French and Indian War

George Washington to Colonel John Stanwix, October 8, 1757

extracted from

The Writings of George Washington, Volume II, by Jared Sparks
(Boston: Charles Tappan, 1846), pages 263-265

To Colonel Stanwix.
Fort Loudoun, 8 October, 1757.

Dear Sir,

I am favored with an opportunity by Mr. Livingston, to acknowledge the receipt of your agreeable favor of the 19th ultimo; and to inform you of a very extraordinary affair, which has happened at this place, namely, the desertion of our quartermaster. This infamous fellow, as he has proved himself, after having disposed, in a clandestine manner, of many of our regimental stores, being called upon to settle his accounts (not that I, or any officer in the regiment, had the least suspicion of the roguery he was carrying on), pretended, that he could not come to an exact settlement without going to Alexandria, where some of the stores yet lay. Several of our soldiers deserting at the same time, he was sent in pursuit of them, which afforded him the desired opportunity of making his escape. His villany was not laid open, before his departure, and was at last accidentally discovered. This person had been several years a sergeant in one of his Majesty's regiments, and in this character he served three years under me. During that time he gave such signal proofs of his bravery and good behaviour, as bound me, in honor and gratitude, to do something for him. And I therefore got him promoted to quartermaster, as he was acquainted with the duty, and capable, I thought, of discharging it.

We have had several visitations from the enemy, and much mischief done, since my last to you. About the 17th ultimo upwards of twenty persons were killed only twelve miles from this garrison, and, notwithstanding I sent a strong detachment hence to pursue them, and ordered the passes of the mountains to be waylaid by forces from other places, yet we were not able to meet with these savages.

On Friday sevennight, a body of near or quite a hundred fell upon the inhabitants along the great road between this place and Pennsylvania, and killed or took fifteen more. The mischief would have been much greater, had not an officer and twenty men of the regiment, who were then out, fallen in with and engaged the enemy. Finding, however, that his party was overpowered, and likely to be surrounded, he retreated to a stockade, not far distant, in which they were besieged for three hours; but the firing communicated an alarm from one habitation to another, by which means most of the families were timely apprised of their danger, and happily escaped. Our party killed on Indian, whose scalp they obtained, and wounded several others.

I exert every means in my power to protect a much distressed country, but it is a task too arduous. To think of defending a frontier of more than three hundred and fifty miles' extent, with only seven hundred men, is vain and idle, especially when that frontier lies more contiguous to the enemy than any other. I am, and have for a long time been, fully convinced, that, if we continue to pursue a defensive plan, the country must be inevitably lost.

You will be kind enough, Sir, to excuse the freedom with which I deliver my sentiments, and believe me to be, as I really am, with unfeigned truth and regard,

Your most obedient, humble servant.

French and Indian War Documents

West Virginia Archives and History