To Thomas Cresap
[Winchester, 18 April 1754]
The difficulty of getting Waggons has almost been insurmountable, we have found so much inconvenience attending it here in these roads that I am determined to carry all our provisions &c. out on horse back and should be glad if Capt. Trent with your Assistance would procure as many horses as possible against we arrive at Wills Creek1 that as little stoppage as possible may be made there. I have sent Wm Jenkins2 with 60 Yrds of Oznabrigs3 for Bags and hope you will be as expeditious as you can in getting them made and fill’d.
Majr Carlyle acquainted ⟨me⟩ that ⟨a number of kettles, tomhawks, best gun flints, and axes might be had⟩ from the Companys Store which we are much in ⟨want and s⟩hould be glad to have laid by ⟨for us, Hoes we sh⟩all also want, and several pair of Hand cuffs.4
I hope all the Flower you have or can get you will save for this purpose and other provisions and necessary’s which you think will be of use (that may not occur to my memory at present) will be laid by till our Arrival which I expect will be at Job Pearsalls5 abt Saturday night or Sunday next, at present I have nothing more to add than that I am Yr most Hble Servt
Copy, PPiU: George Mercer Papers. The text of this letter is taken from the manuscript copy made by John Mercer (1704–1768) in the “Case of the Ohio Company” (1762), later revised and published in London in 1770 by George Mercer as The Case of the Ohio Company, Extracted from Original Papers. For background to this pamphlet, see Mulkearn, George Mercer Papers description begins Lois Mulkearn, ed. George Mercer Papers Relating to the Ohio Company of Virginia. Pittsburgh, 1954. description ends , 393–98.
In an entry immediately preceding the copy of this letter in John Mercer’s manuscript, he wrote: “Major Washington . . . writes the following letter on the 18th of that Month [April] from Winchester to Colo. Cresap.” Upon leaving Alexandria at noon on 2 April, GW and his force had moved 6 miles to Cameron at the head of Hunting Creek in Fairfax County where they camped for the night. From GW’s accounts it appears that the expedition’s route then led through Loudoun County to the residence of Edward Thompson near the later site of Hillsboro, across the Shenandoah at Vestal’s ferry, and then to Winchester, arriving by 10 April (Account with the Colony of Virginia, Oct. 1754). GW was joined there by the company raised by Adam Stephen, but he discovered that the wagons which he expected to find assembled to ferry men and supplies to the Forks had not arrived. After waiting a week for the wagons and fearing the French would soon be on the move, GW ordered the expedition on to Wills Creek.
1. The term Wills Creek refers to the area around the confluence of Wills Creek, which flows through Pennsylvania and Maryland, and the Potomac River. The Ohio Company’s “New Store” was on the riverbank opposite the mouth of Wills Creek, and Fort Cumberland was soon to be built across from the store on the Maryland side of the river. The road from Wills Creek to the Monongahela, begun in 1752, was completed in 1755 by General Braddock’s army.
2. William Jenkins, whom GW chose in 1753 to accompany him on his journey to the French commandant, acted as a courier in the campaign against the French in 1754. In Sept. 1754 he contracted with Dinwiddie to provide a weekly courier service between Winchester and the Virginia troops. Beginning in the fall of 1755, Jenkins carried messages back and forth between GW and the governor until 1758.
3. Osnaburg is a coarse linen originally made in Osnabrück in northern Germany.
4. The words enclosed in angle brackets are only partially visible in John Mercer’s manuscript copy of the letter and have been taken from the printed version of The Case of the Ohio Company, 17–18, which appears in facsimile as part 3 of Mulkearn, George Mercer Papers description begins Lois Mulkearn, ed. George Mercer Papers Relating to the Ohio Company of Virginia. Pittsburgh, 1954. description ends .
5. Job Pearsal’s cabin was on the South Branch of the Potomac River about 20 miles south of Wills Creek. GW was at Pearsal’s by 19 April.