George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Dinwiddie, 3 May 1756

From Robert Dinwiddie

Williamsburg May 3d 1756


I am sincerely concern’d for Your Situation from the many flying Parties of French & Indians, but I hope before this reaches You a large body of Militia are at Winchester to reinforce You, & if possible to drive the Enemy over the Allegany Mountains; besides the Militia there are to be Drafts from each County to compleat Your Regiment to 1500 or 2000 Men, but I fear it will be a Month before they are all drafted.

I observe Colo. Stephen’s Letters vindicating his Character,1 & hope the Reports were without Foundation & in course2 malitious.

I approve, for the Reasons You assign, the fortifying of Winchester,3 & when the Militia arrives You may employ many of them on that Business, & if they expect extra Pay for that Service, You must agree with them accordingly; there are ten Cannon at Rock Creek with the Ball & all other Appurtenances, of the same weight as those at Fort Cumberland; if You can get clear of the cruel Invaders You may send for them & mount them at Winchester.4

As to Provisions to the poor distress’d who have fled to You for protection, Humanity calls on You to grant them relief, & I am perswaded Your good Nature therein will be approv’d of by every Person.

We are in great want of Lead now in the Magazine after the three Tons sent to Fredericksburg.5 Do You know what Quantity is at Fort Cumberland?

I am now sending up some more Powder & Small Arms for Alexandria—I have ordered every Thing in my Power that I cou’d conceive necessary for Your relief; & I wish it was further in my Power to send Forces sufficient & all other Necessaries for extracting the Men & the poor Frontier Inhabitants from the Cruelty of a barbarous Enemy, & I doubt not in a short Time to turn the Tables on them; keep up Your Spirits & hope that all will be right soon.

If they have ordered some of the Forces from Brit[ai]n here it will be very agreeable, but at present I cannot tell where they are to be landed.

The Gentlemen here have enter’d into an Assosiation,6 one hundred mounted & accouter’d on Horseback, & propose carrying two hundred Volunteers with them, & intend to be at Fredericksbg in their way to Winchester by the 20th of this Month,7 to be Comanded by the Attoy Genl which I hope will give great Spirits to our Common People.

My Respects to Colo. Innes, I remain with Prayers for Your Protection & am Sir Your humble Servant

Robt Dinwiddie

LS, DLC:GW; LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers.

1See GW to Dinwiddie, 27 April 1756, n.1, for references to Stephen’s letters. The letter-book copy has the word “conduct” instead of “Character.”

2This phrase is not entirely clear in the signed copy, but in the letter book it appears to read “in cause malitious.”

3This was the day that the House of Burgesses adopted a rider to a bill it had passed, providing for the erection of a strong fort at Winchester. See GW to Dinwiddie, 27 April 1756, n.3.

4The cannon had been left by Gen. Edward Braddock at Rock Creek, Md., a short distance up the Potomac from Alexandria. See GW’s Memorandum, 15 Sept. 1755, n.1, and GW to George Beall, 2 June 1756.

5For reference to the ammunition that Dinwiddie sent up to Fredericksburg, see Dinwiddie to GW, 26 April 1756, n.4.

6The 20 May issue of the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis) reported the news from Williamsburg that on 1 May “a great Number of the principal Gentlemen of this Colony have voluntarily associated themselves under the Command of the Honourable Peyton Randolph, Esq; at their own Expence” to march to the relief of the Virginia frontiers. They were to meet at Fredericksburg on 20 May “with such a Number of Men as each of them has undertaken to employ and maintain in this Service, dressed in short plain blue Frocks with cross Pockets, short white Nankeen, or brown Holland Waistcoats, and Breeches of the same, and plain Hats; armed each with a Firelock, a Brace of Pistols, and a cutting Sword, and furnished with one Pound of Powder, and four Ponds of Ball; each Associator who goes paying immediately to the commanding Officer three Pounds, and the same for every Man he carries with him, and those who do not go, ten Pounds for every Man they send.” There are frequent references to the associators in GW’s correspondence during May and early June. It seems that Dinwiddie expected the gentlemen not only to “give great Spirits” to the common people but also to help GW select sites for the chain of forts on the frontier. This they apparently did not do. See Dinwiddie to GW, 12 June 1756, n.3.

7For “one hundred mounted . . . of this Month” the letter-book copy substitutes “to come to Yr assistance each is to maintn two Volunteers at his own Cost.”

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