George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Christopher Gist, 20 July 1758

From Christopher Gist

Winchester July the 20th 1758


here with you have the agreeable News of taking all the Out works at Lewisburg your Papers will come by the Command & as the Carolina Soldiers had no Arms I Sent Capt[ain] Tom with 25 Indians as far as South branch who is to come back to this town, from ther; as no doubt you will Send a Guard to South Branch, to take Care of these 50 Waggons with Stores & Provisions & as your waggons will come again the Same Indians will come then with Me.1 I have advices from the Cherokee Country that the Indians will not come untill the heat is a Little over, I Sent Smith away the 14th the express Met him at augusta[.]2 I order’d Mr Cromwell with him who will Delay no time, they cannot be here in less then forty days from this day, I b[e]lieve it is a good thing Smith is gone there as he will Set every thing right.3

I have a Letter from Mr Turner to General Forbes, which I am going with My Self.4 he is at Carlyle the waggons is at Parrises5 the Bearer will Set Out at 10 oClock hope you will See him tomorrow let him come with the next command or Sooner excuse hast Sir Yr Most Obedt Hume Servt

Christr Gist


1The original plan was for the detachment of North Carolina provincials at Winchester to conduct Thomas Walker’s second convoy of wagons up to Fort Cumberland (see GW to Hugh Waddell, 24 June), but evidently the Tuscarora leader Captain Tom and his little band of Tuscarora and Nottoway had to help escort both the unarmed Carolinians and the wagon train as far as the South Branch.

2The express, or messenger, who met Richard Smith probably was the man who brought George Turner’s letters to Winchester reporting that no more Cherokee would come to Virginia before fall. In his letter to William Byrd, Turner identified the carrier of his letters as “James Holmes, who is a Master of Pack Horses.” See note 4.

3Whether or not it was the result of the mission to the Cherokee country of Richard Smith, the Indian interpreter, and of Gist’s son-in-law William Cromwell, an Indian conductor and courier, the fact is that Little Carpenter and a small party of Cherokee did finally come to Winchester in October. Commenting on an earlier report from Gist that Little Carpenter and his men had already arrived in Augusta County en route to Winchester (see Forbes to Bouquet, 6 July, in Stevens, Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 2:163–65), Abraham Bosomworth wrote Bouquet on 14 July that he had found that there “are no Catawbas at Winchester nor any accounts of the little Carpenter, Mr Gist being too premature (as he generally is) in his Intelligence” (ibid., 204–5).

4William Byrd left George Turner in the Cherokee country in early May with instructions to conduct Little Carpenter and his party up to Winchester. On 23 June Turner wrote both Byrd and Forbes that Little Carpenter and his followers had backed out of their agreement to go to Virginia. Turner gave Byrd a detailed account of his fruitless negotiations with Little Carpenter, but his report to Forbes was succinct: “to the Very Day that I was to have set off, I had no Reason to doubt my Success (the Eve before excepted) when they trump’d up a Story of their Conjurers foretelling them a great deal of Sickness & Death that wou’d attend them in case they Went & they positively refus’d to go till the Fall” (ViU: Forbes Papers).

5Gist is probably referring to Robert Pearis’s house a short distance north and west of Winchester. Pearis at this time was a captain in the Frederick County militia.

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