To Augustine Washington
[Mount Vernon, 2 August 1755]
To Colo. Auge Washington,
The pleasure of your Company at Mount-Vernon always did, & will, afford me infinite satisfaction but at this time I am too
truely sensible how needful the Country is of the assistance of all its Members, to desire to hear that any are absent . I most sincerely wish that harmony & Unanimity may prevail amongst you , and that a happy issue may attend your prudent resolves .
I am not able, were I ever so willing, to meet you in Town; for I assure you it is with some difficulty and fatiegue that I visit my Plantation’s in the Neck, so much has a sickness of five weeks continuance reduced me:1 but tho. it is not in my power to meet you there, I can nevertheless assure you, and other’s (who it may concern, to borrow a phrase from Govr Innes) that I am so little dispirited at what has happen’d, that I am always ready, and always willing to
do my Country any Services that I am capable off; but never upon the Terms I have done, having suffer’d much in my private fortune beside impairing one of the best of Constitution’s.2
I was employ’d to go a journey in the Winter (when I believe few or none woud have undertaken it) and what did I get by it? my expences borne!3 I then was appointed with trifling Pay to conduct an handfull of Men to the Ohio. What did I get by this? Why, after putting myself to a considerable expence in equipping and providing Necessarys for the Campaigne—I went out, was soundly beaten, lost them all—came in, and had my Commission taken from me or in other words my Comd reduced, under pretence of an Order from home.4 I then went out a Volunteer with Genl Braddock and lost all my Horses and many other things but this being a voluntary act
I should not have mention’d it, was it not to shew that I have been upon the loosing order ever since I enterd the Service, which is now near two Year’s; so that I think I can’t be blam’d, shou’d I, if I leave my Family again, endr to do it upon such term’s as to prevent my sufferg (to gain by it, is the least of my expectation).
I doubt not but you have heard the particulars of our shameful defeat, which really was so scandalous that I hate to
have it mention ed . You desire to know what Artillery was taken in the late Engt—it is easily told, we lost all that we carrd out, save 2 Six poundrs & a few Cohorns that was left with Colo. Dunbar; & the Cohorns have since been destroy’d to expidate ⟨erasure⟩ flight.5 You also ask whether I think the Forces can March this Fall, I must answer I think it impossible for them to do the French any damage (unless it be by starvg ) for want of a proper Train of Artillery; yet they may be very serviceable in erectg small Fortresses at convenient places to deposit provisions in by means of which the Country will be eas’d of an immense expence in the Carriage, and it will also be a mean’s of securing a Retreat if we shd be put to the Rout again; the success of this tho’, will depd grtly upon what Govr Shirley does at Niagara, for if he succeeds, their Comn with Canada is entirely stopd —It is impossible for me to guess at the number of recruits that may be wantg as that must depend altogethr upon the strength of the French on the Ohio, wch to my gt astonishmt we were ever stranger’s to. I thank you very heartily for your kind offer of a Chr & for yr goodness in sending my things; and after beggg yr excuse for the imperfectns of the above, which in part was owing to havg much Compy that hurrys me I shall conclude Dr Sir Yr most Affe Brothr
LB (original), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
1. GW’s illness lasted from about 14 June to about 18 July, a total of approximately 5 weeks. See GW to John Augustine Washington, 28 June–2 July 1755 and 18 July 1755, and GW to Mary Ball Washington, 18 July 1755.
2. Although the letter from Augustine Washington to which GW was clearly referring throughout this letter has not been found, the foregoing sentences, and the tone and content of the rest of the letter, indicate that Augustine Washington raised the question of his half brother’s role in the colony’s military establishment and urged him to come to Williamsburg to promote his own interests there, writing perhaps very much in the same vein that Philip Ludwell wrote on 8 Aug. and Charles and Warner Lewis on 9 Aug.
3. He was referring to his mission to the French commandant in the winter of 1753–54.
4. GW was initially under the false impression that Sharpe and Dinwiddie were acting under orders from London when Dinwiddie decided in the fall of 1754 to replace the Virginia Regiment with independent companies. See William Fitzhugh to Gw, 4 Nov. 1754, n.1.
5. Four 12–pound guns, two 6–pound guns, four 8–inch howitzers, and three Coehorn mortars were left on the battlefield. The eight Coehorns with Col. Thomas Dunbar’s detachment and all of the remaining artillery stores were destroyed and buried near Gist’s plantation on 12 and 13 July in order to provide more horses to transport the wounded on the army’s retreat to Fort Cumberland. Large amounts of provisions and many wagons were similarly sacrificed. Dunbar’s two 6–pounders, however, were needed for protection and accompanied the troops to the fort, where the two 6–pounders and four Coehorns ordered back on 11 June were located.
6. Augustine Washington had apparently offered to send a chair, a sort of light chaise, to convey the weakened GW to Williamsburg.