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From George Washington to John Robinson, 1 September 1758

To John Robinson

To Jno. Robinson Esqr. Speaker.

My dear Sir,Camp at Fort Cumbd 1 Septemr 1758.

We are still Incampd here—very sickly—and quite dispirited at the prospect before Us—That appearance of Glory once in view—that hope—that laudable Ambition of Serving Our Country, and meriting its applause, is now no more! Tis dwindled into ease—Sloth—and fatal inactivity—and in a Word, All is lost. if the ways of Men in power, like the ways of Providence are not Inscrutable—why ⟨erasure⟩ they not? for we who view the Action’s of great Men at ⟨so vast⟩ a distance, can only form conjectures agreable to the small extent of our knowledge—and ignorant of the comprehensive Schemes intended, mistake, plaugily, in judging by the Lump—this may be, and yet every F—l will have his Notions—prattle & talk away—and pray why may not I?1

We seem then—to act under an evil Geni—the conduct of our Leaders (if not actuated by superior Orders) is temperd with something—I dont care to give a name to—in⟨deed⟩ I will go further, and say they are d——s, or something worse to P—s—v—n Artifice—to whose selfish views I attribute the miscarriage of this Expedition, for nothing now but a miracle can bring this Campaigne to a happy Issue.

In my last I told you (I think) that I had employd my little abilities in opposing the measures then concerting.2 To do this I not only represented the advancd Season—the difficulties of cutting a new Road over these Mountain’s—the little time left for that Service—the Moral certainty of its obstructing our March, and the miscarriage of the Expedition consequent thereupon—but I indeavourd to represent also the great struggle Virginia had made this Year in raising a Second Regiment at so short a notice and great expence—and her inability of a future exertion in case of need; I spoke my Fears concerning the Southern Indians in the event of a miscarriage; and in fine spoke all unavailingly, for the Road was immediately begun, and since then, from one to two Thousand Men have constantly wrought upon it. By the last Accts I receivd they had cut it to the Foot of Lawrel Hill about 35 Miles and I suppose by now 15,00 Men have taken post at Loyal hanning, about 10 Miles further, where our next Fort is intended to be constructed.

We have certain Intelligence that the French Strength at Fort Duquesne the 13th Ulto did not exceed 800 Men, Indians Included; of whom their appeard to be 3 or 400—this Acct is corroborated on all hands. two officers of the first Virginia Regiment in different Part⟨ies⟩ and at different times, having come from thence since that time, after lying a day or two in full view of the Fort Secreted, and observing the motions and strength of the Enemy.3

See therefore how our time has been mispent—behold the golden oppertunity lost—& perhaps never ⟨may after again⟩—How is it to be accounted for? can G——l F——s have Orders for this? Impossible: Will then our Injurd Country pass by such abuses? I hope not. Rather let a full representation of the matter go to His Majesty. Let him know how grossly his ⟨Honr⟩ and the Publick money has been prostituted. I wish I was sent immediately home ⟨erasure⟩ some other on this Errand.4 I think without vanity I coud set the Conduct of this Expedition in its true colours, having taken some pains, perhaps more than any other to dive into the bottom of it. But no more, adieu my dear Sir—It has long been the luckless Fate of poor Virginia to fall a Victim to the views of her Crafty Neighbours; and yield her honest efforts to promote their common Interests, at the expence of much Blood & Treasure; while ⟨her⟩ sincerety ⟨justified⟩ her Measures. We now can only bewail that blindness, and wish for happier times, which seem at so remote a distance that ⟨illegible5 rather to be wishd than expected.6

Colo. Byrd who is really unwell joins me in Compliments to you7—the Attorney and the rest of our Friends—I am with the Utmost Sincerity My Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt & Obligd Friend and Servt

Go: Washington

LB (original), DLC:GW; LB (recopied), DLC:GW.

John Robinson was treasurer and speaker of the House of Burgesses.

1GW seems to have written this passage before receiving “in the Evening” on this date Bouquet’s letter of 30 Aug. with news that Forbes had ordered GW to march with the Virginia troops at the camp near Fort Cumberland up Braddock’s Road to the Salt Lick. In place of the erased word, GW later wrote “may.”

2In the passage immediately following GW is referring to what he said to Bouquet when the two met on 29 July and to what he wrote Bouquet on 2 August. No letter from GW to Robinson dated in August 1758 has been found.

3GW later inserted “viz. Chew and Allan” above the line after “first Virginia Regiment.” See particularly Colby Chew to GW, 22 Aug., and Chew’s enclosed report on the roads.

4This suggestion by GW that he himself join a mission from Virginia to London to complain of the way General Forbes was conducting the campaign may have been the “Scheme” that Forbes said he discovered in a “very unguarded letter” written by GW (GW to Bouquet, 6 Aug., n.2). GW originally may have written “with” after “home”; he later erased and wrote over the erasure and inserted above it: “as an aid to.”

5GW later crossed out what may have been “it is” and substituted “They are indeed.”

6GW took the last part of this paragraph, beginning with “It has long been the luckless Fate of poor Virginia,” from John Kirkpatrick’s letter to him of 23 August.

7William Byrd wrote Forbes on 24 Aug.: “I have been for some time ill of Agues & Fevers, but I hope the Bark will cure me; I am at this time so sick” (Scottish Record Office: Dalhousie Muniments).

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