To Francis Fauquier
To Governor Fauquier[Loyalhanna, 2 December 1758]
The enclosed was wrote with intention to go by an Express of the Generals but his indisposition prevented that Express from setting out for three days afterwards; and then, the General thought that my waiting upon your honor would be more elligible; as I could represent the situation of our affairs in this Quarter more fully, than could well be done by letter.1
This I accordingly attempted; but upon trial found it impracticable to proceed with despatch for want of Horses (now having near 2,00 miles to march before I can get a supply) those I at present have, being entirely knocked up. I shall notwithstanding endeavour to comply with the Generals request as I can not possibly be down till towards the 1st of next month (and the Bearer may much sooner.)
The General has in his letters told you what Garrison he proposed to leave at Fort du Quesne: but the want of Provisions rendered it impossible to leave more than 2,00 men in all there: These, without peculiar exertion, must, I fear, abandon the place—or perish. To prevent as far as possible either of these events happening, I have, by this conveyance, wrote a circular Letter to the back inhabitants of virginia; setting forth the great advantages of keeping that place—the improbability of doing it without their immediate assistance—that they may travel safely out while we hold that Post—and will be allowed good prices for such species of Provisions as they shall carry.2 Unless the most effectual measures are taken early in the Spring to reinforce the Garrison at Fort du Quesne, the place will inevitably be lost; and then our Frontiers will fall into the same distressed condition that they have been in for sometime past. For, I can very confidently assert, that we never can secure them properly, if we lose our footing on the Ohio: as we consequently lose the interest of the Indians. I therefore think that every necessary preparation should be making: not a moment should be lost in taking the most speedy and efficacious steps, in securing the infinite advantages which may be derived from our regaining possession of that important country.
That the preparative steps should immediately be taken for securing the communication from Virginia, by constructing a Post at Redstone-creek, which would greatly facilitate the supplying our Troops on the Ohio, where a formidable Garrison should be sent as soon as the season will admit of it.3 That a Trade with the Indians should be upon such terms, and transacted by men of such Principles as would at the same time turn out to the reciprocal advantage of the Colony and the Indians; and which would effectually remove those bad impressions that the Indians received from the conduct of a set of rascally Fellows divested of all faith and honor: and give us such an early opportunity of establishing an Interest with them as would be productive of the most beneficial consequences—by getting a large share of the Fur-trade, not only of the Ohio indians, but, in time, of the numerous nations possessing the backs countries westward of it: and to prevent this advantageous commerce from suffering in its infancy by the sinister views of designing, selfish men, of the different Provinces—I humbly conceive it absolutely necessary, that Commissioners from each of the colonies be appointed, to regulate the mode of that Trade, and fix it on such a basis that, all the attempts of one Colony undermining another and thereby weakening and diminishing the general system, might be frustrated. To effect which the General would (I fancy) chearfully give his aid.
Altho’ none can entertain a higher Sense of the greate importance of maintaining a Post upon the Ohio than myself; yet under the unhappy circumstances that my Regiment is, I would by no means have agreed to leave any part of it there, had not the Genl given an express order for it. I endeavoured to shew that the Kings Troops ought to garrison it; but he told me, as he had no instructions from the ministry relative thereto, he could not order it—and our men that are left there, are in such a miserable situation, having hardly rags to cover their nakedness—exposed to the inclemency of the weather in this rigorous season, that, unless provision is made by the country for supplying them immediately, they must inevitably perish! and, if the First V. Regiment is to be kept up any longer, or any services are expected therefrom, they should forthwith be clothed; as they are, by their present shameful nakedness—the advanced season—and the inconceivable fatigues of an uncommonly long and laborious campaign, rendered totally incapable of any kind of Service: and sickness, death and desertion must, if not speedily supplied, greatly reduce its numbers; and, to replace them with equally good men will, perhaps, be found impossible.4
Colo. Byrd begs that the money for which he wrote may be sent by Express to Winchester;5 as detaining his Regiment there, will encrease that demand, & add to the general Expence. With the highest Respect I am, Hon. Sir, &c.
LB (recopied), DLC:GW.
1. The enclosed undoubtedly was GW’s letter to Fauquier of 28 November. Forbes’s express, or courier, probably was being sent to Williamsburg with Forbes’s (missing) letter of 26 Nov. telling Fauquier of the fall of Fort Duquesne. GW’s two letters, Forbes’s letter, and a letter from William Byrd to Fauquier were read to the council on 13 December. Forbes’s letter is summarized in the council minutes of that date. After giving an account of the French evacuation of Fort Duquesne, probably in the same words that he used in his letter to William Denny of 26 Nov. (James, Writings of Forbes description begins Alfred Procter James, ed. Writings of General John Forbes Relating to His Service in North America. Menasha, Wis., 1938. description ends , 264–65), Forbes, according to the council minutes, went on to say “that he shall send off the Virginia Troops as soon as he can give them four Days Provisions, to set them on their March . . . hoping the Colony of Virginia will contribute, with other adjoining Provinces to enable him to fix a proper Fort, and maintain a suitable Garrison for the Defence of the Country, to establish an equitable and just Traffick with the Indians, and to allow them proper hunting Boundaries—giving an Account of the infamous Behaviour of the Little Carpenter . . . that the rest of his Nation leave him the next Day, all well satisfied—that he shall be obliged to keep about Two Hundred of Col. Washington’s Battalion, as a Part of the Troops necessary there this Winter” (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 , 6:121–24).
2. GW’s circular letter has not been found.
3. The summary of Forbes’s letter in the council minutes reported that Forbes added a postscript “proposing that the Colony should build a Blockhouse and Saw-Mill upon Redstone Creek” (ibid.). After GW’s capitulation at Fort Necessity in 1754, the French burned the Ohio Company’s storehouse near the mouth of Redstone Creek. The creek flows into the Monongahela River at present-day Brownsville, Pennsylvania.
4. Upon reading GW’s letter, the council advised “that the Men should be furnish’d with every Thing mention’d in the Return inclosed in Colo. Washington’s Letter of the 30th of October [see note 3 of that letter], deducting the usual Stoppage from their Pay for the common Cloathing; and that his Honor would be pleas’d to direct Mr. [Christopher] Gist to supply them with any Thing suitable out of the Indian Goods, remaining in his Hands, and desire Colo. Washington to give Orders for providing the Rest out of the adjacent Stores” (ibid.). Fauquier wrote Forbes, 24 Jan. 1759: “As Coll. Washington’s Regiment were so much exposed to the Hardships of the Weather for Want of Cloaths, I have ordered each of them a Blanket to be made up into a Coat to guard them from the Inclemency of the Season, which is the utmost, if not more than, I have a power to do till the Assembly meet in February” (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 , 1:162–63).
5. William Byrd wrote in a (missing) letter to Fauquier on 21 Oct. 1758, “that he has laid out near £200 for under Waistcoats for his Men, the Weather being extremely cold, which he hopes the Assembly will allow” (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 , 6:116).