George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John St. Clair, 1 May 1758

To John St. Clair

Fort Loudoun May 1st 1758.

Dear Sir

The Inclosd came to my hand about five days ago by Express from Fredericksburg, but as it was addressd to you at this place, and I had hopes of seeing you here very shortly I shoud have detaind it till your arrival, had not Mr Rutherford told me you might make some Stay at Lancaster and desird all Letters might be directed to you at that place.1

Nothing particular has occurrd since my last, I shall therefore embrace this oppertunity of asking your advice and directions how, and what sort of conveyances I am to provide for Carrying our Regimental Stores, and Companies Baggage. &ca and what allowances are made for these purposes. I shoud not trouble you on this head now, were I not affraid it may be too late when you arrive here. We are upon a very unsettled establishment, the Country having made no provision for the Expences of a March; but expect, and I believe are very willing that we shoud be governd in these Cases by the Rules observd in the Regular Troops. I am sorry to give you so much trouble at a time when I am truely sensible you are greatly hurried and engagd in more important Affairs but the earnest enquiries of my Officers concerning these matters partly moves me to do it.

I never got recruiting Orders till the 24th Ulto and then receivd no Money for that purpose; I sent of immediately for some and shall use my best endeavours to get compleated. As our Detachments at the Out Posts are to wait till the Militia relieves them I fear it may be some time yet before I get the Regiment together. The President gave me a discretionary power to order an equitable draft of the Militia, but it was a vague ⟨one⟩, and the matter in itself ⟨is⟩ important, and ticklish for me to manage so deeply in.2 I am with very great regard Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt & Most Hble Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Since writing the above I have heard, that a Party of Indians (among whom was Lieutt Gist) are come in from an Excursion they made to Fort Duquesne and have got two Scalps if this is a fact so soon as I can get a particular acct I will transmit it to you.3

G. W——n

ALS, Scottish Record Office; LB, DLC:GW. The postscript is not included in the letter-book copy.

1St. Clair got to Lancaster, Pa., on 4 May. He left Lancaster on 10 May for York, Pa., Frederick, Md., and Winchester, Va., arriving at Fort Loudoun at Winchester on 16 May. The letter GW forwarded has not been identified.

2The last sentence was changed in GW’s letter book to read: “The President gave me a discretionary power, to order out an equitable draught of the Militia; but it was so vague an one, and attended with such delicate and peculiar responsibility, that I do not incline to avail myself of it.” On 2 May after considering GW’s letter to President Blair of 24 April refusing to take responsibility for calling out the militia, the council advised Blair to “order out half the Number of the Militia from the adjacent Counties to garrison the Forts, which the Virginia Forces there station’d consisted of” (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 , 6:88–89). Blair did order out some of the militia immediately, including 100 men from Prince William County (see GW to Blair, 4–10 May, Henry Lee to GW, 16 May, and GW to Fauquier, 19 June).

3Because GW would have had full details of Nathaniel Gist’s exploits from Capt. Robert McKenzie as soon as McKenzie got to Fort Loudoun with Thomas Waggener’s letter of 30 April, he must have got wind of the affair before McKenzie’s arrival. GW told the Gist story in detail on 4–10 May in a letter to John Blair and on 4 May to St. Clair.

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