French and Indian War

George Washington to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, August 27, 1757

extracted from

The Writings of George Washington, Volume II, by Jared Sparks
(Boston: Charles Tappan, 1846), pages 246-249

To Governor Dinwiddie.
Fort Loudoun, 27 August, 1757.


The drafts from Lunenburg are arrived, to the number of sixteen, which does not replace the soldiers, that have deserted since my last. The drafts, when they were divided among the eight companies in July, completed them to eighty-six rank and file; and there remained over and above forty workmen, whom I detained at this place, as mentioned in a former letter.

What the strength of the companies is just at this time, I am no more able to say, not knowing what casualties may have happened since, than I am to send your Honor a return of the regiment, which is impossible till I get my returns from the several out-posts; and that, I believe your Honor must be sensible, is difficult and precarious, dispersed as the regiment is. I have given express orders, however, that those returns shall be made to me as regularly as the nature of things will admit, and I shall not be wanting in my duty to forward them, nor shall I delay to send the companies' size-rolls, when they come to my hands.

The enclosed is a copy of a report made to me by two officers, who were instructed to inspect the provisions at Fort Cumberland. Mr. Kennedy, who was entrusted with the care of these provisions, is now there repacking and pickling them; and when he has finished, I shall endeavour to do the best I can with them, but despair of turning them to the least advantage.

A letter, which I received a few days ago from Captain Waggener advises, that the enemy appeared upon the Branch, not far from his neighbourhood, their numbers uncertain, killed several men, and captured others, without his being able to meet with them. On Sunday last, a small party of five Cherokees, who came here a few days ago, set out to war.

Your Honor having asked my opinion concerning recruiting, I shall give it candidly as follows. I believe, unless we are permitted to enlist servants, we should spend much time to little purpose in this service; such a spirit of opposition prevails in one sort of people, and so little spirit of any kind in another. I never thought, in the most distant degree, of recruiting for the additional companies, till the others were complete; nor should I have mentioned that subject, had I not supposed it was required by the act of Assembly.

As you were pleased to leave it to my discretion to punish or pardon the criminals, I have resolved on the latter, since I find example of so little weight, and since those poor unhappy criminals have undergone no small pain of body and mind, in a dark prison, closely ironed.

I have filled up a commission for Sergeant Flint, and will send it to him by the first safe conveyance. Colonel Stanwix, I am told (the truth of which I doubt), has marched to the northward. I have had no account from him these four weeks.

Mr. Boyd, to whom I have spoken on the matter, conceives, that there will be no money left for contingent expenses, when he has paid the troops. I shall do as your Honor directs, with regard to escorting Mr. Boyd to Augusta, and ordering officers to wait upon him at this place, however inconvenient it may prove to the service.

Nothing remarkable has happened, for which reason I have nothing in particular to add. I must beg leave, however, before I conclude, to observe, in justification of my own conduct, that it is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I am guilty of one; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of having committed it. But, on the other hand, it is with concern I remark, that my best endeavours lose their reward, and that my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favorable point of light. Otherwise your Honor would not accuse me of loose behaviour and remissness of duty, in matters where, I believe, I have rather exceeded than fallen short of it. This, I think, is evidently the case in speaking of Indian Affairs at all, after being instructed in very express terms, "not to have any concern with or management of Indian affairs." This has caused me to forbear mentioning the Indians in any of my letters to you of late, and to leave the misunderstanding, which you speak of, between Mr. Atkin and the Indians, to be related by him, knowing that he maintained a correspondence with you on matters relative to his office. But, with regard to the accounts, when he would have nothing to do with them, and when I was hourly importuned for the payment, and knew I had not the means, what could I do less than promise the people, that I would recommend their cases to your Honor, in hopes that you would appoint a person, in whom you could confide, to take in and pay off their accounts, as I always looked upon it to be a duty distinct from mine, and therefore was unwilling to intermeddle in the affair?

I really thought it unnecessary to say more, than that "the detachment destined for Augusta had marched," because your Honor gave me a copy of the result of the council held at Philadelphia, which directed one hundred and fifty men to be posted at Dickinson's, and one hundred at Vass's, which direction I observed, and I thought it would be sufficiently understood when I wrote as above.

I should have acknowledged the receipt of the arms, had they come to hand, but they were not arrived when my last was written; which obliged me to disarm the men remaining here, in order to supply those who marched, rather than detain them, as I had sent wagons to Falmouth to bring the arms from thence. However, if I have erred in these points, I am sorry for it, and shall endeavour for the future to be as particular and satisfactory, in my accounts of these things, as possible.

I am, with due respect,

Your Honor's most obedient, humble servant.

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