French and Indian War

George Washington to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, October 5, 1757

extracted from

The Writings of George Washington, Volume II, by Jared Sparks
(Boston: Charles Tappan, 1846), pages 259-263

To Governor Dinwiddie.
Fort Loudoun, 5 October, 1757.


Both your Honor's letters of the 24th ultimo I received by Jenkins. As I cannot now send a proper monthly return of the regiment, for want of the remarks of the officers at the out-posts, I enclose an exact return of our effective strength, and how it is disposed of, which will at present answer the end proposed. I likewise send you the return of provisions, specifying the time they will serve.

The assistant commissaries must still be continued, or some persons in their room, who, under the direction of a principal, would have purchased the provisions upon as good terms as any contractor. Besides, the commissary used to act as wagon-master, supply the different garrisons with candles, made from the tallow of the country's beeves, and do many things for the good of the service, not to be expected from a contractor.

I shall take the earliest opportunity of communicating your intentions, respecting the ranging company, to Captain Hogg, who, I am informed, is lying ill, in consequence of the bite of a snake at Dickinson's Fort, and will, I fear, be unable to raise the men. I apprehend the recruiting of one hundred men will be found a very difficult task. I am quite at a loss how to act, as you did not inform me upon what terms they are to be levied and supported, what bounty-money to allow, what pay to promise the officers and men, how they are to be clothed and supported, and what kind of commissions the officers are to have. If they should have the same bounty, that is allowed by the Assembly for recruits, I shall want money for that purpose. Enclosed is a copy of the last letter I received from Colonel Stanwix. The enemy continue their horrid devastations in this settlement. The day before Captain Lewis was attacked, twenty Cherokees, headed by one of the principal warriors of that nation, marched hence to the South Branch, who, with the troops under Captains Waggener and McKenzie, will, I hope, secure that quarter.

When Mr. Atkin went away, he took with him Mr. Gist and the Indian interpreter. Since that time several parties of Cherokees have been here, by which I and my officers were involved in inconceivable trouble, as we had neither an interpreter, nor any right to hold conferences with them; no articles to satisfy their demands, nor liberty to procure them. These warlike, formidable people, although they seem to have a natural and strong attachment to our interest, will, I am afraid, be induced by such treatment to hearken to the pressing solicitations of the French, who, by the latest and best accounts, are making them vastly advantageous offers. The Chief of the Cherokee party, who went last to the Branch, and who is said to be a man of great weight in that nation, was so incensed on account of what he imagined neglect and contempt, that, had we not supplied him with a few necessaries, without which he could not go to war, he threatened to return, fired with resentment, to his nation. In short, I dread that, by the present management of Indian affairs, we are losing the interest of those people, the preservation of whose friendship is of the last importance to the colonies in general, and to this in particular.

I am sorry to acquaint you, that the quartermaster has misbehaved egregiously, embezzling and disposing of some of the regimental stores, and afterwards running away, and taking a man of the regiment with him. He had leave to go to Alexandria, to order up some of the stores left there, and managed his affairs with such cunning, that he was gone too long to be pursued, before he was suspected.

I do not know, that I ever gave your Honor cause to suspect me of ingratitude, a crime I detest, and would most carefully avoid. If an open, disinterested behaviour causes offence, I may have offended; because I have all along laid it down as a maxim, to represent facts freely and impartially, but not more so to others, Sir, than to you. If instances of my ungrateful behaviour had been particularized, I would have answered them. But I have long been convinced, that my actions and their motives have been maliciously misrepresented.

As your Honor proposes to leave the colony in November, I should be glad of liberty to go down to Williamsburg towards the last of this month, or first of the next, if nothing should intervene, to settle some accounts with you and the Committee, which may not be done in so satisfactory a manner after you are gone.

The last alarm occasioned a great many of the inhabitants of this county to go off, and vast numbers are still moving. I fear that, in a short time, this very valuable valley will be in a great measure depopulated. What further steps to take, and how to obviate so serious a misfortune, I am quite at a loss. As I have hitherto neglected nothing within the compass of my power, it is very evident, that nothing but vigorous offensive measures, next campaign, can save the country, at least all west of the Blue Ridge, from inevitable desolation.

Since writing the above, the express, whom I sent to Major Lewis, is come in, and brings returns of those companies; so that you will now receive proper monthly returns for July and August. By these you will see, that our total strength amounts to thirty-two commissioned officers, forty-eight non-commissioned, and seven hundred and three rank and file; whereof twenty officers, thirty non-commissioned, and four hundred and sixty-four rank and file, are employed in this county and Hampshire. But six women are always allowed to a company, who draw provisions; and the officers receive more or less according to their respective rank, as you will see by the estimate received from Colonel Stanwix, and forwarded to you some time ago; which must be considered in the calculation. I am, &c.

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