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To George Washington from Robert Dinwiddie, 26 July 1755

From Robert Dinwiddie

July 26th 1755

Dear Washington

The dismal Defeat of our Forces by such a handful of Men gives me very great Concern, as also for the Death of the Genl & so many brave Officers entirely owing to the dastardly Spirit of the private Men their Panick I suppose made them deaf to all Commands & in course was the Bane of all our Misfortunes[.] The train of Artillery being in the Enemy’s Possessn is a monstrous Misfortune; however I was glad to receive Yr Letr1 & that You came safe off witht any Wound after Yr gallant Behavr on which I congratulate You & thank You for the Acct You gave me of the Engagemt but I suppose You cd not tell the Numbr of the Enemy that were killed2—But pray Sr wth the Numbr of Men remaing is there no Possibility of doing somethg the other Side of the Mounts. before the Winter Months—I have wrote Colo. Dunbar on this head3 & if the private Men have got over their Panick I think they may do a good deal as I suppose many of the Fr. will immediately go up the River Ohio as they will not expect any Attack from this so soon after the late Defeat. Pray write me Yr Opinion thereon. I have call’d the Assembly & do not doubt of their concuring with me in any Thg reasonable for the Service.4 I have order’d three Compas. of Rangers to the Frontiers:5 but surely You must Mistake. Colo. Dunbar will not march to Winter Qrs in the Middle of Sumer, & leave the Frontiers of his Majesty’s Colonies open witht proper Fortificats. & exposd to the Invasions of the Enemy, no! he is a better Officer & I have a different Opinion of him—I shall wait wth Impatience an Answer to my Letr to him by this Exps—I thank You for the List of Officers kill’d & Wounded,6 it gives me much Concern to observe so many brave Men in a manner Murder’d for defect of the private Men’s not doing their Duty. I sincerely wish You Health & Happiness & am with great Respect Sr Yr o. h. S.

LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers.

1Although he got word of Braddock’s defeat on 14 July “about Three o’Clock in the Morning” (Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 17 July 1755), in a letter from Col. James Innes written on 11 July, Dinwiddie did not give up hope that “the News was false” until the night of 24 July when GW’s letter of 18 July was brought to him at Hampton Roads where he had gone to see Commodore Augustus Keppel (1725–1786). See Dinwiddie to Sir Thomas Robinson, 25 July 1755, in Brock, Dinwiddie Papers description begins R. Alonzo Brock, ed. The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Virginia, 1751–1758. 2 vols. Richmond, 1883–84. description ends , 2 : 116–17.

2The French and Indians’ concealment in the woods and the necessity of retreating from the battlefield prevented GW or anyone else with Braddock from making an accurate estimate of their opponents’ casualties. The French later reported 23 men killed in action, including 3 officers, 3 Canadians, 2 soldiers, and 15 Indians. Sixteen were wounded, including 12 Indians and 4 whites.

3Dinwiddie to Thomas Dunbar, 26 July 1755, in Brock, Dinwiddie Papers description begins R. Alonzo Brock, ed. The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Virginia, 1751–1758. 2 vols. Richmond, 1883–84. description ends , 2 : 118–20.

4The assembly met on 5 Aug.

5When Governor Dinwiddie reported on 2 July that the night before he had got “an Account of several Families near the Fort, being murdered by Indians, and as supposed, by some French,” the burgesses promptly authorized him to raise three companies of rangers to patrol the frontier (JHB, 1752–1755, 1756–1758 description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 286, 290–92). Before GW took command of the newly formed regiment in early September, Dinwiddie had issued commissions for as many as six ranger companies (Dinwiddie to Horatio Sharpe, 25 Aug. 1755, in Brock, Dinwiddie Papers description begins R. Alonzo Brock, ed. The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Virginia, 1751–1758. 2 vols. Richmond, 1883–84. description ends , 2 : 169–72).

6The list of casualties is included in GW’s letter of 18 July.

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