George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Connolly, 1 May 1774

From John Connolly

Pittsburgh May 1st 1774

Dear Sir

I just snatch this minute by Major McDonald to acqu⟨mutilated⟩ You, that we are all in infinite confusion at this place, owing to ⟨mutilated⟩tilities now actually begun, & subsisting between us, & the Indians: ⟨mutilated⟩ Amount of which I have in a brief manner mentioned to His Exce⟨mutilated⟩ Lord Dunmore—I have this day sent Expresses into ⟨mutilated⟩ the different parts of the Country, to collect the Militia, & to imp⟨mutilated⟩ all Tools & instruments necessary towards making this place defe⟨mutilated⟩ against the Enemy; & at the same time have dispatched Messeng⟨mutilated⟩ down the River to order our People to desist from further host⟨mutilated⟩ with a View to bring about an amicable reconciliation; ’tho ⟨mutilated⟩ really am apprehensive, the attempt will be unsuccessfull.

I flatter myself upon this occasion not⟨mutilated⟩ing our Government disputes, that we will be unanimous in oppo⟨mutilated⟩ Common Enemy: & therefore hope we will not stand in need of y⟨mutilated⟩ Assistance below: at any rate, I expect we will be enabi⟨mutilated⟩ stand our ground, long enough, at least, to acquaint you with ⟨mutilated⟩ inabilities to resist alone, & to pray assistance from your Qu⟨mutilated⟩.1

Excuse (Dr Sir) the inaccuracies of this Le⟨mutilated⟩ the multiplicity of perplexing Circumstances, which now engages ⟨mutilated⟩ attention, flowing from the Source mentioned, prevent me from ⟨mutilated⟩ as copious, on the Subject as I could wish; & therefore pe⟨mutilated⟩ me to subscribe myself your Friend & Obedt Serv⟨t⟩

John Connolly

ALS, DLC:GW. The letter was sent “pr Express.”

1The boundary line between Virginia and Pennsylvania had long been in dispute. Virginia claimed under its charter much of what is now southwestern Pennsylvania, including the land around the forks of the Ohio. After the French and Indian War Pennsylvania began to push its claim to this disputed land and included it as a part of Westmoreland County, formed in 1773 with the county seat at Hannastown. Governor Dunmore of Virginia appointed John Connolly, a Pennsylvanian, commandant of the Virginia militia in the Pittsburgh area. Connolly took over Fort Pitt early in 1774, renaming it Fort Dunmore (see Connolly to GW, 1 Feb. 1774, and note 2 of that document). Connolly’s high-handed actions enraged the Pennsylvanians, and a series of arrests and counterarrests by Pennsylvania and Virginia officials ensued. In February 1775 a Virginia court met at Fort Dunmore in the newly formed District of West Augusta, with the Pennsylvanian George Croghan as presiding justice and Connolly as a member of the court. The need to unite against the British put an end to the dispute, and the boundary line between the two states was finally settled in 1780. For more on the boundary dispute, see Papers, Revolutionary Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series. 25 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1985–. description ends , 1:31–32, and Crumrine, “Boundary Controversy.” description begins Boyd Crumrine. “The Boundary Controversy between Pennsylvania and Virginia; 1748–1785.” Annals of the Carnegie Museum 1 (1901–2): 505–24. description ends

The dispute over jurisdiction was a factor in the worsening relations with some of the Indian tribes. The Indians northwest of the Ohio River were becoming increasingly incensed at the encroachments on their territory by settlers, frontiersmen, and groups of surveyors. The Seneca and Delaware kept the peace, but many of the Shawnee, and some Mingos, inflamed by confrontations with the whites, were eager for war (see especially Gilbert Simpson to GW, 4 May, Valentine Crawford to GW, 7 May, and William Crawford to GW, 8 May). John Connolly’s continuing efforts to extend Virginia’s influence, in which he revealed his contempt for the Indians and a desire for war with them, exacerbated the situation. In June Governor Dunmore ordered Col. Andrew Lewis with about eight hundred militiamen from the southwestern frontier counties of Virginia to prepare an expedition against the Shawnee beyond the Ohio. Dunmore on 10 July left Williamsburg for the frontier, determined to lead the upcoming expedition himself. He arrived in late September with about twelve hundred additional militia at Fort Fincastle, recently constructed at the mouth of Wheeling Creek. Dunmore’s attempts to make peace with the Indians were foiled by hostile Shawnee and others. As early as July William Crawford, who held a major’s commission in the militia, had been sent to the mouth of the Great Hockhocking River to build another post, named Fort Gower, across the river from some of GW’s lands, and in August Maj. Angus McDonald of Frederick County had led about four hundred militia against the Upper Shawnee towns on the Muskingum River. Andrew Lewis, who had been ordered to bring his wing of the army to join Dunmore’s at Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, was suddenly and unexpectedly attacked on 10 Oct. by a large force of mostly Shawnee warriors. For the battle at Point Pleasant, see William Crawford to GW, 14 Nov., n.1. For more on the campaign, known as Dunmore’s War, see Thwaites, Dunmore’s War description begins Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg, eds. Documentary History of Dunmore’s War, 1774. Madison, Wis., 1905. description ends .

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