George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie, 5 October 1757

To Robert Dinwiddie

To Governor Dinwiddie

Honble Sir,[Fort Loudoun] Octobr 5th 1757.

Both of your Honors letters of the 24th ultimo I received by Jenkins: and as I can not now send a proper monthly return of the Regiment for want of the remarks of the officers at the outposts, I enclose your Honor an exact return, however of our effective strength, and how disposed of, which will at present answer the end proposed, equally well. I likewise send you enclosed the return of provisions, specifying the time they will serve.1 I am informed, “the contractor is to lay in the provisions for the Troops in New-Hampshire [Hampshire Co.], at this place: That he is to have 6d. a man per diem, for the whole he supplies: and that he is not to pay those who must inevitably be employed in issuing out the provisions at the different Garrisons.”2

This information, I flatter myself, is without foundation; as it is beyond doubt, that provisions cou’d be purchased in Hampshire, where the troops are quartered, for half of what the contractor has for laying them in here: and that the amount of the waggonage and other charges of transporting these provisions from hence to N. Hampshire, will exceed the whole cost of the provisions, if purchased there; not to mention the great risque, trouble of Escorts, &c. &c.

The assistant-commissaries must still be continued, or some persons in their room, who, under the direction of a principal, wou’d have purchased the provisions upon as good terms as any Contractor. Besides, the Commissary used to act as waggon-master, supply the different Garrisons with candle, made from the tallow of the country’s beaves; and do many things for the good of the Service, not to be expected from a contractor.

I shall take the earliest opportunity of communicating your Honors intentions, respecting the Ranging company, to Captn Hogg, who I am informed is lying ill, in consequence of a bite of a snake, at Dickensons Fort; and will I fear be unable to raise the men. I am afraid, the recruiting 100 men, will be found a very difficult task. I am quite at a loss how to act, as you did not inform me upon what terms they are to be levied and supported: what bounty-money to allow; what pay to engage the Officers and men; how clothed and supported; what the Officers pay, and what kind of commissions they are to have?

Mr Robert Rutherford, late deputy-commissary here, says, that he could raise the men in a shorter time than any other: and, from his universal acquaintance on the frontiers; and the esteem the people in general have for him, I am apt to believe he could raise them as soon as any person whatever.3

If they should have the same bounty allowed by the Assembly for recruits, I shall want money for that purpose. The £68.13.8d. I received from Colo. Fairfax of the countrys money, I accounted with the committee for in april last.4 Enclosed is a copy of the last letter I received from Colo. Stanwix.5

The enemy continue their horrid devastations in this settlement. Enclosed is a copy of a letter from Capt. Josha Lewis: Immediately on receipt of Capt. Lewis’s, Capt. McNeill, 3 Subalterns, 4 Sergeants, and 70 rank and file, marched up to act in conjunction with Captn Lewis.6 The day before Captn Lewis was attacked, 20 cherokees headed by one of the principal warriors of that nation, marched from hence to the South-Branch;7 which with the Troops under Captns Waggener and McKenzie, will I hope secure that Quarter.

So soon as Captn McNeill returns, I will order him up to his company, to which I have, by your orders, appointed him: as I have Mr Chew, in room of Mr Fell.8

When Mr Atkin went from here, he carried Mr Gist and the indian Interpreter with him; since several parties of cherokees have been here, by which I and my officers were involved in inconceivable trouble; as we had neither an interpreter nor a right to hold conferences with them; nothing to satisfy their demands of things, of which they were in the greatest need; nor liberty to procure them. These warlike, formidable people, altho’ they seem to have a natural, strong attachment to our interest, will I am afraid, be induced, by such treatment, to hearken to the pressing solicitations of the French who (by the latest & best accounts, copies of which I enclose) are making them vastly advantageous offers. The chief of the cherokee party who went last to the Branch (& who is said to be a man of great weight among that nation) was so incensed against what he imagined neglect and contempt, that, had we not supplied him with a few necessaries, without which he cou’d not go to war, he threatned to return, fired with resentment, to his nation—In short; I dread that, by the present management of indian affairs, we are losing our interest of that people, the preservation of whose friendship is of the last importance to the colonies in general, and this in particular.9 I am sorry to acquaint your Honor, that Hamilton, the Quarter-master, hath misbehaved egregiously embezzling and disposing (in a clandestine manner) of some of the Regimental Stores; and afterwards running away, and carrying a man of the Regiment with him. He had leave to go to alexandria to order up some of the Stores left there; and managed his affairs with such cunning, that he was gone too long to be pursued, before he was suspected.

Enclosed is a copy of the proceedings of the court of Enquiry—Several things were found at many different houses; and the Majistrates did not behave consistently with their Duty.10

I do not know that I ever gave your Honor cause to suspect me of ingratitude, a crime I detest, and wou’d most carefully avoid. If an open, disinterested behaviour, carries offence, I may have offended: Because I have all along laid it down as a maxim, to represent facts, freely and impartially; but no more to others than I have to you, Sir.

If instances of my ungrateful behaviour had been particularized, I would have answered to them. But I have long been convinced, that my actions and their motives, have been maliciously aggravated.11

As your Honor purposes to leave the colony in November, I should be glad of liberty to go down to Williamsburgh towards the last of this month, or first of the next, if nothing should intervene, to settle some accompts which your Honor and the committee, which may not be done in so satisfactory a manner after you are gone.

The last alarm occasioned, a great many of the Inhabitants in this county to go off, whereupon vast numbers are still moving—I fear that in a short time this very valuable valley will be in a great measure depopulated:12 and what farther steps to take, and how to obviate so great a misfortune, I am quite at a loss: As I have hitherto neglected nothing in the compass of my power, it is very evident, that nothing but vigorous offensive measures (next campaign) can save the Country; at least all west of the Blue-ridge, from inevitable desolation!

We are in great want of a Quarter-master to take care of the Stores: and I really do not know of a fit person, unless your Honor will please to bestow the office upon Mr Kenedy. He acted sometime as Quarter-master-Sergeant; then as Commissary; and I believe is better acquainted with the Duty than any one we can get. He bears a good character, & is acquainted with figures.13

The Dunkard Doctor’s gave me notice of his intentions to wait upon your Honor again for his release.14 I in a late latter transmitted an information of the french Deserters (who came from Ft Cumberland) against them;15 and think it my duty further to add, that I firmly believe they are employed as spies, and are useful to the french. Of this all the frontier inhabitants seem convinced; and are so apprehensive of the consequences, that it has caused numbers to remove; and will cause a general terror among them, if this person is suffered to return, and the others to remain out there. For which reason I shou’d really be glad to receive orders to bring the others in: ’Tis better provided they do not assist the enemy, to bring them in, than to keep a whole country in perpetual uneasiness on their account.

Mr Rutherford set about making his return, the moment your Honors’ letter came to hand, and but this instant has finished it; having every thing to measure and weigh, in order to be exact.16

Since writing the foregoing, the Express which I sent to Major Lewis is come in, and brings returns of those companies;17 so that your Honor will now receive proper monthly returns of our strength for July & August; by which you will see that our total strength amounts to 32 commissioned officers, 48 non-commissioned, and 703 rank & file; whereof 20 officers, 30 non-commissioned, and 464 rank and file, are employed in this county and Hampshire.18 But there are always 6 women allowed to a company, who draw provisions: and the officers receive more or less according to their respective rank; as your Honor would see by the estimate I received from Colo. Stanwix, and inclosed you some considerable time ago: which must be allowed for in the calculation.19

I have this instant received letters from Captains’ Waggener and McKenzie, by Express: The first writes, that two men were killed, captured about 2 miles from his fort. The other says, that a cherokee party, just as they were setting out to go to Capt. Waggener’s, heard that Pearis was at Fort Cumberland, and marched to him.20


LB, DLC:GW. In his letter to GW of 19 Oct. Dinwiddie refers to this letter as being dated “3” October, which may be correct and the “5” here a mistake of the copyist.

1GW’s return of the “effective strength” of the regiment has not been found, but before he completed this letter GW received returns from Maj. Andrew Lewis that allowed him to make proper returns for the months of July and September (see note 18). See GW to Dinwiddie, 17 Sept. 1757 (first letter) for reference to earlier but faulty returns from the two companies on the southern frontier which reported to Major Lewis. The return of provisions at Winchester has not been found, but see Dinwiddie to GW, 24 Sept. 1757, n.4, for reference to a return of 3 October. See also GW’s allusion below in this letter to Robert Rutherford’s preparation of a return of provisions at Fort Loudoun. This last may be “An Exact Return of Cloathing, Arms, Amunition &C. at Fort Loudoun Octr 25th 1757,” updated 20 April 1758 (DLC:GW). William Jenkins had served as a messenger for GW and Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie since 1754.

2For a discussion of the agreement that Dinwiddie made with William Ramsay for the Alexandria merchant to supply the troops in Frederick and Hampshire counties, see John Kirkpatrick to GW, 17 Sept. 1757, n.3; for its terms, see the Enclosure in Dinwiddie to GW, 24 Oct. 1757.

3For Dinwiddie’s ultimate decision to have Robert Rutherford rather than Peter Hog raise the company of rangers in Frederick County, see GW to Dinwiddie, 24 Oct., and Dinwiddie to GW, 2 Nov. 1757. Hog became commander of one of the ranger companies in Augusta County.

4An entry in GW’s regimental accounts confirms that GW received from George William Fairfax on 20 Oct. 1756 (DLC:GW) this amount of “Rangers money.” See GW to Dinwiddie, 9 Nov. 1756, n.20. The committee in Williamsburg last approved GW’s accounts on 13 May 1757.

5See John Stanwix to GW, 19 Sept. 1757. Stanwix was colonel of the 1st Battalion of the Royal American Regiment (62d Foot, later 60th) at Carlisle, Pa., and in effect GW’s commanding officer. See Stanwix to GW, 23 May 1757.

6Capt. Joshua Lewis’s letter has not been found. This is undoubtedly the raid that GW describes in his letter to John Stanwix on 8 Oct. as having taken place “friday sennight” (1 October). If GW left Mount Vernon for Winchester on the afternoon of 30 Sept. as he intended (see GW to Mary Washington, 30 Sept. 1757), he was en route to Winchester when the attack occurred. For the disposition of Captain Lewis’s forces to the north of Winchester, see GW to Joshua Lewis, 3 Aug. 1757.

7For the arrival of this party of Cherokee, see Robert Stewart to GW, 27 Sept. 1757. For its future activity, see note 20 and GW to Dinwiddie, 24 Oct. 1757, n.4.

8For the resignation of Ens. Robert Fell from the Virginia Regiment, see Dinwiddie to GW, 24 Sept. 1757. Colby Chew had been acting as an assistant to Commissary Thomas Walker. On 19 Oct. 1757 Dinwiddie wrote to GW approving John McNeill’s promotion, and McNeill became captain of the company of the Virginia Regiment formerly commanded by the deceased Robert Spotswood (see John Baylis to GW, 30 Jan. 1758, n.3).

9For the Virginia council’s examination of the accounts of Edmond Atkin, the superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern department, in Williamsburg on 18 Oct. 1757 and its confirmation of Atkin’s appointment of Christopher Gist as his deputy, see Dinwiddie to GW, 19 Oct. 1757.

11Relations between GW as colonel of the Virginia Regiment and his superior Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie had been worsening for some time, but these two paragraphs are in response to Dinwiddie’s remarks in his letter to GW of 24 Sept., which in turn were made in response to earlier complaints made by GW.

12The Frederick County court meeting this day made the following entry in its order book: “On the motion of James Wood Clerk of this County praying the direction of the Court for Securing the Records in case of imminent danger from the Enemy It is Ordered that a discretionary power be given him to remove them to Fort Loudon or else where as the Case may require” (Frederick County Order Book, 1755–58, 286, Vi Microfilm).

13See George Mercer et al. to GW, Adam Stephen to GW, both April 1757, for earlier recommendations of David Kennedy.

14Samuel Eckerlin came up from Williamsburg in August. See Dinwiddie to GW, 8 Aug. 1757. The governor and council heard Eckerlin’s petition on 20 Oct. 1757. See Dinwiddie to GW, 24 Oct. 1757.

15GW may have written in his missing letter to Dinwiddie of 20 Sept. 1757 about the information gotten from the French deserters. Gov. Horatio Sharpe wrote Cecilius Calvert, 6 Oct. 1757: “By two French Deserters that came into Fort Cumberland about a Month ago we are told that there were at that time no more than 400 Men in Garrison at Fort Du Quesne” (Browne, Sharpe Correspondence description begins William Hand Browne, ed. Correspondence of Governor Horatio Sharpe. 3 vols. Archives of Maryland, vols. 6, 9, and 14. Baltimore, 1888–95. description ends , 2:88–89).

16See note 1.

17The three companies of the Virginia Regiment on the Augusta County frontier were Andrew Lewis’s, Henry Woodward’s, and Robert Spotswood’s. The company rolls that GW received are probably among those described in his Instructions to Company Captains, 29 July 1757, n.2.

18GW’s returns for the Virginia Regiment for July and September, dated 1 Aug. 1757 and 1 Oct. 1757, are in DLC:GW. No return for August has been found. The returns for September show a total of 688 effective rank and file, 461 of whom were counted in the companies in Frederick and Hampshire counties. The numbers of officers given here are the same as those in GW’s returns. For the July returns, see GW to Dinwiddie, 17 Sept. 1757 (first letter), n.6.

19GW sent to Dinwiddie, 10 July 1757, a copy of his memorandum from Col. John Stanwix regarding allowances for officers. GW had asked Stanwix about this on 15 June 1757. The memorandum has not been found, but see GW to Stanwix, 21 June 1757, n.3.

20The letters from Thomas Waggener and Robert McKenzie have not been found. The party of Cherokee seems not to have stayed very long or to have been very welcome there. Gov. Horatio Sharpe wrote Col. John Stanwix, 21 Oct. 1757: “Since I received Capt Dagworthy’s Letter of 6th Inst I have been informed that the Cherokees who were then at Fort Cumberland are returned home. . . . This has releived Capt Dagworthy from the Anxiety that he seemed to be in upon Account of those Indians & he will not I presume be visited by any more of them while he remains at Fort Cumberland” (Browne, Sharpe Correspondence description begins William Hand Browne, ed. Correspondence of Governor Horatio Sharpe. 3 vols. Archives of Maryland, vols. 6, 9, and 14. Baltimore, 1888–95. description ends , 2:92–93). Richard Pearis, who led a party of Cherokee up to Virginia and into Maryland in the spring, had accepted a commission in the Maryland forces. See GW to Dinwiddie, 10 June 1757, nn.1 and 4.

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