George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Mercer, 26 April 1757

From George Mercer

Fort Loudoun April 26th 1757.

Dear Sir.

Since my last to you, we have held Council after Council every day with the Indians. They seem at last pretty well satisfied, and a Party of them sett out this Day to War; the others will follow so soon as they get their Shoes made. There is a great Scarcity of Deer Skins, and I am obliged to send thro’ the whole County to provide them.

Inclosed are two Letters from the Head Warriours to the Govr, which they insisted I should write, and desired I might not be afraid to do it; it was their Talk they said, which I wrote, which they intended to give him freely.1

By every thing you’ll observe, the chief thing is a present, and they expect a very good one, and have not omitted upon all Occasions to tell me what the French give their Indians. They make no Secret either of their Intentions in Case they are not properly encouraged. One of the Warriours told Major Lewis in Augusta, that he had been often told Lies in his Nation, but now he was come himself to see if they would never tell the Truth. If they did not now, he said, as the Govr had promised them a large Present if they would come & fight, and if he did not get it when he came here, he would turn back and take every thing from the Inhabitants as they went along, and maybe, siad he, scalp some of them too, for he said if they had stayed at home and hunted, they could buy as much Goods as they wanted with their Skins.2

You’ll observe, Wauhatchee has desired the Govr to meet them here, and I am certain it will be of the greatest Service if he does; they have much to ask of him, which they say, he shall hear when they see him. I know the one part of their Request is to send some of their Warriours Home to talk to his Majesty.

Many of our Soldiers have made Application to go out with them, but as their Destination is uncertain, and may suddenly be ordered away, I have not allowed any of them to go.

Smith the Interpreter I believe is one of the best on the Continent. he is an extreme modest Man, and behaves himself very well in every particular. The Warriours have desired that he may have a good Suit of Clothes provided for him against he returns. Really the Man’s Behaviour entitles him to some Notice from the Governour.3

I am much at a Loss what will be done with the next Party of Indians, which I am told are now in Augusta. We have neither Shirts nor Blankets to give them; nor do I know where to get them, nor is there more than 24 or 5 Guns for them, all have been taken from Bedford and Augusta Courthouses, and there are 80 Indians in the Party that’s on their March, I am informed.

I sent down to the Ohio Store for some things for these; Colo. Cresap writes me that Trent has made a Contract with Sir Wm Johnson for them. There is neither Paint, scalping Knives, Wampum nor pipe Tomahawks to be had there, nor is there any Silver Truck.4

Pray Colo. push this Matter as much as possible, for you know how much depends upon the Interest of these Indians. If they are not properly rewarded, they will all forsake us: the Consequences then are plain. They will not be idle Spectators, but will be employed.

Excuse me I pray, for troubling you with this long Epistle; tho’ I have been so full, I do not presume to direct or offer my Sentiments, but represent every thing in the very Light the Indians now consider them, which I am certain from your Knowledge of those people, you’ll know to be true; therefore I need not have been so explicit.

Colo. Stephen is not arrived yet, nor have I heard of his March. I am Dear Sir Your most obedient and obliged humble Servant

Go: Mercer

Copy, CSmH; Copy, P.R.O., W.O. 34/47, ff. 151–152. See the source line for Mercer’s letter to GW of 24 April 1757. Dinwiddie presented both of the Mercer letters, with enclosures, to the House of Burgesses on 3 May.

1The enclosed letters for Dinwiddie have not been found.

2Some of the Cherokee seem to have talked to Andrew Lewis in Augusta County in much the same way they had talked to Clement Read in Lunenburg County. See Read’s letter to Dinwiddie cited in George Mercer to GW, 24 April 1757, n.1.

3Richard Smith, the brother of Abraham Smith, both Indian traders and both used by Virginia as interpreters, came up to Fort Loudoun with Wawhatchee and the other Cherokee. He shortly left Winchester with a party led by the Swallow and Maj. Andrew Lewis to march toward Fort Cumberland. Edmond Atkin in the summer of 1757 made him one of the two official conductors of the Cherokee and translator for the colony of Virginia. At the same time that Lewis and his party left for Fort Cumberland, Richard Pearis led Wawhatchee and Youghtanno with their followers north into Maryland and Pennsylvania.

4Thomas Cresap, a member of the Ohio Company and a prominent frontiersman, lived on the north bank of the Potomac River. William Trent, a Pennsylvania Indian trader, was in Virginia’s employ during GW’s expeditions into Pennsylvania in 1753 and 1754. After attending a conference with the Indians at Lancaster, Pa., in May 1757, Trent came to Winchester where in June he participated in a meeting with the Indians there. Sir William Johnson (1715–1774) was superintendent of Indian affairs in the northern colonies. By “Silver Truck” Mercer meant miscellaneous silver items suitable for Indian presents. The store of the Ohio Company to which Mercer was referring may have been the one at Rock Creek.

Index Entries