George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie, 3 June 1754

To Robert Dinwiddie

From our Camp &ca June the 3d 1754

Honble Sir

The Half King with abt 25 Familys contg near 80 Person’s including women and children arriv’d here last night.1 He has given me some acct of the Twigtwee’s, Wyendotts and several other Nations of Indians which I have transmitted to your Honour by an express as you enquird circumstancially in your last and I was then unable to give any acct at all of them.2

The French early in the Spring sent a Speech to the Wyendotts, Twigtwees, and their Allies and desird them to take up the Hatchet and Marh to Ohio and their cut of the Inhabitants with all the English thereon this the big Kettle3 acquainted the Half King with and at the same time assur’d him with their good Intentions of assisting the 6 Nations and their Brother’s the English agt the French and that they only waited to see us begin[.] I have inclosd the Speech of the Chiefs4 to which was added another from the Warriors informing that they were busy in Councilling with the Chippoways, Ottoways &ca and striving to bring all into the same mind with themselves, they desire the 6 Nations, Virginian’s & Pensylvanians not to doubt but that they shall accomplish their designs in this and when they do will send word thereof.

Monacatoocha was sent by the Half King abt 5 Nights ago to the Logs Town with 4 French Scalps two of which was to be sent to the Wyendotts &ca and the other two to the 6 Nations telling them that the French had trickd them out of their Lands for which with their Brother’s the English who joyn’d hand in hand they had let them feel the wait of their Hatchet which was but trifling yet as it only lodgd on 305 for that they intd with their Brothers to drive the French beyond the Lakes Monacatoocha has order’s to draw all the Indians from Ohio and then repair to our Camp.

I proposd to the Half King sending their Women and Children into the Inhabitants, for as they must be supported by us it may be done at a less expence there than here beside this, there may another good attend it, their Children may imbibe the principles of Love and friendship in a stronger degree which if taken when young is generally more firm & lasting—He told me he would consider of it and give answer when Monacatoocha arrived I hope this will be agreeable to your Honour who I wrote to before on this head, witht receivg an answer6—we find it very difficult procureing Provisions for them as they equally witht our own men, which is unavoidable withot turning them a drift intirely.

Montour would be of singular use to me here at this present, in conversing with the Indians for I have no Person’s that I can put any dependance in: I make use of all the influence I can to engage them warmly on our side, and flatter myself that I am not unsuccessful, but for want of a better acquaintance with their Customs I am often at a loss how to behave and should be reliev’d from many anxious fear’s of offendg them if Montour was here to assist me and as he is in the governmts employt I hope your Honr will think with me his Servics cannot be apply’d to so gt advantage as here upon this occasion.7

There was 3 French Deserters met a few days (one an Englishman) at Loyal henning8 going to Virga by one Crawford9 a Man of Veracity who was assur’d by them that there was two Mastr Trader’s confind in Irons at the Fort when Sieur De Jumonville was Detach’d and at the same time that he departed for this another Party of 50 was sent down Ohio to kill or take Prisoner’s all the English they’d meet with, They also assure us that Jumonvilles Party was all chosen Men fixd upon for this Enterprise they likewise confirm the report the Prisoner’s gave, that 1100 Men were now in the Fort and Reinforcts expected.

If the whole Detacht of the French behave with no more Risolution than this chosen Party did I flatter myself we shall have no gt trouble in driving them to the ⟨D⟩—Montreal[.] Tho’ I took 40 Men under my Comd when I marchd out yet the darkness of the Night was so great that by wandering a Little from the Main body 7 were lost—and but 33 ingag’d[.] There was also but 7 Indians with Arms two of which were Boys one Dinwiddie Yr Honrs Godson10—who behavd well in action[.] There were 5, or 6 other Indian, who servd to knock the poor unhappy wounded in the head and beriev’d them of their Scalps—So that we had but 40 Men with which we killd and took 32 or 3 Men besides those who may have escap’d—one we have certain acct did.11

We have just finish’d a small palisadod Fort in which with my small Number’s I shall not fear the attack of 500 Men.12

There is three seperate strings of Wampum which the Half King has desird me to send[.] One is from the Wyendott Chiefs, to confirm what they said another from the Warriors to confirm theirs and the other (white) is from Monachatoocha and since writing the above there has arriv’d two Indians from Moskingam13 who inform that the Wyendotts &ca are ready to strike so soon as they hear the 6 Nation’s and English have. I am Yr Honr most Obt & most Hble Ser⟨vt.⟩

Go: Washington

ALS, PHi: Dreer Collection.

1See Dinwiddie to GW, 2 June 1754; Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:199.

2Presumably it is this letter of 3 June that GW has “transmitted to your Honour by an express.” Dinwiddie’s “last” is his letter to GW of 25 May.

3Big Kettle or Canajachrera, also called Broken Kettle, was a Seneca chief living in the Ohio country, probably at the Indian trading town of Kuskuskies on the Big Beaver River.

4This was probably the speech that Big Kettle relayed from the Wyandots to “the Six Nations, English and Delaware” (Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends , 1 : 250).

5This may have been a reference to the Jumonville skirmish. See Dinwiddie to GW, 25 May 1754.

7Dinwiddie had already sent Andrew Montour to GW. See Dinwiddie to GW, 2 June 1754.

8Loyalhanna was a Delaware town on Loyalhanna Creek in Westmoreland County, Pa. The British built Fort Ligonier on the site in 1758.

9This was probably Hugh Crawford (d. 1770), who was a licensed trader on the Pennsylvania frontier as early as 1739. During the 1750s and 1760s he engaged in extensive explorations and trading ventures in the area of the Scioto River. In 1756 Crawford served as an ensign in the forces raised by George Croghan to garrison Pennsylvania’s frontier forts.

10More than one Indian bore the honorary name “Dinwiddie.” At a council at Winchester in Sept. 1753 the 11–year-old son of Monacatoocha was christened “Dinwiddie” with George William Fairfax and Christopher Gist standing as sponsors (P.R.O., C.O. 5/1328, f. 29). This boy may be the godson referred to in GW’s letter. In June 1754 the governor’s name was given by GW to the Half-King (GW to Dinwiddie, 10 June 1754).

11A Canadian named Monceau escaped and returned to Fort Duquesne to report the fate of his comrades. See GW’s first letter of 29 May 1754 to Dinwiddie, n. 12.

12In his journal GW noted that on 30 May he had begun to erect a fort at Great Meadows “with small Pallisadoes, fearing that when the French should hear the News of that Defeat [of Jumonville], we might be attacked by considerable Forces” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:199). A contemporary observer, John Shaw, stated that there “was at this Place a smal Stocado Fort made in a circular Form round a smal House that stood in the Middle of it to keep our Provisions and Ammunition in, and was covered with Bark and some Skins and might be about 14 Feet square, and the Walls of the Fort might be about 8 feet distance from the said House all round” (McDowell, S.C. Indian Affairs description begins William L. McDowell, Jr., ed. Documents relating to Indian Affairs. 2 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1958-70. In Colonial Records of South Carolina, 2d ser., vols. 2–3. description ends , 5). Another contemporary observer, Col. James Burd, viewing the remains of the stockade in 1759, also noted that the fort had consisted of a small circular stockade with a small house in the center. There was a ditch around it about 8 yards out, and the stockade was situated on the narrow part of the meadow. Based on a preliminary study of the area of the fort by Pennsylvania surveyor Freeman Lewis in 1816 and another by historian Jared Sparks in 1830, the fort was generally considered to have been either triangular in shape or, as was more usual with eighteenth-century forts, rectangular or square. Not until excavations of the site were made in 1952 was it evident that the contemporary descriptions of the fort were correct in assuming the stockade to be circular in shape. Archaeological research showed the fort to be about 53 feet in diameter, with an overall perimeter of 168 feet and an entrance 3.5 feet wide on the southwest side of the fort. Small entrenchments were erected outside the stockade walls for the defense of the fort. The stockade itself was constructed of white oak logs about 10 inches in diameter, split in two with the split side facing out, a form of construction not common in British frontier forts. The narrow entrance gateway to the stockade had three round posts at each side (Harrington, “Metamorphosis of Fort Necessity,” description begins J. C. Harrington. “The Metamorphosis of Fort Necessity.” Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 37 (1954–55): 181–88. description ends 184–85). Although it is uncertain how much technical knowledge GW brought to bear on the construction of the fort, he carried such sophisticated surveying equipment as a theodolite with him on the campaign “solely for the Public use imagining it necessary for laying of Grounds for Forti’ns &ca” (GW to Carter Burwell, 20 April 1755).

13There was an Indian village called Muskingum on the west bank of the Muskingum River in the Ohio country.

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