George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Shirley, 5 March 1756

From William Shirley

Boston March 5th 1756

Governor Dinwiddie at the Instance of Colonel Washington having referred to me concerning the right of Command, between him and Capt. Dagworthy, and desiring that I would determine it, I do therefore give it as my Opinion that Capt. Dagworthy who now acts under a Commission from the Governor of the Province of Maryland, and where there are no regular Troops join’d, can only take Rank as Provincial Captain and of Course is under the Command of all Provincial Field Officers, and in case it shall happen, that Col. Washington and Capt. Dagworthy should join at Fort Cumberland. It is my Orders that Colonel Washington should take the Command.1

W. Shirley


1One of GW’s main purposes in going to Boston was to persuade Governor Shirley as the senior officer of the British forces in America to put an end to what GW considered the outrageous pretensions of Capt. John Dagworthy of the Maryland forces. Now that he had in writing Shirley’s instructions in the matter, GW henceforth would be able to go to Fort Cumberland without running the risk of Dagworthy’s claiming superior rank to the provincial colonel’s by virtue of a putative royal commission as captain in the British army. That there be no further misunderstanding about this, Shirley wrote on 5 Mar. to Dagworthy’s superior, Gov. Horatio Sharpe: “I must desire that Capt. Dagworthy may be removed from Fort Cumberland; or acquainted that if he remains there, he must put himself under the Command of Colonel Washington” (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 , 1:347–48). For information about GW’s differences with Dagworthy, see particularly Adam Stephen to GW, 4 Oct. 1755, n.6.

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