George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Orme, 2 April 1755

To Robert Orme

[Mount Vernon, 2 April 1755]

To Robert Orme Esqr.—Alexandria
Dear Sir,

The arrival of a good deal of Company (among whom is my Mother, alarmd with at the report of my intententions to attending your Fortunes)—prevents me the pleasure of waiting upon you to day as I had intended;1 I therefore, I beg that you’ll be kind enough to make my compliments & excuse, to the Generl; who I hope to hear is greatly recoverd from his indisposition; and recruited sufficiently to prosecute his journy to Annopolis.2

I find myself much embarrassd with my Affairs; having no person in whom I can confide, to entrust the management with of them with.3 Yet, under these disadvantangeous circumstances Notwithstanding, I am determined to do myself the honour of accompanying you, with upon this proviso only—that the General will be kind enough to permit my return so as soon as the hurry off, or grand Affair is over (if active part of the Campaign is at an end if it is desird) Or, if there shoud be any space of inaction long enough, to admit of a visit (for otherwis⟨e⟩ I coud by no means obtain my own consent, whatever private losses I might sustain) to endulge me therein and to my home, that I may be end[ulge]d in coming to it. I need not add how much I shoud be oblig’d by joining you at Wills Creek4 only, for this the General has kindly promis’d instead of doing it at an earlier period and place.—These things Sir, however unreasonable in whatever light they may appear to you at first Sight, I hope will not be taken amiss will not I hope be thought unreasonable when its is considerd how unprepard I am at present to quit a Family, & an Estate scarcely settled, & I was just about to settle wch was utmost confusion.

I have inclosd you a Letter from Colo. Fairfax to Governour Shirley,5 which with his Complts he desird might be given to Mr Shirly: that Gentleman He also sends his Blessing to you, and desires you may be a good boy, & deserve them, & entitle yourself to more. that by being a good boy you may merit more of them. At present he entertains those pleasing, & Sanguine hopes that a dutiful, & worthy Son shoud expect from the most paternal fondness of an endulgent Father of you—t⟨erasurehis⟩ for your comfort. I herewith send you a small Chart Map of the back Country, which tho’ imperfect, & roughly drawn (for want of proper Utensils) Instrumts may, notwithstanding, give you a better knowledge of these e parts designated than you have hitherto had an oppertunity of acquiring.6

I shall do myself the honour of waiting upon the General so as soon as I hear of His return from Annopolis—My Compliments attends him, Mr Shirley7 &ca And I am Sir Yr truely Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LB (original), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1In the week since Braddock arrived in Alexandria, GW apparently had visited him and his staff at least once at their quarters in John Carlyle’s handsome new house on Fairfax Street. He also may have attended the troop review that the general held on 31 Mar. See GW to Sarah Cary Fairfax, 14 May 1755.

2Braddock, Keppel, and Dinwiddie traveled to Annapolis in Dinwiddie’s coach on 3 April 1755 for a conference with governors Horatio Sharpe of Maryland, Robert Hunter Morris of Pennsylvania, James De Lancey of New York, and William Shirley of Massachusetts. When the three northern executives failed to arrive by 7 April, Braddock and his companions returned to Alexandria so that the general could start his troops marching toward Wills Creek without further delay. The conference was reset for Alexandria as soon as the missing governors could get there. See GW to William Fairfax, 23 April 1755.

3GW soon engaged his brother John Augustine Washington to look after his personal business affairs during his absence from home.

4Wills Creek was to be the advanced staging area for Braddock’s march to Fort Duquesne. The general was anxious to move the army there. His instructions from England were to begin his operations as soon as the weather allowed. He was also eager to leave Alexandria because it was difficult to control the soldiers’ tippling in town and because the water was reportedly “very unwholsome” (“Captain Orme’s Journal,” in Sargent, Braddock’s Expedition description begins Winthrop Sargent, ed. The History of an Expedition against Fort Du Quesne, in 1755; under Major-General Edward Braddock, Generalissimo of H.B.M. Forces in America. Philadelphia, 1856. description ends , 297).

5William Shirley (1694–1771), governor of Massachusetts from 1741 to 1756, recently had been named second in command to Braddock for the North American theater. Son of a London merchant, Shirley practiced law in England from 1720 until he moved to Boston in 1731 with his large family. With the help of English political connections he became the colony’s advocate general in 1733 and governor 8 years later. As governor he proved himself a shrewd employed of patronage and an ardent defender of imperial interests. For launching the victorious Louisbourg expedition in 1745, he was rewarded with the colonelcy of a new regiment formed from the provincial troops participating in the expedition. Shirley’s regiment was disbanded a short time later, but in Oct. 1754 he was instructed to raise it again. The regiment was now complete and ready to march with Sir William Pepperrell’s American regiment against French posts in the north.

6The map has not been found. This map, which may have resembled the one that GW made in 1754 of his route to Fort Le Boeuf, was probably among the Braddock papers that were lost at the Battle of the Monongahela.

7William Shirley, Jr. (1721–1755), eldest son of Gov. William Shirley and secretary to Braddock, apparently had made GW’s acquaintance in Alexandria during the past few days. Appointed Boston naval officer by his father in 1741, Shirley later lost that lucrative post to a family political rival. In 1745 he went to England to attend to some of his father’s affairs. While there he tried and failed to purchase a British army commission. He joined Braddock as secretary without rank in the fall of 1754 and sailed for Virginia with the general and Orme in December. He soon regretted coming, however. “I came out of England expecting that I might be taught the Business of a Military Secretary,” he wrote Gov. Robert Hunter Morris of Pennsylvania from Wills Creek on 23 May 1755, “but I am already convinced of my Mistake. I would willingly hope my Time may not be quite lost to me. You will think me out of humour. I own I am so. I am greatly disgusted at seeing an Expedition (as it is called) so ill concerted since in America, and so much Fatigue and Expence incurred for a Purpose which if attended with success might better have been let alone” (Pa. Arch., Col. Rec. description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 6:404–6). Shirley was killed at the Battle of the Monongahela on 9 July 1755 by a shot through the head.

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