George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie, 9 May 1754

To Robert Dinwiddie

Little Meadows [Md.] 9th of May 1754

Honble Sir

I acquainted your Honour by Mr Ward with the determination’s, which we prosecuted in 4 Days after his Departure, as soon as Waggons arrived to convey our Provisions.1 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 Wills Ck my disappointments were not less than before, for there I expected to have found a sufficient number of pack Horses provided by Captn Trent conformable to his Promise, Majr Carlyles Letter’s and my own (that I might prosecute my first intention with light expeditious Marches) but instd of tht, there was none in readiness, nor any in expectation, that I could perceive, which reducd me to the necessity of waitg till Waggon’s cd be procur’d from the Branch (40 Miles distant)2 However in the mean time I detach’d a party of 60 Men to make and amend the Road, which party since the 25th of Apl, and the main body since the 1st Instt have been laboriously employ’d, and have got no further than these Meadows abt 20 Miles from the new Store; where we have been two Days making a Bridge across and are not gone yet: The great difficulty and labour that it requires to amend and alter the Roads, prevents our Marchg above 2, 3, or 4 Miles a Day, and I fear (thô no diligen⟨ce⟩ shall be neglected) we shall be detaind some considerable time before it can be made good for the Carriage⟨s⟩ of the Artillery with Colo. Fry.3

We Daily receive Intelligence from Ohio by one or other of the Trader’s that are continually retreating to the Inhabitants with their Effects; they all concur, that the French are reinforced with 800 Men; and this Day by one Kalender4 I receiv’d an acct which he sets forth as certain, that there is 600 Men building at the Falls of Ohio, from whence they intd to move up to the lower Shawno Town at the Mouth of Sciodo Ck to Erect other Fortresses—He likewise says that these forces at the Fork’s are Erectg their works with their whole Force, and as he was coming met at Mr Gists new settlemt Monsieur La-Force with 4 Soldrs who under the specious pretence of hunting Deserters were reconnoitreg and discovering the Country.5 He also brings the agreeable news that the Half King has receiv’d, & is much pleas’d 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 practiseing every means to influence them in their Interest.

We have heard nothing from the Cawtaba’s or any of the Southern Indians thô this is the time we mostly need their assistance I have not above 160 Effective Men with me since Captn Trent⟨s⟩ have left us, who I discharg’d from this Detacht & order’d them to wait your Honour’s Comds at Captn Trents for I found them rather injurious to the other Men than Serviceable to the Expn till they could be upon the same Establisht with us and come under the rigr of the Martial Law.6 I am Honble Sir with the most profound respect yr Honour’s most Obt & most Hbe Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. I hope yr Hr will excuse the papr & w[ritin]g the want of conveniences obliges me to this.

ALS, ViHi.

2GW is referring to the South Branch of the Potomac where there had been a considerable settlement of people.

3Dinwiddie wrote Gov. James Hamilton, 21 Mar. 1754, that he had sent up 10 of the 30 cannon that he had received from Britain “to see if they can be properly carried out” to the Ohio (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). A supply of cannon and gunpowder had been promised by Holderness to Dinwiddie in Aug. 1753 for Virginia’s defense. See Commission from Robert Dinwiddie, 30 Oct. 1753, n.4., and Dinwiddie to GW, Jan. 1754, editorial note.

4Robert Callender (d. 1776) was a frontier trader and a partner of George Croghan. At this time he was operating at least three trading houses, one each on the Muskingum and Scioto rivers and a third on Beaver Creek. In Oct. 1755 GW made Callender an offer of a post in the Virginia Regiment which he did not take up.

5For Gist’s Settlement and for La Force, see William Trent to GW, 19 Feb. 1754, nn. 1, 5.

6GW’s difficulties with Trent’s men involved a matter which was to become an increasingly divisive issue in the 1754 campaign: the question of discrepancies in pay among both soldiers and officers. The financial terms under which members of the expedition were recruited are described in a document in GW’s handwriting in DLC:GW:

Apl 27 1754

£ 160 to be allowed for each Man Enlisted and no more for Enlisting Money and all other Incidentl charges

Pay of the Officers
To Colo. Joshua Fry 15s.   } By the day
To Lt Colo. G. Washington 12s. 6
Majr Geo. Muse 10s.  
Majr Jno. Carlyle Comy
of Stores ⟨& Provns for him self
and Store keeper⟩
6 Captns Each 8s.  
⟨6⟩ Lieutts each 4s.  
⟨6⟩ Ensigns each 3s.  
a Surgeon 4s.  
6 Sergeants 1s. 6
6 Corporals 1s.  
⟨6⟩ Drummers 1s.  

Material in angle brackets is taken from Hamilton, Letters to Washington description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed. Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. 5 vols. Boston and New York, 1898–1902. description ends , 1:28. These figures are confirmed by Dinwiddie’s letters of 21 and 28 Mar. 1754 to the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. In addition Dinwiddie noted that “private Men” received 8d. per day. “In order to have them in an Uniform, they allow a deductn from their Pay to purchase a Coat & Breeches of red Cloth” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). The problem GW complained of in this letter concerned the men enlisted by Trent to guard the construction of the fort at the Forks. After Edward Ward surrendered the fort to the French, the men had drifted to Wills Creek. GW could have used them for work on improving the road from Wills Creek to Redstone, but since they had been promised 2s. per day by Trent (GW to Dinwiddie, 25 April 1754, n.4), combining them into a work force with GW’s soldiers who were paid only 8d. would have proved disastrous to morale. In addition, there was some uncertainty whether Trent’s men had been raised as militia or as volunteers, and hence what authority GW had over them was uncertain. In any event they proved so unruly that GW probably felt some relief when they dispersed against his orders by the middle of May. See GW’s first letter to Dinwiddie of 18 May 1754. For the militia law, see Dinwiddie to GW, Jan. 1754, n. 12.

Index Entries