George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Dinwiddie, 30 September 1756

From Robert Dinwiddie

Williamsburg Septr 30th 1756


Last Night I recd a Letter dated the 23d from Alexaa not sign’d, but by its purport I believe it from You—Jenkins’s delay prevents laying any Thing before the Assembly as they were prorogued the Morning he arriv’d1—I am of Opinion You may enforce the Articles of War the same as in the British Establishmt that with tenderness as the Exigency of Affairs may require; & tho’ no Crimes but Mutiny & Desertion are mention’d in the Act of Assembly, yet other lesser Crimes are to be punish’d by a Court Martial, or the Commanding Officer agreeable to Act of Parliament.

You have frequently complain’d to me of the Situation &ca of Fort Cumberland, & I have wrote You how disagreeable it was to me to give up any Place of strength, as it wou’d raise the Spirits of the Enemy & at same time suspect us to be in fear of them; & therefore if that Place cou’d be sustain’d with Safety till Lord Loudoun gives Orders thereon I shou’d be glad, but as You are on the Spot & You think it very prejudicial to the Service, to keep that Fortress, I desire You may call a Council of Officers & consult whether the most adviseable to keep it, or demolish it.2 if the last You must take care to have all the Ammunition &ca brought to Winchester, & destroy every Thing You may conceive can be of any Service to the Enemy; this Affair is now left to the Determination of a Council of Officers, & I desire You to be very explicit in Your Arguments on the Head as they must be laid before Ld Loudoun. I was always averse to small Garrisons on our Frontiers, as they in course divide our Men into small Parties; but You know that the Assembly were so fond of them that they pass’d a Law for that purport, & I cannot at present alter that Determination. If Jenkins had return’d to my expectation, some Thing of what You offer shou’d have been laid before the Assembly.

You know the Difficulty of raising of Men here, Lord Loudoun, by Orders from His M[ajest]y had directed raising of Men here to help to compleat his Regiment of Royal Americans, the Assembly voted Money for that Service,3 but where to get the Men I know not, tho’ several Persons are now employ’d in several Parts of the C⟨otry on that Service There are no Rangers now in Pay as the Fund is exhausted that was voted for that Ser[vice]. One Third of the Militia from Augusta & some from the other Counties Contiguous have been order’d out for protectn of the Front[ier]s but they are such a dastardly set of People that I am convinc’d they do not do their Duty⟩4 which is the reason of the late Invasion there, they have neither Courage, Spirits or Conduct.

I have frequently wrote about the tipling-Houses at Winchester & desir’d the Court to suppress them, if they do not, when Your Fort is finish’d You must do it of Yourself for the Service of the Garrison—A Chaplain for the Regiment I have recommended to the Commissary to get one,5 but he cannot prevail with any Person to accept of it, I shall again press it to him.

All I can do cannot prevent the People entertaining & protecting of Deserters, & if properly inform’d some of the Magistrates ⟨are guilty⟩.6 it’s a growing Evil & too general—I applied for a short Law to prevent driving of Cattle out of the Colony but the Majority of the House was against it—Jenkins shou’d be paid & Charg’d in Your Acct of Contingencies, surely the Comittee cannot expect me to pay it—I suppose You will think it necessary to have some Person to ride from this to You, with Acct of the Occurrences & it’s a matter indifferent who the Person is.

You are to send me a distinct List of Your Regiment every Officer’s Appointment & Pay, or any other Allowances they may have with the Number of Men in each Company sign’d by You & the other Field Officers, to be transmitted to the Earl of Loudoun, the sooner You supply me with this the better.

The Invasion in Augusta I had Acct of some time ago, & gave such Directions as I thought proper on the Occasion, but very little Dependence is to be put in the Militia. The Copy of a Letter from Wm Armstrong brings agreeable News, if confirm’d; I suppose the Detachment mention’d in that Letter was from Pensylvania.7

The Cherokee Indians are not yet come in, but daily expected, & it’s said there will be 400 of them; I wish they were now in Augusta, & if they with some of our Forces wou’d proceed to the Indian Towns I think8 might be of much Service. I cannot account for their Delay in coming, only that naturally they are la⟨zy⟩ & must be humour’d as to their slow marching.9

I am much hurried & therefore remain ⟨Sir Yr h. Se.⟩

L[S], DLC:GW; LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers. The bottom part of the letter sent to GW has been torn off. The lines missing from the first page are supplied from the letter-book copy and enclosed in angle brackets, as are the final words in the complimentary close. Dinwiddie always signed his letters to GW transcribed by his clerk, William Withers, and presumably his signature appeared on the missing portion of the last page of this letter.

1Dinwiddie prorogued the assembly on 28 Sept. 1756.

3“An Act for raising recruits for his majesty’s service” (7 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 61–63) provided that “so much money as shall be necessary, not exceeding eight thousand pounds,” should be paid for recruiting men for the Royal American Regiment. See GW to Dinwiddie, 4 Aug. 1756, n.12.

4The passage in angle brackets was taken from the letter-book copy.

5Thomas Dawson (1715–1760), president of the College of William and Mary and member of the council, became commissary of the Anglican church in Virginia in 1752 at the death of Commissary William Dawson.

6This was taken from the letter-book copy. Withers inadvertently left it out of the ALS.

7A letter from Col. John, not William, Armstrong, which arrived in Philadelphia on 18 Sept. and was reported in the Pennsylvania Gazette on 23 Sept. 1756, told of Armstrong’s successful attack on the Indian town of Kittanning in early September, describing it as “the greatest Blow the Indians have received since the War began.” The minutes of the Virginia council for 11 Oct. 1756 included the following entry: “His Honor also communicated to the Board a Letter from Governor Denny dated the 24th of September giving an Account of Colonel Armstrong’s Expedition and Success against an Indian Town on the Ohio [Allegheny], called Kittanin, about twenty five miles above Fort Du Quesne” (Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:17).

8Withers crossed out “they” after “think.” The letter-book copy does not include the word “they.”

9GW met Andrew Lewis with ten Cherokee in Halifax County near the North Carolina line on 10 Oct. 1756; and Richard Pearis later arrived in Winchester with eight more, making a total of only thirteen Cherokee warriors and five squaws to come to Virginia in the fall of 1756. See GW to Adam Stephen, 6 Sept., n.4, GW to Dinwiddie, 10 Oct., and After Orders, 17 Dec. 1756, n.1.

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