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French and Indian War

George Washington to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, April 18, 1756

extracted from

The Writings of George Washington, Volume II, by Jared Sparks
(Boston: Charles Tappan, 1846), pages 141-142


To Governor Dinwiddie.
Winchester, 18 April, 1756

Sir,

It gave me infinite concern to find in yours by Governor Innes, that any representations should inflame the Assembly against the Virginia regiment, or give cause to suspect the morality and good behaviour of the officers. How far any of the individuals may have deserved such reflections, I will not take upon me to determine, but this I am certain of, and can call my conscience, and what, I suppose, will be a still more demonstrative proof in the eyes of the world, my orders, to witness how much I have, both by threats and persuasive means, endeavoured to discountenance gaming, drinking, swearing, and irregularities of every other kind; while I have, on the other hand, practised every artifice to inspire a laudable emulation in the officers for the service of their country, and to encourage the soldiers in the unerring exercise of their duty. How far I have failed in this desirable end, I cannot pretend to say. It it is nevertheless a point, which does in my opinion merit some scrutiny, before it meets with a final condemnation. Yet I will not undertake to vouch for the conduct of many of the officers, as I know there are some, who have the seeds of idleness very strongly implanted in their natures; and I also know, that the unhappy difference about the command, which has kept me from Fort Cumberland, has consequently prevented me from enforcing the orders, which I never failed to send.

However, if I continue in the service, I shall take care to act with a little more rigor, than has hitherto been practised, since I find it so necessary.

I wrote your Honor in my last how unsuccessfully we attempted to raise the militia, and that I was reduced to the necessity of waiting here for the arrival of an escort from Fort Cumberland. The garrison there is barely manned. The rest are out on parties; yet the Indians continue to haunt the roads, and pick up straggling persons. This you may see by the enclosed from Captain John Mercer, who, being out with a scouting party of one hundred men, has been ordered to search the Warm-Spring Mountain, where, it is lately reported, the Indians rendezvous. The commission you have sent for holding courts-martial is yet insufficient, as it is copied, I suppose, too literally after Governor Innes, who had no power to hold a general court-martial, or to try commissioned officers. But this may be postponed until I come down, which will be in a short time after I arrive at Fort Cumberland. I am your Honorís, &c.


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