George Washington Papers

IV., 1786


George Washington’s Account of the Capitulation of Fort Necessity


About 9 Oclock on the 3d of July the Enemy advanced with Shouts, & dismal Indian yells to our Intrenchments, but was opposed by so warm, spirited, and constant a fire, that to force the works in that way was abandoned by them. They then, from every little rising—tree—stump—Stone—and bush kept up a constant galding fire upon us; which was returned in the best manner we could till late in the afternn when their fell the most tremendous rain that can be conceived—filled our trenches with Water—Wet, not only the Ammunition in the Cartouch boxes and firelocks, but that which was in a small temporary Stockade in the middle of the Intrenchment called Fort Necessity erected for the sole purpose of its security, and that of the few stores we had; and left us nothing but a few (for all were not provided with them) Bayonets for defence. In this situation & no ⟨prospt⟩ of bettering it terms of capitulation were offered to us by the ⟨enemy⟩ wch. with some alterations that were insisted upon were the more readily acceded to, as we had no Salt provisions, & but indifferently supplied with fresh; which, from the heat of the Weather, would not keep; and because a full third of our numbers Officers as well as privates were, by this time, killed or wounded—The next morning we marched out with the honors of War, but were soon plundered contrary to the Articles of capitulation of great part of our Baggage by the Savages. Our Sick and wounded were left with a detachment under the care, and command of the worthy Doctr Craik (for he was not only Surgeon to the Regiment but a lieutt therein) with such necessaries as we could ⟨collect⟩ and the Remains of the Regimt, and the detachment of Regulars, took up their line for the interior Country. And at Winchester met 2 Companies from No. Carolina on their March to join them—These being fresh, & properly provided, were ordered to proceed to Wills’s Creek & establish a post (since ⟨illegible⟩ called Fort Cumberland) for the purpose of covering the Frontiers. Where they were joined by a Company from Maryland, which, about this time, had been raized—Captn McKay with his detachment remd at Winchester; & the Virginia Regiment proceedd to Alexandria in order to recruit, & get supplied with cloathing & necessarys of which they stood much in need.1

AD, ViMtvL (photostat). In 1786 David Humphreys, one of GW’s aides-de-camp during the Revolution, was in residence at Mount Vernon working on a history of the Revolution and a biography of GW. GW made detailed comments on many of the passages in Humphreys’s biography, but since it contained almost no information on the battle at Great Meadows, GW’s comments on the surrender of Fort Necessity were intended for Humphreys’s information. Only the portions of GW’s comments dealing with the capitulation have been printed here. Humphreys’s incomplete manuscript is in PPRF.

1After the surrender the veterans of the battle at Great Meadows marched to Wills Creek where GW took stock of his losses, which consisted of 30 dead and 70 wounded. A listing of the officers and rank and file who participated in the Fort Necessity campaign was drawn up by GW, 30 April 1771, based on the accounting he took at Wills Creek, 9 July 1754 (A Roll of the Officers and Soldiers who engaged in the Service of the Colony before the Battle of the Meadows in 1754 and A Roll of the Officers & Soldiers who engaged in the Service of the Colony before the Battle of the Meadows . . . as taken from the Pay, & Muster Rolls of those times, both in DLC:GW). After a brief stay at Wills Creek, GW and Mackay reported to Col. James Innes at Winchester and left on 11 July to make their report to Dinwiddie in Williamsburg.

Index Entries