George Washington Papers

Orders, 18 September 1755


[18 September 1755]

Ensign Buckner,1 Officer for the Day. Parole Diligence. Fort-Cumberland: September 18th 1755.

Lieutenant Bronaugh is promoted as a Captain in the Virginia Regiment.2 All the Men of the Virginia Troops are to be formed into two Companies, which are to be commanded by Captains Savage and Bronaugh, ’till further Orders.

Captain Savage,3 Lieutenant Blegg,4 and Ensign Smith,5 to take care of Captains Steven, Hogg, and Mercer’s Companies—Captain Bronaugh, Lieutenant Stewart,6 and Ensign Polson,7 to take care of Captain Waggeners (late Polson Peyrouny and Cocke’s Companies).8

All the rest of the Officers of the Virginia Troops, to attend Colonel Washington at 12 O’Clock, to Receive their Recruiting Instructions.


1GW promoted Ens. Mordecai Buckner, “Quarter Master of the Virginia Regiment” (GW to Buckner, 16 Dec. 1755; Orders, 17 Sept. 1755), to lieutenant in July 1756 and transferred him from Joshua Lewis’s company to Thomas Cocke’s. Buckner continued in the regiment after GW’s resignation in 1758 and eventually reached the rank of captain. GW’s last public contact with Buckner came in late Jan. 1777 when as commander in chief of the army GW refused Buckner’s request that he be allowed to resign from the army rather than face charges of cowardice as colonel of the 6th Virginia Regiment. Cashiered in February, Buckner returned to Spotsylvania County and died there in 1788, leaving as orphans two minor sons whose mother had been the sister of another former officer of GW’s 1st Virginia Regiment, Larkin Chew.

2William Bronaugh began his military career as an ensign with GW at Fort Necessity and as a lieutenant lost his “Field Equipage” on the Monongahela with Braddock (Adam Stephen et al. to John Robinson, 1 Aug. 1755, in JHB, 1752–1755, 1756–1758 description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 300–301). His promotion on this date to captain brought the Virginia Regiment to its full complement of 16 company commanders. While captain of the 7th, later 8th, company, of the Virginia Regiment, he spent most of the time at Fort Cumberland, Md. In May 1757, at Dinwiddie’s direction GW reduced the number of companies in the regiment and abolished Bronaugh’s command, assigning his men to Capt. Henry Woodward’s company. Bronaugh, who was about 5 years younger than his first cousin George Mason, lived a long and active life as a planter, with a series of wives and many children, and died in Loudoun County in 1800.

3Lt. John Savage of Prince William County was among the officers with GW at Fort Necessity whom the House of Burgesses thanked on 30 Aug. 1754 “for their late gallant and brave Behaviour in the Defence of their Country” (JHB, 1752–1755, 1756–1758 description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 198). He continued in the Virginia forces in the winter of 1754–55 after GW’s resignation. Now at Fort Cumberland after taking part in the Braddock expedition but not seeing action, Captain Savage, whose promotion GW announced on 17 Sept., remained at the fort until he went recruiting in late Oct. 1755. He resigned his commission before the end of June 1756, not long after his return to Fort Cumberland.

4First appointed ensign in the Virginia forces by Dinwiddie in Dec. 1754 to raise recruits for the upcoming expedition against the French, John Blagg was one of the officers who returned to Fort Cumberland after Braddock’s defeat. He was present at the fort when GW arrived there on 17 Sept. and announced his promotion to lieutenant. Blagg continued in the 1st Virginia Regiment until it was disbanded in 1762, rising to the rank of captain. At the time of his death in 1781 he was living in Henry County.

5Charles Smith (d. 1776) spent most of his long career in the Virginia Regiment, from his appointment as ensign on 17 Sept. 1755 until taking his first leave in Sept. 1761, at Fort Loudoun near Winchester. After Smith spent the winter of 1755–56 recruiting and the following summer with Capt. Thomas Waggener’s company on the South Branch of the Potomac, GW brought him back to Winchester and in Nov. 1756 put him in sole charge of the construction of the fort being built there. GW secured for Smith a lieutenancy in the summer of 1757 and the command of the garrison at Fort Loudoun in June 1758. While at the fort, Smith also served GW in less official ways, among other things forwarding his mail, keeping an eye on GW’s nearby Bullskin plantation, and in the summer of 1758 supervising the dispersal of funds for GW’s election to the House of Burgesses from Frederick County. See particularly Smith to GW, 23 Feb.; 1, 20, 24, 26, 30 July; 5, 15, 22, 27 Aug.; 7, 18 Sept.; 12 Oct.; 16 Nov.; and 2 Dec. 1758. After he left the regiment, Smith became a vestryman and a member of the county court in Frederick County. He was married to the daughter of GW’s friend Col. John Hite of Frederick County.

6Walter Steuart, a survivor of Braddock’s expedition, was one of the five ensigns present at Fort Cumberland whose promotion to lieutenant GW announced on 17 Sept. Steuart served in Thomas Waggener’s company on the frontier in 1756, and in May 1757 he went to South Carolina as part of the force that Dinwiddie sent to Charleston. At GW’s insistence he received a captain’s commission in the summer of 1758. Shortly thereafter, in September, he was wounded before Fort Duquesne while serving under Maj. Andrew Lewis in Maj. James Grant’s expedition. Not long after this he joined the British army as a volunteer with General Amherst, who “took the first Opportunity of Providing for him, by Appointing him an Ensign in His Majesty’s 17th Regiment of Foot: The good Opinion I Entertained of him, from the Character I had Received of his former Behavior, Induceme to Send him the Money for the Purchase, of that Ensigncy: In the Year 1760, I promoted Mr Stewart to a Lieutenancy in the Royal Welch Volunteers, now Reduced” (20 Feb. [1764], Amherst Papers, P.R.O., W.O. 34/100, f. 206).

7John Polson was at Fort Cumberland after having participated in Braddock’s disastrous campaign of the past summer. At the battle on the Monongahela in July he “received Severe wounds” and his brother Capt. William Polson of the Virginia forces was killed (Polson to GW, 2 Sept. 1783). Polson remained with the Virginia Regiment only during the fall. Before the end of the year he had left to go to Albany, N.Y., where he took a commission in Lt. Col. Thomas Gage’s 44th Regiment of Foot. In 1757 Polson became a lieutenant in the Royal American Regiment. He remained in the British army during the American Revolution but did not see action in North America. After the war he corresponded with GW about the Virginia lands that his dead brother William was entitled to for his participation in GW’s expedition against the French in 1754.

8According to a return of the men and equipment of the Virginia Regiment at Fort Cumberland of this date, 18 Sept. (DLC:GW), captains Stephen, Hog, Mercer, Waggener, Cocke, Savage, and Bronaugh were present at the fort, each with a lieutenant in his company except for the new captains, Savage and Bronaugh. There were two ensigns present, Charles Smith and John Polson, one in Savage’s company and the other in Stephen’s. Every company had a drummer and three sergeants except for Savage’s, which had only two sergeants. One hundred and thirty-eight men were distributed among the companies which ranged in size from Stephen’s 29 to Savage’s 14. The return is signed by Mordecai Buckner, quartermaster.

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