From Caleb Wallace
Danville. Novr. 20. 1786.
The Hurry of our Supreme Court forbids my now writing to you as fully as I wish to do. At present I only take the Liberty of observing, that alarmed with the multiplied Depredations committed by the Indians in this Quarter, our Militia embraced the Encouragement given by the Executive to carry on two Expeditions as the only likely Measure to disconcert the Combinations that a Number of the Savage Tribes were entering into against the Western Frontiers. Of Course Impressments became indispensable, which through the Ignorance or Zeal of some of the Officers were not made strictly agreeable to the Rules of Law and Propriety in every Instance. Therefore a Number of the most judicious of my Acquaintances are anxious to obtain an Act of Indemnity so far as they were made for Articles really necessary for the Troops and applied to their Use: 1 and in this Way to prevent any Advantages that might otherwise be taken at Law, and which would certainly damp that Valour that it is highly probable may again be necessary for the Preservation of our Frontiers. At the same Time we wish the Militia Law could be made more explicit and more adequate to our defence which would either prevent such irregularities in future or render them less excuseable.2 I shall only add that if you coincide with us in Sentiment your favourable Attention to this Matter will be gratefully acknowledged by, Dr Sir Your most obt. Servt.
P. S. It is said that Quantities of Spiritous Liquors were impressed and other Acts of Compulsion exercised which were not indispensably necessary.3 These must be considered as Wanton outrages which we do not wish to have excused where they can be certainly distinguished and excepted.
RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.
1. The legislature responded to pleas from the Kentuckians by passing a broadly worded law providing for indemnities to persons who furnished arms or provisions “by impressment or otherwise for the purpose of carrying on the said [Indian] expeditions” (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XII, 231–34). The bill was offered on 16 Dec. by a committee which did not include JM (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1786, pp. 93, 104, 132).
2. An amendment to the existing militia law was passed at the October 1786 session of the General Assembly which provided for the impressment of supplies (ibid., pp. 100, 102; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XII, 234–36). JM apparently took no part in drafting the bill.
3. The raids were carried on with little discipline and much carousing. The Kentuckians forcibly took a quantity of taffy or tafia, a cheap liquor for the Indian trade, from storekeepers (Green, Spanish Conspiracy, p. 71).