George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Stewart, 12 December 1758

From Robert Stewart

Winchester Decemb. 12th 1758

Dear Sir

The Baggage arriv’d here the night before last but the horses so low and Jaded as they could not proceed before this day I have sent Keating & two others to see it safe to the Quarter.1

There’s no place to receive the Sick and that there should be no Surgeon or Nurses to take care of the Sick & wounded appears shockingly Barbarous.

Mr Smith says there’s no materials to finish the Barracks & no money to procure them, those that stays in the Fort must suffer greatly for want of Wood & water—as the men are in great want of necessaries would you think proper to have the Shirts and Stockgs in the Store Issued to them.

Mr Boyd got here last night, he parted with our Troops at Reas Town and says that before he left them eight or nine had Parish’d with Cold, and that the Sick Encreasd fast.2

My Fever still continues and nobody here that can give me the smallest Releif nor is it diminishd by the Intelligence we had of the Assemblys Determination about our Regt (if it now may be call’d one). the very name of Ranger is horrible. its Duty if well executed insupportable by at least 9/10ths of the Human Species, it’s nature inconsistent with order & Discipline and that Brave Corps equally Distinguish’d by their Discipline and Intrepidity before the Enemy will too probably soon dwindle to a Licentious Crowd3—as I would willingly make every effort to secure some kind of Retreat from what I so much dislike I would (if it should not appear like an abuse of that good nature & disinterested Friendship so often Demonstrated in my behalf) Beg you would be so good as to use your Interest with the Governor to make me an Adjutant to the Militia this the late Governor often told me should be a back door for me in case I should be disappointed in my military expectations which (he added) could not well happen[.] I am told there is a vacancy and a total ignorance of the Service must render some of those that enjoy them very unequal to the office—I know how disagreeable it is to ask a favour of a great man and nothing but dire necessity could induce me to beg your doing it—from the present Circumstances of Affairs and your Situation in Life I’m perswaded such a favour at this juncture would not be refus’d you. I am really asham’d at my giving such great & frequent trouble indeed it seems odd I should give you the most who is best dispos’d to do for me, tho’ that its natural cause.4

I shall ever retain the most grateful sense of the manifold Friendly & obliging offices you have been pleas’d to do me, to merit which will always comprehend a large share of his ambition who is with the most perfect & unalterable Esteem My Dear Colo. Your most Affecte & most obliged hble Servant

Robert Stewart

my present Situation will I hope render an appology for my writing &ca badly unnecessary.


1For the “Baggage” sent to “the Quarter,” GW’s Bullskin plantation, see Christopher Hardwick to GW, this date. Hardwick’s letter to GW, which is in fact a receipt, may be the “memorandum” that the cover sheet indicates was enclosed in Stewart’s letter. Keating was probably John Keating, a soldier in Robert Stewart’s company.

2See Charles Smith to GW, 2 Dec. 1758, and note 3 of that document. The Virginia troops seem to have arrived in Winchester after the baggage got there on 10 December. On 7 Dec. John St. Clair wrote Forbes from Raystown: “The two Virginia Regts march from this to morrow” (Scottish Record Office: Dalhousie Muniments).

3“An Act for the defence of the Frontiers of this Colony . . .,” passed 12 Oct. 1758, provided among other things for the stationing of the men in the 1st Virginia Regiment “in small parties or detachments upon the frontiers of this colony, and be employed in ranging thereon” (7 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 171–79).

4Although there is some evidence from their correspondence that GW urged and Fauquier looked with some favor upon Stewart’s appointment as an adjutant in the Virginia militia, he was never given the position. Stewart continued in the Virginia Regiment until the end of the war, and beginning in January 1759 he also held a lieutenant’s commission in the Royal American Regiment (see Stewart to GW, 16 Jan. 1759, n.7). Most of his numerous letters to GW during the next five years have as their theme Stewart’s pressing need for military preferment.

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