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TO ROBERT DINWIDDIE, LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
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 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 credit's 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 w r as 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.
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.
- George Washington
- The Writings of George Washington Vol II, Jared Sparks, 1847