George Washington Papers

Council of War, 21 April 1756

Council of War

At a Council of War, Held at Winchester, 21st of April.

Present Colonel George Washington, President.

Governor Innis1 } {
Captain Stewart Captain Mercer
Lieutenant Eustace Members Captain Peachy
Lieutenant Lowry Lieutenant Hall
Lieutenant Gist Lieutenant King

Colonel Washington having called the several above members, laid before them the disagreeable accounts he just then received by various Expresses; and desired to know whether they thought it most elligible to march immediately from hence, with the few Recruits in these Quarters, to Edwards’s, to draw out the Garrison there; and with that Body to endeavour to force our way through the Enemy, to the relief of the poor distressed People: Or to remain here sometime longer, until a Body of Militia could be drawn together, and a sufficient quantity of Provision and ammunition for this place. The Command we should march with, and those to whose assistance we march could be collected, and in the meantime provide for the security of this place (which contains Stores) and the interior parts of this Settlement, in the best manner the present circumstances of affairs will admit of.

The Council are unanimously of opinion, that as marching from this place with so inconsiderable a number would not only be running a great risque of being defeated by a Force (by all accounts) so vastly superior in numbers—but would put it in the power of the Enemy to cut off our Retreat; and thereby leave this defenceless place, and all the neighbouring inhabitants, quite exposed to their inevitable ruin. Besides, that as we have not provisions to relieve those small Garrisons, there would be no possibility of effecting the proposed intention of our marching.

The most judicious of the Inhabitants solicited our continuation here in the most earnest manner; and represented in the strongest light, the impossibility of their making a stand, should any accident happen to the small party we proposed marching with: and judge it most advisable, to endeavour at preserving this place; and use all imaginable dispatch and diligence in gathering as large a Body of the militia, and as many Stores, as can possibly be got in a short time—rather than attempt an Enterprize apparently impracticable, by our present trifling numbers.

Signed Go: Mercer
Robert Stewart
William Peachy
Hancock Eustace
John Hall
John Lowry
John King
Nathaniel Gist


1For information on the relationship of James Innes, governor of Fort Cumberland, to GW and the Virginia Regiment, see especially Dinwiddie to GW, 4 June 1754, n.2, GW to William Fairfax, 7 June 1755, n.8, and Adam Stephen to GW, 19 May 1756.

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