George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Adam Stephen, 24 May 1758

To Adam Stephen

[Fort Loudoun, 24 May 1758]

Orders for Lt Colo. Stephen, of the Virginia Regiment.

Sr John St Clair having, by virtue of a Power from the Commander in Chief for the southern district, put the Troops of this Colony under marching Orders1—and at the same time thought it necessary, that I should wait upon the President, to settle the Affairs of the two Virginia Regiments2—You are therefore—if no contradictory Orders come from a Superior Officer, to remain at this place; ready to execute any Instructions that may arrive for me.3

For this purpose, you are to open all Letters that may come directed to me, on His Majesty’s Service.

I expect you will be very diligent in having the Mens Arms and Clothes put in the best repair: and that every other necessary step, which time and circumstances will admit, be taken to equip them for the Field. As I expect the Detachment from the Prince-William militia (who were ordered to relieve this Garrison, but forgot their Arms) with which they will be furnished in a few days—You are, rather than suffer them to be idle, to send them towards Stony-creek (or any other distressed Settlement not very far off) until the Troops are ready to march from this place.4

The Companies of the 1st Regiment, as they arrive at this Garrison, are, every morning to be exercised by Battalion, with those now here the remainder of the Day to be employed in mending their own Clothes, &c. if they can not get Taylors to do it for them fast enough. Perhaps a number of Taylors might be hired out of the Second Regiment, to assist in this work.

You will see by my orders (a copy of which I shall leave with You) what is expected from me by the General—and will regulate your conduct accordingly.

You are to cause the New Barrack to be covered in, and rough floors laid, as expeditiously as possible, for Lodgments to the Companies expected at this place. And you are to see that the Exercise we now use, be followed strictly.

I expect Sir Jno. St Clair will send a parcel of Powder-horns and shot-pouches to this place. Out of these, all the Soldiers of the first Regiment (who are not already supplied) must be furnished, and laid under stoppages to pay for them.

You are to get 40 men from the Second Regiment, to supply the places of the like number to be taken out of the First, to assist in forming a Troop of Light-Horse:5 And, to prevent the evil consequences of forcing men out of one Regiment into the other, You are, with Colo. Mercer (who will assist you in the undertaking) to use your best endeavours to perswade the number of men wanted, to offer themselves voluntarily. Given under my hand at Fort-Loudoun, this 24th day of May, 1758.


Since writing the above I am informed that there will not be powder-horns &c. enough for the New Regiment.

You are therefore, to take no concern about them.


1Most of GW’s instructions to Adam Stephen appearing in these orders reflect the instructions St. Clair gave GW in his marching orders of this date.

2For John St. Clair’s letter of 23 May to John Blair berating Blair for his failure to come to Winchester as instructed and explaining why as a consequence he has sent GW down to Williamsburg, see GW to John Blair, 28 May 1758, n.2. GW soon left for Williamsburg, probably on 24 May, and he arrived back in Winchester 7–9 June. St. Clair’s letter to Blair of 31 May from Winchester provides a succinct description of the situation at Winchester and Fort Loudoun during GW’s absence as well as further evidence of St. Clair’s irritation with the president of Virginia’s council:


“Yesterday at noon I recieved your Honor’s Letter of the 25th of May, which I am realy at a loss in what Manner to answer, seeing the little Regard you have paid to what was required of you by the Commander in Chief of the Southern District [Gen. John Forbes]; & what I have wrote to you about has met with the same Fate. The Situation you have left the 1st Virginia Regiment in you will learn from Colo. Washington, they want about 100 Men of their Compliment, & there are 40 belonging to five Companies who are not able to march, those I have left in Fort Loudoun, & Lieutt Colo. Stephens is gone to join the Army with the five Companies of the 1st Regiment & one Company of the second Regiment. I am left here with 9 Companies of the 2d Regiment without Arms Cloathing or Blankets, so that the Court House & other Houses are full of the Sick, & no Surgeon to attend them, nor is there one Kittle in the whole Regiment to make Broath in for these poor Wretches. The only excuse your Honor has to account for this neglect is that you are & will remain 200 Miles from this Place, while the other Governours are on their Fronteers as their Duty to their King & Country requires it. I hope you will grant my Situation is not the most eligible when I tell you I have no Arms to defend 800 Men if the Cherokees shoud revenge themselves at this Place” (ViU: Forbes Papers).

St. Clair went on to discuss further the problems with the Cherokee, making it clear that Blair deserved no praise for his role in the whole matter (see Blair to GW, this date, nn.9, 11); and then he wrote: “Colonel Washington’s Regiment wants 100 Men, & the little Care that has been taken to send Militia to relieve Capt. Woodward on Roanoak 200 Miles from this Place [see postscript, Blair to GW, 24 May], must reduce Colonel Washington’s Regiment to 80[0] Men, among whom are many Invalides. The not compleating that Regiment seems to me not to be the Fault of the Colo., it is worth your Honor’s while to enquire where the Fault arose from” (ViU: Forbes Papers).

3On about 3 June Lieutenant Colonel Stephen marched from Winchester with five companies of GW’s 1st Virginia Regiment and a company of carpenters, or artificers, commanded by Capt. John Field, from the 2d Virginia Regiment. On 6 June Stephen wrote Henry Bouquet from Fort Loudoun in Pennsylvania: “We arrivd at this place a few hours ago, all well & in good Spirits except three Recruits. Potowmack being high & the roads muddy detaind us a day & half longer on our march” (Stevens, Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 2:41). See St. Clair to GW, 24 May, n.2.

4Stoney Creek ran a few miles to the south and west of Winchester.

5For John St. Clair’s instructions to GW about forming Capt. Robert Stewart’s company of light horse, see St. Clair’s Orders, this date.

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