George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John St. Clair, 14 June 1758

To John St. Clair

To Sir Jno. St clair—Baronet[Fort Loudoun 14 June 1758]

Dear Sir

I found upon my return to this place, last Night, the Letters Inclosd. I shoud hardly have opend them, notwithstanding you desird it had not Colo. Byrd advisd it as necessary, thinking there might be something containd, that we might be preparing to execute.1

I greatly fear that we shall be in want of Arms. at all events we have but a Scanty allowance. and if those from Williamsburg shoud be in bad Order, as we have reason to apprehend they are from the Inclosd Letters; I don’t know what we are to do: delayd we must be; at least till they are cleand, and made fit for Service. There will be a difficiency of Bayonets when the Maryland Arms are returnd—and there is not a possibility of my supplying Byrds Regiment with Cartooch Boxes, as the Arms which Mr Henry is repairing are entirely without these Appendiges.2 My Regiment will, I expect, be compleat in both these Articles.

Mr Cunningham in a PS to me, adds—“McSwaine this moment tells me the two Waggone⟨rs⟩ have escaped from Colo. Lewis; so that the Blankets will not be up so soon as I wrote Sir John.”3

Among the Inclosd, you will find a Letter from Mr Strother, concerning the French Negro I wrote to him for, at your desire; this Negro I find to be a shrewd Sensible Fellow; and may be useful if he did not come into the Inhabitants for the ⟨erasure⟩ discoveries, rather than his escape from our Enemi⟨es.⟩4 he is very well acquainted with the Ohio, and its de⟨pendent⟩ parts, but has been longer from Fort Du-quesne than I at first understood him. He will set out from this to morrow, with a Waggon I shall send towards Fort Loudoun Pensylvania, and I shall desire he may be forwarded to you from thence. I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LB (original), DLC:GW; LB (recopied), DLC:GW. This is the first letter in an original letter book containing copies of GW’s official letters and orders between this date and 12 Sept. 1758. All but four letters are in GW’s hand. Like the only other surviving original letter book from the French and Indian War, that of 2 Mar. to 14 Aug. 1755, this letter book has frequent strike outs, erasures, write overs, and insertions made by GW, probably after the Revolution. All of these letters and orders in the original letter book appear in the clerk’s recopied letter book, 2 Mar. to Dec. 1758, with GW’s changes incorporated. See the introductory note in The Letter Book for the Braddock Campaign, 2 March–14 August 1755, in Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 1:236–40, for an account of how GW corrected his early letter books and then had a clerk recopy them. In the present volume, the original letter-book copy of each letter (except when the ALS sent to the addressee is available) has been printed without, insofar as possible, any of GW’s later emendations and changes. No attempt has been made here as was done in our printing of GW’s original letter book for the Braddock campaign to give the full range of changes that GW made in the original, but some of the more significant or striking alterations have been noted. Because there are available a large number of letters that GW wrote and actually sent to Bouquet between July and September 1758, we have three versions of these letters (see GW to Bouquet, 3 July [first letter], source note).

1St. Clair wrote to Forbes on 17 June: “Just as I was sending off the Express, I received Letters from Winchester from the New Lt Govr who is arrived at Williamsbourg, I send you the one which I received from him as likewise one directed for you” (ViU: Forbes Papers). Lt. Gov. Francis Fauquier wrote to St. Clair on 6 June, the day after he arrived in Williamsburg, and sent along with it a letter to Forbes dated 8 June 1758 (Reese, Fauquier description begins George Reese, ed. The Official Papers of Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, 1758–1768. 3 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1980–83. description ends , 1:14–20).

GW made, among others, two substantial changes in his original letter-book copy of this paragraph. In the second sentence, he replaced the first “it” with “me to do so with any that might be directed to you at this place on the public Service”; and he identifies Col. William Byrd as the “bearer.”

2For a discussion of the arms and other stores being sent up from Williamsburg via Fredericksburg and Falmouth, see St. Clair to GW, 13 June 1758, n.2. St. Clair brought the armorer William Henry to Winchester in May. See the orders GW gave to Henry for the care of the arms at Fort Loudoun, issued on 24 June 1758 before GW marched to Fort Cumberland.

3William Cunningham was a merchant of Falmouth who had supplied goods to the Virginia Regiment before, and Colonel Lewis was Fielding Lewis of Fredericksburg. McSwaine was possibly George McSwane the frontiersman referred to in Adam Stephen to GW, 6 Nov. 1755, and who led a party of Cherokee to spy on Fort Duquesne in 1757. Thomas Cresap wrote St. Clair on 19 June that near Conococheague he “found Georg McSwane Kild & Scalpt in the Road” (Stevens, Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 2:111). The letter to which Cunningham added a postscript has not been identified.

4This was probably Anthony Strother (1710–1765) of Fredericksburg. The “French Negro” may have been the man referred to in an “Account of cash paid by Edmond Atkin Esqr. for Sundry Disbursements on the Indians.” Atkin noted that on 13 Aug. 1757 he “pd Subsistance of the French Negro. Deserter, from Fort DuQuesne, brought down to the Govr at Williamsburg, he claiming his Freedom named Frank” (P.R.O., W.O. 34/47, f. 165). On 22 June St. Clair wrote GW that the “Black is arrived.” GW inserted in place of the erasure, “purpose of,” when correcting his original letter book.

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