To Robert Dinwiddie
[Winchester, 18 April 1756]
To the Honourable Robert Dinwiddie. Governour of Virginia.
It gave me infinite concern to find in yours by Governour Innis, that any representations should inflame the Assembly against the Virginia Regiment; or give cause to suspect the morality and good Behaviour of the Officers.1 How far any of the individuals may have deserved such invidious reflections, I will not take upon me to determine; but this I am certain of; and can call my conscience, and what I suppose will still be a more demonstrable proof in the eyes of the World, my orders to witness how much I have, both by Threats and persuasive means, endeavoured to discountenance Gaming, drinking, swearing, and irregularities of every other kind. While I have, on the other hand, practised every artifice to inspire a laudable emulation in the Officers for the Service of their Country; and to encourage the Soldiers in the unerring exercise of their Duty—How far I have failed in this desirable end, I can not pretend to say—But it is nevertheless a point which does in my opinion merit some scrutiny, before it meets with a final condemnation. Yet I will not undertake to vouch for the conduct of many of the Officers: as I know there are some who have the seeds of idleness very strongly ingrafted in their natures: and I also know, that the unhappy difference about the command, which has kept me from Fort Cumberland; has consequently prevented me from enforcing the Orders, which I never failed to send.2
However, if I continue in the Service, I shall take care to act with a little more rigor, than has hitherto been practised; since I find it so absolutely necessary.
I wrote your Honour in my last how unsuccessfully we attempted to raise the Militia; and that I was reduced to the necessity of waiting here the arrival of an Escort from Fort Cumberland—Should this escort arrive before Mr Kirkpatrick does from Williamsburgh (whom I hourly expect) I must yet wait a little longer; he being left with all my accompts and Papers to lay before the Committee: and were I to go up without him, it would put it out of my power to settle with the Recruiting Officers above, in order that I might make a final settlement with the Committee below.3
The Garrison at Fort Cumberland is barely manned: The rest are out on Parties: yet the Indians continue to Hunt the Roads and pick up stragling persons. This your Honour may see by the enclosed from Captain John Mercer;4 who being out with a scouting party of one hundred men I have ordered to search the warm-Spring mountain; where, it is lately reported, that the Indians Rendezvous.5 The Commission your Honor has sent for holding Courts Martial is yet insufficient,6 as it is copied (I suppose too literally) after Governor Innis’s;7 who had no power to hold a General Court martial, or to try Commissioned Officers Having none either to hold a Court, or in short any to try. But this may be postponed until I come down, which will be in a short time after I arrive at Fort Cumberland. I am your Honor’s &c.
3. For the stratagem Commissary Thomas Walker (1715–1794) used to settle his accounts with the committee charged with this function by the act raising funds for the Virginia Regiment (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), see Walker to GW, 14 April 1756.
5. See George Mercer to John Fenton Mercer, 15 April 1756, printed in Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 2:354–55.
6. The commission is dated 7 April 1756 (ibid., 2:340–41).
7. After Col. Joshua Fry’s death the last of May 1754, James Innes, a Scot living in North Carolina and veteran of the Cartagena campaign, became overall commander of the Fort Necessity campaign but did not arrive on the frontier until after GW’s defeat at Great Meadows in July 1754. The next year Braddock made Innes governor of Fort Cumberland before he and his army moved toward Fort Duquesne. Innes was at this time on his way back to the fort after an absence of several months in North Carolina.