George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Dinwiddie, 27 May 1756

From Robert Dinwiddie

Williamsburg May 27th 1756


Your two Letters of the 23d I recd last Night & note their Contents.1 I recd Your Journal relating to the Militia2 which gives me some surprize to observe their dastardly Behavior, in deserting & returning Home, I am sorry their Officers had no better Command over them, & indeed I always was of Opinion they wd not answer my Intentions in sending them to Winchester. I observe the Council of War held by the Field Officers of the Militia which is very agreeable that none of the Forces were sent to the So. ward, as I have order’d the Militia in Augusta & Albemarle to range the Frontiers to the So. ward.3

I dreaded the Desertion of the Militia wou’d be a bad Example to Your Regiment therefore on Receipt of Your former Letter I wrote to Fredericksburg ordering such of the Militia that had not march’d to Winchester to return to their Counties to make Draughts according to the Act of Assembly; the draughting of them at Winchester is not regular.4

I observe by a Court Martial Jas Thomas, and Henry Campbell were found guilty for desertion to suffer Death, You have enclos’d a Warrant for Campbell5 but as Frans Thomas6 has been a long time in the Service & formerly behav’d well I remit his Punishmt let him know it was on Your Intercession & get his Promise for good Behavior for the future; Henry Campbell’s suffering I think absolutely necessary to deter others from that growing Fault; & I hope hereafter the Men will exert themselves in a regular Conduct, proper Spirit & a due Obedience to their Officers.

I doubt not but Your remaining at Winchester may be more for the Service than going to the Fort, but I desire to know how Affairs go on there, & I doubt not Gov. Innes will do every Thing in his Power for the Service.

I hope the Officers You ordered are at Fredericksburg by this Time, as I believe many of the draughted Men are march’d for that Place.

The Gentln Associators being Volunteers at their own Expence, I gave them no Instructions, but recommended them to consult with You what was proper to be done. & as they went with great alacrity I doubt not of their readiness to do every Thing that may be for the Service of the Country.7

I believe the Assembly out of a saving Scheme levied the Troops or Draughts only to Decr thinking they wou’d not be much wanted in the Winter, but I wish they had been for eighteen Months; I must observe to You that the Draughts in most of the Counties paid Fines rather than go to Winchester, these Fines were given to Volunteers that enlisted & recd the 10£ these People I think are to be incorporated into Your Regmt without any Limitation of Time, & I expect the Lieuts. or Commanding Officers in the different Counties distinguish these People from the Others, so that they remain with the Regimt & if You see it necessary You may give them a Pistole more enlisting Money to confirm them in the Service, for it appears absurd that they shoud have 10£ in hand besides Pay for six Months Service; indeed the Act of Assembly is not explicit on that head, but Justice & Reason is plain in Your favour, & I hope You will accordingly be able to enlist them all.8

I suspend the Scheme of forming the Regiment into two Battallions till I see You, when it shall be fix’d in the most eligible Manner, the same Reason in regard to the Forts & the Companies to be appointed to them, & the Vacancies shall at that time be fill’d up.9 I think the building a Fort at Winchtr absolutely necessary, after the Plan is properly laid down they can be at Work on it when You come here, but Yr absence must be very short10—& Conegochege is also a very proper Place, & I doubt not Captain Steuart will follow Your directions therein.

I wou’d fain hope on Lord Loudon’s arrival that the Order for drawing the Ammunitn & other Stores from Ft Cumberland will be countermanded, as I presume he has a large Train with him, in the mean Time You shou’d endeavour to have sufficient for the Forts already built.11

You need not have wrote me to recommend You to the Earl of Loudon—Colo. Ludwell leaves this in a few Days for N. York to Complimt his Lordship on his arrival, by him I write fully to Genl Abercrombie who is Second in Comd & my particular Friend, in Your favo. which I think much better than writing directly to his Lordship, as I know the Influence he has with him.12

I wish You to order the Pay Mr to give You an Acct of the Deductions from the Mens Pay in regard to their Cloathg that my Supply may be adjusted when You come here—I have 1000 pair of Shoes come in I shall keep them till I see You, if wanted You shall have them. I remain with great Respect Sir Your Friend & humble Servt

Robt Dinwiddie

LS, DLC:GW; LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers.

1Only one letter from GW to Dinwiddie dated 23 May has been found.

3See Dinwiddie to Andrew Lewis for his instructions with regard to the Augusta County militia and Dinwiddie to Peter Jefferson for those concerning the Albemarle militia; both letters were dated 5 May 1756 (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 , 2:403–5).

4GW’s “former Letter” was that of 3 May, which Dinwiddie received on 7 May (Dinwiddie to GW, 8 May 1756).

5Henry Campbell’s death warrant has not been found. On 26 June GW ordered that Campbell be executed at 7:00 in the morning on 27 June. GW probably filled out the warrant on that date and returned it.

6The letter-book copy has it “J. Thomas,” which is correct. It is the James Thomas named above in this paragraph.

7For the Gentlemen Associators, see Dinwiddie to GW, 3 May 1756, n.6. Dinwiddie wrote Horatio Sharpe, 24 May 1756: “We have a voluntier Association of the Gentlemen of this Province who have march’d to the Number of 200 to our Frontiers, it will be of Service in Annimating the lower Class of our People tho’ I think they will meet with no Enemy” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). The volunteers took part in at least one brief excursion, which turned out, however, to be a false alarm. On 28 May word reached Winchester of the disappearance of two boys in the neighborhood, and captains Charles Carter and Richard Eppes led a small group of associators to search for them. An officer and twenty-five men from the Virginia Regiment went out on the same mission. The two boys soon turned up unharmed. See Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 1 July 1756.

8The law provided that the men drafted from the militia could not be required to serve with the Virginia Regiment after 1 Dec. 1756, but it did not make explicit that this provision also applied to the men who volunteered (for £10 or more) to serve in the place of men who had been drafted. See Dinwiddie to GW, 8 May 1756, n.4.

9For references to GW’s scheme to divide the regiment into two battalions, see GW to Dinwiddie, 23 May 1756, n.9.

10GW wrote first to Speaker John Robinson about the disposition of troops in the proposed chain of forts and about the necessity of building a large fort at Winchester (24, 27 April 1756). He pursued the matter in his letters to Dinwiddie 27 April, 3 May, and most recently 23 May 1756.

11In his letters both to Adam Stephen, 18 May, and to Dinwiddie, 23 May 1756, GW referred to Charles Dick’s report that Loudoun intended to draw all of the king’s stores from Fort Cumberland. Dinwiddie wrote Gen. James Abercromby on 28 May: “I have just now recd a Letter from Colo. Washington who says there are Orders from Genl Shirley, to send all the Amunition and other Stores that are at Fort Cumberland to N. York, which I hope will be countermanded, as there are many Forts on our Frontiers depending on Supplies from Fort Cumberd without which the Forts will be of no Service” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers).

12Dinwiddie wrote to GW on 8 May that Philip Ludwell was going to New York with the lieutenant governor’s letter welcoming Loudoun, the new governor of Virginia, to America. In his letter to Gen. James Abercromby, dated 28 May, Dinwiddie wrote: “good Sr give me leave to pray your Interest with his L[or]d[shi]p in favour of Collo. Geo: Washington, who I will venture to say is a very deserving Gentleman, and has from the beginning commanded the forces of this Dominion. Genl Braddock had so high an esteem for his Merit, that he made him one of his Aid de Camps, & if he had surviv’d I believe he wou’d have provided handsomely for him in the Regulars. he is a Person much belov’d here and has gone through many hardships in the Service, & I realy think he has great Merit, & believe he can raise more Men here than any one present that I know. If his Lordship will be so kind as to promote him in the British Establishment I think he will answer my recomendation.” He goes on to say that “another young Gentleman Capt. Robt Stewart” has asked that he be recommended to Loudoun and that he does so (ibid.). Apparently GW asked for Dinwiddie’s recommendation in his second (missing) letter to Dinwiddie of 23 May. For another reference to recommending GW to Loudoun, see William Fairfax to GW, 13 May 1756.

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