George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Blair, 24 May 1758

From John Blair

Williamsburg May 24th 1758


The distresses in Bedford and Halifax had occasioned my Calling a full Council to meet on the 19th Instt which obliged Col: Maury to a long attendance here,1 in which time Jenkins brot me yours of May 10th with the Opinion of your Council of Officers on your Necessity of imploying the £400—sent you for Contingencies in the recruiting Service; and the utter insufficiency of that, to discharge your Engagements.2 Being under Difficultys about it, I kept him several days ’till the Council; who did not apprehend you was warranted to give more than £5 bounty Money, for the Recruits of your Regiment; and yet I can not see how it could at this time be expected, while we were giving Ten pounds for the other. Be that as it will, we determined to send you a Supply of Money; and I sent presently to the Treasury for £1000 for you.3 But to my great surprise Mr Cock [(]whom I expected to deliver it out) was gone out of Town.4 As I had kept Jenkins ’till then, it vexed me heartily to find a further delay. I first endeavoured to get it from the Gentn Signers here, but the Attorney was gone too, who should have signed Mr Nicholas’s Book.5 I then thought to send express to the Speaker, and writ for an Order to some Gentn here but hearing that Mr Cock had the Key with him I sent an Express to him at Colo. William Randolphs,6 and got him to Town last Night, and at last got the money this Morning, as I thought it vain to send him up without it, during this delay, I received a Letter from Govr Sharp, acquainting me that his Assembly had broke up without so much as paying the arrears of their Men from the 8th of Octo. Last. He purposes, if we are in want, to offer some of his, on terms of your paying their Arrears, which he thinks will be less than our Bounty.7 But I perceive he has some view of getting the General to take them; and I imagine we are near full. Jenkins has brot me two lusty able Sailors, that are willing to enlist for this Campaign, so I send them to you by him, as he was earnest to carry up two such fine fellows.8 Last Saturday brot me an Accot of a large party of Indians who in passing thro’ Bedford spread themselves in smaller Companys many Miles wide and Robb’d every Plantation they came at. This provoked the Inhabitants to a great degree; Col: Talbot sent out Militia to protect them, who came up with a Party of them and seeing some of their Horses demanded restitution; but the Indians answered they must fight for them, and fired upon them, and killed one Man; whereupon they fired upon the Indians and killed some of them. But to save my writing I send you the accounts I received, having ordered a strict enquiry to be made above, by Col: Read, Colo. Talbott and Col. Maury, which when transmitted to me I purpose to send by express to Govr Lyttleton to beg his Assistance, to prevent the disaffection of the Nation and the ill consequences that might ensue on a misrepresentation.9 I writ some accot of this by Lieutt Waller who I hope will be up this day,10 and I desired Colo. Mercer to communicate it to Sir John St Clair and you and to Mr Gist.11 You may assure them if our Men were the aggressors they will be Severely punished and if the Indians were Guilty of what is charged upon them the Wise great Men our good Friends will not blame what was done, but think they brought it upon themselves by their own folly. I am Sir Your very humbl. Servt

John Blair.

P.S. I have been obliged this day to change the Militia I had ordered to garrison in Augusta, and to order 50 from Goochland and 50 from Hanover for that Service, which will unavoidably retard Majr Lewis in joining you at Winchester which I am sorry for[.]12 One of the Men I send by Jenkins whose name is Hugh Glass, says he was Armourer in the Spy Privateer of Liverpool, and Gunners Mate in the Monmouth Captn Twentyman a Letter of Marque now here.13 He hopes as he is an able man 5 ft 10 In. and used to business, some little post above the common level (if not rather in his former imployment[)] may be bestowed upon him.


1When the council met on 19 May it considered among other things a plea from the people of Halifax County for protection and two letters from ranger captain Peter Hog telling of a devastating Indian raid in Augusta County in April. See GW to Blair, 4–10 May, n.1. It was not until Saturday, 20 May, that Blair got word of the two bloody encounters in Bedford County between parties of frontiersmen and returning Cherokee. It was concerning these encounters that William Callaway wrote GW on 15 May and that Blair describes below in this letter. The council discussed the situation in Bedford County on Saturday, 20 May (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 , 6:91–94). Abraham Maury, brother of the Rev. James Maury, was colonel of the Halifax militia.

2William Jenkins delivered GW’s letter of 4–10 May and the Council of War, 9 May, to Blair on or before 15 May. See Blair to GW, 15 May.

3There is no reference in the journals of the council, 19–20 May, either to GW’s request for money to pay for recruiting or to the council’s decision to send him money.

4James Cocke worked in the treasurer’s office under John Robinson until Robinson’s death in 1766. He then helped the administrators of Robinson’s estate unravel the web of indebtedness in which it was entangled.

5The recent “Act for augmenting the forces in the pay of this Colony to two thousand men” (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 163–69) provided that the treasury notes issued by the treasurer to pay the cost of these troops should be signed by Attorney General Peyton Randolph and Robert Carter Nicholas, both leading members of the House of Burgesses.

6William Randolph (1719–1761), of Wilton, was a member of the House of Burgesses from Henrico County.

7Horatio Sharpe wrote Blair on 14 May: “Unless I find on my Arrival at Fort Frederick where I hope to be the 22d or 23d Inst that your Regiments are not likely to be compleated in that Case I shall write to the Commanding Officer at Winchester & make him an offer of such of our Soldiers as are enlisted generally for His Majesty’s Service, upon his paying them & the Persons to whom they may be endebted whatever their Arrears of Pay at that time shall amount to, which will not I suppose be so much as the Bounty Money that you allow for Recruits” (Browne, Sharpe Correspondence description begins William Hand Browne, ed. Correspondence of Governor Horatio Sharpe. 3 vols. Archives of Maryland, vols. 6, 9, and 14. Baltimore, 1888–95. description ends , 2:182–83).

8See the postscript of this letter.

9For another account of the troubles with the Cherokee passing through Bedford County, see William Callaway to GW, 15 May 1758. The enclosures in Blair’s letter included letters from Matthew Talbot to Clement Read, 3 May; Joseph Collins to John Bates, c.8 May; William Mead to Matthew Talbot, 8 May; memorandum signed by Thomas Morgan, Jacob Dillin, and Christian Choat, c.8 May; Timothy Dalton’s statement attested by Robert Baber, 9 May; Pink[ethma]n Hawkins to Clement Read, 10 May; Matthew Talbot to Clement Read, 10 May; Charles Talbot to Clement Read, 11 May; Matthew Talbot to Clement Read, 12 May; and Charles Talbot to Clement Read, 12 May. All of these deal with the conflict between the settlers in the area of Bedford County and the Cherokee on their way home from Winchester, and all are in DLC:GW. Matthew Talbot, county lieutenant of Bedford, and Clement Read, county lieutenant of Lunenburg, on instructions from Blair held a hearing at (Joseph) Mays’s ferry on the Staunton River on 1 June 1758. The two county lieutenants took testimony from most of those named here, and from others as well, about the misbehavior of the Cherokee and the incidents of conflict between Cherokee and settlers during the preceding month. The two instances of outright fighting between the two recounted in William Callaway’s letter to GW, 15 May, received the most attention. After Talbot and Read made their report, Blair seems to have sent a copy of it to Gov. William Henry Lyttelton of South Carolina (15 June, 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 , 6:101–5); the report is printed in McDowell, S.C. Indian Affairs description begins William L. McDowell, Jr., ed. Documents relating to Indian Affairs. 2 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1958-70. In Colonial Records of South Carolina, 2d ser., vols. 2–3. description ends , 463–70.

10John Waller was a lieutenant in the new 2d Virginia Regiment.

11It was after receiving Blair’s letter of 25 May that St. Clair wrote Blair on 31 May: “I shall not enter into a detail of the Scuffle that happend in Bedford County, nor who was the Agressors; but one thing I Know is that the Inhabitants after Killing some Cherokees scalp’d them & left them on the Road that their Brother Indians who were coming to go to War with us might see them” (ViU: Forbes Papers).

12On 26 April GW first ordered Maj. Andrew Lewis to come to Winchester from Augusta County with his three companies as soon as the militia arrived to relieve them. GW expressed surprise to Lewis on 21 May that he and his men had not got to Fort Loudoun, and on 26 May, on instructions from St. Clair, GW ordered Lewis to march at once. Lewis arrived at Fort Loudoun on 10 June with his own company and the companies of John McNeill and Henry Woodward.

13Henry Twentyman was master of the Monmouth.

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