George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Beverley Robinson, 23 July 1756

From Beverley Robinson

Albany [N.Y.] 23d July 1756

Dr Sir

Your favour of the 11th June I Received at this place the 14th Inst. for wh. I am Very much Obliged to you, and am quite Ashamed I have never answered your first, but as I have had Very Little to say worth Communicating to you hope you will Excuse me.1

Your Lettr Inclosed to me I immediately Return to New York under Cover where I make no doubt it got safe, and Likewise forwarded the one for our friend Chew.2 I am Extreemly Affected with the Bad Accots you give me of the Situation of poor Virginia as I still Retain the greatest good Wishes for that Collony, and hope the Expeditions this Way may Divert the Enemy from investing your frontiers till the America Regiment can be Raised which I beleive is principally intend for your protection.

I have been in this Town about a month and [when] I shall Return is quite uncertain our Governor having placed me here to forward the provisions & every thing Else Supplyed by this province for the Crown point Expedition but as there are three of us appointed for that Service I hope to be Relieved soon by one of them.

The provinces all together has Raised about 6000 men now Effective Commanded by Genl Winslow, the main Body of them are now as far as fort Edward (the upermost fort on Hudsons River) with all their Train &c. &c., The present plan of Opperations for the Campaign is that Winslow with the provintials shall make the first Attack on Crown point by themselves the Regular Army is only to March after them and take possession of the ground as they leave it to be Near at hand to Support them in Case of an Accident.3 this plan I beleive was agreed too only to please the New England men for which I am afraid they will Severely feel the Rod of Correction, for it seem to me they are going on headlong to Distruction but they must try and are above having either Regulars or Indians with them,4 agreeable to this plan Collo. Burton with the 48th Regt Marched after them5—Otways &c. the Highlanders will follow as soon as their Camp Equipage Arrives wh. is Expected every day,6 Genl Abercromby & Colo. Webb ⟨a⟩re now in this place,7 and if I may presume to give my Opinion of such great men must say that I think them Very Clever worthy men perticularly the Latter, who I believe will go Very soon with the 44th Regt to Oswego to Secure that place where every thing is in the greatest Disorder & Confusion, and the place thretned every day with an Attack from the Enemy. Collo. Bradstreet who has the Management of The Battoes & Transportation of Provisions to Oswego in his Return from thence about the 10th Instant was Attacked by about 5 or 600 french & Indians, against whom he Bravely Defended himself Killed 80 or 90 of them by the Scalps & Guns &c. his people broug⟨ht⟩ of & put the whole to the Rout. We had 24 Wounded & 40 or 50 Killed and missing some of wh. has since got to Oswego.8

Capt. Rogers who Commands a Company of Rangers two days ago brought in 6 prisoners & 4 Scalps wh. he took on Lake Champlain and Distroyed two Large Battoes Loaded with provisions going to Crown point.9 we have people frequently Scalped & taken in this Neighbourhood.

Majr Dobbs is Posted at the German Flatts in the Way to Oswego where I beleive he is like to Continue & has Little prospect of Joyning the Regulars this Camphain,10 Lieut. Godfry Rowe has agreed for a Lieuty in the 44th Regt.11

Please to give my Complts to Capt. Merser and Lett him Know his Uncle is Very well.12 I have Received his Lettr & will write him as soon as I have any thing New as you will be Kind Enough to Communicate to him the News above. I shall be Exstreemly Glad of the Continuance of your Correspondence and Am Dr Sr Yr Afft. friend

Bev: Robinson

Lord Loudon is Expected every hour.


Beverley Robinson (c.1723–1792), who had gone from Virginia to New York to live, was the brother of Speaker John Robinson.

1No letter from GW to Robinson written since he visited Robinson in New York in March on his way back from Boston has been found.

2Robinson was undoubtedly referring to Joseph Chew of New London, Connecticut. See Chew to GW, 4 Mar. 1756.

3Before giving up command of the forces in America in June 1756, Gov. William Shirley made John Winslow of Plymouth, Mass., commander of the New England troops recruited for the summer’s Crown Point campaign in New York. Winslow and his army reached Fort Edward from Albany by 20 July and then pushed on in early August to Fort William Henry on Lake George. Winslow’s expedition against the French at Fort Ticonderoga and Grown Point on Lake Champlain was brought to a halt on 20 Aug. 1756 when word came from Loudoun at Albany that Oswego had fallen and that Winslow should remain on the defensive.

4Loudoun recalled Winslow and officers of his staff from Lake George to Albany on 3 Aug. shortly after Loudoun’s own arrival there, and asked them to state in writing whether the provincial troops would be willing to act in conjunction with the regular forces and under the command of Loudoun, the king’s commander in chief. The officers expressed their own willingness to do so but suggested it would please the provincial troops to act separately “in so far as it is consistent with His Majesty’s Service” (Gipson, British Empire description begins Lawrence Henry Gipson. The British Empire before the American Revolution. 15 vols. New York, 1958-70. description ends , 6:208).

5It was agreed at a council of war called by General Shirley on 25 May 1756 that the 44th Regiment of Foot under the command of Lt. Col. Thomas Gage and the 48th Regiment under that of Lt. Col. Ralph Burton, both of which regiments had participated in the Braddock campaign in 1755, should join Winslow and his provincials in the attack on Crown Point. For further details of Gage’s long military career in America, see GW to John A. Washington, 28 June–2 July 1755, n.12; for Burton’s, see GW’s Memorandum, 30 May–11 June 1755, n.10.

6The 35th Regiment of Foot under Col. Charles Otway and the 42d (or Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot landed in New York on 15 June and by this time were in Albany. The equipment and new recruits for the regiments did not get to New York from England until mid-August.

7Upon his arrival in North America, Col. Daniel Webb was supposed to serve as commander in chief of the forces in North America in the place of William Shirley until the arrival of Gen. James Abercromby. Abercromby, in turn, was to have the command only until Lord Loudoun came. Webb landed in New York on 7 June and waited there until Abercromby came into port on 16 June. The two officers then traveled up the Hudson River to Albany where on 25 June Abercromby took over from Shirley. A month later, 23 July, Loudoun arrived in New York.

8Lt. Col. John Bradstreet, who as a captain had been in command at Oswego for a time in 1755, was given by Shirley in March 1756 the crucial task of getting supplies to threatened Oswego. Bradstreet recruited about 2,000 bateaumen for this task, and by early June he had delivered to Oswego supplies sufficient to maintain 5,000 men for six months. According to Shirley, Bradstreet’s engagement with the Indians which is described here took place on 3 July on the Onondaga River 11 miles from Oswego. He reported that twenty of Winslow’s men were killed and twenty-four were wounded, while the French and Indians “lost at least, 100” (Shirley to Henry Fox, 26 July 1756, in Lincoln, Shirley Correspondence description begins Charles Henry Lincoln, ed. Correspondence of William Shirley: Governor of Massachusetts and Military Commander in America, 1731-1760. 2 vols. New York, 1912. description ends , 2:488–92). Webb did not march from Albany with the 44th Regiment to reinforce Lt. Col. James F. Mercer at Oswego until 9 Aug. He was at the German Flatts on the Mohawk River, far from Oswego, when he learned on 17 Aug. that the comte de Montcalm and his forces on 14 Aug. had completed their conquest of the forts at the great trading center at Oswego.

9Robert Rogers (1731–1795), one of the more romantic figures of the French and Indian War in America, remained in the thick of things as an officer from the time of his participation in Shirley’s proposed expedition to Nova Scotia in 1755 until his service in the defense of Detroit against Pontiac in 1763. In 1776 GW ordered Rogers to be detained as a suspected spy. Thereafter Rogers fought for the British and in 1780 went to England to live.

10Maj. Edward Brice Dobbs, commander of the North Carolina forces that were sent to New York, returned to Carolina in the fall of 1756 after having been “seized with a confirmed Rheumatism” (Arthur Dobbs to William Pitt, 19 Mar. 1759, in Saunders, N.C. Col. Rec., 6:18). His father Arthur Dobbs, governor of North Carolina, appointed him naval officer of the colony in 1758. Young Dobbs held this office and was a member of the North Carolina council until the spring of 1759, when he went to Gibraltar to rejoin the regiment of fusiliers in which he had held a lieutenancy. See Allan Macrae to GW, 13 May 1755, n.7. He subsequently became an army captain and before his death in 1803 served for a time as mayor of Carrickfergus in Ireland. GW first had contact with Dobbs when Dobbs joined the Braddock forces in 1755 as commander of the small contingent of North Carolina troops sent to join that expedition.

11It seems probable that Godfry Rowe did not receive the lieutenant’s commission in the 44th Regiment after all; a Godfrey Roe, however, did later receive an ensigncy dated 6 June 1757 in the 48th Regiment. This Lieutenant Rowe (Roe) may have been the officer who was at Fort Cumberland in the fall and winter of 1755–56. See Orders, 19 Sept. 1755.

12The uncle of GW’s aide-de-camp George Mercer was Capt. James Mercer (1716–1757) of the 48th Regiment of Foot. He often has been confused with the Lt. Col. James F. Mercer who was in command at Oswego and was killed when it fell in August 1756.

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