George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Dinwiddie, 16 May 1757

From Robert Dinwiddie

[Williamsburg, 16 May 1757]


You are, so soon as you arrive at Fort Loudoun, to inform the Officers that the Assembly having consider’d the great expence the Virginia Regiment has cost The Country from the Number of Companies it consisted of, And those Companies not half compleat in proportion to the vast Charge of Officers—It is resolved, for the better Saving of expences, and establishing a proper Regulation, that The said Regiment shall Consist only of ten Companies, of one hundred Men each—that all the Captains but Seven, be reduced1—Those I have thought proper to continue, are Captains Mercer, Waggoner, Stewart, Joshua Lewis, Woodward, Spotswood, and McKenzie2—To those Discontinued in the Command of Captains, (not from any Particular Misconduct or Demerit imputed) You are to Offer Lieutenancys—and Compleat the Number of Lieutenants to Twenty, out of the eldest Subalterns, unless there be some, whose Conduct does not entitle them to the Preference—The Ensigns for the regiment are to consit of ten and to be fill’d up in the same manner, having regard to their Charecters and Behaviour.

After the Companys are formed, You are to Occupy the following posts in the following manner,3 till Your numbers are increased vizt

at Fort Loudoun 100 Men commanded by Yourself
at Maidstone 70 Men commanded by Capt. Stewart
at Edwards’s 25 Men  Do by a Subaltern
at Pearsalls 45 Men  Do by Capt. McKenzie
In the Nighbourhood of Butter Milk Fort.
70 Men. Commanded by Capt. Waggener.
at Dickenson’s 70 Men Commanded by Major Lewis
at Vauss’s 70 Men  Do by Capt. Woodward

You are to remain at Winchester, and there use your utmost Dilligence and care in forwarding the Public Works, with all possible expedition.

You are to continue all the Assistant Commissaries that are requisite, till such time as The Assembly comes to Some further Resolutions on this head, and issue your Orders Accordingly.

You are no longer to have concern with, or management of, Indian affairs. The Honble Mr Atkin is appointed by His Majesty for that extraordinary Service—He is now repairing to Winchester for that purpose, and will I suppose, if he should be obliged to leave it before the Indians return home, appoint some Person to transact the Business in his Absence.4

So Soon as The Assembly have resolved on the Ways and Means of raising Men I shall advise You thereof, that You may be prepar’d for their reception—and send Officers to meet them if Ordered so to do.5 Given at Williamsburg this 16th Day of May. 1757

Robt Dinwiddie

LS, DLC:GW; LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers. The signed document is headed: “Instructions to Colonell George Washington Commander in Chief of the Virginia Regiment.” Unlike the letter-book copy, the signed copy was not written by Dinwiddie’s clerk, William Withers, as most of Dinwiddie’s letters to GW were, but appears to be in John Kirkpatrick’s hand. There are no material differences between the two copies. GW undoubtedly received these instructions as well as another set of instructions also dated 16 May shortly before he left Williamsburg for Fort Loudoun.

1In his message to the House of Burgesses on 14 April 1757, Dinwiddie had this to say about the Virginia Regiment:

“It is with Concern, that I find the Money formerly granted, for raising and supporting the Virginia Regiment, is all expended; and yet there are great Arrears due to the Officers and Soldiers in the Country’s Service. . . .

“I have ordered Col. Washington to attend you, with a proper Account of the Arrears due; and I shall endeavour to lay before you an Estimate of the Aid necessary for the succeeding Year, which, I doubt not, you will make suitable Provision for” (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 1752–1755, 1756–1758, 414).

The immediate response of the House to Dinwiddie’s words was to adopt a set of five resolutions on 20 April 1757: (1) “That the Number of Men now in the Pay of this Colony be augmented, for the Service of the ensuing Year, to One Thousand”; (2) “That the said One Thousand Men be formed into Ten Companies, consisting of One Hundred Men each, including non-commissioned Officers, to be commanded by a Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, Ten [seven] Captains, and Twenty Lieutenants”; (3) “That five of the said Companies be kept in this Colony for the Protection of our Frontiers, and that four of the said Companies be sent to the Assistance of South-Carolina, and one Company to garison the Fort lately built in the Cherokee Country”; (4) “That a Sum, not exceeding thirty Thousand Pounds, be raised for defraying the Charges of the said one Thousand Men and Officers”; and (5) “That the Sum of three Thousand Pounds be raised for defraying the Charges of such Indians as shall come to our Assistance” (ibid., 427). Dinwiddie suggested on 5 April 1757 that GW bring down the account of arrears to the assembly called to meet on 14 April, and on 7 April he asked that GW be in Williamsburg by 22 April. GW arrived in town before the end of the month.

2George Mercer, GW’s aide-de-camp, was the captain in the Virginia Regiment second in seniority to Peter Hog. Thomas Waggener and Robert Stewart were next in seniority. All four men had served with GW and the Virginia forces as early as 1754. Three of the captains who lost their companies, Thomas Cocke, John Savage, and William Bronaugh, had been listed in the regimental roster above Joshua Lewis, Henry Woodward, and Robert McKenzie; and four more—Henry Harrison, Charles Lewis, William Peachey, and David Bell—had been senior to Robert McKenzie. Hog was not removed as captain of the 1st company, which was at Fort Dinwiddie, until July (see GW to Hog, 24 July 1757). The other three of the ten remaining companies of the regiment were to be commanded by GW and the other two field officers, Lt. Col. Adam Stephen and Maj. Andrew Lewis.

3For the somewhat different disposition of the Virginia forces decided upon in Philadelphia by Loudoun in conference with the southern governors, see GW to Dinwiddie, 2 April 1757, n.2. Dinwiddie undoubtedly consulted with GW, who had been in Williamsburg for more than two weeks, about the disposition of his troops as well as about which captains of the Virginia Regiment should be retained. On 6 June GW ordered Capt. Joshua Lewis, who is not named here, to go with his company to Maidstone and relieve Capt. Robert Stewart.

4Edmond Atkin (b. 1707), an Englishman and longtime merchant of Charleston, S.C., was in England from 1750 until 1756 when he persuaded the Board of Trade to create the office of superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern colonies and secured the position for himself. Atkin joined Lord Loudoun in New York in October 1756 and remained with him until after the conference with the governors in Philadelphia in March 1757. Atkin left Philadelphia on 26 Mar. and came to Williamsburg. In early June he went to Winchester, arriving there on the third.

5The “Act for raising a Public Levy,” which Dinwiddie approved at the end of the assembly’s session on 8 June, included provision for drafting men as well as for issuing notes and levying taxes to finance the conduct of the war (7 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 139–40).

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