George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Adam Stephen, 7 November 1755

From Adam Stephen

Winchester Novr 7th 1755


Last night the Detachmt marchd with only Eight waggons at last;1 There is no more Salt here, of which I have acquainted Mr Dick, and desir’d him to forward the Quantity necessary, while the weather favourd us So much.

The Cattle from Carolina fall away much, and unless They are Slaughterd soon, they will not be worth while—I have procurd Several Cooper’s Tools here, and mentiond what we want to Mr Dick. I am to told Shepherd herds the Cattle Sent us by Govr Dobb’s at £60 ⅌ month.2 The Cattle from Augusta are all Save at Fort Cumberland; and as soon as Conveniences for Salting can be made The Rest shall be ordered up—I wait here to See the Detachmt from Frebg which is expected today, and to give Some necessary Orders, when I follow the Convoy which will halt at Edwards this night. I have found it necessary, to prevent the people from Abandoning This Valley on this Side the blue Ridge, to Send a party of men to Henry Enoch’s on Cape Capo—and promise a party to Watkins Ferry to guard the Magazine of provisions there. I hope this will meet with your approbation, when you hear that the Pannic which prevails, is so great as to make them leave their plantation on Opecan.

If a party is not Stationed on Cape Capo, The Enemy may come within four miles of Winchester before they are heard of, and indeed to Secure that Frontier properly Maryland ought to have 100 men at Cressops, 100 at the Conallaways—wt. a party at the Mouth of Little Cape Capo, another at Enoch’s, and another at the Mouth of Back Creek or Watkins Ferry.3 However, a proper Number at Fort Cumberland; and a Fort with a Garrison of 1000 Men near to Raes Town4 in pennylvania, would render all this a great deal less necessary.

The Inhabitants of Pennsylvania are more scared than hurt. I can hear of no person that has seen this large Body of French & Indians—and am of Opinion that the Intelligence is not to be depended on—tho’ by Govr Morris Letter to you it Seems he believes it, But McSwine would certainly have heard Something of the Matter if Such a Number had come on this Side the mountains.5

Capt. Woodward is returned with the party from Raes Town; without Seeing the Enemy; They Stayd too short a time; The Indians being disappointed in their Attacks, did not return so soon as they propos’d.6

You See by the inclosd from Mr Callender that the French leave no Stone unturnd to secure all the Indians, on Susquenhanna, and their Emmisarrys are, at this instant among the Cherokees7—I have reason to believe His Honr the Govnr has been much Abus’d by the five Indians, who pretended all to be of the Cherokees Nation—I have reason to believe that they were straglers[.] There are only two Cherokees—The fellow who pretended to be Chief is a Shanoe, one was an Adopted Catawba, another a Mingo.8

While Traders are employd on these important Affairs nothing to our Advantage is to be Expected, and if ever we Secure an Interest among the Savages it will be Accomplishd by men of weight and Integrity—I must own I look upon this to be so important to the Colonies that no Expence, No pains, even by the Persons of greater Abilities is to be thought too much. Paris pretensions to bring in the 200 Cherokees, appears to me by Advice from a Rational person to be only a trick, to procure forgiveness, and recover the Govrs Countenance, after so many charges as had been justly lodged agt him by Mr Gist. By a particular & intimate Acquaintance of Paris’s, it has been acknowledged that he was the principle Cause of our not having the Cherokees Last Spring.9

This moment arrived here Capt. Caton from Cannigochigoe, who inform that 150 Marylanders, and 350 Pennsylvanians have marchd towards the head of that Creek, but in the greatest disorder, without Command or knowledge of what they were about.10 There is not above ten men killd or taken which has occasioned all the Confusion in Pennsylvna—Sweringhame was orderd out last tuesday with 100 Men, to reconnoitre towards Sleepy-Creek, and the Warm Springs; but is not gone yet[.] He & Caton cannot make up the Nu[mbe]r between them, so many have run off. The Inhabitants are dastardly, and in a proper temper to have any joke impos’d upon them. This argues the necessity of Compleating your Regimt.11

Would the three provinces join, we could destroy the Kittanan & Shanse towns this winter12—This Vigorous Step would most Effectually Secure our Frontiers. If Paris &c. go agt the Shanose town they will Certainly be beat. I have learned the French have a Fort at that place—I am with Respect Sir, Your

Adam Stephen

Please to Order up a Doctr immediatly.


2On 22 Sept. 1755 Charles Dick entered an agreement with Andrew Shepherd of North Carolina to deliver to Winchester 15 head of cattle at an agreed price and “three Hundred head more to be delivered him for wich the said Shepherd gives his Receipt sent by Governor Dobbs from North Carolina at the rate of Sixty pounds pr Month and at the Delivery of all the said Cattle at Winchester the said Shepherd obliges himself to Deliver them at Wills Creek” (DLC:GW). These cattle from North Carolina were initially intended for Braddock’s expedition. See Dinwiddie to GW, 18 Oct. 1755, n.5. Some of the Carolina cattle were at Winchester by 20 Oct. On 11 Nov. GW ordered Thomas Walker, who had recently replaced Dick as chief commissary for the expedition, to go to Winchester to deal with the cattle problem. Walker found the Carolina cattle unfit for use and made arrangements for their wintering (Walker to GW, 26 Nov., 4, 17, 26 Dec. 1755).

3Back Creek flows north into the Potomac River above Winchester to the west of the mouth of Opequon Creek and to the east of the mouth of Cacapon River. Tonoloway Creek runs into the Potomac from the Maryland side a few miles west of where Back Creek joins the Potomac.

4Raystown was northeast of Wills Creek on a tributary of the Juniata River.

5See Robert Hunter Morris to GW, 31 Oct.—1 Nov. 1755. For the adventures of George McSwane, see Stephen to GW, 6 Nov. 1755.

6Capt. Henry Woodward was among the party of over 100 volunteers who left Fort Cumberland for Raystown in pursuit of the Indians who had murdered some settlers and carried off George McSwane as prisoner. The authorities at Fort Cumberland had received information that the Indians would shortly return to Raystown.

7The “inclosd” from Robert Callender, the Indian trader, has not been found.

8Dinwiddie wrote to Arthur Dobbs, 18 Sept. 1755: “I lately had five of the Cherokees with me the Head Man was the son of Old Hop. I rec’d them properly entertain’d them well & gave them Presents they promis’d to be on our Frontiers with 150 Warriors all this Winter” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers).

9The joint venture of Richard Pearis (c.1725–1794) and Nathaniel Gist to engage in trade with the Cherokee and Catawba Indians in Carolina in 1754 had ended in a quarrel between the two traders. In a letter to Pearis on 26 June 1755 Dinwiddie blamed their quarrel for the failure of either tribe to send warriors to join General Braddock who was then on his march to Fort Duquesne. Pearis’s present claims were not a “trick,” however: on 24 Nov. Pearis wrote Dinwiddie that he had 130 Cherokee braves ready to take part in the proposed expedition against the Shawnee towns, and in Feb. and Mar. 1756 he served as captain in charge of this party of Indians in Maj. Andrew Lewis’s unhappy Sandy Creek expedition. Dinwiddie and GW continued to make use of Pearis, particularly in their dealings with the Cherokee, until, on 8 June 1757, GW noted that “Captn Paris has got a Commission in the Maryland Force” (Memoranda, 8 June 1757).

10Horatio Sharpe wrote to Cecilius Calvert on 20 Oct. 1755: “I have posted two small Companies of Men on the Frontiers & have ordered a Party of 30 Men from each County on this Side the Bay to range on the Frontiers during the Space of one Month from their Arrival there. two of the Parties are already marched & that from hence will march Saturday Morning. This Step will I hope hinder more of the People from leaving their Plantations beyond Conegogee” (Browne, Sharpe Correspondence description begins William Hand Browne, ed. Correspondence of Governor Horatio Sharpe. 3 vols. Archives of Maryland, vols. 6, 9, and 14. Baltimore, 1888–95. description ends , 1:293–97).

11Both Thomas Swearingen and Thomas Caton lived on the Potomac to the north of Winchester in that part of Frederick County which later became Berkeley County. Swearingen had just established a ferry across the river at his place near what was later called Mecklenburg, and Caton lived at or near Maidstone across from the storehouse at Conococheague. The county lieutenant, Lord Fairfax, apparently had ordered the two militia captains, Swearingen and Caton, to secure 100 militiamen to serve in the present emergency as rangers in the exposed parts of the county. Swearingen, one of the early settlers in the Shenandoah Valley, became a justice of the peace shortly after Frederick County was formed in 1743, served on the parish vestry, and in 1755 outpolled GW by a large margin in the Frederick County burgess election, only to lose his seat in the House to GW by an even larger margin in 1758. Both Swearingen and Caton, who also was a magistrate, seem to have been contentious men: the officers of the Virginia Regiment stationed in the area were in frequent conflict with one or the other. See William Hughes to Robert Stewart, 12 Feb. 1756 (enclosed in Stewart to GW, 20 June 1756), GW to Stewart, 8 May 1756, Stewart to GW, 20, 23 June 1756, GW to Lord Fairfax, 29 Aug. 1756, Lord Fairfax to GW, 1 Sept. 1756, and GW to Dinwiddie, 9 Oct. 1757.

12Kittanning was the name of an important Delaware Indian town, located on the east side of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, about 40 miles above Fort Duquesne. After Braddock’s defeat this town became the rendezvous for parties of Delaware and Shawnee. The river, the trails, and Braddock’s Road provided easy access from there to the scattered inhabitants in the Cumberland Valley, the Juniata region, and Virginia. In 1756 Pennsylvania troops under the command of Col. John Armstrong destroyed Kittanning. There were also some Shawnee towns located along the Allegheny River.

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