From Robert Dinwiddie
Winr June 4th 1754
On the Death of Colo. Fry I have thot it proper to send You the enclos’d Como. to Comd the Virga regimt, & another for Majr Muse to be Lieut. Colo. The eldest Capt. to be Majr & the eldest Lieut. to be Capt. the eldest Ensign to be Lieut. unless You shd have Objectn to them. I think You will want two Ensigns, if so, I recommend Mr Perroney if he has behav’d so as to merit it, the other I leave to You.1 I have no Como. now here, but send the Names of the Persons to succeed as above & I will send up Commos. to bear equal Date with Yrs so that they may act by Yr Orders ’till that Time. Colo. James Innes, an old experienc’d Officer is daily expected, who is appointed Commander in Chief of all the Forces, which I am very sensible will be very agreeable to You & the other Officers.2 The Capts. & Officers of the Independt Compas. having their Commos. sign’d by His M[ajest]y immagine they claim a distinguish’d rank & being long trained in Arms expect suitable regards, You will therefore consult & agree with Yr Officers to shew them particular marks of Esteem, which will avoid such Causes of Uneasiness as otherwise might obstruct His Majesty’s Service wherein All are alike engag’d & must answer for any ill Consequence of an unhappy Disagreemt—You cannot believe the Uneasiness & Anxiety I have had for the Tardiness of the Detachmt under Colo. Fry’s Commd in not joining You some Time since, as all the Delay in the Provisions, & Ammunition; however I have given strong Instructs. on both these Heads, & hope You will soon be joined with proper Numbers to give the French a total Defeat. Continue in good Spirits, & prosecute Yr usual Conduct & Prudence, which must recommend You to the favo. of His My & Yr Country My Friendship & respect I hope you do not doubt. I therefore remn with great Truth, Sr Your real Friend
LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers.
1. Joshua Fry fell, or was thrown, from a horse in late May while leading the remainder of the Virginia Regiment from Winchester to join GW. He died on 31 May, and his troops, led by Maj. George Muse, reached GW on 9 June, at the time when GW assumed command of the Virginia Regiment—and temporary command of the expedition pending the arrival of Col. James Innes. GW’s colonel’s commission to command the Virginia Regiment under Innes has not been found. For further reference to the commission, see GW to Dinwiddie, 20 Aug. 1754, and Dinwiddie to GW, 11 Sept. 1754. For the names of the officers promoted as a consequence of Dinwiddie’s letter, see GW to Dinwiddie, 10 June 1754.
2. When Dinwiddie learned that his friend James Innes was to be the colonel of the regiment which North Carolina was raising for the expedition to the Ohio, he wrote Innes, 23 Mar. 1754, expressing his pleasure at the news and telling him that earlier he had intended him instead of Joshua Fry for “the Chief Comd of our Forces” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). As Dinwiddie was aware, the fact that Innes had held a captain’s commission from the king during the Cartagena expedition of 1741 would make it unlikely that any of the officers of the independent companies would challenge his authority on the grounds that their commissions were “sign’d by His My” and Innes’s was not. For Innes’s commission and instructions, see 4 June 1754, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers. Traveling ahead of his troops, Innes reached Winchester on 30 June and took overall command of the expedition. After the engagement at Fort Necessity on 3 July, which Innes and his North Carolinians missed, the North Carolina Regiment began disbanding and its colonel completed the process in August “for want of subsistance” (Saunders, Colonial Records of North Carolina description begins William L. Saunders, ed. The Colonial Records of North Carolina. 10 vols. Raleigh, N.C., 1886–90. description ends , 5 : 144c). Innes himself remained as senior officer of what was left of the expeditionary force, and Dinwiddie dispatched him to Fort Cumberland. Maryland’s governor Horatio Sharpe assumed overall command of the stalled expedition in the fall of 1754 on orders from London; Innes became the governor, or commandant, of Fort Cumberland, a position he held for nearly 2 years until his return to North Carolina in the summer of 1756.