George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fairfax, 14 April 1756

From William Fairfax

Wmsburg 14 April 1756

Dear Sir

Yr Letter to the Governor has been read in Council, but as no Shipping has arriv’d since your Departure the Genl Assembly is at some Loss what to propose, debate on and finish1—Some Jealousies interrupt the good Agreement wisht for—Your Appointment of an Aid de Camp & Secretary is thought extraordinary and think the Committee will not allow Pay for2—The Ho. of Burgesses adjourn to Monday next hoping Some London Ship may bring Us Intelligence of our public Affairs whereon to Act—Mr Fielding Lewis now here tells Us the Indians since the Scalping of the Sieur Domville have made another Attack, cut off a Family burnt the House &c. which has added to the former Panic, prevaild to make Colo. Wood & Family desert his Fortification & Plantation to the great Discouragement of Others.3 I hope the Cash Mr Kirkpatrick carrys will enable You to keep your Soldiers in due Obedience and make all possible Efforts towards repelling & vanquishing the restless Enemy of our Country.4 Will not the Marylanders act against our common Invaders! who come over Potomack from their Province which They first pass through—Major Dobbs returnd th’other Day to his Father whence He is to proceed wth two hundred Soldiers to N. York there to receive Genl Shirley’s Orders5—who if not assisted Soon from Home is unlikely to begin the concerted Operations wth Success.

Mr Lewis told Me It was expected Yr Brother John would be married this Day. We wish He may soon carry his Bride to Mount Vernon to make that Neighbourhood more agreable to Belvoir and Beneficial to You.6

It’s talked of among the Burgesses that an Enquiry is intended relating to the Misbehaviour of some of your Officers—whilst enlisting or pretending to Enlist Men and discharging them at Pleasure.7

For particulars I refer to Mr Kirkpatrick and remain wishing You all Happiness Dr Sr Yr very affecte Friend & obedt Servt

W: Fairfax


William Fairfax of Belvoir, GW’s older friend and influential supporter, was a member of the governor’s council.

1In his letter to Dinwiddie of 7 April 1756, GW wrote: “I hope the present emergency of Affairs, assisted by such good news as the Assembly may by this time have received from England, and the Commissioners, will determine them to take vigorous measures for their own and Country’s Safety.”

2When GW took command of the reinstituted Virginia Regiment in Sept. 1755, Dinwiddie authorized him to appoint an aide-de-camp and secretary (Document III of GW’s “Appointment as Colonel in the Virginia Regiment,” 14 Aug. 1755). For further details about the dispute over GW’s appointment of these aides, see Dinwiddie to GW, 14 Dec. 1755 and note 6 of that document.

3Fielding Lewis (1725–1781) of Fredericksburg was married to GW’s sister Betty Washington. James Wood (1707–1759), founder of the town of Winchester, was appointed surveyor of Orange County in 1734 and secured large grants of land in both the Shenandoah and South Branch valleys. His home Glen Burnie on the west side of Winchester was the site of the first courthouse of Frederick County. See Orders, 15 Sept. 1755, n.2.

4John Kirkpatrick, GW’s secretary, left Williamsburg about this time with nearly £2,500 for GW. See John Robinson to GW, 17 April 1756.

5Edward Brice Dobbs, who was appointed to the North Carolina council in February on the recommendation of his father, North Carolina governor Arthur Dobbs, had also been recently promoted to the rank of provincial major by his father and recalled to North Carolina from Fort Cumberland with his company of men to take command of a force of four North Carolina companies, his own plus three newly raised ones, destined for duty on the New York frontier. William Shirley had ordered these North Carolinians to New York some weeks earlier, but he now wished them to serve on a new Ohio expedition under Gov. Horatio Sharpe of Maryland. Shirley could not persuade Governor Dobbs to agree to this change, however, apparently because the North Carolina governor doubted that an expedition to the Ohio could be mounted this year and did not wish his troops to remain idle. Major Dobbs, following his father’s wishes, arrived in New York harbor early in June with his force aboard two sloops and was soon employed on the frontier.

6When GW left Mount Vernon in April 1755 to join the Braddock campaign, he arranged with his brother John Augustine Washington (1736–1787) to manage his affairs relating to his three plantations: the Ferry Farm, Bullskin, and Mount Vernon. Bullskin had a resident overseer, Christopher Hardwick; at Ferry Farm his mother was still in residence; at Mount Vernon were several white tenants who, with some neighbors, attended to day-to-day affairs. For the next 3 years John Augustine divided his time among these plantations as well as tending to his own plantation that he was developing in the Shenandoah Valley. By 1760 he was settled at Bushfield, the home of his wife, Hannah Bushrod Washington, in Westmoreland County.

7GW received his first word of the accusations of misconduct among his officers at Fort Cumberland on 17 or 18 April when James Innes brought him Dinwiddie’s letter of 8 April. On 18 April GW responded in heated terms in a letter to Dinwiddie and sent a similarly worded one to John Robinson for circulation among the burgesses.

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