George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Stanwix, 10 April 1758

To John Stanwix

To Brigadier-General Stanwix

Dear Sir,Ft L[oudoun] April 10th 1758.

Pe[r]mit me, at the same time I congratulate you (which I most sincerely do) upon the promotion you have met with, and justly merited; to express my Concern at the prospect of parting with you. I can truly say, it is a matter of no small regret to me! and that I shou’d have thought myself happy in serving this campaign under your immediate command. But every thing I hope, is ordered for the best; and it is our duty to submit to the will of our Superior. I must nevertheless beg, that you will add one more kindness to the many I have experienced, and that is, to mention me in favorable terms to General Forbes (if you are acquainted with that Gentleman) not as a person who would depend upon him for further recommendation to military preferment, for I have long conquered all such expectancies (and serve this campaign merely for the purpose of affording my best endeavours to bring matters to a conclusion) but as a person who would gladly be distinguished in some measure from the common run of provincial Officers; as I understand there will be a motley herd of us.1

Nothing can contribute more to His Majesty’s Interest in this Quarter, than an early campaign, or a speedy junction of the Troops to be employed in this Service. Without this, I fear the Indians with difficulty will be restrained from returning to their nation before we assemble; and in that event, no words can tell how much they will be missed. It is an affair of great importance, and ought to claim the closest attention of the Commanding Officer; for, on the assistance of these people, does the security of our march very much depend.

There should be great care taken, also, to lay in a supply of proper Goods for them: The Indians are mercenary; every service of theirs must be purchased: and they are easily offended, being thoroughly sensible of their own importance. Upwards of 5,00 are already come to this place, the greatest part of whom are gone to war: many others are daily expected, and we have neither arms nor clothes (proper) to give them: nor indeed is it reasonable to expect, that the whole expence accruing on account of these people, should fall upon this Government— which hath already in this, as well as in many other respects, exerted her utmost abilities for His Majestys Interest, and in the present case, shares only an equal proportion of the advantages arising from Indian Services. These crude thoughts are hastily thrown together: if you find any thing contained in them which may be useful, be pleased to improve them for his Majestys interest.2

The latitude which you have hitherto allowed me—joined to my zeal for the Service, have encouraged me to use this freedom with You Sir, which I should not chuse to take, unasked, with another.

If it is not inconsistent, I should be glad, before I con[c]lude to ask, what regular troops are to be employed under Brigad. Gen. Forbes, and when they may be expected?3 also, where they are to rendezvous? Ft Frederick, I hear, is mentioned for this purpose, &, in my humble opinion, a little improperly: In the first place, because the country people all around are fled, and the troops will, consequently, lack those refreshments so needful to Soldiers. In the next place; I am fully convinced there never can be a road made between Fort Frederick and Fort Cumberland that will admit the transportation of carriages: for I have passed it with many others, who were of the same opinion. And, lastly—because this is the place to which all Indian parties, either going to, or returning from war, will inevitably repair.4 I am, with most sincere Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient, and obliged humble Servant,



1John Stanwix had by this time left Pennsylvania for New York to become a brigadier under Maj. Gen. James Abercromby (1706–1801), the temporary commander in chief of the British forces in North America after Lord Loudoun’s removal. John Forbes (1707–1759), a Scot, colonel in the 17th Regiment, and until now adjutant general on Loudoun’s staff, was given the rank of brigadier general to command the expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758. It was after hearing that the Virginia forces would take part in Forbes’s campaign, and perhaps after learning that General Forbes wished him to take part (see GW to Forbes, 23 April, n.1), that GW left Williamsburg in late March to resume active command of the Virginia Regiment at Fort Loudoun. When formed in early summer 1758, Forbes’s army was made up of about five thousand provincial troops, including a second Virginia regiment commanded by William Byrd III, and nearly seventeen hundred regulars.

2For William Byrd’s mission to Carolina to recruit Cherokee warriors for the upcoming campaign, see Byrd to John Forbes, 30 April, quoted in GW to John Blair, 9 April 1758, n.2.

3On 1 May 1758 General Forbes wrote from Philadelphia to William Pitt: “The Regular Forces destined for the Operations upon the frontiers of the Southern Provinces and the Ohio, are thirteen Companys of [Archibald] Montgomerie’s Highlanders, and four Companys of the first Battalion of the Royal American Regiment. The ten Companys of the former are not yet arrived from South Carolina. The three additional Companys [of the Highlanders] who are in this Province, have one third sick, and the remainder have not yet recovered strength enough for Service, occasioned by their long passage from Britain. The four Companies of the first Battalion of Americans are got to this place, they are sickly, being just arrived from South Carolina, and they want fifty Men to compleat them, which will be impracticable to fill up, as the Provinces are giving so high Bountys for raising the Men they are to furnish during this Campaign” (James, Writings of Forbes description begins Alfred Procter James, ed. Writings of General John Forbes Relating to His Service in North America. Menasha, Wis., 1938. description ends , 76–78). Lt. Col. Henry Bouquet (1719–1765), the new commander of the 1st Battalion of the Royal American Regiment (60th) and Forbes’s second in command for the 1758 expedition, sailed from Charleston, S.C., with his five companies of the 1st Battalion at the end of March for New York and then for Philadelphia, arriving there with his troops in early May. The four companies of the 1st Battalion of Royal Americans that Stanwix had commanded were at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The “three additional Companys” of the 1st Highland Battalion (77th Regiment of Foot) landed in Philadelphia on 22 April, but Archibald Montgomery (1726–1796), lieutenant colonel commandant of the Highlanders, did not arrive in Philadelphia until the beginning of June with the ten companies that he had taken to South Carolina. See note 1.

4Both Fort Frederick and Fort Cumberland were in Maryland, manned by a total of about three hundred Maryland soldiers. Fort Frederick was on the Potomac about fourteen miles upstream from the mouth of Conococheague Creek and almost due north of Winchester. About forty miles upstream, Fort Cumberland was at Wills Creek. GW’s fears that Winchester was not being thought of as the staging area for the planned expedition were well founded, for as early as 21 March Forbes wrote Gov. Horatio Sharpe of Maryland: “I propose Canegocheeque for a Rendevouze for the Pensilvania Troops, and Regulars from Philadelphia” (James, Writings of Forbes description begins Alfred Procter James, ed. Writings of General John Forbes Relating to His Service in North America. Menasha, Wis., 1938. description ends , 61–63). Forbes’s initial notion was to have a road cut on the north side of the Potomac from Fort Frederick up to Fort Cumberland, and from there to reopen Braddock’s Road to Fort Duquesne. It was Gen. James Abercromby’s expectation that Fort Cumberland would be the main base from which the march up Braddock’s Road to Fort Duquesne would be staged (Scottish Record Office: Dalhousie Muniments). But by early May Forbes had discarded the plan to use Conococheague as a rendezvous point and was by then determined to seek an alternative to Braddock’s Road. The Pennsylvania troops and the regulars at Philadelphia, it was decided, would open up a road from Shippensburg to Raystown (Raes Town), Pa., north of Fort Cumberland, and from Raystown the army would seek a shorter and better route to the Forks of the Ohio than the one Braddock had taken in 1755. General Forbes later explained that John St. Clair, who left Philadelphia about 1 May, first suggested to him and then persuaded him “to take the road by Raestown, I having previous to this ordered our Army to assemble at Conegochegue” (Forbes to Henry Bouquet, 23 July 1758, ibid., 156–58). On 7 May Forbes wrote Gen. James Abercromby about his plans to “clear the roads, and build a pallisaded Deposit . . . at Rays town” (ibid., 87–88), but until as late as 10 May GW was still assuming that the army would rendezvous at Fort Frederick in Maryland (GW to John Blair, 4–10 May).

The plan to cut a road from Fort Frederick to Fort Cumberland was revived in June (see particularly Bouquet to GW, 1 July), but the Maryland road when cut played no real part in the expedition. What GW and other Virginians became most insistent about was that Forbes’s army in its march toward Fort Duquesne should use Braddock’s Road, which led directly into Virginia at Fort Cumberland, and not cut a new road from Raystown, which would provide a direct connection between the Ohio country and eastern Pennsylvania. For GW’s active opposition to Forbes’s plan to build a new road, and for the reactions of Forbes and Bouquet to GW’s role in this, see particularly GW to Henry Bouquet, 2, 6 Aug., to Francis Halkett, 2 Aug., to John Robinson, 1 Sept., and to Francis Fauquier, 2 Sept. 1758, and the notes for all of these documents.

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