To Mary Ball Washington
[Fort Cumberland, Md., 7 June 1755]
To Mrs Washington
I was favourd with your
s by Mr Dick,1 and am sorry it is not in my power to provide you with either a Dutch man , or the Butter as you2 desire, for w e are quite out of that part of the Country where either are to be had, as there are few or no Inhabitants where we now lie Encampd, & butter cannot be had here to supply the wants of the Camp. 3
was sorry it was not in my power to call upon you as I went to, or came from Williamsburg to’ther Day, which I should have done if t he business I went upon, which was for money , woud have suffer d me to have made one hour’s delay.4
I hope you will spend the chief part of your time at Mount Vernon as you
say where I am certain every thing will be orderd as much for your satisfaction as possible, in the Situation we are in.
There is a Detachment of 500 Men Marchd from this towards the Aligany, to prepare the Roads &ca and it is imagin’d the main body will move
now in abt 5 days time.5 As nothing else, that is remarkable, occur’s to me, I shall conclude, after
begging my love and Compliments to all Friends Dear Madam Yr most Affecte and Dutiful Son
LB (original), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
1. The letter has not been found. Charles Dick (1715–1782) was a well-known Fredericksburg merchant. On 28 Dec. 1754 Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie appointed him and Dr. Thomas Walker joint commissaries “for the Forces intended for the Ohio,” with the understanding that one of them should stay with the army to issue and pay for provisions and stores, while the other busied himself making contracts and dispatching supplies to the army (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). Dick took the latter role but found it necessary to go to camp on occasion. This trip to Fort Cumberland may have been prompted by the military committee’s recent repudiation of a large beef contract which Dick had negotiated earlier in the year on the grounds that the price Dick allowed was so unprecedentedly high as to appear to be “a Jobb to cheat the Public” (Dinwiddie to Braddock, 23 May 1755, ibid.). The contractor subsequently informed Braddock that he would not honor the contract, and he could not be persuaded to change his mind despite assurances of payment in full by the general.
2. The clerk rendered this word as “your” in the recopied letter book.
3. Ten tons of butter and 1,000 barrels of beef were sent from Ireland with Braddock’s two regiments in January and landed at Alexandria in April. Little, or none, of the butter had been moved beyond Conococheague, and much of it remained at Alexandria. The general scarcity of butter, fresh meat, and produce at Fort Cumberland greatly concerned Braddock, for he feared that putting the army on a steady diet of salted provisions so early “would disable the men from undergoing the fatigues and hardships they were to meet with on their March to the Ohio” (“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 , 311). To remedy the situation he offered loans and rewards and established a public market at the fort where farmers who made the long journeys from their homes were promised a fair fixed price for their products. Few fresh provisions, however, were forthcoming.
6. The dateline is written entirely in GW’s later hand.