George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fairfax, 9 May 1756

From William Fairfax

Alexandria 9th May 1756

Dear Sir

Your Letter to the Governor, G. Fx, and what accompanied them from Colo. Carlyle &c. describing the calamitous State & Condition of Hampshire & Frederick Countys, And Some Apprehensions of the blood thirsty and savage Enemy’s near Approaches to Shannondoah River and the blue Ridge, both the Council and Ho. of Burgesses thought it necessary the Governor should issue his Orders for half the Militia of the nearest Countys immediately to march to joyn and assist You.1 The Spirit of just Resentment on the repeated Insults & Attacks has So far prevaild as to animate Mr Attorney and many Gentlemen to enter into an Association for a vigorous Defence and Repulse of our common Enemy and propose being at Fredericksburg Soon. Mr Fielding Lewis is their Commissary to provide Provisions.2 As the Several Detachments when met at Winchester will be a larger Body than You may now want and put Doctr Walker to Some Difficulty to Supply them, yet it must be rememberd when They were order’d out, The Causes assignd for their being requird made every One think the unavoidable Expences accruing not worthy Consideration. Your proposal to have a good and Strong Fort at Winchester is approvd and think It will be undertaken.3 The E. of Loudon is dayly expected, Majr Genl Abercromby &c. with Some Regiments, four if not more.

One Matthew Bowyer who had been wth Captn Overton under Majr Lewis on the unsuccessful March towards the Shawanese Town, applied to the Governor for a Lieuts. Commission in your Regiment, but was answerd the Appointment of filling up Vacancys was left to You. I am therefore become a Solicitor in behalf of Bryan Fx who Seems now to like a Military Life, that on a Vacancy You would please to appoint Him a Lieutenant in Some Company whereof the Captain is an exemplary worthy Officer, And if agreable to Bryan of which I am not certain; I persuade my Self He will diligently apply Himself to learn the Arts of War under your leading Example.4 The Governor thinks You will and perhaps the Regiment be put on the English or Irish Establishmt.5

Colo. Jas Wood’s Removal with his Family, added to the Fears of many people below, thinking He would not desert his Plantation without the utmost Necessity.6

You have now a fair Occasion to free your Country from the Savage Invaders which besides the Pleasure it will give You in being the happy Means under God, Lord Loudon will be acquainted with your Merit, and being our Governor in Chief consider you as fitting to Serve on future necessary Employments.

We all here Pticularly Salute You which I witness as Yr very affecte & obedt &c.

W: Fairfax


1The “Letter to the Governor” referred to was that of 27 April 1756, not that of 3 May. See GW to Dinwiddie, 27 April, n.1. GW’s letter to George William Fairfax and the letter from John Carlyle have not been found.

2See Dinwiddie to GW, 3 May 1756, n.6, for a description of Peyton Randolph’s “Association.”

3For the decision of the House of Burgesses made on 3 May to build a strong fort at Winchester, see GW to Dinwiddie, 27 April 1756, n.3.

4On 14 Aug. 1755, after Braddock’s defeat, Dinwiddie gave Samuel Overton of Hanover County command of a company of volunteers on the Augusta County frontier, and early in 1756 he sent Overton with a company on Andrew Lewis’s Sandy Creek expedition. Matthew Bowyer, probably of Augusta County, was not commissioned in the Virginia Regiment. Bryan Fairfax (1736–1802), formerly a young clerk in the Alexandria store of his brother-in-law, John Carlyle, did get a lieutenant’s commission, however; and in July 1756 he was assigned to Capt. George Mercer’s company where he served until his resignation in December 1756.

5Every regiment of the regular British army was on either the British establishment or the Irish and was supported by either British revenues or Irish. Commissions in a regiment on the British establishment were usually more costly to purchase and more prestigious. There were also differences in pay. The Virginia Regiment was never put on either, of course.

6Fairfax heard in April from Fielding Lewis that Col. James Wood had abandoned his plantation just outside Winchester (William Fairfax to GW, 14 April 1756).

Index Entries