George Washington Papers

Council of War, 14–15 May 1756

Council of War

[Winchester, 14–15 May 1756]

At a Council of War, Held at Winchester, the 14th day of May, 1756; for considering and determining upon the necessary measures to be taken at this juncture with the Militia ordered here by His Honor, the Governor.

Colonel George Washington, President.

Colonel Spotswood } {
Colonel Martin Colonel Baylor
Colonel Thornton Members Colonel Lee
Colonel Slaughter Colonel Fitzhugh
Colonel Muse Colonel Taliaferro
Major Taylor Major Green
Major Stephen Major Pendleton

Upon the Question being put by Colonel Washington, whether it was advisable to send part of the Militia now here, to Guard and cover our Southern Frontiers?1

It was resolved in the negative—and for the following reasons: vizt—

1st The Southern Frontiers lying at a greater distance from, and less exposed to, the Enemy, than these northern frontiers; and being more difficult to come at: It is believed they can not suffer much, before the Draughts for completing the Regiment, may be sent thither.

2ly By His Honor, the Governor, ordering none but the northern counties to be Draughted; and those all directed to Rendezvous at this place; it appears plainly to have been his opinion in Council, that the southern counties which lie contiguous, should be left to march out, in case the Enemy should invade the country on that Quarter.

3ly As it would be attended with great hardships upon numbers of poor men draughted out of those ten northern counties, to march to the Frontiers of Augusta; when there are so many Inhabitants, that are much more convenient for its Defence.

4thly—Upon advising with the Commissary, we were informed, that it would require some time to lay in Provisions for a Body of men on that Quarter; and, unless Troops were immediately put there, it would not answer the salutary end proposed: which can not be done much sooner than by the Draughts for the Regiment.

5ly We have no certain advices of the Enemy being now down; but on the contrary many corroborating accounts, affirming that their tracts in great numbers have been discovered repassing the mountain.

It was judged advisable to discharge all of the Militia, except what were absolutely necessary to resist a second invasion upon this Quarter.

Go: Washington P.

John Spotswood

J. Baylor

Henry Lee

John Thornton

Henry Fitzhugh junior

Thomas Slaughter

William Taliaferro

George Muse

William Green

Francis Taylor

Benj. Pendleton

Joseph Stevens2

May 15th 1756

Since Holding the above council, the Subscribers from Louisa, with the Militia of that County, came into Town; and heard the determinations and reasons of the council—are satisfied, and agree to the above resolves.

Charles Barret

Robert Anderson


1In speaking of “our Southern Frontiers” GW was referring particularly to Augusta County, and perhaps to Bedford and Halifax counties, to the south and southwest of Frederick and Hampshire counties.

2John Spotswood, John Thornton, and Benjamin Pendleton were officers from Spotsylvania County; John Baylor, George Muse, Francis Taylor, and Joseph Stevens were officers from Caroline County; Henry Lee was from Prince William County; Henry Fitzhugh, Jr., was from Stafford; Thomas Slaughter and William Green were from Culpeper; and William Taliaferro was from Orange County. The name of Thomas Bryan Martin of Hampshire County, who participated in the council, may have been omitted inadvertently by the letter-book copyist.

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