George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Landon Carter, 21 April 1756

From Landon Carter

[Sabine Hall, 21 April 1756]

Dr Sir

Mr Swaringham intending up tomorrow for Winchester1 gives me an opportunity of expressing my great concern for the Death & Defeat of Capt. Mercer2 and for the dismal apprehension that those who yet Survive the Indian Massacre must necessarily be under And indeed my friend I must add that this Concern is greatly aggrevated when I find by your letter to Colo. Carter3 that you have suffered your self to be affected with some reflections that at most were only hinted at some few of the officers who perhaps may have behaved like disorderly young men When you can’t but know that it can only be the want of more power in your Country to have added every honr & reward that even Perfect Merit could have intitled itself to. how are we grievd? to hear Colo. George Washington hinting to his Country he is willing to retire[.] Sir[,] Merit begets Envy, and should such A thing happen at this hour it must Glut the malice of those who wish you ill. will they not then say[,] see Yr4 darling cloaking fear under the Colour of disgust? Give me leave then as your intimate Friend to persuade you to forget that if any thing has been said to your dishonr and recollect that it Could not have come from any man that knew you or your Country and as I perceive by another letter it may have been the artifice of one in no esteem amongst Your Countrymen to raise in you such unjust suspicions that would enduce you to desert the cause that his own prefermt might meet with no obstacle5 I am confident that you will endeavour to give us the good effects not only of yr duty but of the great chearfullness & satisfaction you place in such a service If I expostulate with you too warmly tis only to save my self and your other friends from much difficulty that must attend our endeavours to Justifye yr conduct should yo. decline No Sir rather let Braddocks bed be your aim than anything that might discolour those Laurels that I promise my self are kept in store for yo.

The Govr no doubt will effect something that may put it yr Power to save your declining Country & revenge the blood of Yr Slaughterd Companions and that these are my Wishes observe my heart attends my pen when I subscribe my self Yr Most respectfull Servt

Landon Carter

A whole croud of Females have orderd me to tender their best wishes for yr success & I don’t doubt but this night will in a great measure be dedicated to heaven for yr protection. Apl. 21 1756 at Candle light

My respects to all yr officers and tell them that honr & reward are not only the usual but must be the certain effects of a vigorous & successful ⟨push⟩ and For Gods sake since you find that our enemy shew only small parties to draw our men into ambuscades let these be most Cautiously guarded agst. Colo. Carter is gone to see poor Colo. Carter Burwell whose relapse has alarmd his friends and perhaps may not write by this Oppertunity. President Burwell is also fallen into a kind of Reverrye which I am apprehensive will remove him from these our Continual fears.6


1Thomas Swearingen, who operated a ferry across the Potomac River near the present town of Shepherdstown (formerly Mecklenburg), was one of the two members of the House of Burgesses from Frederick County. The assembly had been in session since 25 Mar., and Swearingen apparently intended to leave Williamsburg well before the House adjourned on 4 May 1756.

3GW’s letter has not been found, but see Charles Carter to GW, 22 April 1756, in which Carter surmised that GW’s undated letter to him was written on 18 April, the same day that GW wrote to Dinwiddie and John Robinson about the accusations of misconduct in the Virginia Regiment.

4The “y” may be the thorn instead, in which case the word would be read “their” rather than “your.”

5No other evidence has turned up to suggest that a rival of the young colonel’s was seeking to create a scandal in order to bring about GW’s retirement from the Virginia Regiment.

6The brothers Carter Burwell (b. 1716) of Carter’s Grove, James City County, and Lewis Burwell (b. 1710) of White Marsh, Gloucester County, both died in 1756. They were grandsons of Robert (King) Carter of Corotoman and nephews of Landon Carter (1710–1778). Carter Burwell until his death was a leading member of the House of Burgesses. Lewis Burwell was a member of the provincial council, having served as its president and, for the year before Dinwiddie’s arrival in Virginia in Nov. 1751, as acting governor of the colony. Shortly before Lewis Burwell’s death in May 1756, Dinwiddie wrote to James Abercromby: “Lewis Burwell Esqr., Presidt has never come to Council since my arrival; nay, I have not seen him, he apprehends he is troubled with many Distempers & conceives he has a Cancer; but in fact it’s a Distemper in the Mind [from] which I believe he will never recover I know from above it gave me reason to suspend him, but as he has a long tail’d Family I thot it best to recommend it to their Lordships as his Seat is vacated to appoint whom they please; havg sent the Names of nine Gent. I think most proper to supply the Vacancies” (20 Mar. 1756, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). For Dinwiddie’s recommendations, see his letter to the Lords of Trade, 20 Mar. 1756, ibid. Councilor William Beverley had died about 1 April; John Tayloe came onto the council 11 April 1757 and Philip Ludwell Lee had become a member of the council by 14 April 1757. Colonel Carter was Landon Carter’s brother Charles Carter (1707–1764).

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