George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Forbes, 18 November 1758

To John Forbes

Colo. Armstrong’s Camp the 18th Novr 1758.


I came to this camp about 11 o’clock to-day, having opened the Road before me.1 I should immediately have proceed on, but as the Bullocks were to slaughter, and Provisions to be dressed, I thought it expedient to halt here till 3 in the morning, when I shall begin to march on with 1,000 men—leaving Colo. Armstrong and 5,00 more in this camp, u[n]til Colo. Montgomery joins.

I took care that the Road should not be delayed by this Halt, for I ordered out a working party, properly covered, before I came here, to cut it forward till night should fall upon them, and then return back again.2

I fear we have been greatly deceived with regard to the distance from hence to Fort du Quesne: most of the woodsmen that I have converssed with, seem to think we are still 30 miles from it.3 I have sent out one Party that way to ascertain the distance, and the kind of ground between; and two others to scout on the right and left, for the discovery of tracks, &c. To-morrow Capt. Selby and Lt Gist of my Regiment, will go off on the like service that the former of these Parties has done this day, under Lt Ryley.4

I found three Redoubts erecting for the defence of this camp—Mr Gordon thinks that it will be sufficiently secured by this means: But, for my own part, I do not look upon Redoubts alone, in this close country, to be half as good as the slightest breast-work: indeed I do not believe they are any security at all, where there are no other works. I enclose you a Return of the total strength of this place, and for what time they are served with Provisions; by which you will see how much a supply is needed:5 and I must beg that Commissaries and Stilliards may be sent forward; otherwise a continual dissatisfaction will prevail, as well on the part of the contractors, as on that of the Soldiers, who think they have injustice done them in their allowance notwithstanding the 15 Bullocks which were received as Provisions for 4 days, were issued out for 3 only, by the judgment of an officer of each corps, as well as my own; for I took pains to examine into it myself.

I had wrote thus far, when your favour of this morning came to hand.6 I shall set out at 3 o’clock, as above: leaving the Highlanders to finish the Redoubts, according to Mr Gordon’s Plan and to secure the Tools until Colo. Montgomery comes up; leaving it then to Colo. Bouquets option to bring or leave them.

We shall I am apprehensive, have a great space between this Post and the next, as I have before observed. Tho’ I shall be a better judge to-morrow night.7

The enclosed Return shews what Provisions each Corps ought to have upon hand8—but few can make it hold out—so that I must again urge the necessity of a Commissary & weights—also of Provisions—for were we all completed properly to a certain day, there are yet Parties and Light-horse-men coming and going, who complain much on this head.

Your chimney at this place is finished—I shall take care to put up one at the next Post.9 I shall use every necessary precaution to get timely notice of the Enemys approach—so that I flatter myself you need be under no apprehensions on that head.

A scouting Party is just returned, and reports that, 5 miles advanced of this, they discovered the tracks of about 40 persons making toward Kiskamanetes10—The tracks appear to have been made to-day or yesterday. I am, Sir, with very great Respect, your most obedt &c.


To General Forbes

LB (recopied), DLC:GW.

1GW wrote Forbes from his camp the night before that he was “3 miles short” of Col. John Armstrong’s New Camp.

3GW’s fears were justified: New Camp was fully thirty miles from Fort Duquesne.

4On 20 Oct. 1758 Bouquet recommended to Forbes that Lt. James Riley of the Maryland troops, who was wounded in the fighting near Fort Duquesne on 14 Sept., be made an ensign in the Royal American Regiment. Riley died of smallpox at Fort Cumberland in January 1759. Selby was Evan Shelby of the Maryland forces, and Gist was Nathaniel Gist of the 1st Virginia Regiment.

5The return of all the forces at Armstrong’s New Camp, or Three Redoubt Camp, was made on 18 Nov. by Robert Stewart as GW’s brigade major (DLC:GW). Reported present were a total of 2 colonels (GW and Armstrong), 1 lieutenant colonel, 1 major, 21 captains, 37 lieutenants, 23 ensigns, 14 staff men, 116 noncommissioned officers, and 1,519 rank and file. Besides GW’s brigade (for the size and make up of which see Orderly Book, 14 Nov., n.1), there were in all, officers and men, a total of 91 Royal Americans from Bouquet’s 1st Brigade, 255 Highlanders from Archibald Montgomery’s 2d Brigade, 157 members of the 2d Virginia Regiment from the 2d Brigade, 367 Pennsylvanians from the 1st Brigade, and 6 in Robert Stewart’s troop of light horse. Each of these reported a four-day supply of flour, and all reported a three-day supply of meat except the Highlanders, who reported a two-day supply.

6Forbes’s letter has not been found, but this paragraph and the next suggests its purport. See GW to Forbes, 17 Nov. (second letter), n.2.

7What GW writes here and in his After Orders in the Orderly Book, this date, makes clear GW’s intention to march at 3 o’clock in the morning, 19 Nov., with his 3d Brigade and the contingents of the other two brigades at New Camp (except for the battalion of Highlanders there) straightway for Turtle Creek, in order to arrive at that place on the night of 19 Nov. and begin to build the second fortified post for the army on its march to Fort Duquesne. This indicates that GW had under him about fifteen hundred officers and men when building Camp Washington on Turtle Creek on 20 November.

8See note 5.

9Bouquet wrote GW on 16 Nov. about chimneys for the ill general.

10The Kiskiminetas River, which flows into the Allegheny River at Freeport, was well to the north of Forbes’s intended route to Fort Duquesne.

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