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Circular letter of Lord Dunmore, sent to the county-lieutenants
WILLIAMSBURG 10th June 1774

From Documentary History of Dunmore's War, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905), p. 33-35

SIR The intelligence which I have received from Fort Pitt, of the Motions and disposition of the Indians, giving me now good grounds to believe that hopes of a pacification can be no longer entertained, and that these People will by no means be diverted from their design of falling upon the back parts of this Country and Committing all the outrages and devastations which will be in their power to effect, it is necessary (the Assembly not having thought proper to pay attention to this Momentous business though they were Sufficiently apprised of it) that we Should have recourse to the only means which are left in our power to extricate ourselves out of so Calamitous a Situation.

You are therefore upon the receipt of this letter immediately to give orders that the Militia of your County be forthwith embodied, and held in readiness either to defend that part of the Country or to march to the Assistance of any other, as occasion may require, and in General to exert those few powers, which the Act of Assembly, in this Case, authorizes, in the best manner, according to your abilities, that may answer the present exigence; leaving it to your own Zeal and discretion to provide extraordinary means for any extraordinary occasions that may arise, as, if you Should find, by following the Enemy into their own Country and beyond the limits prescribed in the Act of Assembly and can prevail on your Men to agree to it that it would be an opportunity of Stricking Such a Stroke as might prove decisive, I cannot but Suppose the Necessity of it would Justify you with your Country, and the benefit accruing from it ensure you their applause, and therefore oblige the Assembly to indemnify you; but this however I can only recommend to your own Judgment to do as you shall think best, as people will be more apt to determine the merit of such a Measure by the event than by the reasons which induced you to adopt it, and it exceeds the Authority which I have to vest you with.

I also recommend to your own Judgment, whether you Should not employ your men to erect Small Forts in Such places as would Serve best to protect the adjacent Settlers, to Secure all important papers, and likewise to Cover the retreat of the Militia in Case the Number of the Indians should unfortunately make that Step at any time Necessary; it has been represented to me that a Fort at the Conflux of the Great Kanhaway and the Ohio would Answer Several good purposes of this kind, which however I must leave to be Considered by you, and the other Commanding Officers of the Militia, whose knowledge of the Country will make them proper Judges of its expediency. You ought to keep up a constant Correspondence with all the Lieutenants and Commanding Officers of the adjoining Counties, so as that you may be able to assist each other in the most effectual and expedetious Manner, and, if to answer any good purpose to join your respective Corps of Militia into one body.

And you are to report to me from time to time all your proceedings.

That the Country may be convinced of my resolution not to neglect any thing in my power to Serve it, I shall, at my own risque endeavour to furnish you with powder and ball; and as expedetiously as possible.

I am Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant


P. S. If a Communication was kept open between the Mouth of the Great Kanahaway and Fort Pitt now called Fort Dunmore, it might effectually protect the Settlers in that part of the Country and awe the Indians. D.

Dunmore's War

West Virginia Archives and History