George Washington Papers
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Memorandum respecting the Militia, 1–2 May 1756

Memorandum respecting the Militia

Winchester1[1–2 May 1756]

On Thursday the 29th of May [April]2 1756 divers expresses being first sent to the County Lieutenants of Fairfax Prince William and Culpeper3 Mr Dalton at the head of 31 Volunteer’s and 54 Militia from Fairfax came to Town. the same day I receivd an express from Captn Broadwater at the Gap of the Short Hills informing me that himself and the Captns Ramsay[,] Minor4 and Hamilton with abt 100 Men were at that place5—that he had receivd my dispatches to hurry on the Militia and desird to know wht number should be sent—I here upon advised with Captn Dalton who told me6 that ten Men from each of those7 Companys was the complement intended by the Comg Officer in8 Fairfax I therefore orderd that number to be im[mediatel]y detach’d. Sun[da]y M[ay] 1st9 they ⟨illegible⟩ under Captn James Hamilton.10 as did Captn Russel with 23 Volunteers from Williams’s gap.11

This day12 I rec. another express from Captn Broadwater setting forth that he had just receivd one from Colo. Carlyle ordering him to remain at tht place till he heard from me: and that he was scarce of provisns and coud not buy—I also13 abt the same time I recd an express from Colo. Carlyle desireing me to order up such a part of the said Militia as I thought necessary upon which I sent to Captn Broadwater for a detac. of 25 more and ordered the ⟨oths.⟩ to be dismiss’d.14

AD, DLC:GW. This memorandum is one of a series written on small pages which probably originally formed a paper book, or notebook. There is a memorandum for each day from 1–2 May through 20 May, except for 5 May. In each entry GW took note of his dealings on that day with the militia in and about Winchester. All but one of the memoranda are in GW’s hand: that of 20 May was written by his aide-de-camp George Mercer. The manuscript pages show that GW on occasion struck out words or whole lines, wrote over erasures, made insertions, and substituted one word for another, often for its synonym. Many of these changes were clearly made by GW at some time after the original composition. Internal evidence also strongly suggests that GW wrote some entries on the date indicated and others a day or more later. At some point, GW docketed the whole as “Memms respectg the Militia Apl and May 1756.” He also wrote Dinwiddie on 23 May 1756 that “to inform your Honour of the proceedings of the Militia,” he would at that time “enclose a Transcript of my Journal that relates to that Affair”; and on 27 May Dinwiddie wrote to GW that he had “recd Your Journal relating to the Militia.” The journal has not been found. That the “Journal” which GW had “Transcribed” and sent to Dinwiddie on 23 May was based upon the memoranda printed here, however, is borne out by the fact that on the page preceding the first memorandum are GW’s rough notes for his letter of 23 May to Dinwiddie.

This, the first of these memoranda, is dated from internal evidence, and the rest are given the dates assigned to them by GW. Each is inserted by date in its appropriate place in this volume. The changes GW made in the manuscripts have been noted.

1GW later inserted Winchester at the head of the page.

2Someone other than GW has written in pencil above “May” the words “April page 1.” GW should have written “April” instead of “May.”

4“Minor” was inserted.

5John Dalton (d. 1777), Charles Broadwater (d. 1806), William Ramsay (1716–1785), Nicholas Minor (died c.1782), and James Hamilton (died c.1775) were all captains in the Fairfax County militia. The Gap (later Hillsboro) in the Short Hills, the range just to the east of the Blue Ridge, where all but Dalton and his men were, was on the road from upper Fairfax County, which crossed the Blue Ridge at Vestal’s, or Keyes’ Gap. Ramsay and Broadwater apparently returned home within a day or two, along with about thirty-five Fairfax militiamen whom GW ordered dismissed. On GW’s orders, captains Hamilton and Minor joined Dalton in Winchester with about forty militiamen, probably on 2 May. On 4 May GW dispatched Hamilton and Minor to the South Branch with about fifty militiamen each to patrol in that area, and there they remained at least until late July, although Hamilton returned home for a time in June. On the same day he sent out Captain Dalton and the rest of the Fairfax militia in Winchester to strengthen the defenses around Conococheague on the Potomac, only to have Dalton return to Winchester on 8 May with thirteen militiamen, the rest having deserted. The next day he sent Dalton and his remaining men back to Alexandria. Capt. John Dalton, the partner of John Carlyle, and Capt. William Ramsay were both important merchants in Alexandria and were suppliers of the Virginia Regiment. Charles Broadwater, the son of Charles and brother of Guy Broadwater, later served with GW for Fairfax County in the provincial conventions of 1774 and 1775 and in the House of Burgesses, 1775–76. Nicholas Minor and James Hamilton both lived on Vestal’s Gap road in upper Fairfax County, the more exposed part of the county, the part that was to become Loudoun County in 1757. Both were on the first commission of peace of the new county in 1757, and both were trustees of Leesburg, the Loudoun County seat, which Minor laid out on his property in 1758. Hamilton was elected burgess from Loudoun in 1758 and in every election thereafter until he resigned his seat in 1771. Nicholas Minor was the only one of these five Fairfax County militia captains to return to the frontier in the summer of 1757 with his company of militia.

6GW drew a line through “found” and wrote “told me” above it.

7After “those” the word “aforesaid” was deleted, as was “more” written above it.

8“In” was substituted for “of.”

9The first of May was on Saturday.

10After “Hamilton” GW deleted “the first of May.”

11After “gap” GW wrote and then crossed out: “to whom I was oblidg to send [ ] wt of Flour & the same quantity of meat before the Party wd March.” After the first sentence of this memorandum, ending in “Town,” he had written “and ⟨illegible[ ] of Flour and.” Captain Russel may have been William Russell (1735–1793), son of Col. William Russell of Culpeper County. Williams’s, or Snickers’s, Gap through the Blue Ridge almost due east of Winchester, was above Ashby’s Gap and below Vestal’s, or Keyes’, Gap. Captain Russell and his volunteers went along with Dalton to Conococheague on 4 May and returned with him to Winchester on 8 May. He and his party left for home on 9 May. See note 5.

12GW drew a line through “Sunday 2d May” and wrote above it, “this day I also,” and then blotted “also.”

13The blot before “also” may not have been intentional.

14No letters to or from Charles Broadwater have been found and none from John Carlyle to GW of this date. At the end of this memorandum, after the word “dismiss’d,” the sentence “these arrivd here the 2d of May” has a line drawn through it.

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