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To George Washington from Thomas Basset, 27 April 1758

From Thomas Basset

Fort Frederick [Md.] 27th April 1758


I am sent here by Sr John St Clair to repair the Roads &c. on both Sides of the Potowmack; to forward which Service he told me he had ordered 200 of the Virginia Troops to take Post at Enoch’s: whenever this is done you’ll please to let me know & I shall be ready to attend them.1

Lieut. Shelby, who is employd to buy Forrage, has contracted for some Oats & Indian Corn to be delivered at Capt. Caton’s on your Side of the Potowmack.2 As it may be a Week or ten Days before he can send for it, & as he thinks it a dangerous Place he desired I would mention it to you; being assured that, if you think it necessary, you will order a small Guard there from Patterson’s Fort or elswhere. I am, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servt

T. Basset Engineer


Lt. Thomas Basset of the Royal American Regiment, with date of rank 14 Feb. 1757, served as an engineer in building and maintaining roads for the Forbes expedition to Fort Duquesne in 1758.

1GW did not get Basset’s letter until 3 May and replied on 4 May that he had received no orders to send 200 men to Enoch’s. St. Clair wrote Forbes from Philadelphia on 6 April 1758: “Governor [Horatio] Sharpe has informed me of a Road which leads to the Right about 12. or 14. miles on this side of Conogogee [Conococheague] and goes pretty Strait to Fort Frederick, this will save us about 16: Miles in our Road to Enoch’s and our Magazines will be under that Fort, I shall this Evening send . . . an Order to Lieut. Basset at Lancaster to repair to Fort Frederick [Md.], where he shall have orders to mend the Road, build Magazines and Flatts” (ViU: Forbes Papers). Three days later St. Clair wrote Forbes: “Lt Bassett the Engineer is gone from Lancaster to Fort Frederick to do what is necessary at that Place. But where I am to get Troops to send to Enoch’s, Cox’s and Cressop’s I know not unless they drop down from the Clouds. Orders are gone to Williamsbourg to send up the 200. of the Virginia Forces when they arrive from So. Carolina” (ibid.).

2Lieutenant Shelby was probably Evan Shelby who commanded a volunteer company of Maryland soldiers in the Forbes campaign. He blazed the road for GW’s forces in the last phase of the campaign in November 1758. Thomas Caton lived at or near Maidstone, a depot for military supplies, across the Potomac from the mouth of Conococheague Creek in Maryland.

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