George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fairfax, 26–27 April 1756

From William Fairfax

Wmsburg 26th[–27] April 1756

Dear Sir

I rec’d your Favor with the enclosd Estimate of your present Corps and proposd Regulation for 2000 Men to be formd into two Battalions. Those I have talkt with Seem to approve of the Scheme and wish it may be Effected.1 The Proceedings below Stairs2 go on slowly notwithstanding on hearing of the many and repeated Invasions of our Enemys, They appear alarmd and are for immediate Dispatch, Yet a few Hours lull their Fears and all’s well again. I hope You will receive this under the Escort and Convoy of our Cherokee and Nottoway Indians under the Care of Majr Andw Lewis When being joynd You and known abroad to be under yr Command will be a great Checque to the French and their Indians.3 In the Account given of Captn John Mercer’s Defeat, I suspect the Indians who are Swift on Foot drew our unwary People by a pretended Flight into an Ambuscade. Our Agent Mr Abercrombie writes, that the Lord Lowden & his Kinsman Colo. Abercrombie were namd for the Command of the several Forces to be employd in No. America and three Regiments to be Embarqu’d with Them, but their long tarrying gives too great an Advantage to the Enemy who are dayly projecting and doing Us manifold Mischiefs.4 No Advances yet in the Ho. of B. relating to your’s and Officers Memorial5—A long Sessions but little of Importance done. In the Genl Court a Judgment is obtaind for your late Brother agt Keyes who on pressing Solicitation is allowd Six Months for Payment;6 also agt Colo. Lomax who flatters himself with the Prospect of great Wealth from his Share of a Copper Mine given Him and Colo. Chiswell by Colo. Joshua Fry which has a Show of much rich Ore.7

the 27th

last Night the Governor told Me He was concernd that in your Letter to Him You should express great Uneasiness of Mind for not having every Thing as You wish, observing his own frequent Disappointments,8 And that his Endeavors has been to make your Situation easy. Accordingly yesterday P.M. [he] issued his express Orders to the Lieuts. of the Countys of Fairfax, Prince Wm, Culpeper, Spotsylvania, Orange, Stafford & Caroline to send half their Militia to joyn You forthwith, the Officers to consult with and have yr Directions in what Manner Your Corps & They can best repel and drive away or humble the Savage Enemy.9 The Ho. of B. are pleasd with his Honor’s Orders and depend on your Vigilance and Success. Your Endeavors in the Service and Defence of your Country must redound to your Honor, therefore pray don’t let any unavoidable Interruptions sicken your Mind in the Attempts You may pursue. Your good Health and Fortune is the Toast at every Table, Among the Romans such a general Acclamation and public Regard shown to any of their Chieftains were always esteemd a high Honor and gratefully accepted.

Yr Brother John is espousd to the late Miss Bushrod.10 500 small Arms, 40 Brs. of Powder, Shott & Flints are orderd imediately to Fredericksburg under the Care of Doctr Walker who is also appointed Commissary to supply the needful Provisions11—We here hope when these Bodys of Militia & the Indians joyn, You will [be] able to March agt the Enemy if advisable—All your Friends Salute You, in which Gratulations and cordial Wishes for every Felicity that can reward a Soldier, None can exceed Dear Sir Yr affecte Friend &c.

W: Fairfax


1GW’s letter has not been found. For his “Estimate” and his “proposd Regulation,” see the two enclosures in GW to Dinwiddie, 16 April 1756.

2William Fairfax, a member of the provincial council, was referring to the lower house of the colonial legislature, the House of Burgesses, which was still considering the bill to raise £25,000 for defense. See Dinwiddie to GW, 23 April 1756, n.3.

3According to Dinwiddie, the party of sixty Cherokee and sixteen Nottoway left Williamsburg on 26 April to go to Winchester. See Dinwiddie to William Shirley, 28 April 1756, in Brock, Dinwiddie Papers description begins R. Alonzo Brock, ed. The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Virginia, 1751–1758. 2 vols. Richmond, 1883–84. description ends , 2:394–96. On 11 June Dinwiddie reported that the Cherokee had returned home instead of going to Winchester, ostensibly to recruit more warriors to come to the assistance of the English (Dinwiddie to Arthur Dobbs, ibid., 442–43). See also Dinwiddie to Andrew Lewis, 24, 28 April, 5 May 1756, to William Shirley, 28 April, ibid., 389–91, 393–94, 394–96, 403–4, and Dinwiddie to GW, 23 April, n.6, 29 April 1756.

4“Our Agent Mr Abercrombie” was James Abercromby (1707–1775), a cousin of James Abercromby, Loudoun’s second in command. He was the agent in London for the colony of Virginia from 1753 to 1758. After 1758 the burgesses chose their own agent and Abercromby became the agent only for the governor and council of Virginia. For the arrival in New York of the earl of Loudoun and James Abercromby, see Dinwiddie to GW, 23 April 1756, n.10.

5For reference to the memorial, see John Robinson to GW, 17 April 1756, n.4.

6Lawrence Washington, GW’s half-brother, had directed in his will before his death in 1752 that his executors should prosecute a suit for breach of trust against Gersham Keyes. This suit may have resulted from two land transactions between Keyes and Lawrence Washington in 1748 and 1751. See Frederick County Deeds, Book 1, 459–62, and Book 2, 322–24, Vi Microfilm. Keyes lived on the west bank of the Shenandoah River above Vestal’s, or Keyes’s, Gap in the Blue Ridge.

7Lunsford Lomax (1705–1772), a great planter from Caroline County and member of the Ohio Company, was in financial difficulties. At a public sale of some of his property on 11 Jan. 1756, John Carlyle bought for GW two male slaves and one female slave. John Chiswell (c.1715–1766) had inherited a lucrative iron mine in Hanover County as well as other landholdings. At this time he was burgess from Williamsburg and co-owner, with Dr. Thomas Walker, of the Raleigh Tavern in the colonial capital. During 1756 he discovered and began working rich lead deposits on New River, in present Wythe County. The lead mines, which became very profitable, were owned jointly by Chiswell, William Byrd III, and Chiswell’s son-in-law, John Robinson, at the time of both Chiswell’s and Robinson’s deaths in 1766. Joshua Fry, once a professor of mathematics at the College of William and Mary, died in May 1754 while acting as colonel of the Virginia military forces.

10John Augustine Washington was married to Hannah Bushrod Washington.

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