George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Stewart, 20 July 1761

From Robert Stewart

Camp at Stalnaker’s on Holstein River

My dear Colo. 20th July 1761

Two days after the Date of my last we March’d from Fort Chiswell (where Stephen, Woodward & their Compys remain) and after a March of six Days we Joind Majr Lewis at this place where I understand a Post is to be Built.1 On the 16th two runners from the little Carpenter came into Camp, the Day following himself with 42 of his Freinds Encamp’t about ¼ a mile without our advanc’d Sentries, on the 18th he, Willynawa, the Swallow’s Nephew & 5 others of some distinction waited on Colo. Byrd and deliver’d a Talk a Copy of it as well as I can recollect you have Inclos’d—I think the Carpr shews some address in forming (by his Intelligence) an union of all the Savage Nations against us to deter us from leaving our own Fronteirs, and the French Governor refin’d Policy in discouraging the Cherrokees from carrying on the war from which the French can derive no essential advantage and may in Time terminate in the destruction of their Southern Settlements as being the surest method by which we can put an end to the Indian war2—a Fever which has confin’d me some Days to my Tent prevented my hearing Colo. Byrd’s answer, but I learn he was very concise, gave them to understand that nothing but their making Peace with Colo. Grant could prevent their destruction to accelerate wch he (Colo. Byrd) was Marching into their Nation, and as they valued their preservation seriously to prosecute the means of procuring Peace.

We as yet know nothing of the Numrs or Situation of the N. Carolina Troops, or whether they are to Join us—We hear that all our Recruiting Parties are got to Reed Creek with only fifty eight Recruits.3

We have twelve Officers, a number of the non Commission’d and near a hundred private out of the 8 Compys here ill with a Fever which seems to be Epedemick and it’s fear’d will go thro’ the whole4—we have not yet got near the numr of Carriages or horses necessary to carry us on, nor one Grain of Forrage, our next Post is to be a Big Island and our last at Broad River forty Miles from the Imperial City of Chota5—But how our small numbers are to make Roads, Construct Posts, furnish Escortes &Ca &Ca for so great a distance & with the trivial remains Conquer a formidable Nation is to me quite a Mystery! But the will of the Great be done.6

It is with great difficulty I am able to write being excessively out of order which obliges me to conclude by begging you’ll forgive the incoherency of the above Scrawl, that you’ll be so good as to offer my Respectfull and obliging Complemts to your Lady & beleive ever to be with the most perfect Esteem and unalterable Regard My Dear Sir Your Most Affecte & Most Obliged hble Servt

Robert Stewart


1Maj. Andrew Lewis left Fort Chiswell on 7 July, the day Stewart wrote GW, with his own and two other companies. They were to cut a road to the Holston River where a new fort was to be built at Stalnaker’s, 51 miles from Fort Chiswell, near present-day Chilhowie, Virginia. Henry Woodward had been captain of a company in the Virginia Regiment since its reorganization in September 1755.

2Little Carpenter came to his old acquaintance Col. William Byrd after the situation of the Cherokee had been rendered desperate by Lt. Col. James Grant’s destruction of their towns and crops. See Stewart to GW, 7 July 1761, n.4. A copy of Little Carpenter’s speech making a bid for peace negotiations is in DLC:GW and published under the date 7 July in Tinling, Byrd Correspondence description begins Marion Tinling, ed. The Correspondence of the Three William Byrds of Westover, Virginia, 1684–1776. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1977. description ends , 2:743–45. Willinawaw (Woolenawa) was governor of the Cherokee Overhill town of Toqua. The nephew of Swallow Warrior who came with Little Carpenter was probably not the influential Seroweh, also called Mankiller of Estatoe, who was strongly opposed to making peace. The copy of the “Talk” which Stewart enclosed is in DLC:GW.

3For the movements of the North Carolina troops, see Stewart to GW, 7 July, n.3.

4On 31 July Colonel Byrd had 670 rank and file fit for duty out of a total of 755 (Francis Fauquier to Jeffrey Amherst, 8 Aug. 1761, n.1, in 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 , 2:557–58).

5The Long, Large, or Big Island of Holston River at what is now Kingsport, Tenn., was 50 miles from Stalnaker’s and, according to one of the officers, 140 miles from “the enemy’s settlements” (Timberlake, Memoirs description begins The Memoirs of Lieut. Henry Timberlake, (Who accompanied the Three Cherokee Indians to England in the Year 1762) . . .. London, 1765. description ends , 10). In 1761 the section of the Tennessee River west of present-day Knoxville to the mouth of the Little Tennessee River was considered part of the Holston River. The French Broad River joins the Holston just east of Knoxville to become what is now the Tennessee River.

6William Byrd described the situation of his forces in a letter to Jeffrey Amherst on 1 Aug. and asked to be relieved of his command unless James Grant intended a further campaign in the fall (Tinling, Byrd Correspondence description begins Marion Tinling, ed. The Correspondence of the Three William Byrds of Westover, Virginia, 1684–1776. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1977. description ends , 2:747–49). Subsequently he surrendered his command of the Virginia Regiment to Adam Stephen and was back in Philadelphia by early September.

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