Volume five of the Colonial Series begins in early fall of 1757 with Colonel Washington at Winchester, Virginia, coping with the “horrid devastations” of the Indians on the frontier. It ends in September 1758 as Washington and Colonel William Byrd impatiently await at Fort Cumberland General John Forbes’s orders to the two Virginia regiments to unite with his other forces for the long-awaited march on French Fort Duquesne.
In October and November 1757, while still in Winchester, Washington dealt not only with marauding Indians and fleeing settlers but also with parties of restless and disgruntled Cherokee visitors, an absconding quartermaster, and the rebuffs of an irascible governor. A steadily worsening illness forced him to leave the regiment in November and spend the winter at Mount Vernon where he at times despaired of his life. An encouraging diagnosis from a Williamsburg doctor, word that Forbes was mounting a campaign against Fort Duquesne, and perhaps too his visits to the widow Martha Custis in New Kent County raised his sprits to the point where he was able to rejoin his regiment at Winchester in April.
During a summer spent recruiting, training, and provisioning his own regiment and the new 2d Virginia Regiment, the issue that concerned Washington most, and one that brought out some of the most vehement language of his entire correspondence, was Forbes’s failure to accede to Washington’s urging that he choose the old Braddock road for the march on Fort Duquesne. The volume also includes documents that deal extensively with the remodeling of Mount Vernon and with Washington’s first election to the House of Burgesses.
W.W. Abbot, ed., The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series volume 5, October 1757 – September 1758. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1988.
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