George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Dinwiddie, 27 December 1756

From Robert Dinwiddie

Williamsburg Decr 27th 1756


Yours of the 19th by Jenkins I recd last Night—& do observe You have ordered the Garisons on the Branch to Percealls, to escort the Flour to Fort Cumberland.

The Provisions lying in Bulk at the different Forts, if possible shou’d be Smoked, which wou’d be a great Saving to the Country & I hope You have order’d it so. As we have had great Rains lately I hope a sufficient quantity of Flour may be secured, as Mr Walker told me he & his Assistant had contracted for as much as wou’d serve our Forces twelve Months.1

The Orders given You at first, were on Capt. Mercer’s repeated Assurances of Your having 160 enlisted Men at Winchester, which, with the Servants You mention’d to be enlisted, I conceived You cou’d march 100 Men from Fort Loudoun to Fort Cumberland, but by the Return You write of only 85 Men at Fort Loudoun—It was thought proper to call in the Forces from the Stockade Forts to garison the above Forts compleatly; but not knowing Your Numbers in those Out-Forts I gave general Orders to call them all in, however after Garisoning Fort Cumberland & Fort Loudoun properly, the Surplus Men You are to fix at any Forts You think proper between the above two Forts, & where You think they may be of most essential Service.2

I am surpriz’d Mr Walker shou’d leave his Duty after the Assurances made me (last Time he was in Town) of discharging that Duty with all Diligence, I fear he was not properly countenanc’d, his Probity Knowledge & Experience makes him as equal to that Service as any in the Country, & as he & his Assistant have made so large Contracts, I shall not appoint another till I have his Reasons for resigning.3

Colo. Stephens had the Keys where the Indian Goods were lodged, & he must render an Account of them; I have a Copy of the Invoice from Colo. Innes.4

I am of Opinion that Capt. McNeill is a proper Person to conduct the Catawbas Home (if You cannot prevail with them to remain some Time longer) & he probably may engage some of their Warriors to come in the Spring5—Capt. Pearis & 20 Men, were employ’d to escort the Cherokees and Catawbas, but You may observe how I was disappointed.

I sent Capt. McNeill 500£ to pay the Masters for the Servants enlisted, & order’d him to engage as many as that Money wou’d answer & send them up to You; but ⟨I ca⟩nnot give Directions for enlisting more till I see the Treasur⟨er⟩, to know what Money he may have applicable to that Serv⟨ic⟩e.

Fort Cumberland is to be kept as Defensible as You can till Spring,6 when I expect Lord Loudoun will give Directions therein, but not to be made Cannon proof unless it can be done at a small Expence, which the Country must pay unless Lord Loudoun otherways directs.

The Paragraph of Lord Loudoun’s Letter to me, is intirely confin’d to Fort Cumberland, he was affraid You wou’d have evacuated, & dismantled that Fort before his Letter reach’d me, which wou’d have had a bad Effect as to the Dominion & no good Appearance at Home—As to the String of Forts he knows Nothing of, or can You, from the Paragraph sent You, think that he either prejudges or has any bad Opinion of Your Conduct, & as Fort Cumberland is reinforc’d he will be much pleased.7

I confirm my former Leave of Your coming here when his Lordship arrives, as You will be able to give him a good Account of our Back Country, & I desire You will give the necessary Orders to Your Lieut. Colo. before You leave Fort Cumberland—And I expect You left Directions with Ct. Mercer to continue the Constructing of Fort Loudoun, & that with all possible Expedition.

I was in hopes the Interpreter for the Catawbas wou’d have served for the Cherokees; however I have sent up the Country to engage an Interpreter8—You must keep the Indians employ’d in Scouting, if idle they will be thinking of Home.

I approve of the Leave You have given to Lieutts Baker & Lowry, & I shall be glad to see them—I have paved the Way & I expect a good Number of the Tuscaroras & Nottaways early in the Spring & I think Lieut. Baker will be of great Service with those People.

I am in Pain & greatly uneasy for the poor Men’s cloathing—I understand the Treasurer appointed Colo. Carlyle & Mr Chas Steuart9 to provide them, & I hope the first Vessell from London will bring them; the Severity of the Weather & the Work they have to do gives me concern when I think of their naked Condition; I wish You cou’d purchase some Blankets for the present tho’ I think it cannot be long before they arrive; endeavour to keep them in Spirits for a short Time longer.

You do right in writing to the Treasurer to provide Money You know I am only to grant my Warrant, & when I see him I shall speak to him on that Head.

I shall be glad to have a regular Return of Your Strength to lay be⟨fore⟩ Lord Loudoun when he arrives10—I wish You Health & remain Sir Your humble Servant

Robt Dinwiddie

LS, DLC:GW; LB, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers. The bracketed portions in this document have faded to illegibility in the LS copy and have been taken from Dinwiddie’s letter-book copy.

1In his letter to Thomas Walker, 15 Dec. 1756, Dinwiddie wrote: “Your 2 Letters of the 4th & 9th of this Mo: I received, the first mentions yo. have no Doubt of purchasing Provisions sufficient for the forces” (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers).

2For the two sets of orders, see the enclosures in Dinwiddie to GW, 16 Nov. and 10 Dec. 1756.

3For Dinwiddie’s response to Thomas Walker’s stated intention to resign as commissary, see GW to Dinwiddie, 19 Dec. 1756, n.3.

5The Catawba Indians, who had arrived in Winchester in late October, left Fort Cumberland for Williamsburg on their way home near the end of December. See GW to Robert Dinwiddie, 9 Nov. 1756, n.13. In DLC:GW there are two addresses to the Catawba, both in Adam Stephen’s hand and perhaps written in the name of GW. One, directed to the “Brothers Catabaws,” expressed regret that the warriors were leaving and sorrow “for the Loss of the two Catabaws, and for our five white men.” (For the names of the five lost soldiers and the reappearance of two of the five, see GW to Dinwiddie, 24 May 1757, n.1). The first address went on to say “we are mighty sorry that the 40 Catabaws, which we Expected did not come to war, according to treaty made last spring; We are afraid that they hearken to much to what the traders Say, who tell them many lies, and want them to Stay at home to kill dear, and get Skins for them.” It followed this with a plea that they “tell the Warriors of the Catabaw Nation, that the Road is now Open and Clear, and that we want to Shake hands with them Early in the Spring. . . . We will take a great many Scalps, and prisoners, for which we will get a great deal of money, & thanks from the Gret King George our Common Father.”

The other address, directed to “Capt. Johnne,” the leader of the little party, asked him “to go to the Cherokees, and tell them the Road is now clear and Open; We expected them to War last Spring . . .; but we are mighty Sorry that they hearken so much to the lies the French tell. . . . If they Continue to Listen to What the French Say much longer they will have great cause to be sorry. . . . Tell them we long to Shake hands with them; Let them get their knives and tomhawkes Sharpe . . .” (1756, DLC:GW). See also Dinwiddie to GW, 26 Jan. 1757.

6For Stephen’s efforts to strengthen Fort Cumberland, see GW to Dinwiddie, 10 Dec. 1756, n.3.

8Dinwiddie wrote to Andrew Lewis on 17 Dec. that Col. Peter Randolph would send “one Smith” as an interpreter for the Cherokee (ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). This was either Richard or Abraham Smith, two brothers often used as interpreters.

9See John Carlyle to GW, 2 Dec. 1756. Charles Steuart was probably the Norfolk merchant of that name.

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