George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Stewart, 8 August 1758

From Robert Stewart

Cresaps [Md.] Augt 8th 1758

My Dear Sir

Early this morning I had the very great pleasure of recg your very acceptable Letter of yesterday, Covering Major Halkett’s of the 2d Inst., and with infinite satisfaction observe that fresh mark of your sincere Friendship, and would be quite happy by Fortune’s presenting me with opportunities of testifying the high sense which my grateful heart will ever retain of it.1

I need not say how happy I should be in being with you but from the Majr’s method of mentioning it I imagine it might not be agreeable, and perhaps might be made use off as an acquittance from other Promises2—On the other hand should anything happen the General for whose Recovery I begin to be afraid I should be very unhappy in the Horse—I have wrote at large to the Majr on the Subject which I enclose you open, when you peruse it be so good as to Seal & forward it if it, can remain undetermin’d till you receive an answer it’s well if not without inconvenience I must give up thoughts of it and trust to Promises as usual3—O! Wretched Dependance! how severe are your Laws, and how miserable your Votarys! Would Heaven be pleas’d to extricate me from your Clutches no fair Promises nor Gilded Prospects should ever tempt me to venture in your reach—But notwithstanding unerring Experiense has taught me how little the Promises of the Great are to be depended on yet alas! it’s all I have to Trust to—After having wasted so much of my Youth, impaird my Constitution and sunk the means of getting a livelyhood in another way, I with horror behold myself plung’d in greater uncertaintys than when I first Enter’d the Service. But such are often the Fruits of Ambition—Should I survive the war my ruin appears inevitable.4

As the Officer who came to Relieve Mr Gist did not get here till near Reville Beating Mr Gist thought it would be imprudent to set out before Evening, but as he proposes leaving Fort Cumberland before day to morrow makes no doubt of overtaking Capt. McKenzie.5

Tom waits on you for your Orders for a Coat & Jacket, I will furnish him with Shirts, Stockgs &Ca and as there must soon be many more Coats than men I imagine a Coat & Jackett might readily be spard he is extremely willing to be put under Stoppages till your accot against him is paid.6

As the Grass here begins to grow scarce, I send all the Horses to a Plantation about half a mile from hence for 5 or 6 hours every day, and reserves what remains here for the Sheep & Horned Cattle—I ever am with the highest Esteem & greatest Deference My Dear Colonel Your most Affecte & Most Obliged hble Servt

Robert Stewart

Please offer my Complemts to Colos. Byrd & Mercer.


Robert Stewart was the senior captain in GW’s regiment.

1GW’s letter of 7 Aug. has not been found, but see Francis Halkett to GW, 2 Aug., for Halkett’s response to GW’s recommendation that Stewart be made brigade major of the Virginia forces. See also GW to Halkett, 21 July 1758, n.2.

2Stewart had long been angling for a commission in the British army (see GW to William Henry Fairfax, 23 April 1758, n.2), and on 24 Oct. 1758 General Forbes wrote Gen. James Abercromby, temporary commander of the British forces in North America, asking that Stewart be given a commission (Stewart to GW, 16 Jan. 1759, n.3). He was given a lieutenancy in the Royal American Regiment early in 1759. During the expedition Stewart acted as the commander of a troop of horse, an appointment he held under General Forbes.

3The letter to Francis Halkett that Stewart enclosed has not been found, but see GW’s references to it in GW to Stewart, 11 August. Halkett was General Forbes’s chief aide and brigade major throughout the campaign.

4A constant theme of Stewart’s letters to GW during the next four years is his search for financial security through military advancement.

5Apparently it was Lt. William Crawford who came to relieve Nathaniel Gist. See GW to Stewart, 11 August. GW sent Capt. Robert McKenzie with four officers and seventy-five men to Great Crossing sometime after 7 Aug. and before 13 August. See GW to Bouquet, 7, 13 August.

6For the possible identity of Tom, see Stewart to GW, 5 Aug., n.3.

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