George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Dinwiddie, 22 January 1756

From Robert Dinwiddie

Williamsburg Janry 22d 1756


Your two Letters of the 13th and 14th I shall answer Paragraphically. The Expedition against the Shawnesse I hope will be attended with Success, as two Women who were taken Prisoners made their Escape mention their being in their Towns & did not hear of their Intention of moving.1

You have done very right in ordering the Men to be train’d in the Indian Method of fighting but I can give You no express Commands in regard to taking the Field but during Your absence order them to be employ’d in any Thing that may be necessary to keep them from Idleness. I approve of the Forts You have built, as it encourages the People to return to their Plantations, & will be a Protection to them.

I expect the Govr of Pensylvania will send me a Plan of Operations for next Year for my Approbation; & on Your return from General Shirley call on him & desire a Letter to me, I wrote him lately & cannot now write him, therefore Nothing can be determin’d on till Your return.2 I agree with You, we cannot expect Horses, Waggons &ca till the old Score is paid: I wrote pressingly to Genl Shirley on that Head, but as yet no Answer; if he shou’d give his Orders there is Money here sufficient to pay them all, but as yet I am not furnish’d with their Demds which they shou’d choose a proper Person to sollicit their Affair for them.3

I enclose You a Commission for calling a General Court Martial, drawn up by the Atto. Genl agreeable to the Act of Assembly, which You are to fill up the Blanks.4 As for Cloathing You shou’d apply to the Committee,5 for You know I can’t touch their Money; but I expected You woud have furnish’d me with an Accot of the Cloathing issued to the Men by You & Colo. Fairfax that was at Maj. Carlyle’s &ca that I may be paid for them & I doubt not You make the proper Stoppages on this Acct—pray send me a particular Acct of the Cloathing.6

I think Provisions for 1000 Men for one Year is sufficient; & You did well to turn out those Beeves not fit for Slaughter to grazing, which may be of great use next Summer. I agree to Your appointing Mr Dennis McCarty in the room of Mr Polson & I shall be glad the Vacancies that may happen be filled up from the Volunteers giving me previous Notice thereof for my Approbation.

I doubt not Capt. Hogg will comply with Your Orders to account for the Money he has received. Capt. Stewart’s purchasing his Horses &ca must also remain till You return. I am fully of Opinion, & hereby order Ensign DeKeiser be dismissed the Service, at same time I expect You will give Orders to discourage Gaming, as it viciates the Mind & occasions Excesses & Quarrels.

It was a great Neglect of Mr Prentis not to send You the Particulars ship’t in the Sloop, I have now ordered him to furnish You therewith.7

Yours of the 13th gives me a good deal of Concern.8 It is very just that the Maryland & No. Carolina Forces shou’d furnish their own Provisions, or a particular Accot kept of the Supplies given them to make a proper Charge to Each Colony, tho’ Capt. Dagworthy very unjustly says they all have an equal right as its in the King’s Garrison, tho. purchas’d by this Colony—That Fort was built by His Majesty’s Money & this Country’s; & as a King’s Garison it is not to be esteem’d the Property of the Proprietor of Maryland; as His Majesty has an undoubted Right to build Forts in any of the Colonies, & I ordered it to be built by his Commands. Genl Braddock appointed Colo. Innes to be Governor, & when he left he directed Colo. Stephens to Command till his return; how Colo. Stephens came to give the command to Capt. Dagworthy I know not; but this Step is the Origin of the great Dispute subsisting; & I cannot help blaming Stephens for tamely giving up the Command given him by Colo. Innes, which he assured me when here was the Case.

As to his detaining our Provisions till he sees proper to deliver them is inconsistent with Reason & Justice; as we are at the Charge of a Commissary to take care of them, & the Fort I judg’d the safest Place to keep them; which You must represent in the strongest Terms when You go to General Shirley—His Answer to my Letter was, that he left the Accomodation of that Affair to Govr Sharpe, which is what I cou’d not have expected, as I applied to him as Comdr In Chief of the Forces, & he knew the Attachment that Mr Sharpe had to Capt. Dagworthy, it was giving the Power out of his own Hands, & no Doubt the Govr press’d this Method of adjusting it, which I do not take kind of Mr Sharpe.

I agree to Your going to Genl Shirley; You may present the Memo[rial] from the Officers to him, which I have recommended: but I fear Success because His Majesty sends over Officers to the different Regiments to be rais’d; but You will know his Sentiments thereon—However I again repeat my desire to him to grant You & the two Field Officers Brevate Commissions to put an End to ⟨this unhappy⟩ Dispute; how far he may have Power to put Your Regiment on the Establishmt I know not—but I have earnestly applied for blank Commissions from Home, I wish I may succeed.9 You have my Letter to the General with a detail of the whole Affair; but You will be able to represent it more fully when You come to converse with him.

I cannot see Capt. Dagworthy can deduce any right on his former Comission from the King, as that was cancell’d by his receiving a Sum of Money in lieu of half Pay, & that he now Commands a very small Company of Provincials, himself & them paid by the Govermt of Maryland—His Majesty’s Commission takes place of any Governor’s Commission when the Regulars are join’d with the Provincials; but this is not the Case in this Dispute, which You must urge to the General.

I have lately wrote to all the Governors & now I have no Time, or have I any thing now to write them. Deliver my Letter to the General with Your own Hand, & I hope he will comply with my Request. In Your return see Govr Morris & make Yourself Master of what Plan that Gent. Proposes for the next Campaign, which will in some measure make me able to concert a proper Plan for our Forces. You know Dispatch is absolutely necessary. I wish You an agreeable Journey, & a safe return. I remain Sir Your most humble Servt

Robt Dinwiddie

P.S. I think it will be proper You do not divulge Your Intents. in yr Journey as You pass thro’ the different Governmts.

P.S. You did very right to threaten the Officers for not compleatg their compas. agreeable to their Promise when Commission’d let them know I am greatly uneasy at their Deficiency on their Engagemts & now expect by Yr Return they will have each Company compleat.

The Skipper of the Sloop must be sent down Prisoner to be tried for the breach of trust & the Robbery he has committed in stealing some of the Goods sent up10—apply to the Magistrate to send him to the Prison here under a proper Guard.

The followg is wt I wrote to Gl Shirley that You may be govern’d thereby in Yr Applicatn to him.11

LS, DLC:GW; LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers. The letter-book copy is dated 23 Jan. The words in angle brackets were taken from the letter-book copy.

1Dinwiddie must have been referring to Mary Draper Ingles, who had recently escaped from the Shawnee. Her long trip, with only an old German woman as a companion, from the Lower Shawnee Town on the Ohio back to the Virginia settlements on the New River in the fall of 1755 was a remarkable feat. Mrs. Ingles was among those who had been captured on 31 July 1755 at Draper’s Meadow by a party of Indians who also killed James Patton, the county lieutenant of Augusta County.

2Dinwiddie wrote Gov. Robert Hunter Morris on 2 Jan.: “As You are now enabled [by the Pennsylvania Assembly’s appropriation of £60,000], I hope You will plan out operations for next Spring, & I shall be ready to join in any Thing for the Public Service,” and concluded with the wish that Morris would let him know his plans as soon as possible (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). After returning from a tour of the Pennsylvania frontier, Morris wrote Dinwiddie on 1 Feb. and GW on 2 Feb. describing what steps he had taken to protect the settlers from the French and Indians (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st. ser., 2:560–62, 564–65).

3Dinwiddie wrote to William Shirley about the wagons and horses taken from the inhabitants by Braddock’s forces on 31 Oct. 1755 (Brock, Dinwiddie Papers description begins R. Alonzo Brock, ed. The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Virginia, 1751–1758. 2 vols. Richmond, 1883–84. description ends , 2:257–58). See also GW to Dinwiddie, 13 Jan. 1756, n.4.

4See GW’s requests of 5 Dec. 1755 and 13 Jan. 1756 for proper authorization to hold general court-martials in the Virginia Regiment. See also, particularly, note 5 in his letter of 5 Dec. GW found the commission for holding court-martials which Dinwiddie sent him “imperfect” and refused to use it (GW to Dinwiddie, 2 Feb. 1756).

5The act raising £40,000 for the campaign, passed in Nov. 1755, created a committee to supervise the expenditure of this money for the Virginia forces.

6See Dinwiddie to GW, 14 Dec. 1755, n.3, and 13 Jan. 1756, n.6, for earlier references to Dinwiddie’s complaints, and GW’s rebuttals, about clothing.

7William Prentis’s partner in shipping supplies for the Virginia Regiment to Alexandria in the sloop Rawley, the venture to which Dinwiddie was referring, was William Withers, Dinwiddie’s secretary, who on this day sent an invoice, or bill of lading, to GW (Withers to GW, 22 Jan. 1756).

8Dinwiddie’s letter to this point dealt with matters GW raised in his letter of 13 Jan., but it was in his letter of 14 Jan. that GW discussed the Dagworthy affair and its ramifications, and it is to this second letter that Dinwiddie is here referring and to which he alludes in the remainder of his own letter.

9For Dinwiddie’s efforts to secure brevet commissions for the field officers of the Virginia Regiment, see note 5 in GW to Dinwiddie, 14 Jan. 1756.

10In his postscript, Dinwiddie reverts to GW’s letter of 13 Jan. after responding at length to his letter of 14 Jan. See note 8 above. For further information on the dishonest “Skipper” of the Rawley, see GW to Dinwiddie, 13 Jan. 1756, n.12, and William Withers to GW, 22 Jan. 1756.

11The excerpt that Dinwiddie enclosed in his letter to GW comprises about half of the letter that he wrote to William Shirley on 24 Jan. 1756 (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). The excerpt reads:

“⟨Govr⟩ Sharpe has not answd Yr Ex.’s intents in removg the Dispute between Co. W. & C[ap]t. D.⟨;⟩ he has orderd him to keep the Comd of the Ft wch he does in an absolute Manner—We have purchasd ⟨&⟩ laid in Proviss. for 1000 for one Year, as the Ft was the most safe Place they were depositd there & a Commissary appointed at the Charge of this Cotry, he will not allow him to discharge his Duty but refuses any of the Proviss. to be touch’d but by his Orders: & tho. the Proviss. are supplied ⟨by the⟩ Cotry ⟨he⟩ insists on a Right to supply his own Men from our Magazine, tho. Myld pays no part of the Charge ⟨, he⟩ otherways ⟨acts⟩ in an arbitrary manner, & insists on his Rank superior to any of our Offrs & he has not above 30 Men wn Co. W. has upwds of 500. This Ft was built by Virtue of H. My’s Instructs. to me & by my Orders to Co. Innes then in the Pay ⟨of⟩ this Govt & wth a great charge to this Country; ’tis true it happens to be in Myld, but I presume H. My has a Right to build a Ft where he pleases in any of H. Colonies; & the Guns mounted are Guns sent by H. My for the ser. of Virga it cannot reasonably be suggested that H. M. intended them for the Propriety of Myld—Gl B—d—k gave a Como. to Co. Innes to be Gr of the Ft his private Affairs callg him to his Estate in No. Cara he appointed Lt Co. Stephens to Comd in his Absence—Ct. D. with his pretended Rank wrested the Comd from him witht any Rule but his Como. of Ct. in the Canada Expedtn tho’ not on the half pay List, but recd a Sum of Mo: in ⟨lieu⟩ by his acceptg that Mo. I am of Opinion he revok’d the Como.—This Affr makes much ⟨Noise⟩ here that I thot it necessary to send Co. W. to You who can be more particular. If I ⟨was⟩ to call the Assembly now, I know this Affr has rais’d the rancour of the People so much that they wd go into Extremes of Resentmt & do no Business for the Ser⟨vice.⟩ I am sorry I have occasion to be so long on this Affr but as it makes much Noise here, witht You interpose Yr Autho. I do ⟨not⟩ know wt will be the Consequence—As formerly I desire the Favo. of a Brevate Como. to Co. W. & the other two F[iel]d Offrs & that You wd please reinstate Co. Stephens to the Comd of the Ft till Gr Innes returns—As Comdr in Chief of the Forces this is in Yr Power only & witht some Regulatn in regd to this unhappy dispute I shall not be able to do any Thg with our Assem. And really Myld has behav’d so very tardy in regd to the Expedtn that they have no Claim to my Favrs—I must refer You to Co. W. for any further Particulars. . . . I forgot to mentn that Ft Cumbd being a King’s Ft I cannot see the Proprietrs Govr can have any Right to appt a Govr & more so as it has been built by this Govt—The Right is in You & I doubt not You will assume it in order to restore Peace.”

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