George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Clement Read, 15 March 1757

From Clement Read

Lunenburg March 15th 1757.

Dear Sir,

About 10 Daies agoe, there came to my House twenty Six Indians of the Cawtaba Nation, with two War Captains, Capt. French, or the French Warrior, and Capt. Bullen, who I sent under the Care of Robert Vaughan to Williamsburg where they desir’d to go before they March’d to you.

About five daies agoe, there came to my House 93 of the same Nation with their King, Haglar, after they held a Council, it was determin’d, that the King, with his Brother and Conjurer, shou’d go to Wmsburg also, and that the others shou’d March directly to you; Whereupon, as their Numbers were great, the Country thro’ which they were to pass thinly Inhabited, and as the Frontiers might be frightned at such an Appearance of Painted Indians, I deem’d it necessary to send a White Man along with them, And as Robert Vaughan was gone with thee first 26, and as the Nation seem’d very fond of him, I thought I might please them in sending his Brother Abraham Vaughan with these to you, and they seem’d pleas’d that I did.1

What I have to desire of you Sir, is, that you wou’d please to Satisfie Mr Vaughan according to thee trouble he has taken & must take, I need not inform you that they are a very troublesome set of people, and their manner of travelling thro’ the Inhabitants, must give their Guide a vast deal of trouble & fatigue,2 And as from this Consideration, & the Necessity of Keeping up a friendship with them, I have taken these Steps, in the Absence of his Honour the Governor, which I hope may be approved of.

As from Information of these Indians, I every day expect, Capt. Johnny Cawtaba & Mr Abraham Smith a Virginian,3 with 200 Cherokees and some more of the Catawba Nation which I must also send a White Man with as a Guide I must hope, and take the freedom of recommending to you, the paying of Mr Abraham Vaughan to his Content, otherwise I have reason to fear, We shall hereafter get none to go on this Slavish Service; I need not add, but that I am, Dear Sir, Your unknown, but mo. Obedt Hum. Servant

Clement Read

P.S. I have given Abraham Vaughan twelve pounds ten shillings, all the money I have, to assist him in Carrying on to Winchester. C.R.


Clement Read (Reade), one of the leaders in the defense of Virginia’s southwestern frontier during the war, was county lieutenant of Lunenburg County and from 1758 until his death in 1763 was one of its burgesses.

1The journals of the Virginia council for 18 Mar. 1757 include the following entry: “The Council being informed that the potent Warriour Hagler King of the Catawba Nation was arrived near Town with two of his great Men, Peter Randolph Esqr. by Desire of the Board withdrew and proceeded in a Coach to meet them, and having accompanied them to the Capitol, they were introduced into the Council Chamber with six and twenty more of the Catawbas, who came here the Wednesday before [16 Mar.], and Robert Vaughan Interpreter; King Hagler, after he and his Attendants had taken all the Council by the Hand, and their Seats, expressed himself to the following Purpose.” Among other things, Hagler told the council that he brought with him between eighty and ninety more warriors and had left them “upon the Frontiers” (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 , 6:31–32). On 19 Mar. William Fairfax, president of the council, promised the Catawba the required supplies.

George Mercer wrote GW, probably on 24 or 26 Mar., that “95 Cutawba’s, beside 25 that are gone to Williamsburgh,” were in Winchester (GW to Dinwiddie, 2 April 1757). This letter from Read is addressed on the cover: “To Colo. Washington at Winchester By Abraham Vaughan with 93 Cawtaba Indians.”

Both Jimmy Bullen and Captain French were killed in an ambush on 23 Aug. 1758 near Fort Cumberland, where they were “buried with Military Honours” (GW to Henry Bouquet, 24 Aug. 1758). Bullen in particular was a favorite of GW’s.

2An entry in GW’s Regimental Accounts dated 25 Mar. indicates that £8 10s. was “paid Abraham Vaughan as Guide to the Cawtawbaws from Lunenburgh” (DLC:GW).

3Captain Johnny was in the small party of Catawba that came to Winchester in October 1756 and left there for Williamsburg at the end of the year. Captain Johnny then went down to the Cherokee territory to persuade the Cherokee to send warriors to GW in the spring. Abraham Smith was an Indian trader whom Dinwiddie had employed in early 1754 to enlist the support of the Creek and Cherokee warriors in Virginia’s pending conflict with the French.

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