George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fitzhugh, 4 November 1754

From William Fitzhugh

Rousby Hall Novr 4th 1754

Dear Sir

Since I had the Pleasure of Seeing You, I am Convinc’d by the Governour of Maryland that You may Hold Your Commission with Honour & satisfaction. In Regard to Innis he has only a Commission to be Camp Master General which will Confine him to a Seperate Duty. I shall have the Honour to Command in the Governours absence, & as I shall Act by his Particular Instructions, You may rest satisfy’d that Every wish be Conducted to your Satisfaction, at least so f⟨ar⟩ as to prevent your being in any Shape oblig’d to Submit to those who have been heretofore under yr Command.1 The Governr has wrote to Mr Dinwiddie on this Subject. I inclose you the letter in order to its being Deliver’d in case you return to the Service & If not Please to return it to me.2

I am very Confident the Generall has a very Great Regard for you3 & will in Every Circumstance in his Power make you very Happy. for my Part I shall be Extreamly fond of your Continuing in the Service & wou’d Advise you by no means to Quit. In regard to the Independant Companys they will in no Shape interfere with you, As you will hold your Post, During their Continuance here & when the Regiment is Reduc’d, will have a Seperate Duty. Pray Excuse hast as the Messenger Waits & I cou’d by no means miss this Oppertunity. I am Yr Affect. & obedt Sert

Willm Fitzhugh


1GW resigned his commission as colonel of the Virginia Regiment in late October after Dinwiddie decided to convert the Virginia Regiment into independent companies, with no officers ranking higher than captain. When GW got to Williamsburg on 21 Oct., he learned that 2 weeks earlier Arthur Dobbs, the new governor of North Carolina, had arrived in town from Britain with a lieutenant colonel’s commission for Gov. Horatio Sharpe of Maryland. Sharpe was to be the new commander in chief of the forces opposing the encroachments of the French in the Ohio Valley. Dobbs brought instructions for Sharpe from Sir Thomas Robinson, secretary of state for the Southern Department, with regard to this. Dobbs also brought from London £10,000 in specie and £10,000 in credit for Dinwiddie’s use in the defense of Virginia. The Virginia Assembly, in session since 17 Oct., was at the point of passing an act raising £20,000 “for the protection of his majesty’s subjects against the insults and encroachments of the French” (6 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 435–38). Sharpe joined Dobbs and Dinwiddie in Williamsburg on 19 Oct., and by 25 Oct. the governors had decided that Sharpe should attempt to raise 700 men for an early march against Fort Duquesne. At the same time Dinwiddie decided to convert the Virginia Regiment into independent companies. He wrote to the earl of Halifax on 25 Oct. that “as there have been some disputes betwn the Regulars & the Officers appointed by me, I am now determin’d to reduce our Regimt into Indt Compas, so that from our Forces there will be no other distinguish’d Officer above a Capt. & I shall raise 10 Compas of 100 Men each; which with the additional Forces from the neighbouring Colonies, I hope we shall be able to bring 2000 or 2,500 men into the Field” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). On the same day he wrote to the same effect both to Sir Thomas Robinson and to the Board of Trade, proposing to Robinson that “blank Commisss [be] sent out to me to fill up as was done on the Expedition to Cartagena” (ibid.), in which a regiment of Americans under the command of Gov. William Gooch of Virginia participated in 1741. As GW’s response to Fitzhugh of 15 Nov. makes clear, he had no wish for a captain’s commission from the king; this would have left him junior in rank even to the captains of the independent companies with whom he recently served as a colonel. After GW became colonel of the new Virginia Regiment a year later, in the fall of 1755, one of the most vexing problems that he faced was the claim of Capt. John Dagworthy of Maryland that his royal commission dating from the aborted Canada campaign in 1746 made him senior to all colonial officers at Fort Cumberland. See Adam Stephen to GW, 4 Oct. 1755, n.6.

2GW returned the letter, which has not been found. See GW to William Fitzhugh, 15 Nov. 1754.

3By “Generall,” Fitzhugh meant Governor Sharpe. See GW’s reference to “the General” in his reply of 15 Nov. 1754.

Index Entries