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herunt Vernon December 102

1799

LETTERS

OFFICIAL AND PRIVATE,

BEFORE THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

TO ROBERT DINWIDDIE, LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR

OF VIRGINIA.

Alexandria, 9 March, 1754.* SIR, In my last, by Mr. Stewart, I slightly mentioned the objection, which many had against enlisting, to wit, not knowing who was to be paymaster, or the times for payment. It is now grown a pretty general clamor; and some of those, who were among the first enlisted, being needy, and knowing it to be usual for his Majesty's soldiers to be paid once a week, or at most

* The letters written previously to this date have been lost. For earlier papers see APPENDIX, No. I.

Washington arrived in Williamsburg, from his mission over the Alleganies, on the 16th of January, and the Governor and Council resolved to enlist two companies, of one hundred men each, and send them to the Ohio with orders to construct a fort on that river. The command of the two companies was given to Washington. One company was to be raised by himself, and the other by Captain Trent, who was to collect his men among the traders and people in the back settlements, and proceed immediately to the place of destination. Major Washington, in the mean time, was stationed at Alexandria, till the other company should be completed, and the proper military supplies forwarded to that place.

Having all things in readiness,” says the Governor in his instructions, "you are to use all expedition in proceeding to the Fork of the Ohio, with the men under your command; and there you are to finish, in the best manner, and as soon as you possibly can, the fort, which I expect is there VOL. II.

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every fortnight, are very importunate to receive their due. I have soothed and quieted them as much as possible, under pretence of receiving your instructions in this particular at the arrival of the colonel.

I have increased my number of men to about twenty-five, and dare venture to say, that I should have had several more, if the excessive bad weather did not prevent their meeting agreeably to their officers' commands.

We daily experience the great necessity for clothing the men, as we find the generality of those, who are to be enlisted, loose, idle persons, quite destitute of house and home, and, I may truly say, many of them of clothes; which last renders them very incapable of the necessary service, as they must unavoidably be exposed to inclement weather in their marches, and can expect no other than to encounter almost every difficulty, that is incident to a soldier's life. There are many of them without shoes, others want stockings, some are without shirts, and not a few that have scarce a coat or waistcoat to their backs. In short, they are as ill provided as can well be conceived; but I really believe every man of them, for his own credits sake, is willing to be clothed at his own expense. They are perpetually teazing me to have it done, but I am not able to advance the money, provided there was no risk in it, which there certainly is, and too great for me to run; though it would be nothing to the country, as a certain part of their pay might be deducted and appropriated to that use. Mr. Carlyle, or any of the merchants here, would furnish them with proper necessaries, if there was a certainty of any part of their pay being stopped to reimburse the expense.

already begun by the Ohio Company. You are to act on the defensive; but, in case any attempts are made to obstruct the works, or interrupt our settlements, by any person whatsoever, you are to restrain all such offenders, or, in case of resistance, to make prisoners of, or kill and destroy them. For the rest, you are to conduct yourself as the circumstances of the service shall require, and to act as you shall find best for the furtherance of his Majesty's service, and the good of this dominion.”

. But I must here in time put a curb to my requests, and remember that I ought not to be too importunate; otherwise I shall be as troublesome to you, as the soldiers are to me. Nothing but the necessity of the thing could urge me to be thus free; but I shall no more press this affair, as I am well assured, that whatever you may think for the benefit of the expedition, you will cause to have done. I am, &c.

TO RICHARD CORBIN.

March, 1754. DEAR SIR, In a conversation with you at Green Spring, you gave me some room to hope for a commission above that of major, and to be ranked among the chief officers of this expedition. The command of the whole forces is what I neither look for, expect, nor desire; for I must be impartial enough to confess, it is a charge too great for my youth and inexperience to be entrusted with. Knowing this, I have too sincere a love for my country, to undertake that which may tend to the prejudice of it. But if I could entertain hopes, that you thought me worthy of the post of lieutenant-colonel, and would favor me so far as to mention it at the appointment of officers, I could not but entertain a true sense of the kindness.

* Mr. Corbin was a member of the Governor's Council, and connected by the ties of friendship and affinity with the Washington family. See Marshall's Life of Washington, 2d ed. Vol. I. p. 3.

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