George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Jackson, 2 August 1755

To Robert Jackson

[Mount Vernon, 2 August 1755]

To Mr Robt Jackson—Fredericksburgh
Dr Sir

I must acknowledge you had great reason to be terrified with the first accts that was given of our unhappy defeat, and I must own, I was not a little surprisd to find that Governour Innis was the means of alarming the Country with a report of that so extraordinary nature, without having any better confirmation of the truth, than the story of an affrighted Waggeners Story1—Its true, we have been beaten—most shamefully beaten—by a handful of Men! who only intended to molest and disturb our March; Victory was their smallest expectation; but see the wondrous works of Providence! the uncertainty of Human things! We but a few moments before, believ’d our number’s almost equal to the Canadian Force, they only expected to annoy us: Yet, contrary to all expectation & human probability and even to the common course of things, we were totally defeated, sustain’d the loss of every thing; which they have got, are enrichen’d, by it and strengthned are accomodated by it them—this, as you observe, must be an affecting story to the Colony; and will, no doubt, license the tongues of People to censure those whom they think most blameably—which by the by, often falls very wrongfully. I join very heartily with you in believing that when this story comes to be related in future Annals, it will meet with ridicule or unbelief & indignation; for had I not been witness to the fact on that fatal Day, I shd scarce have given credit to it even now.2

Whenever it suits you to come into Fairfax I hope you will make your home at Mount Vernon. Please to give my Compts to all enquiring Friends; and I assure you nothing coud have added greater more to the satisfaction to of my safe return, than hearing of the friendly concern that whas been expressed at on my suppos’d Death.3 I am Dr Sir Yr most Obt Servt

G. W——n

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

1James Innes’s circular letter of 11 July from Fort Cumberland read: “I have this moment received the Melancholy Account of the Defeat of our Troops, The General kill’d and numbers of our officers, our whole Artillery taken; In short the Account I have Received is so very bad, that as please God I intend to make a Stand here, its highly necessary to raise the Militia every where to defend the Frontiers” (Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 31:70). Two days later he wrote Dinwiddie: “The Dismall news brought down here on the Eleventh Current Friday at Noon, obliged me to send it as it came to my Ears from Waggoners and such People. I was surprised not to have some Messanger Sent me from the Army with Accounts that I might depend upon” (ibid., 70–71). The absence of official confirmation induced Innes to adopt a more optimistic attitude for a short time. See GW to James Innes, 17 July 1755, n.3. In the clerk’s copy of this letter, the word “Waggeners” is rendered as “Waggoner.”

2“The Defeat of Genl B[raddoc]k,” Dinwiddie wrote the earl of Halifax on 15 Nov. 1755, “appears to me as a dream, wn I consider the Forces & the train of Artillery he had with him” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). Braddock had exercised great care in making the two crossings of the Monongahela on 9 July, but, according to Harry Gordon, once the lower ford was secured, “every one . . . hugg’d themselves with joy at our Good Luck in having surmounted our greatest Difficultys, & too hastily Concluded the Enemy never wou’d dare to Oppose us” (Gordon to—, 23 July 1755, in Pargellis, Military Affairs in North America description begins Stanley Pargellis, ed. Military Affairs in North America, 1748–1765: Selected Documents from the Cumberland Papers in Windsor Castle. 1936. Reprint. Hamden, Conn., 1969. description ends , 104–9). From the lower ford, said Robert Cholmley’s batman, “we began our March again, Beating the grannadiers March all the way, Never Seasing. There Never was an Army in the World in more spirits then we where” (Hamilton, Braddock’s Defeat description begins Charles Hamilton, ed. Braddock’s Defeat. Norman, Okla., 1959. description ends , 28). The fixing of the blame for the shocking defeat that ensued was a matter of much controversy. See Robert Orme to GW, 25 Aug. 1755, n.3.

3GW appears to have received recently a letter from Jackson, who was a Fredericksburg merchant and longtime family friend. No letter has been found.

Index Entries