George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie, 13 January 1756

To Robert Dinwiddie

Alexandria January 13th 1756

Honble Sir—

Majr Lewis being at Winchester when your Letter came to hand was immediately dispatchd to Augusta to take upon him the command of the Troops destin’d against the Shawnesse Town with orders to follow such directions as he shoud receive from you.1 this scheme thô I am apprehensive will prove abortive as we are told that those Indians are removd up the River—into the Neighbourhood of Du-quisne.

I have given all necessary orders for traing the Men to a proper use of their Arms—and the method of Indn Fighting and hope in a little time to make them expert. and I shoud be glad to have your honours express Commands either to prepare for taking the Field—or guarding our Frontiers in the spring—because the steps for these two are very different—I have already built two Forts on Patterson’s Creek (which has engag’d the chief of the Inhabitants to return to their Plantns) and have now order’d Captn Waggoner with 60 Men to build and Garrison two other’s (on places I have pointed out high up) on the South branch2—which will be a means of secureing near 100 Miles of our Frontier exclusive of the Command at Fort Dinwiddie on Jackson’s River—and indeed without a much greater number of Men than we have a visible prospect of getting I don’t see how its possible to think of passing the Mountains or acting more than defensively. this seems to be the full determination of the Pensylvanian’s so that there can be no hope for assistance from that quarter. If We only act defensively I woud most earnestly recommend the buildg a strong Fort at some convenient place in Virginia as that in Maryland—not to say any thing of the Situation which is extreame bad—will ever be an Eye Sore to this Colony. and attended with more Inconveniences than its possible to ennumerate. one Instan⟨ce⟩ of this I have taken notice of in a letter that accompanys this and many more I coud recite were it necessary.3 If we take the Field, there is not time to carry on a work of this kind but shoud immediately sett about engageing Waggon’s Horses, Forage, Pack Saddles, &ca &ca and hear I cannot help remarking that I believe it will be impossible to get Waggon’s or horses sufft witht the old Score is paid of as the People are really ruind for want of their money and complain justly of their griviences.4

I represented in my last the Inconveniences of the late Act of Assembly which obliges us, first to send to your honour for a commission to hold Genl Courts Martial and then to delay execution till a warrt can be had from Williamsburg. and hope you will take the same into consideration5—we have several Deserter’s now on h[an]d which I have taken by vigorous measures that shoud be made examples to other’s as this practice is continud with greater spirit than ever.

Unless Cloathing is soon provided—the Men will be unfit for any kind of service—and I know of no expedient to procure them but by sendg to the Northward as Cloath cannot be had here. I left among other returns an exact acct of the Cloathg at every place when I was in Wmsburg.6

I shan’t care to lay in Provision for more than 1,000 Men unless I have your honour’s order’s. we have put out such of the Beeves as were unfit for Slaughterg[.] If they survive the Winter they may be useful in the Summer.

Ensign Polson havg receiv’d a Comn in Colo. Gage’s Regt makes a vacancy here, which with your approbation will be filld by Mr Denis McCarty who you once appointed a Captn7 he has continued a Volunteer ever since & has recruited several men into the Service—and I hope your honour—will allow me the liberty, as you once promisd me, of filling up the vacancy’s as they happen with the Volunteer’s that serve with that expectation: we have several with us that seem to be very deservg young Gentn I shall observe the strictest justice in promotg them according to their merit and time of entering the Service.8

I have order’d Captn Hog to render immediately a fair acct to the Com[missar]y of the money sent him—he was order’d to lay in Provn for only 12 Mo.9

Captn Stewart has recruited his Comp[lemen]t of Men—I shoud be glad to know whether he is to compleat his Horse agt the spring & provide accoutrements.

I have been oblig’d to suspend Ensign Dekeysar for Misbehaviour till your pleasure is known—see the proceedgs of the enquirg Court.10 his Character in many other respects ha[s] been infamous—I have also been oblig’d to threaten in your name the new appointed Officers with the same Fate if they are not more diligent in Rec[ruitin]g their Companys as each recd his Comn upon those terms.

Captn Mercer comes down for more money & to satisfie how the 10,000£ has been applied.11

The Skipper of the Vessel has embezzled some of the Stores, but for want of a particular Invoice of this we can’t ascertain the loss. he is kept in confinement till you pleasure is known12 I am Yr Honrs most Ob. H. St

Go: Washington

ALS, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers; LB, DLC:GW. The letter-book copy is dated 14 Jan. 1756. The place and date in the heading are in a different hand, perhaps that of John Kirkpatrick.

1GW ordered Andrew Lewis on 27 Dec. 1755 to head what became known as the Sandy Creek expedition, in accordance with Dinwiddie’s instructions of 14 Dec. 1755.

2The two forts on Patterson Creek were John Ashby’s and William Cocks’s. Upon his arrival at Fort Cumberland, Adam Stephen was to detach Thomas Waggener with his party, and they were to go to the South Branch of the Potomac to build the stockades (GW to Stephen, to Waggener, 9 Jan. 1756).

3In his letter to Dinwiddie of 14 Jan., GW reviews in detail the controversy with Capt. John Dagworthy about the command at Fort Cumberland.

4The Virginia farmers still had not been paid for the loss of their horses and wagons in Braddock’s campaign. Dinwiddie wrote William Shirley on 31 Oct. 1755 that “Gl Braddock press’d & engag’d a great many Waggons & Horses belongg to the poor People in our back Settlemts.” Most of the horses were killed or captured and the wagons were destroyed, for a total loss of about £10,000. He thought the “Paymt of these poor People . . . absolutely necessary in Case we shd want Waggons Horses &ca, hereafter” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers).

5GW was repeating his complaint made to Dinwiddie on 5 Dec. 1755 about the restrictions on general court-martials in the Virginia Regiment which the colony’s new mutiny act imposed. See note 5 in that letter.

6GW’s accounts of clothing, probably made in November to the committee supervising the expenditure of funds for the campaign, have not been found. But see Dinwiddie to GW, 14 Dec. 1755, n.3.

7In his second Memorandum of 17 Sept. 1755, GW listed Denis McCarty among the captains in the Virginia Regiment and then struck his name from the list. See note 2 of the Memorandum.

8Among the young volunteers, or cadets, in the Virginia regiments at this time besides McCarty were James Roy, Robert Johnston, and William Bickley, all of whom along with McCarty took their oath before the county court at Winchester on 6 Jan. 1756. Dinwiddie wrote GW on 22 Jan. agreeing to McCarty’s promotion and to GW’s filling vacancies in the regiment with volunteers after “giving me previous Notice therof for my Approbation.” GW sent ensign’s commissions to McCarty and James Roy on 30 Jan.

9GW gave Hog these instructions in his letter of 27 Dec. 1755.

10For the court’s proceedings, see note 1 of GW’s second Memorandum, 7 Jan. 1756.

11The committee supervising expenditures for the campaign provided GW with a military chest of £10,000 in November. See Memorandum from “Committee to Supervise Military Expenditures,” 8–11 Nov. 1755.

12The skipper of the Rawley was named Anderson. See William Withers to GW, 22 Jan. 1756.

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