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“I met with Colonel Buchanan, with about thirty men, chiefly officers, to conduct me up Jackson's river, along the range of forts. With this small company of irregulars, with whom order, regularity, circumspection, and vigilance, were matters of derision and contempt, we set out, and by the protection of providence, reached Augusta court-house in seven days, without meeting the enemy; otherwise we must have been sacrificed by the indiscretion of these hooping, hallooing, gentlemen soldiers. This jaunt afforded me great opportunity of seeing the bad regulation of the militia, the disorderly proceedings of the garrisons, and the unhappy circumstances of the inhabitants. .“We are either insensible of danger until it breaks upon our heads, or else through mistaken notions of economy, evade the expence until the blow is struck, and then run into an extreme of raising the militia. These, after an age, as it were, is spent in assembling them, come up, make a noise for a time, oppress the inhabitants, and then return, leaving the frontiers unguarded as before. This is still our reliance, notwithstanding former experience convinces us, if reason did not, that the French and Indians are watching the op· portunity when we shall be lulled into fatal security, and unprepared to resist an attack, to invade the country, and by ravaging one part, terrify another; that they retreat when our militia assemble, and repeat the stroke as soon as they are dispersed; that they send down parties in the intermediate time to discover our motions, procure intelligence, and sometimes to dirert the troops.”
The expediency of an offensive war, be supports by the following observations.
“The certainty of advantage by an offensive scheme of action, renders it, beyond any doubt, much preferable to our defensive measures. To prove this to you, Sir, requires, I presume, no arguments. Our scattered force, so separated and dispersed in weak parties, avails little to stop the secret incursions of the savages. We can only put them to flight, or frighten them to some other part of the country, which answers not the end proposed. Whereas, had we strength enough to invade their lands, and assault their towns, we should restrain them from coming abroad and leaving their families exposed. We then should remove the principal cause, and have stronger probability of success; we should be free from the many alarms, mischiefs, and murders that now attend us; we should inspirit the hearts of our few Indian friends, and gain more esteem with them. In short, could Pennsylvania and Maryland be induced to join us in an expedition of this nature, and to petition his Excellency Lord Loudoun for a small train of artillery, with some engineers, we should then be able, in all human probability, to subdue the terror of Fort du Quesne, retrieve our character with the Indians, and restore peace to our unhappy frontiers."
On condition that the assembly should persist in the scheme of defensive warfare, be presented to the Governor a plan for his opinion. This was to establish twenty-two forts, reaching from the river Mayo to the Potomack, in a line of three hundred and sixty miles ; and which were to be garrisoned by a regular force, consisting of two thousand men..
The pride of Governor Dinwiddie was offended by these frank communications of a gallant and independent officer. In uncourtly language he censured advice, which he could not comprehend, and reproached this officer with officiousness and neglect of duty. Colonel Washington felt the reprimand as a patriot, the welfare of whose country ever dwelt on his heart; and, like a soldier, who had an invaluable prize in his own reputation. In the consciousness of having made the highest efforts faithfully to execute the trust reposed in him, he thus spiritedly replied to the charge, in a letter to an influential friend. “ Whence it arises, or why, I am ignorant; but my strongest representations of matters relative to the peace of the frontiers are disregarded as idle and frivolous; my propositions and measures, as partial and selfish ; and all my sincerest endeavours for the service of my country, perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are dark, doubtful and uncertain. To-day approved, to-morrow condemned; left to act and proceed at hazard ; accountable for the consequences, and blamed witbout the benefit of defence. If you can think my situation capable of exciting the smallest degree of envy, or of affording the least satisfaction, the truth is yet hid from you, and you entertain notions very different from the reality of the case. However, I am determined
to bear up under all these embarrassments, some time loşger, in the hope of better regulations under Lord Loudoun, to whom I look for the future fate of Virginia.”
To the Governor himself, in answer to a communication from him, which conveyed a censure, he wrote, “ I must beg leave, 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 have committed it; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of being guilty of one. 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 favourable point of light. Otherwise your Honour would not have accused me of loose behaviour and remissness of duty, in matters, where I think 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 induced me to forbear mentioning the Indians in my letters to your Honour of late, and to leave the misunderstanding which you speak of, between Mr. Alkin and them, to be related by him.”.
He had been informed by letter of a report com
municated to the Governor, impeaching his veracity and honour. A copy of this letter be inclosed to his lonour, earnestly requesting of him the name of the author of this report. “ I should take it infinitely - kind if your Honour would please to inform me, whether a report of this nature was ever made to you, and in that case, · who was the author of it?
“It is evident, from a variety of circumstances, and especially from the change in your Honour's conduct towards me, that some person as well inclined to detract, but better skilled in the art of detraction than the author of the above stupid scandal, has made free with my character. For I cannot suppose that malice so absurd, sobarefaced, so diametrically opposite to truth, to common policy, and in short to every thing but villainy, as the above is, could impress you with so ill an opinion of my honour and honesty.
“ If it be possible that Colonel - for my belief is staggered, not being conscious of having given the least cause to any one, much less to that gentleman, to reflect so grossly. I say, if it be possible that could descend so low, as to be the propagator of this story, he must either be vastly ignorant of the state of affairs in this county at that time, or else he must suppose that the whole body of inliabitants bad combined with me in executing the deceitful fraud. Or, why did they, almost to a man, forsake their dwellings in the greatest terror and confusion ? and while one half of them sought shelter in paltry forts,