George Washington Papers

Council of War, 24 April 1758

Council of War

[Fort Loudoun, 24 April 1758]

The Proceedings of a Council of Officers held at Fort Loudoun April 24th 1758 to consider whether it was most for the Interest of the Service or whether it was practicable to comply with the Instructions contain’d in a Letter from the President of Virginia to Colo. Washington.1

Officers Present
Colo. George Washington President
Capt. Lieut. Bullett Lieut. Campbell
Lieut. King Lieut. Buckner
Lieut. Thompson Lieut. Smith
Lieut. Roy Ensign Russell2

1st That Part of the President’s Letter in which he advises Colo. Washington to incorporate Part of the Officers and Non Commission’d Officers of his Regiment with the second Regiment, and to take Part of them into his was considered and it was unanimously agreed that the first Regiment would receive a greater Detriment thereby than the Second would gain an Advantage as the Officers (were they exchang’d) would not have sufficient Time to discipline the new raised Regiment and our Non Commissioned Officers & Soldiers would with Reluctancy change their officers to be Commanded by those they must be convinced were intirely ignorant of the Duty either of Officer or Centinel and it is also imagined that such a change would be look’d on as an Imposition by the Officers who might be order’d into the Second Regiment.

2dly—We considered the Abstract from Brigadier General Forbes his Letter and find that the Performance of but a small part there of can be in the power of the Commanding or other Officers of this Regiment for as our Troops cannot March (by express orders from the President) from the Places at which they are Station’d till they are relieved by Militia it is impossible to assemble them so soon as the General desired; for the time is past and no orders issued even for the assembling of the Militia nor for the same Reason till we are relieved can we quit our Post to attempt clearing the Road nor do we know wch way the General intends to march as there are different Roads.

3dly—We considered that part of the Letter in which he leaves a discretonary power in the Hands of Colo. Washington in draughting the Militia and we verily believe that were he to order out the Militia of the frontier Counties (who always have been taken out on every Immergency) it would be productive of an almost General Mutiny—besides the disadvantage in Case of an Invasion on the south-western Parts of the Colony as the Militia in those Counties would be present to assist the Militia that were ordered from the Interior Counties and in case he orders the Militia from the lower parts of the Country we think that they would be so long assembling and Marching that Colo. Washington might be blamed (if not by the Colony) by the General who desired the Companys of this Regiment to be at this place by the 20th of this Inst.—tho’ the Colo. has received no orders about it till this day.3 Besides Colo. Washington ought to have the County-Muster Rolls before it will be possible for him to make an equitable Draught of the Militia to relieve the Garrisons nor can he (as he has not the Acts of Assembly, nor himself or any of us know the Act past in June last) either call out or appoint such Officers as is there directed & as the President orders.

Upon the whole it appears to be an affair so interesting to the Colony; so nice & of such importance for the Service of His Majesty—that (as it will take only three or four days more to assemble the Militia) it is our unanimous opinion that it is more adviseable for the President or his Council to give orders to the Militia and proper directions concerning those things that we have had in consideration than us to determine on them.4


1Neither John Blair’s letter of 19 April nor the “Abstract” from General Forbes referred to in the third paragraph of this document has been found, but Blair wrote Forbes on 26 April: “I have ordered Colo. Washington to Clear the Road as you direct, and to make all the preparation he can to comply with your several demands” (ViU: Forbes Papers). See also GW to Blair, 24 April 1758.

2See note 4.

3Forbes wrote John Blair on 20 March: “I therefore hope and expect that the Virginia Officers and men will all be in redyness at Winchester by the middle of Aprile or at least by the 20th” (Scottish Record Office: Dalhousie Muniments). Forbes knew by this time, however, that this had not occurred, for a letter to Blair in the writing of Forbes’s brigade major Francis Halkett and dated 24 April at Philadelphia contains these instructions: “The General desires that you will order the Virginia Regiment to join at Winchester, all excepting those who are upon the South Branch & Patersons Creek, who are in our way” (ViU: Forbes Papers).

4The document was signed by the nine officers named above as members of the council of war. GW’s signature is followed by that of the others in order of rank and date of rank: Thomas Bullitt (lt., 20 Aug. 1755), John Campbell (lt., 30 Aug. 1755), John King (lt., 3 Sept. 1755), Mordecai Buckner (ens., 18 Aug. 1755; lt., 29 June 1756), Nathaniel Thompson (ens., 27 Aug. 1755; lt., 24 July 1757), Charles Smith (ens., 1 Sept. 1755; lt., 25 July 1757), James Roy (ens., 31 Jan. 1756), and Henry Russell (ens., 30 June 1756). These officers were all either in GW’s and Robert Stewart’s companies at Fort Loudoun or in Joshua Lewis’s company stationed in the nearby country forts above Winchester.

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