George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George William Fairfax, 25 July 1775

To George William Fairfax

Camp at Cambridge about 5 Miles from Boston. July 25th 1775.

Dear Sir,

On the other side you will receive a Copy of my last, dated at Philadelphia the 31st of May, and to which I refer.

I shall say very little in this Letter, for two Reasons; first, because I have received no Letter from you since the one dated in June 1774,1 and therefore (having wrote often) can have nothing to answer; but, principally, because I do not know whether it may ever get to your hands: If it should, the principal, indeed only, design is to cover the seconds of those Bills forwarded in my last.

You will, I presume, before this Letter gets to hand, hear of my appointment to the Command of the Continental Army. I arrived at this Camp the 2d Instant. You must, no doubt, also have heard of the engagement on Bunker’s Hill the 17th Ultimo; but as, I am persuaded, you will have a very erroneous account transmitted, of the loss sustained on the side of the Provincials, I do assure you, upon my Word, that our loss, as appears by the Returns made me since I came here, amounts to no more than 139 killed 36 missing and 278 Wounded; nor had we, if I can credit the most solemn assurances of the Officers that were in the action, above 1500 Men engaged on that day. The loss on the side of the Ministerial Troops, as I am informed from good authority, consisted of 1,043 killed and wounded, whereof 92 were Officers.2

Inclosed I send you a second Address from the Congress to the Inhabitants of Great Britain; as also a Declaration, setting forth the Causes and necessity of their taking up Arms.3 My Affectionate & respectful compliments to Mrs Fairfax4 concludes me, Dear Sir, Your mo. obt humble Servt

G. Washington

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

George William Fairfax (1724–1787), a close friend since GW’s youth and a relative of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia, lived at Belvoir near Mount Vernon until the summer of 1773, at which time he made an extended visit to England in order to look after property that he had inherited there. GW agreed to oversee Fairfax’s business affairs in Virginia during his absence and received his power of attorney on 8 July 1773. Fairfax never returned to Virginia, staying in England for the remainder of his life.

1Letter not found.

2GW says in his letter to John Augustine Washington of 27 July 1775 that 138 Americans were killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and he puts the total British losses at 1,057 in his letter to Lund Washington of 20 Aug. 1775.

3Congress accepted the final draft of its declaration on taking arms on 6 July, and two days later it approved an address to the inhabitants of Great Britain (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 2:127–57, 162–70). A copy of the latter document was enclosed in Hancock to GW, 10 July 1775.

4Sarah (“Sally”) Cary Fairfax (c.1730–1811) married George William Fairfax in December 1748.

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