Letter from Robert Dinwiddie to William Anne Keppel, Earl of Albemarle
Dinwiddie, Robert, 1693-1770
Volume 05, Pages 368-369
[Reprinted from Dinwiddie Papers. Vol. 1. P. 497.]
Governor Dinwiddie to Lord Albemarle.
Feb'y 12th, 1755.
I have the Hon'r of Y'r Let'r from Paris of the 16th Sept'r. The Skermish between the English Forces and those of Fr. is very unjustly reported with You. The State of y't Affair is this: Our Second Detachment, y't went over the Allegany Mounts to support those y't were ordered by me to build a Fort by H. M'y's Com'ds on the River Ohio, had notice on y'r March y't a No. of the Fr. came down the River Ohio, surpriz'd our People y't were building y't Fort, and from the Superiority of their Numb's, they oblig'd them to give up the Fort, and March off. This may justly be deem'd the first Breach. Colo. Washington, on hear'g this, encamp'd his Men in the Meadows, about fifty Miles distant from the above Fort. One of our f'dly Ind's sent him Notice y't a No. of F——h had been seen two or three Days reconoit'g their Camp, and if he, with a Detachm't, w'd come to him, he w'd let them know where the Party of Fr. were encamp'd. He accordingly march'd with 35 Men,
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march'g all Night, and about 9 o'Clock in the Morn'g they came within 200 y'ds of the Fr, w'n the Fr., on Sight of our Men, imediately flew to their Arms. The Ind's y't were with us began the Act'n, and after two or 3 Fires the Fr. were worsted, ab't 12 killed, and the others taken Prisoners. Among the killed was Mons'r Jumonville. It's true the Prisoners s'd they were come on an Embassy from their Fort, but Y'r L'ds. knows y't Ambassadors do not come with such an arm'd Force, with't a Trumpet or any other Sign of Friendship, or can it be tho't they were on an Embassy, by stay'g so long reconoitreing our Small Camp, but more probable y't they expected a Reinforcem't from the Fort to cut them all off. It's true in the Capitulat'n, after they make use of the Assassinat'n, but Washington not know'g [the] Fr. was deceived by the Interpreter. If he had not, he declares y't he w'd not have agreed to it, tho' then in great Straits. The Interpreter was a Poltroon, and tho' an Officer with us, they say he has joined with the Fr. This is the Truth, reported by two of our Officers, and declared on their Hon'r. We are in daily Expectat'n of a Reinforcem't from B., w'n I hope our Affairs will be conducted with more Military Knowledge than hitherto. We have S'r Jno. St. Clair now here, who is an indefatigable good Officer. Y'r L'ds. interceed'g in behalf of Mr. Randolph's being reinstated in his former Office, has had a proper influence on me, and according to Y'r Desire, w'ch I can by no means withstand, I have replaced him in his Office. I presume S'r Jno. St. Clair writes You, to whom I desire You to be referred, and beg to assure You, I am, with great Deference and due Respects,
Y'r L'd's most ob'd't humble Servant.