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From George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie, 9 March 1754

To Robert Dinwiddie

Alexandria 9th of March 1754.

Honble Sir

In my last by Mr Stuart I slightly mentioned the objection many had against Enlisting (to wit) not knowing who was to be Pay Master, or the times for Payment:1 It is now grown a pretty general Clamour, and some of those who were amongst the first Enlister’s; being Needy, and knowing it to be usual for His Majesty’s Soldiers to be paid once a Week, or at most every Fortnight, are very importunate to receive their Due.2 I have sooth’d, and quieted them as much as possible under pretence of receiving your Honour’s Instructions in this particular at the arrival of the Colonel.3

I have increas’d my number of Men to abt 25, and dare venture to say, I should have had several more if the excessive bad weather did not prevent their meeting agreeable to their Officer’s Commands.4

We daily Experience the great necessity for Cloathing the Men, as we find the generallity of those who are to be Enlisted, are of those loose, Idle Persons that are quite destitute of House, and Home, and I may truely say many of them of Cloaths; which last, render’s them very incapable of the necessary Service, as they must unavoidably be expos’d to inclement weather in their Marches &ca; and can expect no other, than to encounter almost every difficulty that’s incident to a Soldiers Life[.] There is many of them without Shoes, other’s want Stockings, some are without Shirts, and not a few that have Scarce a Coat, or Waistcoat, to their Backs; in short, they are as illy provided as can well be conceiv’d, but I really believe every Man of them for their own Credits sake, is willing to be Cloathed at their own Expence: they are perpetually teazing me to have it done, but I am not able to advance the money provided there was no risque in it, which there certainly is, and too great for me to run; thô it would be nothing to the Country, as a certain part of their pay might be deducted and appropriated to that use: Mr Carlyle, or any of the Merchants here would furnish them with proper necessarys if there was a certainty of any part of their pay stopt to reimburse the Expence—But I must here in time put a kirb to my requests, and remember that I ought not to be too importunate; otherwise, I shall be as troublesome to your Honour, as the Soldiers are to me: there is nothing but the necessity of the thing could urge me to be thus free, but I shall no more exagerate this affair to your Honour, as I am well assur’d whatever you think for the Benefit, or good of the Expedition you will cause to have done. I am Honble Sir, Yr most Obt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, ViHi.

1See GW to Dinwiddie, 7 Mar. 1754, n.3. Mr. Stuart is probably Henry Steward.

2The funds to pay the troops were to be raised under the act that the Virginia Assembly passed in February authorizing the treasurer of the colony to borrow up to £10,000 to be used for frontier defense in the face of the French advance. See Dinwiddie to GW, Jan. 1754, n.9. The act also established a committee of 14 directors, consisting of 10 burgesses and 4 councilors, who were “to direct and appoint,” with the governor’s assent, how the money should be spent. The directors should also, “as often as there shall be occasion of the money for the uses aforesaid, apply themselves to the governor . . . to issue out his warrant to the said treasurer to pay so much money as shall be wanting” (6 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 418). Dinwiddie and Treasurer John Robinson had problems finding lenders, and by summer GW was getting most of his payroll money through the efforts of John Carlyle.

3GW may have known that within the past 2 weeks Dinwiddie had chosen Col. Joshua Fry (c.1700–1754), “a Man of good Sense, & an able Mathematn,” to take command of an enlarged expedition to the Ohio (Dinwiddie to Horatio Sharpe, 1 Mar. 1754, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). Fry was Oxford-educated and had immigrated to Virginia before 1720. He taught mathematics at the College of William and Mary and collaborated with Peter Jefferson in 1751 to produce the “Map of the Inhabited Parts of Virginia.” In 1745 he was appointed county lieutenant for Albemarle County. The assembly’s appropriation of £10,000 for defense had allowed Dinwiddie to commission a number of officers to recruit men for five or six companies, which were supposed to assemble in Alexandria by 20 Mar. The governor had also learned in late February that three independent companies of regular soldiers, two from New York and one from South Carolina, were being sent to Virginia to join the expedition. As “Commander in Chief of the Virga Regiment,” Colonel Fry had instructions to take command of the forces being brought together at Alexandria and to “march them to Wills’s Creek, above the Falls of Poto. from thence with the Great Guns, Ammunitn & Provisions . . . to proceed to Monongehela, when arriv’d there; . . . to make Choice of the best Place to erect a Fort for mounting” his cannon (Mar. 1754, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers).

4See Dinwiddie’s instructions to GW, Jan. 1754, to raise 100 men to go to the “Forks of the Ohio” and help complete the building of the fort there.

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