George Washington Papers

Memorandum respecting the Militia, 17 May 1756

Memorandum respecting the Militia

[Winchester, 17 May 1756]

May 17th Some time last Night an express from the So. Branch arrivd with letter’s from Ashbys Coc⟨ks⟩ & Pearsall’s Forts informg that a considerable body of Indian’s were abt again & had taken a prisr.1 Upon this all the Militia of Louisa & Stafford save 6 of the first & 8 of the latter deserted and the Caroline Detacht being reduc’d to 40 Rank & file the Spotsylvania to 22 and the Orange being lessen’d also I was obligd2 to add the 6 Louisa Men to the Carpenter’s till the return of their Officers who I immediately sent in pursuit of them.3 the 8 Stafford men to those of Spotsylvania & to alter the disposition that was first made to the one followg viz.

Fd Offr C. L. E. S. P.M.4
at Mendenhals 0 1 1 0 2 40 fm Caroline
at Ashby’s Fort 2 6 56 frm Spa & K.G. & Std
at Pearsals 1 1 3 1 4 90 fm P.W.
at Kirkendals 1 1 1 45 fm Fx
at Harness’s Fort 1 0 2 25—Orange
at Wagrs upper Fort 1 1 2 51 Culpr
to be advd by C. Wr & Cl Vanr5 1 1 1 2 45 Fx6

The Reason for this disposition—to guard the Inhabitants that still remaind—to secure their grain and stock to help in with their Harvest & to be contiguous to the People & to each other that they might unite occasionally and go in quest of the Enemy. they all marchd this day to their ne⟨w⟩ appd Stations: Besides the Militia Offrs that were sent after the Deserters I orderd out one from the Regt with a party of 8 or ⟨10⟩ Men mounted7 to go in pursuit of them.

Our Strength being so much reducd by the number of Deserter’s that had gone off that I im[mediatel]y upon the r[eceip]t of Ashby’s & ⟨illegible8 dispatchd an express to the Colos. Barrat Talliaferro & Slaughter who were the last that had left this place ordering them to return with their Men.9

In the Eveng the Colos. Barrat & Tallia. return’d without any men informg me that many of theirs had taken different roads homewards and that those who were with Colo. Talliaferro upon hearg that they were orderd back charg’d their pieces & cond their march towards their County in defiance of the Offrs.

1None of these letters has been found, but see GW to Henry Peyton, and GW to James Hamilton, both 17 May 1756.

2GW moved several words from one place to another in this sentence, but the only substantial change he made was to strike out “to alt⟨er⟩ the disposition I had made” after the word “oblig’d.”

3See particularly After Orders, 17 May 1756.

4The abbreviations in the heading stand for Field Officer, Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign, Sergeant, and Private Men.

5“C. Wr” is Capt. Thomas Waggener, and “Cl Vanr” is Col. Henry Van Meter.

6The names of the counties abbreviated in this column are Spotsylvania, King George, Stafford, Prince William, Fairfax, and Culpeper.

7Several words after “mounted” were deliberately blotted and are illegible.

8GW was referring to the news that arrived the night before by express from the South Branch, which is alluded to in the first sentence of the Memorandum. The words “had gone off that” and “upon the r[eceip]t of Ashby’s &c.” were inserted.

9Thomas Slaughter of the Culpeper County militia, William Taliaferro of Orange, and Charles Barrett of Louisa attended GW’s council of war in Winchester on 14 May, and the three left after GW indicated on 15 May that all the militia not ordered to the frontier should return home.

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