To Robert Orme
[Mount Vernon, 15 March 1755]
I was not favourd with your
agreeable Letter (of the 2d) till Yesterday; acquainting me with the notice his Excellency is pleased to honour me with, by kindly desireing my Company in his Family. It s true Sir I have, ever since I declind a command in this Service, expressd an Inclination to ⟨erasure⟩ t he1 Ensueing Campaigne as a Volunteer;2 and this believe me, Sir, is not a little encreasd since it s likely to be conducted by a Gentleman of the Generals great, good Character :
But, beside this, and the laudable desire I may have to serve (with my
poor abilitys) my King & Country, I must be ingenuou⟨s⟩ enough to confess I am not a little biassd by selfish, and siniste⟨r⟩ views — t o be plain, Sir, I wish for nothing more earnestly, than to attain a small degree of knowledge i n the Military Art : and, believeing a more favourable oppertunity cannot be wishd , than serv ing under a Gentleman of his Excellencys known abilit y and experience, it ⟨ erasure ⟩sonably3 imagine , not a little contribute to influence me in my choice.
But Sir, as I have taken the liberty
so far, to discourse thus
freely, I shall beg your Indulgence yet a little longer, while I say , that the only bar that can check me in the pursuit of th ese my desires , is the inconveniences that must necessarily arise, as some proceedings in a late space—(I mean befor⟨e⟩ the Generals arrival ) had , in some measure abated the edge of my Intentions and determined me to lead a life of greater inactivity, and into which I was just entering at no small expence; the business whereof must greatly suffer in my absence .4 I shall do myself the pleasure of waiting upon his Excellency so soon as I hear of his arrival at Alexandria5 (and woud sooner, was I certain where ) till which, I shall decline saying further on this head ; begging you ’ll be kind enough to assure ⟨erasure⟩ that I shall always retain a grateful Sense of the favour he was kindly pleasd to offer me , and that I shoud have embraced this oppertunity of writing to him, had I not some little time ago wrote a congratulatory Letter on his safe arrival &ca, and as I flatter myself you will favour me in communicati ng my Sentiments herein, it will need no other mentn or repetition.6
You do me a singular favour in proposing an acquaintance,
which cannot but be attended with the most agreeable Intimacy on my side ; as you may already experience by the familiarity
and freedom with which I now assume to treat you ; a freedom, which, ⟨erasure⟩7 excuse, as I shall lay the whole blame at your door for encourageing me to throw of the formality which otherwise might have appeard in my deportmt on this occasion. The hope of shortly seeing you will be an ex[c]use for my not adding more than that I shall endeavour to approve myself worthy your friendship, and that I beg to be esteemd Your most Obedient Servant
LB (original), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
1. The erased word may be “attend.”
2. For GW’s earlier professed desire to serve voluntarily rather than to submit to what he conceived to be humiliating conditions attached to a commission, see GW to Robert Dinwiddie, second letter, 18 May 1754.
3. The erased portion may read “will, you must rea.”
4. GW’s affairs at Mount Vernon, where he was still in the process of establishing his household and preparing for his first spring planting, were to be of great concern to him throughout the ensuing campaign.
5. Alexandria was designated the initial staging area for Braddock’s army. It lay near the head of navigation on the Potomac River, up which Braddock had been instructed by his superiors in England to move his men for an early spring offensive against Fort Duquesne. Provincial recruits for the two Irish regiments were directed to rendezvous at Alexandria, and as the troop transports and ordnance store ships from Ireland arrived in Hampton Roads during the first 3 weeks of March, they were ordered to sail on to the Potomac after securing fresh provisions. Braddock intended to set out from Williamsburg for Alexandria on 19 Mar. but did not leave until 3 days later. Accompanied by Dinwiddie and Commodore Augustus Keppel of the Royal Navy, he reached Alexandria on 26 Mar. There he found his troops encamped in tents on the outskirts of the little town.
6. The letter has not been found. GW probably learned of Braddock’s arrival in Virginia about 5 days thereafter, on 25 Feb., when news of it reached Annapolis.