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the inhabitants were driven as far as Carlisle: CHAP. I. and in Maryland, Fredericktown on the eastern 1756. side of the Blue Ridge became a frontier. With all the exertions which had been made, the Virginia regiment did not yet amount to one thousand men, and with this small force, aided occasionally by militia, colonel Washington was to defend a frontier of near four hundred miles in extent, and to complete a chain of forts which might conduce to that object. He repeatedly urged the necessity and propriety of abandoning fort Cumberland, which was too far in advance of the settlements, and too far north to be useful; while it required for its defence a larger portion of his force than could be spared, with a proper regard to the safety of other more advantageous positions. The governor, however, thought it improper to abandon it, since it was a king's fort; and lord Loudoun, on being consulted, gave the same opinion.
Among the subjects of extreme chagrin to the commander of the Virginia troops, was the practice of desertion. It had become very prevalent, and was in a considerable degree ascribed to the too great, and ill judged parsimony of the assembly. Only eight pence per day was allowed to the soldiers, out of which two pence were stopped for their cloaths. This pay was inferior to what was allowed on every other part of the continent; and as ought to have been foreseen, great discontents were excited by a distinction so very invidious. The remon
CHAP. I. strances of the commanding officer, who pos1756. sessed great and deserved influence, at length,
in some degree corrected this mischief, and a full suit of regimentals was allowed without deducting its price from the daily pay of the soldier.
This campaign furnishes no event which can interest the reader, or adorn the page of history : yet the duties of the officer, though minute, were arduous; and the sufferings of the people, beyond measure afflicting. It adds one to the many evidences which have been afforded, of the miseries to be suffered by those who defer preparing the means of defence, until the 'mo. ment when they ought to be efficiently used; and then, rely almost entirely on a force, neither adequate to the danger, nor of equal continuance with it.
It is also an interesting fact to those who know the present situation of Virginia, and the active force she could now employ, that so lately as in the year 1756, the Blue Ridge had become her frontier, and that she found immense difficulty in completing a single regiment to protect the inhabitants from the horrors of the scalping knife, and the still greater horrors of being led into captivity, by Indians, who too often inflicted death by torture.
As soon as the main body of the enemy had withdrawn from the settlements, a tour was made by colonel Washington to the southwes.
tern frontier, in order to examine in person the CHAP. I. state of things in that quarter. There, as well 1756. as to the north, continued incursions were made, and murders committed; and there too, the principal defence of the country was intrusted to an ill regulated militia. The fatal consequences of this system are thus stated by him in a letter to the lieutenant governor. “The inhabitants are so sensible of their danger if left to the protection of these people, that not a man will stay at his place. This I have from their own mouths, and the principal inhabitants of Augusta county. The militia are under such bad order and discipline, that they will come and go when and where they please, without regarding time, their officers, or the safety of the inhabitants: but consulting solely their own inclinations. There should be, according to your honour's orders, one third of the militia of these parts on duty, at a time. Instead of that, scarce one thirtieth is out. They are to be re. lieved every month, and they are a great part of that time marching to and from their stations; and they will not wait one day longer than the limited time, whether relieved or not, however urgent the necessity for their continuance may be.” Some instances of this and of gross misbehaviour were then enumerated, after which, he pressed the necessity of increasing the number of regulars to two thousand men.
CHAP. I. After returning from this tour to Winchester, 1756. he gave the lieutenant governor a statement of
the situation in which he found the country, which ought not to be omitted. “From fort Trial,” said he,“ on Smith's river, I returned to fort William on the Catawba, where I met 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 sacri. ficed by the indiscretion of these whooping, 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.
“ First of the militia. The difficulty of collecting them on any emergency whatever, I have spoken of as grievous : and appeal to sad experience both in this, and other countries, to attest how great a disadvantage it is; the enemy having every opportunity to plunder, kill, and escape, before they can afford any assistance. And, not to mention the general expensiveness of their service, I can instance several cases where a captain, lieutenant, and, I may add,
an ensign, with two or three sergeants, have CHAP. I. gone upon duty with only six or eight men. 1756. The proportion of expense in this case is so unjust and obvious, that your honour cannot want it to be proved. Then, these men when raised, are to be continued only one month on duty, half of which time is lost in marching out and returning. Those from the adjacent counties especially, must be on duty some time before they reach their stations. By these means, double sets of men are in pay at the same time, and for the same service.
“Again. The waste of provisions they make is unaccountable. No method, or order is observed in serving it out to them, or in purchasing it at the best rates; but quite the reverse. Allowance to each man, as to other soldiers, they look upon as the highest indignity; and would sooner starve than carry a few days provisions on their backs for convenience, but upon their march, when breakfast is wanted, they knock down the first beef or other animal they meet with, and after regaling upon it, march on until dinner, when they take the same method, and so for supper likewise, to the great oppression of the people. Or if they chance to impress cattle for provision, the valuation is left to neighbours, who have themselves suffered by those practices, and, despairing of their pay, exact high prices. Thus the public is imposed upon at all events.