George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Landon Carter, May 1756

From Landon Carter

[May 1756]

Dr Sir

The bearer of this will God willing be my son Landon whose inclinations for the Army have been before discovered but then I had no relish for it because I foresaw in the Number of Masters and one ignorant director many things would fall to an officers lot to account for when every truth received no credit that should be admitted for misadventure for these reasons I put him by but now under an Association where the whole body are evidences and the world only their judges thro’ impertinence1 I have given him leave and would recommend him to a little of yr respect ’tho I would not have you be particular in any instance least it might raise the jealousy of others, altho. I must at the same time tell you that it will puzzle you to avoid it for without ever once I believe endeavouring at it he is become the favorite of every acquaintance by a mild easy, familiar and inoffensive way, a Youth of great tempers great Virtue and great resolution will Always find a friend and yo. may tell Peachey if he is in the way that he may shew that Landon and he are acquainted without giving offense.2

Your letter3 got to me yesterday that you wrote in answer to mine of the 21. April I am glad to find yo. and I correspond that as to the present time twould be unseasonable to shew too great resentment and I can’t help bidding yo. still reflect that it must be some misrepresentation God knows where and how founded that has occasiond so many letters from yr Corps as if all were affected with the Poison of one babling tongue or rather as if there was not one rake or debauchée ever heard of in an army. Some are very daring, charging the Country with ingratitude, boasting of their great toil, and willingness, to serve her when they had ease and plenty at home, and telling her that tho. she ought have boasted of her gratitude to her Sons of Valour yet now she has canceld and effac’d every pretence to such a claim—surely Sr These fellows write letters With the points of their Swords & Seal them with pistol bullets—truely—truely I laugh at such stuff if it not babling for babling. This made many friends to yr Corps ashamed that their imprudent Corespondents should shew them about and at a time when the Regiment was Augmenting and a Memorial was preparing to move his majesty to take it under his protection and recommending the Officers to his gracious favour there is some attonement due for this and were I the judge it should be a fine of five Indian scalps for every letter that wore such a Complexion and when all comes to All as the saying is who believd it Perhaps one man in a hundred.4

As to Want of Regulation in the method of providing I have been sensible of it but it has all along been owing to want of experience. had Virga from first to last one man in it that was not obligd to guess at the way and then clear it or stumble as he went Certainly no. You were Compelld to grope in the dark and Now necessity giving a Glimps of the proper methods, we are really so poor as not to provide cash enough to execute yr plan altho. tis a good one in short she has been a neglected Colony by her mother Country and had there been a more active King on the Throne of France they must have made a Conquest of it long agoe—should we talk of obliging men to serve their Country yo. are sure to have a fellow mumble over the words Liberty & Property a thousand times Sr I think as You do I have endeavourd tho’ not in the field yet in the Senate5 as much as Possible to convince the Country of danger and they know it but like Stingy creatures they are willing to wait for rains to wet the Powder and Rats to eat the bow strings of the enemy rather than attempt to drive them from their Frontiers perhaps when they are at their gates they may be more thoughtfull—These considerations sent out the Patriot blues6 and if they are not lucky themselves it will not have the effect for altho. the law does now in a manner give £10 a man for inlisting I fear next monday altho. I have but twenty to find in Richmond7 that I shall be obligd to hunt the swamps for them as you do Indians —If yo. can read this tis as much as yo. can I write with an uneasy head and let my pen run as it will perhaps it is the word I mean but ten to one it is not. My best Wishes attend yo. I am Yr most humble Servt

Landon Carter

P.S. Daniel Williams a brother to the Lieut. is one enlisted under the last Act & so is Hendren & the Others from Richmond & they desire me to inform yo. that their time expires the 1st Decr Next—I should be Glad they could be under Peachey I beleive they will be have well.8

ALS, DLC:GW. The evidence indicates that Landon Carter (1710–1778) of Sabine Hall, Richmond County, wrote this undated letter in May before 17 May, possibly before 10 May. The act for drafting the militia (7 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 9–20) passed on 1 May 1756, and so the “next Monday” for holding the draft in Richmond County, to which Carter refers, could not have been earlier than 10 May, but it could not have been later than 17 May either, for on Sunday, 23 May, Moore Fauntleroy, Jr., showed up in Fredericksburg with a party of Richmond County draftees (Fauntleroy’s report, DLC:GW).

1For the word “misadventure” in this sentence, Carter first wrote “misconduct.” He struck out “conduct” and inserted “adventure” above it. The substitution does little to clarify the meaning of this passage, but clearly Carter is referring to the “Association of Gentlemen” formed under Peyton Randolph in May to go to GW’s aid. See Dinwiddie to GW, 3 May 1756, n.6.

2If Landon Carter (c.1738–1801), the second son of Landon Carter of Sabine Hall, did go up to Winchester with Randolph’s gentlemen, he seems not to have continued there as a volunteer in the Virginia Regiment, for by November 1756 he was living at Bull Hall, one of two plantations owned by Landon Carter on Bull Run, the stream which divides Prince William and Fairfax counties. Evidence that GW must have exercised considerable tact through the years to remain in the good graces of his influential friend and that the younger Landon did indeed have a “mild easy, familiar way” about him may be found in the entry of 24 Oct. 1757 in the elder Landon Carter’s diary. “This day near Sunset Landon Carter came home. I with great mildness asked him if he did not think that as he was to go up to Bull Hall tomorrow he ought to have staid at home to have taken my directions with regard to my affairs and if he did not think this Sauntering about from house to house only to inflame himself the more by visiting a woman that he knew I would never Consent to his marrying would not ruin him and contrary to his duty. He answered very calmly No. Then Sir be assured that although you will shortly be of age if you do not henceforward leave her you must leave me. He answer, then Sir I will leave you, on which I bid him be gone out of my house. He took up his hat and sayd so he would as soon as he could get his horse and went off immediately without shewing the least Concern, no not even to turn round. This I write down the moment it passed that I might not through want of memory omit so Singular an act of great filial disobedience in a Child that I have thought once my greatest happyness but as a just Father kept it concealed” (Greene, Landon Carter Diary, 1:185).

3GW’s letter has not been found.

4The regimental officers were responding to charges coming from Williamsburg of their misconduct at Fort Cumberland. GW first got word of such reports from Dinwiddie in a letter of 8 April 1756, and Carter himself referred in his latest letter to GW, that of 21 April, to “some reflections that . . . some few of the Officers . . . perhaps may have behaved like disorderly young men.” At the recent session, the General Assembly did order a draft for “Augmenting” the regiment and did adopt a “Memorial” asking that the Virginia Regiment be made a part of the regular establishment of the British army.

5Landon Carter represented Richmond County in the House of Burgesses from 1752 through 1768.

6For the identity of the Patriot Blues, see especially Dinwiddie to GW, 3 May 1756, n.6, and John Tayloe to GW, 22 May 1756, n.3.

7See the source line note above. Moore Fauntleroy, Jr., in fact, delivered to Fredericksburg only eight draftees from Richmond County, and four of these made up the total of those from the county who were discharged in December 1756.

8It would appear that Carter wrote the postscript after the draft was held in the county. Daniel Williams appears as a sergeant in Fauntleroy’s list of eight men “brought up from Richmond County to Fredericksburgh Agreeable to the Governerers Command” (23 May 1756, DLC:GW). He served under his brother Lt. John Williams in Capt. William Peachey’s company only until his discharge before the end of August 1756. Lieutenant Williams remained in the Virginia Regiment until June 1757. John Hendren, a May draftee, was identified in July 1756 as a 21–year-old weaver in Capt. Charles Lewis’s company. He was among the four men from Richmond County who were discharged in December 1756.

Index Entries