George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Adam Stephen, 29 May 1756

From Adam Stephen

F. Cumberland [Md.] May 29th 1756


You have no doubt heard of the Party of Volunters who went out under command of Colo. Cressop;1 He returned about noon with about 60 of them & Six of the Nottawaies—About bare Camp,2 his men mutinied, Some were for one thing and some for another—Lt Gist went from this place with him, with Eighteen men of the Regimt and Seven Indians—In Compliance with the mutinous tempers of the men rather than with any reasonable view they divided their men—Mr Cressop with the men under his Command Set off to fall in upon Y—Youghgane above the G. Crossing, whilst Lt Gist marchd with the Soldiers, Indian Capt. Tom,3 & Sixteen Volunteers Straight to it, and about a Quarter of a mile above the Spring on the Top of the mountains fell in with a party of the Enemy. The Skirmish lasted near an hour, The Enemy behaved with great Resolution and constantly aim’d at Surrounding our men, who on their part behavd extreamly well, prevented the Enemies designs and, According to our Acct, killed Six of them, with the loss of two of themselves—There are only two of the men who were in that engagemt come in yet. They overtook Mr Cressop on his Return, with the numr abov[e] mentd, instead of marching for the River, which I am afraid will lead Mr Gist into a mistaske—In their Return they fell in with three or four Indians,4 one of Whom they Scalpd, & wounded two more mortally, but his Men were in such a pannick that he could not prevail on them to Stay and look for them.

The Enemy with whom Liut. Gist fell in were on thier way down—I have not heard thier number—They may be the advanced guard of an Army for what I know. The Serjt who is come in, Says that they left the field, upon hearing a gun fird at a distance, and a great hollowing coming from the Crossing.5

I am anxious about Mr Gist and the men under his Command.6 I hope you will Send us up Some of the Recruits as soon as possible I am Sir, Your most Obt huble Sert

Adam Stephen


1Thomas Cresap (1694–1790) was a prominent Maryland frontiersman and land speculator. His fortified trading post was at Old Town, east of Fort Cumberland, but since the Indian raids began he had retreated to the comparative safety of the Conococheague settlement. For further identification of Cresap, see Robert Dinwiddie to GW, 15 Mar. 1754, n.2.

2Bear Camp was 21 miles beyond Fort Cumberland on the road to Fort Duquesne, and only 8 miles before the Great Crossing of the Youghiogheny.

3Captain Tom was a warrior of the Nottoway tribe.

4At the end of the first page of his letter Stephen wrote “about” after “Indians,” and he began the second page repetitively: “the[y] fell in with three or four Indians.”

5Col. Thomas Cresap’s volunteers, who were known as “Red Caps” and usually wore Indian garb, left Fort Cumberland on 24 May in pursuit of the French and Indians who had been ravaging the Conococheague settlement and had recently killed Cresap’s eldest son, Thomas Cresap, Jr. Apparently the Indians who killed young Cresap were the same party who a few days earlier attacked and killed Capt. John Fenton Mercer. See William Stark to GW, 18 April 1756. In a long letter printed in the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 17 June 1756, Colonel Cresap defended his actions. He blamed Nathaniel Gist for letting himself be persuaded by “some young Headstrong Men, unexperienced in War,” to divide the command. Gist continued with part of the men toward Great Meadows by way of the Great Crossing of Youghiogheny, and Cresap led his men “by Way of the Glades up Yoghiogain.” Cresap claimed his party encountered only three Indians, two of whom they shot, while Gist’s party “had a smart Engagement with a Party of French and Indians about three Miles from where they parted with us, and had lost several Men, with all the Baggage and Provisions.”

6Nathaniel Gist brought his party off with the loss of only four men.

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