To Robert Dinwiddie
[Alexandria, 11 September 1755]
To the Honorable Robert Dinwiddie Esquire, Governor of Virginia.
After waiting a day or two at Fredericksburgh, writing Orders for the Recruiting Officers appointed to that Rendezvous, and dispatching an Express for Major Lewis, who I have ordered Captain Hogg to relieve;1 I set out for this place in order to examine the Clothing, Provisions, &c.; an exact Return of which I herewith send.2
I also enclose your Honour a List of such Things as Major Carlyle can furnish, which are suitable, and, I think, tolerably cheap.3
All the Shoes, Stockings, Shirts, and Hats may be had here; also one hundred complete Suits at Sixty shillings or less, which I think would not be amiss to engage, as no one part of the Country can, I believe, furnish the whole.
However, I have desired Major Carlyle to Receive your Honos Directions in this particular; and for making the others below, a Pattern is sent: it would be right to have them differing in Size: unless there is a proper provision made to supply the Soldiers with Clothing, after they receive their first allowance, great inconveniences will necessarily arise, particularly if Shoes, Stockings and Shirts, are not laid in; for those are the most durable;4 and the most needed.
The method I would recommend is, for the Country, or some Person, to provide these Things, and [ ] Lodge them, or a part thereof, in Camp, in the hands of the Quarter Master, who may be appointed to Receive and deliver them to the Soldiers, by particular Orders from their Captains; taking care to produce those Orders, and proper Vouchers for the delivery, each pay-day; when it must be deducted out of that Soldiers Pay, who receives it.
This, I think, will be a means of keeping them always provided, and fit for Duty, preventing the Officers from supplying the Men, which is generally attended with misunderstanding, and will also be a means of discouraging Followers of the Army, from demanding such exorbitant Prices, as is usually practised on such Occasions.5
However, I only offer this as the most Efficacious method I can at present think of; if any other more elligible can be found, I should be glad to see it practised; as something of the kind must be done; otherwise the Soldiers will soon be Barefooted &c. which always pleads exemption from Duty; and, indeed, in the approaching Season, will render it a very just Excuse. And these things can not be got, without sending all over the Country, and scarcely then; I think it would be advisable for your Honour to send to Philadelphia for Shoes, white-yarn Stockings, Blankets, Kettles, Tomahawks, a Quantity of Cartridge Paper, Stationry, and a proper Assortment of Indian Goods, which can not be had here. There is an opportunity of getting ’em round immediately by the Hopewell, Captain Martin, who carries the Regimental Stores thither.6
I applied to the Speaker, as your Honour directed me, for a Letter to Major Carlyle, about the Provisions; but he thought it advisable to postpone giving it until the Quantity was ascertained; to know whether it would Defray the Charges of Freighting a Vessel; which I have informed him of by this Express.7
Major Carlyle is of opinion, that the West-India Markets will do better than New York, as the Returns will be in Rum; which he thinks may soon be turned into Flour at the Camp; and this will be much better than getting it from New York (if it is to be had there) as the Carriage afterwards, will almost equal the First Cost.8
If all the Country Provisions are Shipped off, it will be necessary for your Honour to order the Irish Beef to be Served out to the Recruits as they arrive.9 I am afraid I shall not be able to push things with Spirit this Fall, for want of a Commissary who will act with vigour; Mr Dick seeming determined not to enter into further Contracts, unless he is better Supported, or until he meets the Committee in October;10 by which time the best Season for engaging Beef, will be over. Nor had I it in my power to assist him much, as the Sum was trifling I received. I greatly fear, we shall also proceed slowly in Recruiting; it was attempted at the General Muster in this County, without success—and the Officers newly appointed, began to express their apprehensions so soon as they had their Commissions. And to Draught them will answer no end, unless they put under better Regulations: A proof of this is very flagrant in Fredericksburgh; where they were obliged to imprison the Men, who were afterwards Rescued by their Companions.11
While I am speaking of the Companies, I can not help observing, that one Subaltern is insufficient to do the Duty.
As I understand several of the Officers are gone to Williamsburgh, I must beg the Favour of your Honour to Dispatch them as quickly as possible, and order them to proceed to Fredericksburgh, and from thence to Alexandria; if they do not meet me and wait my arrival from Fort Cumberland and Winchester; where they will Receive their Recruiting orders &c.12 I have taken care to order Salt up, and this Day shall set out myself. I am your Honors’ &c.
Alexandria: the 11th of September, 1755.
Major Carlyle tells me, that there were fifty Suits of Clothing sent down to your Honour, which he supposes are now at Hampton.
2. The return, dated 11 Sept. 1755 and signed by John Carlyle, “Keeper of the Kings’s Stores,” listed at Alexandria 70 barrels of beef, 100 of pork, and 96 of flour, as well as 345 coats, 295 white coats, 366 “Breeches,” 350 shirts, 350 shoes, 390 stockings, and 386 hats.
3. This enclosure has not been found.
6. By 2 Oct. the “Custom-House, Philadelphia” recorded the “Sloop Hopewell, Isaac Martin from Virginia” among its “Inward Entries”; within the week the same vessel, commanded by “Josiah Martin,” cleared for Virginia (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 2, 9 Oct. 1755).
7. Dinwiddie gave GW a memorandum apparently at the same time he issued his instructions to GW upon his taking command of the Virginia Regiment, on about 1 Sept. and both dated 14 Aug. 1755. See GW’s “Appointment as Colonel of the Virginia Regiment,” 14 Aug. 1755. In the memorandum Dinwiddie ordered GW to have John Carlyle ship any of the colony’s provisions remaining in Alexandria to New York and to speak “to the Treasurer [John Robinson] for a Letter on that Head.” See also note 2 above, and GW to Robinson, 11 Sept. 1755.
9. On 11 Aug. 1755, after Braddock’s defeat on the Monongahela, Dinwiddie wrote Commissary Charles Dick that he believed there remained “8 or 900 barrels of Pork and Beef at Alexaa” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers) under the care of Braddock’s commissary, Robert Leake. One thousand barrels of beef and 10 tons of butter had been brought in transports to Alexandria from Ireland with Col. Peter Halkett’s 44th Regiment of Foot and Col. Thomas Dunbar’s 48th, to be used in Braddock’s expedition against Fort Duquesne if the supply of local provisions proved insufficient.
11. An incident similar to the one described here occurred in Frederick County. On 4 Sept. George William Fairfax, colonel of the county militia, wrote to Dinwiddie that “at our general muster, we drafted pursuant to the Act made for that purpose 30 young men, out of which we could not get one to enlist, or pay the Ten pounds. Upon which we committed the whole to prison, . . . and yesterday about twelve oClock the prisoners artfully or by some assistance put the lock back, and took an opportunity of rushing out in a body with clubs, and through the guard, and have all made their escape” (Neill, The Fairfaxes of England and America description begins Edward D. Neill. The Fairfaxes of England and America in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Including Letters from and to Hon. William Fairfax, President of Council of Virginia, and His Sons Col. George William Fairfax and Rev. Bryan, Eighth Lord Fairfax, the Neighbors and Friends of George Washington. Albany, 1868. description ends , 82). Fairfax referred to the “act for raising the sum of forty thousand pounds, for the protection of his majesty’s subjects on the frontiers of this colony” passed by the assembly in August. This act provided for the possibility of drafting militiamen into the Virginia Regiment. For the terms of the draft, see 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 521–30.
12. Punctuation in this letter-book copy obscures the meaning of the latter part of this sentence, but GW did leave promptly for Winchester and Fort Cumberland, and then for Fort Dinwiddie, and he returned to Alexandria on 2 Oct.