From John Blair
Wmsburgh Feby 5th 1758.
Your two Letters of 30th & 31st Ult. were brought to me by yor Express, on Friday afternoon; by whom, being desirous to consult, I sent them to Mr Nelson immediatly, (his horse & he being well able, he said, to go on) but he & Mr Secretary happening to be out of Town, I did not get them back till this afternoon, with their Advice.1
As to your Several Reasons for leave to come hither we think them very cogent; and therefore, as I apprehend no damage can be expected to arise from it, and strong reasons for admitting it, You have my Leave to come to Williamsburgh for the Purposes mention’d in yor first.
As to the Contents of yor second, expressing yor concern at such a Number of Indians coming to us, at such an unseasonable Time; we wish the Spring had been advanced first, & the rigour of Winter over, before they came; but as Col. Read in his of the 3d Ult. says that a Runner was come to him with the News of 7 or 800 of them being but five days march behind him, and we have yet no certain Intelligence of them, I see no dependance on it. Once Mr Adam Dickinson from Augusta who came to me the 28th Ult. for some Arms & Ammunition for his Son John, Captain of a Company of Rangers, told me he heard that 600, were at Col. Reads, and that they were going to my Lord Loudoun, but that afterwds he heard it was a Company of 40 or 50, only, & that the rest were behind; of which however we have no certainty. On the Report of their going to my Lord, Sir John St clair seem’d pleased, & said my Lord would make them wellcome;2 and by Mr Nelson’s advice I have writ, by that Mr Dickinson, to Mr Gist, (as I intended to write to you) to encourage the Indians (of any number) to go to my Lord, who would receive & reward them well: and I desire you will press it upon him. But we are much surprised to hear that Mr Gist is in no wise prepared to receive them, as our late Govr told us that he had above a £1000. pounds worth in Indian Goods left in his hands for such purpose. I desire a particular Accot of what he has.3 We do not imagine their numbers will be any thing near so large as talkt of, and I hope they will not come this good while yet, unless they are going to my Lord. They are said to be Creeks & Cherokees together.
Col. Read represented his want of Ammunition in the Magazine he built last year,4 to comply with Majr Lewis’s orders to the severall Captains under him.5 Whereupon by advice of the Council I sent up to the Glebe als. Osburns6 6. Barls of Powder ten Boxes of Shot 200 lb. wt in Each, making 2 Ton of Shot, wch is more than sufficient for the Powder, but he wanted Shot for the Powder he had by him. I likewise sent up to Capt. Dickinson 100 lb. of Powder & 200 lb. of Lead to supply his company, and also ten Muskets wth Bayonets & Cartouches, 20 Swords, 200. Gunflints, & 8 Trading Kettles for their Use.
We have hired two Transports to bring back our Two Companys from So. Carolina & are providing a large quantity of Bread & Flour to be sold there to pay off their arrears to their coming away, & they are to be landed at Fredericksburgh.7
I have not add, but my hearty wishes for your perfect recovery, & to assure you that I am Sir Yor most humble Servant
John Blair, P.
We hear Colo. Young has got his Commission come for this Government.8
1. Secretary Thomas Nelson and William Nelson were next in seniority to John Blair on the colonial council.
2. John St. Clair was in Annapolis in December 1757 and seems to have gone from there to Williamsburg. See Horatio Sharpe to Dinwiddie, 21 Dec. 1757, in 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 , 2:112.
4. As early as August 1756 Dinwiddie referred to Clement Read’s plans to build “a Magazine for Provisions & Amunition, in a proper Place convenient for supplying the Forces & Forts on the frontiers of Augusta” (Dinwiddie to Read, 23 Aug. 1756, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers), but it seems not to have been built until early 1757. The minutes of the council’s meeting of 15 Dec. 1756 included the following statement: “The Governor was pleased to communicate to the Board a Letter from Colo. Read dated the 10th Instant, signifying that, in his Judgment, after due Consideration, taken thereon, the most convenient and eligible Spot whereon to erect a Place for keeping Arms, Ammunition and Provision in our present Circumstances, would be on a Ridge between Little Roanoke River, and Ward’s fork in Lunenburg with his Reasons” (Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:22–23). At the next meeting of the council Read’s response was read: “The Governor communicated to the Board a Letter from Colo. Read dated Lunenburg January 5th signifying that on Receipt of his Honor’s Letter of the 15th of December with a Copy of the Order of Council inclosed, he had employed Persons to build the House proposed for keeping Arms, Ammunition and Provisions, and hopes to have it finished in a Month on reasonable Terms” (ibid., 23–24). Read’s magazine at the forks of what is today called Roanoke Creek in Charlotte County is shown on the 1775 printing of the Fry—Jefferson map as “Read.” See also Dinwiddie to Read, 24 Nov. 1756, 15 Dec. 1756, in 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 , 2:557–58, 564; and 24 Jan. 1758 in Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:79–80.
5. Maj. Andrew Lewis was the senior officer of the contingent of the Virginia Regiment that went to Augusta County in August 1757. His command was composed of his own company, Capt. John McNeill’s (formerly Robert Spotswood’s), and Capt. Henry Woodward’s (see GW to Andrew Lewis, 29 July 1757). He was also responsible for three ranger companies on Virginia’s southern frontier (see Dinwiddie to Lewis, 17 Dec. 1756, 23 Dec. 1756, 19 Sept. 1757, October 1757, 1 Dec. 1757, and Withers to Lewis, 15 Aug. 1757, all in 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 , 2:566–67, 569, 699, 710–11, 719–20, 685–86).
6. See note 4. At the meeting of the council on 12 Jan. 1758 Blair reported that Clement Read “would send to the Glebe on James River” for powder and lead (Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:79). The glebe may have been the old glebe of Dale Parish, Chesterfield County, south of James River, which was put up for sale in 1759 and was described as “adjacent to a publick warehouse where a great trade is carried on” (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 341–42). The glebe seems to have been in the general vicinity of Osborns, an important shipping area on James River below the falls where there were large tobacco warehouses.
7. Loudoun wrote Col. Henry Bouquet of the Royal Americans in Charleston, S.C., on 12 Oct. 1757 with instructions to send back to Virginia from Carolina the companies of the Virginia Regiment commanded by Adam Stephen and George Mercer (see Bouquet to Dinwiddie, 16 Dec. 1757, in Stevens, Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 1:261). Dinwiddie reportedly had not sent the transports for the troops in Carolina when he left Virginia on 12 Jan. 1758, but on the day of his departure the minutes of the Virginia Council noted that “Transports had been order’d to bring [the troops] back” from Carolina (Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:78–79). Adam Stephen arrived with his detachment in Fredericksburg on 22 April, and GW wrote John St. Clair on 4 May 1758 that Mercer’s and Stephen’s companies had arrived at Fort Loudoun on 3 May 1758.
8. There seems to have been a false rumor that Lord Loudoun, governor of Virginia, had succeeded in getting his protegé Lt. Col. John Young, paymaster of the Royal American Regiment, an appointment as lieutenant governor of Virginia to replace Robert Dinwiddie. An entry for 12 Jan. 1758 in the Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends mentions the impending “Arrival of the Honourable Colonel Young (whom we may soon expect to succeed [Governor Dinwiddie]).”