page: [xxii]

A difficulty presented itself from the outset. The proper management of the enormous mass of material offered was of itself a problem of no small moment; the form in which that material was accessible made a proper and satisfactory solution the more delicate and involved. I have traced, in many instances, not only the original drafts or the original letters, but copies of the letters, sometimes more than one transcript, and again printed editions of them, no two of which would agree exactly in every detail. Here was the chief obstacle to my work. For did I print the original, the variant draft, transcript, or printed copy could be used as the basis of a charge of inaccuracy; and the same charge would lie did I use any but the original form. To note all the variations was out of the question, not merely because of their number, but because of their comparatively little interest to any but the antiquary. Some compromise was necessary, and after a careful examination of the material, I determined to note in my last volume the source of the printed version, whether an original, a draft, a transcript, contemporary letter-book, or a late copy; while in notes appended to each letter, I propose to give any important variation calling for such attention. Whereever possible, the original letter is used in the text.

In following so closely, almost slavishly, the manuscript record, a notable lack of uniformity resulted, and will to many lend an appearance of careless editing to the printed page. This will naturally be more evident in the earlier writings than in those Edition: current; Page: [xxiii] of the revolutionary and subsequent periods, when the burden of the correspondence rested with secretaries. To the beginning of the Revolution Washington composed and wrote all his letters, and carefully copied them himself into letter-books. The personal characteristics of the writer show more clearly in these earlier writings, and it is for this reason that I have given so many of that period, and in such fulness. Pursuing the same idea I have confined my notes, as far as was possible and consistent with clearness, to contemporary records, and generally to the very words of the writers. To attempt even a general summary of what has been said, written, and conjectured on mooted incidents in his life would have swelled the notes to an unwieldly size. The very full and carefully prepared notes in the Narrative and Critical History of America render such a task unnecessary. Where I have found a contemporary judgment of Washington’s character, uncolored by personal hostility or partisan hatred, I have quoted it.

In thus confining myself as closely as possible to what Washington wrote and what those who had relations with him thought of his capacity, position, and acts, no violence is done to his reputation, nothing is taken that derogates from the extraordinary abilities that showed their efficiency in small as well as in great affairs. An awkward word or phrase, a strong expression, or a severely personal criticism on his contemporaries led to an alteration or rejection by Mr. Sparks, not only from a wish to spare Edition: current; Page: [xxiv] individual reputations, but also from an idea that a publication would detract from the greatness of the writer. In the present publication nothing of interest or importance is omitted from the record, but the result is not destructive of any reputations, and brings Washington nearer to us in thought and action than before.

The most agreeable part of my task now lies before me, that of acknowledging the kind assistance so liberally afforded me by the possessors of letters of Washington and by persons interested in American history. Many as have been the rebuffs I have received in pursuing my researches,—and I regret that I have been denied access to some very important collections of Washington letters,—they have been far more than compensated by the voluntary kindness of strangers, and by the generous acts of friends and fellow-students of history on both sides of the ocean. Many difficulties have been made smooth, and much of the drudgery involved has been lightened, by the encouraging words and marks of appreciation of these good friends. To the rich deposit of Washington papers in the Department of State, Washington, I have had full and free access through the courtesy of Hon. Thomas F. Bayard. Mr. Ainsworth R. Spofford and his assistants have freely placed before me the resources of the Library of Congress. Nor should I omit to mention the historical societies throughout the country, which have rarely hesitated to place at my disposal their rich collections of manuscripts and authorities, and afforded me every opportunity to Edition: current; Page: [xxv] utilize their possessions. Easily first, stands the Massachusetts Historical Society, to whose librarian, Mr. Green, I am especially indebted for favors. To one and all of these assistants I give thanks, reserving special mention for the last volume, when my burden of indebtedness will be paid in full.

I have been specially fortunate in my copyist, to whose industry and accuracy I gladly pay some tribute. Through the courtesy of Mr. Justin Winsor and the publishers of the Narrative and Critical History of America I am enabled to use some of the maps and illustrations prepared for that valuable and encyclopædic work.

Worthington Chauncey Ford.
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Fryday, March 11th, 1747/8. Began my Journey in company with George Fairfax, Esqr.; we travell’d this day 40 miles to Mr. George Neavels in Prince William County.

Saturday, March 12th. This Morning Mr. James Genn, ye surveyor, came to us; we travell’d over ye Blue Ridge to Capt. Ashbys on Shannandoah River. Nothing remarkable happen’d.

Sunday, March 13. Rode to his Lordship’s Quarter about 4 miles higher up ye river. We went through most beautiful Groves of Sugar Trees, & spent ye last part of ye Day in admiring ye Trees & richness of ye Land.

Monday 14th. We sent our baggage to Capt. Hites (near Frederick Town) went ourselves down ye River about 16 miles to Capt. Isaac Pennington’s (the Land exceeding rich and fertile all ye way—produces abundance of Grain, Hemp, Tobacco, &c.) in order to lay of[f] some Land on Cates Marsh & Long Marsh.

Tuesday 15th. We set out early with intent to run round ye sd. Land, but being taken in a rain, & it increasing Edition: current; Page: [2] very fast obliged us to return. It clearing about one o’clock & our time being too Precious to loose, we a second time ventured out & worked hard till night, then returnd to Penningtons. We got our suppers & was Lighted into a Room & I not being so good a woodsman as ye rest of my company, striped myself very orderly and went into ye Bed, as they calld it, when to my surprize, I found it to be nothing but a little straw matted together without sheets or any thing else, but only one thread bear blanket with double its weight of vermin, such as Lice, Fleas, &c. I was glad to get up (as soon as ye Light was carried from us.) I put on my cloths & lay as my companions. Had we not been very tired, I am sure we should not have slep’d much that night. I made a Promise not to sleep so from that time forward, chusing rather to sleep in ye open air before a fire, as will appear hereafter.

Wednesday 16th. We set out early & finish’d about one o’clock & then Travelled up to Frederick Town, where our Baggage came to us. We cleaned ourselves (to get Rid of ye Game we had catched ye night before). I took a Review of ye Town & then return’d to our Lodgings where we had a good Dinner prepared for us. Wine & Rum Punch in plenty, & a good Feather Bed with clean sheets, which was a very agreeable regale.

Thursday 17th. Rain’d till ten o’clock & then clearing we reached as far as Major Campbells, one of there Burgesses about 25 miles from Town. Nothing remarkable this day nor night, but that we had a Tolerable good Bed [to] lay on.

Friday 18th. We Travell’d up about 35 miles to Thomas Barnwickes, on Potowmack, where we found ye River so excessively high by reason of ye great Rains that had fallen up about ye Allegany Mountains, as they told us, which was then bringing down ye melted snow & that it would not be fordable for several Days. It was then about six foot higher than usual & was rising. We agreed to stay till Monday. We this day calld to see ye Fam’d Warm Edition: current; Page: [3] Springs. We camped out in ye field this night. Nothing remarkable happened till Sunday ye 20th.

Sunday 20th. Finding ye river not much abated we in ye evening swam our horses over and carried them to Charles Polks in Maryland, for pasturage till ye next Morning.

Monday 21st. We went over in a Canoe and Travelled up Maryland side all ye Day in a continued Rain to Col. Cresaps, right against ye mouth of ye South Branch, about 40 miles from Polks, I believe ye worst road than ever was trod by Man or Beast.

Tuesday 22d. Continued Rain and ye Freshes kept us at Cresaps.

Wednesday, 23d. Raind till about two o’clock & cleard, when we were agreeably surprized at ye sight of thirty odd Indians coming from war with only one scalp. We had some Liquor with Us of which we gave them Part, it elevating there spirits, put them in ye humor of Dauncing, of whom we had a War Daunce. There manner of Dauncing is as follows, viz.: They clear a Large Circle & make a great Fire in ye middle. Men seats themselves around it. Ye speaker makes a grand speech, telling them in what manner they are to daunce. After he has finishd ye best Dauncer jumps up as one awaked out of a sleep, & Runs & Jumps about ye Ring in a most comicle manner. He is followed by ye Rest. Then begins there musicians to Play. Ye musick is a Pot half full of water, with a Deerskin streched over it as tight as it can, & a goard with some shott in it to rattle & a Piece of an horse’s tail tied to it to make it look fine. Ye one keeps rattling & ye others drumming all ye while ye others is Dauncing.

Fryday, 25th, 1748. Nothing remarkable on thursday, but only being with ye Indians all day. So shall slip it. This day left Cresaps & went up to ye mouth of Paterson’s Creek, & there swum our horses over, got over ourselves in a canoe & travelled up ye following part of ye Day to Abram Johnstones, 15 miles from ye mouth, where we camped.

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Saterday, 26. Travell’d up ye creek to Solomon Hedges, Esqr. one of his Majesty’s Justices of ye Peace for ye County of Frederick, where we camped. When we came to supper there was neither a Cloth upon ye Table nor a knife to eat with; but as good luck would have it, we had knives of our [own].

Sunday, 27th. Travell’d over to ye South Branch, attended with ye Esqr. to Henry Van Metriss, in order to go about Intended work of Lots.

Monday, 28th. Travell’d up ye Branch about 30 miles to Mr. James Rutlidges Horse Jockey, & about 70 miles from ye mouth.

Tuesday, 29th. This Morning went out & surveyd. five hundred acres of Land, and went down to one Michael Stumpe on ye So. Fork of ye Branch. On our way shot two wild Turkies.

Wednesday, 30th. This Morning began our Intended business of Laying of[f] Lots. We began at ye Boundary Line of ye Northern 10 miles above Stumps, & run of[f] two Lots, & return’d to Stumps.

Thursday, 31st. Early this Morning one of our men went out with ye gun, & soon returned with two wild Turkies. We then went to our business run of[f] three lots, & returned to our camping place at Stumps.

Fryday, April ye 1st, 1748. This Morning shot twice at wild Turkies, but killd none. Run of[f] three Lots & returnd to camp.

Saterday, April 2d. Last night was a blowing rainy night. Our straw catch’d a Fire, yt. we were laying upon. I was luckily preservd by one of our Men’s awaking when it was in a [1]. We run of[f] four lots this day which reached below Stumps.

Sunday, 3d. Last Night was a much more blustering night than ye former. We had our tent carried quite of[f] with ye wind, and was obliged to Lie ye Latter part of ye Edition: current; Page: [5] night without covering. There came several Persons to see us this day. One of our men shot a wild Turkie.

Monday, 4th. This Morning Mr. Fairfax left us with intent to go down by ye mouth of ye Branch. We did two Lots & was attended by a great Company of People, men Women, & children, that attended us through ye woods as we went, shewing there antick tricks. I really think they seem to be as ignorant a set of people as the Indians. They would never speak English but when spoken to, they speak all Dutch. This day our tent was blown down by ye violentness of ye wind.

Tuesday, 5th. We went out & did 4 Lots. We were attended by ye same Company of People, yt. we had ye day before.

Wednesday, 6th. Last night was so Intolerably smoky that we were obliged all hands to leave ye Tent to ye Mercy of ye wind & Fire. This day was attended by our afored. Company, up till about 12 o’clock. When we finished, we Travelld down ye Branch to Henry Van Metriss. On our journey was catchd in a very heavy rain. We got under a straw House until ye worst of it was over, & then continued our Journey.

Thursday, 7th. Raind successively all last night. This morning one of our men killd a wild Turkie that weight 20 Pounds. We went & surveyd 15 Hundred acres of Land & returnd to Van Metriss about 1 o’clock. About two I heard that Mr. Fairfax was come up & at 1 Peter Cassey’s, about 2 miles of[f] in ye same old field. I then took my horse & went up to see him. We eat our Dinners & walked down to Van Metris’s. We stayed about two hours & walked back again, and slept in Cassey’s House which was ye first night I had slept in a House since I came up to ye Branch.

Fryday, 8th. We breakfasted at Cassey’s & rode down to Van Metris’s to get all our Company together, which when we had accomplished, we rode down below ye Trough in order to lay of Lots there. We laid of [f] one this day. Edition: current; Page: [6] The Trough is couple of Ledges of Mountains, impassable, running side & side together for above 7 or 8 miles & ye River down between them. You must ride round ye back of ye Mountain for to get below them. We camped this Night in ye woods near a wild Meadow, where was a large stack of Hay. After we had Pitched our Tent & made a very large Fire, we pulled out our knapsack, in order to Recruit ourselves. Every [one] was his own cook. Our Spits was forked Sticks, our Plates was a large Chip; as for Dishes, we had none.

Saterday, 9th. Set ye Surveyors to work, whilst Mr. Fairfax & myself stayed at ye Tent. Our Provision being all exhausted & ye Person that was to bring us a Recruit disappointing us, we were obliged to go without untill we could get some from ye neighbors, which was not untill 4 or 5 o’clock in ye Evening. We then took leaves of ye Rest of our Company, road down to John Colins in order to set of [f] ye next Day homewards.

Sunday, 10th. We took our farewell of ye Branch & travelld over Hills and Mountains to Coddys, on Great Cacapehon, about 40 miles.

Monday, 11th. We travelld from Coddys down to Frederick Town, where we reached about 12 o’clock. We dined in Town and then went to Capt. Hites & lodged.

Tuesday, 12th.—We set of[f] from Capt. Hites in order to go over Wms. Gap, about 20 miles, and after riding about 20 miles we had 20 to go, for we had lost ourselves & got up as high as Ashby’s Bent. We did get over Wms. Gap that night, and as low as Wm. West in Fairfax County, 18 miles from ye Top of ye Ridge. This day see a Rattled snake, ye first we had seen in all our journey.

Wednesday, ye 13th of April, 1748. Mr. Fairfax got safe home and I myself safe to my Brothers, which concludes my journal.1

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George Washington
Washington, George


Dear Richard,

The receipt of your kind favor of the 2d of this instant afforded me unspeakable pleasure, as I am convinced I am still in the memory of so worthy a friend,—a friendship I shall ever be proud of increasing. Yours gave me the more pleasure, as I received it amongst a parcel of barbarians and an uncouth set of people. The like favor often repeated would give me pleasure, altho’ I seem to be in a place where no real satisfaction is to be had. Since you received my letter in October last, I have not sleep’d above three nights or four in a bed, but, after walking a good deal all the day, I lay down before the fire upon a little hay, straw, fodder, or bearskin, which ever is to be had, with man, wife, and children, like a parcel of dogs and cats; and happy is he, who gets the berth nearest the fire. There ’s nothing would make it pass off tolerably but a good reward. A doubloon is my constant gain every day that the weather will permit my going out, and sometimes six pistoles. The coldness of the weather will not allow of my making a long stay, as the lodging is rather too cold for the time of year. I have never had my clothes off, but lay and sleep in them, except the few nights I have lay’n in Frederic Town.

George Washington
Washington, George
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Friend Robin,

As it ’s the greatest mark of friendship and esteem, absent friends can shew each other, in writing Edition: current; Page: [8] and often communicating their thoughts, to his fellow companions, I make one endeavor to signalize myself in acquainting you, from time to time, and at all times, my situation and employments of life, and could wish you would take half the pains of contriving me a letter by any opportunity, as you may be well assured of its meeting with a very welcome reception. My place of residence is at present at his Lordship’s, where I might, was my heart disengaged, pass my time very pleasantly as there ’s a very agreeable young lady lives in the same house, (Colonel George Fairfax’s wife’s sister.) But as that ’s only adding fuel to fire, it makes me the more uneasy, for by often, and unavoidably, being in company with her revives my former passion for your Lowland beauty; whereas, was I to live more retired from young women, I might in some measure eliviate my sorrows, by burying that chaste and troublesome passion in the grave of oblivion or etarnall forgetfulness, for as I am very well assured, that ’s the only antidote or remedy, that I ever shall be relieved by or only recess that can administer any cure or help to me, as I am well convinced, was I ever to attempt any thing, I should only get a denial which would be only adding grief to uneasiness.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
May 20, 1752
Wm. Fauntleroy
Fauntleroy, Wm.



I should have been down long before this, but my business in Frederick detained me somewhat longer than I expected, and immediately upon my return from thence I was taken with a violent pleurise, which has reduced me very low; but purpose, as soon as I recover my strength, to wait on Miss Betsy,1 in hopes of a revocation of the former cruel sentence, and see if I can meet with any alteration in my favor. I have enclosed a letter to her, which should be much obliged to you for the delivery of it. I have nothing to add but my best respects to your good lady and family.



For some years trouble had been brewing between the French and English on the Ohio frontiers of the colonies, each nation laying claim to a possession of the soil, and seeking by every means to monopolize the important fur trade with the Indians. English governors were granting lands and English traders and settlers were pushing over the mountains, establishing stations and seeking the aid of the Indians,—steps that were regarded by the French as encroachments, and that urged them to take counter measures to establish and maintain their claims. In 1749, Céleron de Bienville passed from La Chine to the Ohio, and down as far as the Great Miami, conciliating the Indians with gifts or gaining their assent to his acts by threats, and, warning off English traders, formally took possession of the country in the name of his master, Louis XV. While these events were taking place the Ohio Company was formed in Virginia, to found a colony in the region in dispute, and under a crown grant prepared to take possession, sending a trader, Christopher Gist, to select and locate Edition: current; Page: [10] the land. On their side the French constructed several forts. From England the colonial governors received notice of these encroachments, and were instructed to require the subjects of any foreign powers trespassing or building forts on the territory claimed, to desist from “any such unlawful undertakings,” and if this requisition should not be obeyed, to employ force.1 It was in response to these orders that Governor Dinwiddie sent Washington to the Ohio, and thus forestalled the action of Pennsylvania. “The matter of the requisition enjoined by Lord Holdernesse’s letter was again taken into consideration and a form agreed upon; but several persons who came to town from Virginia reporting that Governor Dinwiddie had sent an officer to the French camp on that errand; and it being uncertain what part the Assembly of this Province would take in this affair, it was agreed to postpone it till it should be known what Governor Dinwiddie had done or proposed to do.”—Penn. Col. Rec., V., 709. Dinwiddie wrote to Governor Hamilton on November 24th, that he had sent “a person of distinction” to the commander of the French. Upon the publication of the following journal copies were sent to all the colonial governors.


As it was thought adviseable by his Honour the Governor to have the following Account of my Proceedings to and from the French on Ohio, committed to Print; I think I can do no less than apologize, in some Measure, for the numberless Imperfections of it.

There intervened but one Day between my Arrival in Williamsburg, and the Time for the Council’s Meeting, for me to prepare and transcribe, from the rough Minutes I had taken in my Travels, this Journal; the writing of which only was sufficient to employ me closely the whole Time, consequently admitted of no Leisure to consult of a new and proper Form to offer it in, or to correct or amend the Diction of the old: Neither was I apprised, nor did in the least conceive, when I wrote this for his Honour’s Perusal, that it ever would be published, or even have more than a cursory Reading; till I was informed, at the Meeting of the present General Assembly, that it was already in the Press.

There is nothing can recommend it to the Public, but this. Those Things which came under the Notice of my own Observation, Edition: current; Page: [11] I have been explicit and just in a Recital of:—Those which I have gathered from Report, I have been particularly cautious not to augment, but collected the Opinions of the several Intelligencers, and selected from the whole, the most probable and consistent Account.1

G. Washington.

I was commissioned and appointed by the Honourable Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; Governor, &c., of Virginia, to visit and deliver a letter to the Commandant of the French forces on the Ohio, and set out on the intended Journey the same day: The next, I arrived at Fredericksburg, and engaged Mr. Jacob Vanbraam,2 to be my French interpreter; and proceeded with him to Alexandria, where we provided Necessaries. From thence we went to Winchester, and got Baggage, Horses, &c; and from thence we pursued the new Road to Wills-Creek,3 where we arrived the 14th of November.

Here I engaged Mr. Gist4 to pilot us out, and also hired four others as Servitors, Barnaby Currin and John Mac-Quire, Indian Traders, Henry Steward, Edition: current; Page: [12] and William Jenkins; and in company with those persons, left the Inhabitants the Day following.1

The excessive Rains and vast Quantity of Snow which had fallen, prevented our reaching Mr. Frazier’s, an Indian Trader, at the Mouth of Turtle Creek, on Monongahela [River], till Thursday, the 22d. We were informed here, that Expresses had been sent a few Days before to the Traders down the River, to acquaint them with the French General’s2 death, and the Return of the major Part of the French Army into Winter Quarters.

The Waters were quite impassable, without swimming our Horses; which obliged us to get the Loan of a Canoe from Frazier, and to send Barnaby Currin and Henry Steward down the Monongahela, with our Baggage, to meet us at the Forks of Ohio, about 10 miles, there to cross the Aligany.3

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As I got down before the Canoe, I spent some time in viewing the Rivers, and the Land in the Fork; which I think extremely well situated for a Fort, as it has the absolute Command of both Rivers. The Land at the Point is 20 or 25 Feet above the common Surface of the Water; and a considerable Bottom of flat, well-timbered land all around it, very convenient for Building: The Rivers are each a Quarter of a Mile, or more, across, and run here very near at right Angles: Aligany bearing N. E. and Monongahela S. E. The former of these two is a very rapid and swift running Water; the other deep and still, without any perceptible Fall.

About two Miles from this, on the South East Side of the river, at the Place where the Ohio Company intended to erect a Fort, lives Shingiss,1 king of the Delawares: We called upon him, to invite him to Council at the Loggs-Town.2

As I had taken a good deal of Notice Yesterday of the Situation at the Forks, my Curiosity led me to examine this more particularly, and I think it greatly inferior, either for Defence or Advantages; especially the latter: For a Fort at the Forks would be equally well situated on the Ohio, and have the entire Command of the Monongahela; which runs up to our Settlements Edition: current; Page: [14] and is extremely well designed for Water Carriage, as it is of a deep still Nature. Besides a fort at the Fork might be built at a much less Expence, than at the other Place.

Nature has well contrived this lower Place, for Water Defence; but the Hill whereon it must stand being about a Quarter of a Mile in Length, and then descending gradually on the Land Side, will render it difficult and very expensive, to make a sufficient Fortification there.—The whole Flat upon the Hill must be taken-in, the Side next the Descent made extremely high, or else the Hill itself cut away: Otherwise, the Enemy may raise Batteries within that Distance without being exposed to a single Shot from the Fort.

Shingiss attended us to the Loggs-Town, where we arrived between Sun-setting and Dark, the 25th Day after I left Williamsburg. We travelled over some extreme good and bad Land, to get to this Place.—

As soon as I came into Town, I went to Monakatoocha1 (as the Half-king was out at his hunting-Cabbin on little Beaver-Creek, about 15 Miles off) and informed him by John Davison, my Indian Interpreter, that I was sent a Messenger to the French General; and was ordered to call upon the Sachems of the Six Nations, to acquaint them with it.—I gave him a String of Wampum,2 and a Twist of Tobacco, and Edition: current; Page: [15] desired him to send for the Half-King; which he promised to do by a Runner in the Morning, and for other Sachems.—I invited him and the other great Men present to my Tent, where they stay’d about an Hour and return’d.

According to the best Observations I could make, Mr. Gist’s new Settlement (which we pass’d by) bears about W. N. W. 70 Miles from Wills-Creek; Shanapins, or the Forks N. by W. or N. N. W. about 50 Miles from that; and from thence to the Loggs-Town, the course is nearly West about 18 or 20 Miles: so that the whole Distance, as we went and computed it, is at least 135 or 140 Miles from our back Inhabitants.

25th. Came to Town four or ten Frenchmen who had deserted from a Company at the Kuskuskas,1 which lies at the Mouth of this River. I got the following Account from them. They were sent from New-Orleans with 100 men, and 8 Canoe-Loads of Provisions to this Place; where they expected to have met the same Number of Men, from the Forts on this Side Lake Erie, to convey them and the Stores up, who were not arrived when they ran-off.

I enquired into the Situation of the French, on the Mississippi, their Number, and what Forts they had built. They inform’d me, That there were four small Forts between New Orleans and the Black-Islands,2 Edition: current; Page: [16] garrison’d with about 30 or 40 Men, and a few small Pieces in each. That at New Orleans, which is near the Mouth of the Mississippi, there are 35 Companies, of 40 Men each, with a pretty strong Fort mounting 8 Carriage Guns; and at the Black-Islands there are several Companies, and a Fort with 6 Guns. The Black-Islands are about 130 Leagues above the Mouth of the Ohio, which is about 350 above New-Orleans. They also acquainted me that there was a small pallisado’d Fort1 on the Ohio, at the Mouth of the Obaish2 about 60 Leagues from the Mississippi. The Obaish heads near the West End of Lake Erie, and affords the Communication between the French on Mississippi and those on the Lakes. These Deserters came up from the lower Shanoah Town4 with one Brown, an Indian Trader, and were going to Philadelphia.

3About 3 o’Clock this Evening the Half-King came to Town. I went up and invited him with Davison, privately, to my Tent; and desir’d him to relate some of the Particulars of his Journey to the French Commandant, and Reception there: Also to give me an account of the Ways and Distance. He told me that the nearest and levellest Way was now impassable, by Edition: current; Page: [17] Reason of many large mirey Savannas; that we must be obliged to go by Venango,1 and should not get to the near Fort under 5 or 6 Nights Sleep, good Travelling. When he went to the Fort, he said he was received in a very stern Manner by the late Commander; who ask’d him very abruptly, what he had come about, and to declare his Business: Which he said he did in the following Speech:—

Fathers, I am come to tell you your own Speeches; what your own Mouths have declared. Fathers, You in former Days, set a silver Bason before us, wherein there was the Leg of a Beaver, and desir’d all the Nations to come and eat of it; to eat in Peace and Plenty, and not to be churlish to one another: and that if any such Person should be found to be a Disturber, I here lay down by the Edge of the Dish a Rod, which you must scourge them with; and if I your Father, should get foolish, in my old Days, I desire you may use it upon me as well as others.

Now Fathers, it is you who are the Disturbers in this Land, by coming and building your Towns; and taking it away unknown to us, and by Force.

Fathers, We kindled a fire a long Time ago, at a Place called Montreal, where we desired you to stay, and not to come and intrude upon our Land. I now desire you may dispatch to that Place; for be it known to you, Fathers, that this is our Land, and not yours.

Fathers, I desire you may hear me in Civilness; if not, we must handle that Rod which was laid down for the Use of the abstreperous. If you had come in a peaceable Manner, like our Brothers the English, we should not have been against your trading with us, as they do; but to come, Fathers, and build Houses upon our Land, and to take it by Force, is what we cannot submit to.

Fathers, Both you and the English are white, we live in a Country between; therefore the Land belongs to neither one nor Edition: current; Page: [18] t’other: But the Great Being above allow’d it to be a place of Residence for us; so Fathers, I desire you to withdraw, as I have done our Brothers the English: For I will keep you at Arm’s length. I lay this down as a Trial for both, to see which will have the greatest Regard to it, and that Side we will stand by and make equal shares with us. Our Brothers, the English, have heard this, and I come now to tell it to you; for I am not afraid to discharge you off this Land.

This he said was the substance of what he spoke to the General, who made this Reply.

Now my child, I have heard your Speech: you spoke first, but it is my Time to speak now. Where is my Wampum that you took away, with the Marks of towns in it? This wampum I do not know, which you have discharged me off the Land with; but you need not put yourself to the Trouble of speaking, for I will not hear you. I am not afraid of Flies, or Musquitos, for Indians are such as those. I tell you, down that River I will go, and will build upon it, according to my command. If the River was block’d up, I have Forces sufficient to burst it open and tread under my Feet all that Stand in Opposition, together with their Alliances; for my Force is as the Sand upon the Sea Shore: therefore, here is your Wampum, I fling it at you. Child, you talk foolish; you say this Land belongs to you, but there is not the Black of my Nail yours. I saw that Land sooner than you did, before the Shannoahs and you were at War: Lead was the Man who went down and took Possession of that River: It is my Land, and I will have it, let who will stand-up for, or say-against it. I’ll buy and sell with the English (mockingly). If People will be rul’d by me, they may expect kindness, but not else.

The Half-King told me he enquired of the General after two Englishmen who were made Prisoners, and received this Answer.

Child, you think it is a very great Hardship that I made Prisoners of those two People at Venango. Don’t you concern yourself Edition: current; Page: [19] with it: We took and carried them to Canada, to get Intelligence of what the English were doing in Virginia.

He informed me that they had built two Forts, one on Lake Erie,1 and another on French-Creek2 near a small Lake about 15 Miles asunder, and a large Waggon Road between: They are both built after the same Model, but different in the Size; that on the Lake the largest. He gave me a Plan of them, of his own drawing.

The Indians enquired very particularly after their Brothers in Carolina Goal.

They also asked what sort of Boy it was who was taken from the South-Branch; for they were told by some Indians, that a Party of French Indians had carried a white Boy by the Kuskuska Town, towards the Lakes.

26th. We met in Council at the Long-House, about 9 o’clock, where I spoke to them as follows:

Brothers, I have called you together in Council by order of your Brother, the Governor of Virginia, to acquaint you, that I am sent, with all possible Dispatch, to visit, and deliver a Letter to the French Commandant, of very great Importance to your Brothers, the English; and I dare say, to you their Friends and allies.

I was desired, Brothers, by your Brother the Governor, to call upon you, the Sachems of the Nations, to inform you of it, and to ask your Advice and Assistance to proceed the nearest and best Road to the French. You see, Brothers, I have gotten thus far on my Journey.

His Honour likewise desired me to apply to you for some of your young Men, to conduct and provide Provisions for us on our Edition: current; Page: [20] Way; and be a safe-guard against those French Indians who have taken up the hatchet against us. I have spoke this particularly to you Brothers, because his Honour our Governor treats you as good Friends and Allies; and holds you in great Esteem. To confirm what I have said, I give you this String of Wampum.

After they had considered for some Time on the above Discourse, the Half-King got up and spoke:—

Now, my Brothers, in regard to what my Brother the Governor has desired me, I return you this answer.

I rely upon you as a Brother ought to do, as you say we are Brothers and one People: We shall put Heart in Hand and speak to our Fathers the French concerning the Speech they made to me; and you may depend that we will endeavour to be your Guard.

Brother, as you have asked my Advice, I hope you will be ruled by it and stay till I can provide a Company to go with you. The French Speech-Belt is not here, I have it to go for to my hunting Cabbin: Likewise the People whom I have ordered in, are not yet come, nor cannot till the third Night from this: till which Time, brother, I must beg you to stay.

I intend to send a Guard of Mingo’s1 Shannoah’s and Delawares,2 that our Brothers may see the Love and Loyalty we bear them.

As I had Orders to make all possible Dispatch, and waiting here was very contrary to my Inclinations, I thanked him in the most suitable Manner I could; and told him, that my Business required the greatest Edition: current; Page: [21] Expedition, and would not admit of that Delay. He was not well pleased that I should offer to go before the Time he had appointed, and told me, that he could not consent to our going without a Guard, for Fear some Accident should befal us and draw a Reflection upon him. Besides, says he, this is a Matter of no small Moment, and must not be entered into without due Consideration: For now I intend to deliver up the French-Speech-Belt, and make the Shanoahs and Delawares do the same. And accordingly he gave orders to King Shingiss, who was present, to attend on Wednesday Night with the Wampum; and two Men of their Nation to be in Readiness to set-out with us next Morning. As I found it was impossible to get-off without affronting them in the most egregious Manner, I consented to stay.

I gave them back a String of Wampum which I met with at Mr. Frazier’s, and which they had sent with a Speech to his Honour the Governor, to inform him, that three Nations of French Indians, viz: Chippoways, Ottoways, and Orundaks1 had taken-up the Hatchet against the English; and desired them to repeat it over again: But this they postponed doing till they met in full Council with the Shannoahs and Delaware Chiefs.

27th. Runners were now dispatched very early for Edition: current; Page: [22] the Shannoah Chiefs. The Half-King set out himself to fetch the French-Speech-Belt from his hunting Cabbin.

28th. He returned this Evening, and came with Monokatoocha, and two other Sachems to my Tent, and begged (as they had complied with his Honour the Governor’s Request, in providing Men, &c.) to know on what Business we were going to the French? this was a Question I all along expected, and had provided as satisfactory Answers to, as I could; which allayed their Curiosity a little.

Monokatoocha informed me, that an Indian from Venango brought News, a few Days ago, that the French had called all the Mingo’s, Delawares, &c., together at that Place; and told them, that they intended to have been down the River this Fall, but the Waters were growing cold, and the Winter advancing, which obliged them to go into Quarters: But that they might assuredly expect them in the Spring, with a far greater Number; and desired that they might be quite passive, and not to intermeddle, unless they had a Mind to draw all their Force upon them: For that they expected to fight the English three Years (as they supposed there would be some Attempts made to stop them), in which Time they should conquer: But that if they should prove equally Strong, they and the English would join to cut them all off, and divide the Land between them: That though they had lost their General, and some few of their Soldiers, yet there were Men enough to reinforce them, and make them masters of the Ohio.

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This Speech, he said, was delivered to them by one Captain Joncaire,1 their Interpreter in Chief, living at Venango, and a Man of Note in the Army.

29th. The Half-King and Monokatoocha came very early, and begged me to stay one Day more: For notwithstanding they had used all the Diligence in their Power, the Shanoah Chiefs had not brought the Wampum they ordered, but would certainly be in To-night; if not, they would delay me no longer, but would send it after us as soon as they arrived.—When I found them so pressing in their Request, and knew that returning of Wampum was the abolishing of Agreements; and giving this up, was shaking-off all Dependance upon the French, I consented to stay, as I believed an Offence offered at this Crisis, might be attended with greater ill Consequence, than another Day’s Delay. They also informed me, that Shingiss could not get-in his Men; and was prevented from coming himself by his Wife’s Sickness (I believe, by Fear of the French); but that the Wampum of that Nation was lodged with Kustaloga one of their Chiefs at Venango.

In the Evening late they came again and acquainted me that the Shannoahs were not yet arrived, but that it should not retard the Prosecution of our Journey. He delivered in my Hearing, the Speeches that were to be made to the French by Jeskakake, one of their old Chiefs, which was giving-up the Belt Edition: current; Page: [24] the late Commandant had asked for, and repeating near the same Speech he himself had done before.

He also delivered a String of Wampum to this Chief, which was sent by King Shingiss, to be given to Kustaloga, with orders to repair to the French, and deliver up the Wampum.

He likewise gave a very large String of black and white Wampum, which was to be sent up immediately to the Six Nations, if the French refused to quit the Land at this Warning; which was the third and last Time, and was the Right of this Jeskakake to deliver.

30th. Last Night the great Men assembled to their Council-House, to consult further about this Journey, and who were to go: The Result of which was, that only three of their Chiefs, with one of their best Hunters, should be our Convoy. The Reason they gave for not sending more, after what had been proposed at Council the 26th, was, that a greater Number might give the French Suspicions of some bad Design, and cause them to be treated rudely: But I rather think they could not get their Hunters in.1

We set out about 9 o’Clock with the Half-King Jeskakake, White Thunder, and the Hunter; and travelled on the Road to Venango, where we arrived the Edition: current; Page: [25] 4th of December, without any Thing remarkable happening but a continued Series of bad Weather.

This is an old Indian Town, situated at the Mouth of French Creek on Ohio; and lies near N. about 60 Miles from the Loggs-Town, but more than 70 the Way we were obliged to go.

We found the French Colours hoisted at a House from which they had driven Mr. John Frazier, an English Subject. I immediately repaired to it, to know where the Commander resided. There were three Officers, one of whom, Capt. Joncaire, informed me, that he had the Command of the Ohio: But that there was a General Officer at the near Fort, where he advised me to apply for an Answer. He invited us to sup with them; and treated us with the greatest Complaisance.

The Wine, as they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon banished the Restraint which at first appeared in their Conversation; and gave a Licence to their Tongues to reveal their Sentiments more freely.

They told me, That it was their absolute Design to take Possession of the Ohio, and by G— they would do it: For that altho’ they were sensible the English could raise two Men for their one; yet they knew their Motions were too slow and dilatory to prevent any Undertaking of theirs. They pretend to have an undoubted Right to the River, from a Discovery made by one La Salle 60 Years ago; and the Rise of this Expedition is, to prevent our settling on the River or Waters of it, as they had Edition: current; Page: [26] heard of some Families moving-out in Order thereto. From the best Intelligence I could get, there have been 1500 Men on their Side Ontario Lake: But upon the Death of the General all were recalled to about 6 or 700, who were left to garrison four Forts, 150 or there abouts in each. The first of them is on French-Creek near a small Lake, about 60 Miles from Venango, near N.N.W. the next lies on Lake Erie, where the greater Part of their Stores are kept, about 15 Miles from the other. From this it is 120 Miles to the carrying Place at the Falls of Lake Erie where there is a small Fort1; which they lodge their Goods at, in bringing them from Montreal, the Place whence all their Stores come from. The next Fort lies about 20 Miles from this, on Ontario-Lake.2 Between this Fort and Montreal there are three others, the first3 of which is near opposite to the English Fort Oswego. From the Fort on Lake Erie to Montreal is about 600 Miles, which they say requires no more, if good Weather, than four Weeks Voyage, if they go in Barks or large Vessels, so that they may cross the Lake: But if they come in Canoes it will require 5 or 6 Weeks, for they are obliged to keep under the Shore.

5th. Rain’d excessively all Day, which prevented our Travelling. Capt. Joncaire sent for the Half-King, as he had but just heard that he came with me: He affected to be much concerned that I did not make free to bring them in before. I excused it in the best Manner I was capable, and told him, I did Edition: current; Page: [27] not think their company agreeable, as I had heard him say a good deal in Dispraise of Indians in general. But another Motive prevented me from bringing them into his Company: I knew he was Interpreter, and a Person of very great Influence among the Indians, and had lately used all possible Means to draw them over to their Interest; therefore I was desirous of giving no Opportunity that could be avoided.

When they came in, there was great Pleasure expressed at seeing them. He wondered how they could be so near without coming to visit him; made several trifling Presents; and applied Liquor so fast, that they were soon rendered incapable of the Business they came about, notwithstanding the Caution which was given.1

6th. The Half-King came to my Tent, quite sober, and insisted very much that I should stay and hear what he had to say to the French. I fain would have prevented his speaking any Thing till he came to the Commandant, but could not prevail. He told me that at this Place a Council Fire was kindled, where all their Business with these People was to be transacted; and that the Management of the Indian affairs was left solely to Monsieur Joncaire. As I was desirous of knowing the Issue of this, I agreed Edition: current; Page: [28] to stay: But sent our Horses a little way up French Creek to raft over and encamp; which I knew would make it near Night.

About 10 o’Clock they met in Council. The King spoke much the same as he had before done to the General; and offered the French Speech-Belt which had before been demanded, with the Marks of four Towns on it, which Monsieur Joncaire refused to receive; but desired him to carry it to the Fort to the Commander.

7th. Monsieur La Force, Commissary of the French Stores, and three other Soldiers came over to accompany us up. We found it extremely difficult to get the Indians off To-day, as every Stratagem had been used to prevent their going-up with me. I had last Night, left John Davison (the Indian Interpreter whom I brought with me from Town), and strictly charged him not to be out of their Company, as I could not get them over to my Tent; for they had some Business with Kustaloga, and chiefly to know the Reason why he did not deliver up the French Belt which he had in Keeping: But I was obliged to send Mr. Gist over To-day to fetch them; which he did with great Persuasion.1

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At 11 o’Clock we set out for the Fort, and were prevented from arriving there till the 11th by excessive Rains, Snows, and bad Travelling, through many Mires and Swamps. These we were obliged to pass, to avoid crossing the Creek, which was impossible, either by fording or rafting, the Water was so high and rapid.

We passed over much good Land since we left Venango, and through several extensive and very rich Meadows; one of which I believe was near four Miles in Length, and considerably wide in some Places.

12th. I prepared early to wait upon the Commander, and was received and conducted to him by the second Officer in Command. I acquainted him with my Business, and offered my Commission and Letter: Both of which he desired me to keep till the Arrival of Monsieur Riparti Captain, at the next Fort, who was sent for and expected every Hour.

This Commander is a Knight of the military Order of St. Lewis, and named Legardeur de St. Pierre.1 He is an elderly Gentleman, and has much the Air of a Soldier. He was sent over to take the Command Edition: current; Page: [30] immediately upon the Death of the late General, and arrived here about seven Days before me.

At 2 o’Clock the Gentleman who was sent for arrived, when I offered the Letter, &c, again; which they received, and adjourned into a private Apartment for the Captain to translate, who understood a little English. After he had done it, the Commander desired I would walk-in, and bring my Interpreter to peruse and correct it; which I did.

13th. The chief Officers retired, to hold a Council of War; which gave me an Opportunity of taking the Dimensions of the Fort, and making what Observations I could.

It is situated on the South or West Fork of French Creek, near the Water; and is almost surrounded by the Creek, and a small Branch of it which forms a Kind of Island. Four Houses compose the Sides. The Bastions are made of Piles driven into the Ground, standing more than 12 Feet above it, and sharp at Top: With Port-Holes cut for Cannon, and Loop-Holes for the small Arms to fire through. There are eight 6 lb. Pieces mounted, in each Bastion; and one Piece of four Pound before the Gate. In the Bastions are a Guard-House, Chapel, Doctor’s Lodging, and the Commander’s private Store: Round which are laid Plat-Forms for the Cannon and Men to stand on. There are several Barracks without the Fort, for the Soldiers Dwelling; covered, some with Bark and some with Boards, made chiefly of Loggs. There are also several other Houses, such as Stables, Smiths Shop, &c.

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fort du quesne and vicinity.

From Father Abraham’s Almanac. Key; 1, Monongahela River; 2, Fort Du Quesne; 3, the small fort; 4, Alleghany River; 5, Alleghany, Indian town; 6, Shanapins; 7, Yauyaugany River; 8, Ohio, or Alleghany River; 9, Logstown; 10, Beaver Creek; 11, Kuskaskies, the chief town of the Six Nations; 12, Shingoes Town; 13, Alleguippes; 14, Sennakaas; 15, Tuttle (Turtle) Creek; 16, Pine Creek. From the Narrative and Critical History of America, by courtesy of the publishers.

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I could get no certain Account of the Number of Men here: But according to the best Judgment I could form, there are an Hundred exclusive of Officers, of which there are many. I also gave Orders to the People who were with me, to take an exact Account of the Canoes which were hauled-up to convey their Forces down in the Spring. This they did, and told 50 of Birch Bark, and 170 of Pine; besides many others which were blocked-out, in Readiness to make.

14th. As the Snow encreased very fast, and our Horses daily became weaker, I sent them off unloaded; under the Care of Barnaby Currin, and two others, to make all convenient Dispatch to Venango, and there wait our Arrival, if there was a Prospect of the Rivers freezing: If not, then to continue down to Shanapin’s Town, at the Forks of Ohio, and there to wait till we came to cross Aliganey; intending myself to go down by Water, as I had the Offer of a Canoe or two.

As I found many Plots concerted to retard the Indians Business, and prevent their returning with me; I endeavor’d all that lay in my Power to frustrate their Schemes, and hurry them on to execute their intended Design. They accordingly pressed for Admittance this Evening, which at Length was granted them, privately, with the Commander and one or two other officers. The Half-King told me, that he offer’d the Wampum to the Commander, who evaded taking it, and made many fair Promises of Love and Friendship; said he wanted to live in Peace, and trade Edition: current; Page: [32] amicably with them, as a Proof of which he would send some Goods immediately down to the Logg’s-Town for them. But I rather think the Design of that is, to bring away all our straggling Traders they meet with, as I privately understood they intended to carry an Officer, &c, with them. And what rather confirms this Opinion, I was enquiring of the Commander, by what Authority he had made Prisoners of several of our English Subjects. He told me that the Country belong’d to them; that no Englishman had a Right to trade upon those Waters; and that he had Orders to make every Person Prisoner who attempted it on the Ohio, or the Waters of it.

I enquir’d of Capt. Riparti about the Boy who was carried by this Place, as it was done while the Command devolved on him, between the Death of the late General, and the Arrival of the present. He acknowledged, that a Boy had been carried past; and that the Indians had two or three white Men’s Scalps (I was told by some of the Indians at Venango Eight) but pretended to have forgotten the Name of the Place which the Boy came from, and all the Particular Facts, though he had question’d him for some Hours, as they were carrying him past. I likewise enquired what they had done with John Trotter and James MacClocklan, two Pensylvania Traders, whom they had taken, with all their Goods. They told me, that they had been sent to Canada, but were now returned Home.

This Evening I received an Answer to his Honour the Governor’s Letter from the Commandant.

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15th. The Commandant ordered a plentiful Store of Liquor, Provision, &c., to be put on Board our Canoe; and appeared to be extremely complaisant, though he was exerting every Artifice which he could invent to set our own Indians at Variance with us, to prevent their going ’till after our Departure. Presents, Rewards, and every Thing which could be suggested by him or his Officers.—I can’t say that ever in my Life I suffered so much Anxiety as I did in this Affair: I saw that every Stratagem which the most fruitful Brain could invent, was practised, to win the Half-King to their Interest; and that leaving him here was giving them the Opportunity they aimed at.—I went to the Half-King and press’d him in the strongest Terms to go: He told me the Commandant would not discharge him ’till the Morning. I then went to the Commandant, and desired him to do their Business; and complain’d of ill Treatment: For keeping them, as they were Part of my Company, was detaining me. This he promised not to do, but to forward my Journey as much as he could. He protested he did not keep them, but was ignorant of the Cause of their Stay; though I soon found it out:—He had promised them a present of Guns, &c, if they would wait ’till the morning.

As I was very much press’d, by the Indians, to wait this Day for them, I consented, on a Promise, That nothing should hinder them in the Morning.

16th. The French were not slack in their Inventions to keep the Indians this Day also: But as they were obligated, according to Promise, to give the Present, Edition: current; Page: [34] they then endeavoured to try the Power of Liquor; which I doubt not would have prevailed at any other Time than this; But I urged and insisted with the King so closely upon his Word, that he refrained, and set off with us as he had engaged.

We had a tedious and very fatiguing Passage down the Creek. Several Times we had like to have been staved against Rocks; and many Times were obliged all Hands to get out and remain in the Water Half an Hour or more, getting over the Shoals. At one Place the Ice had lodged and made it impassable by Water; therefore we were obliged to carry our Canoe across a Neck of Land, a quarter of a Mile over. We did not reach Venango, till the 22d, where we met with our Horses.

This Creek is extremely crooked, I dare say the Distance between the Fort and Venango can’t be less than 130 Miles, to follow the Meanders.1

23d. When I got Things ready to set-off, I sent for the Half King, to know whether he intended to go with us, or by Water. He told me that White-Thunder had hurt himself much, and was sick and unable to walk; therefore he was obliged to carry him down Edition: current; Page: [35] in a Canoe. As I found he intended to stay here a Day or two, and knew that Monsieur Joncaire would employ every Scheme to set him against the English as he had before done; I told him I hoped he would guard against his Flattery, and let no fine Speeches influence him in their Favour. He desired I might not be concerned, for he knew the French too well, for any Thing to engage him in their Behalf; and that though he could not go down with us, he yet would endeavour to meet at the Forks with Joseph Campbell, to deliver a Speech for me to carry to his Honour the Governor. He told me he would order the young Hunter to attend us, and get Provision, &c. if wanted.

Our Horses were now so weak and feeble, and the Baggage so heavy (as we were obliged to provide all the Necessaries which the Journey would require) that we doubted much their performing it; therefore myself and others (except the Drivers, who were obliged to ride) gave up our Horses for Packs, to assist along with the Baggage. I put myself in an Indian walking Dress, and continued with them three Days, till I found there was no Probability of their getting home in any reasonable Time. The Horses grew less able to travel every Day; the Cold increased very fast; and the Roads were becoming much worse by a deep Snow, continually freezing: Therefore as I was uneasy to get back, to make Report of my Proceedings to his Honour, the Governor, I determined to prosecute my Journey the nearest Way through the Woods, on Foot.

Accordingly I left Mr. Vanbraam in Charge of Edition: current; Page: [36] our Baggage: with Money and Directions to Provide Necessaries from Place to Place for themselves and Horses, and to make the most convenient Dispatch in Travelling.

I took my necessary Papers; pulled off my Cloaths; and tied myself up in a Match Coat. Then with Gun in Hand and Pack at my Back, in which were my Papers and Provisions, I set-out with Mr. Gist, fitted in the same Manner, on Wednesday the 26th.

The Day following, just after we had passed a Place called the Murdering-Town (where we intended to quit the Path, and steer across the Country for Shannapins Town) we fell in with a Party of French Indians, who had lain in Wait for us. One of them fired at Mr. Gist or me, not 15 steps off, but fortunately missed. We took this Fellow into Custody, and kept him till about 9 o’clock at Night; Then let him go, and walked all the remaining Part of the Night without making any Stop; that we might get the Start, so far, as to be out of the Reach of their Pursuit the next Day, since we were well assured they would follow our Tract as soon as it was light. The next Day we continued travelling till quite dark, and got to the River about two Miles above Shannapins. We expected to have found the River frozen, but it was not, only about 50 Yards from each Shore; The Ice I suppose had broken up above, for it was driving in vast Quantities.1

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There was no Way for getting over but on a Raft; Which we set about with but one poor Hatchet, and Edition: current; Page: [38] finished just after Sun-setting. This was a whole Day’s Work. Then set off; But before we were Half Way over, we were jammed in the Ice, in such a Manner that we expected every Moment our Raft to sink, and ourselves to perish. I put-out my setting Pole to try to stop the Raft, that the Ice might pass by; when the Rapidity of the Stream threw it with so much Violence against the Pole, that it jerked me out into ten Feet Water: but I fortunately saved myself by catching hold of one of the Raft Logs. Notwithstanding all our Efforts we could not get the Raft to either Shore; but were obliged, as we were near an Island, to quit our Raft and make to it.

The Cold was so extremely severe, that Mr. Gist had all his Fingers, and some of his Toes frozen; but the water was shut up so hard, that we found no Difficulty in getting-off the Island, on the Ice, in the Morning, and went to Mr. Frazier’s. We met here with 20 Warriors who were going to the Southward to War, but coming to a Place upon the Head of the great Kunnaway, where they found seven People killed and scalped (all but one Woman with very light Hair) they turned about and ran back for fear the Inhabitants should rise and take them as the Authors of the Murder. They report that the Bodies were lying about the House, and some of them much torn and eaten by Hogs. By the Marks which were left, they say they were French Indians of the Ottaway Nation, &c., who did it.

As we intended to take Horses here, and it required some Time to find them, I went-up about three Miles to the Mouth of Yaughyaughane to visit Edition: current; Page: [39] Queen Aliquippa, who had expressed great Concern that we passed her in going to the Fort. I made her a Present of a Matchcoat and a Bottle of Rum; which latter was thought much the best Present of the Two.

Tuesday the 1st Day of January, we left Mr. Frazier’s House,1 and arrived at Mr. Gist’s at Monongahela the 2d, where I bought a Horse, Saddle, etc: the 6th we met 17 Horses loaded with Materials and Stores, for a Fort at the Forks of Ohio, and the Day after some Families going out to settle: This Day we arrived at Wills Creek, after as fatiguing a Journey as it is possible to conceive, rendered so by excessive bad Weather. From the first Day of December to the 15th, there was but one Day on which it did not rain or snow incessantly: and throughout the whole Journey we met with nothing but one continued Series of cold wet Weather, which occasioned very uncomfortable Lodgings: especially after we had quitted our Tent, which was some Screen from the Inclemency of it.

On the 11th I got to Belvoir: where I stopped one Day to take necessary Rest; and then set out and arrived in Williamsburgh the 16th; when I waited upon his Honour the Governor with the Letter I had brought from the French Commandant; and to give an Account of the Success of my Proceedings. This I beg leave to do by offering the foregoing Narrative as it contains the most remarkable Occurrences which happened in my Journey.

I hope what has been said will be sufficient to make your Honour satisfied with my Conduct; for Edition: current; Page: [40] that was my Aim in undertaking the Journey, and chief Study throughout the Prosecution of it.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
7 March, 1754
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

In my last by Mr. Stewart, I slightly mentioned the objection many had against enlisting, to wit, not Edition: current; Page: [42] knowing who was to be paymaster or the times for payment. It is now grown a pretty general clamor; and some of those, who were among the first enlisters, being needy, and knowing it to be usual for his Majesty’s soldiers to be paid once a week, or at most every fortnight, are very importunate to receive their due. I have soothed and quieted them as much as possible, under pretence of receiving your Honour’s instructions in this particular at the arrival of the colonel.

I have increased my number of men to about 25, and dare venture to say, I should have had several more, if the excessive bad weather did not prevent their meeting agreeable to their officers’ commands.

We daily experience the great necessity for cloathing the men, as we find the generality of those, who are to be enlisted, are of those loose, idle persons, that are quite destitute of house and home, and, I may truly say, many of them of cloathes; which last renders them very incapable of the necessary service, as they must unavoidably be exposed to inclement weather in their marches, &c., and can expect no other than to encounter almost every difficulty, that ’s incident to a soldier’s life. There are many of them without shoes, others want stockings, some are without shirts, and not a few that have scarce a coat or waistcoat to their backs. In short, they are as ill provided as can well be conceived; but I really believe every man of them, for their own credit’s sake, is willing to be cloathed at their own expense. They are perpetually teazing me to have it done, but Edition: current; Page: [43] I am not able to advance the money, provided there was no risque in it, which there certainly is, and too great for me to run; tho’ it would be nothing to the country, as a certain part of their pay might be deducted and appropriated to that use. Mr. Carlyle, or any of the merchants here, would furnish them with proper necessarys, if there was a certainty of any part of their pay stopt to reimburse the expense. But I must here in time put a kirb to my requests, and remember that I ought not to be too importunate; otherwise I shall be as troublesome to your Honour, as the soldiers are to me. There is nothing but the necessity of the thing could urge me to be thus free; but I shall no more exagerate this affair to your Honour as I am well assured, whatever you think for the benefit or good of the expedition, you will cause to have done.

George Washington
Washington, George
March, 1754
Richard Corbin
Corbin, Richard


Dear Sir,

In a conversation with you at Green Spring, you gave me some room to hope for a commission above that of major, and to be ranked among Edition: current; Page: [44] the chief officers of this expedition. The command of the whole forces is what I neither look for, expect, nor desire; for I must be impartial enough to confess, it is a charge too great for my youth and inexperience to be entrusted with. Knowing this, I have too sincere a love for my country, to undertake that which may tend to the prejudice of it. But if I could entertain hopes, that you thought me worthy of the post of lieutenant-colonel, and would favor me so far as to mention it at the appointment of officers, I could not but entertain a true sense of the kindness.

I flatter myself, that, under a skilful commander, or man of sense, (whom I most sincerely wish to serve under,) with my own application and diligent study of my duty, I shall be able to conduct my steps without censure, and, in time, render myself worthy of the promotion, that I shall be favored with now.1

George Washington
Washington, George
20 March, 1754
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



I was favored with your letter by Mr. Stewart, enclosing a lieutenant-colonel’s commission,2 and I Edition: current; Page: [45] hope my future behaviour will sufficiently testify the true sense I have of this kindness.

At present there are about seventy-five men at Alexandria, near fifty of whom I have enlisted. The others have been sent by Messrs. Polson, Mercer, and Waggener1 to this place. Very few officers have repaired hither yet, which has occasioned a fatiguing time to me, in managing a number of self-willed, ungovernable people. I shall implicitly obey your commands, and march out with all expedition. Major Carlyle is now preparing wagons for the conveyance of provisions, which till now could not move, on account of the heavy roads.

I doubt not but your Honor has been informed before this of Mr. Vanbraam’s ill success in Augusta, by the express, who was sent from thence for that purpose.2

Major Muse’s promotion, and Messrs. Rose and Bently’s declining, will occasion a want of officers; in which case I would beg leave to mention Mr. Vanbraam for a command, who is the oldest lieutenant, and an experienced soldier. Unless the officers come in, I shall be obliged to appoint him to that office, till I have your Honor’s further directions. It would be conferring a very great obligation on him, were you to confirm the appointment. I verily believe his behaviour would not render him displeasing to you. I have given Captain Stephen orders to be Edition: current; Page: [46] in readiness to join us at Winchester with his company, as they were already in that neighbourhood, and raised there.

I have nothing further to add at present, but my sincere thanks for the indulgent favors I have met with, and I am your Honor’s most obedient, &c.1


To preserve the continuity of the story I have embodied such of Washington’s letters as written during his march to the Ohio, into a translation of a journal which the French captured at Fort Necessity. This journal is incomplete, and is not printed as Washington wrote it, as the original is lost and the only form in which it is accessible is through a French translation and faulty renderings into English from that translation. To defend its position, for no formal declaration of war had yet been made, and to prove the English to be the aggressors, the French government published this Journal and other papers found at Fort Necessity, together with a number of state and private instructions and reports, in Mémoire contenant le précis des faits, avec leurs pièces justicatives pour servir de résponse aux observations envoyées par les ministres d’Angleterre dans les cours de l’Europe” (1756). It has been many times reprinted in English, but, as Sparks says, the translation is “uncouth in its style and faulty in its attempts to convey the sense of the original.” I have compared the following with the French and believe it to be the most accurate translation yet made.

On the 31st March, I received from his Honour a Lieutenant Colonel’s commission in the Virginia regiment, whereof Joshua Fry, Esquire, was Colonel, dated the 15th, with orders to take the troops, which were at that time quartered at Alexandria under my command, and to march with them towards the Ohio, there to aid Captain Trent in building Forts, and in defending the Possessions of his Majesty against the attempts and hostilities of the French.2

Edition: current; Page: [47]

April the 2d. Every thing being ready, we began our march according to our orders, the 2d of April, with two companies of foot, commanded by Captain Peter Hog, and Lieutenant Jacob Vanbraam, five subalterns, two sergeants, six corporals, one drummer, and one hundred and twenty soldiers, one surgeon, one Swedish gentleman, who was a volunteer, two wagons, guarded by one lieutenant, sergeant, corporal and twenty-five soldiers.

We left Alexandria on Tuesday noon and encamped about four miles from Cameron,1 having travelled six miles.

[From the 3d of April, to the 19th of said month, this journal contains only the march of the troops, and union with a detachment which was brought by Captain Stephen.]

The 19th we met an express who had letters from Captain Trent, at the Ohio, demanding a reinforcement with all possible speed, as he hourly expected a body of eight hundred French. I tarried at Job Pearsall’s for the arrival of the troops, where they came the next day. When I received the above express, I despatched a messenger to Colonel Fry to give him notice of it.

The 20th, I came to the house of Colonel Cresap to dispose the detachment, and on my route, had notice that the fort was taken by the French. Two days later that news was confirmed by Mr. Ward, the ensign of Captain Trent, who had been obliged to surrender to a body of more than one thousand French, under the command of Captain Contrecœur, who came from Venango (in French, Presqu’ isle), with Sixty Battoes, and Three Hundred Canoes, and eighteen Pieces of artillery, which were set up against the Fort. Contrecœur afterwards sent him a summons to withdraw.

Mr. Ward also informed me, that the Indians remained always steadfastly attached to our Interest. He brought with him two young Indians of the Mingo nation that they might have the Satisfaction of seeing that we were marching with Troops to their Succour.

Edition: current; Page: [48]

He also delivered me the following Speech, which the Half-King sent to me.

Fort-Ohio, April 18th, 1754.

A Speech from the Half-King, Escruniat and Collier, for the Governors of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

My Brethren the English, the Bearer will inform you how we have been treated by the French. We waited a long Time, thinking they would come and attack us; we now see how they wish to use us. We are now ready to fall upon them, waiting only for your assistance. Take Courage; and come as soon as possible; you will find us as ready to fight as you are yourselves.

We have sent these two young Men to see if you are ready to come, and if so, they are to return to us, to let us know where you are, that we may join you. We should be glad, if the Troops belonging to the two Provinces could meet together in the Fort, which is in the way.1 If you do not soon come to our Assistance, we are intirely undone, and I think we shall never meet again. I say it with a Heart full of Grief. A Belt of Wampum.

The Half-King addressed me personally the following Speech:

I am ready, if you think it proper to go to both the Governors, with these two young Men, for I have no longer any Dependence on those who have been gone so long, without returning or sending any Message. A Belt of Wampum.

April 23d. A Council of War held at Wills-Creek, to consult upon the News brought by Mr. Ward.

Upon a review of the News brought by Ensign Ward, the Summons of Captain Contrecœur, commander of the French troops, and the speeches of the Half-King, and other chiefs of the Six Nations; it appeared that Mr. Ward was forced to surrender the said fort, the 17th instant, to the French, who were above one thousand strong, and had eighteen pieces of artillery, some of which were nine Pounders; and also that the Detachment of the Virginia regiment, amounting to One Hundred and Fifty Men, commanded Edition: current; Page: [49] by Colonel Washington had Orders to reinforce Captain Trent’s Company, and that the aforesaid Garrison consisted only of Thirty-three effective Men.

It was thought impracticable to march towards the fort without sufficient strength; and being strongly urged by the Indians, and particularly by the Speeches of the Half-King, the President gave his Opinion, that it would be proper to advance as far as Red-Stone-Creek (in French, the creek de La roche rouge1); on Monongahela, (in French, Mah-Engueulé), about Thirty-seven Miles on this Side of the Fort, and to raise a Fortification, clearing a Road broad enough to pass with our Artillery and our Baggage, and there to await fresh Orders.

This Opinion was accepted, for the following Reasons:

1st, That the Mouth of Red-stone is the first convenient Place on the river Monongahela.

2d, That magazines there for the stores of the Company are ready to receive our Ammunition & supplies; and our heavy artillery may be sent by Water whenever it was agreed to attack the Fort.

3d, Further, that will preserve our troops from the evil Consequences of Inaction, and encourage our allies the Indians to remain in our Interests. Whereupon, I determined to send Mr. Ward to the Governor, with one of the young Indians and an Interpreter: I thought proper also to acquaint the Governors of Maryland and Pennsylvania with the News; and I sent away the other Indian to the Half-King, with the Speeches inclosed in the following Letter:

George Washington
Washington, George
24 April, 1754
Will’s Creek
Horatio Sharpe
Sharpe, Horatio


May it please Your Excellency,

It is with the greatest concern I acquaint you, that Mr. Ward, ensign in Captain Trent’s company, was Edition: current; Page: [50] obliged to surrender his small fortress in the Forks of Monongahela, at the summons of Captain Contrecœur, commander of the French forces who fell down from Venango with a fleet of 360 canoes and battoes, conveying upwards of one thousand men, eighteen pieces of artillery, and large stores of provisions and other necessaries—Mr. Ward, having but an inconsiderable number of men (not exceeding 30, and no cannon to make a proper defence,) was forced to give up the fort on the 17th instant—They suffered him to draw out his men, arms, and working tools, and gave leave that he might retreat to the inhabitants with them. I have heard of your excellency’s great zeal for his majesty’s service, and for all our interests on the present occasion; therefore I am persuaded you will take proper notice of the Indians’ moving speech and think their unshaken fidelity worthy your consideration.

1I have arrived thus far with a detachment of 159 men; col. Fry with the remainder of the regiments and artillery is daily expected. In the mean time we shall advance slowly across the mountains, making the roads as we march fit for the carriage [of] the great guns &c. and are designed to proceed as far as the mouth of Red Stone Creek which enters the Monongahela about 37 miles above the fort (the French have taken) from whence we have water carriage down the river; there is a store house built by the Ohio Company at the place, which for the present may serve as a receptacle for our ammunition and provisions.

Edition: current; Page: [51]

1Besides the French herein mentioned, we have credible information that another party are coming up Ohio. We also have intelligence that 600 of the Chippoways and Ottoway Indians are marching down Scioto Creek to join them.

I ought first to have begged pardon of your excellency for this liberty of writing, as I am not happy enough to be ranked among those of your acquaintance. It was the glowing zeal I owe my country that influenced me to impart these advices and my inclination prompted me to do it to you as I know you are solicitous for the public weal and warm in this interesting cause—that should rouse from the lethargy we have fallen into the heroick spirit of every free-born English man to attest the rights and privileges of our king (if we don’t consult the benefit of ourselves) and resque from the invasions of a usurping enemy, our Majesty’s property, his dignity, and land.

I hope Sir, you will excuse the freeness of my expressions, they are the pure sentiments of the heart of him who is with all imaginable regard and due respect, &c.

N. B.—I herewith have enclosed for your Excellency’s perusal a copy of the Summons from the Edition: current; Page: [52] French officers, and also the Indian’s speech which was delivered to and brought by Mr. Ward.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 April, 1754
Will’s Creek
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Captain Trent’s ensign, Mr. Ward, has this day arrived from the Fork of the Monongahela, and brings the disagreeable account, that the fort, on the 17th instant, was surrendered at the summons of Monsieur Contrecœur to a body of French, consisting of upwards of one thousand men, who came from Venango with eighteen pieces of cannon, sixty batteaux, and three hundred canoes. They gave him liberty to bring off all his men and working-tools, which he accordingly did the same day.1

Edition: current; Page: [53]

Immediately upon this information I called a council of war, to advise on proper measures to be taken in this exigency. A copy of their resolves, with the proceedings, I herewith enclose by the bearer, whom I have continued express to your Honor for more minute intelligence.

Mr. Ward has the summons with him, and a speech from the Half-King, which I also enclose, with the wampum. He is accompanied by one of the Indians mentioned therein, who were sent to see where we were, what was our strength, and to know the time to expect us out. The other young man I have prevailed upon to return to the Half-King with the following speech:

“Sachems, Warriors of the Six United Nations, Shawanese, and Delawares, our friends and brethren. I received your speech by the Buck’s brother [Mr. Ward], who came to us with the two young men five sleeps after leaving you. We return you thanks from hearts glowing with affection for your steadfast adherence to us, for your kind speech, and for your wise counsels and directions to the Buck’s brother.

“The young man will inform you where he met a small part of our army advancing towards you, clearing the road for a great number of our warriors, who are immediately to follow with our great guns, our ammunition, and our provisions.

“I could not delay to let you know our hearts, and have sent back one of the young men with this speech to acquaint you with them. I have sent the other, according to your desire, to the Edition: current; Page: [54] governor of Virginia, with the Buck’s brother, to deliver your speech and wampum, and to be an eyewitness of the preparations we are making to come in haste to support you, whose interest is as dear to us as our lives. We resent the usage of the treacherous French, and our conduct will henceforth plainly show you how much we have it at heart.

“I cannot be easy without seeing you before our forces meet at the fork of the roads, and therefore I have the greatest desire that you and Escruniat, or one of you, should meet me on the road as soon as possible to assist us in council.

“To assure you of the good will we bear you, and to confirm the truth of what has been said, I herewith present to you a string of wampum, that you may thereby remember how much I am your brother and friend.”1

I hope my proceedings in these affairs will be satisfactory to your Honor, as I have, to the utmost of my knowledge, consulted the interest of the expedition and good of my country; whose rights, while they are asserted in so just a cause, I will defend to the last remains of life.

Hitherto the difficulties I have met with in marching Edition: current; Page: [55] have been greater than I expect to encounter on the Ohio, when possibly I may be surrounded by the enemy, and these difficulties have been occasioned by those, who, had they acted as becomes every good subject, would have exerted their utmost abilities to forward our just designs. Out of seventy-four wagons impressed at Winchester, we got but ten after waiting a week, and some of those so badly provided with teams, that the soldiers were obliged to assist them up the hills, although it was known they had better teams at home. I doubt not that in some points I may have strained the law; but I hope, as my sole motive was to expedite the march, I shall be supported in it, should my authority be questioned, which at present I do not apprehend, unless some busybody intermeddles.1

Your Honor will see by the resolves in council, that I am destined to the Monongahela with all the diligent despatch in my power. We will endeavour to make the road sufficiently good for the heaviest artillery to pass, and, when we arrive at Red-stone Creek, fortify ourselves as strongly as the short time will allow. I doubt not that we can maintain a possession there, till we are reinforced, unless the rising of Edition: current; Page: [56] the waters shall admit the enemy’s cannon to be conveyed up in canoes, and then I flatter myself we shall not be so destitute of intelligence, as not to get timely notice of it, and make a good retreat.

I hope you will see the absolute necessity for our having, as soon as our forces are collected, a number of cannon, some of heavy metal, with mortars and grenadoes, to attack the French, and put us on an equal footing with them.

Perhaps it may also be thought advisable to invite the Cherokees, Catawbas, and Chickasaws to march to our assistance, as we are informed that six hundred Chippewas and Ottawas are marching down Scioto Creek to join the French, who are coming up the Ohio. In that case I would beg leave to recommend their being ordered to this place first, that a peace may be concluded between them and the Six Nations; for I am informed by several persons that, as no good harmony subsists between them, their coming first to the Ohio may create great disorders, and turn out much to our disadvantage.

As I had opportunities I wrote to the governors of Maryland and Pennsylvania, acquainting them with these advices, and enclosed the summons and Indian speech, which I hope you will not think me too forward in doing. I considered that the Assembly of Maryland was to sit in five days, that the Pennsylvania Assembly is now sitting, and that, by giving timely notice, something might be done in favor of this expedition, which now requires all the force we can muster.

Edition: current; Page: [57]

By the best information I can get, I much doubt whether any of the Indians will be in to treat in May. Are the Indian women and children, if they settle amongst us, to be maintained at our expense? They will expect it.1

This day, arrived the Men belonging to Captain Trent who by your Orders had been inlisted as Militia-Troops; the Officers having imprudently promised them Two Shillings per Day, they now refuse to serve for less Pay; Ward shall receive your Orders on that Head.

April 28. Some Pieces of Cannon reached us, which were taken to the Mouth of Patterson’s River.

[From the 29th of April to the 11th of May, the Journal deals only with Marches, and matters of little Consequence.]

George Washington
Washington, George
9 May, 1754
Little Meadows
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I acquainted you by Mr. Ward with the determination, which we prosecuted in four days after his departure, as soon as wagons arrived to carry our provisions. The want of proper conveyances has much retarded this expedition, and at this time unfortunately delay’d the detachment I have the honour to command. Even when we came to Will’s Creek, my disappointments were not less than before; for there I expected to have found a sufficient number Edition: current; Page: [58] of packhorses provided by Captain Trent, conformable to his promise [in reply] to Major Carlyle’s letters and my own, (that I might prosecute my First intention with light, expeditious marches;) but instead of that, there was none in readiness, nor any in expectation that I could perceive, which reduced me to the necessity of waiting till wagons could be procured from the Branch, (forty miles distant.) However, in the mean time, I detached a party of sixty men to make and amend the road, which party since ye 25th of April, and the main body since the 1st instant, have been laboriously employed, and have got no further than these Meadows, about twenty miles from the new Store, where we have been two days making a bridge across, and are not done yet.

The great difficulty and labor, that it requires to amend and alter the road, prevents our marching above 2, 3, or 4 miles a day; and I fear, (tho no diligence shall be neglected,) we shall be detained some considerable time before it can be made good for the carriage of the artillery with Colonel Fry.

We daily receive intelligence from Ohio by one or other of the traders, that are continually retreating to the inhabitants with their effects. They all concur, that ye French are reinforced with 800 men; and this day, by one Kalender, I received an account, which he sets forth as certain, that there is 600 men building at the Falls of Ohio, from whence they intend to move up to the lower Shawnee Town, at ye mouth of Sciodo Creek, to erect other fortresses. He likewise says, that these forces at ye Forks are erecting Edition: current; Page: [59] their works with their whole force; and as he was coming met at Mr. Gist’s new settlement Monsieur La Force with 4 soldiers, who, under the specious pretence of hunting deserters, were reconnoitering and discovering ye country. He also brings ye agreeable news, that the Half-King has received, and is much pleased with, the speech I sent them, and is now upon their march with 50 men to meet us. The French down the river are sending presents and invitations to all the neighbouring Indians, and practising every means to influence them in their interest.

We have heard nothing from the Catawbas, or any of the Southern Indians, tho this is the time we mostly need their assistance. I have not above 160 effective men with me, since Captain Trent’s have left us, who I discharged from this detachment, and ordered them to wait your Honour’s command at Captain Trent’s; for I found them rather injurious to ye other men, than serviceable to ye expedition, till they could be upon the same establishment with us, and come under the regt. of the martial law.

May the 11th. I Detached a Party of Twenty-five Men, commanded by Captain Stephen and Ensign Peyronie, with Orders to go to Mr. Gist’s, to enquire exactly where La Force, and his Party were; and in case they were in the Neighborhood, to cease pursuit and protect themselves. I also ordered them to examine closely all the Woods round about, and should they find any Frenchman apart from the rest, to try to capture him and bring him in, that we might obtain intelligence: to make careful inquiry if it was Possible to descend by Water; as also to find out some convenient Edition: current; Page: [60] Place near the Mouth of Red-Stone Creek, where we could build a Fort; to salute the Half-King; and to send him back under a small Guard; as also to enquire what were the Views and designs of the French; what they had done, and what they intended to do, and to collect every Thing, which could give us the least Intelligence.

The 12th. Broke camp, and went on a rising Ground, where we halted to dry ourselves, for we had been obliged to ford a rapid where our shortest Men had Water up to their Arm-pits.

An Express came in with Letters acquainting us that Colonel Fry with a Detachment of more than One Hundred Men was at Winchester, and was to set out in a few Days to join us; as also that Colonel Innes was marching with Three Hundred and Fifty Men, raised in Carolina; that it was expected Maryland would raise Two Hundred Men, and that Pennsylvania had raised Ten Thousand Pounds, (equal to about Fifty-two Thousand Five Hundred Livres) to pay the Soldiers of other Colonies, as that Province could furnish no recruits; and that Governor Shirley had sent Six Hundred Men to harrass the French in Canada; I hope that will give them some Work to do, and will moderate their zeal in sending so many Men to the Ohio.

The 16th. Met two Traders, who told us they were retiring for fear of the French, as Parties of them were often seen around Mr. Gist’s. These Traders are of Opinion, as well as many others, that it is not possible to clear a road for any loaded wagon to go from hence to Red-Stone-Creek.

The 17th. This evening Mr. Ward, arrived with the young Indian returning from Williamsburg, and delivered me a Letter, wherein the Governor is so good as to approve of my Proceedings, but is much displeased with Captain Trent, and has ordered him to be tried, for leaving his Men at the Ohio; with these orders the Governor also informs me that Captain Mackay, with an Independent Company of One Hundred Men, besides the Officers, had arrived, and Edition: current; Page: [61] that we might expect them daily; and that the Men from New York would join us within ten Days.1

This evening also came two Indians from the Ohio, who had left the French Fort five Days ago: They relate that the French Forces are all employed in building their Fort, which is already Breast-high, and the Thickness of two fathoms, and filled up with Earth and Stone, &c. They have cut down and burnt all the Trees which were about it, and sown Grain in their place. They say themselves they are Eight Hundred. The Indians believe there were only Six Hundred in Number. They expect a greater Number in a few Days; which will make them One Thousand Six Hundred strong, and then, they say, they can defy the English.

The 18th. The Waters continuing very high, hindered me from marching my men and Baggage, which determined me to place myself in a Posture of Defence against any immediate Attack from the Enemy, and to go myself down to observe the river.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 May, 1754
Great Crossing of the Youghiogany
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



I received your Honor’s favor by Mr. Ward, who arrived here last night, just as two Indians from the Ohio did; which Indians contradict the report of the French having received reinforcements, though they agree that eight hundred men are very shortly expected. Those that are there are busily employed in erecting the fort, which they have removed to the point I recommended for the country’s use, whose walls they have now made two fathoms thick, and have raised it breast high.

They are daily sending scouts out, some of which about five days ago was seen within six or seven Edition: current; Page: [62] miles of our camp; but as I did not receive timely notice of it, they have escaped, unless they have fallen in with a party sent out about 8 days ago to Red-stone [Creek], to reconnoitre the country thereabouts, and to get intelligence of the motions of the French.

It is imagined the Half-King will be here in two or three days, but to hurry him I have sent the Indian, that came up with Mr. Ward, with a short speech, acquainting him with my desire of his coming as expeditiously as possible, to receive the speech which your Honour sent by Mr. Ward, and that Colonel Fry wrote me I was to deliver. When he arrives I will endeavour to send him on [to] meet your Honour at Winchester.

These Indians, and all the traders that I have been able to get any information from, of late, agree, that it is almost impracticable to open a road that a wagon can pass from this to Red-stone Creek. But most of them assure me, that, (except one place,) water carriage may be had down this river, which will be a most advantageous discovery if it proves so, as it will save 40 miles’ land carriage over almost impassable roads and mountains. The water is now so high, that we cannot possibly cross over with our men, which likewise secures us from any immediate attacks of the enemy. Therefore I have resolved to go down the river to this fall, which is at the Turkey Foot, to inform myself concerning the nature and difficulty attending this fall. In order thereto I have provided a canoe, and shall, with an officer and 5 men, set out upon this discovery to-morrow morning.

Edition: current; Page: [63]

Captain Trent’s men, who by their refractory behaviour did oblige me to separate them from the other soldiers, have now left the New Store and dispersed, contrary to my positive orders till they received your Honour’s commands.

As I shall have frequent communications with the Indians, which is of no effect without wampum, I hope your Honour will order some to be sent. Indeed, we ought to have spirit, and many other things of this sort, which is always expected by every Indian that brings a message, or good report. Also the chiefs, who visit and converse in council, look for it. If it would not be thought too bold in me, I would recommend some of the treaty goods being sent for that purpose with or after Colonel Fry. This is the method the French pursue, and a trifle judiciously bestowed, and in season, may turn to our advantage. If I find this river is navigable, I am convinced it can but be agreeable to your Honour, building canoes in order to convey our artillery down. As the road to this place is made as good as it can be, having spent much time and great labor upon it, I believe wagons may travel now with 1500 or 1800 weight on them, by doubling the teams at one or two pinches only.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 May, 1754
Great Crossing of the Youghiogany
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I am heartily concerned, that the officers have such real cause to complain of the Committee’s resolves; Edition: current; Page: [64] and still more to find my inclinations prone to second their just grievances.

I have endeavoured, as far as I was able, to see in the best light I could the trifling advantages that may accrue; yet nothing prevents their throwing down their commissions (with gratitude and thanks to your Honor, whose good intentions of serving us we are all well assured of,) but the approaching danger, which has too far engaged their honor to recede till other officers are sent in their room, or an alteration made regarding their pay, during which time they will assist with their best endeavours voluntarily—that is, without receiving the gratuity allowed by the resolves of the Committee.

Giving up my commission is quite contrary to my intention. Nay, I ask it as a greater favor, than any amongst the many I have received from your Honor, to confirm it to me. But let me serve voluntarily; then I will, with the greatest pleasure in life, devote my services to the expedition without any other reward, than the satisfaction of serving my country; but to be slaving dangerously for the shadow of pay, through woods, rocks, mountains,—I would rather prefer the great toil of a daily laborer, and dig for a maintenance, provided I were reduced to the necessity, than serve upon such ignoble terms; for I really do not see why the lives of his Majesty’s subjects in Virginia should be of less value, than of those in other parts of his American dominions; especially when it is well known, that we must undergo double their hardship.

I could enumerate a thousand difficulties that we Edition: current; Page: [65] have met with, and must expect to meet with, more than other officers who have almost double our pay; but as I know you reflect on these things, and are sensible of the hardships we must necessarily encounter, it would be needless to enlarge.

Besides, as I have expatiated fully (and, perhaps, too warmly) in a letter to Colonel Fairfax, who, I suppose, will accompany you to Winchester, upon the motives that occasion these my resolves, I shall not trouble you with them; for the subject leads me too far when I engage in it.1

Another thing resolved by the Committee is, that only one sergeant and one corporal be allowed to a company; with whom it is as much impossible to do the necessary duty, as it is to conquer kingdoms with my handful of men.

Upon the whole, I find so many clogs upon the expedition, that I quite despair of success; nevertheless, I humbly beg it, as a particular favor, that your Honor will continue me in the post I now enjoy, the duty whereof I will most cheerfully execute as a volunteer, but by no means upon the present pay.

Edition: current; Page: [66]

I hope what I have said will not be taken amiss; for I really believe, were it as much in your power, as it is your inclination, we should be treated as gentlemen and officers, and not have annexed to the most trifling pay, that ever was given to English officers, the glorious allowance of soldier’s diet,—a pound of pork, with bread in proportion, per day. Be the consequence what it will, I am determined not to leave the regiment, but to be amongst the last men that quit the Ohio, even if I serve as a private volunteer, which I greatly prefer to the establishment we are now upon. I am, &c.1

The 19th. I dispatched the young Indian who had returned with Mr. Ward, to the Half-King, with the following speech.

George Washington
Washington, George
John Davison
Davison, John


My Brethren,

It gives me great Pleasure to learn that you are marching to assist me with your Counsels; be of good Courage my Brethren, and march vigorously towards your Brethren the English; for they come with new forces, who will protect you against your treacherous Enemy the French. My Friends whom I send to you will acquaint you of an agreeable Speech which the Governor of Edition: current; Page: [67] Virginia addresses to you: He is very sorry for the bad Usage you have received. The great Waters do not permit us to go as promptly to you as we would; for that reason I have sent the young Man to invite you to come and meet us: He can tell you many Things which he has seen in Virginia, and also how well he was received by the most influential; they did not use them as the French do, your People who go to their Fort; they refuse them Provisions; this Man has had given him, all that his Heart could wish; for the Confirmation of all this, I here give you a Belt of Wampum.

The 20th. Embarked in a Canoe with Lieutenant West, three soldiers, and one Indian; and having followed the river about Half a Mile, we were obliged to come ashore where I met Peter Suver, a Trader, who seemed to discourage me from seeking a Passage by Water; that induced me to alter the intention of building Canoes: I ordered my People to wade, as the Waters were shallow enough; and continued myself down the river; and finding that our Canoes were too small for six Men, we stopped to make some sort of a boat, with which, together with our Canoes, we gained Turkey-Foot (in French, le pied de ginge) by the Beginning of Night. We encountered several little Difficulties about eight or ten Miles from thence, of no great Consequence, finding the Waters sometimes deep enough for Canoes to pass, and at other times more shallow.

The 21st. We passed some time in examining the Place, which we found very convenient for locating a Fort, being at the Mouth of three Branches, and for the most part affording a good foundation of tufa (tuf). The Plan, which may be here seen, is as exact as I could make it without Mathematical Instruments.

We went about two Miles to observe the Course of the River which is very strait, has many Currents, is full of rocks and rapid; we waded it, though the Water was pretty high: which made me think it would not be difficult to pass it with Canoes, which could be done now only with difficulty. Edition: current; Page: [68] Besides this rapid we found others, the Water being more shallow and the Current smoother; we easily passed them; but afterwards we found little or scarce any Bottom: Mountains lie on both Sides of the River. We descended the river about ten Miles, when a great rapid obliged us to stop and to come ashore.

[From the 22d to the 24th, the Journal contains only a description of the country.]

George Washington
Washington, George
23 May, 1754
Joshua Fry
Fry, Joshua



This day I returned from my discoveries down the Youghiogany, which, I am sorry to say, can never be made navigable. We traced the watercourse near thirty miles, with the full expectation of succeeding in the much desired aim; but, at length, we came to a fall, which continued rough, rocky, and scarcely passable, for two miles, and then fell, within the space of fifty yards, nearly forty feet perpendicular.

As I apprehended there would be difficulty in these waters, I sent the soldiers forward upon the road, when I left the camp, which was as soon as they could cross; therefore, no time has been lost; but the roads are so exceedingly bad, that we proceed very slow.

By concurring intelligence, which we received from the Indians, the French are not above seven or eight hundred strong, and by a late account we are informed, that one half of them were detached in the night, without even the Indians’ knowledge, on some secret expedition; but the truth of this, though it is affirmed by an Indian lately from their fort, I cannot yet vouch for, nor tell where they are bound.

Edition: current; Page: [69]

I would recommend, in the strongest terms possible, your writing to the Governor for some of the treaty goods, or any others suitable for the Indians. Nothing can be done without them. All the Indians that come expect presents. The French take this method, which proves very acceptable; besides, if you want one or more to conduct a party, to discover the country, to hunt, or for any particular service, they must be bought; their friendship is not so warm, as to prompt them to these services gratis; and that, I believe, every person, who is acquainted with the nature of Indians, knows. The Indian, that accompanied me down the river, would go no further than the Forks, about ten miles, till I promised him a ruffled shirt, which I must take from my own, and a match-coat. He said the French always had Indians to show them the woods, because they paid well for so doing; and this may be laid down as a standing maxim amongst them. I think were the goods sent out, and delivered occasionally, as you see cause, that four or five hundred pounds’ worth would do more good, than as many thousands given at a treaty.

I hope I may be excused for offering my opinions so freely, for I can aver we shall get no intelligence, or other services from them, unless we have goods to apply to these uses. I am, &c.

The 24th. This Morning an Indian arrived in Company with the young Indian I had sent to the Half-King, and brought me the following Letter from him.

George Washington
Washington, George
John Davison
Davison, John

To the forist, his Majestie’s Commander offwerses—to hom this may concern:

Edition: current; Page: [70]

On acc’t of a french armey to meat Mister Georg Wassionton therfor my Brotheres I deisir you to beawar of them for deisin’d to strik ye forist Englsh they see ten deays since they marchd I cannot tell what nomber the half king and the rest of the chiefs will be with you in five dayes to consel, no more at present but give my serves to my Brothers the English

The Half-King
John Davison.

I examined those two young Indians as best I could, concerning every Circumstance, but they did not give me much information.

They say there are Parties of them often out, but they do not know of any considerable Number coming this Way. The French continue raising their Fort; that Part next to the Land, is very well inclosed, but that next to the Water is much neglected, at least is without any Defence; they have only nine Pieces of Cannon, some of them very small, and not one mounted. There are two on the Point, and the others at some Distance from the Fort on the Land side.

They say that there are many sick among them, that they cannot find any Indians to guide their small Parties towards our Camp, these Indians having refused.

The same Day, at Two o’Clock, we arrived at the Meadows, where we saw a Trader, who told us that he had come that Morning from Mr. Gist’s where he had seen two Frenchmen the Night before; and that he knew there was a strong Detachment on the march, which confirmed the Account we had received from the Half-King: Consequently I placed Troops behind two natural Intrenchments, where I also placed our Waggons.

The 25th. Detached one Party1 to go along the roads, and other small Parties into the Woods, to reconnoitre. I gave the Horse-men Orders to examine the Country well, Edition: current; Page: [71] and endeavour to get some News of the French, of their Forces, and of their movements, &c—

At Night all these Parties returned, without having discovered any Thing, though they had been a great way towards the Place from whence it was said the Party was coming.

The 26th. Arrived William Jenkins. He had come express from Colonel Fry with a Letter from Colonel Fairfax, which informed me, that the Governor himself, as also Colonels Corbin and Ludwell, were arrived at Winchester, and were desirous to see the Half-King there, whereupon I sent him a message.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 May, 1754
Great Meadows
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

The 25th ultimo, by an express from Colonel Fry, I received ye news of your Honour’s arrival at Winchester, and advice of seeing the Half-King and other chiefs of the 6 Nations. I have by sundry speeches and messages invited him, Monacatoocha, &c, to meet me, and have reason to expect he is on his road, as he only purposed to settle his people to planting, at a place up Yaughyaughgany chosen for the purpose. But fearing something might have retarded his march, I immediately, upon the arrival of the express, despatched a messenger with a speech. He is not return[ed] yet. About four days ago I received a message from ye Half-King of which the following is a copy exactly taken1:—

* * * * * *

This account was received in the evening by another man. The French were at the Crossing of Edition: current; Page: [72] Youghiogany about eighteen miles distant. I hereupon hurried to this place as a convenient spot. We have, with nature’s assistance, made a good entrenchment, and, by clearing ye bushes out of these Meadows, prepared a charming field for an encounter. I detached, immediately upon my arrival here, small light partys of horse (wagon horses) to reconnoitre the enemy, and discover their strength and motion, who returned yesterday without seeing any thing of them; nevertheless, we were alarmed at night, and remained under arms from two o’clock till near sunrise. We conceive it was our own men, as six of them deserted, but can’t be certain whether it was they or other enemies. Be it as it will, they were fired at by the sentries, but I believe without damage. This morning Mr. Gist arrived from his place, where a detachment of fifty men were seen yesterday at noon, commanded by M. La Force, He afterwards saw these march within five miles of our camp. I immediately detached seventy-five men in pursuit of them, who, I hope, will overtake them before they get to Redstone Creek, where their canoes lie. Mr. Gist being an eye-witness of our proceedings hereupon, and waiting for this without my knowing till just now that he intended to wait upon your Honour, obliges me to refer to him for particulars. As I expect my messenger to-night from the Half-King, I shall write more fully to-morrow by the express that came from Colonel Fry.

But before I conclude, I must take the liberty of mentioning to your Honor the great necessity there is for having goods out here to give for services to Edition: current; Page: [73] the Indians; they are expected, and refuse to scout or do any thing without, saying these services are paid well by the French. I really think were 5 or 600 pounds worth of proper goods sent, it would tend more to our interest than so many thousands given in a lump at a treaty. I have been obliged to pay spirits for what they have already done, which I cannot continue to do.

The numbers of the French have been greatly magnified, as your Honour may see by a copy of the enclosed journal, who I sent out to gain intelligence. I have received letters from the Governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland, copies of which I also send.

P. S. I hope your Honor will excuse the haste with which I was obliged to use in writing this.

The 27th. Mr. Gist arrived early in the Morning, who told us, that Mr. la Force with Fifty Men, whose Tracks he had seen five Miles off, had been at his Plantation the Day before, towards Noon; and would have killed a Cow, and broken every Thing in the House, if two Indians whom he had left in the House, had not perswaded them from their Design; I immmediately detached Sixty-five Men, under Command of Captain Hog, Lieutenant Mercer, Ensign Peyronie, three Sergeants, and three Corporals, with Instructions.

The French enquired at Mr. Gist’s what was become of the Half-King? I did not fail to let the young Indians who were in our Camp know, that the French wanted to kill the Half-King; and that had its desired effect.1 Upon the spot they offered to accompany our People, against the French, and had they found it true that he had been killed, or even insulted by them, one of them would have promptly Edition: current; Page: [74] carried the News to the Mingo Town, and incited their Warriors to fall upon them. One of these young Men was sent towards Mr. Gist’s; and should he not find the Half-King there, he was to send a Message by a Delaware.

About eight at Night, received an Express from the Half-King, which informed me, that as he was coming to join us, he had seen along the Road, the Tracks of two Men, which he had followed, till he was brought to a low obscure Place, where he thought the whole Party of French was hidden: That very Moment I sent out Forty Men, and ordered my Ammunition to be concealed, fearing a Stratagem of the French to attack our Camp. I left a guard to defend it and with the rest of my Men, set out in a heavy rain, and in a Night as dark as Pitch1; along a Path scarce broad enough for one Man; we were sometime fifteen or twenty Minutes out of the Path, before we could come to it again, and so dark that we would often strike one against another: All Night long we continued our march, and the 28th, about Sun-rise, we arrived at the Indian Camp, where, after holding a Council with the Half-King, it was concluded to attack them together; so we sent out two Men to discover where they were, and in what position, and what Sort of Ground was thereabout; after which, we formed ourselves for surrounding them and took up our march one after the other, in the Indian Manner; We were advanced pretty near to them, as we thought, when they discovered us; whereupon I ordered my Company to fire, mine was supported by that of Mr. Waggener, and my Company and his, received the whole Fire of the French, during the greatest Part of the Action, which only lasted a Quarter of an Hour, before the enemy was routed.2

Edition: current; Page: [75]

We killed Mr. de Jumonville, the Commander of that Party, with nine others; we wounded one, and made Twenty-one Prisoners, among whom were M. la Force, M. Drouillon, and two Cadets. The Indians scalped the Dead, and took most of their Arms, after which we marched with the Prisoners and the Guard, to the Indian Camp, where again I held a Council with the Half-King; and there informed him, that the Governor was desirous to see him, and was waiting for him at Winchester. He answered that, he could not go just then, as his People were in too imminent a Danger from the French, whom they had just attacked; that he must send Messengers to all the allied Nations, inviting them to take up the Hatchet. He sent a young Delaware Indian to the Delaware Nation, and gave him also a French Scalp to carry to them. This Man wished to have a Part of the Presents which were allotted for them, and that the remaining Part might be kept for another Opportunity. He proposed to go to his own Family, and to several others, and conduct them to Mr. Gist’s, where he desired Men and Horses should be sent to aid them to reach our Camp. After this I marched on with the Prisoners. They had informed me that they had been sent with a Summons to order me to depart—a plausible Pretence to discover our Camp, and to obtain a Knowledge of our Forces and our Situation! It was so clear that they were come to reconnoitre, that I admired at their Assurance, in telling me that they were come as an Embassy; for their Instructions mentioned that they should get what Knowledge they could of the Roads, Rivers, and of all the Country as far as Potowmack. And instead of coming as an Embassador, publicly, and in an open Manner, they came most secretly, and sought after the most hidden Retreats, more fit for Deserters than an Embassador; in such retreats they encamped, and remained hid for whole Days together, being no more than five Miles from us. From thence they sent spies to reconnoitre our Camp; the whole Force retraced their steps two Miles; they sent the two Messengers Edition: current; Page: [76] spoken of in the Instruction, to acquaint M. de Contrecœur of the Place we were in, and of our Disposition, that he might send his Detachments to inforce the Summons as soon as it should be given.

Besides, it was a suite worthy of a Prince that this Ambassador had; whereas he was merely a petty French Officer; an Embassador has no Need of Spies, his Character being always sacred: And since their Intention was so good, why did they tarry two Days, five Miles from us, without acquainting me with the Summons, or at least, with something that related to the Embassy? That alone would be sufficient to raise the strongest Suspicions, and we ought to do them the Justice to say, that wishing to hide themselves, they could not pick out better Places than they had done.

The Summons is so insolent, and savors so much of Gasconnade, that had it been brought openly by two Men, it was too great an Indulgence to have suffered them to return.

It was the Opinion of the Half-King in this Case that their Intentions were evil, and that it was a pure Pretence; that they never intended to come to us but as Enemies; and if we had been so Foolish as to let them go, they would never help us more to take other Frenchmen.

They pretend they called to us as soon as they had discovered us; it is absolutely False, for I was then marching at the Head of the Company, and can positively affirm, that, as soon as they saw us, they ran to their Arms, without calling; as I must have heard them had they so done.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 May, 1754
Great Meadows
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

In answering your Honor’s letter of ye 25th by Mr. Burney,1 I shall begin with assuring you, that nothing Edition: current; Page: [77] was farther from my intention than to recede, tho I then pressed, and still desire, that my services may be voluntary, rather than on the present pay. I am much concerned, that your Honour should seem to charge me with ingratitude for your generous, and my undeserved favours; for I assure you, Hon’ble Sir, nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude, I retain a true sense of your kindnesses, and want nothing but opportunity to give testimony of my willingness to oblige, as far as my life or fortune will extend.

I could not object to the pay before I knew it. I dare say your Honour remembers, the first estimation allowed a lieutenant-colonel, 15 shillings, and a major 12s. 6d., which I then complained very much of, till your Honour assured me that we were to be furnished with proper necessary, and offered that as a reason why the pay was less than British.1 After this, when you were so kind [as] to prefer me to the command I now have, and at the same time acquainted me, that I was to have but 12s. 6d., this, with some other reasons, induced me to acquaint Colonel Fairfax with my intention of resigning, which he must well remember, as it happened at Bellhaven2; and [it] was there that he dissuaded me from it, and promised Edition: current; Page: [78] to represent the trifling pay to your Honour, who would endeavour (as I at the same time told him that the Speaker thought the officers’ pay too small) to have it enlarged.

As to the numbers that applied for commissions, and to whom we were preferred, I believe, had those gentlemen been as knowing of this country, and as sensible of the difficulties that would attend a campaign here as I then was, I conceive your Honour would not have been so troublesomely solicited as you were. Yet I do not offer this as a reason for quitting the service. For my own part I can answer, I have a constitution hardy enough to encounter and undergo the most severe trials, and, I flatter myself, resolution to face what any man durst, as shall be proved when it comes to the test, which I believe we are on the borders of.

There is nothing, Sir (I believe), more certain than that the officers on the Canada expedition had British pay allowed, whilst they were in the service.1 Lieutenant Waggener, Captain Trent, and several others, whom I have conversed with on the head, and who were engaged in it, affirm it for truth. Therefore, Honble. Sir, as this can’t be allowed, suffer me to Edition: current; Page: [79] serve as a volunteer, which, I assure you, will be the next reward to British pay; for, as my services, so far as I have knowledge, will equal those of the best officer, I make it a point of honor [not] to serve for less, and accept a medium. Nevertheless, I have communicated your Honor’s sentiments to them, and, as far as I could put on the hypocrite, set forth the advantages that may accrue, and advised them to accept the terms, as a refusal might reflect dishonor on their character, leaving it to the world to assign what reasons they please for their quitting the service. I am very sensible of the pernicious consequences that will attend their resigning, as they have by this gained some experience of the military art, have a tolerable knowledge of the country, being sent, most of them, out at different times with parties, and are now accustomed to the hardships and fatigues of living as we do, which, I believe, were it truly stated, would prevent your Honour from many troublesome solicitations from others for commissions. This last motive has and will induce me to do what I can to reconcile matters, tho I really believe there are some, that will not remain long without an alteration. They have promised to consider of it, and give your Honour an answer. I was not ignorant of the allowance which Colonel Fry1 has for his table; but being a dependent there myself, deprived me of the pleasure Edition: current; Page: [80] of inviting an officer, or friend, which to me would be more agreeable, than the nick-nacks I shall meet with there.

And here I cannot forbear answering one thing more in your Honour’s letter on this head, which, (too,) is more fully expressed in a paragraph of Colonel Fairfax’s to me, as follows;—“If, on the British establishment, officers are allowed more pay, the regimentals they are obliged annually to furnish, their necessary table and other incidents being considered, little or no savings will be their portion.”

I believe it is well known we have been at the expense of regimentals, and it is still better known, that regimentals, and every other necessary, that we were under an indispensable necessity of purchasing for this expedition, were not to be bought for less Virginia currency, than British officers could get for sterling money; which they ought to have been, to put upon a parity in this respect. Then Colonel Fairfax observes that their table and other incident charges prevent them from saving much. If they don’t save much they have the enjoyment of their pay, which we neither have in one sense nor the other. We are debarred the pleasure of good living; which, Sir, (I dare say with me you will concur,) to one who has always been used to it, must go somewhat hard to be confined to a little salt provision and water, and do duty, hard, laborious duty, that is almost inconsistent with that of a soldier, and yet the same reductions as if we were allowed luxuriously. My pay, according to the British establishment and Edition: current; Page: [81] common exchange, is near 22s per day; in the room of that ye Committee (for I can’t in ye least imagine your Honour had any hand in it) has provided 12s 6d, so long as ye service requires me, whereas one half of ye other is ascertained to British officers forever. Now if we should be fortunate enough to drive the French from Ohio, as far as your Honour would please to have them sent to, in any short time, our pay will not be sufficient to discharge our first expenses.

I would not have your Honour imagine from this, that I have said all these things to have the pay increased, but to justify myself, and shew your Honour that our complaints are not frivolous, but are founded upon strict reason. For my own part, it is a matter almost indifferent whether I serve for full pay, or as a generous volunteer. Indeed, did my circumstances correspond with my inclination, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter; for the motives that lead me here were pure and noble; I had no view of acquisition, but that of honour, by serving faithfully my king and country.

As your Honour has recommended Mr. Willis, you may depend I shall with pleasure do all that I can for him. But above all, Sir, you may depend, I shall take all possible means of procuring intelligence, and guarding against surprises; and be assured nothing but very unequal numbers shall engage me to submit or retreat. Now, Sir, as I have answered your Honour’s letter, I shall beg leave to acquaint you with what has happened since I wrote by Mr. Gist. Edition: current; Page: [82] I then acquainted you, that I had detached a party of seventy-five men to meet fifty of the French, who, we had intelligence, were upon their march towards us, to reconnoitre, and that about nine o’clock the same night, I received an express from the Half-King, who was encamped with several of his people, about six miles off, that he had seen the tracks of two Frenchmen crossing the road, and believed the whole body were lying not far off, as he had an account of that number passing Mr. Gist’s.

I set out with forty men before ten, and [it] was from that time till near sunrise before we reached the Indians’ camp, having marched in [a] small path, through a heavy rain, and night as dark as it is possible to conceive. We were frequently tumbling one over another, and often so lost, that fifteen or twenty minutes’ search would not find the path again.

When we came to the Half-King, I counselled with him, and got his assent to go hand-in-hand and strike the French. Accordingly, himself, Monacatoocha, and a few other Indians set out with us; and when we came to the place where the tracks were, the Half-King sent two Indians to follow their tracks, and discover their lodgement, which they did about half a mile from the road, in a very obscure place surrounded with rocks. I thereupon, in conjunction with the Half-King and Monacatoocha, formed a disposition to attack them on all sides, which we accordingly did, and, after an engagement of about fifteen minutes, we killed ten, wounded one, and took twenty-one prisoners. Amongst those that were Edition: current; Page: [83] killed was Monsieur Jumonville, the commander; principal officers taken is Monsieur Drouillon and Mons’r La Force, who your Honour has often heard me speak of as a bold enterprising man, and a person of great subtlety and cunning. With these are two cadets.1 These officers pretend they were coming on an embassy; but the absurdity of this pretext is too glaring, as your Honour will see by the Instructions and Summons enclosed. These instructions were to reconnoitre the country, roads, creeks, &c., to Potomack, which they were about to do. These enterprising men were purposely choose out to get intelligence, which they were to send back by some brisk despatches, with mention of the day that they were to serve the summons; which could be through no other view, than to get a sufficient reinforcement to fall upon us immediately after. This, with several other reasons, induced all the officers to believe firmly, that they were sent as spies, rather than any thing else, and has occasioned my sending them as prisoners, tho they expected, or at least had some faint hope, of being continued as ambassadors. They, finding where we were encamped, instead of coming up in a publick manner, sought out one of the most secret retirements, fitter for a deserter than an ambassador to encamp in, stayed there two or 3 days, sent spies to reconnoitre our camp, as we are told, tho they deny it. Their whole body moved Edition: current; Page: [84] back near 2 miles, sent off two runners to acquaint Contrecœur with our strength, and where we were encamped, &c. Now 36 men would almost have been a retinue for a princely ambassador, instead of a petit. Why did they, if their designs were open, stay so long within 5 miles of us, without delivering his ambassy, or acquainting me with it? His waiting could be with no other design, than to get [a] detachment to enforce the summons, as soon as it was given. They had no occasion to send out spies, for the name of ambassador is sacred among all nations; but it was by the track of these spies, that they were discovered, and we got intelligence of them. They would not have retired two miles back without delivering the summons, and sought a skulking-place (which, to do them justice, was done with great judgment), but for some special reason. Besides, the summons is so insolent, and savors so much of gascoigny, that if two men only had come openly to deliver it, it was too great indulgence to have sent them back.

The sense of the Half-King on this subject is, that they have bad hearts, and that this is a mere pretence; they never designed to have come to us but in a hostile manner, and if we were so foolish as let them go again, he never would assist us in taking another of them. Besides, loosing La Force, I really think, would lead more to our disservice, than 50 other men, as he is a person whose active spirit leads him into all parleys, and brought him acquainted with all parts, add to this a perfect use of the Indian tongue, and ye Edition: current; Page: [85] influence with the Indians. He ingeniously enough confessed, that, as soon as he saw the commission and instructions, that he believed,1 and then said he expected some such tendency, tho he pretends to say he does not believe the commander had any other but a good design. In this engagement we had only one man killed and two or three wounded, among which was Lieutenant Waggener slightly,—a most miraculous escape, as our right wing was much exposed to their fire and received it all.2 The Half-King received your Honour’s speech very kind, but desired me to inform you, that he could not leave his people at this time, thinking them in great danger. He is now gone to the Crossing for their families, to bring to our camp; and desired I would send some men and horses to assist them up, which I have accordingly done; sent 30 men and upwards of twenty horses. He says, if your Honour has any thing to say, you may communicate by me, &c., and that, if you have a present for them, it may be kept to another occasion, after sending up some things for their immediate use. He has declared to [me he would] send these Frenchmen’s scalps, with a hatchet, to all the nations of Indians in union with them, and did that very day give a hatchet, and a large belt of wampum, to a Delaware Edition: current; Page: [86] man to carry to Shingiss. He promised me to send down the river for all the Mingoes and Shawanese to our camp, where I expect him to-morrow with thirty or forty men, with their wives and children. To confirm what he has said here, he has sent your Honor a string of wampum.

As these runners went off to the fort on Sunday last,1 I shall expect every hour to be attacked, and by unequal numbers, which I must withstand if there are five to one; or else I fear the consequence will be, that we shall lose the Indians, if we suffer ourselves to be drove back. I despatched an express immediately to Colonel Fry with this intelligence, desiring him to send reinforcements with all imaginable despatch.2

Your Honor may depend I will not be surprised, let them come at what hour they will; and this is as much as I can promise. But my best endeavours shall not be wanting to deserve more. I doubt not, but if you hear I am beaten, but you will, at the same [time,] hear that we have done our duty, in fighting as long [as] there was a possibility of hope.

I have sent Lieutenant West, accompanied with Mr. Splitdorph and a guard of 20 men, to conduct the prisoners in, and I believe the officers have acquainted him what answer to return your Honour. Monsieur La Force and Monsieur Drouillon beg to be recommended Edition: current; Page: [87] to your Honour’s notice, and I have promised they will meet with all the favour due to imprisoned officers. I have show’d all the respect I could to them here, and have given some necessary cloathing, by which I have disfurnished myself; for, having brought no more than two or three shirts from Will’s Creek, that we might be light, I was ill provided to furnish them. I am, &c.

P. S. I have neither seen nor heard any particular account of the Twigtwees since I came on these waters. We have already begun a palisadoed fort, and hope to have it up to-morrow. I must beg leave to acquaint your Honour, that Captain Vanbraam and Ensign Peyrouny has behaved extremely well since they came out, and I hope will meet with your Honour’s favor.

George Washington
Washington, George
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



Since writing my last I have still stronger presumption, indeed almost confirmation, that they were sent as spies, and were ordered to wait near us, till they were truly informed of our intentions, situation, and strength, and were to have acquainted their commander therewith, and to have lain lurking here for reinforcements before they served the summons, if served at all.

I doubt not but they will endeavour to amuse you with many smooth stories, as they did me; but they Edition: current; Page: [88] were confuted in them all, and, by circumstances too plain to be denied, almost made ashamed of their assertions. I dare say you will treat them with respect, which is due to all unfortunate persons in their condition. But I hope you will give no ear to what they will have an opportunity for displaying to the best advantage, having none present to contradict their reports.

I have heard, since they went away, that they should say they called to us not to fire; but that I know to be false, for I was the first man that approached them, and the first whom they saw, and immediately upon it they ran to their arms, and fired briskly till they were defeated.1

We have heard of another being killed by the Indians, that made his escape from us; so that we are certain of thirty-three killed and taken.2 I thought it expedient to acquaint your Honor with the above, as I fancy they will have the assurance of asking the privileges due to an embassy, when in strict justice they ought to be hanged as spies of the worst sort, Edition: current; Page: [89] being authorized by their commander, at the expense of a character, which should be sacred to all nations, and never trifled with or used in an equivocal way. I am, &c.

The 29th. Dispatched Ensign Latour to the Half-King, with about Twenty-five Men, and almost as many Horses; and as I expected some French Parties would continually follow that which we had defeated, I sent an Express to Colonel Fry for a Reinforcement.

After this the French Prisoners desired to speak with me, and asked me in what Manner I looked upon them, whether as the Attendants of an Embassador, or as Prisoners of War: I answered them that it was in the Quality of the Latter, and gave them my Reasons for it, as above.

The 30th. Detached Lieutenant West,1 and Mr. Splitdorph, to take the Prisoners to Winchester, with a Guard of twenty Men.

Began to raise a Fort with small Pallisadoes, fearing that when the French should hear the News of that Defeat, we might be attacked by considerable Forces.

George Washington
Washington, George
31 May, 1754
Great Meadow
Lawrence Washington
Washington, Lawrence


Since my last we arrived at this place, where three days ago we had an engagement with the French, that is, a party of our men with one of theirs. Most of our men were out upon other detachments, so that I had scarcely 40 men remaining under my command, and about 10 or 12 Indians; nevertheless we obtained a most signal victory. The battle lasted about 10 or 13 minutes, with sharp firing on both sides, till the French gave ground and ran, but to no great purpose. Edition: current; Page: [90] There were 12 of the French killed, among whom was Mons. de Jumonville, their commander, and 21 taken prisoners, among whom are Mess. La Force and Drouillon, together with two cadets. I have sent them to his honour the Governor, at Winchester, under a guard of 20 men, conducted by Lieutenant West. We had but one man killed, and two or three wounded. Among the wounded on our side was Lieutenant Waggener, but no danger, it is hoped, will ensue. We expect every hour to be attacked by superior force, but, if they forbear one day longer, we shall be prepared for them. We have already got entrenchments, and are about a pallisado, which I hope will be finished to-day. The Mingoes have struck the French and I hope will give a good blow before they have done. I expect 40 odd of them here to-night, which, with our fort and some reinforcements from Col. Fry, will enable us to exert our noble courage with spirit.

P. S. I fortunately escaped without any wound, for the right wing, where I stood, was exposed to and received all the enemy’s fire, and it was the part where the man was killed, and the rest wounded. I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.1

Edition: current; Page: [91]

June the 1st. Arrived here an Indian Trader with the Half-King: They said that when Mr. de Jumonville was sent here, another Party had been detached towards the lower Part of the River, in order to take and kill all the English they should meet.

We are finishing our Fort.

Towards Night arrived Ensign Towers, with the Half-King, Queen Aliquippa, and about Twenty-five or Thirty Families, making in all about Eighty or One Hundred Persons, including Women and Children. The old King, being invited to come in to our Tents, told me that he had sent Monacatoocha to Log’s-Town, with Wampum, and four French scalps, which were to be sent to the Six Nations, to the Wyandotts, &c. to inform them that they had attacked the French, and to demand their Assistance to maintain the first advantage.

He also told me he had something to say at the Council, but would stay till the Arrival of the Shawanese whom we expected next Morning.

The 2d. Arrived two or three Families of the Shawanese and Loups: We had Prayers in the Fort.

The 3d. The Half-King assembled the Council, and in formed me that he had received a Speech from the Big Kettle (Grand-Chaudiere)1 in Answer to the one he had sent him.

George Washington
Washington, George
June 3, 1754
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honorable Sir:

The Half-King, with about 25 Familys, cont’g near 80 persons, including women and children, arriv’d here last night. He has given me some acc’t of the Twigtwees, Wyandotts and several other Nations of Indians, which I have transmitted to your Honour by an express, as you enquir’d circumstantially Edition: current; Page: [92] in your last, and I was then unable to give any account at all of them.

The French, early in the spring, sent a speech to the Wyandotts, Twigtwees, and their Allies, and desired them to take up the Hatchet and start to Ohio, and there cut of[f] the Inhabitants with all the English thereon. This the Big Kettle acquainted the Half-King with, and at the same time assur’d him with their good intentions of assisting the 6 Nations and their Brothers, the English, ag’t the French, and that they only waited to see us begin.1 I have enclosed the speech of the Chiefs, to which was added another from the Warriors, informing that they were busy in councilling with the Chippeways, Ottoways, &c., and striving to bring all into the same mind with themselves. They desire the 6 Nations, Virginians and Pennsylvanians, not to doubt but that they shall accomplish their designs in this, and when they do, [I] will send word thereof.

Monacatoocha was sent by the Half-King ab’t 5 nights ago to the Logs Town, with 4 French scalps, two of which was to be sent to the Wyandotts, &c., and the other two to the 6 Nations, telling them that the French had tricked them out of their lands, for which, with their Brothers, the English, who joyn’d hand in hand, they had let them feel the wait of their Hatchet, which was but trifling yet, as it only lay’d on 30, for that they int’d with their Brothers to drive the French beyond the Lakes. Monacatoocha has Edition: current; Page: [93] orders to draw all the Indians from Ohio, and then repair to our Camp.

I proposed to the Half-King sending their women and children into the Inhabitants, for, as they must be supported by us, it may be done at less expense there than here; besides this, there may another good attend it, their children may imbibe the principles of love and friendship in a stronger degree, which, if taken when young, is generally more firm and lasting. He told me he would consider of it, and give answer when Monacatoocha arrived. I hope this will be agreeable to your Honour, who I wrote to before on this head without receiv’g an answer. We find it very difficult procuring provisions for them, as they [share] equally with our own men, which is unavoidable witho’t turning them adrift entirely.

Montour would be of singular use to me here at this moment, in conversing with the Indians, for I have no persons that I can put any dependence in. I make use of all the influence I can to engage them warmly on our side, and flatter myself that I am not unsuccessful, but for want of a better acquaintance with their customs I am often at a loss how to behave, and should be relieved from many anxious fears of offend’g them if Montour was here to assist me; and as he is in the governm’nt’s employ’t I hope your Hon’r will think with me, his services cannot be apply’d to so g’t advantage as here upon this occasion.1

Edition: current; Page: [94]

There was 3 French Deserters, met a few days [ago] (one an Englishman) at Loyal henning,1 going to Virg’a, by one Crawford, a Man of veracity, who was assur’d by them, that there was two Major Traders confined in Irons at the Fort when Sieur De Jumonville was detached; and at the same time that he departed for this, another Party of 50 was sent down Ohio to kill or take Prisoners of all the English they’d meet with. They also assure us that Jumonville has all chosen Men fixed upon for this Enterprise. They likewise confirm the report the Prisoners gave, that 1,100 men were now in the Fort, and Reinforce’ts expected.

If the whole Detach’t of the French behave with no more Resolution than this chosen Party did, I flatter myself we shall have no g’t trouble in driving them to the d— Montreal. Tho’ I took 40 Men under my com’d when I marched out, yet the darkness of the night was so great, that by wandering a little from the main body 7 were lost, and but 33 ingag’d. There was also but 7 Indians with arms, two of which were Boys,—one Dinwiddie, your Honor’s God Son, who behav’d well in action. There were 5 or 6 other Indians, who served to knock the poor, unhappy wounded in the head, and bereiv’d them of their scalps. So that we had but 40 men, with which we tried and took 32 or 3 men, besides others who may have escaped. One, we have certain acc’t did.

Edition: current; Page: [95]

We have just finish’d a small pallisado’d Fort, in which, with my small numbers, I shall not fear the attack of 500 men.

There is three separate strings of Wampum, which the Half-King has desired me to send. One is from the Wyandott Chiefs, to confirm what they said; another from the Warriors, to confirm theirs; and the other (white) is from Monacatoocha, and since writing the above, there has arrived two Indians from Moskingam, who inform [me] that the Wyandotts, &c, are ready to strike so soon as they hear the 6 Nation’s and English have.

The 5th. Arrived an Indian from the Ohio, who had lately been at the French Fort. This Indian confirms the News of two Traders being taken by the French, and sent to Canada; he said they have set up their Pallisadoes, and enclosed their Fort with exceeding large Trees.

There are eight Indian Families on this side the River, coming to join us: He met one of the French who had made his Escape from the action of M. de Jumonville’s; he was without either Shoes or Stockings, and scarce able to walk; however he let him pass, not knowing we had attacked them.

The 6th. Mr. Gist is returned, and acquaints me of the Death of poor Colonel Fry, of the safe Arrival of the French Prisoners at Winchester, and which gave the Governor great satisfaction.

I am also informed that, Mr. Montour,1 is coming with a Commission to command Two Hundred Indians.

Mr. Gist had met a French Deserter, who assured him, that there were only Five Hundred Men when they took Mr. Ward’s Fort, that they were now less, having sent Fifteen Edition: current; Page: [96] Men to Canada to acquaint the Governor of their Success: That there were yet about Two Hundred Soldiers, who only waited for a favourable Opportunity to come and join us.

The 9th. Arrived the last Body of the Virginia Regiment, under the Command of Colonel Muse, and we learnt that the Independent Company of Carolina was arrived at Wills-Creek.

The 10th. I received the Regiment, and at Night had Notice, that some French were advancing towards us; whereupon I sent a Party of Indians upon the Scout towards Gist’s, in order to discover them, and to know their Number. Just before Night we had an Alarm, but it proved false.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 June, 1754
Great Meadows
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir:

Yours of the 1st 2nd and 4th ulto. I received by the post, and return your Honour my hearty thanks for your kind congratulation on our late success, which I hope to improve without risquing the imputation of rashness, or hazarding what a prudent conduct would forbid. I rejoice that I am likely to be happy under the command of an experienced officer, and man of sense.2 It is what I have ardently wished for.3 I shall here beg leave to return my grateful Edition: current; Page: [97] thanks for your favour in promoting me to the command of the regiment. Believe me, Hon’ble Sir, when I assure you, my breast is warmed with every generous sentiment, that your goodness can inspire. I want nothing but opportunity to testifie my sincere regard for your person, to whom I stand indebted for so many unmerited favours.

Your Honour may depend, I shall myself, and will endeavour to make my officers, shew Captain Mackay all the respect due to his rank and merit; but should have been particularly obliged, if your Honour had declared whether he was under my command, or independent of it.1 However, I shall be studious to avoid all disputes that may tend to publick prejudice, but, as far as I am able, will inculcate harmony and unanimity. I hope Captain Mackay will have more sense, than to insist upon any unreasonable distinction tho’ he and his have commissions from his Majesty.2 Let him consider, tho we are greatly inferior in respect to profitable advantages, yet we Edition: current; Page: [98] have the same spirit to serve our gracious King as they have, and are as ready and willing to sacrifice our lives for our country as they. And here, once more, and for the last time, I must say, this will be a cancer that will grate some officers of this regiment beyond all measure, to serve upon such different terms, when their lives, their fortunes, and their characters are equally, and, I dare say, as effectually exposed, as those who are happy enough to have King’s commissions. I have been solicitous on this head, have earnestly endeavoured to reconcile the officers to their appointments, and flatter myself I have succeeded, having heard no mention thereof latterly. I considered the pernicious consequences, that would have attended a disunion, and therefore was too much attached to my country’s interest to suffer it to ripen, after I received your advising letters.

I am very thankful to you for ordering an assortment of Indian goods, which we daily find still more necessary. I shall take care, while they are under my direction, that they are judiciously applied, and shall be particularly careful in consulting Mr. Croghan and Mr. Montour, by whom I shall be advised in all Indian affairs agreeably to your directions.1

I shall with great pleasure wear the medal, which you were pleased to compliment me with, and shall present the others to Indian chiefs, as I have already done one to the Half-King.

Major Muse, with Captain Montour, joined us Edition: current; Page: [99] yesterday, and brought the wampum you sent to the Half-King, which I presented, with the medal and speech. He is very thankful for the notice you have taken of him. Major Muse brought nine of the swivels, with some powder and balls; and this day I have engaged fifty or sixty horses to bring up more of the balls and other stores from Will’s Creek, if there should be no provisions to load them with. The balls are to be brought in leather bags made for the purpose. I hear that Captain Mackay, who was to have brought the artillery, has marched without it, as wagons could not be procured. I shall write to Mr. Gist to procure wagons, if he is obliged to go to Pennsylvania for them, to bring out the artillery, if not, when Colonel Innes comes up we shall have nothing in readiness, and shall let slip this best season for action.

George Washington
Washington, George
June 12, 1754
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


We have been extremely ill used by Major Carlyle’s deputies, which I am heartily sorry for, since he is a gentleman so capable of the business himself, and has taken so much pains to give satisfaction. He, I believe, has been deceived, and we have suffered by those under him, and by those who have contracted for provisions. We have been six days without flour, and there is none upon the road for our relief that we know of, though I have by repeated expresses given him timely notice. We have not Edition: current; Page: [100] provisions of any sort enough in camp to serve us two days. Once before we should have been four days without provisions, if Providence had not sent a trader from the Ohio to our relief, for whose flour I was obliged to give twenty-one shillings and eight pence per hundred.

In a late letter to Major Carlyle, I have complained of the tardiness of his deputies. I likewise desired, that suitable stores of ammunition might be sent up speedily, for till that is done we have it not in our power to attempt any advantageous enterprise; but must wait its arrival at Red-stone, for which I shall set off the moment provisions arrive to sustain us on the march. Major Carlyle mentioned a contract he had made with Mr. Croghan for flour, likewise Mr. Croghan’s offer of furnishing more if required. I have therefore desired to have all that Mr. Croghan can furnish.

The Indians are drawing off from the River daily, one of whom last night brought news of Monacatoocha. He went from Logstown about five nights ago with the French scalps, and four hatchets, with which he intended to visit the four tribes of Indians between this and Lake Erie, and present to each tribe a scalp and hatchet, and at the same time acquaint them that it was expected, as the English and Six Nations had hand-in-hand struck the French, they would join our forces. This messenger likewise says, that Monacatoocha was determined not only to counsel with the chiefs of those tribes, but with their great warriors also, which is customary in these Edition: current; Page: [101] cases, and was to return as soon as possible, which he imagined would be in fifteen days; but in case he should not return in that time, he left orders for the Indians at Logstown to set off for Red-stone Creek, so that they would all meet at Red-stone to join their brothers the English. He also desired there might be no attack made against the French fort, till he should return, by which time he hoped all the forces would be gathered, and then they would make a general attack together, and gain a complete victory at once.

The Half-King has sent messengers to other places for warriors, who are to meet us also at Red-stone Creek. Besides these, he has sent two messengers, by the advice of Mr. Croghan, Mr. Montour, and myself, one to invite the Shawanese to come and receive one of their men, who was imprisoned in Carolina, and to counsel with us, and the other to the Delawares for the same purpose, as we hear both these nations have accepted the hatchet against us. This report was first brought by an Indian sent from Logstown to the Half-King, and since confirmed by nine French deserters, who arrived at our camp to-day. These men farther say, that the fort at the Fork is completed, and proof against any attempts, but with bombs, on the land side. There were not above five hundred men in it, when they left it, but they suppose by this time two hundred more are arrived. Nine hundred were ordered to follow them, who might be expected in fourteen or fifteen days.

I was as much disappointed when I met these persons Edition: current; Page: [102] to-day, as ever I was in my life. By misunderstanding the scouts that brought me intelligence, that is, mistaking ninety for nine, I marched out at the head of one hundred and thirty men (the major part of the effective men in the regiment), full with the hope of procuring another present of French prisoners for your Honor. Judge then my disappointment at meeting nine only, and those coming for protection. I guarded against all casualties, that might happen to the camp, and ordered Major Muse to repair into the fort, and erect the small swivels for the defence of the place, which he could do in an hour’s time.

Agreeably to your desire I shall here mention the names of the gentlemen, who are to be promoted. Lieutenant George Mercer1 will worthily succeed to a captaincy. Captain Vanbraam has acted as captain ever since we left Alexandria. He is an experienced, good officer, and very worthy of the command he has enjoyed. Mr. James Towers is the oldest ensign, Edition: current; Page: [103] for whom you will please to send a lieutenancy. To Captain Stephen I have already given a major’s commission, finding one blank among Colonel Fry’s papers. If merit, Sir, will entitle a gentlemen to your notice, Mr. Peyrouny may justly claim a share of your favor. His conduct has been governed by the most consummate prudence, and all his actions have sufficiently testified his readiness to serve his country, which I really believe he looks upon Virginia to be. He was sensibly chagrined, when I acquainted him with your pleasure, of giving him an ensigncy. This he had twelve years ago, and long since commanded a company. He was prevailed on by Colonel Fry, when he left Alexandria, to accept the former commission, and assist my detachment, as I had very few officers, till we all met on the Ohio, which commission he would now have resigned, and returned to Virginia, but for my great dissuasion to the contrary. I have promised to solicit your Honor to appoint him adjutant, and continue him ensign, which will induce a very good officer to remain in the regiment. The office of adjutant, Sir, is most necessary to a regiment, in distributing the daily orders, receiving all reports, and seeing orders executed. In short, an adjutant is an indispensable officer. Should you be pleased to indulge me in this request, I shall look upon it in a very particular light, as I think the personal merit of the gentleman, his knowledge of military duty, and his activity will render him highly worthy of the favor. An ensign is still wanting, whom I hope you will send, if you know of any Edition: current; Page: [104] one suitable for the office. A young man in the camp, who came with Captain Lewis, has solicited, but I am yet ignorant of his character and qualities. He is a volunteer, and recommended by Captain Lewis.

In a letter by Mr. Ward, you acquainted me, that you had given orders to Colonel Fry to examine into the proceedings of Captain Trent, and his lieutenant, Frazier, by a court-martial. I shall be glad if you will repeat your orders and instructions to me, or rather to Colonel Innes; for an officer cannot be tried by those of his own regiment only, but has a right to be heard in a general court-martial. Captain Trent’s behaviour has been very tardy, and has convinced the world of what they before suspected, his great timidity. Lieutenant Frazier, though not altogether blameless, is much more excusable, for he would not accept of the commission, till he had a promise from his captain, that he should not reside at the fort, nor visit it above once a week, or as he saw necessary.1

Queen Aliquippa desired that her son, who is really a great warrior, might be taken into council, as he was declining and unfit for business, and that he should have an English name given him. I therefore called the Indians together by the advice of the Half-King, presented one of the medals, and Edition: current; Page: [105] desired him to wear it in remembrance of his great father, the King of England, and called him by the name of Colonel Fairfax, which he was told signified the first of the council. This gave him great pleasure. I was also informed, that an English name would please the Half-King, which made me presume to give him that of your Honor, and call him Dinwiddie; interpreted in their language, the head of all. I am, &c.

P.S. These deserters corroborate what the others said and we suspected. La Force’s party were sent out as spies, and were to show that summons if discovered, or overpowered, by a superior party of ours. They say the commander was blamed for sending so small a party.

Since writing the foregoing, Captain Mackay, with the Independent Company, has arrived, whom I take to be a very good sort of a gentleman. For want of proper instructions from your Honor, I am much at a loss to know how to act, or proceed in regard to his company. I made it my particular study to receive him (as it was your desire) with all the respect and politeness, that were due to his rank, or that I was capable of showing; and I do not doubt from his appearance and behaviour, that a strict intimacy will ensue, when matters shall be put in a clear light. But at present, I assure you, they will rather impede the service, than forward it; for, as they have commissions from the King, they look upon themselves as a distinct body, and will not incorporate and do duty with our men, but keep separate guards, and encamp separately. I have not offered to control Captain Mackay in any thing, nor showed that I Edition: current; Page: [106] claimed a superior command, except in giving the parole and countersign, which must be the same in an army consisting of different nations, to distinguish friends from foes. He knows the necessity of this, yet does not think he is to receive it from me. Then who is to give it? Am I to issue these orders to a company? Or is an independent captain to prescribe rules to the Virginia regiment? This is the question. But its absurdity is obvious.

It now behooves you, Sir, to lay your absolute commands on one or the other to obey. This is indispensably necessary, for nothing clashes more with reason, than to conceive our small bodies can act distinctly, without having connexion with one another, and yet be serviceable to the public. I do not doubt that Captain Mackay is an officer of sense, and I dare say will do the best for the service; but, Sir, two commanders are so incompatible, that we cannot be as useful to one another, or the public, as we ought; and I am sincerely sorry, that he has arrived before your instructions by Colonel Innes, who I doubt not will be fully authorized how to act. But as we have no news of Colonel Innes, I have, in the mean time, desired Major Carlyle to send this by an immediate express to you, who, I hope, will satisfy these doubts.1 Captain Mackay and I have lived in the most perfect harmony since his arrival, and have reasoned on this Edition: current; Page: [107] calmly; and, I believe, if we should have occasion to exert our whole force, we shall do as well as divided authority can do. We have not had the least warmth of dispute. He thinks you have not a power to give commissions, that will command him. If so, I can very confidently say, that his absence would tend to the public advantage. I have been particularly careful of discovering no foolish desire of commanding him, neither have I intermeddled with his company in the least, or given any directions concerning it, except on these general—the word, countersign, and place to repair to in case of an alarm, none of which he thinks he should receive. I have testified to him in the most serious manner the pleasure I should take in consulting and advising with him upon all occasions, and I am very sensible, with him we shall never differ when your Honour decides this, which I am convinced your own just discernment and consideration will make appear, the impossibility of a medium. The nature of the thing will not allow of it.1

It must be known who is to command before orders will be observed, and I am very confident your Honour will see the absurdity and consider the effects of Capt. Mackay’s having the direction of the Edition: current; Page: [108] regiment, for it would certainly be the hardest thing in life if we are to do double and trible duty, and neither be entitled to the pay or rank of soldiers. That the first column of the Virginia regiment has done more for the interest of the expedition than any other company or corps that will hereafter arrive, will be obvious to them all. This, Hon’ble Sir, Capt. Mackay did not hesitate one moment to allow since he has seen ye work we have done upon the roads &c. We shall part to-morrow. I shall continue my march to Red Stone, while the company remains here; but this, Sir, I found absolutely necessary for the publick interest. Capt. Mackay says, that it is not in his power to oblige his men to work upon the road, unless he will engage them a shilling sterling a day, which I would not choose to do; and to suffer them to march at their ease, whilst our faithful soldiers are laboriously employed, carry’s an air of such distinction that it is not to be wondered at if the poor fellows were to declare the hardship of it. He also declares to me that this is not particular to his company only, but that no soldiers subject to martial law can be obliged to do it for less. I, therefore, shall continue to endeavour to compleat the work we have begun with my poor fellows; we shall have the whole credit, as none others have assisted. I hope from what has been said, your honour will see the necessity of giving your speedy orders on this head, and I am sensible you will consider the evil tendency that will accompany Captn. Mackay’s coming, for I am sorry to observe this is what we always Edition: current; Page: [109] hoped to enjoy—the rank of officers, which to me, Sir, is much dearer than the pay.

Captn. Mackay brought none of the cannon, very little ammunition, about 5 days allowance of flower, and 60 beeves. Since I have spun a letter to this enormous size, I must go a little further and beg your Honour’s patience to peruse it. I am much grieved to find our stores so slow advancing. God knows when we shall [be] able to do any thing for to deserve better of our country.

The Contents of this letter is a profound secret.

The 12th. Two of the Men, whom we had sent out Yesterday upon the Scout returned; they discovered a small Party of French; the others went on as far as Stuart’s. Upon this Advice, I thought it necessary to March with the greater Part of the Regiment, to find those Ninety Men, of whom we had Intelligence. Accordingly I gave orders to Colonel Muse to put away all our Baggage and Ammunition, and to place them in the Fort, and set a good Guard there till my Return; after which I marched at the Head of One Hundred and Thirty Men, and about Thirty Indians; but at the Distance of half a Mile, I met the other Indians, who told me, there were only nine Deserters; whereupon I sent Mr. Montour, with some few Indians, in Order to bring them safe to me; I caused them to be drest, and they confirmed us in our Opinion, of the Intention of M. de Jumonville’s Party; that more than One Hundred Soldiers were only waiting for a favorable Opportunity to come and join us; that M. de Contrecœur, expected a Reinforcement of Four Hundred Men; that these reinforcements should have arrived some time before la Force had been defeated; that the Fort was compleated; that its Front and Gates were covered by the artillery; that Edition: current; Page: [110] there was a double Pallisadoe next to the Water; that they have only eight small Pieces of Cannon, and know what Number of Men we are.

They also informed us, that the Delaware and Shawanese had taken up the Hatchet against us; whereupon, I resolved to invite those two Nations to come to a Council at Mr. Gist’s. Sent for that Purpose Messengers and Wampum.

The 13th. I Persuaded the Deserters to write the following Letter, to those of their Companions who had an inclination to desert.1

The 15th. Set about clearing the Roads.

The 16th. Set out for Red-Stone-Creek, and were extremely embarrassed, our Waggons breaking very often.

17th. Dispatched an Express to the Half-King, to perswade him to send a Message to the Loups; which he did as I intended.

18th. Eight Mingoes arrived from Loiston, who at their Arrival told me of a Commission they had, and that a Council must be held. When we assembled, they told us in brief, that they had often desired to see their Brethren out in the Field with Forces, and begged us not to take it amiss, that they were amongst the French, and that they complied with some of their Customs; notwithstanding which they were naturally inclined to fall upon them, and other Words to the same Purport: After which they said, they had brought a Speech with them, and desired to deliver it with Speed. These, and other Discourses to the same Purpose, made us suspect that their Intentions towards us were not good; wherefore I delayed giving them Audience until the Arrival of the Half-King, and desired the Delawares to have Patience till then, as I only waited their Arrival to hold a Council, which I expected would be that very Day. After the eight Mingoes had conferred a while together, they sent me some Strings of Wampum, Edition: current; Page: [111] desiring me to excuse their insisting on the Delivery of their Speech so speedily, that they now perceived it necessary to wait the Arrival of the Half-King.

When the Half-King arrived, I consented to give them Audience.

A Council was held in the Camp for that Purpose, the Half-King and several of the Six Nations, Loups Shawanese, to the Number of Forty, were present.

The Speaker of the Six Nations addressed the following Speech to the Governor of Virginia.


We your Brothers of the Six-Nations are now come to acquaint you, that we have heard you threaten to destroy entirely all your Brethren the Indians who should not join you on the Road; wherefore we who keep in our own Towns, expect every Day to be cut in Pieces by you. We wish to know from your Mouth, if there be any Truth in that report, and that you would not look upon it as remarkable, that we are come to enquire into it, since you very well know that bad News commonly makes a deeper Impression upon us than good. That we may be fully satisfied by your Answers of the Truth thereof; we give you this Belt of Wampum.

We know the French will ask us at our Return, of what Number our Brethren are, whom we went to see? Therefore we desire you, by this Belt, to let us know it, as also the Number of those whom you expect, and at what Time you expect them, and when you reckon to attack the French, that we may give Notice thereof to our Town, and know also, what we are to tell the French.



We are very glad to see you; and sorry that you are disquieted by such Reports that: The English intend to injure you, or any of your Allies; this report, we know, must have been forged by the French, always treacherous, and asserting the greatest Falsehoods whenever they think they will turn out to their Advantage; they speak well, promise fine Things, but all from the Edition: current; Page: [112] Lips only; whilst their Heart is corrupted and full of venomous Poison. You have been their Children, and they would have done every Thing for you but they no sooner thought themselves strong enough, than they returned to their natural Pride, and run you off from your Lands, declaring you had no Right on the Ohio. The English your real Friends, are too generous, to think of ever using the Six Nations, their faithful Allies, in like Manner; when you made your Address to the Governors of Virginia and Pennsylvania, they (at your repeated Request) sent an Army to Maintain your Rights; to put you again in the Possession of your Lands, and to protect your Wives and Children, to dispossess the French, to maintain your rights, and to assure that Country to you; for those very ends are the English Arms actually employed; it is for the Safety of your Wives and your Children, that we fight, and as this is the only Motive of our Conduct, we cannot reasonably doubt of being joined by the remaining Part of your Forces, to oppose the common Enemy. Those who will not join us for this purpose, shall be answerable for the Consequence; we only desire your Brethren to chuse that side which seems most acceptable to them.

The Indians of the Six Nations are those who are most interested in this War; for them it is that we fight; and I should be in despair were the least Hurt to come to them; we have engaged in this War to assist and protect you; our Arms are open to receive you, and our Hands ready to nourish your Families during the War. The Governor of Virgina has often desired they might be sent to him, that he might see them in Person, nourish and cloath them according to their own Desire; but as you could not determine to send them to him, we are ready to share in a friendly Manner, all our Provisions with you, and to take such Measures, and give such Orders, that enough shall be brought to maintain your Wives and Children. Such Conduct will evidently prove how much more the English love and esteem their Allies the Six Nations, than the French do; as we have drawn the Sword in your Cause, and in your Defence, hesitate no longer, delay not one Moment, but put your Wives and Children under our Protection; and they shall find Plenty of Provisions; in the meanwhile set your young Men and your Warriors to Edition: current; Page: [113] sharpen their Hatchets, to join and unite with us vigorously in our Battles. The Present, my Brethren, which I offer you is not so considerable as I could wish, but I expect in a short Time a Quantity of Goods, which are to be at my Disposal, to reward those who shall have shewn themselves brave and active on this Occasion; in short, I shall recompense them most generously.

Be of good Courage, my Brethren, deliver your Country, and assure it to your Children; let me know the Thoughts of your Hearts on this Affair, that I may give an Account of your Sentiments to your great Friend and Brother the Governor of Virginia. To assure you of my Sincerity and Esteem, I present you this Belt.

The 20th, The Council still continued.

When the Delawares knew that they were suspected of being in the French Interest, they demanded the Reason why they had been sent for, and what they should tell the French at their Return.

I answered them, it was to let them understand, that we were to come at their reiterated requests to assist them with Sword in Hand; that we intended to put them in the Possession of those Lands which the French had taken from them.

And as they had often demanded our Assistance, as our ancient and faithful Allies, I invited them to come and place themselves under our Protection, together with their Women and Children.

Whereupon the Indian Speaker stretched out his Blanket on the Floor and laid several Belts and Strings of Wampum thereon, in the same order he had received them from the French. This done, he repeated the Speeches of M. de Contrecœur; after which the Delaware Speaker directed to me the following Speech.

“Brethren, the Governor of Virginia and Pennsylvania; We your Brethren the Delawares, remember perfectly well the Treaty of Loiston,1 where you and your Uncles the Six Nations, considering Edition: current; Page: [114] the bad Situation we were in, for Want of a Man to be our Leader, you then gave us a King, and told us, he should transact all our public Affairs between you and us; you gave us a charge, not to listen to every vain Report that might be spread, but to consult ourselves, and to do, what would seem to us, to be right: We assure you that we have given no Credit to any of those Reports nor ever shall; but will be guided by you our Brethren, and by our Uncles the Six Nations, and will do on all Occasions, what is just and right, taking Advice from you alone; To assure you of the Desire we have to fulfil our Engagements with you, we present you this Belt.”

After which they made the following Discourse to the Six Nations.

“Uncles, Thirteen Days are now past since we have received this Belt from the Onondago Council; I do not doubt your knowledge of it; They exhorted us to remember old Times, when they cloathed us with a Robe reaching down to our Heels; afterwards told us, to raise it up to our Knees, and there to make it very fast, and come to them at the Head of Susquehannah, where they had provided a Place for us to live; that they had also sent a Speech to those of our Nation who live near the Minnesinks, inviting them to go to the Place by them appointed, that they might live with us; They also sent us a Speech, to give us Notice that the English and French were upon the point of coming to an Engagement on the River Ohio, and exhorted us to do nothing in that Juncture, but what was reasonable; and what they would tell us themselves; lastly, they recommended to us, to keep fast Hold of the Chain of Friendship which has so long subsisted between us and them, and our Brethren the English.

A Belt.

Then the Delawares spoke to the Shawanese as follows:—

“Grand-Sons, by this Belt, we take you between our Arms, and fetch you away from the Ohio, where you now are, to carry you amongst us, that you may live where we live, and there live in Peace and Quiet.

The Council after this was adjourned to the next Morning.

Edition: current; Page: [115]

The 21st. We assembled very early, and I spoke first to the Delawares in the following Manner.

“Brethren, By your open and generous, Conduct on this Occasion, You have made yourselves dearer to us than ever; we return You our Thanks, that you did not go to Venango, when the French first invited You there; their treating You in such a childish Manner, as we perceive they do, raises in us a just and strong Resentment. They call You their Children, and speak to You, as if You in reality were Children, and had no more Understanding than such. Weigh well, my Brethren, and compare all their Discourse, and You will find that all it tends to, is to tell You, I am going to open your Eyes, to unstop your Ears, and such words, to no Purpose, and only proper to amuse Children. You also observe Brethren, that if they deliver a Speech, or make a Promise, and confirm it by a Belt, they imagine it binds them no longer than they think it consistent with their Interest to stand to it. They have given one Example of it; and I will make You observe it, in the Jump which they say they have made over the Boundaries, which you had set them; which ought to stir You up my Brethren, to just Anger, and lead you to embrace the favourable Opportunity that We offer You, as we are come at Your Request, to assist You, and by Means of which, You may make them Jump back again, with more Speed than they advanced.

A String of Wampum.

The French are continually telling You, not to give Heed to the ill Reports that are told you concerning them who are your Fathers. If they did not know in their very Souls, how richly they deserve it on your Account, why should they suspect of being accused? Why should they forewarn You of it, to hinder You from believing, what is told you concerning them? As to what they say of us, our Conduct alone will answer in our Behalf: Examine the Truth yourselves; You know the Roads leading to our Habitations, You have lived amongst us, You can speak our Language; but in order to justify ourselves from whatever might be said against us, and assure You of our brotherly Love; we once more invite your old Men, your Wives and your Children, to take Sanctuary under our Protection, and between our Arms, Edition: current; Page: [116] to be plentifully fed, whilst your Warriors and young Men join with ours, and espouse together the common Cause.

A String of Wampum.

Brethren, we thank You with all our Hearts, for having declared unto us, your Resolution of accomplishing the Engagements which You had entered into, at the Treaty of Loiston, and we can do no otherwise than praise your generous Conduct with Regard to your Grand Sons the Shawanese; it gives us infinite Pleasure.

We are greatly obliged to the Council given You by Onondago, charging You to hold fast the Chain of Friendship by which we are bound; I dare say, that had he known, how nearly You are interested in this War, or that it is for the Love of You, and at your Request, we have taken up Arms, he would have ordered you to declare and to act immediately against the Common Enemy of the Six Nations. In order to assure you of my Affection, and to confirm the Truth of what I have said, I present you these Two great Strings.

After this, the Council broke up, and those treacherous Devils, who had been sent by the French as Spies, returned though not without some Tale ready prepared to amuse the French, which may be of Service to make our own Designs succeed.

As they had told me there were Sixteen Hundred French, and Seven Hundred Indians on their March, to reinforce those at the Garrison, I persuaded the Half-King to send three of his Men to inquire into the Truth of it, though I imagined this News to be only Soldiers’ Discourse; these Indians were accordingly sent in a secret Manner, before the Council broke up, and had Orders to go to the Fort, and inform themselves carefully from all the Indians they should meet, and if there was any News worthy of the trouble, one of them should return, and the other two continue their Rout as far as Venango and about the Lake, in order to obtain a perfect Knowledge of every Thing.

I also perswaded King Shingiss to send out Rangers Edition: current; Page: [117] towards the River, to bring us News, in case any French should come; I gave him also a Letter, which he was to send me back again by an Express, to prevent my being imposed upon by a false Alarm.

Though King Shingiss, and others of the Delawares, could not be persuaded to retire to our Camp, with their Families, through the Fear they were in of Onondago’s Council, they nevertheless gave us strong Assurances of their Assistance, and directed us in what Manner to act, in order to obtain our Desire; the Method was this; we were to prepare a great War-Belt, to invite all those Warriors who would receive it, to act independently of their King and Council; and King Shingiss promised to take privately the most subtile Methods to make the Affair success, though he did not dare to do it openly.

The very Day the Council broke up, I perswaded Kaquehuston, a trusty Delaware, to carry that Letter to the Fort which the French Deserters had written to their Comrades, and gave him Instructions how he should behave in his Observations, upon several Articles of which I had spoken to him; for I am certain the Fort may be surprized, as the French are encamped outside, and cannot keep a strict Guard, by Reason of the Works they are about.

I also perswaded George another trusty Delaware, to go and take a View of the Fort, a little after Kaquehuston, and gave him proper Instructions, recommending him particularly to return with Speed, that we might have fresh News.

Immediately after the Council was over, nothwithstanding all that Mr. Montour could do to disswade them, the Delawares, as also the Half-King, and all the other Indians, returned to the Great Meadows; but though we had lost them, I still had Spies of our own People, to prevent being surprised.

As I was told, that a Belt of Wampum and a Speech might bring us back both the Half-King and his young Men: I sent the following Speech by Mr. Croghan:—

Edition: current; Page: [118]

’Tis but lately since we were assembled together; we were sent here by your Brother the Governor of Virginia, at your own Request in Order to succour you, and fight for your Cause; wherefore my Brethren, I must require that you and your young Men come to join and encamp with us, that we may be ready to receive our Brother Monacatoocha, whom I daily expect; That this Request may have its desired Effect, and make a suitable Impression upon your Minds I present you with this String of Wampum.

As those Indians, who were Spies sent by the French, were very inquisitive, and asked us many Questions, to know by what Way we proposed to go to the Fort, and what Time we expected to arrive there: I left off working any further at the Road, and told them as we intended to keep on across the Woods as far as the Fort, falling the Trees, &c. that we were waiting here for the Reinforcement which was coming to us, our Artillery, and our Waggons to accompany us there; but, as soon as they were gone, I set about marking out and clearing a Road towards Red Stone.

The 25th. Towards Night came three Men from the Great Meadows, amongst whom was the Son of Queen Aliquippa. He brought me a Letter from Mr. Croghan, informing me what Pains he was at to perswade any Indians to come to us; that in truth the Half-King was inclined and was preparing to join us, but had received a Blow which was a Hindrance to it. I thought it proper to send Captain Montour to Fort Necessity, in order to try if he could possibly, gain the Indians to come to us.

The 26th. Arrived an Indian, bringing News that Monacatoocha had burnt his village, (Loiston) and was gone by Water with his People to Red-Stone, and might be expected there in two Days. This Indian passed close by the Fort, and assures us, that the French had received no reinforcement, except a small number of Indians, who had killed, as he said, two or three of the Delawares. I did not fail to Edition: current; Page: [119] relate that Piece of News to the Indians in its proper Colours, and particularly to two of the Delawares who are here.

The 27th. Detached Captain Lewis, Lieutenant Waggener, and Ensign Mercer, two Serjeants, two Corporals, one Drummer, and Sixty Men, to Endeavour to clear a Road, to the Mouth of Red-Stone-Creek on Monaungahela.

The Journal, as printed in the Précis des Faits ends abruptly with the entry made on the 27th. On the 28th Mackay with the company from South Carolina joined Washington, but hearing that the garrison at Duquesne had been reinforced, a council of war determined upon a retreat—a measure of no little difficulty through the want of horses to carry the guns, provisions, and camp stores. The entire labor involved fell upon the Virginia troops, those of South Carolina holding aloof and refusing to assist. On July 1st the Great Meadows were reached and here a halt was called to allow the weary troops to rest and to allow reinforcements to come up, for the New York companies after “unaccountable delay” were reported to be at Alexandria and about to march for the Ohio.

Meantime the garrison at Duquesne had received additions, and Coulon de Villiers, a brother of Jumonville, had arrived from Montreal with a large force of Indians. It was at once determined to “avenge the murder of Jumonville” and attack the English whether found on soil claimed by the French or on territory that was English beyond any doubt. The party under the command of Villiers reached Red Stone Creek on June 30th, and on July 2d the camp at Gist’s so recently abandoned by Washington. From the Indian scouts the position of the English was soon determined, and on the next day the two forces met. Washington had made a small trench for protection, but it proved of little service as his men were exposed to a cross-fire from the French and Indians. What followed is best told in the language of Govr. Dinwiddie: “Immediately they [the French] appeared in sight of our camp, and fired at our people at a great distance, which did no harm. Our small forces were drawn up in good order to receive them before their entrenchments, but did not return their first fire, reserving it till they came nigher. The enemy advanced irregularly within 60 yards of our forces, and then made a second discharge, and observing they did not intend to attack them in open field, they retired within their trenches, and reserved their fire, thinking from their numbers they would force their trenches, but finding they made no attempt of this kind, the Colonel gave orders to our people to fire on the enemy, which they did with great briskness, and the officers declare this engagement continued from 11 o’clock till 8 o’clock at night, they being without shelter, rainy weather, and their trenches to the knee in water, whereas the French were sheltered all round our camp by trees; from thence they galled our people all the time as above. About 8 o’clock at night the French called out to parley; our people mistrusting Edition: current; Page: [120] their sincerity, from their numbers and other advantages, refused it. At last they desired [us] to send an officer that could speak French, and they gave their parole for his safe return to them, on which the Commander sent two officers to whom they gave their proposals. . . . From our few numbers and our bad situation, they were glad to accept of them; otherways were determined to lose their lives rather than be taken prisoners. The next morning a party from the French came and took possession of our encampment, and our people marched off with colors flying and beat of drum; but there appeared a fresh party of 100 Indians to join the French, who galled our people much, and with difficulty were restrained from attacking them; however, they pilfered our people’s baggage, and at the beginning of the engagement the French killed all the horses, cattle and live creatures they saw, so that our forces were obliged to carry off the wounded men on their backs to some distance from the place of the engagement, where they left them with a guard; the scarcity of provisions made them make quick marches to get among the inhabitants which was about 60 miles of bad road.”—To the Lords of Trade, July 24, 1754.

When the French proposed the parley there were but two men in the English camp acquainted with the language—Peyroney, who was badly wounded, and Vanbraam, who was sent to complete the capitulation. It is certain that Vanbraam blundered seriously in his interpretation of the articles, and probably through ignorance. The following are the articles as signed:

“Comme notre intention n’a jamais été de troubler la paix et la bonne harmonie qui régnoit entre les deux Princes amis, mais seulement de venger l’assassin qui a été fait sur un de nos officiers, porteur d’une sommation, et sur son escorte, comme aussi d’empêcher aucun établissement sur les terres du Roi mon Maître.

“A ces considérations, nous voulons bien accorder grace à tous les Anglois qui sont dans ledit fort, aux conditions ce-aprés.

Article I. Nous accordons au commandant Anglois de se retirer avec toute sa garnison, pour s’en retourner paisiblement dans son pays, et lui promettons d’empêcher qu’il lui soit fait aucune insulte par nos François, et de maintenir, autant qu’il sera en notre pouvoir, tous les sauvages qui sont avec nous.

Art. II. Il lui sera permis de sortir, et d’emporter tout ce qui leur appartiendra, à l’exception de l’artillerie, que nous nous réservons.

Art. III. Que nous leur accordons les honneurs de la guerre; qu’ils sortiront tambour battant avec une petite pièce de canon, voulant bien par-là leur prouver que nous les traitons en amis.

Art. IV. Que si-tôt les articles signés de part et d’autre, ils amèneront le pavillon Anglais.

Art. V. Que demain à la pointe du jour, un détachment François ira faire défiler la garnison et prendre possession dudit fort.

Art. VI. Que comme les Anglois n’ont presque plus de chevaux ni bœufs, ils seront libres de mettre leurs effets en cache, pour venir chercher lorsqu’ils auront rejoint des chevaux; ils pourront à cette fin laisser des gardiens, en tel Edition: current; Page: [121] nombre qu’ils voudront, aux conditions qu’ils donneront parole d’honneur de ne plus travailler à aucun établissement dans ce lieu-ci, ni en deça de la hauteur des terres.1

Art. VII. Que comme les Anglois ont en leur pouvoir un officier, deux cadets, et généralement les prisonniers qu’ils nous ont faits dans l’assassinat du Sieur de Jumonville, et qu’ils promettent de les envoyer avec sauvegarde jusqu’au Fort Duquesne, situé sur la Belle-Rivière; et que pour sûreté de cet article, ainsi que de ce traité, Messrs. Jacob Vanbraam et Robert Stobo, tous deux capitaines, nous seront remis en otage jusqu’à l’arrivée de nos François et Canadiens cidessus mentionnés.”

Nous nous obligeons de votre côté à donner escorte pour ramener en sûreté les deux officiers qui nous promettent nos François dans deux mois et demi pour le plus tard.

The admissions and contract contained in certain of these articles could hardly fail to displease the English when they were published, and the entire blame was laid upon Vanbraam. Dinwiddie went so far as to denounce him as a “poltroon, and though an officer with us, they say he has joined the French.” One of his fellow officers, Adam Stephen, also intimates evil intentions on the part of the Dutch interpreter; but his description of the conditions under which the articles were read—“it rained so hard, that he could not give us a written translation of them; we could scarcely keep the candle lighted to read them by”—certainly affords some excuse for a misapprehension on the part of the hearers. Villiers boasted that he had made the English admit “qu’ils nous avoient fait un assassin dans le camp de mon frère,” but both Mackay and Stephen insisted that the word assassination had not been read to them by Vanbraam.

After the French government had published the Précis des Faits, the attention of Washington was called to the articles of capitulation and his Journal as printed in that volume. He then wrote as follows:

“I am really sorry, that I have it not in my power to answer your request in a more satisfactory manner. If you had favored me with the journal a few days sooner, I would have examined it carefully, and endeavoured to point out such errors as might conduce to your use, my advantage, and the public satisfaction; but now it is out of my power.

“I had no time to make any remarks upon that piece, which is called my journal. The enclosed are observations on the French notes. They are of no use to me separated, nor will they, I believe, be of any to you; yet I send them unconnected and incoherent as they were taken, for I have no opportunity to correct them.

Edition: current; Page: [122]

“In regard to the journal, I can only observe in general, that I kept no regular one during that expedition; rough minutes of occurrences I certainly took, and find them as certainly and strangely metamorphosed; some parts left out, which I remember were entered, and many things added that never were thought of; the names of men and things egregiously miscalled; and the whole of what I saw Englished is very incorrect and nonsensical; yet, I will not pretend to say that the little body, who brought it to me, has not made a literal translation, and a good one.

“Short as my time is, I cannot help remarking on Villiers’ account of the battle of, and transactions at, the Meadows, as it is very extraordinary, and not less erroneous than inconsistent. He says the French received the first fire. It is well known, that we received it at six hundred paces’ distance. He also says, our fears obliged us to retreat in a most disorderly manner after the capitulation. How is this consistent with his other account? He acknowledges, that we sustained the attack warmly from ten in the morning until dark, and that he called first to parley, which strongly indicates that we were not totally absorbed in fear. If the gentleman in his account had adhered to the truth, he must have confessed, that we looked upon his offer to parley as an artifice to get into and examine our trenches, and refused on this account, until they desired an officer might be sent to them, and gave their parole for his safe return. He might also, if he had been as great a lover of the truth as he was of vainglory, have said, that we absolutely refused their first and second proposals, and would consent to capitulate on no other terms than such as we obtained. That we were wilfully, or ignorantly, deceived by our interpreter in regard to the word assassination, I do aver, and will to my dying moment; so will every officer that was present. The interpreter was a Dutchman, little acquainted with the English tongue, therefore might not advert to the tone and meaning of the word in English; but, whatever his motives were for so doing, certain it is, he called it the death, or the loss, of Sieur Jumonville. So we received and so we understood it, until, to our great surprise and mortification, we found it otherwise in a literal translation.

“That we left our baggage and horses at the Meadows is certain; that there was not even a possibility to bring them away is equally certain, as we had every horse belonging to the camp killed or taken away during the action; so that it was impracticable to bring any thing off, that our shoulders were not able to bear; and to wait there was impossible, for we had scarce three days’ provisions, and were seventy miles from a supply; yet, to say we came off precipitately is absolutely false; notwithstanding they did, contrary to articles, suffer their Indians to pillage our baggage, and commit all kinds of irregularity, we were with them until ten o’clock the next day; we destroyed our powder and other stores, nay, even our private baggage, to prevent its falling into their hands, as we could not bring it off. When we had got about a mile from the place of action, we missed two or three of the wounded, and sent a party back to bring them up; this is the party he speaks of. We brought them all safe off, and encamped within three miles of the Meadows. These are circumstances, Edition: current; Page: [123] I think, that make it evidently clear, that we were not very apprehensive of danger. The colors he speaks of as left were a large flag of immense size and weight; our regimental colors were brought off and are now in my possession. Their gasconades, and boasted clemency, must appear in the most ludicrous light to every considerate person, who reads Villiers’ journal; such preparations for an attack, such vigor and intrepidity as he pretends to have conducted his march with, such revenge as by his own account appeared in his attack, considered, it will hardly be thought that compassion was his motive for calling a parley. But to sum up the whole, Mr. Villiers pays himself no great compliment in saying, we were struck with a panic when matters were adjusted. We surely could not be afraid without cause, and if we had cause after capitulation, it was a reflection upon himself.”

In August a full account of this engagement was laid before the House of Burgesses, and a vote of thanks was given to Washington and his officers—the Major of the regiment and Captain Vanbraam excepted, the former for cowardice, the latter for his blunder in leading Washington to sign the capitulation containing such awkward admissions. Further, a pistole was granted to every private in the engagement. The thanks of the officers were conveyed by Washington, but it was a subject of mortification to them that the governor declined to carry out the stipulations of the article entered into with the French. Dinwiddie gave the following reason for his action in a letter to the Board of Trade: “The French, after the capitulation entered into with Colonel Washington, took eight of our people, and exposed them to sale, and, missing thereof, sent them prisoners to Canada. On hearing of this, I detained the seventeen prisoners, the officers, and two cadets, as I am of opinion, after they were in my custody, Washington could not engage for their being returned. I have ordered a flag of truce to be sent to the French, offering the return of their officer and the two cadets for the two hostages they have of ours.” This course of proceeding was not suitable to the principles of honor and sense of equity entertained by Colonel Washington, but he had no further control of the affair.

Mr. Sparks says Vanbraam never returned to Virginia; but the editor of the Dinwiddie Papers writes that “he was retained in captivity until the surrender of Montreal in Sept. 1760, when he returned to Virginia. His services were recognized in the allotment by George Washington, as Commissioner of Virginia, of 9,000 acres of land in 1771; and in July 14, 1777, he was made Major of the 30th battalion of the 60th Foot or Royal Americans then stationed in the West Indies.”—Dinwiddie Papers, i., p. 51, note. The Virginia Gazette on November 8th, 1760, announced the arrival in town of Capt. Vanbraam.

The Indian account of these engagements differs somewhat from that first given, but was told by Scarroyada in December, 1754. In brief it was as follows: That the governor of Virginia sent to the Half-King by Capt. Trent a belt of wampum with a hatchet in it, thus inviting the Indians to join in the war against the French. “When we got it we put it into a private pocket on the inside of our garment. It lay next to our breasts. As we were on the road going to council with our brethren, a company of French, in number thirty-one, overtook us and desired us to go and Edition: current; Page: [124] council with them; and when we refused they pulled us by the arm and almost stripped the chain of covenant from off it, but still I would suffer none to go with them. We thought to have got before them but they passed us, and when we saw they endeavored to break the chain of friendship I pulled this belt out of my pocket and looked at it and saw there this hatchet, and then went and told Col. Washington of these thirty-one Frenchmen and we and a few of our brothers fought with them. Ten were killed and twenty-one were taken alive whom we delivered to Col. Washington, telling him that we had blooded the edge of his hatchet a little.

“Davison1 said he was in the action and that there were but eight Indians who did most of the execution that was done. Col. Washington and the Half-King differed much in judgment, and on the Colonel’s refusing to take his advice the English and Indians separated. After which the Indians discovered the French in an hollow and hid themselves, lying on their bellies behind a hill; afterwards they discovered Col. Washington on the opposite side of the hollow in the gray of the morning, and when the English fired, which they did in great confusion, the Indians came out of their cover and closed with the French and killed them with their tomahawks, on which the French surrendered.”

“The Half-King complained very much of the behaviour of Col. Washington to him (tho’ in a very moderate way, saying the Col. was a good-natured man but had no experience), saying that he took upon him to command the Indians as his slaves, and would have them every day upon the out scout and attack the enemy by themselves, and that he would by no means take advice from the Indians; that he lay at one place from one full moon to the other and made no fortifications at all, but that little thing upon the Meadow, where he thought the French would come up to him in open field; that had he taken the Half-King’s advice and made such fortifications as the Half-King advised him to make he would certainly have beat the French off; that the French had acted as great cowards, and the English as fools in that engagement; that he (the Half-King) had carried off his wife and children so did other Indians before the battle begun, because Col. Washington would never listen to them, but was always driving them on to fight by his directions.”—Weiser’s Journal. 1754.

George Washington
Washington, George
11 August, 1754
William Fairfax
Fairfax, William


Honble. Sir,

Since my last to you, I have received, by Mr. Splitdorph, the letter therein alluded to, of the 1st inst. Edition: current; Page: [125] the contents of which are nearly the same with the other received from the Governour four days before dated the 3d inst. The following is an exact copy of it.

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“The Council met yesterday, and, considering the present state of our forces, and having reason to think that the French will be reinforced next spring, it was resolved, that the forces should immediately march over the Allegany mountains, either to dispossess the French of their fort, or build one in a proper place, that may be fixed upon by a council of war. Colonel Innes has my orders for executing the above affair. I am, therefore, now to order you to get your regiment completed to three hundred men, and I have no doubt, that you will be able to enlist what you are deficient of your number very soon, and march directly to Will’s Creek to join the other forces; and, that there may be no delay, I order you to march what companies you have complete, and leave orders with the officers remaining to follow you, as soon as they shall have enlisted men sufficient to make up their companies. You know the season of the year calls for despatch. I depend upon your former usual diligence and spirit to encourage your people to be active on this occasion. Consult with Major Carlyle what ammunition which may be wanted, that I may send it up immediately. I trust much to your diligence and despatch in getting your regiment to Will’s Creek as soon as possible.

“Colonel Innes will consult you in the appointment of officers for your regiment. Pray consider, if practicable, that, to send a party of Indians &c to destroy the corn at the fort and Logstown would be of great service to us, and a considerable disappointment to the enemy. I can say no more, but to press the despatch of your regiment to Will’s Creek, and that success may attend our arms and just expedition, is the sincere desire of, sir, yours &c.”1

Thus, Sir, you will see I am ordered, with the utmost despatch, to repair to Will’s Creek with the Edition: current; Page: [127] regiment; to do which, under the present circumstances, is as impracticable, as it is (as far as I can see into the thing) to dispossess the French of their fort; both of which, with our means, are morally impossible.

The Governor observes, that, considering the state of our forces at present, it is thought advisable to move out immediately to dispossess the French. Now that very reason, “the state of our forces,” is alone sufficiently opposed to the measure, without a large addition to them. Consider, I pray you, Sir, under what unhappy circumstances the men at present are; and their numbers, compared with those of the enemy, are so inconsiderable, that we should be harassed and drove from place to place at their pleasure. And to what end would the building of a fort be, unless we could proceed as far as Red-stone, where we should have to take water, and where the enemy can come with their artillery, &c., I cannot see, unless it be to secure a retreat, which we should have no occasion for, were we to go out in proper force and properly provided, which I aver cannot be done this fall; for, before our force can be collected, with proper stores of provisions, ammunition, working-tools, &c., it would bring on a season in which horses cannot travel over the mountains on account of snows, want of forage, slipperiness of the roads, high waters, &c. Neither can men, unused to that life, live there, without some other defence from the weather than tents. This I know of my own knowledge, as I was out last winter from the 1st of November till some time in January; Edition: current; Page: [128] and notwithstanding I had a good tent, was as properly prepared, and as well guarded, in every respect, as I could be against the weather, yet the cold was so intense, that it was scarcely supportable. I believe, out of the five or six men that went with me, three of them, though they were as well clad as they could be, were rendered useless by the frost, and were obliged to be left upon the road.

But the impossibility of supporting us with provisions is alone sufficient to discourage the attempt; for, were commissaries with sufficient funds to set about procuring provisions, and getting them out, it is not probable that enough can be conveyed out this fall to support us through the winter; for you are to consider, Sir, as I before observed, that the snows and hard frosts set in very early upon those mountains; and, as they are in many places almost inaccessible at all times, it is then more than horses can do to clamber up them. But allow that they could, for want of provender they will become weak and die upon the road, as ours did, though we carried corn with us for that purpose, and purchased from place to place. This reason holds good, also, against driving out live stock, which, if it could be done, would save some thousands of horse loads, that might be employed in carrying flour, which alone, (not to mention ammunition, tools, &c.) we shall find will require more horses, than at this present moment can be procured with our means.

His Honor also asks, whether it is practicable to destroy the corn at the fort and at Logstown? At Edition: current; Page: [129] this question I am a little surprised, when it is known we must pass the French fort and the Ohio to get to Logstown; and how this can be done with inferior numbers, under the disadvantages we labor, I see not; and, of the ground to hope, we may engage a sufficient party of Indians for this undertaking, I have no information, nor have I any conception; for it is well known, that notwithstanding the expresses, that the Indians sent to one another, and all the pains that Montour and Croghan (who, by vainly boasting of their interest with the Indians, involved the country in great calamity, by causing dependence to be placed where there was none,) could take, never could induce above thirty fighting men to join us, and not more than one half of those serviceable upon any occasion.1

I could make many other remarks equally true and pertinent; but to you, Sir, who, I am sensible, have acquired a pretty good knowledge of the country, and who see the difficulties that we labor under in getting proper necessaries, even at Winchester, it is needless. Therefore I shall only add some of the difficulties, which we are particularly subjected to in the Virginia regiment. And to begin, Sir, you are sensible of the sufferings our soldiers underwent in the last attempt, (in a good season) to take possession of the Fork of the Allegany and Monongahela. You also saw the disorders those sufferings produced among Edition: current; Page: [130] them at Winchester after they returned. They are yet fresh in their memories, and have an irritable effect. Through the indiscretion of Mr. Splitdorph, they got some intimation that they were again ordered out, and it immediately occasioned a general clamour, and caused six men to desert last night. This, we expect, will be the consequence every night, except prevented by close confinement.

In the next place, I have orders to complete my regiment, and not a 6d. is sent for that purpose. Can it be imagined, that subjects fit for this purpose, who have been so much impressed with, and alarmed at, our want of provisions, (which was a main objection to enlisting before,) will more readily engage now without money, than they did before with it? We were then from the 1st of February till the 1st of May, and could not complete our three hundred men by forty; and the officers suffered so much by having their recruiting expenses withheld, that they unanimously refuse to engage in that duty again, without they are refunded for the past, and a sufficient allowance made them in future. I have in the next place (to show the state of the regiment) sent you a report by which you will perceive what great deficiencies there are of men, arms, tents, kettles, screws (which was a fatal want before), bayonets, cartouch-boxes, &c., &c. Again, were our men ever so willing to go, for want of the proper necessaries of life they are unable to do it. The chief part are almost naked, and scarcely a man has either shoes, stockings, or hat. These things the merchants will not credit them for. Edition: current; Page: [131] The country has made no provision; they have not money themselves; and it cannot be expected, that the officers will engage for them again, personally, having suffered greatly already on this head; especially, now, when we have all the reason in the world to believe, they will desert whenever they have an opportunity. There is not a man that has a blanket to secure him from cold or wet. Ammunition is a material article, and that is to come from Williamsburg, or wherever the governor can procure it. An account must be first sent of the quantity which is wanted; this, added to the carriage up, with the necessary tools, &c., that must be had, as well as the time of bringing them round, will, I believe, advance us into that season, when it is usual, in more moderate climates, to retreat into winter-quarters, but here, with us, to begin a campaign.1

The promises of those traders, who offer to contract Edition: current; Page: [132] for large quantities of flour, are not to be depended upon; a most flagrant instance of which we experienced in Croghan, who was under obligation to Major Carlyle for the delivery of this article in a certain time, and who was an eyewitness to our wants; yet had the assurance, during our sufferings, to tantalize us, and boast of the quantity he could furnish, as he did of the number of horses he could command. Notwithstanding, we were equally disappointed of these also; for out of two hundred head he had contracted for, we never had above twenty-five employed in bringing the flour that was engaged for the camp; and even this, small as the quantity was, did not arrive within a month of the time it was to have been delivered.

Another thing worthy of consideration, is, that if we depend on Indian assistance, we must have a large quantity of proper Indian goods to reward their services, and make them presents. It is by this means Edition: current; Page: [133] alone, that the French command such an interest among them, and that we had so few. This, with the scarcity of provisions, was proverbial; would induce them to ask, when they were to join us, if we meant to starve them as well as ourselves. But I will have done, and only add assurances of the regard and affection with which I am, &c,

George Washington
Washington, George
20 August, 1754
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Mr. Peyroney, soliciting for leave to attend the Assembly, hoping to have some allowance made for his loss of cloathes &c, which he sustained in common with us all, and being not thoroughly cured of his wounds,1 which has hitherto rendered him unfit for duty, I thought it proper to indulge him in this request and he now comes for these purposes aforesaid. By him I again take the liberty of recommending to your Honor the great necessity there is of a regulation in the soldiers’ pay, and that a deduction be made for the country to furnish them with cloathes; otherwise they never will be fit for service. They are now naked, and can’t get credit even for a hat, and are teazing the officers every day to furnish them with these and other necessaries. Another thing, which should be fixed indisputably, is the law we are to be guided by, whether martial or military. If the former, I must beg the favour of your Honour to give me some written orders and indemnification; Edition: current; Page: [134] otherwise [I] cannot give my assent (as I am liable for all the proceedings) to any judgment of the martial court, that touches the life of a soldier; tho at this time there is absolute necessity for it, as the soldiers are deserting constantly, and yesterday, while we were at church, 25 of them collected, and were going off in the face of their officers, but were stopped and imprisoned before the plot came to its full height. Colonel Innes did not fill up any commissions for the Virginia regiment, which has given those that were entitled to promotion some uneasiness. His reasons were, it would be unnecessary expense to the country, till there were orders to recruit; but this, I think, should not have been considered, whilst it is remembered how small encouragement is shown them upon every occasion. Another motive, which, I believe, served to prevent it, was his dislike to the tenour of the commission, which savoured so much of the militia. He told me he would send down another for your approbation, and Colonel Fairfax has also taken another, both of which is greatly preferable to those by which we act. And here I must beg leave to acquaint your Honour, that the one you sent me is not signed. The officers are uneasy about their pay, and think it hard to be kept out of it so long. They hope your Honour will order that the dates of their commissions be from the vacancy’s that happened, of which I have enclosed a list for [your] information, hoping with them, your Honour will be kind enough to fill them up yourself, and send such commissions as were sent for precedents. Mr. West, lieutenant of Vanbraam’s company, has resigned his commission, Edition: current; Page: [135] which I herewith send. I also enclose a list of medicines, which the doctor desires may be procured for the use of the regiment. He solicits much for a mate, and I believe it necessary, as he often has more business than he can well manage, [if] there were a large detachment sent upon duty, it would be imprudent to go without the surgeon. If your Honour should think proper to promote Mr. Peyroney, we shall be at a loss for a good disciplinarian to do adjutant’s duty, which requires a perfect knowledge of all the kinds of duty. I should, therefore, take it extremely kind, if you would be pleased to confer the office upon Mr. Frazier, whom I think I can fully answer for, let his former conduct have been what it will.

We have catch’d two deserters, which I keep imprisoned till I receive your Honor’s answer how far the martial law may be extended, and it is necessary that an example be made of some, for warning to others; for there is scarce a night, or an opportunity, but what some or other are deserting, often two, or three, or four at a time. We always advertise and pursue them as quickly as possible, but seldom to any purpose. The expenses attending this will fall heavy upon the country while this spirit prevails. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
21st Aug’t, 1754
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Hon’ble Sir:

The bearer hereof, Mr. Wright,1 discovering an Inclination to the Art Military, and having, in some Measure, made it his Study, I have taken the liberty Edition: current; Page: [136] to recommend him to your Honour for one of the Vacancy’s in the Virginia regiment; this I do, with more assurance of succeeding, as Mr. Wright’s Character for good Sense and Sobriety will render him worthy the favor you may please to confer, and I dare venture to say, he will endeavor to deserve.

Yesterday Mr. Peyroney set off from this, who I hope will also meet with your Honour’s approbation and indulgence, as his behaviour has merited a reward from his Country (such he looks upon this to be). Mr. Campbell arriv’d Yesterday, after appointing the Musters for the Northern Neck. I was not a little surprised to hear him say he was to have the Half of my Salary, especially when he at the same time gave me to understand he expected it was the half of the £70, exclusive of the £30 which he has for his two County’s, which is near a third of what I get for the whole 11 Countys—a great disproportion this. I hope your Honour gave Mr. Campbell no room to expect this, for I think it exceeding hard that I shou’d give so much more for a deputy than others, especially when the duty is much easier. For the Middle district, which has 10 Countys, Muse gives but £40. Colo. Thornton gives yet less for his, while I, by Mr. Campbell’s account, is to give £65 or at any Rate £50. I hope, if your Honour is kind enough to continue me in that office, You will not oblige me to give such an exorbitant allowance to a Person, who by all acc’t, knows nothing of the duty he has undertaken. I can get a Person whom I have taken great pains myself to teach, and who is Edition: current; Page: [137] perfectly acquainted with every part of the Service, to do the duty of the whole for the same that others give, and I shou’d be very glad for the sake of having the Countys kept in tolerable discipline, and for the favour of obliging me, your Honour, wou’d indulge me in this, as I will engage it shall turn more to the Public advantage, whose Interest I am certain from well founded Reasons, you espouse, preferable to that of private. I must again mention Mr. Frazier as a person we shall much need if Mr. Peyroney is promoted, as I hope he will [be].

George Washington
Washington, George
15 November, 1754
Colonel William Fitzhugh
Fitzhugh, Colonel William


Dear Sir,

I was favored with your letter from Rousley Hall, of the 4th instant. It demands my best acknowledgments Edition: current; Page: [138] for the particular marks of esteem you have expressed therein, and for the kind assurances of his Excellency Governor Sharpe’s good wishes towards me. I also thank you, and sincerely, Sir, for your friendly intention of making my situation easy, if I return to the service; and do not doubt, could I submit to the terms, that I should be as happy under your command in the absence of the General, as under any gentleman’s whatever. But I think the disparity between the present offer of a company and my former rank too great, to expect any real satisfaction or enjoyment in a corps, where I once did, or thought I had a right to, command; even if his Excellency had power to suspend the orders received in the Secretary of War’s letter; which, by the by, I am very far from thinking he either has, or will attempt to do, without fuller instructions than I believe he has; especially, too, as there has been a representation of this matter by Governour Dinwiddie, and, I believe, the Assembly of this State. We have advices that it was received before Demmarree obtained his letter.

All that I presume the General can do, is, to prevent the different corps from interfering, which will occasion the duty to be done by corps, instead Edition: current; Page: [139] of detachments; a very inconvenient way, as is found by experience.1

You make mention in your letter of my continuing in the service, and retaining my colonel’s commission. This idea has filled me with surprise; for, if you think me capable of holding a commission, that has neither rank or emolument annexed to it, you must entertain a very contemptible opinion of my weakness, and believe me to be more empty than the commission itself.

Besides, Sir, if I had time, I could enumerate many good reasons, that forbid all thoughts of my returning; and which to you, or any other, would, upon the strictest scrutiny, appear to be well founded. I must be reduced to a very low command, and subjected to that of many, who have acted as my inferior officers. In short, every captain, bearing the King’s commission, every half-pay officer, or others appearing with such commission, would rank before me. For these reasons I choose to submit to the loss of health, which I have, however, already sustained, (not to mention the effects,) and the fatigue I have undergone in our first efforts, than subject myself to the same inconveniences, and run the risk of a second disappointment.

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I shall have the consolation of knowing, that I have opened the way, when the smallness of our numbers exposed us to the attacks of a superior enemy; that I have hitherto stood the heat and brunt of the day, and escaped untouched in time of extreme danger; and that I have the thanks of my country, for the services I have rendered it.

It shall not sleep in silence, my having received information that those peremptory orders from home, which you say could not be dispensed with, for reducing the regiments into Independent Companies, were generated, hatched and brought from Will’s Creek. Ingenuous treatment and plain dealing I at least expected.1 It is to be hoped the project will answer; it shall meet with my acquiescence in every thing except personal services. I herewith enclose Governour Sharpe’s letter, which I beg you will return to him, with my acknowledgments for the favour he intended me. Assure him, Sir, as you truly may, of my reluctance to quit the service, and of the pleasure I should have received in attending his fortunes. Also inform him, that it was to obey the call of honour, and the advice of my friends, I declined it, and not to gratify any desire I had to Edition: current; Page: [141] leave the military line. My inclinations are strongly bent to arms.

The length of this, and the small room I have left, tell me how necessary it is to conclude; which I will do, as you always shall find

Truly and sincerely your most humble servant


George Washington
Washington, George
15 March, 1755
Mount Vernon
Robert Orme
Orme, Robert



I was not favored with your polite letter, of the 2d inst., until yesterday; acquainting me with the notice his Excellency, General Braddock,1 is pleased to honor me with, by kindly inviting me to become Edition: current; Page: [142] one of his family the ensuing campaign. It is true, Sir, that I have, ever since I declined my late command, expressed an inclination to serve the ensuing campaign as a volunteer; and this inclination is not a little increased, since it is likely to be conducted by a gentleman of the General’s experience.

But, besides this, and the laudable desire I may have to serve, with my best abilities, my King and country, I must be ingenuous enough to confess, that I am not a little biassed by selfish considerations. To explain, Sir, I wish earnestly to attain some knowledge in the military profession, and, believing a more favorable opportunity cannot offer, than to serve under a gentleman of General Braddock’s abilities and experience, it does, as you may reasonably suppose, not a little contribute to influence my choice. But, Sir, as I have taken the liberty to express my sentiments so freely, I shall beg your indulgence while I add, that the only bar, which can check me in the pursuit of this object, is the inconveniences Edition: current; Page: [143] that must necessarily result from some proceedings which happened a little before the General’s arrival, and which, in some measure, had abated the ardor of my desires, and determined me to lead a life of retirement, into which I was just entering, at no small expense, when your favour was presented to me.

But, as I shall do myself the honor of waiting upon his Excellency, as soon as I hear of his arrival at Alexandria, (and would sooner, were I certain where to find him,) I shall decline saying any thing further on this head till then; begging you will be pleased to assure him, that I shall always retain a grateful sense of the favour with which he is pleased to honor me, and that I should have embraced this opportunity of writing to him, had I not recently addressed a congratulatory letter to him on his safe arrival in this country. I flatter myself you will favour me in making a communication of these sentiments.

You do me a singular favour, in proposing an acquaintance. It cannot but be attended with the most flattering prospects of intimacy on my part, as you may already perceive, by the familiarity and freedom with which I now enter upon this correspondence; a freedom, which, even if it is disagreeable, you must excuse, as I may lay the blame of it at your door, for encouraging me to throw off that restraint, which otherwise might have been more obvious in my deportment on such an occasion.

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The hope of shortly seeing you will be an excuse for my not adding more, than that I shall endeavour to approve myself worthy of your friendship, and that I beg to be esteemed your most obedient servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 April, 1755
Mount Vernon
Robert Orme
Orme, Robert


Dear Sir,

The arrival of a good deal of company (among whom is my mother, alarmed at the report of my intentions to attend your fortunes,) prevents me the pleasure of waiting upon you to-day, as I had intended.1 I therefore beg, that you will be kind enough to make my compliments and excuse to the General, who I hope to hear is greatly recovered from his indisposition, and recruited sufficiently to prosecute his journey to Annapolis.

I find myself much embarrassed with my affairs, having no person in whom I can confide, to entrust the management of them with. Notwithstanding, I am determined to do myself the honour of accompanying you, upon this proviso, that the General will be kind enough to permit my return, as soon as the active part of the campaign is at an end, if it is desired; or, if there should be a space of inaction, long enough to admit a visit to my home, that I may be indulged in coming to it.

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I need not add, how much I should be obliged by joining you at Will’s Creek, instead of doing it at an earlier period and place.1

These things, Sir, in whatever light they may appear to you at first sight, will not, I hope, be thought unreasonable, when it is considered how unprepared I am at present to quit a family, and an estate I was just about to settle, and which is in the utmost confusion.

I have enclosed you a letter from Colonel Fairfax to Governor Shirley, which, with his compliments, he desired might be given to that gentleman. He also sends his blessing to you, and desires that by being a good boy you may merit more of them. At present he entertains sanguine hopes of you; this for your comfort.

I herewith send you a small map of the back country, which, though imperfect and roughly drawn, for want of proper instruments, may give you a better knowledge of the parts designated, than you have hitherto had an opportunity of acquiring.

I shall do myself the honour of waiting upon the General as soon as I hear of his return from Annapolis. My compliments attend him, Mr. Shirley, &c., and I am, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
20 April, 1755
Mount Vernon
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Sir,

I little expected, when I wrote you last, that I should so soon engage in another campaign; but, in doing it, I may be allowed to claim some merit, if it is considered that the sole motive, which invites me to the field, is the laudable desire of serving my country, and not the gratification of any ambitious or lucrative plans. This, I flatter myself, will manifestly appear by my going a volunteer, without expectation of reward, or prospect of attaining a command, as I am confidently assured it is not in General Braddock’s power to give a commission that I would accept. Perhaps with many others the above declaration might be construed into self-applause, which, unwilling to lose, I proclaim myself. But by you, Sir, I expect it will be viewed in a different light, because you have sympathized in my disappointments, and lent your friendly aid to reinstate me in a suitable command; the recollection of which can never be lost upon a mind, that is not insensible of, but always ready to acknowledge obligations.

This is the reason why I am so much more unreserved in the expression of my sentiments to you, than I should be to the world, whose censures and criticisms often place good designs in a bad light. But, to be ingenuous, I must confess I had other intentions in writing you this letter; for, if there is any merit in my case, I am unwilling to lose it among Edition: current; Page: [147] my friends, who, without this exposition of facts, might conceive that some advantageous offers had engaged my services, when, in reality, the case is otherwise, for I expect to be a considerable loser in my private affairs by going. It is true I have been importuned to make this campaign by General Braddock, as a member of his family, conceiving, I suppose, that the small knowledge I have had an opportunity of acquiring of the country, Indians, &c., was worthy of his notice, and might be useful to him in the progress of this expedition.

Colo. Carter Burwell,1 last Assembly, upon hearing that I had lost 50 odd pounds, during my acting as paymaster, desired I would petition the Committee of War, to have it refunded: assuring me, at the same time, that he would use his endeavors that the matter should be attended to. I declined it then, thinking it might not be well received as I had been allowed a commission. But if he should propose it at a future meeting, and it does not appear to carry with it the face of unreasonableness, I hope you will do me the favour to second him.

2I must own, after meeting with the indulgencies I did, I should not have asked this, had it not been proposed by a member; and had I not been so considerable a loser in the service, in valuable papers, clothing, horses and several other things, some of Edition: current; Page: [148] which, and of no inconsiderable value, I carried out entirely for the publick use, and forbore mentioning of it before, as I knew you were greatly pestered with complaints of this sort from officers that were less able to bear them, tho’ more inconsiderable than mine. For I had unfortunately got my baggage from Will’s Creek but a few days before the engagement, in which I also had a valuable servant wounded, who died soon after. I thought it expedient just to mention these facts, that you might turn them to any advantage you see proper, or to drop it altogether, if you think the application is at all improper. I heartily wish a happy issue to all your resolves, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 April, 1755
Mount Vernon
William Byrd
Byrd, William


Dear Sir,

I am sorry it was not in my power to wait upon you at Westover last Christmas. I enjoyed much satisfaction in the thought of doing it, when an unexpected accident put it entirely out of my power to comply either with my promise or inclination, both of which prompted me to make the visit.

I am now preparing for, and shall in a few days set off, to serve in the ensuing campaign, with different views, however, from those I had before. For here, if I can gain any credit, or if I am entitled to the least countenance and esteem, it must be from serving my country without fee or reward; for I can truly say, I have no expectation of either. To merit Edition: current; Page: [149] its esteem, and the good will of my friends, is the sum of my ambition, having no prospect of attaining a commission, being well assured it is not in Gen’l. Braddock’s power to give such an one as I would accept of. The command of a Company is the highest commission vested in his gift. He was so obliging as to desire my company this campaign, has honoured me with particular marks of his esteem, and kindly invited me into his family—a circumstance which will ease me of expences that otherwise must have accrued in furnishing stores, camp equipage, &c, whereas the cost will now be easy (comparatively speaking), as baggage, horses, tents, and some other necessaries, will constitute the whole of the charge.

Yet to have a family just settling, and in the confusion and disorder mine is in at present, is not a pleasing thing and may be hurtful. But be this as it may, it shall be no hindrance to my making this campaign.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 April, 1755
Mount Vernon
William Fairfax
Fairfax, William


Dear Sir,

I cannot think of quitting Fairfax,1 without embracing this last opportunity of bidding you farewell. I shall this day set off for Will’s Creek, where I expect to meet the General, and to stay, I fear, too long, as our march must be regulated by the slow movements of the train; which, I am sorry to say, will be tedious, very tedious indeed, as I have long Edition: current; Page: [150] predicted, though few believed. Alexandria has been honored with five governors in consultation; a favorable presage, I hope, not only of the success of this expedition, but of the future greatness of this town; for surely such a meeting must have been occasioned by the commodious and pleasant situation of this place, which prognosticates population, and the increase of a (now) flourishing trade.1

I have had the honor to be introduced to the several governors, and of being well received by them all; especially Mr. Shirley, whose character and appearance have perfectly charmed me, as I think his every word and action discover in him the gentleman and politician. I heartily wish the same unanimity may prevail amongst us, as appeared to exist between him and his Assembly, when they, to expedite the business, and to forward his journey hither, sat till eleven and twelve o’clock every night.

It will be needless, as I know your punctuality requires no stimulus, to remind you of an affair, about which I wrote some time ago; therefore I shall only beg my compliments to Mr. Nicholas and his lady, and to all friends who think me worthy of their inquiries. I am, &c.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
5 May, 1755
William Fairfax
Fairfax, William


Dear Sir,

I overtook the General at Frederick Town, in Maryland. From thence we proceeded to this place, where we shall remain till the arrival of the second division of the train, (which we hear left Alexandria on Tuesday last). After that, we shall continue our march to Will’s Creek; from whence, it is imagined, we shall not stir till the latter end of this month, for want of wagons and other conveniences to transport our baggage &c. over the mountains.

You will naturally conclude, that to pass through Maryland, (when no object required it,) was an uncommon, and extraordinary route for the General and Colonel Dunbar’s regiment to this place. The reason, however, was obvious. Those who promoted it had rather that the communication should be opened that way, than through Virginia; but I believe the eyes of the General are now open, and the imposition detected; consequently, the like will not happen again.1 Please to make my compliments Edition: current; Page: [152] to Colo. G. to whom I shall write by the next opportunity, and excuse haste. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 May, 1755
John A. Washington
Washington, John A.


Dear Brother,

A very fatiguing ride and long round about, brought me to the General (the day I parted with you) at Frederick-Town. This is a small village, 15 miles below the Blue Ridge on the Maryland side of the Potowmack. From thence we proceeded to this place, where we have halted since Saturday last, and shall depart for Will’s-Creek to-morrow. I find there is no probability of marching the army from Will’s Creek, ’till the latter end of this month, or the first of next. You may easily guess, then, how heavily time will hang upon my hands.

I have met with much complaisance in this family, especially from the General, whom I hope to please without ceremonious attentions or difficulty; for, I may add, it cannot be done with them, as he uses and requires less ceremony than you can easily conceive.2

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I have ordered the horse Gist, to Bullskin, and my own here, if serviceable, otherwise you must have both carried down, when Countess is sent up. I have conceived a good opinion of the horse Gist; therefore, I hope you will not let him want for proper care and good usage, if he should be sent instead of the grey’s, which will be the case if they are able to perform the journey.

I hope you will have frequent opportunities to particularize the state of my affairs, which will administer much satisfaction to a person in my situation. At present I have nothing to add, but my compliments to all friends, particularly to the worthy family at Belvoir, who I hope are in good health.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 May, 1755
Fort Cumberland
Major John Carlyle
Carlyle, Major John



I overtook the General at Frederick-Town in Maryland, and proceeded with him, by way of Winchester, to this place,1 which gave him a good opportunity to see the absurdity of the route, and of damning it very heartily. Colo. Dunbar’s regiment was also obliged to recross at Connogogee, and come down within six miles of Winchester, to take the new road to Will’s Creek: which, from the absurdity of it, was laughable enough.

We are to halt here ’till forage can be brought from Philadelphia, which I suppose will introduce the month of June; and then we are to proceed upon our Edition: current; Page: [154] tremendous undertaking of transporting the heavy artillery over the mountains, which, I believe, will compose the greatest difficulty of the campaign. For as to any apprehensions of the enemy, I think they are more to be provided against than regarded, as I fancy the French will be obliged to draw their force from the Ohio to repel the attacks in the north, under the command of Governour Shirley &c, who will make three different attempts immediately.1 * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
14 May, 1755
Fort Cumberland


Dear Madam:

I have at last with great pains and difficulty discovered the reason why Mrs. Wardrope is a greater favorite of Genl. Braddock than Mrs. F—x, and met with more respect at the review in Alexandria. The cause I shall communicate, after having rallied you upon neglecting the means which produced the effect. And what do you think they were? why, nothing less, I assure you, than a present of delicious cake and potted wood-cocks! which so affected the palate as to leave a deep impression upon the hearts of all who tasted of them. How, then, could the General do otherwise than admire, not only the charms, but the politeness, of this lady!

We have a favourable prospect of halting here three weeks or a month longer, for waggons, horses and forage; it is easy to conceive, therefore, that my situation will not be very pleasant and agreeable, Edition: current; Page: [155] when I dreaded this (before I came out) more than all the other incidents which might happen during the campaign. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
14 May, 1755
Fort Cumberland
John A. Washington
Washington, John A.


Dear Brother,

As wearing boots is quite the mode, and mine are in a declining state, I must beg the favor of you to procure me a pair that is good and neat, and send them to Major Carlyle, who, I hope, will contrive [to forward] them, as quickly as my necessity requires.

I see no prospect of moving from this place soon, as we have neither horses nor wagons enough, and no forage for them to subsist upon, except what is expected from Philadelphia; therefore, I am well convinced, that the trouble and difficulty we must encounter in passing the mountain, for want of proper conveniences, will equal all the other difficulties of the campaign; for I conceive the march of such a train of artillery in these roads, to be a tremendous undertaking. As to any danger from the enemy, I look upon it as trifling, for I believe the French will be obliged to exert their utmost force to repel the attacks to the northward, where Governour Shirley and others, with a body of 8,000 men, will annoy their settlements, and attempt their forts.

The General has appointed me one of his aids-decamp,1 in which character I shall serve this campaign Edition: current; Page: [156] agreeably enough, as I am thereby freed from all commands but his, and give his orders to all, which must be implicitly obeyed.

I have now a good opportunity, and shall not neglect it, of forming an acquaintance, which may be serviceable hereafter, if I find it worth while to push my fortune in the military line.

I have wrote to my two female correspondents1 by this opportunity, one of which letters I have enclosed to you, and beg your deliverance of it. I shall expect a particular account of all that has happened since my departure.

I am, dear Jack,
Your most affectionate brother.2

I was sent to Colo. Hunter3 for a supply of money, £4,000 sterlg. and arrived, as far as Winchester, on my way thither, on the day following, from whence I dispatched an express to him (fearing he might be out) to provide that sum, and to meet me with it at Williamsburgh. Proceeded myself thro’ Fairfax, where I was detained a day in getting horses.

At Claybourn’s Ferry (the 22d) I met the express I had sent, as he was returning, who brought a verbal message from Governour Dinwiddie, informing me that Colo. Hunter was gone to the northward, and that I would certainly be disappointed in my expectations of money: with this I acquainted Capt. Orme by letter, and proceeded on to Williamsburgh, where I arrived the same day, and met a Mr. Belfour, the partner of Colo. Hunter, with nearly the sum Edition: current; Page: [157] desired, which was completed the next day time enough for me to reach Chissel’s ordinary on my return. The 27th I arrived at Winchester, and expected to have met the troop of light-horse to escort me to the camp; but being disappointed in that, I engaged a guard of the militia, with which I set out on the 29th following, and arrived at the camp the 30th.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 May, 1755
John A. Washington
Washington, John A.


Dear Brother,

I came to this place last night, and was greatly disappointed in not finding the cavalry, according to promise. I am obliged to wait ’till it does arrive, or ’till I can procure a Guard from the militia, either of which, I suppose, will detain me two days, as you may with (almost) equal success, attempt to raise the dead, as the force of this country! and that from Will’s Creek, cannot be expected in less than the forementioned time, without they are now upon their march.

The drought in this Country, if possible, exceeds what we see below; so that it is very reasonably conjectured, they won’t make corn to supply the inhabitants: and as for tobacco, they have given up the expectation of making any.

The inhabitants of this place abound in news; but as I apprehend it is founded upon as bare a foundation as some I heard on my way down, I think it advisable to forego the recital, till a little better authority confirms the report. Then you may expect to have a narrative of it.

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I should be glad to hear that you live in perfect harmony and good fellowship with the family at Belvoir, as it is in their power to be very serviceable upon many occasions to us, as young beginners. I would advise your visiting there often, as one step towards it; the rest, if any more is necessary, your own good sense will sufficiently dictate—for to that family I am under many obligations, particularly to the old gentleman.

Mrs Fairfax and Mrs Spearing having expressed a wish to be informed of the time and manner of my reaching this place (with my charge), you may acquaint them that I met with no other interruption than what proceeded from the difficulty of getting horses. After Mrs. F—x’s grew lame, I was obliged to get a fresh one every 15 or 20 miles, which rendered the journey tedious. I should have been more refreshed from the fatigues of my journey, and my time would have been spent much more agreeably, had I halted below, instead of being delayed in this place; but I little imagined I should have had occasion to wait for a guard, which ought to have waited for me—if either must have waited at all. * * *

P. S. As I understand the County of Fairfax is to be divided, and that Mr. Alexander intends to decline serving it. I should be glad if you could come at Colo. Fairfax’s intentions, and let me know whether he purposes to offer himself as a candidate. If he does not, I should be glad to take a poll, if I thought my chance tolerably good.

Majr. Carlyle mentioned it to me in Williamsburgh Edition: current; Page: [159] in a bantering way, and asked how I would like it, saying, at the same time, he did not know but they might send me, when I might know nothing of the matter, for one or t’other of the counties. I must confess I should like to go for either in that manner, but more particularly for Fairfax, as I am a resident there.

I should be glad if you could discover Maj. Carlyle’s real sentiments on this head; also those of Mr. Dalton, Ramsay, Mason, &c, which I hope and think you may do without disclosing much of mine, as I know your own good sense can furnish you with contrivances.

If you should attempt any thing in this matter, pray let me know by the first opportunity how you have succeeded in it, and how those gentlemen stand affected. If they seem inclinable to promote my interest, and things should be drawing to a crisis, you then may declare my intentions, and beg their assistance. If, on the contrary, you find them more inclined to favour some other, I would have the affair entirely dropped.

The Revd. Mr. Green’s and Capt. McCarty’s interests in this matter would be of consequence, and I should be glad if you could sound their pulse upon that occasion. Conduct the whole ’till you are satisfied of the sentiments of those I have mentioned, with an air of indifference and unconcern; after that, you may regulate your conduct accordingly to circumstances.

Capt. West, the present Burgess, and our friend Edition: current; Page: [160] Jack West, could also be serviceable, if they had a mind to assist the interest of, Dear Jack, Your loving brother.

Upon my return from Williamsburgh, I found that Sr. John St. Clair, with Maj. Chapman and a detachment of 500 men, had marched to the Little Meadows, in order to prepare the roads, establish a small post, and to lay a deposit of provisions there. The 2d of June Mr. Spendelow discovered a communication from Fort Cumberland to the old road, leading to the crossing of the Youghiogany, avoiding the enormous mountain which had proved so destructive to our waggon-horses. This communication was opened along a branch of Will’s Creek, and finished by the 7th, when Sr. Peter Halket, with the First Brigade of the Line, began its march, and encamped within a mile of the old road (which is about 5 miles from the Fort) the same day. This encampment was first called Grove Camp, but was afterwards altered to that of Spendelow’s Camp.

This day also, Captn. Gates’s Independent company, the remaining companies of the Provincial troops, and the whole park of artillery, were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march at an hour’s warning, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Burton: and they accordingly did so on the 9th following, but with great difficulty got up to Sir Peter Halket’s brigade at Grove, or Spendelow’s camp, the same day.

This march, from the number of waggons, occasioned a council of war to be held upon the arrival of the General (with Colo. Dunbar’s regiment) at this camp. In this council it was determined to retrench the number of waggons, and to increase the transportation by pack-horses. In order thereto, the officers were called together, and the Genl. represented to them the necessity there was to procure all the horses possible for His Majesty’s service, advised Edition: current; Page: [161] them to send back such of their baggage as they could do without and apply the horses (which by that means could be spared) to carry provisions for the army. This they accordingly did with great cheerfulness and zeal.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 June, 1755
Will’s Creek
William Fairfax
Fairfax, William


Honble. Sir,

I arrived with my charge safe in camp, the 30th of last month, after waiting a day and piece in Winchester, expecting the cavalry to escort me up; in which being disappointed, I was obliged to make use of a small guard of the militia of Frederick county.1

The General, by frequent breaches of contract, has lost all patience; and, for want of that temper and moderation, which should be used by a man of sense upon these occasions, will, I fear, represent us in a light we little deserve; for, instead of blaming the individuals, as he ought, he charges all his disappointments to publick supineness, and looks upon the country, I believe, as void of honour and honesty. We have frequent disputes on this head, which are maintained with warmth on both sides, especially on his, who is incapable of arguing without, or giving up any point he asserts, let it be ever so incompatible with reason or common sense.2

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There is a line of communication to be opened from Pennsylvania to the French fort Duquesne, along which we are to receive, after a little time, all our convoys of provisions, &c., &c., and to give all manner of encouragement to a people, who ought rather to be chastised for their insensibility to danger, and disregard of their sovereign’s expectation. They, it seems, are to be the favoured people, because they have furnished what their absolute interest alone induced them to do, i. e., 150 wagons, and an equivalent number of horses.1

Major Chapman, with a detachment of 500 men, Edition: current; Page: [163] and the Quartermaster-General, marched two or three days before I arrived here, to open the roads, and lay a deposite of provisions in a small fort, which they are to erect at the Little Meadows.

To-morrow, Sir Peter Halket, (with the first brigade,) is to begin their march, and on Monday the General, with the second, will follow. One hospital is filled with sick, and the numbers increase daily, with the bloody flux, which has not yet proved mortal to many.

General Innes has accepted of a Commission to be Governour of Fort Cumberland, where he is to reside; and will shortly receive another to be hangman, or something of that kind, and for which he is equally qualified.

By a letter received from Governor Morris, of Pennsylvania, we have advice, that a party of three hundred men passed Oswego on their way to Fort Duquesne, and that another and larger detachment was expected to pass that place every moment. By the public accounts from Pennsylvania, we are assured, that nine hundred men have certainly passed Oswego to reinforce the French on Ohio; so that from these accounts we have reason to believe, that we shall have more to do than to go up the hills and come down.

We are impatient to hear what the powers at home are doing; whether peace, or war is like to be the issue of all these preparations.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
28 June, 1755
John A. Washington
Washington, John A.


Dear Brother,

Immediately upon our leaving the camp at George’s Creek, on the 14th instant, (from whence I wrote to you,) I was seized with violent fevers and pains in my head, which continued without intermission ’till the 23d following, when I was relieved, by the General’s absolutely ordering the physicians to give me Dr. James’s powders, (one of the most excellent medicines in the world,) for it gave me immediate ease, and removed my fevers and other complaints in four days’ time.2 My illness was too violent to suffer me to ride; therefore I was indebted to a covered wagon for some part of my transportation; but even in this, I could not continue far, for the jolting was so great, that I was left upon the road with a guard, and necessaries, to wait the arrival of Colonel Dunbar’s detachment, which was two days’ march Edition: current; Page: [165] behind us, the General giving me his word of honor, that I should be brought up, before he reached the French fort. This promise, and the doctor’s threats, that, if I persevered in my attempts to get on, in the condition I was, my life would be endangered, determined me to halt for the above detachment.

As the communication between this and Will’s Creek must soon be too dangerous for single persons to pass, it will render the intercourse of letters slow and precarious; therefore I shall attempt (and will go through if I have strength) to give you an account of our proceedings, of our situation, and of our prospects at present; which I desire you will communicate to Colonel Fairfax, and others, my correspondents, for I am too weak to write more than this letter. In the letter, which I wrote to you from George’s Creek, I acquainted you, that, unless the number of wagons was retrenched, and the carrying-horses increased, we never should be able to see Duquesne.1 This, in two days afterwards (which was about the time they got to the Little Meadows, with some of their foremost wagons, and strongest teams), they themselves were convinced of; for they found, that, besides the (almost) impossibility of getting the wagons along at all, they had often a rear of three or four miles in length; and that the soldiers Edition: current; Page: [166] guarding them were so dispersed, that, if we had been attacked either in front, center, or rear, the part so attacked must have been cut off, or totally routed, before they could be sustained by any other corps.

At the Little Meadows there was a second council1 called (for there had been one before), wherein it was again represented to the officers of the different corps, the urgency for horses, and how laudable a farther retrenchment of their baggage would be, that the spare ones might be turned over for public service. In order to encourage this, I gave up my best horse, (which I have never heard of since,) and took no more baggage than half my portmanteau would easily contain. It is said, however, that the numbers reduced by this second attempt were only from two hundred and ten or twelve, to two hundred, which had no perceivable effect.

The General, (before they met in council,) asked my private opinion concerning the expedition. I urged it, in the warmest terms I was able, to push forward, if we even did it with a small but chosen band, with such artillery and light stores as were absolutely necessary; leaving the heavy artillery, baggage, &c. with the rear division of the army, to follow by slow and easy marches, which they might do safely, while we were advanced in front. As one reason to support Edition: current; Page: [167] this opinion, I urged, that, if we could credit our intelligence, the French were weak at the Forks at present, but hourly expected reinforcements, which, to my certain knowledge, could not arrive with provisions, or any supplies, during the continuance of the drought which we were then experiencing as the Buffalo River (Rivière aux Bœufs), down which was their only communication to Venango, must be as dry as we now found the Great Crossing of the Youghiogany, which may be passed dry-shod.

This advice prevailed, and it was determined that the General, with one thousand two hundred chosen men and officers from all the different corps, under the following field officers, viz.; Sir Peter Halket, who acts as brigadier; Lieutenant-Colonel Gage, Lieutenant-Colonel Burton, and Major Sparke, with such a certain number of wagons as the train would absolutely require, should march as soon as things could be got in readiness for them, which was completed, and we on our march, by the 19th, leaving Colonel Dunbar and Major Chapman, with the residue of the two regiments, some Independent Companies, most of the women, and, in short, every thing not absolutely necessary behind, carrying our provisions and other necessaries upon horses.

We set out with less than thirty carriages (including those that transported the ammunition for the howitzers, twelve-pounders, and six-pounders, etc.), and all of them strongly horsed; which was a prospect that conveyed infinite delight to my mind, though I was excessively ill at the time. But this prospect Edition: current; Page: [168] was soon clouded, and my hopes brought very low indeed, when I found that instead of pushing on with vigor, without regarding a little rough road, they were halting to level every molehill, and to erect bridges over every brook, by which means we were four days getting twelve miles.

At this camp I was left by the Doctor’s advice, and the General’s absolute orders, as I have already mentioned, without which I should not have been prevailed upon to remain behind; as I then imagined, and now believe, I shall find it no easy matter to join my own corps again, which is twenty-five miles advanced before us. Notwithstanding, I had the General’s word of honor, pledged in the most solemn manner, that I should be brought up before he arrived at Fort Duquesne. They have had frequent alarms, and several men have been scalped; but this is done with no other design than to retard the march, and to harass the men, who, if they are to be turned out every time a small party attacks the guards at night (for I am certain they have not sufficient force to make a serious assault), their ends will be accomplished by the gaining of time.

I have been now six days with Colonel Dunbar’s corps, who are in a miserable condition for want of horses, not having enough for their wagons; so that the only method he has of proceeding, is to march with as many wagons as those will draw, and then halt till the remainder are brought up with the same horses, which requires two days more; and shortly, I believe, he will not be able to stir at all. But there Edition: current; Page: [169] has been vile management in regard to horses, and while I am mentioning this, I must not forget to desire that you will acquaint Colonel George Fairfax, that I have made the most diligent enquiry after his man and horses, but can hear nothing of either, at least nothing that can be credited.

I was told that the fellow was taken ill upon the road, while he was with Sir John St. Clair’s detachment. The certainty of this I cannot answer for, but believe there is nothing more certain than that he is not with any part of the army; and unless the horses stray, and make home themselves, I believe there is a thousand to one, against his ever seeing them again: for I gave up a horse only one day, and never could see or hear of him afterwards.

My strength wont admit me to say more, though I have not said half what I intended concerning our affairs here. Business I shall not think of, but depend solely upon your management of all my affairs, not doubting but that they will be well conducted.

You may thank my friends for the letters I have received from them, which, tell them, has not been one from any mortal since I left Fairfax, except yourself and Mr. Dalton. It is a specimen of their regard and kindness which I should endeavor to acknowledge and thank them for, was I able and suffered to write. All your letters to me I would have sent to Mr. Cocks, of Winchester, or to Governor Innes, at Fort Cumberland, that I may have the better chance of their coming safe to hand. Make my compliments to all who think me worthy of their enquiries.

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July 2d.—A serious inconvenience attended me in my sickness, and that was the losing the use of my servant; for poor John Alton was taken about the same time that I was, and with nearly the same disorder, and was confined as long; so that we did not see each other for several days. He is also tolerably well recovered.

We are advanced almost as far as the Great Meadows, and I shall set out to-morrow morning for my own corps, with an escort of one hundred men, which is to guard some provisions up, so that my fears and doubts on that head are now removed.

I had a letter yesterday from Orme, who writes me word, that they have passed the Youghiogany for the last time; that they have sent out parties to scour the country thereabouts, and have reason to believe the French are greatly alarmed at their approach.

George Washington
Washington, George
30 June, 1755
Great Crossing
Robert Orme
Orme, Robert


Dear Orme,

I came to this camp on Thursday last, with the rear of Colonel Dunbar’s detachment, and should have continued on with his front to-day, but was prevented by rain.

My fevers are very moderate, and, I hope, near terminating; when I shall have nothing to encounter but weakness, which is excessive, and the difficulty of getting to you, arising therefrom; but this I would not miss doing, before you reach Duquesne, for five Edition: current; Page: [171] hundred pounds. However, I have no doubt now of doing this, as I am moving on slowly, and the General has given me his word of honor, in the most solemn manner, that it shall be effected.

As the Doctor thinks it imprudent for me to use much exercise for two or three days, it will retard the rapidity of my movements. Therefore, I should be glad to be advised of your marches from Gist’s, and how you are likely to get on, for you may rest assured that Colonel Dunbar cannot move from his present encampment in less than two or three days; and I believe, really, it will be as much as he possibly can do to reach the Meadows at all, so that you will be greatly advanced before him.

I am too weak to add more than my compliments to the General, the family, &c. and again to desire, that you will oblige me in the above request, and devise the most effectual means for me to join you. I am, dear Orme, your most obedient servant.1

The 8th of July I rejoined (in a covered waggon) the advanced division of the army, under the immediate command of the General. On the 9th I attended him on horse-back, tho’ very weak and low. On this day he was attacked, and defeated, by a party of French and Indians, adjudged not to exceed 300. When all hope of rallying the dismayed troops and recovering the ground, was expired (our provisions and stores being given up) I was ordered to Dunbar’s camp.

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George Washington
Washington, George
15 July, 1755
Little Meadows
Governor Innes
Governor Innes



Captain Orme, being confined to his litter, and not well able to write, has desired me to acknowledge the receipt of yours. He begs the favor of you to have the room that the General lodged in prepared for Colonel Burton, himself, and Captain Morris, who are all wounded; also, that some small place may be had convenient for cooking; and, if any fresh provision, and other suitable necessaries for persons in their condition, may be had, that you will be kind enough to engage them. He also begs that you will order the present which was sent by Governor Morris to the General and his family, in the care of Mr. A. le Roy, the steward, who is sent on for that and other purposes.2

The horses, that carry the wounded gentlemen in litters, are so much fatigued, that we dread their performance; therefore, it is desired that you will be kind enough to send out eight or ten fresh horses for their relief, which will enable us to reach the fort this evening.

I doubt not but you have had an account of the poor General’s death by some of the affrighted wagoners, who ran off, without taking leave. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant.

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George Washington
Washington, George
18 July, 1755
Fort Cumberland
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honbl. Sir,

As I am favored with an opportunity, I should think myself inexcusable was I to omit giving you some account of our late Engagement with the French on the Monongahela, the 9th instant.

We continued our march from Fort Cumberland to Frazier’s (which is within 7 miles of Duquesne) without meeting any extraordinary event, having only a straggler or two picked up by the French Indians. When we came to this place, we were attacked (very unexpectedly) by about three hundred French and Indians. Our numbers consisted of about thirteen hundred well armed men, chiefly Regulars, who were immediately struck with such an inconceivable panick, that nothing but confusion and disobedience of orders prevailed among them. The officers, in general, behaved with incomparable bravery, for which they greatly suffered, there being near 60 killed and wounded—a large proportion, out of the number we had!

The Virginia companies behaved like men and died like soldiers; for I believe out of three companies that were on the ground that day scarce thirty were left alive. Capt. Peyroney and all his officers, down to a corporal, were killed; Captn. Polson had almost as hard a fate, for only one of his escaped. In short, the dastardly behaviour of the Regular troops (so-called)1 exposed those who were inclined to do Edition: current; Page: [174] their duty to almost certain death; and, at length, in despite of every effort to the contrary, broke and ran as sheep before hounds, leaving the artillery, ammunition, provisions, baggage, and, in short, everything a prey to the enemy. And when we endeavoured to rally them, in hopes of regaining the ground and what we had left upon it, it was with as little success as if we had attempted to have stopped the wild bears of the mountains, or rivulets with our feet; for they would break by, in despite of every effort that could be made to prevent it.

The General was wounded in the shoulder and breast, of which he died three days after; his two aids-de-camp were both wounded, but are in a fair way of recovery; Colo. Burton and Sr. John St. Clair are also wounded, and I hope will get over it; Sir Peter Halket, with many other brave officers, were killed in the field. It is supposed that we had three hundred or more killed; about that number we brought off wounded, and it is conjectured (I believe with much truth) that two thirds of both received Edition: current; Page: [175] their shot from our own cowardly Regulars, who gathered themselves into a body, contrary to orders, ten or twelve deep, would then level, fire and shoot down the men before them.

I tremble at the consequences that this defeat may have upon our back settlers, who, I suppose, will all leave their habitations unless there are proper measures taken for their security.

Colo. Dunbar, who commands at present, intends, as soon as his men are recruited at this place, to continue his march to Philadelphia for winter quarters:1 consequently there will be no men left here, unless it is the shattered remains of the Virginia troops, who are totally inadequate to the protection of the frontiers. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
18 July, 1755
Fort Cumberland
John A. Washington
Washington, John A.


Dear Brother,

As I have heard, since my arrival at this place, a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you, that I have not as yet composed the latter.2 But, by the all-powerful dispensations Edition: current; Page: [176] of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho’ death was levelling my companions on every side of me!

We have been most scandalously beaten by a trifling body of men, but fatigue and want of time will prevent me from giving you any of the details, until I have the happiness of seeing you at Mount Vernon, which I now most ardently wish for, since we are drove in thus far. A weak and feeble state of health obliges me to halt here for two or three days, to recover a little strength, that I may thereby be enabled to proceed homewards with more ease. You may expect to see me there on Saturday or Sunday se’night, which is as soon as I can well be down, as I shall take my Bullskin Plantations1 in my way. Pray give my compliments to all my friends. I am, dear Jack, your most affectionate brother.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
2 August, 1755
Mount Vernon
Robert Jackson
Jackson, Robert


Dear Sir,

I must acknowledge you had great reason to be terrified with the first accounts, that were given of our unhappy defeat; and, I must own, I was not a little surprised to find, that Governor Innes was the means of alarming the country with a report so extraordinary, without having better confirmation of the truth, than the story of an affrighted wagoner!

It is true, we have been beaten, shamefully beaten, by a handful of men, who only intended to molest and disturb our march. Victory was their smallest expectation. But see the wondrous works of Providence, the uncertainty of human things! We, but a few moments before, believed our numbers almost equal to the Canadian force; they, only expected to annoy us. Yet, contrary to all expectation and human probability, and even to the common course of things, we were totally defeated, sustained the loss of every thing, which they have got, are enriched by it, and accommodated by them. This, as you observe, must be an affecting story to the colony, and will, no doubt, license the tongues of people to censure those, whom they think most blamable; which, by the by, often falls very wrongfully. I join very heartily with you in believing, that when this story comes to be related in future annals, it will meet with unbelief and indignation, for had I not been witness to the fact on that fatal day, I should scarce have given credit to it even now.

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Whenever it suits you to come into Fairfax, I hope you will make your home at Mount Vernon. Please to give my compliments to all inquiring friends. I assure you, nothing could have added more to the satisfaction of my safe return, than hearing of the friendly concern that has been expressed on my supposed death. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 August, 1755
Mount Vernon
Augustine Washington
Washington, Augustine


Dear Brother,

The pleasure of your company at Mount Vernon always did, and always will, afford me infinite satisfaction; but, at this time, I am too sensible how needful the country is of the assistance of all its members, to have a wish to hear that any are absent from the Assembly. I most sincerely wish that unanimity may prevail in all your councils, and that a happy issue may attend your deliberations at this important crisis.

I am not able, were I ever so willing, to meet you in town, for I assure you it is with some difficulty, and with much fatigue, that I visit my plantations in the Neck; so much has a sickness of five weeks’ continuance reduced me. But tho’ it is not in my power to meet you there, I can nevertheless assure you, and “others whom it may concern” (to borrow a phrase from Governor Innes), that I am so little dispirited at what has happened, that I am always ready Edition: current; Page: [179] and always willing, to render my country any services that I am capable of, but never upon the terms I have done; having suffered much in my private fortune, besides impairing one of the best constitutions.

I was employed to go a journey in the winter (when, I believe, few or none would have undertaken it), and what did I get by it? My expenses borne! I then was appointed, with trifling pay, to conduct a handful of men to the Ohio. What did I get by this? Why, after putting myself to a considerable expense, in equipping and providing necessaries for the campaign, I went out, was soundly beaten, lost them all!—came in and had my commission taken from me, or, in other words, my command reduced, under pretence of an order from home! I then went out a volunteer with General Braddock, and lost all my horses and many other things; but this being a voluntary act, I ought not to have mentioned this; nor should I have done it, was it not to show that I have been upon the losing order ever since I entered the service, which is now near two years. So that I think I cannot be blamed, should I, if I leave my family again, endeavour to do it upon such terms as to prevent my suffering; (to gain by it being the least of my expectation).

I doubt not but you have heard the particulars of our shameful defeat, which really was so scandalous, that I hate to mention it. You desire to know what artillery was taken in the late engagement. It is easily told. We lost all that we carried out, excepting two six-pounders, and a few cohorns, that were left with Colonel Dunbar; and the cohorns have Edition: current; Page: [180] since been destroyed to expedite his flight. You also ask, whether I think the forces can march out again this fall. I answer, I think it impossible, at least, for them to do the French any damage (unless it be by starving them), for want of a proper train of artillery; yet they may be very serviceable in erecting small fortresses at convenient places to deposit provisions in, by which means the country will be eased of an immense expense in the carriage, and it will also be a means of securing a retreat, if we should be put to the rout again. The success of this tho’ will depend greatly upon what Governor Shirley does at Niagara; for, if he succeeds, their communication with Canada will be entirely cut off.

It is impossible for me to guess at the number of recruits that may be wanting, as that must depend altogether upon the strength of the French on the Ohio, which, to my great astonishment, we were always strangers to.

I thank you, very heartily, for your kind offer of a chair, and for your goodness in sending my things; and, after begging you to excuse the imperfections of the above, (which, in part, are owing to my having much company that hurries me,) I shall conclude, dear Sir, your most affectionate brother.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 August, 1775
Mount Vernon
Mary Washington
Washington, Mary


Honored Madam,

If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I shall; but if the command is pressed upon Edition: current; Page: [181] me, by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor upon me to refuse; and that, I am sure, must or ought to give you greater uneasiness, than my going in an honorable command, for upon no other terms I will accept of it. At present I have no proposals made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except from private hands.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 August, 1755
Mount Vernon
Warner Lewis
Lewis, Warner


Dear Sir,

After returning you my most sincere and grateful thanks, for your kind condolence on my late indisposition, and for the generous (and give me leave farther to say) partial opinion, you have entertained of my military abilities, I must express my concern for not having it in my power to meet you, and other friends, who have signified their desire of seeing me in Williamsburg.1

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Your letter only came to hand at nine last night, and you inform me, that the Assembly will break up the latter end of the week, which allows a time too short in which to perform a journey of a hundred and sixty miles, especially by a person in my weak and feeble condition; for, altho I am happily recovered from the disorder, which brought me to so low an ebb, by a sickness of nearly five weeks’ continuance, yet my strength is not returned to me. Had I got timely notice, I would have attempted the ride, by slow and easy journeys, if it had been only for the satisfaction of seeing my friends, who, I flatter myself, from what you say, are kind enough to sympathize in my good and evil fortunes.

The chief reason (next to indisposition), that prevented me from coming down to this Assembly, was a determination not to offer my services; and that determination proceeded from the following reasons. First, a belief that I could not get a command upon such terms as I should incline to accept; for I must confess to you, that I never will quit my family, injure my fortune, and, (above all,) impair my health to run the risk of such changes and vicissitudes, as I have met with, but shall expect, if I am employed again, to have something certain. Again, was I to accept the command, I should insist upon some things, which ignorance and inexperience made me overlook before, particularly that of having the officers appointed, in some measure, with my advice and with my concurrence, for I must add I think a commanding officer, not having this liberty, appears to me Edition: current; Page: [183] to be a strange thing, when it is considered how much the conduct and bravery of an officer influence the men, how much a commanding officer is answerable for the behaviour of the inferior officers, and how much his good or ill success, in time of action, depends upon the conduct of each particular one, especially too, in this kind of fighting, where, being dispersed, each and every of them at that time has a greater liberty to misbehave, than if he were regularly and compactly drawn up under the eyes of his superior officer.

On the other hand, how little credit is given to a commander, who, after a defeat, in relating the cause of it, justly lays the blame on some individual, whose cowardly behaviour betrayed the whole to ruin! How little does the world consider the circumstances, and how apt are mankind to level their vindictive censures against the unfortunate chief, who perhaps merited least of the blame!

Does it not appear, then, that the appointing of officers is a thing of the utmost consequence; a thing that requires the greatest circumspection? Ought it to be left to blind chance, or, what is still worse, to partiality? Should it not be left to a man whose life, (and what is still dearer, whose honor,) depends upon their good behaviour?

There are necessary officers yet wanting, for whom no provision has been made. A small military chest is so absolutely necessary, that it is impossible to do without, nor can any man conduct an affair of this kind, who has it not.

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These things I should expect, if the appointment fell upon me.

But, besides all these, I had other reasons, which withheld me from offering my services. I believe our circumstances are brought to that unhappy dilemma, that no man can gain any honor by conducting our forces at this time, but will rather lose in his reputation if he attempts it. For I am confident, the progress of military movements must be slow, for want of conveniences to transport our provisions, ammunition, and stores, over the mountain; occasioned, in a great measure, by the late ill treatment of the wagoners and horse-drivers, who have received little compensation for their labor, and nothing for their lost horses and wagons; which will be an infallible cause of preventing all from assisting that are not compelled. So that I am fully sensible, whoever undertakes this command will meet with such insurmountable obstacles, that he will soon be viewed in the light of an idle, indolent body, have his conduct criticised, and meet perhaps with opprobrious abuse, when it may be as much out of his power to avoid delays, as it would be to command the raging seas in a storm.

Viewing these things in the light I do has no small influence upon me, as I am very apprehensive I should lose, what at present constitutes the chief part of my happiness, i. e., the esteem and notice which the country has been pleased to honor me with.

It is possible you may infer from what I have said, Edition: current; Page: [185] that my intentions are to decline, at all events; but my meaning is not so, I am determined not to offer; because to solicit the command, and, at the same time, to make my proposals, would be a little incongruous, and carry with it the face of self-sufficiency. But if the command should be offered, the case is then altered, as I should be at liberty to make such objections, as reason and my small experience had pointed out.1 I hope you will make my compliments to all enquiring friends.

I am, dear Warner, your most affectionate friend, and obedient servant.

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George Washington
Washington, George
11 September, 1755
John Robinson
Robinson, John



After a small halt at Fredricksburg, to issue out orders to the recruiting officers appointed to that rendezvous, I proceeded to this place, in order to collect a return of the provisions, clothing, &c, that were lodged here, an exact copy of which I herewith send you. I find, after the soldiers have their short allowances, there will arise great inconveniences, if stores of clothing are not laid in to supply their wants; particularly shoes, stockings, and shirts, for these are the least durable and mostly needed.

The method I would recommend is, for the country to provide these things, and lodge them, or a convenient part thereof, in the hands of the quartermaster, who may be appointed to receive and deliver them to the soldiers, by particular orders from their captains, taking care to produce these orders and proper vouchers for the delivery, each pay-day, when it must be deducted out of that soldier’s pay, who receives it. And then this, I think, will be a means of keeping them always provided and fit for duty, preventing the officers from supplying the men, which is Edition: current; Page: [187] generally attended with misunderstandings; and will also be a means of discouraging followers of the army from demanding such exorbitant prices, as is usually practised on these occasions. However, I only offer this as the most efficacious method I can at present think of. If any other more eligible can be found, I should be glad to see it executed, as something of the kind must be done, otherwise the soldiers will be barefoot, &c, which always pleads for exemption from duty, and, indeed, in the approaching season will be a very just one. You will be a judge, when you see the returns, what had best be done with the provisions. The quantity is too great for the present consumption, and to wagon it up can never answer the expense.

Major Carlyle thinks the West India market best, as the returns will be in rum, which he can soon turn into flour at the camp.

I am afraid I shall not be able to push things with vigor this fall, for want of a commissary who will act with spirit. Mr. Dick seems determined not to enter into any further contracts, unless he is better supported, or ’till he meets the Committee in October, by which time the best season for engaging beef will be almost over. And the Governor, by the advice of Sir John St. Clair, expressed, just as I was coming away, his desire of having him continued; so that I am entirely ignorant how to act. The making of contracts myself is foreign to my duty; neither have I time; and to see the service suffer will give me infinite uneasiness, as I would gladly conduct every thing, as far as Edition: current; Page: [188] I am capable, with life and spirit, which never can be done without a fund of money is lodged in camp for defraying the contingent charges.1 As I believed it difficult to get all the clothing in any one part of the country, I engaged it where I could, and have got shoes, stockings, shirts, and hats enough upon tolerable good terms, as you may see by the enclosed.

Major Carlyle is also willing to engage one hundred complete suits, as good as those imported, for three pounds, or less; which I have acquainted the Governor of, and believe it to be as cheap as can be got below, as it is the making chiefly, that occasions the difference between the imported, and those provided here. I am, &c.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
8 October, 1755
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



I arrived at this place in less than three hours after I wrote you from Colonel Baylor’s; and some small time after, arrived also Colonel Stephen, who gives a worse account, than he related in his letter; but as he is the bearer of this, I shall be less prolix, referring to him for particulars.

I shall set out this evening for Winchester, where I expect to be joined by the recruits from Alexandria and this place, as soon as they can possibly march that distance; also, by one hundred men from Prince William and Frederick. And I have wrote to Fairfax county, desiring that a troop of horse may hold themselves in readiness to march at an hour’s warning. So that I doubt not, but with the assistance of these, I shall be able to repulse the enemy, if they are still committing their outrages upon the inhabitants. We are at a loss for want of almost every necessary. Tents, kettles, arms, ammunition, cartridge-paper, &c, &c, we are distressed for. Therefore, I hope, as your Honor did not send to Philadelphia for them, you will, if possible, endeavour to get them below, and send them by the first opportunity to this place, or Alexandria, with orders that they may be forwarded immediately to Winchester.

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I must again take the liberty of mentioning to your Honor, the necessity there is of putting the militia, when they are drawn out into actual service, under better regulation than they are at present, as well as there is of putting us [under] a military law.1 Otherwise we shall only be a burthensome charge to the country, and the others will prove its ruin. That this may not appear an unmeaning expression, I shall refer your Honor, to Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen, who can give you some late proofs of their disobedience and inconsistent behaviour.

I find I cannot possibly be in Williamsburg, as these affairs will engage some time, till the sixth, seventh, or eighth of November, when I should be glad to meet a committee, in order to settle with them and your Honor some points, that are very necessary for the good of the expedition.

Colonel Stephen has orders to receive some money below (if he can), that we may be enabled to pay the troops, and to keep them in spirits, and to answer such immediate charges as cannot be dispensed with, until I come down. And I should be glad if your Honor would order him to repair therewith (as soon as he has done his business with the committee) to Winchester; and from thence, with a proper guard, to Fort Cumberland. I hope the treasury will have a sufficient sum of money prepared against I come down, that I meet with no great delay.

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I should be glad your Honor would give Colonel Stephen all the assistance you can in getting the money. There are about seventy recruits at this place, and I left twenty-five at Alexandria, which I suppose are augmented before this by officers, who, I am sorry to say, have paid slight regard to orders, in not being in at the time appointed (1st of October). The most flagrant proof of this is Captain Harrison, who I have heard nothing of, tho’ he had positive orders to be here at the aforesaid time. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 October, 1755
Andrew Montour
Montour, Andrew


Dear Montour,

I wrote, some Time ago, a Letter of Invitation from Fort Cumberland, desiring yourself, your Family, and Friendly Indians, to come and reside among Us, but that Letter not coming to Hand, I am induced to send a second Express, with the Same Invitation, being pleased that I have it in my Power to do something for You on a better Footing than ever it has been done. I was greatly enraptur’d when I heard you were at the Head of 300 Indians on a March toward Venango, being satisfied that your hearty attachment to our glorious Cause, your Courage, of which I have had very great Proofs, and your Presence among the Indians, would animate their just Indignation to do something Noble, something worthy themselves, and honourable to you. I hope you will use your Interest (as I know you have much) in bringing our Brothers once more to our service; Edition: current; Page: [192] assure them, as you truly may, that nothing which I can do shall be wanting to make them happy; assure them, also, that as I have the chief Command, I am invested with Power to treat them as Brethren and Allies, which, I am sorry to say, they have not been of late. Recommend me kindly to our good Friend, Monocatoocha, and others; tell them how happy it would make Conotocaurius to have an opportunity of taking them by the hand at Fort Cumberland, and how glad he would be to treat them as Brothers of our great King beyond the waters. Flattering myself that you will come, I doubt not but you’l bring as many of them with you as possible, as that will afford Me what alone I want; that is, an opportunity of doing something equal to your Wishes.

I am, Dear Montour, your real friend and Assured H’ble Servt.

N. B. I doubt not but you have heard of the Ravages committed on our Frontiers by the French Indians, and I suppose [by the] French themselves. I am now on my March against them, and hope to give them Cause of repenting their Rashness.1

George Washington
Washington, George
11 October, 1755
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

As I think it my indispensable duty to inform you particularly of my proceedings, and to give the most Edition: current; Page: [193] plain and authentic account, from time to time, of our situation, I must acquaint your Honor that, immediately after giving the necessary orders at Fredericksburg, and despatching expresses to hurry the recruits from Alexandria, I rid post to this place, passing by Lord Fairfax’s, who was not at home, but here, where I arrived yesterday about noon, and found every thing in the greatest hurry and confusion, by the back inhabitants, flocking in, and those of the town removing out, which I have prevented as far as it was in my power. I was desirous of proceeding immediately, at the head of some militia, to put a stop to the ravages of the enemy, believing their numbers to be few; but was told by Colonel Martin, who had attempted to raise the militia for the same purpose, that it was impossible to get above twenty or twenty-five men, they having absolutely refused to stir, choosing, as they say, to die with their wives and families.

Finding this expedient likely to prove abortive, I sent off expresses to hurry the recruits from below, and the militia from Fairfax, Prince William, &c., which Lord Fairfax had ordered out, and I also hired spies to go out and see, to discover the numbers of the enemy, and to encourage the rangers, who, we were told, are blocked up by the Indians in small fortresses. But, if I may offer my opinion, I believe they are more encompassed by fear than by the enemy. I have also impressed wagons and sent them to Conococheague for flour, musket-shots, and flints, powder, and trifling quantity of paper, bought at extravgant prices, for cartridges. I expect from below six or eight smiths who are now at work, repairing the firearms Edition: current; Page: [194] that are here, which are all that we have to depend on. A man was hired, the 24th of last month, to do the whole, but neglected, and was just moving off in wagons, to Pennsylvania. I impressed his wagons, and compelled him by force to assist in this work. In all things I meet with the greatest opposition. No orders are obeyed, but what a party of soldiers, or my own drawn sword, enforces; without this a single horse, for the most, urgent occasion cannot be had, to such a pitch has the insolence of these people arrived, by having every point hitherto submitted to them. However, I have given up none, where his Majesty’s service requires the contrary, and where my proceedings are justified by my instructions; nor will [I do] it, unless they execute what they threaten, i. e. “to blow out my brains.”

I have invited the poor distressed people, (who were drove from their habitations,) to lodge their familys in some place of security, and to join our partys in scouring the woods, where the enemy lie, and believe some will cheerfully assist. I also have [taken], and shall continue to take, every previous step to forward the march of the recruits, &c, so soon as they arrive here, and your Honor may depend, that nothing that is in my power to do shall be wanting for the good of the service. I would again hint the necessity of putting the militia under a better regulation, had I not mentioned it twice before, and a third time may seem impertinent; but I must once more beg leave to declare, (for here I am more immediately concerned,) that, unless the Assembly will enact Edition: current; Page: [195] a law to enforce the military law in all its parts,1 that I must, with great regret, decline the honour that has been so generously intended me, and for this only reason I do it—the foreknowledge I have of failing in every point, that might justly be expected from a person invested with full power to exert this authority. I see the growing insolence of the soldiers, the indolence and inactivity of the officers, who are all sensible how confined their punishments are, in regard to what they ought to be. In fine, I can plainly see, that under our present establishment, we shall become a nuisance, an insupportable charge to our country, and never answer any one expectation of the Assembly. And here I must assume the freedom to express some surprise, that we alone should be so tenacious of our liberty, as not to invest a power, where interest and politicks so unanswerably demand it, and from whence so much good must consequently ensue. Do we not see, that every nation under the sun find their account therein, and without it, no order, no regularity can be observed? Why then should it be expected from us, (who are all young and inexperienced,) to govern and keep up a proper spirit of discipline without laws, when the best and most experienced can scarcely do it with [them]? Then if we consult our interest, I am sure it is loudly called for; for I can confidently assert, that money expended in recruiting, cloathing, arming, maintaining, and subsisting soldiers, who have deserted, has cost the country an immense sum, which might have been prevented, Edition: current; Page: [196] were we under restraints, that would terrify the soldiers from such practices. One thing more on this head I will recommend, and then quit the subject; i. e., to have the inhabitants liable to certain heavy fines, or corporal punishments, for entertaining of deserters, and a reward for taking them up. If this was done, it would be next to an impossibility for a soldier to escape; but, on the contrary as things now stand, they are not only seduced to run away, but are also harboured and assisted with every necessary means to do it.

Sunday noon.—Last night arrived an express, just spent with fatigue and fear, reporting that a party of Indians were seen about twelve miles off, at the plantation of one Isaac Julian, and that the inhabitants were flying in the most promiscuous manner from their dwellings. I immediately ordered the town guards to be strengthened; Perkins’s lieutenant to be in readiness with his companies; some recruits, who had only arrived about half an hour before, to be armed; and sent two men, well acquainted with the roads, to go up that road, and lay in wait, to see if they could discover the number and motion of the Indians, that we might have timely notice of their approach. This morning, before we could parade the men, to march upon the last alarm, arrived a second express, ten times more terrified than the former, with information, that the Indians had got within four miles of the town, and were killing and destroying all before them, for that he himself had heard constant firing, and shrieks of the unhappy murdered! Edition: current; Page: [197] Upon this, I immediately collected what force I could, which consisted of twenty-two men, recruited for the rangers, and nineteen of the militia, and marched directly to the place, where these horrid murders were said to be committed. When we came there, whom should we find occasioning all this disturbance, but three drunken soldiers of the light-horse, carousing, firing their pistols, and uttering the most unheard-of imprecations! These we took, and marched prisoners to town, where we met the men I sent out last night, and learned that the party of Indians, discovered by Isaac Julian, proved to be a mulatto and negro, seen hunting of cattle by his child, who alarmed the father, and the father the neighborhood. These circumstances are related only to show what a panic prevails among the people; how much they are alarmed at the most usual and customary cries; and yet how impossible it is to get them to act in any respect for their common safety. As an instance of this—Colonel Fairfax, who arrived in town when we were upon a scout, immediately sent to a noble captain, not far off, to repair with his company forthwith to Winchester. With coolness and moderation this great captain answered, that his wife, family, and corn were all at stake; so were his soldiers; therefore it was impossible for him to come. Such is the example of the officers; such the behaviour of the men; and upon such circumstances depends the safety of our country!

Monday morning, 12th.—The men I hired to bring intelligence from the Branch returned last night, with Edition: current; Page: [198] letters from Captain Ashby, and the other parties there; by which I learn, that the Indians are gone off; scouts having been dispersed upon those waters for several days, without discovering tracks or other signs of the enemy.

I am also informed, that it is believed their numbers amounted to about one hundred and fifty; that seventy of our men are killed and missing, and that several houses and plantations are destroyed, but not so great havoc made as was represented at first. The rangers, and a small company of militia, ordered there by Lord Fairfax, I am given to understand, intend to march down on Monday next, who will be immediately followed by all the inhabitants of those parts, that had gathered together under their protection. I have, therefore, sent peremptory orders to the contrary; but what obedience will be paid to them a little time will reveal. I have ordered those men, that were recruited for the rangers, to join their respective companies. And there is also a party of militia marched with them under the command of Captain Harden. Captain Waggener is this instant arrived with thirty recruits, which he marched from Bellhaven in less than three days,—a great march indeed! Major Lewis and his recruits from Fredericksburg I expect in to-morrow, when, with these and twenty-two of Captain Bell’s now here, I shall proceed by quick marches to Fort Cumberland, in order to strengthen that garrison. Besides these, I think it absolutely necessary, that there should be two or three companies (exclusively) Edition: current; Page: [199] of rangers, to guard the Potomac waters, until such time as our regiment is completed. And, indeed, these rangers and volunteer companies in Augusta, with some of their militia, should be properly disposed of on these frontiers, for fear of an attack from that quarter. This though, is submitted to your Honor’s judgment, and waits your orders for execution, if thought expedient. Captain Waggener informs me, that it was with difficulty he passed the Ridge for crowds of people, who were flying as if every moment was death. He endeavoured, but in vain, to stop them; they firmly believing that Winchester was in flames. I shall send expresses down the several roads in hopes of bringing back the inhabitants, who are really frightened out of their senses. I despatched an express immediately upon my arrival at this place, with a copy of the enclosed to Andrew Montour, who I heard was at a place called Long Island,1 with three hundred Indians, to see if he could engage him and them to join us. The letter savours a little of flattery, &c, &c, but this, I hope, is justifiable on such occasions. I also wrote to Gist, acquainting him with the favor you intended him, and desired he would repair home, in order to raise his companies of scouts.2

I shall defer writing to the Speaker and Committee upon any other head than that of commissary, still hoping to be down by the time mentioned in my last, Edition: current; Page: [200] (provided no new disturbances happen,) having some points to settle, that I am uneasy and urgent about. I have been obliged to do duty very foreign to my own; but that I shall never hesitate about, when the good of the service requires it.

In a journey from Fort Cumberland to Fort Dinwiddie, which I made purposely to see the situation of our frontiers, how the rangers were posted, and how troops might be disposed of for the defence of the country, I purchased six hundred and fifty beeves, to be delivered at Fort Cumberland by the 1st of November, at ten shillings per hundred weight, except a few that I was obliged to give eleven shillings for; and have my own bonds now out for the performance of covenants, this being the commissary’s business, who, I am sorry to say, has hitherto been of no use, but of disservice to me, in neglecting my orders, and leaving this place without flour, and Fredericksburg without any provisions for the recruits, although he had timely notice given. I must beg, that, if Mr. Dick will not act, some other person may be appointed that will; for, if things remain in this uncertain situation, the season will pass without having provision made for the winter, or summer’s campaign. Whoever acts as commissary should be sent up immediately about salting the provisions, &c. It will be difficult, I believe, to provide a quantity of pork. I enquired as I rode thro’ Hampshire, Augusta, &c, and could not hear of much for sale.

Most of the new appointed officers have been extremely deficient in their duties by not repairing to Edition: current; Page: [201] their rendezvouses, according to appointment. Captn. McKenzie, Lieut. King and Ensigns Miller and Dean, who were ordered to send their recruits to Alexandria by the first of October, were not arrived when Captn. Waggener left that place, nor have we heard any thing of Captn. Harrison, whose recruits should have been at Fredericksburg by the same time; and Captn. Bell only sent his here on Saturday last. If these practices are allowed of, we may as well quit altogether, for no duty can ever be carried on if there is not ye greatest punctuality observed, one thing always depending so immediately upon another.

I have appointed Captain George Mercer (whose seniority entitled him to it) my aid-de-camp; and Mr. Kirkpatrick of Alexandria, my secretary, a young man bred to business, of good character, well recommended, and a person of whose abilities I had not the least doubt.

I hope your Honor will be kind enough to despatch Colonel Stephen, with orders to repair hither immediately, and excuse the prolixity of this. I was willing to give a circumstantial account of our situation, that you may be the better enabled to judge what orders are necessary to give. I am, &c.

Major Lewis is just arrived, and on Thursday I shall begin my march to Fort Cumberland, allowing the recruits one day to refresh themselves.

Edition: current; Page: [202]


Whereas divers timorous persons run through the country and alarm its inhabitants by false reports of the Indians having attacked and destroyed the country—even Winchester itself, and that they are still proceeding:

This is to give notice to all people, that I have great reason to believe that the Indians who committed the late cruelties (though no lower than the South Branch) are returned home, as I have certain accounts that they have not been seen nor heard of these ten days past. And I do advise all my countrymen, not to be alarmed on every false report they may hear, as they must now be satisfied, from the many false ones that have been made; but to keep to their homes and take care of their crops, as I can venture to assure them that in a short time the frontiers will be so well guarded, that no mischief can be done, either to them or their plantations, which must of course be destroyed, if they desert them in so shameful a manner.

George Washington
Washington, George
17 October, 1755
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



Last night by the return of the express, who went to Captain Montour, I received the enclosed from Mr. Harris at Susquehanna.2 I think no means Edition: current; Page: [203] should be neglected to preserve what few Indians still remain in our interest. For which reason I shall send Mr. Gist, as soon as he arrives (which I expect will be to-day), to Harris’s Ferry,1 in hopes of engaging and bringing with him the Belt of Wampum and other Indians that are at that place. I shall further desire him to send an Indian express to Andrew Montour, to try if he cannot be brought with them.2

In however trifling light the French attempting to alienate the affections of our southern Indians may at first appear. I must look upon it as a thing of the utmost consequence, that requires our greatest and most immediate attention. I have often wondered at not hearing this was attempted before, and had it noted among other memorandums to acquaint your Honor with, when I should come down.

The French policy in treating with the Indians is so prevalent, that I should not be in the least surprised, were they to engage the Cherokees, Catawbas, &c. unless timely and vigorous measures are taken to prevent it. A pusillanimous behaviour now will Edition: current; Page: [204] ill suit the times; and trusting to traders and common interpreters, who will sell their integrity to the highest bidder, may prove the destruction of these affairs. I therefore think, that if a person of distinction, acquainted with their language, is to be found, his price should be come to at any rate. If no such person can be had, a man of sense and character, to conduct the Indians to any council that may be held, or superintend any other matters, will be found extremely necessary. It is impertinent, I own, in me to offer my opinion in these affairs, when better judges may direct; but my steady and hearty zeal for the cause, and the great impositions I have known practised by the traders &c, upon these occasions, would not suffer me to be quite silent. I have heard, from undoubted authority, that some of the Cherokees, who have been introduced to us as sachems and princes by this interpreter, who shares the profits, have been no other than common hunters, and bloodthirsty villains.

We have no accounts yet of the militia from Fairfax, &c. This day I march with about one hundred men to Fort Cumberland. Yesterday an express informed me of eighty odd recruits at Fredericksburg, which I have ordered to proceed to this place; but, for want of that regularity being observed, by which I should know where every officer &c. is, my orders are only conditional, and always confused.1 The Edition: current; Page: [205] commissary is much wanted; therefore I hope your Honor will send him up immediately; if not, things will greatly suffer here. Whatever necessaries your Honor gets below, I should be glad to have sent to Alexandria; from whence they are much more handy than from Fredericksburg. Besides, as provision is lodged there, and none at any other place, it will be better for the men, to be all sent there, that can any ways conveniently. For we have met with insufferable difficulties at Fredericksburg, and in our march from thence, through neglect of the commissary, who is greatly wanted up here. Therefore, I hope your Honor will order him.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 November, 1755
Adam Stephen
Stephen, Adam



I came to this place on Sunday last, and intended to proceed immediately up;1 but receiving yours and other letters contradicting the reports lately transmitted, determined me to go to Alexandria, where I shall wait a few days, hoping to meet the express from General Shirley, to whom the Governor sent for commissions for the field-officers.2

Edition: current; Page: [206]

I beg that you will be particularly careful in seeing strict order observed among the soldiers, as that is the life of military discipline. We now have it in Edition: current; Page: [207] our power to enforce obedience; and obedience will be expected from us, the men being subject to death, as in military law. The Assembly have also offered a reward to all who will apprehend deserters, and a severe punishment upon those, who shall entertain or suffer them to pass, also upon any constable, who refuses to convey them to the company or troop to which they belong, or shall suffer them to escape, after such deserters are committed to his custody.1

These things, with the articles of war and a proper exhortation, I would have you read immediately to the men, and see that it is frequently done hereafter. I must desire, that you will use all possible means to facilitate the salting our provisions, and give the commissary such assistance of men, &c, as he shall reasonably require. The Governor approves of the Committee’s resolve, in not allowing either the Maryland or Carolina companies to be supported out of our provisions. This you are to make them acquainted with, and, in case any of the companies Edition: current; Page: [208] should be discharged, to use your utmost endeavours to enlist as many of the men as you can. Lieutenant McManners has leave to go to Carolina, if he desires it. The Assembly would make no alteration in our militia law; nor would the Governor order them to be drafted to complete our regiment, so that the slow method of recruiting is likely to be our only means to raise the men. I think, could a brisk officer, and two or three sergeants, be sent among the militia stationed on the South Branch, they would have a probable chance of engaging many, as some were inclinable in Winchester to list. Doctor Craik is expected round to Alexandria in a vessel, with medicines and other stores for the regiment. So soon as he arrives, I shall take care to despatch him to you.

The Colonels Byrd and Randolph are appointed commissioners,1 and will set out very shortly with a present &c, to the country of the Cherokees, in order to engage them to our interest. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 November, 1755
Adam Stephen
Stephen, Adam



I received your two letters by Jenkins last night, and was greatly surprised to hear that Commissary Walker was not arrived at camp, when he came away. He set out from Williamsburg about the 12th instant, Edition: current; Page: [209] with orders to proceed immediately up; but such disobedience of commands, as I have generally met with, is insufferable, and shall not go unpunished. The account you enclosed of the method of receiving the beef, I suppose, is customary; but for want of judgment in those affairs, I can neither applaud nor condemn it. I am as much astonished as you were surprised, at the quantity of salt said to be wanted for the provision, but certain it is, that if it, or a greater quantity is absolutely necessary, it must be had. I have left a discretionary power in Commissary Walker to kill or winter the Carolina beeves as the interest of service requires. Pray assist him with your advice, and urge him on to make the necessary purchases of flour and pork in time.

The Governor did not seem inclinable to promote the removal of the fort; however, the Committee have lodged a discretionary power in my hands, and have resolved to pay for all extraordinary labor. I would, therefore, have as little labor lost at Fort Cumberland as possible; at least, until I come up, which will be very shortly, my stay here being only for a few days, in order to receive recruits, and hurry up the stores to Winchester.

I believe those, who say Governor Sharpe is to command, can only wish it. I do not know that General Shirley has a power to appoint a chief to our forces,—to regulars he may. As to that affair of turning the store-house into a dwelling-room, I do not know what better answer to give, than saying, that this is one among the many instances, that Edition: current; Page: [210] might be offered, of the inconvenience of having the fort in Maryland. As soon as I hear from Governor Shirley, which is hourly expected, I can then send a more determined answer.

There has been such total negligence among the recruiting officers in general, such disregard of the service they were employed in, and such idle proceedings, that I am determined to send out none until we all meet, when each officer shall have his own men, and have only this alternative, either to complete his number, or lose his commission. There are several officers who have been out six weeks, or two months, without getting a man, spending their time in all the gayety of pleasurable mirth, with their relations and friends; not attempting, nor having a possible chance of recruiting any but those who, out of their inclination to the service, will proffer themselves.

I should be glad to have ten or twelve wagons sent to this place, for salt enough may be had here to load that number, and it comes upon easier terms than at Fredericksburg, by sixpence or eight pence per bushel. Those stores at Watkins’s Ferry should be hurried up as fast as the water affords opportunities, if it were only to prevent disputes.

If the paymaster is at Winchester, and not on his way to Fort Dinwiddie, order him down here immediately. If he should be going with pay to Captain Hogg,1 he is to proceed with despatch; but if he is at Fort Cumberland, order him down to Winchester, to wait there until I arrive. I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [211]
George Washington
Washington, George
5 December, 1755
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I have sent the bearer, Captain John Mercer (who has accounts to settle with the Committee), to the treasurer for the balance of that ten thousand pounds; and to acquaint your Honor, that, meeting with letters at Fredericksburg, as I returned from Williamsburg, informing me that all was peaceable above, and that nothing was so immediately wanting as salt, I got what I could at that place, and hastened on here to engage more, to receive the recruits expected in, and to wait the arrival of the vessel with arms, &c., from James River, in order to forward them up with the greater despatch. The vessel is not yet arrived.

I have impatiently expected to hear the result of your Honor’s letter to General Shirley, and wish that the delays may not prove ominous. In that case, I shall not know how to act; for I can never submit to the command of Captain Dagworthy, since you have honored me with the command of the Virginia regiment, &c.

The country has sustained inconceivable losses, by delaying the commissaries at Williamsburg. Many of the Carolina beeves are dead, through absolute poverty, and the chief part of them too poor to slaughter. We are at a loss how to act, for want of the mutiny bill; and should be obliged to your Honor, if you will have fifty or a hundred printed, and sent by the bearer.1 There is a clause in that bill, which, if you Edition: current; Page: [212] are not kind enough to obviate it, will prevent entirely the good intention of it, that is, delaying the execution of sentences, until your Honor shall be made acquainted with the proceedings of the court. This, at times when there is the greatest occasion for examples, will be morally impossible; (I mean, while we are on our march, perhaps near the Ohio,) when none but strong parties can pass with safety. At all times it must be attended with great expense, trouble, and inconveniency. This I represented to Colonel Corbin, and some other gentlemen of the Council, when I was down, who said that the objection would be removed, by your Honor’s giving blank warrants, to be filled up as occasion should require. This would effectually remedy all those evils, and put things in their proper channel.

We suffer greatly for want of kettles; those sent from below, being tin, are of short duration. We shall, also, in a little time, suffer as much for the want of clothing; none can be got in these parts; those which Major Carlyle and Dalton contracted to furnish we are disappointed of. Shoes and stockings we have, and can get more if wanted, but nothing else. I should be glad your Honor would direct what is to be done in these cases; and that you would be kind enough to desire the treasurer to send some part of the money in gold and silver. Were this done, we might often get necessaries for the regiment in Maryland, or Pennsylvania, when they cannot be had here. But with our money it is impossible; our paper not passing there.

Edition: current; Page: [213]

The recruiting service goes on extremely slow.1 Yesterday being a day appointed for rendezvousing at this place, there came in ten officers with twenty men only. If I had any other than paper money, and you approved of it, I would send to Pennsylvania and the borders of Carolina. I am confident men might be had there. Your Honor never having given any particular directions about the provisions, I should be glad to know, whether you would have more laid in, than what will serve for twelve hundred men, that I may give orders accordingly.

As I cannot now conceive that any great danger can be apprehended at Fort Cumberland this winter, I am sensible that my constant attendance there cannot be so serviceable as riding from place to place, making the proper dispositions, and seeing that all our necessaries are forwarded up with despatch. I therefore think it advisable to inform your Honor of it, hoping it will correspond with your own opinion.

I forgot to mention when I was down, that Mr. Livingston, the Fort Major, was appointed adjutant to our regiment. I knew of none else whose long servitude in a military way, had qualified better for the office. He was appointed the 17th of September.

Captain Mercer’s pay as aid-de-camp seems yet doubtful. I should be glad if your Honor would fix it; as so is Captain Stewart’s. If Captain Stewart’s is increased, I suppose all the officers belonging to Edition: current; Page: [214] the light-horse will expect to have theirs augmented also. Colonel Stephen, in a late letter, discovered an inclination to go to the Creek and Cherokee Indians this winter. I told him where to apply, if he had any such thoughts. I believe, on so useful a business, he might be spared until the spring. If your Honor think proper to order the act of Assembly for apprehending deserters, and against harbouring them, to be published every Sunday in each parish church, until the people are made acquainted with the law, it would have a very good effect. The commonalty in general err more through ignorance than design. Few of them are acquainted that such a law exists, and there is no other certain way of bringing it to their knowledge. There are a great many of the men that did once belong to our companies, deserted from the regiments into which they were drafted, that would now gladly return, if they could be sure of indemnity. If your Honor would be kind enough to intimate this to General Shirley, or the colonels of those regiments, it would be of service to us. Without leave, we dare not receive them.1 I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 December, 1755
Adam Stephen
Stephen, Adam



Captain John Mercer only returned last night from Williamsburg, and brings no satisfactory answers to any thing I questioned the Governor upon.

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The express, that was sent to General Shirley, is returned without seeing him; however, the Governor writes that he expects answers to his letters by Colonel Hunter, who is now at New York, and waits the arrival of the General at that place. The Governor is very strongly of the opinion, that Captain Dagworthy has no right to contend for the command; and in his letter he says, after mentioning the return of the express, and his expectancy of satisfactory letters, “But I am of opinion you might have obviated the inconsistent dispute with Captain Dagworthy, by asking him if he did not command a provincial company by virtue of Governor Sharpe’s commission; as that he had formerly from his Majesty now ceases, as he is not on the half-pay list; if so, the method you are to take is very obvious, as your commission from me is greater than what he has.” And in Williamsburg, when I was down there, both he and Colonel Fitzhugh told me, that Dagworthy could have no more pretensions to command me, or either of the field-officers of the Virginia regiment, than we have to command General Shirley; and farther gave it as their opinion, that as Dagworthy’s was only a botched-up commission at best, and as he commanded a provincial company, and by virtue of a governor’s commission, that he ought to be arrested for his presumption. They say, allowing his commission from the King to be valid, Edition: current; Page: [216] yet, as he is not there by order of his Majesty, he can have no better pretensions than a visiting half-pay officer, who transiently passes through the camp to assume the command.

I wish you would sound him on this head, and hear how he will answer these things, and let me know when you come down, which I desire may be immediately, as I want much to consult you upon several accounts. The paymaster, and commissary, (if he is not very much engaged,) must accompany you. Desire both to have their accounts settled, and brought with them, as that is necessary before I can give more money.

I have sent you one of the mutiny bills, which I received from below, but I think, indeed, I believe it is absolutely necessary, as we still want the power, to postpone trials until after your return. Also desire all the officers who have received money for recruiting, to make up their accounts immediately; and charge for no more men than have actually been received at the several rendezvous’s. Allowance will be made for no others. The arrears of pay for these officers and soldiers who have not received for the months of January and February, are immediately to be made out, and sent down by you with the recruiting accounts. Desire them to charge for no men but what are present, as I can pay for no others now.

Enclosed is a commission for Captain Waggener, which I have neglected giving before; so long as I have had it. Desire him, as the command upon Edition: current; Page: [217] your leaving the place will devolve upon him, to be very circumspect in his duty, and to see that the troops are duly drawn out and trained to their exercise, and practised to bush-fighting.

As I expect in a very few days to have the pleasure of seeing you, I shall only add, I am, &c.


George Washington
Washington, George
5 January, 1756
Robert Hunter Morris
Morris, Robert Hunter


Honble. Sir,

I am sorry it has not been in my power to acknowledge the receipt of yours till now. At the time that your letter came to Winchester, I was at Williamsburg; before I got back, it was conveyed thither; and so from place to place has it been tossing almost till this time.

There is nothing more necessary than good intelligence to frustrate a designing enemy, and nothing that requires greater pains to obtain. I shall, therefore, cheerfully come into any measures you can propose to settle a correspondence for this salutary end; and you may depend upon receiving (when the provinces are threatened) the earliest and best intelligence that I can procure.

I sympathized in [a] general concern to see the inactivity of your province in a time of eminent danger; but am pleased to find, that a feeling sense of wrongs has roused the spirit of your martial Assembly Edition: current; Page: [218] to vote a sum, which, with your judicious application, will turn to a general good.1

We took some pretty vigorous measures to collect a force upon our frontiers, upon the first alarm, which has kept us peaceable ever since. How long this may last is uncertain, since that force, which were militia, are disbanded, and the recruiting service almost stagnated.

If you propose to levy troops, and their destination Edition: current; Page: [219] is not a secret, I should be favored were I let into the scheme, that we may act conjunctly, so far as the nature of things will admit.

Pray direct to me at Alexandria, to which place I design to go in about ten days from this. I heartily wish you the compliments of the season. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 January, 1756


* * * * * * *

This timely warning of the effects of misbehaviour will, I hope, be instrumental in animating the younger officers to a laudable emulation in the service of their country. Not that I apprehend any of them can be guilty of offences of this nature: but there are many other misdemeanors, that will, without due circumspection, gain upon inactive minds, and produce consequences equally disgraceful.

I would, therefore, earnestly recommend, in every point of duty, willingness to undertake, and intrepid resolution to execute. Remember, that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title. Do not forget, that there ought to be a time appropriated to attain this knowledge, as well as to indulge pleasure. And as we now have no opportunities to improve from example, let us read for this Edition: current; Page: [220] desirable end. There is Bland’s and other treatises which will give the wished-for information.

I think it my duty, gentlemen, as I have the honour to preside over you, to give this friendly admonition; especially as I am determined, as far as my small experience in service, my abilities, and interest of the service may dictate, to observe the strictest discipline through the whole economy of my behaviour. On the other hand, you may as certainly depend upon having the strictest justice administered to all, and that I shall make it the most agreeable part of my duty to study merit, and reward the brave and deserving. I assure, you, gentlemen, that partiality shall never bias my conduct, nor shall prejudice injure any; but, throughout the whole tenor of my proceedings, I shall endeavour, as far as I am able, to reward and punish, without the least diminution.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 January, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Major Lewis, being at Winchester when your letter came to hand, was immediately despatched to Augusta, to take upon him the command of the troops destined against the Shawnese Town;1 with Edition: current; Page: [221] orders to follow such directions as he should receive from you. This scheme, though, I am apprehensive will prove abortive, as we are told that those Indians are removed up the river, into the neighbourhood of Fort Duquesne.

I have given all necessary orders for training the men to a proper use of their arms, and the method of Indian fighting, and hope in a little time to make them expert. And I should be glad to have your Honor’s express commands, either to prepare for taking the field, or for guarding our frontiers in the spring, because the steps for these two are very different. I have already built two forts on Patterson’s Creek, (which have engaged the chief of the inhabitants to return to the plantations;) and have now ordered Captain Waggener with sixty men to build and garrison two others, (on places I have pointed out high up on the South Branch,) which will be a means of securing near an hundred miles of our frontiers, exclusive of the command at Fort Dinwiddie, on Jackson’s River. And, indeed, without a much greater number of men than we have a visible prospect of getting, I do not see how it is possible to think of passing the mountains, or acting more than defensively. This seems to be the full determination of the Pennsylvanians; so that there can be no hope of assistance from that quarter. If we only act defensively, I would most earnestly recommend the building of a strong fort at some convenient place in Virginia, as that in Maryland, not to say any thing of its situation, which is extremely bad, will ever be an eyesore to this colony, Edition: current; Page: [222] and attended with more inconveniences than it is possible to enumerate. One instance of this I have taken notice of, in a letter that accompanies this, and many more I could recite, were it necessary.

If we take the field, there is no time to carry on a work of this kind, but we should immediately set about engaging wagons, horses, forage, pack-saddles, etc. And here I cannot help remarking, that I believe it will be impossible to get wagons or horses sufficient, without the old score is paid off; as the people are really ruined for want of their money, and complain justly of their grievances.

I represented in my last the inconveniences of the late act of Assembly, which obliges us first to send to your Honor for a commission to hold general courtsmartial, and then to delay execution until a warrant can be had from Williamsburg, and I hope you will take the thing into consideration. We have several deserters now on hand, whom I have taken by rigorous measures, and who should be made examples to others, as this practice is continued with greater spirit than ever.

Unless clothing is soon provided, the men will be unfit for any kind of service. And I know of no expedient to procure them, but by sending to the northward, as cloth cannot be had here. I left, among other returns, an exact account of the clothing at every place, when I was in Williamsburg. I shan’t care to lay in provisions for more than a thousand men, unless I have your Honor’s orders. We have put out such of the beeves as were unfit for Edition: current; Page: [223] slaughtering. If they survive the winter, they may be useful in the summer.

Ensign Polson having received a commission in Colonel Gage’s regiment, makes a vacancy here which, with your approbation, will be filled by Mr. Dennis McCarthy, whom you once appointed a captain. He has continued a volunteer ever since, and has recruited several men into the service, and I hope your Honor will allow me the liberty, as you once promised me, of filling up the vacancies, as they happen, with the volunteers, who serve with that expectation. We have several with us, that seem to be very deserving young gentlemen. I shall observe the strictest justice in promoting them according to their merit, and their time of entering the service. I have ordered Captn. Hog to render immediately a fair account to the company of the money sent him. He was ordered to lay in provisions for only 12 months. Captn. Stewart has recruited his complement of men. I should be glad to know whether he is to complete his horse against the spring and provide accoutrements.

I have been obliged to suspend Ensign Dekeyser for misbehaviour till your pleasure is known. See the proceedings of the enquiring courts. His character in many other respects has been infamous. I have also been obliged to threaten, in your name, the new appointed officers with the same fate if they are not more diligent in recruiting the companies, as each received his commission upon those terms. Captn. Mercer comes down for more money and to satisfy how the £10,000 has been applied.

Edition: current; Page: [224]

The skipper of the vessels has embezzled some of the stores; but for want of a particular invoice of them, we cannot ascertain the loss. He is kept in confinement until your Honor’s pleasure is known. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 January, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



When I was down, the Committee among other things resolved, that the Maryland and Carolina companies should not be supported with our provisions. This resolve (I think) met with your approbation; upon which I wrote to Colonel Stephen, desiring him to acquaint Captain Dagworthy thereof, who paid slight regard to it, saying it was in the King’s garrison, and all the troops had an equal right to draw provisions with us, by his order, (as commanding officer,) and that we, after it was put there, had no power to remove it without his leave. I should, therefore, be glad of your Honor’s peremptory orders what to do in this case, as I do not care to act without instructions, lest it should appear to proceed from pique and resentment at having the command disputed. This is one among the numberless inconveniences of having the fort in Maryland. Captain Dagworthy, I dare venture to affirm, is encouraged to say this by Governor Sharpe, who we know has wrote to him to keep the command. This Captain Dagworthy acquainted Colonel Stephen of himself. As I have not yet heard how General Shirley has answered your Honor’s request, I fear Edition: current; Page: [225] the success, especially as it is next to an impossibility (as Governor Sharpe has been there to plead Captain Dagworthy’s cause) by writing to make the General acquainted with the nature of the dispute. The officers have drawn up a memorial to be presented to the General, and, that it may be properly strengthened, they humbly beg your solicitation to have us (as we have certain advices that it is in his power) put upon the establishment. This would at once put an end to contention, which is the root of evil, and destructive to the best of operations; and turn all our movements into a free, easy channel.

They have urged it in the warmest manner to me, to appear personally before the General for that end, which I would at this disagreeable season, gladly do, things being thus circumstanced, if I had your permission; which I more freely ask, since I am determined to resign a commission, which you were generously pleased to offer me, (and for which I shall always retain a grateful sense of the favor) rather than submit to the command of a person, who, I think, has not such superlative merit to balance the inequality of rank, however he adheres to what he calls his right, and in which I know he is supported by Governor Sharpe. He says, that he has no commission from the province of Maryland, but acts by virtue of that from the King; that this was the condition of his engaging in the Maryland service; and when he was sent up there the 1st of last October, was ordered by Governor Sharpe and Sir John St. Clair not to give up his right. To my certain knowledge his rank was disputed before General Edition: current; Page: [226] Braddock, who gave it in his favor; and he accordingly took place of every captain upon the expedition, except Captain James Mercer and Captain Rutherford, whose commissions were older than his; so that I should not by any means choose to act, as your Honor hinted in your last, lest I should be called to an account myself.1

I have, during my stay above2 from the 1st3 of December to this, disposed of all the men and officers, (that are not recruiting, and can be spared from the fort,) in the best manner I can for the defence of the inhabitants, and they will need no further orders till I could return. And the recruiting officers are allowed till the first of March to repair to their rendezvous, which leaves at present nothing to do at the fort, but to train and discipline the men, and prepare and salt the provisions. For the better perfecting both these, I have left full and clear directions.

Besides, in other respects, I think my going to the northward might be of service, as I should thereby, so far as they thought proper to communicate, be acquainted with the plan of operations, especially the Pennsylvanians’, so as to act, as much as the nature of things would admit, in concert.

If you think proper to comply with my request, I should be glad of any letters, as you think would enforce the petition to the General, or any of the governors in my way there. I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [227]
George Washington
Washington, George
1 February, 1756
Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen
Stephen, Lieutenant-Colonel



If you find that a good road by Ross’s Mill can be so easily cut, the sooner it is set about the better. As the Governor is still silent concerning what I represented about building a fort on Patterson’s Creek, I would have you desist, at least for a while, and erect such buildings as are absolutely necessary at Fort Cumberland, and no more.

You may depend upon it I shall take proper notice of the late proceedings you speak of, but for certain reasons am obliged to postpone it. Things not yet being rightly settled for punishing deserters according to their crimes, you must go on in the old way of whipping stoutly.

If casks are still wanted, there should be great care used to provide them in time.

Looking upon our affairs at this critical juncture to be of such importance, and having a personal acquaintance with General Shirley, which I thought might add some weight to the strength of our memorial, I solicited leave, which is obtained, to visit him in person, and accordingly set out in two days for Boston, having procured letters, &c. from the Governor, which was the result of a Council for the purpose called. You may depend upon it, I shall leave no stone unturned for this salutary end; and, I think, if reason, justice, and every other equitable right can claim attention, we deserve to be heard.

As I have taken the fatigue &c. of this tedious Edition: current; Page: [228] journey upon myself, (which I never thought of until I had left Winchester,) I hope you will conduct every thing in my absence for the interest and honor of the service. And I must exhort you in the most earnest manner to strict discipline and due exercise of arms.

You may tell Mr. Livingston from me, that, if the soldiers are not skilled in arms equal to what may reasonably be expected, he most assuredly shall answer it at my return. And I must ingenuously tell you, that I also expect to find them expert at bush-fighting. You are to order that a particular account be taken of the provisions that are delivered to the Maryland and Carolina companies by the commissary.

The Governor seems determined to make the officers comply with the terms of getting their commissions, or forfeit them, and approves of Dekeyser’s suspension,1 and orders, that he shall not be admitted into the camp. He seems uneasy at what I own gives me much concern, i. e., that gaming seems to be introduced into the camp. I am ordered to discourage it, and must desire that you will intimate the same.

As money may be wanted for paying the troops, and other incidental charges, order the paymaster down to Alexandria, where he may receive of Mr. Kirkpatrick the sum requisite.

Edition: current; Page: [229]

I think of nothing else at present; so, with once more exhorting you to strict observation of discipline, I conclude, yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 February, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I can but return my very hearty thanks for your kind condescension in suffering me to wait upon General Shirley, as I am very well assured it was done with the intention to favor my suit.

There is as yet an unanswerable argument against our taking the field, which I forgot to mention in my last; that is, the want of a train of artillery, and, what is full as necessary, engineers to conduct the affair, if we hope to approach Fort Duquesne. By the advices, which we have received hitherto from the northward, the Pennsylvanians are determined to act defensively. For that purpose they have posted their new raised levies upon their frontiers at different passes, and have received the additional strength and favor of a detachment or two from the regulars. I have ordered, besides the forts that are built, and now building, that a road which I had reconnoitred, and which proves nearer and better, to be immediately opened for the more easy transporation of stores, &c. from Winchester to Fort Cumberland; so there is not the least fear of the soldiers being corrupted through idleness. The commission for calling general courts-martial appears to me to be imperfect, Edition: current; Page: [230] (notwithstanding it is drawn by the attorney-general,) as it rather, by the words, appoints me, or whomever it is directed to, president of the said court, than invests a power to call one as often as occasion shall require. For which reason it is not in my power to hold a court-martial without its being first ordered by you; whereas, the commission should empower to appoint a court, of which he is to be president. But as I hope there will be little occasion for any until I come back, it may be deferred until then, when that and other things, I trust, will be properly settled. * * *

I have always, so far as it was in my power, endeavoured to discourage gaming in the camp; and always shall so long as I have the honor to preside there.

I have delivered the skipper to Mr. Carlyle, who proposes, in order to save expense, to send him round by water, in the vessel that brought up the stores. The evidences in this affair will be Mr. Carlyle, Ensigns Buckner and Deane, and one of the men now in the vessel.

I cannot help observing, that your Honor, if you have not seen the clothing lately sent up, has been imposed upon by the contractors, for they are really unfit for use; at least, will soon be so.

I have nothing in particular to add, but to assure your Honour, that I shall use my utmost diligence in the prosecution of my journey and pretensions, and that I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [231]


1 “To be seen at the New Exchange, that elaborate and celebrated piece of mechanism, called the Microcosm, or, the World in Miniature. Built in the form of a Roman Temple, after twenty two years close study and application by the late ingenious Mr. Henry Bridges of London. . . . It will be shewn every day from six in the morning till six at night, to any select company (not less than six) at six shillings each.”—New York Mercury, 16 February, 1756. It had come from Philadelphia and had already been exhibited in Virginia.
1756. Feby. 4. By cash lodged with Captn. Mercer for Exps to Boston £117.
By cash lodged with Captn. Mercer for Exps to Boston purpose 20. 15.
By cash lodged with Captn. Mercer for Exps to Boston 4. 6. 8
By cash lodged with Captn. Mercer for Exps to Boston 8.
8. By John Alton 16/By Thos Bishop 21/6 1. 17. 6
By Sundry small expenses at Philadelphia 2. 3.
By Sundry small expenses at Schoolkill 1. 1. 6
13. By Cash to the Taylor 21. 9. 0 } Pensa. Money
to the Hatter 2. 14. }
to the Jeweller 1. 7. 6 }
to the Sadlers 1. 9. 7 }
to the washer-woman 16. 11 }
£27. 17. 0. is in Virga. Cury. 22. 5. 7½
15. By Servants between Phila. and New York 10.
By Thos. Bishop 21/6. By Jno. Alton 21/6 2. 3.
15 to 18 { By Cash for my Club at Tavn. 5. 1 } New York My.
{ for treatg. Ladies to ye Mm.1 1. 8. }
{ at Mrs. Baron’s Rout 6. }
{ Club at Willets 4. 2 }
{ Sadlers acct. 10. }
{ a pr. of shoes 14. }
{ Taylors Bill 3. 3. 7 }
£6. 10. 10. is in Virga. Cury. 4. 14. ½
18 to 25 { By cash, by a pr of slippers 16. } New York M’y.
{ treatg. Ladies to ye Microcosm 1. 4. }
{ hiring a person to get horses 8. }
{ a mare of Mr. Pitcher 25. }
{ a mare bot. of Lary 20. 6. }
{ a mare to Oliver Delancy Esqr. for Captn Mercer 28. 12. }
{ Mr. Robinson’s Servts. 1. 8. 6 }
{ Horse hire for C. Mercer 1. 7. 6 }
{ lost at cards 8. }
{ Gave to Servants on ye Rd. 10. }
£80. 0. 0 is in Va. Cury. 57. 10
By cash to Mr. Malbones servants £4. 0. 0. } Rhode Island
to a Bowle broke 4. }
£8. in Virga. Cury. 11.
Edition: current; Page: [233] Edition: current; Page: [233]
1 Alton was his servant, receiving £13 per annum, and was afterwards one of Washington’s overseers. Bishop, also, at £10 a year.
By cash lent Captn. Mercer 19. 4
Feb. 27 to Mar. 10 { By cash to a Man of Wars crew 11. 3 } Massachusets.
{ at cards at the Governors 1. 2. 6 }
{ crossing to Castle William 11. 3 }
{ the Chamber Maid 1. 2. 6 }
{ at Cards 3. 18. 9 }
{ For a Hatt 12. 10. }
{ Taylors Bill 95. 7. 3 }
{ Silver lace 94. 17. 1 }
{ 2 pr. of Gloves 1. 18. 1 }
£211. 18. 8 is in Virga. Cury. 26. 9. 10
By cash to John Alton1 5. 9
14 to 23 { By cash to a Ticket to ye Assembly 7. 6 } Pensa. Money
{ my board at Mr. Woods 1. }
{ a pr. of Gloves 2. 6 }
{ Stockings for Bishop 1. }
{ the Barber &c. 3. 9 }
{ Sadler 7. 6 }
{ The House Maid 5. }
{ Exps. at Chester 10. 6 }
{ Exps. fm. Phila. to Alexa. 6. 11. 6 }
£10. 8. 3 in Virga. Cury. is 8. 6. 7½
By my Expenses pd. by Captn. Mercer to Boston &c 65. 15. 11½
From Feby. 10 to Mar. 14 s d Pensylva.
{ By Cash for mending a Sword 3. 9 }
{ for Ribon 2 }
{ Cards 1. }
{ Cockades 3. }
{ Breeches Buckle 1. 4 }
9. 2 in Virga. Cury. is 7. 4
By sundry other payments at New York &c. amg. to 4. 12. 4
Edition: current; Page: [234]


February 12, 1756. Last week Colonel Washington arrived here from Virginia.

February 19. Last week Colonel Washington set out from this city for New York.1

February 26. New York, February 23. Colonel Washington, of and from Virginia, but last from Philadelphia, left this city for Boston on Friday last, there ’tis thought, to consult with General Shirley, measures proper to be taken with several tribes of Indians to the southward, and particularly the Cherokees, some hundreds of whom, from the back parts of the two Carolinas, it is reported, have assured the Western Governments of their coming in, and firmly adhering to the interest of the English, in opposition to the French.2

March 11. Boston, March 1. Last Friday came to this Town, from Virginia, the Hon. Colonel Washington.3

March 18. Yesterday Colonel George Washington arrived here [Philadelphia] from the northward.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 April, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I arrived here yesterday, and think it advisable to despatch an express (notwithstanding I hear two or three are already sent down) to inform you of the unhappy situation of affairs on this quarter. The enemy have returned in greater numbers, committed several murders not far from Winchester, and even are so daring as to attack our forts in open day, as your Honor may see by the enclosed letters and Edition: current; Page: [235] papers. Many of the inhabitants are in a miserable situation by their losses, and so apprehensive of danger, that, I believe, unless a stop is put to the depredations of the Indians, the Blue Ridge will soon become our frontier.

I find it impossible to continue on to Fort Cumberland, until a body of men can be raised, in order to do which I have advised with Lord Fairfax, and other officers of the militia, who have ordered each captain to call a private muster, and to read the exhortation enclosed (for orders are no longer regarded in this county), in hopes that this expedient may meet with the wished-for success. If it should, I shall, with such men as are ordered from Fort Cumberland to join these, scour the woods and suspected places, in all the mountains, valleys, &c. on this part of our frontiers; and doubt not but I shall fall in with the Indians and their more cruel associates! I hope the present emergency of affairs, assisted by such good news as the Assembly may by this time have received from England, and the Commissioners, will determine them to take vigorous measures for their own and country’s safety, and no longer depend on an uncertain way of raising men for their own protection. However absurd it may appear, it is nevertheless certain, that five hundred Indians have it more in their power to annoy the inhabitants, than ten times their number of regulars. For besides the advantageous way they have of fighting in the woods, their cunning and craft are not to be equalled, neither their activity and indefatigable sufferings. They Edition: current; Page: [236] prowl about like wolves, and, like them, do their mischief by stealth. They depend upon their dexterity in hunting and upon the cattle of the inhabitants for provisions. For which reason, I own, I do not think it unworthy the notice of the legislature to compel the inhabitants (if a general war is likely to ensue, and things to continue in this unhappy situation for any time), to live in townships, working at each other’s farms by turns, and to drive their cattle into the thickly settled parts of the country. Were this done, they could not be cut off by small parties, and large ones could not subsist without provisions.1

It seemed to be the sentiment of the House of Burgesses when I was down, that a chain of forts should be erected upon our frontiers, for the defence of the people. This expedient, in my opinion, without an inconceivable number of men, will never answer their expectations.2

Edition: current; Page: [237]

I doubt not but your Honor has had a particular account of Major Lewis’s unsuccessful attempt to get to the Shawanese Town. It was an expedition, from which, on account of the length of the march down, I always had little expectation of, and often expressed my uneasy apprehensions on that head. But since they are returned, with the Indians that accompanied them, I think it would be a very happy step to prevail upon the latter to proceed as far as Fort Cumberland. It is in their power to be of infinite use to us; and without Indians, we shall never be able to cope with those cruel foes to our country.1

I would therefore beg leave to recommend in a very earnest manner, that your Honor would send an express to them immediately for this desirable end. I should have done it myself, but was uncertain whether it might prove agreeable or not. I also hope your Honour will order Major Lewis to secure his guides, as I understand he attributes all his misfortunes to their misconduct. Such offences as those should meet with adequate punishment, else we may ever be misled by designing villains. I am your Honor’s, &c.

Since writing the above, Mr. Pearis, who commanded a party as per enclosed list, is returned, who relates, that, upon the North River, he fell in with a Edition: current; Page: [238] small body of Indians which he engaged, and, after a dispute of half an hour, put them to flight. Monsieur Douville, commander of the party, was killed and scalped, and his instructions found about him, which I enclose. We had one man killed, and two wounded. Mr. Pearis sends the scalp by Jenkins; and I hope, although it is not an Indian’s, they will meet with an adequate reward at least, as the monsieur’s is of much more consequence. The whole party jointly claim the reward, no person pretending solely to assume the merit.1

Your Honor may in some measure penetrate into the daring designs of the French by their instructions, where orders are given to burn, if possible, our magazine at Conococheague, a place that is in the midst of a thickly settled country.

I have ordered the party there to be made as strong as time and our present circumstances will afford, for fear they should attempt to execute the orders of Dumas.2 I have also ordered up an officer Edition: current; Page: [239] and twenty recruits to assist Joseph Edwards, and the people on those waters.1 The people of this town are under dreadful apprehensions of an attack, and all the roads between this and Fort Cumberland are much infested. As I apprehend you will be obliged to draft men, I hope care will be taken that none shall be chosen but active, resolute men,—men, who are practised to arms, and are marksmen.

I also hope that a good many more will be taken than what are requisite to complete our numbers to what the Assembly design to establish; as many of those we have got are really in a manner unfit for duty; and were received more through necessity than choice; and will very badly bear a re-examination. Another thing I would beg leave to recommend; and that is, that such men as are drafted, should be only taken for a time,2 by which means we shall get better men, and which will in all probability stay with us.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 April, 1756
Governor Morris
Morris, Governor


Dear Sir:

I had scarce reached Williamsburg, before an express was after me with news of the French and Edition: current; Page: [240] Indians advancing within our settlements, and doing incredible mischief to the inhabitants, which oblig’d me to postpone my business there, and hurry to their assistance with all expedition: when I came to this place I found everything in deep confusion, and the poor distressed inhabitants under a general consternation. I therefore collected such force as I coud immediately raise, and sent them in such parties, and to such places as t’was judged most likely to meet with the Enemy; one of which, under the command of Mr. Pearis, luckily fell in with a small body of them as they were surrounding a small fort on the No. River of Cacapehon, whom they engaged, and (after half an hour’s close firing) put to flight with the loss of their commander, Mons. Douville (killed), and three or four more mortally wounded. The accident that has determined the fate of Monsieur has, I believe, dispersd his party, for I don’t hear of any mischief done in this colony since, tho’ we are not without numbers who are making hourly discoverys.

I have sent you a copy of the Instructions that were found about this officer, that you may see how bold and enterprising the enemy have grown, how unconfind are the ambitious designs of the French, and how much it will be in their power (if the colonys continue in their fatal lethargy) to give a final stab to liberty and property.

Nothing I more sincerely wish than a union to the colonys in this time of eminent danger, and that you may find your Assembly in a temper of mind to act consistently with their preservation. What Maryland Edition: current; Page: [241] has or will do, I know not, but this I am certain of, that Virginia will do everything that can be expected to promote the publick good.

I went to Williamsburgh fully resolved to resign my commission, but was diswaded from it at least for a time.1 If the hurry of business, in which I know your Honor is genly. engaged, will admit of an opportunity to murder a little time in writing to me, I shoud receive the favour as a mark of that esteem which I coud wish to merit, by shewing at all times, when its in my power, how much I am, Sir, &c.

P. S. A Letter this instant arriving from Williamsburg informs that our Assembly have voted £20,000 more, and that their forces shd. be increasd to 2000 men. A laudable example this, and I hope not singular one.

George Washington
Washington, George
16 April, 1756
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Sir:

When I wrote you last, I was in high hopes of being by this time at the head of a large party scouring the Allegany Hills. But the timidity of the inhabitants of this county is to be equalled by nothing but Edition: current; Page: [242] their perverseness. Yesterday was the time appointed for all to meet who were inclined to join for this desirable end, and only fifteen came, some of whom refused to go but upon such terms as must have rendered their services burthensome to the country. Therefore, I am again reduced to the necessity of waiting the arrival of a party from Fort Cumberland before I can leave this place.1 There has been no mischief done since I wrote you last,2 which I attribute in some measure, to the frequent parties I have ordered out in pursuit of the enemy. Yesterday I received an account which made me suspect that the Indians rendezvoused upon the back of the Warm Spring Mountain. I have, therefore, sent orders to an officer3 who is out with a party of one hundred men, to proceed thither with the best guides he can procure, and search that mountain well; which, if the intelligence be true, I hope he will render a good account of them.

Nothing, Sir, equals the pleasure I felt at hearing of the generous supplies the Assembly have voted. But to find that the men and money which they have given are properly disposed of, and that the men are formed for the service of the country, and not to make commissions to serve individuals, I have sent Edition: current; Page: [243] the Governor a plan or scheme, of which you have a copy; to form the two thousand men into one regiment, consisting of two battalions of ten companies each; with five field officers, each having a company, and every company to consist of one captain, two lieutenants, one ensign, four sergeants, four corporals, two drummers, and eighty-seven private men: which will save the country the annual expense of five thousand and six pounds, sixteen shillings and eight pence, as you may see by the enclosed. And we at the same time be better appointed and established more after the British custom than we now are, or shall be if formed into two regiments, or one regiment with only fifty men in a company.1 As instances of which I shall observe: first, were we formed into two regiments after our present appointment, we must have one hundred and two commissioned, and two hundred [and] twenty four non-commissioned officers, besides staff officers. But these indeed will be the same in two battalions, as in two regiments. Whereas in the present scheme, you have only eighty commissioned officers, and two hundred non-commissioned. The pay therefore of them, together with the staff-officers and private men, all amounts only to £34,145. 10. per annum. Whereas the same number of men in two regiments, or in fifties, according to our present establishment, will be £39,152. 6. 8. The difference therefore is, as I before observed, £5,006. 16. 8., Edition: current; Page: [244] which would go a great length either in clothing, or defraying incident charges of the regiment. Another difference is that of giving the field officers companies, which is practised in all parts of the world but this, and here discontinued evidently to the disadvantage of the country, as the field officers who have no companies are allowed in the same proportion as if they had, and three captains are paid to do this duty.

This calculation is made for the two thousand men, to include officers; but if that is not the intention of the Assembly, the scheme still holds good, or better in proportion, and differs in this respect only: that each company is to contain one hundred men instead of eighty-seven, and to have the addition of a sergeant or two to each.

I have made bold, Sir, to offer my opinion freely; and if it meets with the approbation of your House, I should be glad if you would help it into execution. Otherwise, as I am sensible, the Governor may be strongly importuned for commissions, he may good-naturedly grant them, without considering how manifest an injury it will be to the country and service in general.

As I am convinced, that no other method can be used to raise two thousand men, but by drafting, I hope to be excused, when I again repeat, how great care should be observed in choosing active marksmen. The manifest inferiority of inactive persons, unused to arms, in this kind of service, although equal in numbers, to lively persons who have practised hunting, is inconceivable. The chance against Edition: current; Page: [245] them is more than two to one. Another thing I hope will merit the consideration of the Assembly, and that is, that they will put all such men as are raised for the expedition in actual pay, and under the same discipline that ours are at present; otherwise, I am very well convinced their good intentions will prove abortive, and all the drafts quit the service as soon, or before, they are brought into it.

I do not conceive it to be a hardship to put even drafts under martial law, if they are only taken for a certain time, which I could wish to be the case, as I thereby hope for better men.1 I am &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 April, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

It gave me infinite concern to find in yours2 by Governor Innes, that any representations should inflame the Assembly against the Virginia regiment, or give cause to suspect the morality and good behaviour of the officers. How far any of the individuals may have deserved such invidious reflections, I will not take upon me to determine, but this I am certain Edition: current; Page: [246] of, and can call my conscience, and what, I suppose, will still be a more demonstrable proof in the eyes of the world, my orders, to witness how much I have, both by threats and persuasive means, endeavoured to discountenance gaming, drinking, swearing, and irregularities of every other kind; while I have, on the other hand, practised every artifice to inspire a laudable emulation in the officers for the service of their country, and to encourage the soldiers in the unerring exercise of their duty. How far I have failed in this desirable end, I cannot pretend to say. But it is nevertheless a point, which does in my opinion merit some scrutiny, before it meets with a final condemnation. Yet I will not undertake to vouch for the conduct of many of the officers, as I know there are some, who have the seeds of idleness very strongly ingrafted in their natures; and I also know, that the unhappy difference about the command, which has kept me from Fort Cumberland, has consequently prevented me from enforcing the orders, which I never failed to send.

However, if I continue in the service, I shall take care to act with a little more rigor, than has hitherto been practised, since I find it so necessary.

I wrote your Honor in my last how unsuccessfully we attempted to raise the militia, and that I was reduced to the necessity of waiting here the arrival of an escort from Fort Cumberland.

Should this escort arrive before Mr. Kirkpatrick does from Williamsburgh (whom I hourly expect), I must yet wait a little longer, he being left with all my accounts and papers to lay before the committee, Edition: current; Page: [247] and were I to go up without him, it would put it out of my power to settle with the recruiting officers above, in order that I might make a final settlement with the committee below. The garrison at Fort Cumberland is barely manned. The rest are out on parties; yet the Indians continue to hunt the roads, and pick up straggling persons. This your Honor may see by the enclosed from Captain John Mercer, who, being out with a scouting party of one hundred men, I have ordered to search the Warm-Spring Mountain, where, it is lately reported, that the Indians rendezvous. The commission your Honor has sent for holding courts-martial is yet insufficient, as it is copied, (I suppose, too literally) after Governor Innes’s, who had no power to hold a general court-martial, or to try commissioned officers, having none either to hold a court, or in short any to try. But this may be postponed until I come down, which will be in a short time after I arrive at Fort Cumberland. I am your Honor’s, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
19 April, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Since writing my letter of yesterday’s date, the enclosed came to hand, by which your Honor will be informed of a very unlucky affair.1

I immediately consulted Governor Innes, and such officers of my regiment as were at this place, on the necessary steps to be taken. They unanimously advised, Edition: current; Page: [248] that I should remain here with the fifty recruits that are in town, for the defence of the place, until the militia be raised, that we may thereby be enabled to compose a formidable body, and march out against the enemy. This engagement happened within twenty miles of Winchester, and the sergeant, who brought the letter, assures me that they have reason to imagine, that their numbers are greater than the letter informs.1 He says that there were many French amongst them, and that the chief part of the whole were mounted on horseback; so that there is a great probability that they may have a design upon this place.

I have sent an express to Lord Fairfax, with a copy of Stark’s letter, and have desired, in the most earnest manner, that he will be expeditious in calling the militia; but, alas! that is an unhappy dependence; yet the only one we have at present. I am your Honor’s, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 April, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

This encloses several letters, and the minutes of a council of war,2 which was held upon the receipt of Edition: current; Page: [249] them. Your Honor may see to what unhappy straits the distressed inhabitants as well as I, am reduced. I am too little acquainted, Sir, with pathetic language, to attempt a description of the people’s distresses, though I have a generous soul, sensible of wrongs, and swelling for redress. But what can I do? If bleeding, dying! would glut their insatiate revenge, I would be a willing offering to savage fury, and die by inches to save a people! I see their situation, know their danger, and participate their sufferings, without having it in my power to give them further relief, than uncertain promises. In short, I see inevitable destruction in so clear a light, that, unless vigorous measures are taken by the Assembly, and speedy assistance sent from below, the poor inhabitants that are now in forts, must unavoidably fall, while the remainder of the country are flying before the barbarous foe. In fine, the melancholy situation of the people, the little prospect of assistance, the gross and scandalous abuses cast upon the officers in general, which is reflecting upon me in particular, for suffering misconducts of such extraordinary kinds, and the distant prospects, if any, that I can see, of gaining honor and reputation in the service, are motives which cause me to lament the hour, that gave me a commission, and would induce me, at any other time than this of imminent danger, to resign without one hesitating moment, a command, which I never expect to reap either honor or benefit from; but, on the contrary, have almost an absolute certainty of incurring displeasure below, while the Edition: current; Page: [250] murder of poor innocent babes and helpless families may be laid to my account here!

The supplicating tears of the women, and moving petitions from the men, melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to the people’s ease.

Lord Fairfax has ordered men from the adjacent counties, but when they will come, or in what numbers, I cannot pretend to determine. If I may judge from the success we have met with here, I have but little hopes, as three days’ incessant endeavours have produced but twenty men.

I have too often urged my opinion for vigorous measures, therefore I shall only add, that, besides the accounts you will receive in the letters, we are told from all parts, that the woods appear to be alive with Indians, who feast upon the fat of the land. As we have not more than a barrel or two of powder at this place, the rest being at Fort Cumberland, I could wish your Honor would send some up. I have wrote to Alexandria and Fredericksburg, desiring that two barrels may be sent from each place, but whether there is any at either, I know not. I have sent orders to Captain Harrison to be diligent on the waters where he is posted, and to use his utmost endeavours to protect the people; and, if possible, to surprise the enemy at their sleeping-places. Ashby’s letter is a very extraordinary one.1 The design of the Indians Edition: current; Page: [251] was only, in my opinion, to intimidate him into a surrender. For which reason I have wrote him word, that if they do attack him, he must defend that place to the last extremity, and when he is bereft of hope, then to lay a train to blow up the fort, and retire by night to Fort Cumberland. A small fort, which we have at the mouth of Patterson’s Creek, containing an officer and thirty men guarding stores, was attacked smartly by the French and Indians; they were as warmly received, upon which they retired. Our men at present are dispersed into such small bodies, guarding the people and public stores, that we are not able to make, or even form a body. I am your Honor’s, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [252]
George Washington
Washington, George
24 April, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Not an hour, nay scarcely a minute, passes, that does not produce fresh alarms and melancholy accounts. So that I am distracted what to do! Nor is it possible for me to give the people the necessary assistance for their defence, upon account of the small number of men we have, or is likely to be here for some time. The inhabitants are removing daily, and in a short time will leave this county as desolate as Hampshire, where scarce a family lives!

Three families were murdered the night before last, at the distance of less than twelve miles from this place; and every day we have accounts of such cruelties and barbarities, as are shocking to human nature. Nor is it possible to conceive the situation and danger of this miserable country. Such numbers of French and Indians are all around, no road is safe to travel; and here we know not the hour how soon we may be attacked.

But as it is not in my power to give your Honor a full account of every thing, I have sent Captain Peachey to wait upon you, who can be more ample and satisfactory in every point, that requires your Honor’s notice. I have written for the militia of Fairfax, Prince William, and Culpeper, and expect them here in a very few days. But how they are to be supplied with ammunition and provision, I am quite at a loss. The distance of Fort Cumberland from us, where these supplies are, renders them useless, Edition: current; Page: [253] in a manner, and puts us to the greatest straits; and the inhabitants leaving their farms, will make it impossible for the militia to subsist without provisions, which are now very scarce, and will be more so. I should therefore be glad your Honor would send arms, ammunition, and provisions up, and give immediate orders for the Irish beef at Alexandria, which cannot be had without your consent.

Your Honor spoke of sending some Indians to our assistance, in which no time should be lost, nor means omitted to engage all the Catawbas and Cherokees, that can possibly be gathered together and immediately despatched hither. For without Indians to oppose Indians, we may expect but small success. And I should think it no bad scheme, (while the Indians remain here in such numbers,) to have a detachment sent out with some friendly Indians to make an attempt upon their towns,—though this should be executed with all imaginable secrecy.

I hear the Assembly are for augmenting the forces (in pay) to fifteen hundred, which are far too few to defend the frontiers against so numerous an enemy. But I have often wrote you my sentiments upon this and other subjects, so shall not now enlarge. I have also written to the Speaker by Captain Peachey, who will, I imagine, communicate to your Honor what demands your immediate regard.

I wish your Honor would resolve me, whether the militia that are expected here must be supplied out of the public stocks of provisions laid in for the Edition: current; Page: [254] soldiers, or if they are to find themselves. The want of due direction in matters of this nature causes great inconvenience. Give me leave to urge your Honor’s speedy care of sending men and ammunition to our assistance, else the consequence may prove very fatal in a little time.

I have been just now informed, that numbers about the neighbourhood hold councils and cabals to very dishonorable purposes, and unworthy the thoughts of a British subject. Despairing of assistance and protection from below (as they foolishly conjecture), they talk of capitulating and coming upon terms with the French and Indians, rather than lose their lives and fortunes through obstinacy. My force, at present, is very weak, and unable to take the necessary measures, with those suspected; but, as soon as the militia arrive, be assured I will do my utmost to detect and secure such pests of society, if my information is not groundless, which I should be pleased to find so.

I enclose your Honor a copy of a council of war lately held here,1 and copies of some letters since my last to you; one of which, for Colonel Martin, was just sent to me from Fort Hopewell, on the South Branch. They have had an engagement there, with the French and Indians, the particulars of which you will see by the enclosed. Captain Waggener, with a party of his men, joined them next day, and went in Edition: current; Page: [255] pursuit of the enemy, but could not come up with them. The waters were so high, that although Captain Waggener heard them engaged, he could send them no assistance. From these and other circumstances, you may form but a faint idea of the wretched and unhappy situation of this country, nor can it be conceived.

My extreme hurry, confusion, and anxiety must plead an excuse for incorrectness, &c. I am your Honor’s, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 April, 1756
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Sir,

Yesterday I received yours by Mr. Kirkpatrick, and am sorry to hear the reflections upon the conduct of the officers. I could wish that their names had been particularized, that justice might be done to the innocent and guilty! for it is extremely hard, that the whole corps should suffer the most ungenteel reproaches for the inadvertence and misconduct of a few.1

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The deplorable situation of this people is no more to be described, than my anxiety and uneasiness for their relief. And I see in so clear a light the inevitable destruction of this county without immediate assistance, that I cannot look forward but with the most poignant sorrow.

You may expect, by the time this comes to hand, that, without a considerable reinforcement, Frederick county will not be mistress of fifteen families. They are now retreating to the securest parts in droves of fifties. In short, every thing has too melancholy an appearance for pen to communicate. I have therefore sent an officer, whose good sense and judicious observations will be a more effectual way of transmitting an account of the people’s distresses.

I wish the Assembly had given two thousand men, instead of fifteen hundred, and that I had been acquainted with the dispositions they intended to make. Since I am ignorant of this, I hope it will not be thought presuming when I offer my sentiments upon the subject.

We are, Sir, first to consider, that if a chain of forts is to be erected upon our frontiers, it is done with a design to protect the people. Therefore, if these forts are more than fifteen and eighteen miles, or a day’s march, asunder, and garrisoned with less than eighty or an hundred men each, the intention is Edition: current; Page: [257] lost, and for these reasons. 1st, if they are at greater distances, it is inconvenient for the soldiers to scout, and allows the enemy to pass between without being easily discovered, and when discovered so soon pursued. And secondly, if they are garrisoned with less than eighty or an hundred men, the number will be too few to afford detachments. Then, again, our frontiers are so extensive, that, were the enemy to attack us on the one side, before the troops on the other could get to their assistance, they might overrun and destroy half the country. And it is more than probable, if they had a design upon the first, they would make a feint upon the other. Then we are to consider what sums the building of twenty forts would cost, and the removing stores and provisions to each, and in the last place, we are to consider where and when this expense is to end. For, if we do not endeavour to remove the cause, we are liable to the same incursions seven years hence as now, if the war continues, and they are allowed to remain on Ohio.

I shall next give the reasons, which I think make for a defensive plan. If the neighbouring colonies refuse us their assistance, we have neither strength or abilities of ourselves to conduct an expedition; or, if we had, and were the whole to join us, I do not see to what purpose, since we have neither a train of artillery, artillery-men, engineers, &c, to execute any scheme beyond the mountains against a regular fortress. Again, we have not, that I can see, either stores or provisions, arms or ammunition, wagons or Edition: current; Page: [258] horses, in any degree proportioned to the service; and to undertake an affair, where we are sure to fall through, would be productive of the worst consequences, and another defeat would entirely lose us the interest of every Indian.

If, then, we cannot act offensively with a prospect of success, we must be upon the defensive; and that there is no way to protect the people, or save ourselves, but by a chain of forts, is evidently certain.

I would beg leave, in that case, to propose that there should be a strong fort erected at this place, for a general receptacle of all the stores, &c, and a place of residence for the commanding officers, to be garrisoned with one company for the security of the stores, and to serve as escorts for all wagons, that are going higher up, because it is the most public and most convenient for intelligence of any in the country, and the most convenient to the part that will ever be attacked by numbers, it lying directly on the road to Fort Duquesne, from whence, and their Indian allies, who are still up higher, we have the greatest reason to apprehend danger. It also lies convenient to the inhabitants for raising the militia when occasion requires.

I have found by experience, that being just within the inhabitants is absolutely necessary to give orders for the defence of the people; and that Fort Cumberland is of no more use towards the defence of the country, than Fort George at Hampton, and know as little what is doing. For the people so soon as they are alarmed, immediately fly inwards, and at Edition: current; Page: [259] this time there is not an inhabitant living between here and Fort Cumberland, except a few settlements upon the Manor about a fort we built there, and a few families at Edward’s, on Cacapehon, with a guard of ours, which makes this very town at present the outmost frontiers, and though a place trifling in itself, is yet of the utmost importance, as it commands the communication from east to west, as well as from north to south, for at this place do almost all the roads center, and secures the great roads of one half of our frontiers to the markets of the neighbouring colonies, as well as to those on Rappahannock and Potomack. At Fort Cumberland I would have one company garrisoned to secure the place, to procure the earliest intelligence, and to cover all detachments that may be sent towards the Ohio, which is all the use it can ever be of. In the next place, I would propose, that a good fort should be erected between this and Fort Cumberland, which shall be in a line with the chain of forts across the country, and be garrisoned with two companies. This I would advise, because, as I before observed, if we are ever attacked by a large body, it must be here, as they have no other road to our frontiers, either to transport men or necessaries.

These three forts that I have already spoken of will employ four companies, which will be a tolerable body, if the companies are large, which they would be, according to the plan I sent you. And it would be a trifling expense to augment each company to one hundred privates, which will make two Edition: current; Page: [260] thousand, exclusive of officers, which were included in the scheme last sent.

After this is done, I would post the remaining companies equidistant, or at proper passes, along our frontiers, agreeable to the enclosed sketch, and order communications to be opened between fort and fort, and large detachments scouting to discover the tracks of the enemy.

And now, sir, one thing to add, which requires the Assembly’s attention, and that is, what vale, or upon what part of our frontiers these forts are to be built? For I am to tell you that the Great Ridge or North Mountain, so called in Evans’s map, to which I refer, is now become our exterior bound, there not being one inhabitant beyond that on all the Potomack waters, except a few families on the South Branch, and at Joseph Edwards’s, on Cacapehon, (which I have already mentioned,) guarded by a party of ours. So that it requires some consideration to determine whether we are to build near this to protect the present inhabitants; or on the South Branch, or Patterson’s Creek, in the hopes of drawing back those, who have forsaken their dwellings,

If we do not build there, that country will ever want settlers; and if we do, there is so great a blank, with such a series of mountains between, that it will be next to impossible to guard the people effectually. I could again wish, that the Assembly had given two thousand men, exclusive of officers, to be formed into two battalions of ten companies each, with four field officers. Indeed, fifteen hundred men are a greater Edition: current; Page: [261] number than ever was in a regiment of only one battalion, and they should be divided into two, with four field-officers, who should be posted so as to have the immediate care of a certain number of forts, with orders to draw from one to another, as occasion should require.1

I could add more on this subject, but am so hurried, that I am obliged to refer for further particulars to the bearer, who will tell you, that, to carry on all these works, a number of tools, as well as many other necessaries, will be absolutely wanting.

I have given my opinion with candor, and submit Edition: current; Page: [262] to correction with the greatest pleasure. Confusion and hurry must apologize for the incoherence and incorrectness hereof.

I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
27 April, 1756
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Sir:

In my last I omitted to observe one thing touching the defence of our frontiers by a chain of forts, and it is this:

If the province of Maryland makes no provision for its frontiers, we shall have a long, unguarded space quite open and defenceless from Wills Creek to the mouth of Shanandoah, where the enemy may have, and have already given proof of, free egress and regress in crossing Potowmack; plundering, burning, murdering and destroying all before them. It is matter of moment, and worthy the Assembly’s notice. For we must secure that weak side, if our neighbours are so indifferent as to disregard their own safety, because of its connexion with ours. In this case the number of forts will be increased to two or three more. Another material point to be regarded by the Assembly, and of very great importance to the inhabitants, is the situation of these forts intended along the frontiers. As I mentioned to you before, that placing them on the former utmost frontier, would be of small service to defend the present frontier settlements, now so remote from the former.

For the enemy would still make incursions, and carry off their booty with impunity, without a considerable Edition: current; Page: [263] number of men posted at these forts constantly patrolling in order to interrupt them. And without such defence and protection, the people will never be induced to return again to their plantations.

Again, if the forts are built upon the present exterior settlements, the former lands will remain unsettled: nor need we expect that the inhabitants will extend their improvements beyond these forts, while such disturbances continue.

I would again urge the necessity of a large and strong fort at this town1 for very cogent reasons, as I hinted in my former, it being the center of all the public roads, and a place of the most importance on the frontiers. I would advise its being large, as it will be the sole refuge for the inhabitants upon any alarm, where they may be received and protected until they can return with safety to their plantations. And as it must be the magazine of stores, to supply many other forts, the country and soldiers with provisions, ammunition, &c., it ought, of consequence, to be large and pretty strong.

Had such a place of defence been here, it would have hindered some hundreds of families from moving further than this, that are now lost to the country. The women and children might have been secure, while the men would have gone in a body against the savages, whereas the number of men now left is so small, that no assistance or defence can be made to any purpose. Winchester is now the farthest boundary of this county—no inhabitants beyond it: and if Edition: current; Page: [264] measures are not taken to maintain it, we must retire below the Blue Ridge in a very short time.

Let me therefore recommend to yours and the Assembly’s particular care, that no time be lost in this salutary proposal: for should this panic and fear continue, not a soul will be left on this side the Ridge: and what now remain, are collected in small forts (out of which there is no prevailing on them to stir) and every plantation deserted.

I have exerted every power for the protection and peace of this distressed, unhappy people, and used my utmost to persuade them to continue, until assistance come, though to little effect. I have repeatedly urged Lord Fairfax to send for the militia of the adjacent counties, and have sent myself several expresses to hurry them on.

If the Assembly approve the scheme of erecting a fort here and at other places, tools of all kinds will be wanting, and must be sent up immediately, that no time may be lost. Carpenters from below should likewise be engaged; and every proper method for dispatching so desirable and so general a good, as this defence for Frederick, &c. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
27 April, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



I sent an express to Fort Cumberland on Tuesday last, who is just returned with the enclosed letters, which I forward, to prevent the trouble of extracting a part.

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In my letter to Colonel Stephen, I did among other things inform him of the accusations laid to his charge, and that he must expect to have the matter inquired into. Your Honor will see what he says upon the subject.

Desolation and murder still increase, and no prospects of relief. The Blue Ridge is now our frontier, no men being left in this county, except a few that keep close with a number of women and children in forts, which they have erected for that purpose. There are now no militia in this county; when there were, they could not be brought to action. If the inhabitants of the adjacent counties pursue the same system of disobedience, the whole must fall an inevitable sacrifice; and there is room to fear, they have caught the infection, since I have sent (besides divers letters to Lord Fairfax,) express after express to hurry them on, and yet have no tidings of their march. We have the greatest reason in life to believe, that the number of the enemy is very considerable, as they are spread all over this part of the country; and that their success, and the spoils with which they have enriched themselves, dished up with a good deal of French policy, will encourage the Indians of distant nations to fall upon our inhabitants in greater numbers, and, if possible, with greater rapidity. They enjoy the sweets of a profitable war, and will no doubt improve the success, which ever must attend their arms, without we have Indians to oppose theirs. I would therefore advise, as I often have done, that there should be neither trouble nor Edition: current; Page: [266] expense omitted to bring the few, who are still inclined, into our service, and that, too, with the greatest care and expedition. A small number, just to point out the wiles and tracks of the enemy, is better than none; for which reason I must earnestly recommend, that those, who accompanied Major Lewis, should be immediately sent up, and such of the Catawbas as can be engaged in our interest. If such another torrent as this has been, (or may be ere it is done,) should press upon our settlements, there will not be a living creature left in Frederick county; and how soon Fairfax and Prince William may share its fate is easily conceived, if we only consider a cruel and bloodthirsty enemy, conquerors already possessed of the finest part of Virginia, plenteously filled with all kinds of provisions, pursuing a people overcome with fear and consternation at the inhuman murders of these barbarous savages!

I have exerted every means that I could think of, to quiet the minds of these unhappy people: but, for a man to have inclination, and not power, he may as well be without either, for the assistance he can give.

The inhabitants of the county, who are now in forts, are greatly distressed for the want of ammunition and provision, and are incessantly importuning me for both; neither of which have I at this place to spare. And if I had, I should be much embarrassed how to act, as I could not be safe in delivering either without your orders; and to hear the cries of the hungry, who have fled for refuge to these places, with nothing more than they carry on their backs, is exceedingly Edition: current; Page: [267] moving. Therefore I hope, your Honor will give directions concerning this matter.

I have wrote to the Assembly, setting forth the great and absolute necessity there is of erecting a large and strong fort at this place, to serve as a receptacle for all our stores, &c., and a place of refuge for the women and children in times of danger. Was this necessary work completed, the men would, upon any alarm, (as they say themselves,) immediately lodge their families here, and turn out against the enemy. But without some such place of defence, they must always fly in the manner they have, in order to secure their wives and children!

This is the place generally fixed upon, as it has a free and open communication with all the country, from its centrical situation. It also secures the communication with the neighbouring colonies, as well as the trade, to the rivers of Rappahannock, Potomack, &c., and, though trifling in itself, a place of the utmost importance to the country in general, being contiguous to that part of our frontiers (but alas! this is the utmost frontier at present) which ever must, if any, sustain the attack of numbers, as it is the nearest to Fort Duquesne, to which place we have opened a full communication. It is also contiguous to their Indian allies, who are at present higher up the Ohio than themselves. It is also conveniently situated for procuring the earliest intelligence, when the enemy is about, and to obtain relief from the militia below. In short it would be needless to urge all the cogent reasons that plead in its Edition: current; Page: [268] behalf, and shew how conveniently situated it is for the commanding officer to reside at. But one I shall add, which alone would be sufficient, and that is what I have before observed, viz., the procuring intelligence. This I now am truly sensible of, from the earliest experience I have had since I came to this place. Since the first murders were committed by the Indians, I have never missed of receiving intelligence of their motions; while Colonel Stephen has, in a manner, lived in total ignorance thereof. The reason is very obvious; for Fort Cumberland is detached so far without the inhabitants, no person thinks of alarming them, but immediately, upon the first fright, retires into the inhabitants. And secondly, it is absolutely necessary to have one large magazine to supply the different forts with stores, &c. which magazine should be rather within the inhabitants, for the greater security in receiving and delivering them out again, and furnishing any reinforcements that may arrive from below, with provision, ammunition, &c. which will always facilitate their march. There should also be ammunition lodged here for supplying the country people when found useful.

Your Honor will observe some parts of Colonel Stephen’s letters, as about reinforcements from the second division, and the number of men, &c., which were only finesses in case the letters had fallen into the enemy’s hands. The letters, that conveyed the true accounts, were put into the pummel of the saddle, as were mine to him.

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I have been formerly, and am at present, pretty full in offering my opinion and counsel upon matters, which regard the public safety and interest. These have been solely the object of all my thoughts, words, and actions; and, in order to avoid censure in every part of my conduct, I make it a rule to obey the dictates of your Honor, the Assembly, and a good conscience.

I shall not hereafter trouble you further on these topics, as I can add nothing to what I have said. I am your Honor’s, &c.


Answer ye the Governor that there are orders for drawing out all the ammunition, &c., from Fort Cumberland. Know of the Governor how they have apportioned the Regiments; whether into two Battalions or not; about Mr. Fairfax, and for blank Commissions. Whether the Field officers are allowed companies or not. The great disadvantage the Counties will labor under by appointing their draughts for so short a time; before they are raised they must be discharged. Another disadvantage, as we are to act upon the defensive is our delays in building Forts. It will be after mid-summer before they can be completed and if the Enemy are thick it can’t be done at all with[out] a great number of men to cover the workmen.


On Thursday the 29th of May,2 1756, divers expresses being first sent to the County Lieutenants of Fairfax, Prince Edition: current; Page: [270] William, and Culpeper, Mr. Dalton at the head of 31 volunteers and 54 militia from Fairfax came to town. On same day I received an express from Captain Broadwater at the gap of the Short Hills, informing me that himself and the Captains Ramsay, Minor and Hamilton with about 100 men, were at that place; that he had received my despatches to hurry on the militia and desired to know what number should be sent. I hereupon advised with Captain Dalton, who told me that ten men from each of those Companies were the complement intended by the commanding officer in Fairfax. I thereupon ordered that number to be immediately detached. Sunday morning they accordingly came under Captain James Hamilton, as did Captain Russel with 23 volunteers from Williams’s Gap.

This day I received another express from Captain Broadwater, setting forth that he had just received one from Colonel Carlyle ordering him to remain at that place till he heard from me and that he was scarce of provision and could not buy. I also about the same time received an express from Colonel Carlyle desiring me to order up such part of the said Militia as I thought necessary, upon which I sent to Captain Broadwater for a detachment of 25 more and ordered the others to be dismissed.

May 2d. The aforesaid detachment of 25 arrived, which made in the whole, including Volunteers (but of these 13 returned) 173 men.

May 3d. 100 of the aforesaid Militia under the Captains Minor and Hamilton were ordered to march for the Branch; the rest to join a Scouting Party of the Regiment that was ordered to search Back Country.

May 4th. The Parties marched. Captain Hamilton was ordered to consult Pearsal & the Kirkendal for the proper place to fix his Company at below the Troughs, and Captain Minor to advise with Colonel Vanmeter & Captain Waggener for fixing above. See their instructions in my orderly book dated May 4th.

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Captain Dalton with his Volunteers and the rest of the Militia marched with the scouting party of the Regiment, he had orders to post the militia after he had finished their tour of duty and returned to Conogochieg, at any place where the generality of the people in those parts, but more especially Captain Swearing, would choose as the most convenient for protecting the whole; and to return to this place with his own company of volunteers. See his orders of the 4th May. This day 10 of Minor’s and Hamilton’s men deserted.

May 6th. The Prince William detachment consisting of 8 officers and 121 private Men arrived here, and about an hour or two after them came Colonel Ewel.

May 7th. Lieutenant Colonel Peyton came to town, and Captain Joseph Murdock, with 2 officers and 20 men from King George, sent up by Colonel Champe. A detachment of 50 privates left the County; the rest deserted on their march.

May 8th. The County Lieut. of Prince William, Colonel Henry Lee, arrived. This day we began to experience in a surprising degree the superlative insolence of the Prince William Detachment who made use of every means to treat not only the private soldiers, but the officers of the Virginia Regiment ill, and upon one of them being seized and ordered to the guard House, for abusing in the most insolent manner the officer [ * * ] one of their officers called for a number of Men to rescue him and pulled down the house, swore the officers of the Virginia Regiment were all scoundrels and that he could drive the whole corps before him. The fright that he received from one of them and his acknowledgments next morning sufficiently allowed for his imprudence. In the evening of this day Captain Dalton, with not only his Volunteers, but Captain Russel and his, with the remaining few of the Militia, came to town. Upon enquiring the reason of this I was answered that Captain Russel and his volunteers had got tired and must needs go Edition: current; Page: [272] home, and that the Militia, which were only 13, were too small to post at any pass as I had ordered, as indeed they were.

May 9th. Captains Dalton, Russel, with the Volunteers and Militia, set out on their return homewards; so that there only remains of the Fairfax militia those who went on to the Branch. 4 o’clock this evening I had an express from Colonel Slaughter, informing me that he was then as far as Perkins’s with about 200 of the Culpeper militia, upon which I ordered him to remain there, as the town had more already in it than they could lodge, and many quarrelsome fellows amongst them. He also informed me that they had not above 50 firelocks in the whole.

May 10th. He came into Town and informed me that beside himself there were—Officers whereof—were field Officers and—private Men; and that by a late supply his number of Arms were now about 80. Colonel Bailor with 4 Field Officers, 4 captains, 8 subalterns, 8 corporals & 8 sergeants and 170 privates arrived at this place from Caroline County.

May 11th. Colonel Spotswood from Spotsylvania, with 3 Field Officers, 5 captains, 10 subalterns, and 130 private Men, arrived here and encamped in Colonel Wood’s meadow. Colonel Henry Fitzhugh, with 2 captains, 4 subalterns, 1 clark, 4 sergeants and 102 privates, also came to Town, as did 9 of the King George Deserters. The Prince William Militia were ordered to march to-morrow under the Command of a captain and 4 subalterns to strengthen the Forts on Patterson’s Creek, with a superintendent and 20 men, and to build another at the mouth of Little Cocapenon,1 but Colonel Henry Peyton who had received a special commission from his Honour, the Governor, insisted upon going out to command them. I expostulated with him on the absurdity of it: and represented the unnecessary charge it Edition: current; Page: [273] would run the country to, employing of supernumerary officers, but nothing would put aside his intentions. He said his only motive in going was to serve his country and that he expected no reward or gratuity for his trouble; and that unless he went, he was sure the men would desert. Present, Colonel Lee, Captain Mercer and Mr. Kirkpatrick.

May 12th was the first time I could get a return of the number of Carpenter’s that were among the militia. In the Evening about 5 o’clock, Lieutenant-Colonel Peyton with the Prince William Detachment, marched, consisting of himself, 1 captain, 4 subalterns & 96 privates, as per return. See his orders at large in my orderly book.

This day also the King George Militia had orders to march to Mendenhalls Fort to protect the inhabitants under those Mountains. The Officers and Soldiers of the Militia begin to discover great uneasiness at their stay and want much to return, thinking they have performed a sufficient tour of duty by marching to Winchester.

May 13th. An express came from Colonel Peyton informing that a Sergeant and 14 men deserted last night from him at Paris’s Fort, and desiring Reinforcement. I was obliged to countermand the Orders to the King George Militia and to send them to join him with orders to remain in Ashby’s Fort, and they accordingly marched 29 in number under Lieutenant Nugent. The rest were sick & deserted, and this night 4 out of the 29 also marched off. Many complaints from the officers of Militia about the insufficiency of the allowance of Provisions for the men (tho’ they have one pound of meat and the same quantity of flour per day, which is the same that the soldiers have) obliged me to order the Commissary to deliver the officer’s allowance to the private men in order to appease their clamours. This I did to prevent increasing the allowance and setting bad examples. But this proving insufficient also, I was obliged to order the allowance to be increased to 1¼ of Flour and as much flesh per Day.

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May 14th. The Orange Militia under Colonel Talliaferro consisting of 2 Field officers, 4 Captains, 4 subalterns and 100 private men, came to town, as did Colonel Barrat with 130 men from Louisa. In the Evening of this day I summoned all the Field officers to meet, that we might advise and consult on proper expedients to be taken with the militia. See a copy of the proceedings in my orderly Book. In consequence of these resolves and advise from Colonel Martin & Mr. Commissary Walker, knowing the situation of our frontiers, I ordered the Commanding Officers of each Militia to furnish the following number of men, which was proportioned equally among those that were here, and appointed them to remain as below:

Fd. Off. Capt. L. E. I. Men.
At Mendenhals Fort Lieut. Thomo. with 27 from Orange County.
At the Mouth of Sleepy Creek 1 1 0 3 50 from Caroline.
At the Mouth of Little Cocp. 1 1 3 1 4 90 P. William.
At Ashby’s Fort 1 2 25 from K. George.
Also at Ashby’s Fort 1 2 35 from Spo.
At Cock’s Fort 1 1 1 2 45 from Fairfax.
At Pearsals 1 1 1 2 45 from Fairfax.
At Harness’s Fort 1 0 2 30 Stafford.
At Waggener’s uppr. F. 1 1 0 2 50 Culpeper.
At Enochs’s 1 0 2 35 Louisa.
At Winchester to work on the Fort and to be ready in cases of Emergency 75, exclusive of the above and taken from all the sevl. Countys.

Fairfax and Prince William have furnished a larger number of men than the other Countys because they arrived with those Number’s and were ordered on to assist and relieve the Inhabitants on the Branch, and [?] it would have run the Country to considerable additional Expense to relieve them now, and to no very great purpose as we soon expected to receive the draughts.

May 15th. The Council being finished the aforesaid number of Men were ordered to be draughted, and the remainder Edition: current; Page: [275] to receive provision to carry them back and to be discharged. The said several draughts were ordered to get ready to march in the morning to their respective Posts.

May 16th. The commanding officers of each Militia (Culpeper excepted) reported that several of their Men had deserted; upon which I sent out to see if they could be taken. The commissary also reported that he had been trying and could not procure a Wagon to transport the necessary stock of Provisions and ammunition with them and was therefore obliged to postpone their March one day longer. By this time I had engaged 70 Carpenters from the militia to work at 6d. extra pay on the Fort, and also had their own officers to overlook and manage them.

May 17th. Some time last night an express from the Branch arrived with letters from Ashby’s Fort and Pearsall’s Fort informing that a considerable body of Indians were about again and had taken a prisoner. Upon this all the Militia of Louisa and Stafford, save 6 of the first and 8 of the latter deserted, and the Caroline Detachment being reduced to 40 Rank & file, the Spotsylvania to 22 and the Orange being lessened also, was obliged to add the 6 Louisa men to the Carpenters till the return of their officers, who I immediately sent in pursuit of them; the 8 Stafford men to those of Spotsylvania, & to alter the disposition that was first made to the one following viz—

F’d Off. C. L. E. I. P.M.
At Mendenhals 0 1 1 0 2 40 fm. Caroline.
At Ashby’s Fort 2 0 36 fm. Sp. & K. G.
At Pearsals 1 1 3 1 4 90 fm. P. W.
At Kirkendals 1 1 1 45 fm. Fx.
At Harness’s Fort 1 0 2 25 Orange.
At Wagr. upper Fort 1 1 2 51 Culpr.
To be advd. by C. Wr. & Cl. Van 1 1 1 2 45 Fx.

The reason for this disposition, to guard the Inhabitants that still remained, to secure their grain and stock, to help Edition: current; Page: [276] in with their harvest and to be contiguous to the people and to each other that they might unite occasionally and go in quest of the Enemy. Besides the Militia officers that were sent after their deserters, I ordered out one from the Regiment with a party of 8 or 10 Men mounted, to go in pursuit of them. Our strength being so much reduced by the number of Deserters that had gone off that upon the return of Ashby’s [?] I immediately dispatched an express to Colonels Barrat, Talliaferro and Slaughter, who were the last that had left this place, ordering them to return with their Men. In the Evening the Colonels Barrat & Talliaferro returned without any men, informed me that many of them had taken different roads homewards and that those who were with Colonel Talliaferro upon hearing that they were ordered back charged their pieces and continued their march towards their County in defiance of the officers.

May 18th. Last night Mr. Bullet, the officer who I had sent out, returned with 14 of the deserters, who to avoid punishment enlisted in the Virginia regiment.

19th. The Express returned from Colonel Slaughter who also informed that his men were dispersed, but if they could be gathered again he would return on Thursday.

May 20th. About 9 o’clock this night an Express came to me from Colonel Slaughter, who informed me that he had met at the place appointed for the Rendezvous of his Militia but that only 8 or 9 appeared, desired to know if he should farther rendezvous to collect. He believed it might be done so soon as they recovered a little from the fatigue of their march. I wrote him by this Express & desired him, as I had heard nothing of the Enemy since, to postpone bringing up any Men till they were drafted, which I recommended to him to be done with the greatest expedition; also, if it would not be contrary to the governor’s orders to him, to march his Men so soon as drafted to this place, as it would save much time and expence.

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George Washington
Washington, George
3 May, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I received your two letters of the 23d and 26th ultimo.

I have sent down an Indian scalp, which was taken off at the place where Captain Mercer had his engagement. He was found thrust under some rocks, and stones piled up against them. They have reason to believe there were more killed, from the quantity of blood found on the ground where the Indians fired from, and from other discoveries of their attempts to make more graves. But a hard shower of rain prevented their making a farther search.

We have some reason to believe, the Indians are returned to Fort Duquesne, as some scouts from Fort Cumberland saw their tracks that way; and many corroborating accounts affirm, that the roads over the Allegany Mountains are as much beaten, as they were last year by General Braddock’s army. From these and other circumstances we may judge their numbers were considerable. Whether they are gone for the season, or only to bring in a larger party, I am at a loss to determine.

For which reason, and from the scarcity of provisions on this side Fort Cumberland, I must beg leave humbly to offer it to your Honor’s superior judgment, if it would not be advisable to stop all the militia, that are ordered from the ten counties, save about five or six hundred from the adjacent ones? which will serve to cover our frontiers on this quarter, Edition: current; Page: [278] (which is the only part that ever will or can be much exposed,) until the regiment is completed by drafts, and until they can erect fortresses, if the country intend a chain of forts for their defence. Drafts, if they are judiciously chosen, will be of infinitely more service, and much less expense to the country, and can be immediately put to their posts.

I am convinced, that, if your Honor has a mind to stop any part of the militia, you will have full time, notwithstanding they are ordered to rendezvous at this place on the 10th instant. I never knew any yet to appear in ten days after they were expected; and I am also apprehensive, that having so many of the militia out will be the means of retarding the drafts, which, above all things, I wish to see.

Though I have often troubled you on this head, I must again beg leave to desire your particular instructions and information, of what is to be done, as, being in a state of uncertainty, without knowing the plan of operations, or what scheme to go upon, reduces me to the greatest straits, and leaves me to guess at every thing. Orders, that are absolutely necessary to be despatched to the officers one day, appear the next as necessary to be contradicted; so that I really cannot tell how to act for the good of the service, or satisfaction of any individual. Was the regiment complete, and things put on a proper footing, the whole would go on smoothly and regularly, which is now rendered impossible. So much am I kept in the dark, that I do not know whether to prepare for the offensive or defensive; and what might be Edition: current; Page: [279] absolutely necessary in the one, would be quite useless in the other.

Great inconveniences arise from our being so dispersed through the country. The men cannot be regularly paid or supplied. If every company had its proper post assigned, pay might be sent to them, and necessaries always provided in due season. We could also have the same advantages were we collected in one place. But there are so many detachments out, one officer may command men of every company of the regiment, and if necessaries are sent them he is removed from his command, and those things cannot be stopped out of their pay. So by this method the country loses money, the men are badly supplied, and always discontented.

I find the act of Assembly against mutiny and desertion quite insufficient, except in those two particular crimes. There is no notice, nor can a court-martial be held, by virtue of this act against any officer or soldier who is charged with cowardice, holding correspondence with the enemy, quitting or sleeping upon a post, nay, many other crimes, which are provided against in the articles of war. I think, at this time, it would be for the good of the service to make an act to enforce the articles of war in general, except two or three particular ones, such as impressing wagons, &c. They are in force in our mother country. They think them the best calculated for keeping soldiers under discipline; and none of them would prove burthensome, or inconvenient, either to the public or any individual, and I cannot, nor Edition: current; Page: [280] I imagine few others can assign any reason, why we should pretend to quit that which by long experience has been found the best, to introduce one quite insufficient.

There are now in town about one hundred and fifty of the Fairfax militia. Three hundred are expected from Prince William. With the soldiers and militia now here, I intend to go out and scour the woods hereabouts for three or four days until the others arrive.

I want very much to go to Fort Cumberland to regulate affairs there, but fear I cannot spare time, as my presence will be very necessary here.

Clothes for the men are very much wanted. There are none in store, and some men, who have been enlisted these two months, to whom we could give nothing but a blanket, shoes, and shirt, are justly dissatisfied at having two pence per day stopped from them.1 Provision here is scarce, and the commissary much wanted to lay in more. I have been, and still am, obliged to do this duty, as well as most others, which I would take upon me, rather than let any thing be wanting for the good of the country, which I could do.

I enclose your Honor the sentence of a general Edition: current; Page: [281] court-martial, which was held here upon a sergeant for running away with his party.1 They have, I think, very justly adjudged him to suffer death, which sentence I hope you will approve of as there never was a fitter object to make an example of, being the second time he has been guilty of the same crime, nor a better time, as the newly drafted recruits for the regiment may be here by that time to see it executed, and it will be a good warning to them. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
23 May, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [283] 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, Edition: current; Page: [284] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [286] 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.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 June, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I doubt not but your Honor will be as much surprised, as I have been concerned and vexed, at my stay here.

When I left Williamsburg, I did it with a design to proceed with the utmost expedition to Fort Cumberland. In order thereto I arrived at Fredericksburg to dinner, the day after I left your Honor, at one o’clock, and gave the officer, posted at that place, a list of such tools as were wanted to build the chain of forts, and ordered they might be sent by a wagon, pressed for that purpose, immediately to Winchester, Edition: current; Page: [287] to which place I repaired to get every thing in readiness, and wait their coming to escort them to Fort Cumberland.

After I had been here two or three days I received a letter enclosing a list of the tools from the officer, who informed me that he had, according to order, despatched them in a wagon, hired for that purpose; for which wagon I have been waiting with the greatest impatience and uneasiness imaginable. How to account for this delay I am quite at a loss (as I am certain they were sent) unless the wagoner has lost his horses or run off with the wagon and contents.

I thought it needless to proceed without them, as nothing can be done for want of tools. I have sent two or three expresses to hurry them on, and shall make no delay when they arrive. I intend to take the advice of a council of war, (when I arrive at Fort Cumberland,) about the line on which these forts are to be erected, &c. and shall visit all the ground that I conveniently can, and direct the building.

It is a work, that must be conducted tedious for these reasons, vizt., the scarcity of tools, smallness of our numbers, and want of conductors. The strength of our forces will not admit of many divisions, because, in that case, each party may probably be demolished. We can, therefore, only attempt, with such men as can be drawn out of the garrisons already established, to build fort after fort, and not, by attempting too many at a time, thereby run the risk of having the whole demolished. To go on in the manner above mentioned must be extremely tedious, unless Edition: current; Page: [288] your Honor will be pleased to put the militia that are upon our southern frontiers under the command of Captain Hog, and order them to begin on the Mayo River, and proceed in their building until they meet our parties, who will advance to the southward. I can point out no other method at present to expedite this necessary work. If your Honor approve this scheme, and will let me know by express, I shall despatch another to Captain Hog, to inform him thereof, and shall enclose him such a plan, as the whole will be directed by. Your Honor’s orders to the militia, and indeed to the inhabitants of those parts, to assist with their advice in fixing upon the places, and with their labor in forwarding the work, must be absolutely necessary.

Your Honor never gave me a decisive answer to a question I asked, about giving the field-officers companies. For which reason I have presumed to repeat it again, because there are two companies now vacant, by the death of Captain John Mercer, and the resignation of Captain Savage, and should either be given to the field-officers, or oldest lieutenants. There is no advantage can possibly arise to the field-officers by having companies, (but trouble there certainly will) as they are allowed, I suppose, the same pay now, as though they had.

The only reason that urges me to repeat it is because I look upon this to be a singular instance to the contrary, and running the country to the additional expense of three supernumerary captains.

Two hundred and forty-six drafts are the total Edition: current; Page: [289] number brought in, out of which number several have deserted. Three were discharged, being quite unfit for service, (and indeed several more ought to be, if men were not so scarce,) and there remain now in confinement six Quakers, who will neither bear arms, work, receive provisions or pay, or do any thing that tends, in any respect, to self-defence. I should be glad of your Honor’s directions how to proceed with them.1 I cannot yet return to your Honor the names of the volunteers, that will be appointed to the vacancies, but as soon as I arrive at Fort Cumberland shall acquaint you according to request.

Governor Sharpe is building a fort on Potomac River, about fifteen miles above Conococheague, which may be of great service towards the protection of our people on that side. It is thought the fort will cost the province of Maryland near thirty thousand pounds, before it is finished.2 I am, &c.3

Edition: current; Page: [290]
George Washington
Washington, George
13 July, 1756
Fort Cumberland
Captain Waggener
Captain Waggener



The companies of the Virginia Regiment are completed to an equal number, except yours, which, through mistake of the returns, is not. But as I expect more men every minute, you shall be immediately completed.

As you have on command with you several men of other companies, the officers have received orders to apply to you for them, and you must deliver them up. I desire you will send James Campbell, the Drummer, by the first escort that comes to Winchester.

From the great confidence I repose in your diligence, I have appointed you to a command, on which much depends; and I doubt not you will see the work carried on with expedition. And I must particularly recommend it to you to keep up a strict command, both over officers and men, as you will be answerable for any delays or neglect which may happen for want of due discipline; and I would not wish your good nature should occasion you to overlook a fault in an officer, who may be your best friend.

Edition: current; Page: [291]

As I am informed by the people who met me at Pearsalls, that there is a fort now kept by the country people, about twenty miles from your upper one, in a proper place; if, upon arriving there you find it will do with a little alteration or amendment, I would have you take it in behalf of the country, leave men to garrison it, and so proceed on to the next place. When you arrive there, you may get all the timbers ready, and by that time I shall send you a plan of the kind of forts I would have you build.

The people whom I have conversed with on the subject, seem to think there will be no difficulty in providing provisions for the men. I would have you provide for these in the same manner you have hitherto done for your own company; and whatever orders you give on that account shall be duly honored. I would have you from time to time transmit me an account of all occurrences.

The governor has ordered the militia to be discharged as soon as harvest is over, since they are so unwilling to continue until December; and should you march on with all the men to building these forts, it might give the inhabitants uneasiness, and raise complaints to be left unguarded. I would, therefore, desire you to leave small parties at proper places to keep them quiet and easy, in case you see occasion for it.

If you have occasion for more ammunition, you must send to Fort Cumberland for what you want.

Edition: current; Page: [292]



As the Assembly has voted a chain of Forts to be built on the Frontiers, the Governor has ordered out the Militia of Augusta to assist you in erecting them, and it was determined in a Council of War held at Fort Cumberland, agreeable to the Governor’s orders, that you should have the care of constructing them, “and that you should receive directions to Build at or about 20 or 30 miles distance, as the situation of the Country requires, or Ground will permit, and to have particular regard to the Body of Inhabitants to be defended, and the passes most frequented by the Enemy, and that Capt. Hog begin to build, observing the above considerations, to the Southward of Fort Dinwiddie, extending the Line towards Mayo River as directed by the Assembly.”

You are, therefore, as soon as possible, to proceed to Augusta Court-house and consult with the Comanding Officers, and others of that County, and fall upon the most expeditious methods to raise the Militia, with which and your own Company, except about 30 private which you are to leave under the Command of Lt. Bullet, at Fort Dinwiddie, and set immediately upon that Duty, taking Care to observe the orders herewith sent you by his Honor, the Governor, and to draft the best Work men to take with you.

If you are apprehensive that the Enemy will annoy you, and endeavour to obstruct your erecting these Forts, You are first to proceed to the place which shall be judged most convenient for the defence of the Inhabitants, and Erect your first Fort there—if not—proceed as first directed.

You are, while upon this Work, to keep out constant covering parties, and above all things guard against a surprise.

I have sent you herewith a plan of the kind of Forts you are to build, which you must follow exactly.

The men drafted from your Company for this command will receive double pay for every day they work, which you are to be exact in taking account of. ’Tis the Same that ’s allowed the soldiers here who work, and the Militia will receive 6d. extra for every day they work. Both Soldiers and Militia here are contented with this allowance.

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I hope your own Company, with the Addition of the Militia, will be of sufficient force to conduct this work, but lest dividing your Men may subject your seperated partys to the insult of the Enemy, I would have you keep in a Body and Build Fort after Fort, leaving Garrisons in them from 15 to 30 men under command of a sub or Trusty Sergeant.

As the difficulty of getting Tools in these parts is not easily to be conceived, I would advise you to pursue the same methods in Augusta that I have done here, vizt: to get of the Inhabitants, giving receipts for the Quantity and Sorts of Each, and paying for the use, also the damage and Loss, if any is sustained, but to buy would be best; if this you can do, take particular care of the whole you receive.

Given under my hand, at Winchester, 21st of July, 1756.1

George Washington
Washington, George
22 July, 1756
Captain Stewart
Captain Stewart



Herewith I enclose you two plans of the kind of Forts that are intended to be built—One of the ground-work, the other of the houses and all conveniences,—with such directions that I think it Edition: current; Page: [294] impossible for you to err if you will attend thereto. Enclosed you will also receive a list of such tools as I have been able to procure, with which and such as you may get of the inhabitants by borrowing, hiring and buying, you must be content. These must be put in the hands of the best tradesmen, and most laborious workmen; who will receive six-pence extra ordinary pay for every day they work, an account whereof must be kept (exactly) by yourself and officers. The men that remain after the workers are draughted, must act as covering parties, to prevent surprizes, against which you must carefully guard. It is impossible for me to fix upon the identical piece of ground to erect this fort on. Therefore, I shall confine you to the most convenient spot, between the mouth of Sleepy Creek and Barracks, which you will make choice of, with the approbation of your officers. There is a hill which overlooks Boyle’s field and extensive country round that may be made infinitely strong, and will answer the purpose well, if it is not too high and inaccessible. This you must examine into.

I have too great an opinion of your good sense and discretion to think you need any admonition to induce you to a diligent discharge of your duty. You see our situation, know our danger, and bear witness of the people’s sufferings, which are sufficient excitements to a generous mind.

As many things will occur that I cannot possibly direct in, let the interest of the service and your own prudence, assisted by the advice of the officers under your command, be your direction. This instant I received yours of yesterday’s date, and am extremely Edition: current; Page: [295] sorry that the Indians have visited us at this critical juncture of harvesting, especially as it will prevent your proceedings in the operations ordered. As your conduct must be guided by the movements and numbers of the enemy, I will not take upon me to order positively at this distance, but recommend it to you to consult your officers on all occasions, and act by their advice. If you can learn from good intelligence, that their numbers are great and motions designed for Virginia, endeavor to give the inhabitants notice that they may lodge their women and children, and assist against the enemy.

If you find they are only flying parties of the Indians, I would advise the settlers by no means to neglect their harvest, as their whole support depends upon it, and your assistance to get it in.

I must order above all things that you will send out small parties, or rather single persons, as spies every day, up and down the river for a number of miles, to see if they can make any discovery of the enemy’s crossing. I have sent you two barrels of powder, and four boxes of ball. As to cartridge paper, I neither have nor can get any upon no terms. You must get horns and pouches, if you send over the neighborhood for them. Transmit me constant accounts of the enemy, if they continue in your neighborhood.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 August, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Giving the necessary orders and directions, about the chain of forts to be built on the frontiers, has Edition: current; Page: [296] kept me so closely employed, that I could not write fully to your Honor until this. But I have got that trouble now pretty well off my hands, as I have despatched orders, plans, and tools to all the officers appointed to that duty.

By the enclosed proceedings of a council held at Fort Cumberland, you will see our determination, there and where it is necessary to erect the forts. Although we have not kept strictly to the act of Assembly, I hope it will be overlooked, as I am sensible that this will be the best chain that can possibly be erected for the defence of the people, and that the Assembly aimed at that, but, being unacquainted with the situation of the country, had fallen into an error.1 Agreeable to this council the chain is ordered to be built.

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Your Honor, by the enclosed rolls of the companies, may see their present establishment; and I send you a copy of their former one, agreeable to your orders, together with the number of drafts from each county delivered at Fredericksburg. But many of them deserted on their march to this place, and after their arrival here; so we are short of that number now. What remain, are divided among the companies, to make them equal.

Captains Hog and Waggener’s rolls I cannot yet send, as they are not come to hand.

The two vacant companies, Captain Savage’s and the late John Mercer’s, as I had your Honor’s approbation for the field officers having companies, are disposed of to Colonel Stephen and myself. The next vacancy the Major must fill.

I am very glad your Honor intends to order the drafts now to be made to be sent here. Prince William, Fairfax and Culpeper, are more convenient to this place than Fredericksburg. Then their being ordered here saves a ninety miles march.

I make no doubt, that your Honor has ere this Edition: current; Page: [298] heard of the defeat of Lieutenant Rutherford1 of the Rangers, escorting an express to me at Fort Cumberland, and of the dastardly behaviour of the militia, who ran off without one half of them having discharged their pieces, altho they were apprised of the ambuscade by one of the flanking partys, before the Indians fired upon them; and ran back to Ashby’s Fort, contrary to orders, persuasions, threats, &c. They are all ordered in, as soon as the people have secured their harvest. Those of King George and Caroline counties are already here. The rest I expect shortly. Through the passive behaviour of their officers they have been very refractory.

Captain Stewart’s troop has for these twelve months past, and must still continue to do duty on foot. Their pay is very great. I should be glad of your Honor’s orders in regard to them, whether they are to be continued. I think with the number of men we have, there is but a poor prospect of finishing our forts in time, and a much worse of defending our frontiers properly, and I would be glad some expedient could be fallen upon to augment it.

There is an act of Parliament to allow all servants to enlist, and the owners to be paid a reasonable allowance for them. If we had this privilege, we could soon complete the regiment; and I doubt not but his Majesty would order them to be paid for, if we enlisted, as soon as for the regulars; nay, should he Edition: current; Page: [299] not, the ten pounds’ fine through the country would go a considerable way towards it.1 And this we may depend upon, if we have not this liberty granted us, the servants will all run off to the regular officers, who are recruiting about us; and that would be to weaken our colony much, when it could receive no immediate benefit from it, but only be benefited in a general way. For my part, I see no other expedient.2

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Now your Honor sees plainly the effect the act of Assembly, in regard to the drafts, has had, and how little our strength has been augmented by that scheme, and in three or four months we shall not be the better for them. Then they are to be discharged.

I am confident, if we had authority to enlist servants, the regiment would have been complete ere this, and with little trouble, for many have offered, and many have been discharged after enlisting. Mr. Kirkpatrick will deliver your Honor a list of the preferments in my Regiment, with the dates of the officers commissions. There are five or six more still waiting. Lieutenant Stark has followed Frazier’s example, upon the like occasion, being appointed to Captain Hog’s company.

I have sent Lieutenant Bullet to relieve Lieutenant Edition: current; Page: [301] McNeill, whose seniority entitles him to Captain Lieutenancy, and he has my promise when a vacancy happens to have his commission antedated, and to take his proper rank in the regiment, as I take him to be a very diligent good officer, and as he was overlooked in the promotions, this indulgence has been promised him.

I could wish we were clear of Fort Cumberland. It takes a great part of our small force to garrison it, and I see no service that it is to our colony; for since the Indians have drove the inhabitants so low down, they do not hesitate to follow them as far as Conococheague and this place. There have been several families murdered within two miles of the mouth of Conococheague, on the Maryland side, this week; and Fort Cumberland is now so much out of the way, that they seldom hear of those things within a month after they are done. Our men want many necessaries, until the arrival of their regimentals, which cannot be had without sending to Philadelphia; and the great loss, we shall suffer by sending them our paper money, has prevented my purchasing these things, until the men are almost naked.

I should be glad your Honor would send me a letter of credit to Mr. Allen, or some person there; or gold or bills, for we cannot afford to put up with the loss of sending paper money, which I am credibly informed, may be bought up in Philadelphia for fifteen per cent their currency; so that the least we would lose by that traffic would be ten per cent.

We are in great want of drums here, and none can Edition: current; Page: [302] be bought. We now have many young drummers learning here, so I must beg you will please to order some immediately from Williamsburg to us, for we cannot do without them.

The rangers are still paid out of the money in my hands. I never received but one hundred pounds from Lord Fairfax, or Colonel George.

Captain Gist has some accompts against the Country for necessary services. I doubt not your Honor will consider the justice of them, and assist the poor man in the affair, as he is put to great inconveniences for want of the money, has been obliged to advance his own, as far as it would go, and people to whom he owes balances upon that account are daily threatening him with suits.

Captain McNeill writes me that out of the three companies of rangers on the frontiers of Augusta, which ought to be one hundred and twenty men, there are not thirty. I hope your Honor will have that affair inquired into.

I am to be summoned against one Napp for making counterfeit paper money here. I desire your directions, whether I must appear or not. It may, perhaps, be at a time when I am much wanted here.

I could by no means bring the Quakers to any terms. They chose rather to be whipped to death than bear arms, or lend us any assistance whatever upon the fort, or any thing of self-defence. Some of their friends have been security for their appearance, when they are called for; and I have released them from the guard-house until I receive further Edition: current; Page: [303] orders from your Honour, which they have agreed to apply for.1

I am informed there has been application made to your Honor, for the discharge of some of the militia who enlisted here. As the case may have been represented to your Honor in a wrong light by prejudiced persons, I shall give you a true state of it, from my own knowledge.

After the militia were fixed on to march to their different posts, it was common for twenty or more to desert of a night. In consequence of which I despatched the militia officers with what remained, and some of my own officers in pursuit of these deserters, who apprehended seventeen or eighteen of them and brought them to town. The militia had then marched. To send these men after them I was certain would not answer; to avoid that, was the cause of their desertion. And I could not spare men to send an escort with them to their different parties; and if I had let them pass unpunished, it would have occasioned all the militia at work on the fort to desert. So I thought it most advisable to punish them, to deter the rest, and prevent a second fault in them, and accordingly ordered them twenty lashes each, and then intended to have set them to work on the fort.

When they had marched from the guard-house (where several had enlisted before any punishment was ordered them) some of the officers applied for Edition: current; Page: [304] money, and said all the militia would enlist; which I gave them, and at the same time a charge, to use no unfair means or threats, which they engaged.

In order to prevent any, I sent out Captain Mercer to acquaint them with my charge to the officers, and to tell them, that if any unfair means had been made use of to engage them to take the money, to declare it, and they should be allowed to return it, and further be acquainted with the indulgence allowed them by Act of Parliament; and that they had a right to return the money within twenty four hours, if they should repent of what they had done in that time. They all declared their willingness to enlist, said no unfair means had been made use of, and that it was better to enlist at once than to be subject to be draughted every week. When they were soldiers they knew what to depend upon, which they could not before, as their being draughted at an unreasonable time might ruin them. They used the same arguments again to Captain Mercer, when he read the Articles of War to them; and he again repeated what he had told them before in the morning, as I have been assured by several of the officers then present.

The men have always appeared well satisfied, and never have made the least complaint; nor will not, I am sensible, if they are not persuaded to it by the people below. They have now been enlisted upwards of ten weeks, and are very good men, upon the whole.

I dare say your Honor will judge the men to be fairly enlisted, and that they are no ways entitled to a discharge, which will be applied for by some gentlemen Edition: current; Page: [305] below. But I shall take your Honor’s directions on that point.

In obedience to your Honor’s commands to incorporate the rangers into the regiment, I gave furloughs to the Captains (who both desired it) knowing they would oppose any measures to enlist the men; and then sent some of my officers to use their influence to engage the men. Their success I have not yet heard of, but should be glad to know if you approve of this method, or will direct any other. As rangers under the present establishment, they are of no use or benefit to the country. This, I believe, your Honor, as well as the country, have long since been convinced of.

I have supplied the Nottoway Indians with some necessaries, and have allowed them to take their arms with them; but they have received no pay, and say they were promised a bit1 per day. Captain Tom has promised to go to the Tusks with a speech and wampum, which I have given them. He says they have an hundred fighting-men to spare. They would be a great assistance to us, if they could be engaged to come.2

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Besides the men on the rolls sent your Honor, there are about one hundred drafts, not disposed of in the different companies which are at work on the fort, and garrisoning some of the country forts.

I have just received your Honor’s letter of the 12th ultimo. If Mr. Timberlake will enter as a volunteer in the regiment, and wait, as others have done, his turn, I shall be glad to serve him. But I cannot pretend to put him over young gentlemen who have served some months at their own expense, waiting preferment, without orders from your Honor; as such things have caused the greatest discontent and confusion in the regiment already.

I observe your Honor’s proposal to Lord Loudoun1 of carrying on an expedition against the Ohio. I have always thought it the best and only method to put a stop to the incursions of the enemy, as they would then be obliged to stay at home to defend their own possessions. But we are quite unprepared for such an undertaking. If it is fixed upon, now is the time for buying up provisions, and laying them in at the most convenient place. The Pennsylvania butchers are buying quantities of beef here, which should be put a stop to, if we are to march towards the Ohio. If we are still to remain on the defensive, and garrison the chain of forts, provisions must be laid in at Edition: current; Page: [307] each of them; and I much fear, if we march from the frontiers, all the inhabitants will quit their plantations. Your Honor’s sentiments and orders on this head will be very agreeable to me, and shall be punctually complied with. By the latest advices from Augusta, it is thought that these outrages were committed by the Cherokees. There have been no accounts of any thing since the first attempt; but still, I think it would not be improper to keep the militia on the frontiers to oppose a second; and if your Honor should think it proper to order them to assist on the forts to be built in Augusta, I think they could not better employ their time.

George Washington
Washington, George
5 August, 1756
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Sir,

I hope you will not be surprized at my sudden demands for money, nor at the uncommon length of this epistle.

The five thousand pounds last received went chiefly in paying arrears which were due the soldiers for two months before; discharging sundry accompts for necessaries for the regiment; with many other things, as will appear per accompts. And the disappointments I have so often met with in settling my accompts with the gentlemen of the Committee, and laying sundry matters before them for their approbation, oblige me to be more particular and prolix in this letter.

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I flatter myself that my accompts will appear in so clear a light that there can arise no scruple in the settlement, and that they may be adjusted in as full and distinct a manner by Mr. Kirkpatrick, as if I were present myself. There were some objections made to a few trifling articles before (none of which I believe exceeded twenty shillings) for want of receipts. In this I own I was a little remiss, sometimes paying horse hire for a day or two, and such like incidental charges for the use of the public, without thinking it very material to draw receipts. Indeed, I have often made these payments at times when I had no opportunity of being thus particular. But I believe the whole amount of these does not exceed five pounds, and since that time I have not parted with a sixpence without. The paymaster I have sent down to evince any doubt that may arise in his accompts. I believe they are strictly just, tho’ a little broken and irregular, representing our disjointed service in a true state. This was impossible to be avoided; tho’ if you will consider, Sir, the disagreeable services we have been engaged in, the extent of ground and people to be defended, and the division of our force in recruiting, marching, counter-marching, and garrisoning of forts, guarding stores, &c, which rendered them so extremely difficult to pay, as well as to supply with such necessaries and conveniences, as to render the service tolerably supportable. Mr. Boyd was obliged to pay the men when and where he could meet with them, without adhering to that regular form which ought to be observed. The Commissary Edition: current; Page: [309] stands charged with £—, which I have not had an opportunity to settle. Upon my return from Fort Cumberland a few days ago, I found him retired at his own house, indisposed; but received a letter informing that the money was just expended. This I have no doubt of, knowing the demands he has had on account of provisions for the drafts and militia (occasioned by our whole stock being laid in at Fort Cumberland by the Governor’s orders; which renders it useless to all the forces on this side); wagonage of all the flour and stores from Conococheague, to secure them here; purchasing of tools, &c; for erecting the public works, ordered by Act of Assembly, &c.

All accompts that appeared extravagant or not clear in other respects, or that I conceived I had no power to settle, I have referred them to the gentlemen of the Committee. Among these is Finnie’s, for money advanced the soldiers while he was recruiting. This accompt may be, and doubtless is just; yet as it happened at a time when I had no concern with the forces, it is not to be expected I can have any knowledge of the matter. Therefore, unless it was to meet with your, or the concurrence of the Committee, I should not care to pay it. Moses Quales, who gives Mr. Finnie an order upon you for five pounds eighteen shillings, was among those who escaped from the overthrow of General Braddock, but was slain in Captain Mercer’s defeat.

Captain McKenzie’s accompt for the hire of a vessel to transport his recruits to Alexandria, I did not care to allow without directions; tho’ several officers Edition: current; Page: [310] have petitioned in the same manner, because they were to receive two pistoles a man, and eight pence per day subsistence, as a full allowance (tho’ too small) until they came to the rendezvous.

The article of rugs, he should be allowed. Doctor Shepherd also prefers an account for attending and administering to sundry recruits, while they lay at Alexandria: as also Dr. Halkerson, for those at Fredericksburg. These accompts you will please to have examined, and deliver your statements thereon.

Ensign Fleming has, at my request, acted as surgeon to Captain Hog’s company. He encloses an accompt. Pray order what you think sufficient for his trouble. Lieutenant Baker’s accompt is also among these for twenty-three pounds, nine shillings and eleven pence—expences in going for and bringing the Nottaway Indians. In this I must crave directions. I could not get a more particular accompt than the one now sent, he being on command. Captain Gist also has at divers times entreated me, in the most interesting manner, to intercede in his behalf, that he may get the balance of his accompt, his distresses calling aloud for all the assistance that all these sums can contribute. I do not know really, who to apply to for this purpose, or whose right it is to pay the accompt, but it is certainly wrong not to pay him at all. If a hearty zeal for the interest of this colony, many losses in serving it and true distress, can recommend him to any favor, he certainly merits indulgence. When he offers his accompts to the Governor, his Honor bids him go to the committee; Edition: current; Page: [311] and the gentlemen of the committee think the Governor should pay it. So that the poor man suffers greatly and would be glad to know his doom at once, as it has been so long depending. Many applications have been made to me for the ferriages of the forces in passing Shenandoah, Capecapon, the South Branch &c. I should be glad to know whether they are to be paid, and at what rates. I could heartily wish the governor and Committee would resolve me, whether Fort Cumberland is to be garrisoned with any of the Virginia forces or not. It lies in a most defenceless posture, and I do not care to be at expence in erecting new, or repairing the old works, until I am satisfied in this point.

This place at present contains all our provisions and valuable stores, and is not capable of an hour’s defence, if the enemy were to bring only one single half-pounder against it; which they might do with great ease on horseback. Besides, it lies so remote now from this, as well as the neighbouring inhabitants, and at the same time is not a whit more convenient than Cocke’s Fort, on Patterson’s Creek, to the enemy, which is twenty five miles nigher this way, that it requires as much force to keep the communication open to it, as a fort at the Meadows would do, and employs 150 men, who are a dead charge to the country, as they can be of no other use than just to protect and guard the stores, which might as well be lodged at Cox’s;1 indeed better, for these reasons it would then be more contiguous to this, to the inhabitants, Edition: current; Page: [312] and to the enemy, if we should ever carry an expedition over the mountains, by opening a road the way the Indians have blazed.1 A strong garrison there would not only protect the stores, but also the few remaining inhabitants on the Branch,2 and at the same time waylay and annoy the enemy, as they pass and repass the mountains. Whereas, those at Fort Cumberland, lying out in a corner, quite remote from the inhabitants, to where the Indians always repair to do their murders, can have no intelligence of any thing that is doing, but remain in total ignorance of all transactions. When I was down, I applied to the Governor for his particular and positive directions in this affair. The following is an exact copy of his answer.—“Fort Cumberland is a King’s fort, and built chiefly at the charge of the colony, therefore properly under our direction, until a governor is appointed.”3 Now whether I am to understand this ay or no, to the plain, simple question asked, vizt.—“Is the fort to be continued or removed?”—I know not. But in all important matters I am directed in this ambiguous and uncertain way.4

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Great and inconceivable difficulties arise in the execution of my commands, as well as infinite loss and disrepute to the service, by my not having power to pay for deserters. I would, therefore, humbly recommend it to the consideration of the Committee, whether it would not be more for the interest of the country, (I am sure it would be of the service,) were I allowed to pay these demands, rather than have them levied in the public claims. Many of our deserters are apprehended in Maryland, and some in Pennsylvania, and, for the sake of a reward, are brought hither. But when they are to receive certificates only, that they are entitled to two hundred pounds of tobacco, and those certificates are to be given in to a court of claims, there to lie perhaps till they are quite forgot, gives so much dissatisfaction, that many, I believe, rather than apprehend one, would aid fifty to escape, and this, too, among our own people. By this means the country loses numbers of men: consequently the sums of money which each man costs, besides many incident charges, such as horse hire, expenses in sending after and advertising them.

Another thing, which I should be glad to know, and that is, whether the act of Assembly prohibits the whole forces, or only the drafts, from marching out of Virginia, and whether it is contrary to law, even to take the drafts out, provided it is done with their own will. If we cannot take any of the forces out of the colony, the disadvantages, the country may labor under, are not to be described; for the enemy, in that Edition: current; Page: [314] case, may commit the most unheard-of cruelties, and, by stepping across the Potomac, evade the pursuit, and mock our best endeavors to scourge them.

The inconveniences that arise from paying the soldiers in large bills, are not to be conceived. We are obliged afterwards to give the pay of two or three soldiers to one man. He, ten to one, drinks, games, or pays it away; by which means the parties are all dissatisfied, and perpetually complaining for want of their pay. It also prevents them from laying out their pay for absolute necessaries, and obliges them many times to drink it out; for they put it into the tavern-keeper’s hands, who will give no change, unless they consent to take the greatest part in liquor. In short, for five shillings cash you may at any time purchase a month’s pay from the soldiers; in such contempt do they hold the currency. Besides small bills, (if the thing is practicable,) I should be extremely glad to receive some part of the money in Spanish and Portugal gold and silver. There are many things wanted for the use of the regiment, which cannot be had here, and may [be obtained] at Philadelphia; but their undervaluing of our money, has prevented my sending thither.

When I went to Fort Cumberland I left fifty pounds with Capt. Peachy, to pay the workmen once a week, as I had usually done, which money, with some of his own, he was robbed of, and the most diligent search has not been successful in getting the least intelligence of it. I should be glad to know whether I am to suffer this loss, or whether I may with propriety charge it to the country?

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At the repeated instances of the soldiers, I must pay so much regard to their representations, as to transmit their complaints. They think it extremely hard, as it is indeed, Sir, that they, who perhaps do more duty, and undergo more fatigue and hardship, from the nature of the service and situation of the country, than any troops upon the continent, should be allowed the least pay, and smallest encouragements in other respects. The Carolinians received British pay; the Marylanders, I believe, do the same; Pennsylvania is exorbitant in rewarding their soldiers1; the Jerseys and New Yorkers, I do not remember what it is they give; but the New England governments give more than a shilling per day, our money, besides an allowance of rum, peas, tobacco, ginger, vinegar, &c, &c.

Our soldiers complain, that their pay is insufficient, even to furnish shoes, shirts, stockings, &c, which their officers, in order to keep them fit for duty, oblige them to provide. This, they say, deprives them of the means of purchasing any of the conveniences or necessaries of life, and obliges them to drag through a disagreeable service, in the most disagreeable manner. That their pay will not afford more than enough (if that) to keep them in clothes, I should be convinced of for these reasons, if experience had not taught me. The British soldiers are allowed eight pence sterling per day, with many necessaries that ours are not, and can buy what is requisite upon the cheapest terms; and lie one half the year in camp, or garrison, when they cannot consume Edition: current; Page: [316] the fifth part of what ours do in continual marches over mountains, rocks, rivers, &c, [who are] computed to receive only—per day. Then, Sir, is it possible that our men, who receive a fourth less, have two pence per day stoppages for their regimental clothing, and all other stoppages made that British soldiers have, and are obliged, by being in continual action, to lay in triple the quantity of ammunition and clothes, and at double the price, should be able to clear quarters? It is not to be done, and this is the reason why the men have always been so naked and bare of clothes.

And I dare say you will be candid enough to allow, that there are few men who would choose to have their lives exposed, without some view or hope of a reward, to the incessant insults of a merciless enemy. Another thing there is which gives them great uneasiness, and that is, seeing no regular provision made for the maimed and wounded. They acknowledge the generosity of the Assembly, and have the highest veneration for that respectable House; they look with gratitude on the care, that has been taken of their brother soldiers; but say, this is only an act of will, and another Assembly may be much less liberal. We have no certainty, that this generosity may continue, consequently can have nothing in view but the most gloomy prospects, and no encouragement to be bold and active; and the probable effects of which are wounds, which no sooner happen and they unfit for service than they are discharged, and turned upon an uncharitable world to beg, steal, or starve! In short, Edition: current; Page: [317] they have a true sense of all that can happen, and do not think slightly of the fatigues they encounter, in scouring these mountains with their provisions on their backs, lying out and watching for the enemy, with no other covering or conveniency to shelter them from the inclemency of the weather, than trees and rocks! The old soldiers are affected, and complain of their hardships and little encouragement in piteous terms; and they give these as reasons for so much desertion. The money that is given in paying for deserters, expresses, horse-hire, losses and abuse of horses, would go a great length toward advancing their pay, which I hope would contribute not a little to remove the cause of this expense. I would not have it here understood, tho’, that I mean to recommend any thing extraordinary; no, I would give them British pay, and entitle them to the same privileges during their stay in the service, and as a reward or compliment for their toil, rather than a matter of right. Were the country to give them one suit of regimental clothes a year, without receiving the two pence stoppage, it would be a full allowance, and give great content and satisfaction. All they want (they say) is to be entitled to the privileges and immunities of soldiers, of which they are well informed, by some who have been a number of years in the army, then they should think it no hardship to be subject to the punishments and fatigues. Were this done, and an order given by the Committee empowering me to provide for them, according to the rules and customs of the army, Edition: current; Page: [318] I then should know what I was about, and I could do it without hesitation or fear, and, am convinced, to the satisfaction and interest of the country. As the case now stands, we are upon such odd establishment, under such uncertain regulations, and subject to so much inconvenience, that I am wandering in a wilderness of difficulties, and am ignorant of the ways to extricate myself, and to steer for the satisfaction of the country, the soldiers, or myself. Having no certain rules for the direction of my conduct, I am afraid to turn to this hand or to that, lest it should be censured. If such an order, as I before spoke of, was to issue from your Board, I would then immediately provide upon the best terms a quantity of all kinds of ammunition, clothes, &c. for the use of the regiment, and deliver them out to each company, as their wants required, taking care to deduct the value of all such things from their pay. By this means the soldiers would be always provided and fit for duty, and do it cheerfully, and the country sustains no other loss, than advancing and lying out of the money for a few months to lay in those stores, as this money is always restored by the soldiers again.1

I have hitherto been afraid to advance any sums of money for this salutary purpose, and always bought at extravagant prices, and have been obliged to send to different parts, ere they could be had, which has also contributed to the cause of their nakedness. The officers are almost as uneasy and dispirited as the men, doing every part of duty with languor and Edition: current; Page: [319] indifference. When they are ordered to provide themselves with suitable necessaries, they complain of an uncertain establishment, and the probability of being disbanded, and so, things rendered useless. So that I really most heartily wish for a change. The surgeon has entreated me to mention his case, which I shall do by enclosing his letters. He has behaved extremely well, and discharged his duty, in every capacity, since he came to the regiment. He has long discovered an inclination to quit the service, the encouragement being so small; and I believe would have done it, had not the officers, to show their regard and willingness to detain him, subscribed each one day’s pay in every month. This, as they are likely to be so much dispersed, and can receive no benefit from him, they intend to withdraw, (he says) and therefore begs me to solicit the gentlemen of the Committee in his behalf; otherwise he shall be obliged to seek some other method of getting his livelihood.

If it is thought necessary to establish an hospital, I believe there can scarcely be a doubt but that this is the place; and then I hope he will be appointed director, with advanced pay. Whether or not, I could really wish his pay or perquisites was increased, for the reasons he gives.

I beg, Sir, with very great earnestness, that the gentlemen of the Committee will communicate their sentiments fully upon all these several matters, and approve or disapprove of every thing therein. I only wait to know their intention, and then act in strict conformity thereto.

Edition: current; Page: [320]

Since writing the preceding pages, I find on examining Mr. Boyd’s accompts that he has unadvisably paid Mr. Finnie what arrears were due Quales. But having already appealed for approbation of the Committee in this and other accompts, which I had no distinct knowledge of, or concern in, I yet submit to your determination, and Mr. Finnie must abide by your judgment, and refund if found reasonable.

If the Committee find my account satisfactory and distinct, as I have no doubt of it, it would be a great obligation, if they would make a final settlement to that date, and begin a new account, as it would be the means of keeping matters more clear and intelligible hereafter. For long accounts and references to doubtful points, instead of gaining any light, are but darkened and confused by procrastination. The late regulation of our companies will occasion more regularity in the paymaster’s account, and be more satisfactory in every shape, for the future. Besides, the gentlemen of the Committee will find little trouble, or difficulty, in overhauling short accounts, kept in a regular method, plain and perspicuous, which is the very life of business.

I would again entreat your regard to my request, for these and many other reasons.

George Washington
Washington, George
5 August, 1756
Captain Waggener
Captain Waggener



I have so many places and people to defend; so great calls from every quarter for men, and so little Edition: current; Page: [321] prospects for getting any, that I find it impossible to comply with the act of Assembly, and opinion of the Council of War, in building the chain of forts on the frontiers. You must therefore, notwithstanding all the orders which have heretofore been given, immediately despatch Captain Bell, with his whole company to Captain Cox’s fort; where he is to remain himself with twenty men, taking command of said fort, and escorting all Expresses, wagons, &c, to and from Fort Cumberland, as far as Ashby’s and Pearsalls. The rest of his men he is to divide into two equal parts; one of which, with his Ensign, is to march to, and be stationed at Kirkendalls, for the protection of the people there. The other party, with a trusty sergeant is to march to, and put themselves under the direction of the officer commanding at Ashby’s, in order to strengthen that garrison and enable them to afford escorts with the greater safety. Your own and the two remaining companies, you are to dispose of in the most eligible manner for the protection of the inhabitants above the Trough; and I could most earnestly wish that you would, if the thing is practicable, erect a fort in that settlement, twenty miles above your upper fort, that the people in those parts may be sheltered from the enemy, and that we may so far as is possible, shew our willingness to comply with the laws of our country that direct this chain.

I wrote you yesterday, desiring that all the captains would be punctual in making me exact weekly returns, to be signed by themselves and officers, of Edition: current; Page: [322] the state and strength of their companies, and must repeat those orders, as I am fully resolved to suspend the first captain or commander of a company that neglects in sending me them; or that is careless in correcting or returning them exact, tho’ they may vary but a man.

All the militia that are not already marched, must be immediately ordered down, to call at this place to lodge their arms.

George Washington
Washington, George
5 August, 1756
Colonel Stephen
Colonel Stephen



Yours of the 20th ultimo and 1st inst. I have just received. I am sorry to hear you even mention recalling Capt. McKenzie from his post. It must have been an extraordinary occasion that would have reconciled me to that proceeding, which would have left Cox’s, Pearsalls, and Kirkendalls forts quite defenceless, to strengthen a garrison which was only intended to defend the stores, and might be protected by 100 against musketry, as well as by more; and all the men we have could not save it against any thing else. I have, in order to strengthen the several garrisons that maintain the communications with Fort Cumberland, ordered Captain Bell to march to Cox’s, and there remain with twenty men, while the rest of his company is equally divided, one part to strengthen Ashby’s, the other to protect the inhabitants at Kirkendalls. By this means McKenzie’s company will be kept entire at Edition: current; Page: [323] Pearsalls, and enable him to furnish the stronger escorts. I hope you will mention that matter to Rutherford, which we talked of at Fort Cumberland, about recruiting the rangers. The militia now can neither serve nor disserve us, for, they are by the Governor’s directions, all called in. The views of the enemy are designed against the lower inhabitants. They have laid Maryland and Pennsylvania waste, as low as Carlisle, the inhabitants of which place we are told are flying with the utmost consternation. They have made an attempt on the Virginia side, killed one and captivated another on the Conococheague road, four miles hitherwards, but retreated back, for how long a time, God knows. I communicated the contents of yours to the Doctor concerning medicines, and he will send them up so soon as procured. At present he has none of them.

Having occasion to write to Captain Waggener, I have ordered him to despatch the men belonging to your garrison immediately. Yesterday I wrote you, and desired that all the Captains would be punctual in making me weekly returns, signed by themselves and officers, signifying the state and strength of their companies, and shall here repeat these orders, because I am fully resolved to suspend the first Captain (or commander of a company) that fails in this point, or that is negligent and incorrect in making them out, tho’ they may err but in one man.

By my returns of the regiment including drafts, scouts and rangers, I can only make 926 men; while Mr. Boyd, exclusive of Captain Hog’s company, has Edition: current; Page: [324] issued pay for 1080. What am I, or what are the Governor and Committee, before whom all these widely different returns must be laid for examination, to think of them? Sure the least they can say is, that it is unhappy for the country to have officers so little acquainted with the management of their companies as to make returns to me for 926 men only, and others to the Paymaster for 1080. You desire to have a map sent you of the lakes, &c. I have none but Evans’s, which you have also: nor have I heard a syllable from Major Lewis, altho’ Mr. Jones is now here from Augusta; nor any thing about an engagement on the Lakes.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 August, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

The return of the express, that came with La Force’s escape, (for which accident I am extremely concerned, and fear its productions if he is not retaken,) affords me an opportunity to inform your Honor of some occurrences, which have happened since my last.1

Repeated complaints and applications from all quarters for men, but more especially from the garrisons which secure the communication with Fort Cumberland, Edition: current; Page: [325] (a place very useless in itself, and expensive to the country; containing an hundred and fifty men solely employed in guarding the stores, which could be better defended at any other place) obliged me to order a company from Captain Waggener’s detachment (for none else could spare a man) to reinforce and enable those garrisons to send escorts with wagons and expresses, going to and returning from Cumberland Fort. This reduced Captain Waggener’s command to a number insufficient to disperse parties among the settlers, and retain a strength to conduct the buildings. Therefore, the grand point then turned on this: whether he was to neglect the inhabitants and build the forts, or neglect the forts and mind the inhabitants.

His council were of the latter opinion unanimously, and sent to know my sentiments, which I own corresponded with theirs, for these reasons. First, I look upon it, that the protection of the inhabitants was the motive for ordering these forts; and to lose them, while we are at work, is perverting the intention. Secondly, we have built some and altered other forts, as far south on the Potomac waters as any settlers have been molested; and there only remains one body of inhabitants, at a place called the Upper Tract, which needs a guard upon these waters, and thither I have ordered a party. After this, if I am not misinformed, there is nothing but a continued series of mountains uninhabited, until we get over on James river waters, not far from that fort, which takes its name from your Honor; down which to Mayo River, Edition: current; Page: [326] Captain Hog, by your Honor’s orders, is to have the direction of. If I have done amiss, in not adhering to the letter of the law, I hope your Honor will intimate the same, and give directions how I am to proceed.

There have been two or three men killed and scalped at different places, since my last, though every precaution has been taken to prevent it. The fatiguing service, low pay, and great hardships in which our men have been engaged, cause, notwithstanding the greatest care and vigilance to the contrary, great and scandalous desertions. Yesterday I received an account from Captain Stewart, of sixteen men deserting in a party. Frequently two or three went off before, as they have done from this place. We never fail to pursue, and use all possible means to apprehend them; but seldom with success, as they are generally aided and assisted off by the inhabitants. There are now two parties in pursuit of these fellows, who have made towards the northward to enlist with the recruiting officers in Pennsylvania, &c. I fear without a stop can be put to it we shall lose numbers of our men.1 A report prevailed in town yesterday, Edition: current; Page: [327] said to come from a man, who had it from a person who was at Governor Morris’s treaty with the Indians, and heard them say, that a large body composed of different nations, and headed by some French, intended to attack Fort Cumberland this fall. Reports of this kind often take rise without good foundation; yet, as this is an affair of great importance, the slightest intelligence ought not to be discountenanced, especially when we consider that our provision, and, what is still more valuable, all our ammunition and stores, are lodged in that defenceless place. The consequence of a successful enterprise of this sort, and the absolute impossibility (considering the weakness of the place, badness of situation, and division of our force) of preventing its falling, are, without previous notice, motives sufficient to apprehend the worst. Therefore, notwithstanding I enlarged on this subject in a former letter, think it my duty to hint this again, and to get directions how I am to proceed.

It is true, I give no credit to this intelligence, because I flatter myself such important information as this would be communicated, in the most distinct and expeditious manner, by Governor Morris; yet, as I before said, it being an expedition they cannot fail of succeeding in, what should deter them from attempting it? We have certain advice, that two of our deserters have reached Fort Duquesne, and were heard to speak in high terms, before they went off (but this was not known till after they were gone) of the reward that would be got for communicating the weakness Edition: current; Page: [328] of the works and garrison at Fort Cumberland. All the militia are returned save thirty from Culpeper, who stay willingly with Captain Fields.

As a general meeting of all the persons concerned in the estate of my deceased brother1 is appointed to be held at Alexandria, about the middle of September next, for making a final settlement of all his affairs; and as I am very deeply interested, not only as an executor and heir to part of his estate, but also in a very important dispute, subsisting between Colonel Lee,2 who married the widow, and my brothers and self, concerning advice3 in the will, which brings the whole personal estate in question,—I say, as this is a matter of very great moment to me, I hope your Honor will readily consent to my attending this meeting, provided no disadvantage is likely to arise during my absence; in which case, I shall not offer to quit my command.

If war is to be declared at this place, I should be glad if your Honor would direct the manner. I know there is ceremony required, but the order I am ignorant of.4 I am, &c.


You see, gentlemen soldiers, that it hath pleased our most gracious sovereign to declare war in form against Edition: current; Page: [329] the French King, and (for divers good causes, but more particularly for their ambitious usurpations and encroachments on his American dominions) to pronounce all the said French King’s subjects and vassals to be enemies to his crown and dignity; and hath willed and required all his subjects and people, and in a more especial manner commanded his captain-general of his forces, his governors, and all other his commanders and officers, to do and execute all acts of hostility in the prosecution of this just and honorable war. And though our utmost endeavors can contribute but little to the advancement of his Majesty’s honor and the interest of his governments, yet let us show our willing obedience to the best of kings, and, by a strict attachment to his royal commands, demonstrate the love and loyalty we bear to his sacred person; let us, by rules of unerring bravery, strive to merit his royal favor, and a better establishment as reward for our services.1

George Washington
Washington, George
29 August, 1756
Thomas Fairfax
Fairfax, Thomas


My Lord,

It is with infinite concern, I see the distresses of the people, and hear their complaints, without being able to afford them relief. I have so often troubled Edition: current; Page: [330] your Honor for aid from the militia, that I am almost ashamed to repeat my demands; nor should mention them again, did I not think it absolutely necessary at this time to save the most valuable and flourishing part of this county from immediate desertion. And how soon the remainder part, as well as the adjacent counties, may share the same fate, is too obvious to reason, and to your Lordship’s good sense for me to demonstrate. The whole settlement of Conococheague in Maryland is fled, and there now remain only two families from thence to Fredericktown, which is several miles below the Blue Ridge. By which means we are quite exposed, and have no better security on that side, than the Potomac River, for many miles below the Shenandoah; and how great security that is to us, may easily be discerned, when we consider, with what facility the enemy have passed and repassed it already. That the Maryland settlements are all abandoned is certainly fact, as I have had the accounts transmitted to me by several Edition: current; Page: [331] hands, and confirmed yesterday by Henry Brinker, who left Monocacy the day before, and also affirms, that three hundred and fifty wagons had passed that place to avoid the enemy, within the space of three days.

I thought it expedient to communicate the above in order to inform your Lordship of the reasons for asking succours for these unhappy people, and how absolutely necessary it is to use, (without delay,) such vigorous measures as will save that settlement from total desolation.

We see, my Lord, the absurdity of the people’s arguments, and the consequences of leaving one county, nay, one part of the county, or, to go still farther, a single company, that is more exposed than another, to defend itself and the parts in danger. When Hampshire was invaded, and called on Frederick for assistance, the people of the latter refused their aid, answering, “Let them defend themselves, as we shall do if they come to us.” Now the enemy have forced through that county, and begin to infest this, those a little removed from danger are equally infatuated; and will be, I fear, until all in turn fall a sacrifice to an insulting and merciless enemy.

These observations may be improperly offered to your Lordship, but they occur in so refulgent a light to me, that I could not resist the impulse of dictating them. I am so weak-handed here, that I could not, without stagnating the public works, spare a man to these people’s assistance. Yet I look upon the retaining of them to be so essential to the well-being of the county in general, that I have ordered all the men, that can possibly be spared, to march thitherwards; Edition: current; Page: [332] and they accordingly set out to-morrow morning, to remain there until your Lordship can relieve them, that they may return to these works, which in my opinion are of no little importance to the safety of the county, if we should be attacked by numbers, as we have reason to apprehend. I hope your Lordship will exert your authority in raising men for this salutary end, and that you will think it advisable to make every company furnish their quota. This will redress the complaints of the people below, who say they cannot leave their families to the mercy of the enemy, while they are scouring the woods.

This is the reason given by some why Caton’s party consists but of ten men, while others say it proceeds from dislike to the man. I acquainted his Honor the Governor with your Lordship’s order for raising fifty men for this service, who approved thereof, and has been pleased to direct me to continue them there so long as I see cause.

I cannot conclude without again mentioning how agreeable it would be, if your Lordship would order a party immediately to these parts, that I may withdraw my men to their duty at this place. I am, my Lord, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 September, 1756
Colonel Stephen
Colonel Stephen



Yours of the 17th & 23d August I received. Mr. Boyd is just returned from Williamsburg, settling his accompts and getting a supply of cash. He will be with you to pay you off.

Edition: current; Page: [333]

I am in hopes our men for the future will be better satisfied, as the Committee have allowed them 8d per day and their clothes without any stoppages or deductions. The Governor expects this encouragement will engage the Rangers to enlist.

I wrote him about Fort Cumberland being put down; but he says, as it is a King’s fort he cannot venture to abandon it, without further orders from a higher power. He says, Lord Loudoun will be at Williamsburg about the 20th November, and then the affair may be properly represented to him. He has however sent me orders to draw from thence a sufficient quantity of stores for this and the other forts, and I have accordingly sent wagons to be loaded with ammunition, &c. for that purpose.

The Governor informs me too, that he just received an express from Major Lewis, acquainting him that he might expect 150 Cherokees to be at this place in a fortnight; that the Catawba King was gone to South Carolina, and had engaged to send 50 warriors to our assistance, on his return from thence. This will be a considerable help to us, as we shall be able to carry the war into their own country, and use them in the same manner they have us for 12 months past. He adds, that the Catawbas and Cherokees are very firmly attached to our interest, and will still furnish us with more assistance when the fort in that country is completed. ’T is already in great forwardness. I have wrote to Captain Waggener of this, and ordered him to keep up a correspondence with yours and the other forts, that you may hear from Edition: current; Page: [334] each other every week. I beg you will see to have every man at the fort supplied with a powder-horn and shot-bag.

The Governor has sued Hedgman for scandal and has ordered Lieutenant Hall to attend the General Court, the 14th of October, as an evidence. Acquaint Mr. Hall of this, and send him down. I have got orders from the Governor to enlist servants, the masters to be paid a reasonable price upon the first purchase, deducting for the time they have served. You will observe this, if any should fall in with you. Complaint has been made that the officers and soldiers upon party, take up the strays they find in the woods. Let these practices be discouraged. Ensign Roy had my promise to be appointed to my company, as it is the company he before belonged to, in case my brother did not accept, and he has declined it. I desire you will send Mr. Roy down immediately to this place. I have received no monthly returns, which I expected regularly, besides weekly ones.

Let all your leisure hours be employed in disciplining the men; for as Lord Loudoun is to be here, and will probably see them, I would willingly have them make the best appearance possible.

The wagons must be despatched as soon as possible, loaded with powder chiefly, the rest with grenades, musket-ball and a quantity of flints, with some 12 lb. & 4 lb. grape-shot.

The powder is the most material, so let the greater proportion of that be sent. The men returned by Edition: current; Page: [335] the officers above-mentioned, at this place, are employed on the public works, but they must still continue them on their rolls and returns, and shall have them returned to their companies, as soon as they have done here, if they belong properly to them.

Waters and Burrass behaved extremely ill when they were sent down last. If I could lay my hands on them, I would try the effect of 1000 lashes on the former, and whether a general court-martial would not condemn the latter to a life eternal! I shall not at this time enumerate the different kinds of charges laid to both, but desire you will enquire minutely of Mr. Burrass what he did with the mare he brought from Fort Cumberland. She was a creature belonging to the heirs of Theobald, caught by Captain Ashby for me. I intended to have had her appraised, and allowed the heirs her full value. She was first carried to Fort Cumberland, then brought down by that villain Burrass, and here sold or swapped, I want to know to whom, that I may get her and do as I first intended. Captain Peachy applied to me for leave to take up strays, &c. and said it was practised by the Marylanders & Pennsylvanians. If the people of those provinces are guilty of unlawful practices, I cannot think it should be any excitement to us to follow their example: for under that pretence of getting strays in the mountains, is carried on a scene of the greatest iniquity that can be imagined. The horses on Pattersons Creek, South Branch, and other of our deserted settlements hitherwards, are taken up, sold and made away with, to the infinite detriment Edition: current; Page: [336] and oppression of the people who complain of these grievances in the most sensible manner, and urge that they are more oppressed by their own people, than by the enemy. Were there a limitation given, the officers might, but the soldiers would not observe any, and all strays whatever got, would be said to come within limited bounds. However, if you think you can put the garrison of Fort Cumberland under proper restraints in this particular, I would rather that they be benefited by any advantages of this kind than the enemy, or those who have no pretence should take them off. Therefore suffer no horses to be deemed strays, or taken up as such, which run anywhere below the Flats, either on the Virginia or Maryland side; and if any are caught above, if it is not known to whom they belong, let them be appraised by indifferent officers, upon their honor; and the valuation, with the marks and brand, be registered in a book for that purpose. Then let the person who takes such horses up, and claims them by this right, deliver to the owner, if any should come, the valuation, if such horses should be sold, or in his use and service, or else to deliver up the horse. But if the horse should die, be killed, or stray away from the Fort, in what case the person who takes him up, not to be answerable for the horse or valuation. No person tho’ is under any pretence to take up with a view of keeping and detaining as his property, horses where the owner is known. I will by no means consent that any horse below the Flats shall be taken upon the above terms, lest the property of the people be affected, when they may have better Edition: current; Page: [337] chances of securing their own. In the above I have given you my sentiments, which you may in a court of officers put under proper articles and heads, and made publick to, and strictly practised in the garrison, under very severe penalties on officers, and heavy corporal punishments on the soldiers.

One thing more I think necessary, before any officer or soldier can pretend to lay just claim under the aforesaid articles: that it, to advertise in the nearest publick places in Maryland and Virginia, such as Winchester & Frederick-Town, any horses so taken, that the real owners upon procuring attested proof, may receive their creatures by coming or sending for them. You will receive herewith a cask of shoes, containing 14 dozen pairs, which are to be distributed among the needy of the soldiers, taking care that account is kept to whom they are delivered, so that the price may be stopped from their pay, at the usual rates of 7/6 per pair, and let me be immediately advised of their delivery and payment. You will order as strong an escort with the wagons as you can, as far as Pearsalls; and should any of the wagoners want provisions, let them be served, ordering your commissary to remit an account of it to the commissary here, that it may be deducted from their wages.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 September, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I received your favours of the 19th, 20th, and 21st ultimo, and wrote immediately to the commanding Edition: current; Page: [338] officers of the counties of Prince William, Culpeper, and Fairfax, to march their drafts to this place. There are none of them yet arrived, nor do I know whether they are made.

Your Honor’s letter of the 19th mentions that I may enlist servants agreeable to the act of Parliament; but as I have not yet seen that, am at a loss how to proceed, until I receive your further orders or a copy of the act.1 It will occasion great murmuring and discontent to the masters, if they are not paid immediately for their servants; so I hope your Honor will order them to make application to you for the money. When these points are settled, and I have received your Honor’s farther orders, I shall send out some officers to recruit. It is the best, most expeditious, nay, only method, I know of now to recruit the forces, as I doubt not we shall meet with as good success as our neighborhood. And I am credibly informed, an officer of the regulars enlisted 30 in one day in Maryland. I shall in the meantime recruit all that offer, to prevent their leaving the Colony, but shall be glad of farther instructions. A copy of the act I ought to have above all things. The men are much satisfied with the augmentation of their pay, but nothing will prevent their desertion while they are kindly received and entertained thro’ Edition: current; Page: [339] the Colony, and even under the eye of the civil magistrate. Perhaps a proclamation of pardon to all who would surrender themselves and return to their duty might be of service. Those delivered to the constables are always suffered to escape, and no notice taken of it. All the necessaries I can get in the Colony, the men do not want for; but others indispensably necessary cannot be had. We are in great want of drums. I got one from Colonel Randolph. We have got no conveniences to mend old drums, tho’ we do the best with what we have, which I believe is scarcely more than four very bad ones to the whole regiment: and we have drummers for all the companies learning.

I shall be down at the time your Honor directs to wait upon the Earl of Loudoun. I am in hopes they can do without me in Napp’s affair. I have ordered Lieutenant Hall down to the day you appointed.1 The Quakers still remain here, and shall until the other drafts are discharged. Thro’ the means of their officers chiefly, I believe, the Rangers are quite adverse to enlisting into the regiment. Cockes tells them they are obliged to serve no longer than he commands them, and it was upon these terms they say, they enlisted, and that they will serve if they can continue under the command of their own Captains. So they must be discharged, as the fund is exhausted. They are acquainted with the late encouragement, Edition: current; Page: [340] but nothing will engage them to enlist. I should be glad of express orders in this affair. It may be of service in engaging the Tusks to assist us, if the Nottaways are paid; and I refer them to your Honor for a consideration. The Indians are a very covetous people, and expect to be well rewarded for the least service.

I am afraid military threats will not deter the Pennsylvanian butchers from driving away the cattle. I would have been glad to have received particular directions concerning the provisions, as to the quantity, and where it must be deposited. I fear it is scarcely practicable to get Indians to go now to the Twightwees; I doubt not it would be of service, but how it is to be effected I know not, as we have no Indians in our assistance, but those expected from the Southward. People here in general are very selfish; every person expects forces at his own door, and is angry to see them at his neighbours. I imagine they are much of the same stamp in Augusta.

I wish the new commission for this county may have the intended effect. The number of tippling houses kept here is a great grievance.

All the efforts which have been made here to raise the militia have proved ineffectual.

War having been proclaimed here and at Fort Cumberland, and the guns from Rock Creek brought up some time ago, Ensign Fleming, in Captain Hog’s absence, will be wanted at his post. But your Honor will be pleased to do as you like in the affair. I am glad the Cherokees have determined to come to Edition: current; Page: [341] our assistance, and to hear of the firm attachment of them and the Catawbas to our interest. They will be of particular service—more than twice their number of white men. When they arrive, which I pray may be soon, we may deal with the French in their own way; and, by visiting their country, will keep their Indians at home. I sent off expresses to enquire for fuzees for them. Have not yet heard from Colonel Mason. In Fredricksburg, I am informed, there are about 29. Mr. Hunter of that place informs me that Mr. George Braxton has at least 500 very good, light and fit for Indians. I shall send immediately to Fort Cumberland for a sufficient quantity of the stores. Our men are very much harassed in endeavoring to protect the frontiers, which the great extent of territory renders impossible to be done properly with our small numbers. But we have been happy in being tolerably peaceable and holding our own of late, while Maryland and Pennsylvania fly in the utmost consternation. The frontiers of Maryland are abandoned for many miles below the Blue Ridge, as low as Frederick-Town, thro’ which place I am credibly informed no less than 350 wagons, transporting the affrighted families, passed in the space of three days. By which means, Potowmack River, which is now our frontier, is deserted on the Maryland side 40 miles below Conococheague, and as much in a parellel below Winchester, and is now more than any the theater of bloodshed and cruelty.

Those Indians who are now coming should be shewed all possible respect, and the greatest care Edition: current; Page: [342] taken of them, as upon them much depends. ’T is a critical time, they are very humoursome, and their assistance very necessary! One false step might not only lose us that, but even turn them against us. All kinds of necessary goods, &c, should be got for them.

If your Honor does not care to trouble yourself about it, and please to give me orders, and furnish me with money or letters of credit (for our paper money passes to great disadvantage, and the Committee will not agree to provide those necessaries as they expect Indian affairs come more properly under your regard) I will get them immediately from Philadelphia, which is the only place that I know of that we can possibly be supplied from.

Sometime ago I wrote to your Honor about Jenkins’ pay, which you then ordered me to advance. But as the Committee have ordered that £6 10, which I paid him, should be got back, I thought proper to acquaint your Honor with it, as I must bring it in now as a private charge against your Honor—it being disallowed in my accompt. I have also paid the expresses with the declaration of war and the proclamation concerning La Force, which I shall include in the same accompt, and settle with your Honor at meeting. Your Honor mentions that when the drafts are discharged, the number of officers must be reduced. It is true we have a greater number than is necessary for that of the men, at present; but as it is absolutely necessary to keep the forces, and a larger number than we now have, I think some Edition: current; Page: [343] means should be fallen upon to augment them. And altho’ the officers have not complied with their promises, I will venture to say they did it as well as any after appointed will do, unless some scheme is fallen upon, and a better foundation for recruiting. And as the most of our present corps are gentlemen of family, and have now been sometime in the service, I fear we should exchange for the worse, if we aim at a change.

I think it highly necessary some vigorous measures should be taken to engage or compel the deserters to return to their duty. It certainly would be of service were the King’s attorneys in the several counties, ordered to prosecute all who harbour them, without respect of persons. The immediate loss we suffer for want of their services is greater than the prejudice they do the service in general thro’ the country, by asserting falsehoods of the ill-treatment they received from their officers, and the great want of every thing in the regiment except bad usage. This they do, in order to gain the compassion of credulous people, who immediately receive them with open arms, listen to their complaints, and industriously propagate them thro’ the country, and screen the offenders from justice! There is one Crisp here, a ship-carpenter, who says he was enlisted by your Honor at 2/ per day. He is of no service to us now, and I should be glad to know what must be done with him, and who is to pay his wages? For the Committee I know will grudge him 2/ per day, for which we received no equivalent service of any kind.

Edition: current; Page: [344]

As it seems uncertain when the Assembly will meet, I think it my indispensable duty to observe to your Honor the bad consequences that may arise from want of proper measures to reinforce the requirement, or to keep up a sufficient strength for the protection of the frontiers, when the drafts are to be discharged in December.1 The timorous disposition of the inhabitants occasions much confusion and trouble; and constantly are for flying off on the least noise or report of danger. And if they are lessened in their sense of security by a reduction of our forces, what must then be the event?

The only body of inhabitants is now, and has for some time past been settled on the South Branch; and it is with the greatest difficulty they can be prevailed upon to stay. Should they once give way, we shall not have a soul betwixt this and Fort Du Quesne, except what few soldiers are contained in the little forts on Pattersons Creek.

At present, affairs are still and peaceable, but how long they will remain so is uncertain. The French, flushed with so much success in all their attempts hitherto, may have some grand scheme in view, and surprize us, as in that most unlucky affair of Oswego, which I heartily wish may be yet groundless.

These letters enclosed will show your Honor what obstacles we meet with in enlisting servants; and as I expect opposition will be made in every place I Edition: current; Page: [345] send to recruit at, I beg your Honor would be peremptory and particular in your instructions relative to this affair, both as to masters and magistrates.

Mr. Jones is just came to town from Augusta, who informs me no account of the Cherokees is yet known of in that county; so that we need not look for them these two or three weeks yet.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 September, 1756
Mount Vernon
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Under your kind indulgence I came to this place a few days ago, expecting to meet the executors of my deceased brother, in order to make a final settlement of his affairs. I was disappointed tho’ in this design, by the Assembly having called away the principal persons concerned, which I was unacquainted with until Jenkins’ return, about the same time that I got down. I shall remark, in obedience to your Honor’s request, such things relating to the Virginia regiment as occur to me now, requiring the Assembly’s attention;1 and if any thing further presents itself, I shall communicate it from Winchester, for which place I shall set out this afternoon. I have often urged, for one thing, the necessity of enforcing the articles of war in all their parts, where it is not incompatible with the nature of this service. I have been surprised, as often as I have reflected, and really Edition: current; Page: [346] cannot devise any reason, why the Assembly should be so much averse to established rules for the regulation of their forces, which long experience in established armies fully evinces the necessity of. And my surprise is yet increased, when I consider how cautiously worded the act of Parliament is, to preserve the rights and liberties of the people against the arbitrary proceedings of the military officers.

We are under a kind of regulation at present, that renders command extremely difficult and precarious, as no crimes, I believe, are particularly notified but mutiny and desertion in the act of Assembly, notwithstanding there are many others equally punishable by act of Parliament.

One thing more, which particularly requires attention, is the billeting, quartering, and dieting of soldiers upon the inhabitants, which in many cases cannot be avoided.

I have, in several letters to your Honor, expressed my opinion with candor and freedom, about the situation, works, and garrison at Fort Cumberland. I shall, nevertheless (as you command me to lay before your Honor such things as require the Assembly’s notice,) repeat on this occasion my apprehensive fears once more for that place, to avoid, if any accident should happen to it, the malicious reflections, which inseparably attend misfortunes of the kind. I have upon all occasions said, that Fort Cumberland is a place of no strength, and never can be tenable from the badness of the ground. It is far remote from any of our inhabitants, exposed to the insults of the Edition: current; Page: [347] enemy, renders the communication between that and the inhabitants difficult, and it is not the more convenient for annoying the enemy; contains all our valuable stores (save what I have removed to Winchester), and a garrison of one hundred and seventy, which are too many a number to be spared from other places, just to defend the stores at this, and not enough to afford detachments to waylay and surprise the enemy. I shall, therefore, beg leave to observe, in regard to Fort Cumberland, that if it is continued, we [must be] confined to act defensively, and keep our forces dispersed as they now are. The place must be fortified with strong works, or else inevitably fall, garrison and stores, into the enemy’s hands. How fatal a stroke! And what noise this will make, the censure of mankind will speedily declare.

I enclose your Honor Colonel Stephen’s letter on this head, in answer to one I wrote to him on the subject.

I did, from the beginning, express my sentiments against having small garrisons in a chain of forts along our frontiers—garrisons not sufficient to defend the walls (how then the inhabitants when the enemy are about?) and shall now give a few reasons upon which this opinion was grounded. We have a frontier of such immense extent, that to build forts at convenient distances would employ such numbers of men, or divide our troops into such trifling [parties,] that no one part could defend itself, much less the inhabitants, were the country invaded.

The most effectual way that I can see, though none Edition: current; Page: [348] can answer while we act defensively, is to have no more than three or four large, strong forts, built at convenient distances, upon our frontiers; in which strong garrisons must be maintained, that parties able to cope with when they hear of or do meet the enemy may be sent out, and these parties in constant succession to be ranging and scouring the country. Here a difficulty will arise, as others will in every defensive plan that can be offered. How are these ranging parties, sent out in this manner, and probably remaining on the scout from ten to fourteen days, to be supplied with provisions, the inhabitants being so thinly settled, and the forts so far extended? The difficulty is great, yet not sufficient to render this plan inferior to the former. For in the other case, when the enemy is heard of, the garrison can only send out parties, more fit to reconnoiter than oppose. These parties, if they prove too small (which in all probability they may), are certain of falling a prey to the enemy, whose numbers cannot be known until thus proved. I could urge many things more on this head, but believe it useless. What I have already said, I hope, is sufficient to give your Honor a hint of the matter, and that is all I aimed at. We may form many schemes to defend ourselves, but experience will show, that none but removing the cause will prove effectual. Unless the Assembly concerts some measures to augment their force, the country, I fear, must inevitably fall. The frontiers, since this time a twelve month, are totally deserted for fifty miles and upwards quite from north Edition: current; Page: [349] to south, and all below that greatly thinned by the removal of numbers; occasioned in some measure by Maryland and Pennsylvania giving ground so much faster than we do, which exposes a very fine country of ours on that side, as low as Monocacy in Maryland, several miles on this side the Blue Ridge.

I believe I might also add, that no person, who regards his character, will undertake a command without the means of preserving it; since his conduct is culpable for all misfortunes, and never right but when successful.

I cannot think any number under two thousand men sufficient to cover our extensive frontiers, and with them it is impossible to prevent misfortunes, however easy the world may think it. What means can be used to raise these men, I know not, unless the listing servants is thought expedient; and that (alone) will prove ineffectual. Some resolve should be come to about the ranging companies. Under what regulations those are in Augusta, and what service they have done the country, I know not. Those on this quarter have done little service, and amount (both companies) to about thirty men only at this time. I apprehend it will be thought advisable to keep a garrison always at Fort Loudoun; for which reason I would beg leave to represent the great nuisance the number of tippling-houses in Winchester are of to the soldiers, who, by this means, in despite of the utmost care and vigilance, are, so long as their pay holds good, incessantly drunk, and unfit for service.

Edition: current; Page: [350]

The rates of their liquor are immoderately high, and the publicans throughout the country charge one shilling per meal, currency, for soldier’s diet; and the country only allows the recruiting officer eight pence per day for the maintenance of a soldier, by which means he loses in proportion as he gets men, which is much complained of, and is in reality a discouraging circumstance meriting redress. The want of a chaplain does, I humbly conceive, reflect dishonor upon the regiment, as all other officers are allowed. The gentlemen of the corps are sensible of this, and did propose to support one at their private expense. But I think it would have a more graceful appearance were he appointed as others are. I could wish some method were practised to bring the commonalty acquainted with the laws against entertaining of deserters, and to enforce those laws more effectually than they ever have been. The number of cattle that has been drove, and now is continually driving to Pennsylvania, may be thought worth noticing.

I informed your Honor immediately after my accompts were cursorily examined in April last, that the Committee objected to the money advanced Jenkins; and you ordered me to pay him as the money became due, which you would see me paid. In August last, when my accompts were again examined, and the same charge still remaining, the Committee resolved that I should get it back from Jenkins; which cannot be done, unless your Honor will please to do it. As they have absolutely refused to allow this charge, I should be glad to receive directions Edition: current; Page: [351] how to act with Jenkins; and to know whether you would have him continued any longer as a rider.

There is an officer of the American Regiment recruiting at Alexandria, and purposes to go thro’ the country, and pass into Carolina. He has enlisted some servants, and purposes to take all he can meet with. This, I believe, may evince the necessity of our following his example, otherwise we suffer our country to be weakened by those and receive no immediate advantage from it; tho’ I imagine the expense will be near the same to the country, their being in the King’s or country’s service.1

George Washington
Washington, George
28 September, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I arrived here last night, and find things in the peaceable state I left them on this Quarter; and therefore set out to-morrow for Augusta. As Mr. Edition: current; Page: [352] Walker has declined, it is absolutely necessary to have a Commissary immediately appointed, who should have express orders where, and for what number of men to lay in Provisions; and should be furnished with cash before he sets out, as every thing will be got with less trouble & cheaper by that means. The time for buying provisions will soon be elapsed. I have ordered the Assistant Commissary here, that time may not be lost, to lay in twelve months provision for a thousand men. To have at each fort as much provision as will maintain the Garrison until the 1st May—and the rest to be lodged at this place of safety; so that in case an Expedition should be determined upon in the Spring, it may be in readiness, and the several Garrisons rendezvous’d, without the incumbrances of transporting stores & Provisions. These orders I have given, not knowing what else would be satisfactory; being ignorant of the plans, &c concerted, and acting entirely like a Wanderer in unknown paths! If it should not corroborate with your Honor’s sentiments & with those of the Assembly, it is not too late to alter the directions, and give any others. It is for this purpose I mention it now that your Honor may, as Assembly are sitting, appoint the Commissary, and give me directions what quantity of provision to provide and in what magazines to lodge them; and then I will take the blame if it is not done, late as the season is.

The number of little paultry forts along the frontiers, render the forces very difficult & expensive to be supplied with provision. If the Assembly should Edition: current; Page: [353] continue determined to act defensively and should come into a Resolve of building a few Forts instead of the many intended, I would recommend only one at the most convenient place in each frontier county, vizt., Hampshire, Augusta, & Bedford, and that the one in Hampshire be built on a line betwixt this & Fort Du Quesne, and made cannon-proof; as it lies most exposed and has a free communication for carriages from the Enemy. As to the others—there being no possibility, without first opening the roads, to approach them with Artillery I conceive if they are built large, regular and defensible against musketry it is sufficient—for others will be very expensive.

I desired to know in my last what should be done with the Ranging Companies, since that, I am told they have all deserted to a few. Their posts must be filled with a Company of the Regiment from the Branch; which will occasion fresh uneasiness to the Inhabitants, as they are continually pestered by the enemy; a party of whom was defeated the other day by Ensign Smith & 12 men of the Regiment, who killed one man, took a number of — moccasins, scalping knives, and 4 neat french Fuzees.

As Captain Mercer is summoned and must appear against Napp (as I do not) at the 6th day of the court, I expect he will get a supply of cash from the Treasurer, the last being all gone.

Blankets, Shirts & Cartridge-paper are much wanted for immediate use; and must if possible be soon provided, as we cannot do without them. They have had information on the Branch, that the Edition: current; Page: [354] Dunkers (who are all Doctors) entertain the Indians who are wounded here, and that there were several there with them. Captain Spotswood marched out with 80 men to their Houses, to bring in all he finds there.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 October, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



This day within five miles of the Carolina line, as I was proceeding to the southernmost fort in Halifax, I met Major Lewis on his return from the Cherokees, with seven men and three women only of that nation. The causes of this unhappy disappointment I have desired him to communicate, that your Honor may take measures accordingly.1 This account is sent by express, to give the earliest notice while the Assembly is sitting. I shall defer giving a particular detail of my remarks and observations on the situation of our frontiers, until I return to Winchester, as I expect by that time to be more intimately acquainted with the unhappy circumstances of the people. Yet I shall not omit mentioning some occurrences, which have happened in my tour to this place. I wrote your Honor from Winchester, that I should set out the next day for Augusta. I accordingly did, with Captain McNeill; and hearing at the Court-House, that the Indians still continue their depredations, Edition: current; Page: [355] although not so openly as at first, I applied to Colonel Stewart, then present, to raise a party of the militia, and said I would head them, and march to Jackson’s River, to try to scour the woods, and, if possible, fall in with the enemy. He gave me very little encouragement to expect any men, yet desired I would wait four days, until Monday, and he would use his endeavours to collect a body. Until Tuesday I waited, and only five men appeared. This being too inconsiderable a number to expose to a triumphant enemy, I was advised to apply to Colonel Buchanan for men, between whom and Colonel Stewart there was contention about command. As Colonel Buchanan lived at Luney’s Ferry, on James River, sixty miles along the road to Voss’s, on the Roanoke, where Captain Hog was building a fort, to which place I did intend [to proceed,] if I could have got men to range along the frontiers with me. I set out immediately for his house, attended by Captain Preston, who was kind enough to conduct me along, and acquainted the Colonel with the motives that brought me thither. He told me with very great concern, it was not in his power to raise men; for that, three days before, some of the militia in a fort, about fifteen miles above his house, at the head of Catawba Creek, commanded by one Colonel Nash, was attacked by the Indians, which occasioned all that settlement to break up totally, even to the ferry at Luney’s; that he had ordered three companies to repair thither, to march against the enemy, and not one man came, except a captain, lieutenant, &c, and Edition: current; Page: [356] seven or eight men from Bedford. Finding then that it was impossible to get a party to range and scour the frontiers, it remained only to proceed without men to see the situation of the forts, or to return back again. The latter I was loath to do, as I had got thus far, and was anxious to see what posture of defence they were in. I therefore determined to come forward, at least to Voss’s, and accordingly set out in company with Colonel Buchanan, who, being desirous that I might see and relate their unhappy circumstances, undertook to accompany me. We got safely to Voss’s, where Captain Hog, with only eighteen of his company, was building a fort, which must employ him till Christmas without more assistance. One Captain Hunt from Lunenburg, was there with thirty men; but none of them would strike a stroke, unless I would engage to see them paid forty pounds of tobacco per day, which is provided by act of Assembly for militia carpenters. This I certainly could not do, as your Honor, (who I thought had ordered them purposely out for this duty,) had given no directions in the affair. Whatever expectations your Honor may have had from the militia assistance, I am told they never lent a hand, save a few, that first came out with Captain Hog, whom he has paid after the same rates with our men, at sixpence per diem. Voss’s place is a pass of very great importance, being a very great inroad of the enemy, and [would] secure, if it was strongly garrisoned, all Bedford and the greatest part of this county, notwithstanding they have built three forts here, and one of them, if no more, Edition: current; Page: [357] erected in my opinion in a very out-of-the-way place. This they call Fort Trial.

From Voss’s I came off with a servant and a guide, to visit the range of forts in this country; and in less than two hours after, two men were killed along the same road, as will appear by Captain McNeill’s letter, which I have just received, and herewith send, to let your Honor see, by the account of Captain Hunt’s behaviour, what dependence may be put in the militia. The inhabitants are so sensible of their danger, if left to the protection of these people, that not a man will stay at his place. This I have from their own mouths, and the principal persons of Augusta county. The militia are under such bad order and discipline, that they will go and come when and where they please, without regarding time, their officers, or the safety of the inhabitants, but consulting solely their own inclinations. There should be, according to your Honor’s orders, one third of the militia of these parts now on duty at once; instead of that, I believe scarce one-thirteenth is out. They are to be relieved every month; they are more than that time marching to and from their stations, and will not wait one day longer than the limited time, whether they are relieved or not, let the necessity for it be ever so urgent. An instance of this kind happened in my presence about four days ago, in the case of Captain Daniel from Albemarle, who was intreated by Colonel Buchanan to stay, at the time he was gathering or attempting to gather men, upon that alarm at the Catawba settlement before mentioned. Edition: current; Page: [358] But his month was out, and go he must and did. Nay, I believe I may venture to say, that, whether his month had been out or not, this would have induced him to go; for this gentleman went away from Voss’s, because he thought it a dangerous post, giving that for his reason, and left Captain Hog with eighteen men, exposed to the insults of the enemy.

Perhaps it may be thought I am partial in my relation, and reflect unjustly. I really do not, Sir. I scorn to make unjust remarks on the behaviour of the militia, as much as I despise and contemn the persons, who detract from mine and the character of the regiment. Were it not, that I consulted the good of the public, and thought these garrisons merited redress, I should not think it worth my mention. I only want to make the country sensible, how ardently I have studied to promote her cause, and wish very sincerely, my successor may fill my place more to their satisfaction in every respect, than I have been able to do. I mentioned in my last to your Honor, that I did not think a less number than two thousand men would be sufficient to defend our extensive and much exposed frontiers from the ravages of the enemy. I have not had one reason to alter my opinion, but many to strengthen and confirm it. And I flatter myself, the country will, when they know my determinations, be convinced that I have no sinister views, no vain motives of commanding a number of men, that urge me to recommend this number to your Honor, but that it proceeds from the knowledge I have acquired of the country, people, &c, to be defended.

Edition: current; Page: [359]

Your Honor, I hope, will give directions about laying in provisions on our southern frontiers. It is not in my power to do it, as I know not what troops can or will be put there; for the regiment is at present too weak to allow any men to march from the quarter in which they are now stationed. I set out this day on my return to the fort, at the head of Catawba, where Colonel Buchanan promised to meet me with a party to conduct me along our frontiers, up Jackson’s River to Fort Dinwiddie, and higher if needful. If he does not meet me, I shall immediately proceed to Winchester, as it will be impossible to do any thing without men.

If your Honor think proper to advance the pay of the militia, in order to engage them to work, please to acquaint Captain Hog therewith, and send him money for that purpose, and were there more men ordered to cover his party, and assist in the work, it would be highly advisable, for he is greatly exposed. Major Lewis is extremely unwell. This express is referred to your Honor for pay. I have not money to do it. I am hurried a good deal, but have given a plain account of all those several matters mentioned in the foregoing sheet. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 October, 1756
Fort Dinwiddie
Major David Lewis
Lewis, Major David



Lieutenant Bullet, who commands at this place, in the absence of Captain Hog, tells me that he applied Edition: current; Page: [360] to you for a few men to join such parties as this Garrison can afford—to range the woods, and assist the inhabitants in securing their Grain, gathering their Corn, &c, and that you have refused to aid him. I conceive if you did so, it must have proceeded from a misapprehension of his meaning. Therefore I apply to you myself on this head; and desire your compliance, or reasons for refusing.

I presume, Sir, it will be needless to acquaint you—your own good sense will doubtless evince it, that the intent of sending men hither was to protect the frontier inhabitants, and offer them comfort by relieving their distresses, and wants; which [will] not in any wise be accomplished, while you remain in a body at a certain place, forted in, as if to defend yourselves were the sole end of your coming.

You will I hope excuse the liberty I have taken in mentioning this affair, when I tell you I am in a great measure authorized by the Governor to direct in these matters.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 October, 1756
Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen
Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen



Last night I returned from a very long and troublesome jaunt on the Frontiers, as far as Mayo; where affairs seem to be in a dangerous situation: and to add to our misfortunes, I find our neighbourhood here on the wing, you and your Garrison in great distress & danger; the Enemy ravaging the country about Conogochieg, Stony-Run, and South Branch; Edition: current; Page: [361] loud and general complaints for protection; few or no men to send abroad for any Service.—In short, so melancholy a scene, without the power of changing it to our satisfaction and interest, fills me with the greatest anxiety & uneasiness. I shall recite you all the Governor’s last letter to me relative to Fort Cumberland as I had written for his positive directions, vizt.:

You have frequently complained to me of the situation, &c, of Fort Cumberland, and I have wrote you how disagreeable it was to me to give up any place of strength, as it wou’d raise the spirits of the enemy, at the same time they wou’d suspect us to be in fear of them: and therefore if that place could be stationed1 with safety, until Lord Loudoun gives orders thereon, I should be glad. But as you are upon the spot, and think it very prejudicial to the Service to keep that Fortress; I desire you may call a council of officers and consult, whether it is most advisable to keep it or to demolish it, if the last, you must take care to have all the ammunition, &c. brought to Winchester; and destory every thing which you conceive may be of service to the enemy. This affair is now left to the determination of a Council of Officers; and I desire you to be very explicit in your arguments on this head, as they must be laid before Lord Loudoun. I was always averse to small garrisons on our frontiers, as they in course divided our men into small parties, but you know the Assembly were so fond of them, that they passed a Law for that purpose—and I cannot at present alter that determination.2

Thus far his Honor. As it appears to be an affair Edition: current; Page: [362] of much importance, I cannot pretend to offer my advice, but would desire you and the officers there to deliberate seriously in Council, what you think most proper, to be done; and send me immediate notice that I may come up with a sufficient number of waggons, (if to be abandoned) to remove the Stores, and likewise to hold a General Court Martial on the matter, to avoid future reflection. I have frequently mentioned my dislike to the place, for these Reasons:—First, Its insufficiency for any tolerable defence—Secondly, its distance from the inhabitants—difficulty of communication—and answering no other purpose than burying the service of 170 Men, in guarding the Stores, which might be more conveniently done in other forts. Indeed, had we men enough to afford constant scouting parties from that place and cou’d defend the country hereabouts, I shou’d approve its being supported and improved in strength on account of the advantages we might expect from it—but as this is not the case, I look upon it as rather prejudicial to the country. The additional works you mention as necessary to strengthen the fort, I cannot consent to without positive orders from the Governor; as I shou’d become answerable from my own Estate for such expenses; unless commanded by the Governor or Assembly. The Assembly is prorogu’d to the second Thursday of next month, when we may depend upon some alterations in our present constitution: and if you think, after the removal of part of the Stores, it can be maintained, till we have their determination—it probably may be more advisable, Edition: current; Page: [363] as His Excellency Lord Loudoun is then expected. But upon the whole—as you must be a better judge of your own situation & danger, and the Governor leaving the affair to a council of Officers, I refer the case entirely to your discretion; hoping you will observe the greatest circumspection & prudence in all your measures; so that we may be liable to no blame for any future consequences. Enclosed is a scheme I intend to offer the Assembly, if they cannot be persuaded off their defensive notions, although I am determined to urge my utmost to evince the advantages and necessity of an offensive campaign; as you & every body else must allow that carrying the war into the enemy’s country is the surest method of peace at home & success abroad. And until an attempt is formed against Duquesne, so as to remove the fountain of all our distrubance and trouble, we never may expect a peaceable day. The policy of the French is so subtle that not a friendly Indian will we have on the continent, if we do not soon dislodge them from the Ohio.

I shall exert every power to make this plan go down with the Assembly, and press them to vigorous measures for the safety and interest of the Country, preferably to the Defensive, and demonstrate fully to them every thing I think demands their concern, as to the Frontiers. I also would have you collect whatever comes under your own observation in these respects, that we may omit nothing requisite for the Assembly’s regard. As the fund for support of the Rangers is long since exhausted, the Governor avers Edition: current; Page: [364] them to be discharged. You will therefore acquaint the officers and men of these Companies, that they are discharged accordingly, &c, &c.1


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.

Capt. Wm. Bronaugh Capt. Hen. Woodward
Capt. Robt. Spotswood Capt. Chas. Lewis
Capt. Wm. Peachy Lt. Peter Steenberger
Lt. Austin Brockenborough Lt. James Baker
Lt. Mordecai Buckner Ens. Wm. Dangerfield
Ensn. Edwd. Hubbard Ens. Nathl. Thompson
Ens. Charles Smith Ens. Jno. Lawson
Ens. Griffin Pert.

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 Edition: current; Page: [365] 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 Edition: current; Page: [366] 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.

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fort cumberland and vicinity.

“Reduced, but not in fac-simile, from a sketch among the Sparks maps in the library of Cornell University. . . The original is on a sheet 14 × 12 inches, and is endorsed on the back in Washington’s handwriting, apparently at a later date, ‘Sketch of the Situation of Fort Cumberland.’ ” From the Narrative and Critical History of America, by courtesy of the publishers.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [367] 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 Edition: current; Page: [368] 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.


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 Edition: current; Page: [369] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [371] 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


A Plan of the Number of Forts, and strength necessary to each extending entirely across our Frontiers, from South to North.—

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Names of the forts, or persons commandg. in ’em. On what waters placed. Distance from each other in miles. No. of men Garrisoning each.
Capt. Harris Mayo 20
Galloway Smith’s river 15 20
Terry Black water 26 20
Hog Roanoke 26 150
Not built Roanoke at Bryants 18 50
Fort William Catawba Bra. of Jas. river 18 75
Not built Craik’s Creek, Bra. of Jas. river 15 40
Dickinsons Jackson’s river 18 250
Brakenridge Jackson’s river 16 40
Fort Dinwiddie Jackson’s river 14 100
Christy Jackson’s river 15 40
Between this & Trout Rock—not yet built 18 50
Trout Rock, not built So. Branch 15 75
Upper Settlement So. Branch 20 60
Fort Defiance So. Branch 20 60
Fort Pleasant So. Branch 20 60
Fort at Cockes’s Patterson’s Creek 20 500
Fort at Ashby’s Patterson’s Creek 12 60
Fort at Parkers’ So. Branch 10 30
Enochs, not built Cacapehon 15 75
Maidstone Potomack 30 125
Winchester 100
Total 2,000

This plan is calculated upon the most moderate and easy terms for sparing the country expences, and I believe with tolerable justness may answer the design of protecting the inhabitants. It may be objected, that the distance between some of the forts is too small; in answer to which I must observe they are generally fixed upon the heads of creeks, &c, extending towards the Alleghany mountains with almost inaccessible mountains between them, and are placed in the most commodious manner for securing the inhabitants of such waters. Some Garrisons are larger than others, according as they cover a thick or thin settlement. The fort at Voss’s (which Capt. Hog is now building) is in a much exposed gap; subject to the inroads of the Southern Indians, and in a manner covers the greatest part of Bedford & Halifax.

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Dickinsons is situated for the defence of a once numerous & fertile settlement, on the Bull Cow & Calf pastures; and lies directly in the Shawnese path to Ohio, and must be a place of rendezvous, if an Expedition is conducted against the Ohio Indians below Duquesne.

The Garrisons on the Potomack waters, are yet larger than any; because an invasion is most to be dreaded on this Quarter.

It will be seen Fort Cumberland is not mentioned in this plan. If we act only on the defensive (a system on which this plan is founded) I think it employs a large garrison to very little advantage to Virginia. If we act offensively, it may be of infinite use, if properly fortified; and the Garrison at Cockes’s will then only consist of about 50 or 60, as the rest may be removed to Fort Cumberland.1

George Washington
Washington, George
9 November, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

In mine from Halifax I promised your Honor a particular detail of my remarks and observations upon the situation of our frontiers, when I arrived at this Edition: current; Page: [374] place. Although I was pretty explicit in my former, I cannot avoid recapitulating part of the subject now, as my duty, and its importance for redress are strong motives.

From Fort Trial on Smith’s River, I returned to Fort William on the Catawba, where I met Colonel Buchanan with about thirty men, (chiefly officers,) to conduct me up Jackson’s River, along the range of forts. With this small company of irregulars, with whom order, regularity, circumspection, and vigilance were matters of derision and contempt, we set out, and, by the protection of Providence, reached Augusta Court-House in seven days, without meeting the enemy; otherwise we must have fallen a sacrifice, through the indiscretion of these whooping, hallooing gentlemen soldiers!

This jaunt afforded me an opportunity of seeing the bad regulation of the militia, the disorderly proceedings of the garrisons, and the unhappy circumstances of the inhabitants.

First, of the militia. The difficulty of collecting them on any emergency whatever, I have often spoken of as grievous; and I appeal to sad experience, both in this and other counties, how great a disadvantage it is; the enemy having every opportunity to plunder, kill, and escape, before they can afford any assistance. And not to mention the expensiveness of their service in general, I can instance several cases, where a captain, lieutenant, and, I may add, an ensign, with two or three sergeants, and six or eight men, will go upon duty at a time. The proportion Edition: current; Page: [375] of expense in this case is so unjust and obvious, your Honor wants not to be proved.

Then these men, when raised, are to be continued only one month on duty, half of which time is lost in their marching out and home, (especially those from the adjacent counties,) who must be on duty some time before they reach their stations; by which means double sets of men are in pay at the same time, and for the same service. Again, the waste of provision they make is unaccountable; no method or order in being served or purchasing at the best rates, but quite the reverse. Allowance for each man, as other soldiers do, they look upon as the highest indignity, and would sooner starve, than carry a few days’ provision on their backs for conveniency. But upon their march, when breakfast is wanted, knock down the first beef, &c, they meet with, and, after regaling themselves, march on until dinner, when they take the same method, and so for supper likewise, to the great oppression of the people. Or, if they chance to impress cattle for provision, the valuation is left to ignorant and indifferent neighbours, who have suffered by those practices, and, despairing of their pay, exact high prices, and thus the public is imposed on at all events. I might add, I believe, that, for the want of proper laws to govern the militia by (for I cannot ascribe it to any other cause), they are obstinate, self-willed, perverse, of little or no service to the people, and very burthensome to the country. Every mean individual has his own crude notions of things, and must undertake to direct. If his advice is neglected, Edition: current; Page: [376] he thinks himself slighted, abused, and injured; and, to redress his wrongs, will depart for his home. These, Sir, are literally matters of fact, partly from persons of undoubted veracity, but chiefly from my own observations.

Secondly, concerning the garrisons. I found them very weak for want of men; but more so by indolence and irregularity. None I saw in a posture of defence, and few that might not be surprised with the greatest ease. An instance of this appeared at Dickinson’s Fort, where the Indians ran down, caught several children playing under the walls, and had got to the gate before they were discovered. Was not Voss’s Fort surprised, and a good many souls lost, in the same manner? They keep no guard, but just when the enemy is about; and are under fearful apprehensions of them; nor ever stir out of the forts, from the time they reach them, till relieved on their month being expired; at which time they march off, be the event what it will. So that the neighborhood may be ravaged by the enemy, and they not the wiser. Of the ammunition they are as careless as of the provisions, firing it away frequently at targets for wagers. On our journey, as we approached one of their forts, we heard a quick fire for several minutes, and concluded for certain that they were attacked; so we marched in the best manner to their relief; but when we came up, we found they were diverting at marks. These men afford no assistance to the unhappy settlers, who are drove from their plantations, either in securing their harvests, or gathering in their Edition: current; Page: [377] corn. Lieutenant Bullet, commanding at Fort Cumberland, sent to Major Lewis of Albemarle, who commanded a party of sixty militia at Miller’s, about fifteen miles above him, where were also thirty men of Augusta, for some men to join his small parties to gather the corn. Major Lewis refused assistance, and would not divide his men. I wrote to him, but got no answer. Mr. Bullet has done what he could with his few men, not quite thirty. Of the many forts, which I passed by, I saw but one or two that had their captains present, they being absent chiefly on their own business, and had given leave to several of the men to do the same. Yet these persons, I will venture to say, will charge the country their full month’s pay.1

Thirdly, the wretched and unhappy situation of the inhabitants needs few words, after a slight reflection on the preceding circumstances, which must certainly draw after them very melancholy consequences without speedy redress. They are truly sensible of their misery; they feel their insecurity from militia preservation, Edition: current; Page: [378] who are slow in coming to their assistance, indifferent about their preservation, unwilling to continue, and regardless of every thing but their own ease. In short, they are so affected with approaching ruin, that the whole back country is in a general motion towards the southern colonies; and I expect that scarce a family will inhabit Frederick, Hampshire, or Augusta, in a little time. They petitioned me in the most earnest manner for companies of the regiment. But alas! it is not in my power to assist them with any, except I leave this dangerous quarter more exposed than they are. I promised, at their particular request, to address your Honor and the Assembly in their behalf, and that a regular force may be established in lieu of the militia and ranging companies, which are of much less service, and infinitely more cost to the country. Were this done, the whole would be under one direction, and any misbehaviour could never pass with impunity. Whereas the others are soldiers at will, and in fact will go and come when and where they please, without regarding the orders or directions of any. And, indeed, the manner in which some of the ranging captains have obtained their commissions, if I am rightly informed, is by imposture and artifice. They produce a list, I am told, to your Honor, of sundry persons, who are willing to serve under them. One part, it is said, are of fictitious names; another, the names of persons who never saw the list; and the remainder are persons drawn into it by fallacious promises, that cannot be complied with without Edition: current; Page: [379] detriment to the service. But were it otherwise, surely any person, who considers the pay of the soldiers and that of the militia, will find a considerable difference, tho’ both under the best regulations.

As defensive measures are evidently insufficient for the security and safety of the country, I hope no arguments are requisite to convince of the necessity of altering them to a vigorous offensive war, in order to remove the cause.1 But, should the Assembly still indulge that favorite scheme of protecting the inhabitants by forts along the frontiers, in which many of them too put their dependence, and as the building of these forts has been encouraged and confirmed by an act of the Assembly, I take the liberty to present your Honor with a plan of the number of forts, and strength necessary to each, reaching entirely across our frontiers from north to Edition: current; Page: [380] south. This plan is calculated upon the most moderate and easy terms for sparing the country’s expense, and, I believe, with tolerable propriety to answer the wished-for design of protecting the settlers. Besides, most of the forts are already built by the country-people or soldiers, and require but little improvement, save one or two, as Dickinson’s and Cox’s. Your Honor will see Fort Cumberland excluded in this list.

The advantage of having the militia in Augusta, &c, under one command, I have already hinted at; and I think Major Lewis should have your Honor’s orders to take that duty in hand, with directions and orders to secure those important passes of Dickinson’s and Voss’s, by building a fort in the neighbourhood of Dickinson’s, or by other means. And were it practicable to get the people to assemble in little towns contiguous to these forts, it would contribute much to their mutual peace and safety, during the continuance of the Indian war.1 The Augusta people complain greatly for want of money.

The other day eleven Indians of the Catawba tribe came here, and we undoubtedly might have had more of them, had the proper means been used to send trusty guides to invite and conduct them to us; but this is neglected. One Matthew Tool makes his Edition: current; Page: [381] boast of stopping them until he shall be handsomely rewarded for bringing them; and Major Lewis can inform your Honor of one Bemer, who uses every method to hinder the Cherokees from coming to our assistance. Complaint should be made to Governor Littleton of these persons. Indian goods are much wanted to reward the Catawbas, and encourage them to engage in our service. In what manner are they to be paid for scalps? Are our soldiers entitled to the reward like indifferent people? It is a tedious and expensive way to defer payment until proved and sent to your Honor.

Your Honor and the Assembly should determine these points and many others very essential, vizt., a proper method of paying rewards for taking up deserters, the present being very discouraging, in delaying payment until Courts of Claims, &c.; means to replace the drafts, that must be discharged in December; ascertaining the pay of workmen employed on all public works, or empowering the commanding officer to agree on the cheapest terms with them; how the servants enlisted for the Virginia regiment are to be paid for. We have already recruited fifty odd and are daily dunned for payment by the masters. A report prevails, to my great surprise, tho’ disbelief, that your Honor had told some persons, who applied to you for satisfaction for their servants, that I had no orders to enlist any. This false rumor occasions very strange reflections, and must make me appear in a very unjust light to the world. I have, therefore, desisted from recruiting until your Honor Edition: current; Page: [382] directs me in what manner those already obtained are to be satisfied; and I beg your Honor will give me immediate advice on the affair, as the people are impatient, and threaten us with prosecutions from all quarters.

Your Honor has herewith a copy of the council of war, held in behalf of Fort Cumberland, in which the arguments are justly and fully laid down, both with regard to Virginia in particular, and in general, as to the three colonies whose mutual interest highly concerns, and should be by them equitably supported. On the back of the copy are my sentiments on the matter candidly offered your Honor, and to your Honor I leave the determination of this important affair, with the officers of the council. I have frequently wrote your Honor, desiring you would appoint a commissary in lieu of Mr. Walker, who has declined acting, and been absent for many months; but as I never had your Honor’s answer, I have in consequence of your first and since repeated instructions made choice of a person, who I believe will do that duty with every necessary diligence and care; and hope your Honor will approve my proceeding. The £100 paid Colo. Stephen of the Ranger’s money (by Colonel Fairfax) have already been accounted for to the Committee. I have since received from Colo. Fairfax £68.13.9 on the country’s credit, and to be settled with my other accompts.

As touching a chaplain, if the government will grant a subsistence, we can readily get a person of Edition: current; Page: [383] merit to accept of the place, without giving the commissary any trouble on that point, as it is highly necessary we should be reformed from those crimes and enormities we are so universally accused of.1

Your Honor has had advice of two spies, that were taken at Fort Cumberland; one of whom they quickly hung up as his just reward, being a deserter; the other was sent to Governor Sharpe, to give information of the infernal practices followed by some of the priests of that province, in holding correspondence with our enemy.2 I am, &c.

N. B. I am just setting out for Fort Cumberland.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 November, 1756
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

At this place, on my way to Williamsburg, I received your Honor’s letter of the 18th instant,3 and Edition: current; Page: [384] shall take care to pay the strictest obedience to your orders, and the opinion, so far as I can. The detachment ordered from Winchester exceeds, I believe, the number of enlisted men we have there; and the drafts, which made our strength at that place to consist of about one hundred and sixty men, will leave us in seven days. I have no hope of enlisting any, nor prolonging their stay, as we have heretofore engaged those, who were willing to serve. However my true endeavors shall be strictly aiding for this (more than ever) necessary purpose.

I am very sorry any expression in my letter should Edition: current; Page: [385] be deemed unmannerly. I never intended insults to any; on the contrary, have endeavoured to demean myself in that proper respect due to superiors. In the instance mentioned, I can truly say, so far from intending a charge or affront of any kind, it was distant from my thoughts; and I meant no more than to show what strange, what unaccountable infatuation prevailed among the magistrates, &c., of the back parts of Carolina; who were so regardless of the common cause, as to allow fifty Catawbas to return, when they had proceeded near seventy miles on their march, for want of provisions and a conductor to entice them along. This was a fact I did not suppose your Honor was uninformed of, knowing Colonel Cobb had wrote you on the subject. I therefore thought I might be less explicit, and not have incurred this censure by that means.

I seem also to be reprimanded for giving a vague account of my tour to the southward. I was rather fearful of blame for prolixity and impertinence, in meddling with matters I had no immediate concern with; and related them rather as hints, to set you upon inquiring, than as a circumstantial account of the facts. And this I chose more especially to do, as Colonels Lewis and Buchanan, from whom, being heads of the militia, these representations, fully authenticated, more properly came. And they were represented, at least by the latter, then on his road to do so; and had as he told me, taken the testimony and depositions of several persons for this purpose, in order to demonstrate the thing more Edition: current; Page: [386] clearly and to show who had and who had not done their duty. When I went to Augusta, it was with a good design,—to relieve, if possible, a much distressed settlement; but, finding this impracticable without men, and hearing some complaints of Captain Hog, and at the same time being desirous of seeing in what manner he proceeded, I continued on in no small danger; yet pleased with reflecting on this extraordinary duty, and of bringing myself more intimately acquainted with the situation of our frontiers, which, Sir, I related as well as I was capable, with a design, from which I have never intentionally swerved, to serve my country. And am sorry to find, that this, and my best endeavours of late, meet with unfavorable constructions. What it proceeds from, I know not. If my open and disinterested way of writing and speaking has the air of pertness and freedom, I shall correct my error by acting reservedly, and shall take care to obey my orders without offering any thing more. I should not have presumed to have appointed a commissary, had not your first instructions been plain and explicit on this point, and reiterated letters since that invested me with power. The omission of the name was a neglect indeed accidental, not designed. The gentleman intended was Mr. Ramsay of this place, well-known, well-esteemed, and of unblemished good character, practised in business and comes now properly recommended. I should not have appointed this gentleman or any other to serve as commissary, had not Mr. Walker in repeated letters desired it, and his Edition: current; Page: [387] absence from and neglect of duty rendered another highly necessary. This, I presume, you were unacquainted with, when you desired his continuance. Nor may you know that Mr. Walker intends to reside at home and act by a deputy, which, if I may be allowed to say, is equally inconsistent, as if I were to do it. This it is that encourages Mr. Ramsay to wait upon your Honor to be thoroughly informed. As the duty now will become more divided between Fort Cumberland and the lower forts, it may not be thought amiss if Mr. Ramsay is appointed to join a second in the commission. The business by this means must be conducted infinitely better, and in that case I would beg leave to mention Mr. Carlyle, who is willing to act, and whose knowledge and experience in this business are so well known, and need no recapitulation. They are both agreed to hold it in conjunction upon the same terms that Mr. Walker now has it.

When I spoke of a chaplain, it was in answer to yours. I had no person in view, tho’ many have offered; and only said, if the country would provide subsistence, we could procure a chaplain, without thinking there was offence in the expression.

Because I was told the commissary had endeavored, but could get no one to accept of it. When I spoke about scalps, I had the Indians chiefly, indeed solely, in my view, knowing their jealous, suspicious natures are apt to entertain doubts of the least delay and a suspension of rewards causes a dissatisfaction and murmuring among them, which might be productive Edition: current; Page: [388] of bad events at this critical juncture.1 So soon as I march from Winchester, which will immediately happen, as I am setting out thence, and sent orders by Jenkins to have the troops paid and in readiness to march, I shall write your Honor a more distinct account of the situation of that place, which will be left entirely destitute of all protection, notwithstanding it now contains all the public stores of any importance, as they were removed from Fort Cumberland, and in the most dangerous part of our frontiers, at least in a part that has suffered this summer more than any (which has been so well secured) by the ravages of the enemy. The works, which have been constructed and conducted on with infinite pains and labor, will be unfinished and exposed; and the materials for completing the building, which have been collected with unspeakable difficulty and expense, left to be pillaged and destroyed by the inhabitants of the town; because, as I before observed, one hundred men will exceed the number, I am pretty confident, which we have there, when the drafts go off. So, to comply with my orders, (which I shall literally do, if I can,) not a man will be left there to secure the works, or defend the King’s stores, which are almost wholly removed to that place.

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George Washington
Washington, George
2 December, 1756
Fort Loudoun
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

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 Edition: current; Page: [390] 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 Edition: current; Page: [391] 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. Edition: current; Page: [392] 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 Edition: current; Page: [393] 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.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 December, 1756
Fort Loudoun
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Since writing to your Honor yesterday, a very base and villainous scheme has been discovered; which has been I believe, the sole cause of 18 Soldiers Edition: current; Page: [394] deserting from us last night. The Gentleman concerned is our (late Ensign) Denis McCarty; of whose Character and practises, the enclosed Depositions will afford your Honor a Specimen, and with whom all his ties of honor and morality are of no force. By virtue of your Honor’s Commission to recruit for the Royal American Regiments, and under the specious pretence of immunity, offered in a late proclamation, he boasts the power & authority of enlisting Deserters and Delinquents of any kind whatever. With these pretences & his ungenerous principles, he scandalously & under-handedly seduced these, and I am afraid many more to abandon their duty and desert the Service. The Behaviour of Mr. McCarty while in our Regiment was not so becoming and genteel as it ought: and had he not apprehended the danger of a Court Martial with disgrace, he would not have resigned to your Honor with so much privacy. I hope this flagrant instance of his unnatural, unjust and dishonorable proceedings will prompt your Honor to punish such pernicious practises so destructive in their consequences, and so fatal in their effects. I have despatched a party of 25 men under Capt. Mercer with orders that every endeavour and all possible diligence be made use of to apprehend those Deserters, who I imagine are gone to McCarty and should be glad your Honor wou’d direct what punishment shou’d be inflicted; as the act for that purpose is sometime ago expired. The loss of the Drafts and those desertions, render us unable to manage such heavy timber as is Edition: current; Page: [395] required about the Fort; or even sufficient to do other necessary work there. These misfortunes and the want of flour with the Commissary, conspire to retard my march longer than I had expected.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 December, 1756
Fort Loudoun
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Capt. Mercer returned the 7th with sixteen of the Deserters; the other two escaped his diligence. They confirm the suspicion of Mr. McCarty’s villany, by confessing he had inveigled them with promises of protection, rewards, and good usage! and a deep-laid plan was concerted for accomplishing his base designs,—binding each individual with an oath to follow him; to stand true to each other in case of being pursued; to kill the officer who attempted the command; and in case of a separation, private instructions to repair to McCarty, or some of his friends who were to receive and entertain them. These proceedings and the within depositions must convince your Honor, how dangerous a person of Mr. McCarty’s principles must be to the peace and quiet of Society.

The Soldiers surrendered to Capt. Mercer upon promise of pardon; and as they seem sorry for their Behaviour, assuring all duty and obedience for the future, I thought it most expedient to forgive them knowing we have no law at present to punish them, Edition: current; Page: [396] and believing the poor ignorant fellows less culpable than their Seducer.

I hope your Honor will therefore approve of my measures in this matter.

Before this reaches your Honor I imagine you will have received Capt. John McNeill’s relative to the Servants recruited in Augusta—I desired him to transmit the valuation of them, according to your Honor’s directions fully authenticated, in order to receive the money. Capt. McNeill’s distance from me deprived me of the opportunity of certifying the accompts; and to prevent loss of time, expence and trouble, I ordered him to take this method, which I hope will not be disagreeable to your Honor.

Upon receiving your Honor’s and the Council’s resolve to make Fort Cumberland tenable, I wrote to Lt. Colonel Stephen to set immediately about it, but the want of tools for three parts of the men there will prevent its progress.

At Alexandria I gave orders to purchase a quantity; and Colonel Carlyle had gone to Annapolis for that purpose; so I look daily for the tools. The demand upon us at this time for money is very great, buying provision, &c. We have almost exhausted the last sum received, and must be under the necessity of applying to your Honor for another supply in a little time. We long much for the arrival of the soldiers Clothing. The weather very severe, the Service hard, and men naked—are motives too strong for their accepting the specious promises of McCarty and others.

Edition: current; Page: [397]
George Washington
Washington, George
19 December, 1756
Fort Loudoun
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

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 Edition: current; Page: [398] 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 Edition: current; Page: [399] 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 Edition: current; Page: [400] 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 Edition: current; Page: [401] 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 Edition: current; Page: [402] 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 Edition: current; Page: [403] 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.

George Washington
Washington, George
19 December, 1756
John Robinson
Robinson, John



You are no stranger, I presume, to the late resolutions of the Governor and Council, the consequence of which I meditate with great concern. We are ordered to reinforce Fort Cumberland with one hundred men, and, to enable me to carry that number thither, all the stockade forts on the Branch are to be evacuated, and in course all the settlements abandoned, except what lie under the immediate protection of Captain Waggener’s fort, the only place exempted in their resolve. Surely his Honor and the Council are not fully acquainted with the situation and circumstances of the unhappy frontiers, thus to expose so valuable a tract as the Branch, in order to support a fortification, in itself (considering our present feebleness) of very little importance to the inhabitants or the colony. The former order of Council would have endangered not only the loss of Fort Loudoun, the stores, and Winchester, but a general removal of the settlers of this vale, even to the Blue Ridge. This last hath the same object in view, vizt., Fort Cumberland, and, to maintain it, the best lands Edition: current; Page: [404] in Virginia are laid open to the mercy of a cruel and inhuman enemy. These people have long struggled with the dangers of savage incursions, daily soliciting defence, and willing to keep their ground. To encourage them, all my little help has been administered, and they seemed satisfied with my intentions, resolving to continue while any probability of support remained. The disposition I had made of our small regiment gave general satisfaction to the settlements, and content began to appear everywhere. The necessary measures for provisions and stores were agreeably concerted, and every regulation established for the season. But the late command reverses, confuses, and incommodes every thing; to say nothing of the extraordinary expense of carriage, disappointments, losses, and alterations, which must fall heavy on the country. Whence it arises, or why, I am truly ignorant; but my strongest representations of matters relative to the peace of the frontiers are disregarded as idle and frivolous; my propositions and measures, as partial and selfish; and all my sincerest endeavours for the service of my country perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are dark, doubtful, and uncertain; to-day approved, to-morrow condemned. Left to act and proceed at hazard, accountable for the consequences, and blamed without the benefit of defence, if you can think my situation capable to excite the smallest degree of envy, or afford the least satisfaction, the truth is yet hid from you, and you entertain notions very different from the reality of the case. However, I am determined to Edition: current; Page: [405] bear up under all these embarrassments some time longer, in hope of better regulation on the arrival of Lord Loudoun, to whom I look for the future fate of Virginia.

His Lordship, I think, has received impressions tending to prejudice, by false representations of facts, if I may judge from a paragraph of one of his letters to the Governor, and on which is founded the resolve to support Fort Cumberland at all events. The severity of the season, and nakedness of the soldiers, are matters of much compassion, and give rise to infinite complaints. Nor is it possible to obvitate them, unless their clothing come in immediately. You would be surprised how the poor creatures live, much more how they can do duty. Had we but blankets, they might be appeased for a little time; and as we have not, I fear many will desert.

I advised you formerly of our necessity for cash, and would earnestly desire it soon. I think of sending down by the 10th of next month, or sooner if agreeable. Please to inform me, by Jenkins, what I may depend upon on that head, as our men are impatient, and with some reason, when without both money and clothes. I need not urge the comparative advantage of small bills; as you are truly sensible how disadvantageous large ones are in paying individuals and occasioning many other inconveniences. We shall have occasion for at least six thousand pounds to clear us to the 1st of January. The commissary wants above half that sum to furnish his stocks of provisions, &c; the other will be exhausted in paying Edition: current; Page: [406] the troops. We ought always to have money in hand, as we are often reduced to many inconveniences on account of waiting for it, not to mention the expense and trouble.1

Mr. Kirkpatrick will have my accompts to lay before the Committee, and will shew how the money has been applied.

George Washington
Washington, George
December, 1756


Dear Sir,

It gave me infinite concern to hear by several letters, that the Assembly are incensed against the Virginia Regiment; and think they have cause to accuse the officers of all inordinate vices; but more especially of drunkenness and profanity! How far any one individual may have subjected himself to such reflections, I will not pretend to determine, but this I am certain of; and can with the highest safety call my conscience, my God! and (what I suppose will still be a more demonstrable proof, at least in the Edition: current; Page: [407] eye of the World) the Orders and Instructions which I have given, to evince the purity of my own intentions and to shew on the one hand, that my incessant endeavours have been directed to discountenance Gaming, drinking, swearing, and other vices, with which all camps too much abound: while on the other, I have used every expedient to inspire a laudable emulation in the officers, and an unerring exercise of Duty in the Soldiers. How far I may have mistaken the means to attain so salutary an end behooves not me to determine: But this I presume to say, that a man’s intentions should be allowed in some respects to plead for his actions. I have been more explicit Sir, on this head than I otherwise shou’d, because I find that my own character must of necessity be involved in the general censure, for which reason I can not help observing, that if the country think they have cause to condemn my conduct, and have a person in view that will act; that he may do. But who will endeavour to act more for her Interests than I have done? It will give me the greatest pleasure Edition: current; Page: [408] to resign a command which I solemnly declare I accepted against my will.

I know, Sir, that my inexperience may have led me into innumerable errors. For which reason, I shou’d think myself an unworthy member of the community and greatly deficient in the love I owe my country which has ever been the first principle of my actions, were I to require more than a distant hint of its dissatisfaction to resign a commission which I confess to you I am no ways fond of keeping.

These sentiments I communicate to you, Sir, not only as to a Gentleman for whom I entertain the highest respect, and greatest friendship; but also as a member of the Assembly—that the contents, if you think proper, may be communicated to the whole. For, be assured, I shall never wish to hold a Commission, when it ceases to be by unanimous consent.

The unhappy differences which subsisted so long about command did, I own, prevent me from going to Fort Cumberland, to enforce those orders, which I never failed to send there; and caused, I dare say, many gross irregularities to creep into that Garrison (which you know is in another Colony). But whose fault was that? Ought it not to have been attributed to the officer commanding there (Capt. Dagworthy); whose business it was to suppress vice in every shape? Surely it was.

However, I am far from attempting to vindicate the characters of all the officers: For that I am sensible would be a task too arduous. There are some who have the seeds of Idleness too strongly instilled Edition: current; Page: [409] into their constitution, either to be serviceable to themselves, or beneficial to the Country. Yet even those have not missed my best advice: nor have my unwearied endeavours ever been wanting to serve my country with the highest integrity. For which reasons I shou’d ever be content in retirement, and reflect with no little pleasure, that no sordid views have influenced my conduct, nor have the hopes of unlawful gains swerved me in any measure from the strictest dictates of Honor! I have diligently sought the public welfare; and have endeavoured to inculcate the same principles on all that are under me. These reflections will be a cordial to my mind so long as I am able to distinguish between Good & Evil.

The Address of the Officers of the Virginia Regiment.

The act being expired which rendered your Forces subject to military discipline has made us with some impatience wait for the time of this present Session of Assembly: For, as from experience, we are become very sensible, that our vigilant and active Enemy have usually made their horrid incursions early in the Spring. But, a little time will remain to put our Regiment into such a fitness as may be capable of defending our Frontiers, and acting offensively, when supported by a renewal of the Act and proper Orders to execute in our future marches: and we being now reminded that in a late Virginia Gazette, a narrative was published, under the title of “The Centinels, No. X.” wherein the Edition: current; Page: [410] Officers of our Regiment were particularly charged with many immoral practises, which Gazette is dispersed throughout His Majesty’s Dominions; and as the said unjust aspersions therein contained may obtain too easy credit—not being in a like public manner gainsaid or answered—We humbly entreat that you will kindly take into consideration,—and agreeably to the hopes assured us by Colo. Washington, give us public testimony, that in your esteem we have not deserved the obloquoy complained of.

We can not omit mentioning that notwithstanding our early entrance into the Service of our Country; the many attacks and skirmishes had with several of the French parties and their Indians, wherein great slaughter on both sides hath been effected: and when the approaching Winter has necessitated Regular Troops to retreat into Winter quarters, the Officers and Soldiers of our Regiment, have been constantly and fully employed in building a new Fort at Winchester; and by adding new works to Fort Cumberland thereby endeavouring to make it defensible: Likewise erecting other Fortresses, and transporting Stores & provisions which have proved very laborious and fatiguing: also the workmen’s wages too low and discouraging. Under this head, we further take the humble liberty to remonstrate the little or no notice taken of our Address at Home, setting forth the frequent trials of our Loyalty, courage and activity to do His Majesty’s good & faithful service; not without presuming we might be thought of, and put on the Honorable Establishment, among the many Battalions raised and lately sent over to assist and strengthen our operations against the common Enemy. As we have on many occasions been convinced of your friendly thoughts and dispositions toward us, which we shall desire no longer than our merit may claim; So we with grateful hearts present ourselves, and refer all our interest and concerns to your Wisdom and Judgment; subscribing ourselves as we truly are your most faithful and obedient Servants—

Edition: current; Page: [411]


George Washington
Washington, George
[12] January, 1757
Fort Cumberland
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Your letter of the 27th ultimo came to hand the 9th instant. I wrote to your Honor by Capt. Spotswood (who was charged with the care of the Catawba Indians as far as Williamsburgh,) that I had sent Colo. Stephen with a detachment to bring the mutineers on the Branch to this place in irons. They were secured before he got there and he has brought all but six, who deserted from Capt. Joshua Lewis’s company, before he reached it. We have held a General Court Martial on the Ring-leaders; flogged several severely; and have some under sentence of death. The proceedings of the Court I thought it needless to send, or ask warrants for execution, as we have no Law to inflict punishments even of the smallest kind.1

I shall keep those criminals in irons, and if possible, under apprehensions of death, until some favourable opportunity may countenance a reprieve. We have as many men at work here, preparing Timber to strengthen the works, as tools will supply: but I wish I had been ordered to build a new fort altogether, rather than attempt to repair the old one.

Edition: current; Page: [412]

Your Honor thinks Mr. Walker’s discontinuing was for want of countenance—I must beg leave to answer, and I dare believe Mr. Walker will do me the justice to declare, that I have uniformly treated him with all the respect and complaisance in my power. That I did not approve of his staying is certainly true; I thought it was doing injustice to the service for him to be absent when his presence was requisite, and mentioned this circumstance to him accordingly. And since the subject hath been mentioned, I beg leave to add that if your Honor conceives Mr. Walker has been at any trouble in laying in provision, you have been exceedingly mis-informed. He left the Service the last of June or 1st of July, and has never done a day’s duty since; either in making contracts, directing the purchases, or concerning himself in any manner whatever with the business; nay, no more than a stranger wou’d do: but either declined the Service altogether at that time, or intended to throw the principal burden of his office upon me. Had Mr. Walker continued to discharge the duties of a Commissary I never shou’d have thought of any other, as there is the greatest friendship between us. The part I have acted with that Gentleman, I shou’d have acted with my brother had he been in his place. But, to acquit myself of all suspicion of this sort, I shall observe that there never was the least disagreement between Mr. Walker and myself, either in words or actions before he left the Service, (which he did with my knowledge,) since which I have never seen him at this place, Edition: current; Page: [413] until he came up in December to settle his accompts: nor did I hear from him in all that time but once, when he informed me it was his intention to resign.

If your Honor thinks it proper to send Capt. McNeill (whom I also esteem a very sensible judicious Officer) home with the Catawba Indians, you will please to send for him: He must be at Winchester by this time, Capt. Spotswood having had charge of them to Williamsburgh only. When I left Winchester, I gave directions about carrying on the works at Fort Cumberland with all possible dispatch. But a letter from Capt. Mercer which accompanied your Honor’s, informs me, that they are at a loss in respect of the manner of making the Ambrazures through the parapet; although I gave directions in person before I came away on this head; they propose a method that will spoil the whole work. And as I could not make them sensible of my plan by instruction only when present, I have little hope of accomplishing it by writing—consequently am reduced to a disagreeable dilemma!

I have directed the provision on the Branch to be smoked, if there are conveniences for doing it.

No more forts were evacuated than were requisite to reinforce this Garrison with 100 men, and to continue 100 at Fort Loudoun, according to order. The others are continued at their former posts, as may be seen by the return of our strength, which I have caused to be noted. A Return of the Indians was sent in my last. I am &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
[March,] 1757


My Lord,

The posture of affairs in this quarter is really melancholy, and the prospect was rendered more gloomy while there appeared no hopes of amendment; but, from the presence of your Lordship at this time in the Dominion, we conceive hopes of seeing these threatening clouds dispelled.

The sums of money, my Lord, which have been granted by this colony to carry on war, have been very considerable; and to reflect to what little purpose is matter of great concern, and will seem surprising to those, who are not acquainted with the causes, and the confusion with which all our affairs have hitherto been conducted, owing to our having no fixed object, or pursuing any regular system, or plan of operation.

As I have studied with attention and care the nature of the service in which we are engaged, have been engaged therein from the beginning of the present broils, and have been an eyewitness to all the movements and various proceedings, I beg leave to offer a concise and candid account of our circumstances to your Lordship; from which many errors may be discovered, that merit redress in a very high degree.

It was not until it was too late, we discovered that the French were on the Ohio; or rather, that we could be persuaded they came there with a design to invade his Majesty’s dominions. Nay, after Edition: current; Page: [415] I was sent out in December, 1753, and brought undoubted testimony even from themselves of their avowed design, it was yet thought a fiction, and a scheme to promote the interest of a private company, even by some who had a share in the government. These unfavorable surmises caused great delay in raising the first men and money, and gave the active enemy time to take possession of the Fork of Ohio (which they now call Duquesne), before we were in sufficient strength to advance thither, which has been the chief source of all our past and present misfortunes. For by this means, (the French getting between us and our Indian allies,) they fixed those in their interests, who were wavering, and obliged the others to neutrality, ’till the unhappy defeat of his (late) Excellency General Braddock.

The troops under Colonel Dunbar going into quarters in July, and the inactivity of the neighbouring colonies, and the incapacity of this, conspired to give the French great room to exult, and the Indians little reason to expect a vigorous offensive war on our side, and induced the other, which promised the greatest show of protection. This is an undeniable fact, and that all of the Indians did not forsake the English interest, ’till three months after the battle of Monongahela, but actually waited to see what measures would be concerted to regain our losses, and afford them the protection we had but too liberally promised.

Virginia, it is true, was not inactive all this time: On the contrary, voted a handsome supply for raising Edition: current; Page: [416] men to carry on the war, or, more properly, to defend herself; matters being reduced to this extremity for want of assistance. But even in this she signally failed, arising, I apprehend, from the following causes:

The men first levied to repel the enemy marched for Ohio the beginning of April, 1754, without tents, without clothes, in short, without any conveniences to shelter them, (in that remarkably cold and wet season,) from the inclemency of the weather, or to make the service tolerably agreeable. In this state did they, notwithstanding, continue, till the battle of the Meadows, in July following, never receiving in all that space any subsistence; and were very often under the greatest straits and difficulties for want of provisions.

These things were productive of great murmurings and discontent, and rendered the service so distasteful to the men, that, not being paid immediately upon coming in, they thought themselves bubbled, and that no reward for their services was ever intended. This caused great desertion; and the deserters, spreading over the country, recounting their sufferings and want of pay, (which rags and poverty sufficiently testified,) fixed in the mind of the populace such horrid impressions of the hardships they had encountered, that no arguments could remove these prejudices, or facilitate the recruiting service.

This put the Assembly upon enacting a law to impress vagrants, which added to our difficulties, for, compelling these abandoned miscreants into the Edition: current; Page: [417] service, they embraced every opportunity to effect their escape, gave a loose to their vicious principles, and invented the most unheard-of stories to palliate desertion and gain compassion; in which they not only succeeded, but obtained protection also. So that it was next to impossible, after this, to apprehend deserters, while the civil officers rather connived at their escape, than aided in securing them.

Thus were affairs situated, when we were ordered, in September, 1755, to recruit our force to twelve hundred men. ’T is easy therefore to conceive, under these circumstances, why we did not fulfil the order, especially when the officers were not sufficiently allowed for this arduous task. We continued, however, using our endeavours until March following, without much success.

The Assembly, meeting about that time, came to a resolution of augmenting our numbers to fifteen hundred men, by drafting the militia, (who were to continue in the service until December only,) and by a clause in the act exempting all those, who should pay ten pounds, our numbers were very little increased, one part of the people paying that sum, and many of the poorer sort absconding. This was not the only pernicious clause, for the funds arising from these forfeitures were thrown into the treasury; whereas, had they been deposited in proper hands for recruiting, the money might have turned to good account. But a greater grievance than either of these was restraining the forces from marching out of the colony, or acting offensively, and ordering them to Edition: current; Page: [418] build forts, and garrison them, along our frontiers (of more than three hundred miles in extent.) How equal they or any like number are to the task, and how repugnant a defensive plan is to the true interest and welfare of the colony, I submit to any judge to determine who will consider the following particulars.

First, that erecting forts at greater distances than fifteen or eighteen miles, or a day’s march asunder, and garrisoning them with less than eighty or a hundred men, is not answering the intention; because, if they are at a greater distance from each other, it is inconvenient for the soldiers to scout between, and it gives the enemy full scope to make their incursions without being discovered, until they have fallen on the inhabitants and committed a ravage. And, after they are discovered, the time required in assembling troops from forts more distant, prevents a pursuit being made in time, and allows the enemy to escape without danger into a country so mountainous, and full of swamps [and] hollow ways covered with woods. Then, to garrison them with less than eighty or a hundred men, the number is too small to afford detachments, but what are very liable to be cut off by the enemy, whose numbers in this close country can scarcely be known till they are proved. Indian parties are generally intermixed with some Frenchmen, and are so dexterous at skulking, that their spies, lying about these small forts for some days and taking a prisoner, make certain discoveries of the strength of the garrison; and then, upon observing a scouting party coming out, will first cut it off, and Edition: current; Page: [419] afterwards attempt the fort. Instances of this have lately happened.

Secondly, our frontiers are of such extent, that if the enemy were to make a formidable attack on one side, before the troops on the other could get to their assistance, they might overrun the country; and it is not improbable, if they had a design upon one part, they would make a feint upon the other.

Thirdly, what it must cost the country to build these forts, and to remove stores and provisions into them; and

Fourthly, and lastly where and when this expense will end? For we may be assured, if we do not endeavour to remove the cause, we shall be as liable to the same incursions seven years hence as now; indeed more so. Because, if the French are allowed to possess those lands in peace, they will have the entire command of the Indians, and grow stronger in their alliance; while we, by our defensive schemes and pusillanimous behaviour, will exhaust our treasury, reduce our strength, and become the contempt of these savage nations, who are every day enriching themselves with the plunder and spoils of our people.

It will evidently appear from the whole tenor of my conduct, but more especially from reiterated representations, how strongly I have urged the Governor and Assembly to pursue different measures, and to convince them, by all the reasonings I was capable of offering, of the impossibility of covering so extensive a frontier from Indian incursions, without more force than Virginia can maintain. I have endeavoured Edition: current; Page: [420] to demonstrate, that it would require fewer men to remove the cause, than to prevent the effects, while the cause subsists. This, notwithstanding, as I before observed, was the measure adopted, and the plan under which we have acted for eight months past, with the disagreeable reflection of doing no essential service to our country, nor gaining honor to ourselves, or reputation to our regiment. However, under these disadvantageous restraints I must beg leave to say, that the regiment has not been inactive; on the contrary, it has performed a vast deal of work, and has been very alert in defending the people, which will appear by observing, that, notwithstanding we are more contiguous to the French and their Indian allies, and more exposed to their frequent incursions, than any of the neighbouring colonies, we have not lost half the inhabitants, which others have done, but considerably more soldiers in their defence. For in the course of this campaign, since March, I mean, (as we have had but one constant compaign, and continued scene of action, since we first entered the service), our troops have been engaged in upwards of twenty skirmishes, and we have had near a hundred men killed and wounded—from a small regiment dispersed over the country, and acting upon the defensive, as ours is by order. This, I conceive, will not appear inconsiderable to those, who are in the least degree acquainted with the nature of this service, and the posture of our affairs; however it may seem to chimney-corner politicians, who are thirsting for news, and expecting Edition: current; Page: [421] by every express to hear in what manner Fort Duquesne was taken, and the garrison led away captive by our small numbers; altho’ we are restrained from making the attempt, were our hopes of success ever so rational!

The next things, I shall beg leave to mention, are our military laws and regulations.

The first men raised, if I rightly remember, were under no law; if any, the military1 law, which was next of kin to it. But under this we remained a short time, and, instilling notions into the soldiers, who knew no better, that they were governed by the articles of war, we felt little inconveniences; and the next campaign we were joined by the regulars, and made subject to their laws. After the regulars left us, the Assembly, as I before mentioned, passed an act in September following to raise twelve hundred men, and, in order (I suppose) to improve upon the act of Parliament, prepared a military code of their own, but such a one as no military discipline could be preserved by while it existed. This being represented by the most pressing and repeated remonstrances, induced the Assembly to pass a bill in October following, for one year only, making mutiny and desertion death, but took no cognizance of many other crimes, equally punishable by act of Parliament. So that no officer, or soldier, accused of cowardice, holding correspondence with the enemy, quitting a post, or sleeping upon it, and many other crimes of a capital dye, or pernicious tendency, could Edition: current; Page: [422] be legally tried. Neither was there any provision made for quartering or billeting of soldiers, impressing wagons, &c., &c.

But that which contributed the most towards rendering this law inconvenient and absurd, and at the same time to demonstrate that the Assembly fully intended to prevent any enterprise of their troops out of the colony, was a clause forbidding any courtsmartial to sit out of it; by which means all proceedings held at Fort Cumberland (in Maryland) were illegal, and we were obliged to remove to Virginia for trial of offenders, or act contrary to law, and be open to prosecution. How then were we to behave upon a march perhaps fifty, eighty, or a hundred miles distant? These circumstances concurring to render the law ineffectual, induced me again to recommend an amendment, which I did with all the force and energy of argument I was master of. But no regard has hitherto been paid to my remonstrances. To what cause it is owing, I know not, unless to short sittings and hurry of business; for I can conceive of no reason upon earth, why the Assembly should be against instituting rules for the regulation of their forces, which long experience in established armies has fully evinced the necessity of. But, to cut short the account, we are under no government at all, to speak properly. Indeed, there is a jumble of laws that have little meaning or design in them, but to conspire to make the command intricate, precarious in supporting authority, and not to offend the civil powers, who, [are] tenacious of liberty, and prone to censure and Edition: current; Page: [423] condemn all proceedings not strictly lawful, not considering what cases may arise to render them necessary.

Another grievance, which this act subjects us to, is the method prescribed to pay for deserters. Many of our deserters are apprehended in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and, for the sake of reward, are brought to the regiment; instead thereof they receive certificate only, that they are entitled to two hundred weight of tobacco. This certificate is to be given into a Court of Claims, they refer it to the Assembly; and there it may lie perhaps two or three years before it is paid. This causes great dissatisfaction, and the ill-disposed to aid, rather than prevent, the escape of soldiers.

No regular provision is established for the maimed and wounded, which is a discouraging reflection, and grievously complained of. The soldiers justly observe, that the result of bravery is often a broken leg, arm, or incurable wound; and when they are disabled, and no longer fit for service, they are discharged, and reduced to the necessity of begging from door to door, or perish thro’ indigence. It is true, no instance of this kind hath yet appeared; on the contrary, the Assembly have dealt generously by those unfortunate soldiers, who have met with this fate. But then, this provision is not established, nor in any wise compulsory, and a man may suffer in the interval of their sitting.

After giving this short and genuine account of our military laws, and then observing that these laws are expired, I conceive there need but few arguments to Edition: current; Page: [424] prove the difficulty of keeping soldiers under proper discipline, who know they are not (legally) punishable for the most atrocious crimes. When this happens to be the case, as it is ours at present, how is it to be wondered at, if mutiny, desertion, and all other irregularities should creep into the camp, or garrison, more especially if we consider that hard duty, want of clothes and almost every necessary that renders a soldier’s life comfortable and easy, are strong incentives,—and, to go further, when these in themselves intolerable grievances are set to view in the most glaring point of light by a person, who, lost to all sense of honor and virtue, (and building, I am sorry to say, upon a proclamation inviting the deserters from the Virginia Regiment to enlist into the Royal American Regiment,) hath made use of every artifice to represent the fatigues and hardships of this service, and the ease and conveniences of the other, to seduce them from their duty?

Want of clothing may be esteemed another principal grievance, which our soldiers have labored under. In the first twelve months of their service they received no clothing; but in March, 1754, they were presented each with a suit made of thin, sleazy cloth without lining, and flannel waistcoats of an inferior sort. After that no others were sent for (and two pence stoppages drawn from every man’s pay, recruits not excepted,) until repeated complaints and remonstrances from me, enforced in June last by a representation of many gentlemen of the Assembly, (who had formed an association, and saw the disagreeable Edition: current; Page: [425] situation of the soldiers,) induced the Committee, to whom those addresses were presented, to send for clothing, &c. These were to have been here by the middle of October, but no advice is received of them yet, which gives the soldiers some pretence to suspect they are deceived. And it is owing to this irregular pay, and the causes aforementioned, that their late disobedience ought to be ascribed. For I can truly say, and confidently assert, that no soldiers ever were under better command than these were before.

Perhaps it may be asked, by gentlemen not thoroughly acquainted with the nature of our service, why the officers do not see that their men’s pay is more properly applied? In answer I must beg leave to observe, that, after the soldiers have appropriated a part for purchasing reasonable and fit necessaries, the remainder is barely sufficient to keep them in shoes, owing, in the first place, to the very great consumption the service occasions, and, in the next, to the exorbitant price, which this article bears. I have known a soldier go upon command with a new pair of shoes, which shoes perhaps have stood from seven shillings and sixpence to ten shillings, and return back without any; so much do they wear in wading creeks, fording rivers, clambering mountains covered with rocks, &c.

As great a grievance as any I have mentioned is yet unnoticed, i. e., the militia under their present regulation. A representation of this matter comes better and more properly from others; yet my zeal for the service and my interest in the welfare of my Edition: current; Page: [426] country, have influenced me to touch slightly on some things relative to their conduct, as I cannot enter deeply into the causes that produce them.

The difficulties and delays in collecting the militia in time of danger, are so prejudicial, that the enemy has every opportunity to plunder, kill, scalp, and escape, before they appear. The want of orders, regularity and obedience prevents any good effects which their assistance and force might otherwise have. For every petty person must assume command, direct and advise (and must be caressed) or otherwise takes huff, thinks his wisdom and merit slighted, and makes off in high indignation and contempt of the laws.

The expence of supporting them is, make the best of it, burthensome; but where there are instances of a captain, Lieutenant and ensign going upon duty (together with two or three sergeants and six or eight men) at a time, the disproportion of officers and men is so remarkable as to need no other proof of the injustice.

Their waste of provisions is unaccountable, following no method in serving a certain quota to each man. Mention a stated allowance, and you offer an affront; and they would rather starve than carry provisions on their backs as other soldiers do. But heedless and prodigal, they regale on the best, without regarding expence or the oppression they spread to gratify their humor.

When they come into service it is with the utmost difficulty they are prevailed upon to take measures for Edition: current; Page: [427] self-defence, much less for the protection of the inhabitants; But indolent and careless, and always unguarded, are liable to be surprized. By this means Voss’s fort was taken (and the garrison destroyed), and Dickinson’s was on the point of sharing the same fate!

To set forth all the reasons that can contribute to render the militia of little use, and to point out all the causes which combine to make our service infinitely hard and disagreeable, would swell these observations into a volume, and require time, and a more able pen than mine. But there are yet some things that require to be spoken of—the ill-judged economy that is shown in raising of men. We are either insensible of danger, till it breaks upon our heads, or else, thro’ mistaken notions of economy, evade the expence, till the blow is struck, and then run into an extreme of raising militia. These, after an age, as it were, is spent in assembling them, come up, make a noise for a time, oppress the inhabitants, and then return, leaving the frontiers unguarded as before. And this plan is pursued, notwithstanding former experience convinces us, if reason did not, that the French and Indians are watching their opportunity, when we are lulled into fatal security, unprepared to resist an attack, to muster their forces to invade the country, and by ravaging one part terrify another, and then retreat when our militia assemble, repeating the stroke as soon as they are dispersed, sending down parties in the intermedium to discover our motions, procure intelligence, and sometimes to Edition: current; Page: [428] divert our troops. Such an invasion we may expect in March, if measures to prevent it are neglected, as they hitherto have been.

The want of tools occasions insurmountable difficulties in carrying on our works, either offensive or defensive. Cartridge-paper is an article not to be met with in Virginia. And now, before I sum up the whole, I must beg leave to add, my unwearied endeavours are inadequately rewarded. The orders I receive are full of ambiguity. I am left, like a wanderer in a wilderness, to proceed at hazard. I am answerable for consequences, and blamed, without the privilege of defence. This, my Lord, I beg leave to declare to your Lordship, is at present my situation. Therefore, it is not to be wondered at, if, under such peculiar circumstances, I should be sicken’d in a service, which promises so little of a soldier’s reward. I have long been satisfied of the impossibility of continuing in this service, without loss of honor. Indeed, I was fully convinced of it before I accepted the command the second time, (seeing the cloudy prospect that stood before me;) and did for this reason reject the offer, (until I was ashamed any longer to refuse,) not caring to expose my character to public censure. But the solicitations of the country overcame my objections, and induced me to accept it.

Another reason of late has continued me in the service until now, and that is, the dawn of hope that arose, when I heard your Lordship was destined by his Majesty for the important command of his armies Edition: current; Page: [429] in America, and appointed to the government of his dominion of Virginia. Hence it was, that I drew my hopes, and fondly pronounced your Lordship our patron. Altho’ I had not the honor to be known to your Lordship, your Lordship’s name was familiar to my ear, on account of the important services performed to his Majesty in other parts of the world. Do not think, my Lord, that I am going to flatter; notwithstanding I have exalted sentiments of your Lordship’s character and respect your rank, it is not my intention to adulate. My nature is open and honest and free from guile!

We have, my Lord, ever since our defeat at the Meadows, and behaviour under his Excellency General Braddock, been tantalized, nay, bid to expect most sanguinely a better establishment, and have waited in tedious expectation of seeing this accomplished. The Assembly, it is true, have, I believe, done every thing in their power to bring this about; first, by soliciting his Honor, the Lieutenant-Governor, to address his Majesty; and next, by addressing his Majesty themselves in favor of their regiment. What success these addresses have met with, I am yet a stranger to.

With regard to myself, I cannot forbear adding, that, had his Excellency General Braddock survived his unfortunate defeat, I should have met with preferment agreeable to my wishes. I had his promise to that purpose, and I believe that gentleman was too sincere and generous to make unmeaning offers, where no favors were asked. General Shirley was not Edition: current; Page: [430] unkind in his promises, but he has gone to England. I do not know, my Lord, in what light this short and disinterested relation may be received by your Lordship; but with the utmost candor and submission it is offered. It contains no misrepresentations, nor aggravated relation of facts, nor unjust reflections.

Virginia is a country young in war, and, till the breaking out of these disturbances, has remained in the most profound and tranquil peace, never studying war nor warfare. It is not, therefore, to be imagined, that she can fall into proper measures at once. All that can be expected at her hands she cheerfully offers,—the sinews of war,—and these only want your Lordship’s ability and experience to be properly applied and directed.

It is for this reason I have presumed to lay this information before your Lordship, that, if there be any thing in it which appears worthy of redress, and your Lordship will condescend to point out the way it may be obtained.

And now, my Lord, how to apologize to your Lordship, for assuming a freedom, which must (at any rate) give you trouble, I know not, unless an affectionate zeal to serve my country, steady attachment to her interests, the honor of arms, and crying grievances she is struggling under, will plead an excuse, till I am so happy as to have an opportunity of testifying in person how much I admire your Lordship’s character, and with what profound respect I have the honor to be, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
15 April, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Richard Washington
Washington, Richard


Dear Sir,

After so long silence it may be expected, I should introduce this letter with an apology for my seeming neglect. It is necessary to urge something in my defence, I own, Sir, that I may satisfy you it proceeds from a very different cause than the want of inclination, and what can be so proper as the truth?

I have been posted, then, for twenty months past upon our cold and barren frontiers, to perform, I think I may say, impossibilities; that is, to protect from the cruel incursions of a crafty, savage enemy a line of inhabitants, of more than three hundred Edition: current; Page: [432] and fifty miles in extent, with a force inadequate to the task. By this means I am become in a manner an exile, and seldom informed of those opportunities, which I might otherwise embrace, of corresponding with my friends.

Experience has convinced every thinking man in this colony, that we must bid adieu to peace and safety whilst the French are allowed to possess the Ohio, and to practise their hellish arts among the numerous tribes of Indian nations that inhabit those regions. They are also convinced that it must be attended with an expense infinitely greater to defend our possessions, (as they ought to be defended) against the skulking enemy, than to remove the cause of our groundless fears, in the reduction of the place Fort Duquesne I mean. Yet, from what strange causes I know not, no attempt this season will be made, I fear, to destroy this hold of barbarians, for they deserve no better name, who have become a terror to three populous colonies. Virginia may justly say, that she was always willing to furnish her full proportion of men and money for this desirable end; and, I think I can venture to affirm, that there never was, and verily I believe never will be, a more favorable time than the present for an enterprise of this kind, while the enemy’s troops are doubtless drawn off to the northward, to defend themselves at home against the more formidable attacks of Lord Loudoun.

I have now to add, that I am so little acquainted with the business relative to my private affairs, that Edition: current; Page: [433] I can scarce give you any information concerning it. I know that I ought to have some tobacco, and that it ought to be shipped. I have begged the favor of Colo. Carlyle on Potomack, and Fielding Lewis, Esqr., on Rappahannock, to do this for me, and I desired them to write you in my behalf, and draw for sundry things, which I am in want of; but whether any part or all of this is done, I know not. I shall, therefore, desire these two things of you; first, that you may put yourself to no real inconvenience in providing goods to a greater amount than my remittances will fetch, because I by no means intended to be troublesome, when I solicited your correspondence; and, secondly, that whatever goods you may send me, where the prices are not absolutely limited, you will let them be fashionable, neat, and good in their several kinds. Enclosed is a list of sundries, which I should be glad to receive agreeably to those directions. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
16 April, 1757
Fort Cumberland
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

Your letter by express, of the 5th instant, I fear has fallen into the hands of the common enemy, for I never have seen it. The other of the 7th I this day received; and being exceedingly embarrassed to come to your Honor’s intentions, and really at a loss to know in what manner to act, in such perplexed and difficult circumstances, I called a council of officers Edition: current; Page: [434] to my aid. The result of their advice you will find in the enclosed.1

It will not be in my power to be in Williamsburg by the 22d, as your Honor desires; but as soon after as I can, I certainly will. I shall leave orders with Colonel Stephen to march this garrison to Fort Loudoun, as soon as it is relieved, which cannot be before this express may return, and then your Honor’s further orders may be received. We have no advice of Dagworthy’s marching, tho orders were sent to him.

I shall order all the country’s stores to be carried Edition: current; Page: [435] to Fort Loudoun, and the two companies on Patterson’s Creek to be posted on the Branch, to complete the number that was designed for that place. I have ordered a particular return of the provisions to be made out, and Colonel Stephen to take Captain Dagworthy’s receipt for the quantity left.

We have been at a good deal of unavoidable expense and trouble to furnish the Indians with such things as they wanted. Some enemy Indians killed two Catawbas on Thursday last, at about one hundred and fifty yards from the fort, and seventy from a sentry, and made their escape, tho pursued by other Catawbas and near two hundred men.1 And the day before yesterday, two soldiers were killed and a third taken prisoner, as they were coming to this place from the fort below. The rest of the party, being ten in number, with Captain Waggener among them, made their escape.

The enclosed remonstrance I received just now and think it expedient to send it to your Honor, that you may know the temper and disposition of the troops. As I expect to be with your Honor in two or three days after the express, I think it needless to add any thing but an apology for the incoherence of this letter. The Indians are all around teazing and perplexing me for one thing or another, so that I scarce know what I write. I have the honor, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
29th April, 1757
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I make use of this as a less troublesome, the most effectual, and (I think), most expeditious method of recommending certain matters relative to the Regiment, &c., to your Honor’s notice. And to begin:

The act of Assembly which subjected the Virginia troops to Martial law, is now expired; and when in force, was altogether ineffectual for the purpose. It is I think quite obvious, that we can prepare no Law more fit than that provided by Act of Parliament, as a military code for the government of our Troops.

We now have, and are likely to get a goodly number of Indians. I would therefore humbly recommend, that a judicious person acquainted with their customs, be appointed to the care of them: To conduct them agreeably to your Honor’s direction, or to the orders which he may receive from the Commanding Officer—To make it his business to see that they are well supplied with provisions and commit no waste of them. To provide them with such necessaries as they may stand in need of, and are allowed by the country. To keep regular accompts of all expenses occurring, &c.

It cannot be supposed that this duty (which will fully employ, to execute [as] it shou’d be, the time of any one person,) ought to fall upon the Commanding Officer; whose other engagements will render it absolutely impossible for him to pay so much attention to it, as the service requires. And if they are Edition: current; Page: [437] neglected the consequences will be bad. The paying a person for this extraordinary duty, will, in the end, be an advantage to the Country. A good many goods should be provided for this purpose, and that immediately.

There are many Masters of Servants yet unpaid, who are very anxious to receive their valuation. I shou’d be glad if there cou’d be a way pointed out to do it, as the owners look to me for the money.

The choice of good men to complete the Regiment is really a matter of great importance.

We received (because necessity obliged us) many Drafts last year, who were unfit for any sort of Duty and who were rather an expense than service to the Country. The Officers hearing that their numbers are to be reduced, are very desirous of knowing who are to go out.

Some other method to pay for Deserters besides that prescribed by act of Assembly, is absolutely necessary. It is also necessary that some expedient should be used to bring the commonalty acquainted with the consequences of harbouring and buying clothes and arms from Deserters, &c.

Not to confine the troops to our own frontiers and defensive measures only. By this means we put it into the power of the enemy, to use advantages as they offer. Last year we could not, without transgressing the Law, move out of the Colony.

Paying Soldiers in small bills is an intolerable grievance. It wou’d add to the credit of the Service and be a strong inducement for numbers to enlist—were Edition: current; Page: [438] the Assembly to make some regular provision for the maimed and wounded Soldiers, who shall be disabled in the Country service. It is an uncertain tedious and expensive way for each individual, after he is rendered unfit to serve, to come down and petition the Assembly for subsistence.

The Commissary’s Office has for a long time, been under very bad direction thro’ Mr. Walker’s uncertainty of continuing. It wants much to be regulated.

The Garrison which, by the Council at Philadelphia, is to be fixed at Enochs’s plantation, in order to secure a communication with Fort Cumberland—will be a manifest disadvantage to the Country; as it can answer no other purpose, and will be attended with the ill consequence of leaving exposed the old road to Fort Cumberland; which also is the road to our Settlers on the South-Branch, betwixt whom and the Inhabitants about Fort Loudoun, are not any persons living, save those at the Forts, which we have built, and garrisoned for securing the said communication. Were the men who are appointed to Enochs’s divided, and one part put at Edwards’s, and the other (which shou’d be the largest) at Pearsalls; it wou’d be of infinitely more service to Virginia, and still keep open a communication with Fort Cumberland: But not in so direct a course; nor could the road this way, pass by the Fort at Cresaps.

When my opinion was asked concerning a place to build on between Fort Loudoun and that at Cresaps, I was obliged to say Enochs’s, because there was no other place more suitable than Enochs’s on that road; Edition: current; Page: [439] and to that road I was confined. But, at the same time, I mentioned the other road as answering the two ends of securing the communication with Fort Cumberland and the inhabitants of the Branch. And asked Lord Loudoun in a particular manner, whether the Troops were to be confined to the places specified? His answer was “no, because” (says he) “that might defeat our intentions. The places now fixed upon are only nominated as passes which appear to be of the most importance; but the Troops will be removed to this place or that as occasion may require”—which was my motive for saying no more on the disadvantages that might arise from building a garrison at Enochs’s. A full and discretionary power being thereby left in the commanding officer to post them here or there, as the good of the service, and change of circumstances, in his judgment might require, I therefore beg leave to offer this matter to your Honor’s consideration, in time; as it may and doubtless will be attended with very bad consequences to this Colony, to secure the direct road that leads to Fort Cumberland only; and neglect the security of the other which is now become of much more comparative importance to the Settlers.

I also beg leave to observe here that the Fort at the Upper Tract, notwithstanding it is more in the Indian pass of the mountains, is too high up; since numbers of the inhabitants from those parts, if I am rightly informed, are lately down about Harness’s, and a place called Butter-Milk-Fort; which renders it necessary to place the troops—or at least a Edition: current; Page: [440] principal part of them, there also; to protect the Inhabitants in sowing and gathering their Crops, &c.

It is a hardship upon the Regiment I think, to be denied a Chaplain.

Establishing the militia upon a good footing is a matter of very great moment. Under this present regulation they are of very little Service, upon any emergency—and very expensive! The rates of Soldiers diet when marching thro’ the Country, or upon recruiting parties, ought to be settled. As also the Bounty-money allowed the Officers to recruit with; in case the Country compleats the Regiment by Enlistment. The Officers complain heavily of their losses in the recruiting service. Their allowance is much inferior to that of the British Officers; while their duty and fatigue are equally hard—if not more so.

I doubt not but your Honor will, when you settle with Governor Sharpe, about the provisions, at Fort Cumberland consider that the carriage of them up, &c., should be added to the first cost—If we only receive the like quantity at Fort Loudoun, the Country will sustain a considerable loss; as the carriage, &c., is almost if not quite as much as the first cost of the provisions.

I have, in the preceding pages mentioned every thing that occurs to me relative to the service in general—and must now beg leave to know, as there are new regulations making in respect to the strength and establishment of the Regiment, upon what Edition: current; Page: [441] terms your Honor purposes to continue me, and what may be my certain Dependence?

The Speaker informs me that the Country Committee have determined no longer to be concerned in disposing of the public money; nor have any thing more to do with settling accompts, &c., and that the House have committed or intend to commit the care of it to your Honor’s management. The Speaker farther informs me, that he has made your Honor acquainted with the allowance the country have made me, vizt., 30/ per day, pay, and two per cent commissions for examining, settling and paying off accompts; and that you seemed to think it high. I flatter myself Sir, that your Honor will not differ in opinion from the whole country in this particular. For the Committee first gave it, and the Assembly afterwards allowed it as a recompense for my services & the extraordinary trouble and confinement I shou’d meet with in the prosecution of such complicated duties, as the nature of this service wou’d oblige me to engage in. I also hope, that your Honor will not, after the repeated assurances given of your good inclination to better my Command, render it worse by taking away the only perquisite I have; and the only thing that enables me to support the expence which unavoidably attends my Table and removing about from place to place on our frontiers where every kind of necessaries is accompanied with incredible expence, from the distresses which exist there.1

Edition: current; Page: [442]
George Washington
Washington, George
30 May, 1757
Fort Loudoun
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Sir,

We receive fresh proofs every day of the bad direction of our Indian affairs. It is not easy to tell what expenses have arisen on account of these Indians, how dissatisfied they are, and how gloomy the prospect of pleasing them appears, while we pursue our present system of management.

I therefore beg leave to propose a plan, which I know is exactly agreeable to the French policy, and which may, if properly executed, be a means of retrieving our lost credit with this people, and prove of infinite advantage to the country. The French, Sir, have a proper person appointed to the direction of these affairs, who makes it his sole business to study their dispositions, and the art of pleasing them. This person is invested with power to treat with and reward them for every piece of service, and, by timely Edition: current; Page: [443] presents on suitable occasions, obtain very great advantages. There is always a store of goods committed to his care to answer these purposes, and no other person is suffered to meddle with it; by which means the whole business is thrown into one channel, and it thereby becomes easy and regular. Whereas, with us it is every body’s business, and no one’s, to supply. Every person attempts to please, and few succeed in it, because one promises this, and another that, and few can perform any thing, but are obliged to shuffle and put them off, to get rid of their importunities.

Hence they accuse us of perfidy and deceit! I could recapitulate a great number of their reproachful complaints, if I judged it necessary to confirm what I have already advanced. But I believe, Sir, you are convinced from what you have seen, that there can be no deception in my story. Therefore, I shall endeavor to remark with candor, freedom, and submission, that, unless some person is appointed to manage the Indian affairs of this colony, under the direction of the Governor, or the southern agent, a vast expense and but little advantage will accrue from the coming of those Indians among us. And I know of no person so well qualified for an undertaking of this sort as the bearer, Captain Gist.1 He has had extensive Edition: current; Page: [444] dealings with the Indians, is in great esteem among them, well acquainted with their manners and customs, is indefatigable, and patient,—most excellent qualities indeed where Indians are concerned. And for his capacity, honesty, and zeal, I dare venture to engage. If he should be appointed to this duty, or, if this plan should take effect, I dare say you will judge it advisable to send for a large assortment of those species of goods which are the most likely to carry on the abovementioned business.1

Bullen, a Catawba warrior, has been proposing a plan to Captain Gist for bringing in the Creek and Chickasaw2 Indians. If such a scheme as this can be effected by the time we shall march for Fort Duquesne, it would be a glorious undertaking, and worthy the man. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 June, 1757
Fort Loudoun
John Robinson
Robinson, John


Dear Sir,

A person of a readier pen, and having more time, than myself, might amuse you with the vicissitudes, which have happened in the Indian affairs since Mr. Atkin came up. I acknowledge my incompetency, Edition: current; Page: [445] and therefore shall only observe, that the Indians have been pleased and displeased oftener than they ought to have been; and that they are gone off (that party under Warhatche,1 I mean,) in different ways, and with far different views; one company southwardly to their nation; and another northwardly to treat with the Pennsylvanians, contrary to the sentiments of Mr. Atkin, who has, I believe, sent to forbid any conference to be held with them.2

Major Lewis is returned with part of the Indians, Edition: current; Page: [446] that went out with him, in consequence of their having taken only eight days’ provisions with them. He was unable to prevail with those savages to take more. One party of twenty, with ten soldiers, is gone towards Fort Duquesne, under Captain Spotswood; and another party of fifteen, with five soldiers, under Lieutenant Baker, but they course towards Logstown. God send them success and a safe return, I pray.

Unless you will interest yourself in sending money to me to discharge the public debts, I must inevitably suffer very considerably, as the country people all think me pledged to them, let what will happen. They are grown very clamorous, and will be more than ever incensed if there should come an inadequate sum, and that sum be appropriated to the payment of the soldiers.

I am convinced it would give pleasure to the Governor to hear that I was involved in trouble, however undeservedly, such are his dispositions toward me.

I should be glad to know whether Capt. Mercer received any money from the public while he was down; and if he did, on what account. If he did not, I would be glad you would pay none, until you hear further from me, altho’ he may have drawn orders. ’Tis on the account of the public I desire this.1

Edition: current; Page: [447]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 June, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Colonel Stanwix
Colonel Stanwix



I have the pleasure to inform you that a scouting party, consisting of 5 soldiers and 15 Cherokee Indians, that were sent out the 20 ultimo towards the Ohio, under Lieutenant Baker, returned the 8th instant to Fort Cumberland with 5 scalps, and a French officer, prisoner, having killed two other officers of the same party.2 Mr. Baker met with this party vizt., ten French, three officers on the head of Turtle Creek, twenty miles distance from Fort Duquesne, (the day after they had parted with 50 Shawanese Indians returning from the war,) and would have killed and made prisoners of them all, had it not been for the death of the Indian chief, who being killed prevented his men from pursuing them. The name of the officer taken, according to his own account, is Velistre; and of those killed, Lasosais and St. Oure; all ensigns.

The commandant at Duquesne and its dependencies is Delignery, a knight of the military order of St. Louis, and captain of a company of detached troops from the marine. This officer likewise says, that the garrison at Fort Duquesne consists of six hundred French and two hundred Indians. I believe Edition: current; Page: [448] he is a Gasconian. We sustained on our side the loss of the brave Swallow warrior,1 and one other Indian was wounded, and brought in upon a bier, near 100 miles by the party, who had nothing to live upon for the four last days but wild onions. Mr. Atkin (who is now here) and I shall use our endeavours to have the French prisoner brought to this place.

Captain Spotswood, with 10 soldiers and 20 Indians, who went out at the same time with, but to a different place, from Lieut. Baker is not yet come in, nor any news of him; which makes me uneasy.

Our Assembly have granted a further sum of eighty thousand pounds for the service of the ensuing year, and have agreed, (I believe,) to complete their regiment of this colony to 1200 men, besides three companies of rangers, of 100 each. Our strength, since the detachment to Carolina has embarked, is reduced to 420 rank and file only and these much weakened, by the number of posts we hold. Governor Dinwiddie is apprehensive, that he shall not be able to provide arms for all these men, and desired me to advise with you thereupon.

If it is not too troublesome I should [be glad] to be informed what proportion of bat-men there is allowed to a company of 4 officers and 100 men, in the Royal American battalions? or rather, the allowance to each officer, beginning with the colonel? And how these bat-men are clothed, paid and victualled, Edition: current; Page: [449] and by whom? Whether the officers have any allowance made them for their servants, and if the officers in garrison receive provisions as soldiers or an allowance in lieu of it, and how much to each? Also, if the officers in their battalions provide bat-horses at their own expense, or have their baggage transported at the King’s? Whether any forage-money is allowed them, and what other allowances they have made to them? Should also be glad to know what proportion of women is allowed to a company.1

It is wrong, I must confess Sir, to trouble you in this manner; but I have particular reasons for asking these questions, and getting them answered by authority, and none unwarrantable.

Duty and inclination equally induce me to communicate all remarkable occurrences to you, and shall be punctual in doing so.

George Washington
Washington, George
16 June, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

This instant the enclosed letters came to my hands. I have not lost a moment’s time in transmitting them Edition: current; Page: [450] to you, as I look upon the intelligence to be of the utmost importance. If the enemy are coming down in such numbers, and with such a train of artillery, as we are bid to expect, Fort Cumberland must inevitably fall into their hands, as no timely efforts can be made to relieve the garrison. I send you a copy of a council of war held upon this occasion. The advice I intend to pursue, and until I shall receive orders how to conduct myself. It is morally certain, that the next object, which the French have in view, is Fort Loudoun, and that is yet in a very untenable posture. They have no roads for carriages into any other province, but thro’ this; and there lies a quantity of stores here, belonging to his Majesty and to this colony, very much exposed and unguarded.

I shall not take up your time, with a tedious detail. You will be a sufficient judge of the present situation of affairs, from those circumstances already related. I have written to the commanding officers of Fairfax, Prince William, and Culpeper counties, (a copy of which letters I enclose your Honor) requesting them to march part of their militia to this place immediately, that no time may be lost. I shall you may be assured, Sir, make the best defence I can, if attacked. I am, &c.

P. S. I have wrote to Colonel Stanwix an account of this affair, and enclosed him copies of the letters and council of war.1

Edition: current; Page: [451]
George Washington
Washington, George
20 June, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Colonel Stanwix
Colonel Stanwix



Yours of the 18th from the camp at Carlisle I received about noon this day, when I was examining (in company with his Majesty’s agent for Indian affairs) the French prisoner brought to this place by Lieutenant Baker and the Cherokee Indian. A copy of this examination I herewith enclose. You will find, Sir, from the tenor of his answers, that a large body of Indians was hourly expected at Fort Duquesne, and that, altho’ there was not (if his intelligence is to be literally credited, and surely it is not) a train of artillery fit for such an expedition; yet this might have been brought by those three hundred men, who arrived there after he left the place.

It is altogether evident, (if the Indian accounts Edition: current; Page: [452] may be relied on,) that the French are bringing howitzers with them for the easier reduction of the place, if they should attack us. For, they say, your guns are but muskets, compared with those the French have with them. Theirs will admit a fawn in the muzzle, while yours will not take in a man’s fist. To any person, in the least degree acquainted with the mountainous country about our settlements, it is clear, that the French can bring artillery along no other road, than that from Fort Duquesne to Fort Cumberland, without spending immense time in mending one. Then I conceive the garrison at Fort Augusta has been very negligent and inactive, not to discover the enemy sooner. On the other hand, we all know that a blazed path in the eyes of an Indian is a large road; for he does not distinguish, between one track and another without a circumspect inquiry, i. e., between a track which will admit of carriages, and a road sufficient for them to march in.

These, Sir, are only my own sentiments, and I submit them to your better judgment for improvement. We very well know, that from Fort Duquesne to Fort Cumberland there is a plain road already made, and bridges also. I shall, however, continue to pursue every means in my power to gain the earliest and best intelligence I can of the approaches of the enemy, and shall transmit it forthwith to you. I have sent Major Lewis of the regiment fifty miles advanced from this, with orders to keep out constant spies for intelligence, and to lose no time in transmitting it to me.

Edition: current; Page: [453]

We have received nothing new from Fort Cumberland since the 16th. The Indians, who brought the first news, imagine, that some of Spotswood’s party are yet skulking after and watching for the motions of the enemy. On the contrary, I apprehend they are all cut off; for a man, who left Fort Cumberland the 16th, says, that the woods appear to be quite alive with enemy Indians, who show themselves openly in the day. This is unusual for them to do, unless they are strong. We work on this Fort, both night and day, intending to make it tenable against the worst event. Mr. Croghan, &c. write to you by this express, and will no doubt be more explicit on Indian affairs, than I can pretend to be, and to them I refer.

It would have given me great pleasure, had you been pleased to signify your sentiments on the Revolution having come to this place, that I might act conformably with your orders.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 June, 1757
Colonel Stanwix
Colonel Stanwix



Since writing to you by Express, last night, I have received a letter from Capt. Dagworthy (a copy of which I enclose:) and have had an opportunity of examining the Indians, who brought him the last intelligence myself. They unanimously agree, there is a large party of French and Indians marched from Fort Duquesne; but, whether they are destined Edition: current; Page: [454] against the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland or Pennsylvania, or all of these, is yet uncertain. The enemy, however, are without carriages; and by their track (for the Indians did not see more than a party of about 100) pursued them towards Rays-Town. This they would do whether they be coming to either of the above Provinces (without artillery). It is the way they have used altogether of late, in coming to, and returning from us.

I return you my thanks, Sir, for answering my queries; as you took no notice of the arms I asked for, by the Governor’s Order.

N.B. There was a great misapprehension between Capt. Dagworthy and the Indians that first came in. They deny to me, having said that there was a body of the enemy with wheel-carriages, on their march to attack Fort Cumberland. These Indians were not within 30 miles of Fort Duquesne; but nevertheless heard the discharge of the French artillery which they conceive, was fired at the departure of a large body of troops from that place. Capt. Dagworthy might easily have misunderstood these people for want of a good interpreter.1

Edition: current; Page: [455]
George Washington
Washington, George
28 June, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Colonel Stanwix
Colonel Stanwix


Dear Sir,

I have had the pleasure of receiving your two favors both of the 22d instant. We were reinforced, upon the late alarm, by one hundred and seventy militia from the adjacent counties, one half of them unarmed, and the whole without ammunition or provisions.

Had you, Sir, in consequence of Captain Beale’s1 suggestions, ordered me to reinforce Fort Cumberland, with part of my regiment, I should have given you proof of my willingness to obey your commands, in a speedy compliance with them; but since you are so kind as to leave it discretionary in me, I freely confess that I cannot entertain any thoughts of parting with the few soldiers I have to strengthen a place that now seems to be in no actual danger. Nor can I help observing, that I think it a little odd Captain Beale, after having received subsequent notice of the first should intimate that it was reasonable to reinforce Fort Cumberland, at the expense of Virginia, which has a frontier thirty times the extent of Maryland to defend, and that frontier left solely to the protection of her few regular troops.2

Edition: current; Page: [456]

I would only ask Capt. Beale which is most eligible: the militia of Maryland (who were also in motion at the same time with those of Virginia) defending whatever stores that province might hold at Ft. Frederick, while the troops in that garrison should march to the other; or, for us to leave the valuable stores which are at this place, belonging to his Majesty and the Colony in an unfinished fort, to the uncertain defence of militia, who would not be prevailed upon to give the least assistance towards the public works at this place, and march a part of the only force which we can in any wise depend upon from a much-exposed part of the country, in order to ease Maryland. If the expense of keeping her militia in arms is really the question, Capt. Beale can appear in no favorable point of light to me.

I flatter myself, the expected attack of Fort Edition: current; Page: [457] Augusta, will prove more favorable, than Colonel Weiser imagines; for I have no conception, that a road fit for the reception of carriages can be cut within ten miles of a fort, without the garrison discovering it. It was a careless mistake of my Quarter master to send you 101 barrels of gun powder.

It is quite manifest to every person who has had an opportunity of experiencing the advantages of Indian services, that the friendship and assistance of the Cherokees are well worth cultivating. For my own part, I think they are indispensably necessary in our present circumstances, and am sorry to find such unseasonable delays in bringing them amongst us. Since Captain Croghan left this place, Outassity,1 an Indian warrior of that nation, with twenty-seven followers, has arrived here. He brings an account of many more that are coming; but whether they will wait for Mr. Atkin’s passport, or will come on with their own, I know not.

I have just received a letter from Governor Dinwiddie, in which he desires me to present his compliments to you. I am, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [458]
George Washington
Washington, George
[11 July, 1757.]
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie


Honble. Sir,

I had just closed mine yesterday, and was going to send off Jenkins1 with it, when yours of the 24th ultimo came to hand.

The Deserters apprehended at Maidstone, were treated with such lenity as their subsequent behaviour convinces me was misplaced: several of them having since deserted.

This infamous practice, wherein such numbers of our men have (by means of the villainy and ill-judged compassion of the country-people, who deem it a merit to assist Deserters,) has been wonderfully successful; and is now arrived at such a height, that nothing can stop its scandalous progress, but the severest punishments, and most striking examples. Since mine of yesterday, no less than 24 more of the Draughts (after having received their money and clothes) deserted: notwithstanding every precaution I cou’d suggest was taken to prevent it: among others, I had all the roads way-laid in the night.—Seven of those who went off last night, took that road that happened to be blocked up. Mr. Hughes (whom your Honor was pleased to appoint adjutant) and two Soldiers, took two of them, after exchanging some shot, and wou’d in all probability have taken them all, had he not been disabled in the right hand, & one of our Soldiers shot thro’ the leg; and, it is believed, one of the Deserters was killed in the conflict.

Edition: current; Page: [459]

I must again, earnestly request, your Honor will please to send me up a copy of the mutiny and desertion bill, passed the last Session of Assembly;1 with blank warrants to execute the Sentence of the Courts martial; without which I fear we will soon lose, not only all the draughts, but, by their going off with impunity, there is such a bad example, as will render even the detention of the old Soldiers impracticable.

As the pressing exigency of this unhappy juncture demands the utmost expedition, in which the welfare of the Colony is so nearly concerned; I flatter myself your Honor will not hesitate at sending me blank-warrants.

By a course of unerring experience, I am convinced beyond any doubt, that nothing but the most rigorous measures can have the least effect.

The inconceivable trouble those discontented turbulent fellows give us, and the few Officers that now remain here, have greatly impeded the service; and laid me under the necessity of appointing the three oldest volunteers, vizt. Mess: Speake, Felt, and Wood, Ensigns, which I hope your Honor will approve of.

I am glad your Honor does not think of the additional companies, or Rangers, till the Regiment is complete. A short time has already demonstrated how justly founded your apprehensions on that head were. As I now begin to despair of seeing the 8 Edition: current; Page: [460] companies that remain in the Colony, compleated—I am convinced every day will lessen our numbers ’till some sad examples are made of the Deserters.

As the unhappy fate of poor Capt. Spotswood seems now to be ascertained, and made a vacant company in the Regiment; I beg leave to recommend Capt. M’Neill in the warmest manner to your Honor for it; not only from his undoubted title of seniority but from his great merit, hard fate, and long sufferings in his rank and pay.

Should he be again superseded, it cannot be imagined that a man of his spirit will be any longer detained in the service however prejudicial his leaving it may otherwise be to him. And I must confess it would give me pain that we should lose a good officer thro’ the default of common justice.

Your Honor seems surprized at my returning 432 men in May, and but 384 in June. It is true, there were several desertions in that interval, but if your Honor will take the trouble of looking [at] those two returns it will immediately remove your surprize: That of May was of my total effectives; and that of the 16th of June was only of the number I then had fit for Duty; designed to shew your Honor what I had actually fit for service, at a time when we were threatened with the most imminent danger.

The reason of my being so urgent for the blank warrants is that I am persuaded, that postponing the punishments ordered by the courts-martial will not only diminish the terror of delinquents, but encourage other of the Soldiers to follow their base example. Edition: current; Page: [461] And, would your Honor think proper to issue your proclamation, commanding all the officers, civil and military, to exert themselves in apprehending these Deserters, it wou’d probably have a good effect.

I have ordered a roll to be made out of the Draughts that deserted, since they were received at Fredericksburg, which I here enclose your Honor, that you have it advertised, if you shall think it proper.

Although my Brother’s affairs have been long in an unsettled state; and I am nearly interested in having them properly adjusted, and which cannot be done without my presence, being one of the Executors; yet I did not purpose when I asked leave, nor ever intended to be absent, but at some favorable time, when the Service cou’d admit of it without any detriment.

In mine of the 27th ultimo, I enclosed your Honor Doctr. Ross’s (commissary for the Maryland troops) letter, relating to the provisions at Ft. Cumberland; and desired your Honor’s instructions on that head. Since which the enclosed, on the same subject, came to my hand.

As Mr. Atkin, will not agree to part with any of the Dutch blankets which came up for the Indians, to replace those of the Regiments, which Colo. Stephen injudiciously gave away, I shall be at a great loss, not having a Blanket left. And unless they can be sent up soon from Williamsburgh, I shou’d be glad to receive orders to send for them to Pennsylvania.

I am, &c.
Edition: current; Page: [462]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 July, 1757
Colonel Stanwix
Colonel Stanwix


Dear Sir,

Your obliging favor of the 11th instant I received this morning. It will seem odd to send you three letters under one cover, and those so widely differing in their dates:—But the truth only shall account for it.

Mr. Atkin has told me day after day, since the date of my first, that his Express would go off the next morning,—as he would the preceding evening be able to finish his despatches to you. This prevented my enquiring after any other conveyance, and is the cause of the delay of my letters ’till now.

Militia, you will find, Sir, will never answer your expectation—no dependence is to be placed upon them; They are obstinate and perverse,—they are often egged on by the Officers, who lead them to acts of disobedience, and, when they are ordered to certain posts for the security of stores, or the protection of the Inhabitants, will, on a sudden, resolve to leave them, and the united vigilance of their officers can not prevent them.

Instances of the above nature I have now before me, which put me to some difficulty.

No man I conceive was ever worse plagued than I have been with the Draughts that were sent from the several counties in this Government, to complete its Regiment: out of 400 that were received at Fredericksburgh, and at this place, 114 have deserted, notwithstanding every precaution, except absolute Edition: current; Page: [463] confinement has been used to prevent this infamous practice. I have used the most vigorous measures to apprehend those fellows who escaped from hence (which amounted to about 30) and have succeeded so well that they are taken with the loss of one of their men, and a Soldier wounded. I have a Gallows near 40 feet high erected (which has terrified the rest exceedingly), and I am determined if I can be justified in the proceeding, to hang two or three on it, as an example to others.

An affair has happened at this place, which may, I apprehend, be productive of very unhappy consequences; it is this: About 6 days ago, came to this town, from Chota, in the Cherokee Nation, ten Indians; some of whom call themselves Mingo’s tribe of the Six Nations; others Cherokees, &c. But as they gave no good account of their intentions, Mr. Atkin suspected their loyalty; and taking them for Spies, has caused them to be put in close confinement, in which they now remain.

This procedure greatly alarmed and at the same time exasperated about 12 Cherokees, who were at this place and knew all the prisoners: and has obliged Mr. Atkin to send an Express to the South Branch to bring Outassity down, who now lies sick there, to clear the matter up. He is not yet arrived.—Nineteen Indians and the Officers I mentioned in my last, marched from Fort Cumberland the 9th instant, for Ft. Duquesne. By their return I hope I shall receive some intelligence worth transmitting to you. At present we are pretty peaceable.

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The Philadelphia post, which formerly came to this place, being stopped, prevents our hearing any foreign news; but what are transmitted in the channel of friendly Letters. We greatly regret the loss of this post, and wou’d gladly keep it up by private subscription, from this to Carlyle, if it comes that length.1

George Washington
Washington, George
20th July, 1757
Governor Sharpe
Governor Sharpe



I have undoubted intelligence that many Deserters from the Virginia Regiment are gone to, and are harbored and protected in several counties of your province, especially Baltimore County, under the specious pretext of their unjust detention, after the expiration of the time, which, the Deserters (I learn) pretend was limited when they enlisted.—And some in authority, either from an ill placed compassion, or from that spirit of opposition to the service, which is too prevalent through the Continent—have not only countenanced those Deserters, but made use of your Excellency’s name for that purpose; as you may observe Edition: current; Page: [465] by the enclosed, (a copy of the original is in my possession.)

I am quite certain, that no orders have been issued, since I have been honored with the command of this Regiment, to enlist for any limited term, and Captn. Gist (upon whom the Deserters would fix this charge) declares on his honor, that he never mentioned limiting their time of Service in any other way than this, that they should be discharged at the conclusion of the War or Expedition, which might possibly be ended in 6 or 8 months:—which could be deemed nothing more than one of those little subterfuges which, from the disagreeable nature of the Recruiting Service, has, at some junctures been considered necessary; Though I must still think, [it] would come with a better grace, from a Sergeant, than a commissioned Officer.

I am sure, from your Excellency’s good sense, experience, and knowledge in military affairs, that you have given no decision in this affair, without a proper enquiry, which cou’d not well be made without the attendance of those who recruited the Deserters; and that Magistrates have, from the report of the Deserters, afforded them this unjustifiable protection. As this is the point of view in which it appears to me; I have ordered Ensign Fell, (who assisted in recruiting them) to wait on Your Excellency; and request you wou’d be pleased to have the affair enquired into; that if the allegations of the Deserters be false, you will please to give such orders as will enable me to have them apprehended and if they are Edition: current; Page: [466] well grounded, that I may have Captn. Gist’s conduct, for disobedience of orders, enquired into.

I judge this step necessary to be taken, previously to my laying the affair before the Commander in Chief, therefore hope His Excellency will forgive this trouble from him who has the honor of being with great respect, &c.1



The principal end proposed in sending you to the post to which you are ordered is to protect the Inhabitants of those parts, and to keep them if possible easy and quiet.

I injoin it upon you, therefore, to use every means which you and your officers shall judge advisable, to answer this salutary purpose—particularly by keeping out constant scouting parties; who with diligence care and precaution, are to range all those parts thro’ which the Enemy make their inroads: and, when the enemy draw near the Quarter you are in, to exert your utmost efforts in preventing the inhabitants from suffering, by giving them all the intelligence you can of their danger, and by endeavouring to cover them, by way-laying those defiles, thro’ which the enemy are most likely to pass, before they can penetrate into the Inhabitants.

These parties are to consist of such numbers as the service may require, and your circumstances with admit. But in general I wou’d have a third part of your well men and an officer (frequently, if not always to command; altho’ he may judge the party too small for his rank.)

You are by no means to impress Horses, yourself, or licence any person or persons under your command to do it—except in Edition: current; Page: [467] cases of necessity and where the Interest of the Service indispensably requires it for Expresses, &c, and then you are to be careful in seeing that, as soon as the service is performed, they be immediately returned to their proper owners in good order; paying the hire of them, or else to give a certificate, specifying for what service they were pressed, and how long employed in it.

You are not to accommodate any Indians, that may happen to pass your way, with Horses, unless it be upon extraordinary cases, nor are you to hold any Conferences with them upon Business, only on such points as relate to the Service in which you are immediately engaged. Neither are you to attempt making Treaties with them, or to make them presents, promises, &c., or any liquor, but in a very sparing manner.

If at any time or upon any occasion, you shou’d pay away money for contingent Expences, you are to take receipts for them, ascertaining the sum, & for what service paid; and keep an exact accompt thereof, in order to lay it before me, or any other person whom the Government may think proper to substitute.—And all Services done the public for which you do not pay ready money, you are to give certificates, setting forth the nature and causes thereof, as aforesaid. And all accompts relative to provisions you are to settle with the Commissary or agents whom the Governor shall appoint and all that relate to your own and company’s pay, with the pay-master.

You are to take care that only one pound of flour, and the like quantity of meat, be delivered to each man per day, and that no more women draw provisions, than in proportion as 6 to 100 men.

You must prevent any provisions issuing without a written order from yourself, or the officer commanding in your absence—To have regular returns made out for that purpose—To cause all provisions to be exactly weighed, &c.

You are to use every imaginable precaution to prevent irregular suttling, licentious swearing, and all other unbecoming irregularities—and to neglect no pains or diligence in training your men (when off duty) to the true use and exercise of their arms; and teaching them in all other respects, the duties of their profession

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Be particularly careful in seeing that they take proper care of their clothes and accoutrements; which you are to do, by inspecting narrowly every Saturday at least, into their order; & by furnishing and making stoppages from those who have lost, sold, or otherwise made away with, or abused their things, till full reparation is had.

That this piece of duty may be conducted with ease; divide your men into as many squads as there are Sergeants,—and make it the duty of each Sergeant (who is to keep the Roll of their necessaries for that purpose) to see that the men of his squad have their clothes, arms, and accoutrements always together, and in good order. This method I recommend as an alleviation of but not an excuse for the officers to neglect this duty themselves.

I also desire that the greatest regularity may be constantly observed in relieving the Guards, the Sentries, and all other parts of ceremonious duty. That the men may not by neglecting this, contract bad habits, but rather thro’ a strict observance, become intimately acquainted with, and knowing in their duty. And as I wou’d have the whole regiment tho’ never so much divided at present, pursue the same system of discipline, even in the most minute punctilios, You are to send an alert Sergeant or Corporal and two or three men, fit for the Drill, to this place to be perfected therein, who, on their return, are to instruct the rest of your Command.

I recommend it to you, likewise, and in the strongest terms, that you and the officers under your command, do make yourselves master of the necessary salutes.

You are to give in an exact size, and necessary role of your company and to see that no non-commissioned Officer or Soldier is ever provided with less than 3 good shirts, two pair of good Stockings, and one pair of good Shoes, and that the initial letters of their names are marked upon their ammunition, clothes, and accoutrements, which you must cause to be entered in a Book kept for that purpose, to prevent their swapping and changing their things. You are also to be vastly careful in making them preserve their Regimentals, and to make them appear always neat and clean, and soldier-like—especially when they are upon Duty.

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You are to transmit me the most exact and regular returns, made out once a month, not only of the strength of, and alterations in, your company (or command) but also of the arms, ammunition, clothes, and stores, carefully examined by yourself, to prevent such egregious mistakes as often happen thro’ the negligence of the Officers in trusting to the Sergeants, as, upon failure herein, you may depend upon being relieved and tried for disobedience of orders.

You are also to hold me duly advised of all material occurences in your Quarter. You are not to give furloughs to more than one Soldier at a time, unless some particular cause requires it, and then you are to insert the reasons and time of their absence at the foot of your return, if they should not happen to be present at the time it is made. Shou’d any of your men desert, you are to use your utmost endeavours in having them apprehended; and whatever expence you are at, over and above what the country allows, is to be deducted from the pay of such offending Soldiers, if they shou’d happen to be taken.

Each Deserter is advertised at 40s. reward, and more, when other aggravating circumstances accompany his desertion.

I expect you will take great pains to make your Soldiers good marks-men by teaching them to shoot at Targets.

I have been thus particular in my Instructions to you, because I expect the most punctual obedience will be paid to them; being determined not to overlook neglects of duty in any,—but to act with the utmost strictness (agreeably to the Instructions which I am honored with from the Governor): and therefore, in order to enable you to support a proper command:—

I hereby require, that you do put any officer under arrest whom you shall find negligent in his duty, or misbehaving as a Gentleman, and either enquire into his conduct with your own Officers (in order to a further examination at this place, or send him here, (at once) for that purpose.

And I do hereby direct you to hold courts martial for trying and punishing non-commissioned officers and soldiers (Without which the former are not to be broke, and after which, by no means to be reinstated, nor new ones appointed, without my approbation.) In all other respects you are to govern yourselves Edition: current; Page: [470] exactly agreeable to the articles of War, and the rules and customs of the Army.

Permit me before I finish (and now that the companies are formed for service, and agreeable to order) to recommend—and I do in the strongest manner I can to you and your Officers,—to devote some part of your leisure hours to the study of your profession, a knowledge in which cannot be attained without application; nor any merit or applause to be atchieved without a certain knowledge thereof. Discipline is the soul of an army.—It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all; and may, in a peculiar manner to us, who are in the way to be joined to Regulars in a very short time, and of distinguishing thro’ this means, from other Provincials.

You are to be at no expence in building or repairing old works, without first apprizing me thereof, because the money appropriated to that purpose is expended. The safety and convenience of soldiers render it a duty upon them to repair the works, and make lodgments for themselves. I wou’d therefore have you observe this, and act conformably to it.

George Washington
Washington, George
30 July, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Colonel Stanwix
Colonel Stanwix


Dear Sir,

My former letters would inform you how little share I had in confining the Indians in the public jail at this place.

Mr. Atkin, in his Majesty’s name, applied to me as commanding officer for aid to secure these people, which I thereupon did, but not without first representing the consequences, that might and in some measure really did happen. This step was no sooner taken, than the Cherokees in town, about twenty-two in number, despatched a runner to inform their people, that the English had fallen upon their brethren, and desired that they (the Cherokees) would stand Edition: current; Page: [471] upon their defence. Another runner, you are sensible, went to Carlisle to inform the warriors there of it, who returned fully resolved to rescue the prisoners, or die in the attempt. The former they did, and were so enraged with Mr. Atkin, that they would hold no conference with him the next day, when he sent to desire it, till they had first been with me for information. I took great pains to convince them, that it was a mistake, and happily succeeded. They readily agreed to send an Indian with an express, whom I might procure, to their nation to prevent a massacre of all the traders and white people there, which they looked upon as inevitable, except timely measures were taken to prevent it.

Out of the great number of drafts that have deserted from us, we have been able to apprehend twenty-two; of whom two were hanged on Thursday last.1 The eight companies now remaining in Virginia are completed to about eighty, rank and file, four commanding officers, four sergeants, and two drummers, and are all marched to the several posts assigned them.

The commission, which I have received from Governor Dinwiddie, to hold general courts-martial, is very long, and rather a repetition of the act. I should be obliged, if you would let me know whether this be right or not. I took the liberty in a letter of the — to ask leave to be absent about twelve or fourteen days, if circumstances in this quarter would Edition: current; Page: [472] permit, but having heard nothing from you since, I am inclined to address you again on that head, because the 1st of August is the time appointed for the meeting of the executors (of which I am one) of an estate that I am much interested in a dividend of, and have suffered much already by the unsettled state it has remained in. This estate does not lie more than a day’s journey from this place, so that I could return very quickly, if occasion required it.

P. S. Since writing the above I have received the enclosed from Captn. McKenzie. Captn. Waggener just before with upwards of 100 men, had marched to the place he speaks of, to strengthen the garrisons on the Branch. I have sent him orders to select a good company (if the enemy still remain there) and use his best endeavors to fall in with their encampment; and I am certain he will neglect no means to accomplish it. I have also advice from the southern frontiers of Augusta County, that the Indians have appeared, and done some mischief. Major Lewis with a detachment of 250 men (including a company of 50 already in those parts) marched to occupy Voss’s and Dickinson’s forts, and to repel the enemy if they still continued to commit depredations.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 August, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



Your favor of the 13th by Mr. Boyd, I have received. The drafts from Lunenburg are arrived, to the number of sixteen, which does not replace the Edition: current; Page: [473] soldiers, that have deserted since my last, so prevalent is this infamous practice yet. The drafts, when they were divided among the eight companies in July, completed them to eighty-six rank and file; and there remained over and above forty workmen, which I detained at this place, as mentioned in a former letter.

What the strength of the companies is just at this time, I am no more able to say, (not knowing what casualties may have happened since,) than I am to send your Honor a return of the regiment, which is impossible to do till I get my returns from the several out-posts; and that, I believe your Honor must be sensible, is difficult and precarious, dispersed as the regiment is. I have given express orders, however, that those returns shall be made to me as regularly as the nature of things will admit, and I shall not be wanting in my duty to forward them, nor shall I delay to send the companies’ size-rolls, when they come to my hands, and I have directed these last also to be made out and sent to me, carefully examined.

The enclosed is a copy of a report made to me by two officers, who were instructed to inspect into the state of the provisions at Fort Cumberland. Mr. Kennedy, who was entrusted with the care of these provisions, is now there repacking and pickling them; and when he has finished, I shall endeavour to do the best I can with them, but despair of turning them to the least advantage.

A letter, which I received a few days ago from Captain Waggener advises, that the enemy appeared Edition: current; Page: [474] upon the Branch, not far from his neighbourhood, (their numbers uncertain,) and killed men, and captivated others, without his being able to meet with them. On Sunday last, a small party of five Cherokees, who came here a few days ago, set out to war.

Your Honor having asked my opinion concerning recruiting, I shall give it candidly as follows. I believe, unless we are permitted to enlist servants, we should spend much time to little purpose in this service; There is such a spirit of opposition prevailing in one sort of people, and so little spirit of any kind in another. I never thought, in the most distant degree, of recruiting for the additional companies, till the others were complete; nor should I have mentioned that but thinking it was required by act of Assembly.

As your Honor were pleased to leave to my discretion to punish or pardon the criminals, I have resolved on the latter, since I find example of so little weight, and since those poor unhappy criminals have undergone no small pain of body and mind, in a dark prison, closely ironed.

I have filled up a commission for Sergeant Feint,1 and will send it to him by the first safe conveyance. Colonel Stanwix, I am told (the truth of which I doubt), is marched to the northward. I have no account from him these four weeks.

Mr. Boyd, (whom I have spoken to on the matter,) conceives, there will be no money left for contingent Edition: current; Page: [475] expenses, when he has paid the troops. I shall do as your Honor directs, with regard to escorting Mr. Boyd to Augusta, and ordering officers to wait upon him at this place, however inconvenient it prove to the service.

Nothing remarkable has happened, for which reason I have nothing particular to add. I must beg leave, however, before I conclude, to observe in justification of my own conduct, that it is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I am guilty of one; nor more desirous for atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of having committed it. But, on the other hand, it is with concern I remark, that my best endeavors lose their reward, and that my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favorable point of light.1 Otherwise your Honor would not have accused me of loose behaviour and remissness of duty, in matters where, I believe, I have rather exceeded than fallen short of it. This, I think, is evidently the case in speaking of Indian Affairs at all after being instructed in very express terms, not to have any concern with or “management of Indian affairs.” This has caused me to forbear mentioning of Indians Edition: current; Page: [476] in any of my letters to your Honor of late, and to leave the misunderstanding, which you speak of, between Mr. Atkin and the Indians, to the former to relate, knowing that he maintained a correspondence with your Honor on matters relative to his office. But, with regard to the accompts, when he would have nothing to do with them, and when I was hourly importuned for the payment, and knew I had not the means to do it, what could I do less than promise the people, that I would recommend their cases to your Honor, in hopes that you would appoint a person, in whom you could confide, to take in and pay off their accompts, as I always looked upon it as a duty distinct from mine, and therefore was unwilling to intermeddle in the affair?

I really thought it unnecessary to say more, than that “the detachment destined for Augusta was marched,” because your Honor gave me a copy of the council held at Philadelphia, which directed one hundred and fifty men to be posted at Dickinson’s, and one hundred at Voss’s, which direction I observed, and thought it would be sufficiently understood when I wrote as above.

I should have acknowledged the receipt of the arms, had they come, but they were not arrived when my last was wrote; which obliged me to disarm the men that remained here, in order to supply those who marched, rather than detain them, as I had sent wagons to Falmouth to bring ’em from thence. However, if I have erred in these points, I am sorry for it, and shall endeavor for the future to be as particular Edition: current; Page: [477] and satisfactory, in my accounts of these things, as possible. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
17 September, 1757
Fort Loudoun
Governor Dinwiddie
Governor Dinwiddie



Your favor of the 2d instant came safe to hand, and Jenkins’s sickness has prevented my answering it sooner.

I apprehend that thirteen of the twenty-nine drafts from Lunenburg have deserted, as sixteen only have arrived here, and I have no accounts of any more being upon the march. Your Honor may observe by the enclosed list of deserters, all of whom have left the regiment since the last return I sent, and after having received too their clothes, arms, and bounty money, how prevalent still is that infamous practice among the dastardly drafts, especially at this garrison, where I indulge them in every thing but idleness, and in that I cannot, the nature of the work requiring the contrary. Lenity, so far from producing its desired effects, rather emboldens them in these villainous undertakings. One of those who were condemned to be hanged, deserted immediately upon receiving his pardon. In short, they tire my patience, and almost weary me to death. The expense of pursuing them is very considerable, and to suffer them to escape, without aiming at pursuit, is but giving up the point, altho’ we have had but little success of late.

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The uncertain and difficult communication with the out-posts must apologize for my not sending you a return of our strength for August. For the second month will always be far advanced, before I can get in the returns of the preceding, as the latter must be first expired, before the returns can be made out, and then some of them are to come two hundred and fifty miles, and great part of that distance thro’ an uninhabited country.

If special messengers are always sent with these returns, it will be a pretty considerable expense. I should therefore be glad if your Honor would be pleased to direct, whether they are to be sent to me by express, or to embrace the best conveyance without. In the one case, as I before said, there must be a constant expense, and in the other, great uncertainty. By the enclosed for July, your Honor will see that our total strength amounted to six hundred and ninety-nine; but, as there happened many changes and casualties in that month, by reason of the drafts joining, deserting, and the companies not being properly formed, this return will, I apprehend, appear confused and irregular. Our present strength, I guess, is about seven hundred. Major Lewis did, as he wrote your Honor, march from this place with about one hundred and forty men only; but then Captain Woodward, who also marched at the same time, with his company from the South Branch, joined him at Dickinson’s; which with the men under Captain Hog, formed a body of something more than two hundred and fifty men, agreeably to Edition: current; Page: [479] the number appointed at Philadelphia for the forts at Dickinson’s and Voss’s.

I am sorry I did not know it was necessary to give the name of each officer of the command, but shall do it now, and set them down as they are placed in companies: Major Lewis, Lt. Bullet, Lt. Fleming, Ensn. Speake, Capt. Woodward, Lt. Dangerfield, Lt. Milner, Ensn. Sumner, Capt. Spotswood, Lt. Lomax, Lt. Crawford, Ensn. Starke.

The above are the officers belonging to three companies that went to Augusta. But your Honor knows Capt. Spotswood was absent; Mr. Milner was also absent, and has been so at his father’s these ten months, in a consumption, as I am told. And I have given Sergeant a commission and appointed him to Woodward’s company, in lieu of Ensign Sumner, who is now to join Capt. McKenzie’s company.

As soon as I was informed that Colo. Reid was to supply the troops in Augusta with provisions, I acquainted Major Lewis therewith.

As there is no addition made to the drafts, no men recruited, and our numbers daily diminishing by desertion, I cannot see how you can expect that I should complete the companies that are now under 90 to 100 rank and file each, as you mention in your letter.

I never expected, nor ever desired, that there should be an addition made to the number of those persons appointed to transact public business, much less that there should be one to settle every little affair. I only humbly proposed, that, as Captain Gist was empowered with your Honor’s approbation to Edition: current; Page: [480] manage the Indian affairs here, and as he is to be paid for that duty by this colony, that he, as a more proper person than myself, should take in and adjust the accounts against the Indians (so often mentioned), as it cannot reasonably be supposed that I, who am stripped of the help I once was allowed (and told that I should be freed from these things in consequence), can turn my hands and my thoughts to such a multiplicity of business, as naturally arises out of the variety of occurrences, which are occasioned by our scattered and detached situation and the many extraneous concerns of the Indians. Every person, who sees how I am employed, will readily testify, that very little recreation falls to my lot. Nevertheless, if it is your Honor’s orders, that I shall collect these accompts, I will do it in the best manner I am able, and that with cheerfulness; but it will be some time ere it can be accomplished, as I have turned them off once.

The Indian chiefs, before they departed for their nation, warmly solicited me for some drums; and, as I had none but those belonging to the regiment, which could not be spared, I was obliged to promise them, that I would acquaint your Honor with their request, that you might, if you thought proper, provide them against their return.

Since my last, the enemy returned to the Branch, where they killed four men, wounded one, captivated a man and woman, and burned some grain, notwithstanding the utmost efforts of the troops, who are constantly scouting. The people in that quarter are terribly affrighted by this last eruption, and I fear can Edition: current; Page: [481] hardly be prevented from evacuating that valuable settlement.

Enclosed is a return of the Deputy Commissary’s return and report of the state of the provisions at Fort Cumberland and my letter to Doctr. Ross on that subject, an answer to which I hourly expect. I have heard from second-hand, that they intend to make no allowance for the fish we left there, saying they were the King’s fish, as they really were, and therefore as much theirs as ours. I should be glad to know your Honor’s sentiments on this matter. I apprehended they would claim the fish as a right, and therefore when I left Ft. Cumberland, to attend the Committee in the Spring according to order, directed Colo. Stephen to have them removed, which he neglected to do.

I have received from Mr. Boyd, notwithstanding his first declaration to me, £500. Which, with what remains of the 2000, shall be applied and accounted for as you direct.

I was obliged to detain £250 out of the first sum which came up for the companies, but can now refund it.