George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fairfax, 20 May 1756

From William Fairfax

Alexandria. 20th May 1756

Dear Sir

I receiv’d Yrs by the return of Mr Dorrel.1 I am glad that your Presence has encouragd the few remaining Inhabitants in Winchester and Neighbourhood to wait and see the Issue of your Resolutions and when it was known Colo. J. Wood deserted, no doubt his Example causd many to think their Case desperate.2

It gives Me concern, that your Causes of Uneasiness continue. You have heard the Governor sometimes and I often, say that his being unacquainted with Military Operations, gives Him much Trouble in forming the requisite Instructions & Directions which are consequently liable to Mistakes. You mention his Orders to build a Fort at Winchester, but the Size, Form, Costs &c. not incerted. It must be therefore supposd, As You are on the Spot You can best judge of the Size and Form which if You will accordingly send a Plan of and an Estimate of the Charges I imagine It will meet with Approbation; Also in other Matters where You have no express Instruction, Your own Judgment and on great Purposes (the Advice & Concurrences of your Officers) will be a sufficient Satisfaction to justifie your Proceeding;3 And I have before said Your Friends have a good Opinion of your Merit and will support your Endeavors, being very sencible You have the Country’s Cause at Heart and I have no doubt that Lord Loudon will give You Proofs of his Friendship—As to Bryan Fx if You think You have not warrantable Authority to appoint Him an Officer, after having told You the Governor mentiond to Me that You had his Leave I think Bryan should return, for to remain as a Cadet in our Regiment can answer no reasonable Purposes. If He desires to lead a Military Life I may perhaps make Interest wth Lord Loudon to give him Some Commission—I have Suspended getting the Regimentals till I further know the Result.4

We at Belvoir shall be very glad when Mr John Washington prevails wth his worthy Espoused to come and reside at Mount Vernon if agreable to your Liking—Wishing You every desirable Enjoyment I am with affecte Esteem Dr Sr Yr assurd Friend &c.

W. Fairfax


1GW’s letter has not been found. Dorrel was probably Sampson Darrell (d. 1777) of Fairfax County, from whom GW bought in 1757 two tracts of land adding 500 acres to Mount Vernon.

2William Fairfax alluded to James Wood’s reported abandonment of his plantation in his letter to GW of 9 May 1756.

3GW seems to have complained at this time to several of his influential friends that Dinwiddie was not giving him proper instructions. For other indications of this, see GW to Dinwiddie, 3 May, William Fairfax to GW, 13[–14] May, Landon Carter to GW, May 1756, and Dinwiddie to GW, 12 June 1756.

4William Fairfax wrote GW on 9 May and again on 13 May asking him to make his son Bryan Fairfax a lieutenant in the Virginia Regiment. In July 1756 Bryan Fairfax replaced Thomas Bullitt as the lieutenant in Capt. George Mercer’s 4th company.

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