George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Field, 16 May 1756

To John Field

[Winchester, 16 May 1756]

To Captain Fields of the Culpeper Militia

You are hereby ordered to proceed with the Detachment under your command, to the Upper Fort, on the South Branch (built by Captain Waggener) and post your men at that place.1

You are to use your utmost endeavours to protect the people from the insults of the Enemy; and encourage them by all fair means, to return to their Dwellings. You are to be particularly careful in seeing that no irregularities happen among yourselves; that there is due Discipline observed, and that your men are not suffered to go out in small parties to maraud; but are to have your Rolls called at least twice a day, to prevent their stragling and deserting. Scouting parties you are frequently to send out, to range the hills and waters, to see if any tracks of the enemy can be found: These parties, in a general way, should consist of one-third of your men. You are to mount Guard regularly once every twenty-four hours; from which Sentries are to be posted and relieved every hour for the security of your camp; and to prevent surprize. Your ammunition should be well secured, and great care taken of it; and your arms kept in good order, that you may always be in readiness for the worst events.

I have sent orders to Captain Waggener to call upon you (in case any accounts of the number of the Enemy should be brought to him) for what men he thinks proper—If he should apply for any or the whole, you will take care to obey his orders.

The Commissary will deliver you Provisions, and instruct you in the means of procuring more as your party shall want. Given at Winchester, May 16th 1756.



John Field’s commission as captain in the Culpeper County militia was dated 29 April 1756. Years later, after the war, he was said to have been “extremely active, brave, and zealous in the Defence of his Country” as an officer of the militia (9 Nov. 1764, JHB description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 1761–1765, 247–50). In 1758 Field served in the Forbes campaign as captain of a company of artificers in the 2d Virginia Regiment. He represented Culpeper County in the House of Burgesses from 1761 until 1768, and he was killed in 1774 in the Battle of Point Pleasant while commanding a contingent of men from his county.

1Captain Field was given command of one lieutenant, two sergeants, and fifty men. In August he and thirty of his men volunteered to remain on the South Branch until 1 Dec., and GW accepted the offer (Thomas Waggener to GW, 10 Aug., GW to Waggener, 12 Aug., GW to Dinwiddie, 14 Aug., and Waggener to GW, 21 Aug. 1756).

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