George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Daniel Brodhead, 29 May 1779

From Colonel Daniel Brodhead

Pitsburgh May 29th 1779

Dear General

I have the Honor to inclose Colo. Clarks Journal containing an account of his success against Governor Hamilton of Detroit & the Garrison of post St Vincent (or Fort Sackvill.)1 Also two Letters just come to Hand by runners from Cochocking.2

The Shawnese burnt the speech I sent them of which a Copy is inclosed,3 & one half the warriors of that Nation are now with the English at upper Sandusky. The Delaware runner assures me that the Enemy are considerably reinforced with white men. The supplies I sent to Fort Laurens did not reach it untill the 24th instant and the small Garrison under Major Vernon was so much reduced for want of Provisions that they were scarce able to stand on their feet.

I shall immediately write to the cheif at Cochocking to give me information of the Enemies nearer approach and prepare to meet them by cutting a road to Fort Laurens.

Colo. Rawlins’s Detachment arrived yesterday under the Command of Captn Beal but I am informed that the Terms of half the men will expire in July next at which time the officers intend to resign on account of some neglect shewn them by their State.4

Neither the Salt provisions nor Boat Builders Tools are arrived from Bedford, although two different Expresses have been sent to the Quarter Master there to send them on.

A Young Delaware who calls me Father offers his Service to bring me a Mingoe Scalp & he is now fitting his arms &c. for that purpose. The bearer Mr Gibson is in great haste and waits to take this Letter to Philada, from thence you will receive it by express—I have the Honor to be with perfect regard & Esteem Your Excellencies most obedt Humble Servt

Daniel Brodhead


1The enclosed “Journal of Col: G: R: Clarks Proceeding⟨s⟩ from the 29th Jan’y 1779 To the 20th March Inst.,” by Joseph Bowman, reads: “Mr Vigue a Spanish Subject who had been at Post St Vincent on his lawful business arrived and gave us Intelligence that Govr Hamilton and thirty regulars with fifty french Volunteers and about four hundred Indians had come last Novr and took that Fort with Capt. Helm and Several other Americans, who were there with a Number of horses designed for the settlement of Kantuck &c.

“30th On which Col: Clark called a Council with his officers and it was concluded to go and attack Govr Hamilton at all Events (for fear) if it was let alone till the Spring, that he with his Indians wou’d undoubtedly cut us all off.

“31 Sent an express to Cahokea for the Volunteers Nothing Extraordinary this day.

“Feb’y 1st Orders given for a large Batteau to be repair’d and provisions got ready for the Expedition concluded on.

“2nd A Pack horse Mastr appointed and orders to prepare Pack saddles &c.

“3rd The Gally or Batteau finished called her the Willing put the loading on Board together with two four Pounders and four Swivels Ammunition &c.

“4th About ten OClock Capt. McCarty arriv’d with a comp’y of Volunteers from Cahoes and about Two O Clock in the Afternoon the Batteau set off, under the command of Lieut. Rogers with 46 Men, with orders to proceed to a certain Station near St Vincent till further Orders.

“5th Raised another comp’y of Volunteers under the command of Capt. Froincois Charlwill which added to our force and encreased our number to 170 Including the Artillery, Pack Horsemen &c. about three OClock Crossed the Kakaskias River with our Baggage and Marched about a League from the Town Rainy and drisly weather.

“7th began our March early, made a good days March for about 9 leagues—The roads very bad with Mud and Water, pitched our camp in a square, Baggage in the Middle every Comp’y to guard their own Squares.

“8th Marched early thro’ the Water which we now began to meet in those large and level plains Where (from the flatness of the country the Water rests a considerable time before it drains off, Notwithstanding our Men were in Great Spirits, tho much fatigued.

“9th Made a moderate days march rain’d most of the day.

“10. Crossed the River of the Petit Ford upon Trees that we felled for that purpose the Water being so high there was no fording it, still raining and no Tents encamped near the River stormy &c.

“11th Crossed the saline River nothing extraordinary this day.

“12. Marched across Catplain, saw and killed Numbers of Buffaloe, the roads very bad from the immense Quantity of Rain that had fallen, the Men much fatigued, encamped at the Edge of the Wood, this plain or Meadow being fifteen or more Miles across—it was late in the Night before the Troops and baggage got together—Now 21 leagues from st Vincent.

“13. Arrived early at the two Wabashes altho a league asunder they now made but one—We set to make a Canoe.

“14. Finished the Canoe and put her in the water about four OClock in the Afternoon.

“15: Ferryed across the two Waboshes with it being then five Miles in Water to the opposite hills, where we encamped still raining—Orders given to fire no Guns in future except in cases of Necessity.

“16. Marched all day thro’ Rain and Water Crossed the forsaid river our provisions begin to grow short.

“17. Marched early crossed Several Runs very deep sent Mr Kennedy (our commissary) with three Men to cross the River Embara to endeavour to cross if possible and proceed to a plantation post Vincent in order to steal Boats or canoes to ferry us across the Wabash—About One hour before sunset We got Near the River Embara found the country all over flown, we strove to find the Wabash traveld till 8th OClock in mud and water but cou’d find no place to encamp on still kept marching on but after some time Mr Kennedy and his party return’d found it impossible to cross the Embara River we found the Water fallen from a small spot of Ground staid there the remainder of the Night drisly and dark Weather.

“18th At Break of day heard Govr Hamiltons morning Gun—set off and marched down the River saw some fine land—About 2 OClock came to the Bank of the Wabash, made Rafts for 4 Men to cross and go up to Town, and Steal Boats but they spent the day and the Night in the Water to no purpose for there was not one foot of dry land to be found.

“19th Capt. McCartys Comp’y set to making a Canoe and at three OClock the 4 Men returned after spending the Night on some old logs in the Water—the Conoe Finished Capt. McCarty with three of his Men embarked in the Conoe and made the next Attempt to Steal Boats but he soon returned having discover’d four large fires about a league distance from our Camp and Seemed to him to be fires of Whites and Indians—Immediately Col. Clark sent two Men in the said Canoe down to meet the Batteau with orders to come on day and Night that being our last hope, starving Many of the Men much cast down particularly the Volunteers, No provisions of any Sort now two days hard fortune.

“20—Camp very quiet but hungry some almost in despair Many of the Creols Volunteers talking of returning fell to making more Conoes when about 12 O Clock our Centry on the River brought to a Boat with 5 frenchmen from the Post who told us we were not yet discover’d that the Inhabitants were well disposed towards us &c. Capt. Williams’s Brother (who was taken in the Fort) had made his escape—also to us one Maisonvile with a party of Indians were 7 days in pursuit of him with much news more news in our favor Such as the repairs done the fort the strenght &c. they informed us of two Canoes they had seen adrift at some distance above us—Order’d Capt. Worthington with a party to go in Search of the Canoes, returned late with one only—One of our men killed a deer which was distributed in camp—Very acceptable.

“21st At Break of day began to ferry our Men over in our two Conoes to a Small little hill called the lower Mamell (or Bubbie) Capt. Williams with two Men went to look for a passage but were discover’d by two men in a Connoe but cou’d not fetch them too—the Whole Army being over, we thought to get to town that Night, so plunged into the Water sometimes to the Neck for more than one league when we stop’d on the second hill of the Same name there being no dry land near us on one side for many leagues, our Pilots says we cannot get along that it was impossible, the whole of the Army being over, we encamped, Rain all this day no Provisions.

“22—Col: Clark encourages his Men which gave them great Spirits Marched on in the Water, those that were weak and faintish from so much fatigue went in the Connoes, we came one league farther to some sugar camps, where we staid all Night heard the Evening and Morning Guns from the Fort—No provisions yet lord help us.

“23. Set off to cross a plain called Horse Shoe plain about 4 Miles long cover’d with Water breast high—here we expected Some of our brave Men must certainly perish having froze in the Night and so long fasting and no other Resourse but wading this plain or rather a leak of Water we pushed into it with Courage Col. Clark being the first, takeing care to have the Boats close by, to take those that was weak and benumbed (with the cold) into them Never was men so animated with the thoughts of revenging the wrongs done to their back Settlements as this small Army was—About One O Clock we came in sight of the Town we halted on a small Nole of dry land called Warriors Island where we took a Prisoner that was hunting ducks—who informed us that no person suspecting our comeing in that season, of the Year Col: Clark Wrote a letter to the Inhabitants in the following terms.

“To the Inhabitants of Post Vincent Gentlemen Being now within two Miles of Your Village with my Army determin’d to take your Fort this Night and not being willing to surprize you I take this step to request of such of you as are true citizens and willing to enjoy the liberty I bring you, to remain still in your houses, and those (if any there be) that are friends to the King will instantly repair to the fort and join the hair Buyer Genl and fight like Men and if any such as to do not go to the fort, shall be discovered afterwards, the[y] may depend on Severe punishment on the contrary those that are true friends to liberty may depend on being well treated and I once more request they shall keep out of the streets for every person I find in arms on my Arrival I shall treat him as an Enemy. signed G.R. Clark

“In order to publish this letter, we lay still to about Sun down when we began our March all in order with colors flying and drums brased after wading to the Edge of the Town in Water breast high we mounted the rising ground the Town is built on about 8 oClock Lieut. Bayly with 14 Regulars was detached to fire on the fort, while we took possession of the Town—and order’d to stay till he was reliev’d by another party which was soon done—Reconnoit’red about to find out a place to throw up an Entrenchment found one and set Capt. Bomens comp. to Work soon crossed the Main street about 120 Yards from the fort Gate.

“We were Inform’d that Capt. Lamoth with a party of 25 Men were out in a Scout, who heard our firing and came back—we sent a party to Intercept them but Missed them, However we took one of their Men and one Capt. Mason Nille a principal Man, the Rest makeing their escape under cover of the Night into the Fort, smart firing all Night on both sides, the cannon play’d smartly, not one of our Men wounded seven Men in the fort badly wounded—fine Sport for the sons of liberty.

“24. As soon as day light the fort began to play her small Arms Very Briskly one of our Men slightly wounded about 9 OClock the Col: sent a flag to Govr Hamilton the firing then ceased during which time our Men was provided with a Breakfast it being the only meal of Victuals since the 18th Inst.

“Col: Clarks letter as follows—Sir In order to save yourself from the Impending Storm that now Threatens you to order you to Immediately surrender yourself up with all your Garrison Stores &c. &c. for if I am obliged to storm, you may depend upon such Treatment Justly due to a Murderer beware of destroying Stores of any kind or any papers or letters that is in your possession or hurting one house in the Town for by heavens if you do there shall be no Mercy shewn you. signd G.R. Clark

“Answer from: Govr Hamilton[:] Govr Hamilton begs leave to acquaint Col. Clark that he and his Garrison are not disposed to be awed into any action Unworthy of British subjects. H. Hamilton

“The firing then began very hot on both sides none of our Men wounded several of the Men in the fort wounded thr’o the port Holes, which caused Govr Hamilton to send out a flag with the following letter viz.

“Lt Govr Hamilton proposes to Col: Clark a truce for three days during which time he promises there shall be no defensive works carried on in the Garrison, on condition Col: Clark shall observe on his part a like cessation of any offensive work that he wishes to confer with Col: Clark as soon as can be and further proposes that whatever may pass between them two and any other Person mutually-agreed upon to be present, shall remain a secret till Matters be finally concluded—As he Wishes that whatever the Result of their conference may be to, the honor and credit of each party—If Col: Clark makes a difficulty of comeing into the fort Lt Govr Hamilton will Speak to him before the Gate. 24th Feb’y 1779.

“Col: Clarks Answer[:] Col: Clarks compliments to Mr Hamilton and begs leave to inform him that Col. Clark will not agree to any other terms than that, of Mr Hamilton’s surrendering himself and Garrison Prisoners at discretion if Mr Hamilton is desirous of a conference with Col: Clark he will meet him at the Church with Capt. Helms. 24th Feb’y 1779.

“The Messenger return’d with the above answer, during which time there came a party of Indians down the hills behind the Town, who had been sent by Govr Hamilton to get some Scalps and Prisoners from the falls of Ohio Our Men having got news of it pursued them kill’d two on the Spot wounded three took 6 Prisoners Brought them into Town two of them proving to be Whitemen That they took Prisoners, we releas’d them and brought the Indians to the Main Street before the Fort Gate there tomahawked them and threw them into the River—During which time Govr Hamilton and Col: Clark met at the Church—Govr Hamilton produced certain articles of capitulation with his name signed to it which was refused—The Col: told him he wou’d consult with his officers and let him know the terms on which capitulate on—as follows.

“1—That Lt Govr Hamilton engages to deliver up to Col: Clark Fort Sackville as it is at present With all the stores &c.

“2—The Garrison are to deliver themselves prisoners of War, & march out with their arms & Accoutrements &c.

“3—The Garrison to be deliver’d up to morrow at ten OClock.

“4—Three days time to be allow’d the Garrison to settle their accounts with the Traders & Inhabitants of this place.

“5th The Officers of the Garrison to be allow’d their necessary baggage &c. Signed at Post Vincent 24th Feb’y 79.

“Agreed to for the following Reasons—The Remoteness of Succour, the state and Quantity of Provisions &c. the Unanimity of officers and men on its expediency, The Hon’ble Terms allow’d and lastly the confidence in a Generous enemy. Henry Hamilton Lt Govr & Supr Intendt.

“25th About 10 OClock Capt. Bowman & Capt. McCarty Companies paraded on the one side of the Fort Gate, Govr Hamilton and his Garrison Marched out whilst Col: Clark Capts. Williams & Wetheringtons comp’y marched into the fort Reliev’d the Centry’s hoisted the American colors—Secur’d all their ar⟨ms⟩ Govr Hamilton Marched back to the fort shut the Gates—Orders for 13 Cannon to be fired—during which time there happen’d a very unlucky accident for thr’o Mismanagement there blew up 26 six pound-Catridges in one of the Batires which Much burnt Capt. Bowman Capt. Worthington and four more Men very much.

“No acct of our Boat as yet.

“26—Rain all day Capt. Helm Bosseron Henry and Major Legra with 50 Men of the Militia order to proceed up the River With 3 boats with a Swivle in each to meet 10 Boats that was sent in decr last for Provisions and stores to OMi and to take the same in custody.

“27. The Willing our Batteau arriv’d to the great Mortification of all on board, that they had not the honor to assist us in the same, Came Wm Mires express from Williams burgh With Very good news—Capt. Bowman receives a Majors commisn inclosed from the Govr.

“28th Nothing extraordinary.

“March 1st The officers discharged on Parole, nothing extraord’y.

“2nd 3rd & 4th Wet Weather.

“5th About 10 OClock Capt. Helm arriv’d with his party took Seven boats laden with Provision Bale Goods &c. taken from the Enemy—with the following Prisoners—Mr Dejean Grand Judge of Detroit Mr Adimar Com’y with 38 Privates—Letters that was taken from The com’y dated at Detroit the 6th Feb’y says They are much afraid of our people in the Spring prays Govr Hamilton to come back again War was not as yet declar’d Between France and England this sent of a party of Voluntiers to Kiskaskias.

“6th A Very Rainy day nothing extraordinary.

“7th Capt. Williams Lt Rogers with 25 Men set for the falls of the ohio to conduct the following Prisoners—Viz. Lieut. Govr Hamilton, Majr Hay, Capn Lamothier, Monsr Dejean Grand Judge of Detroit—Lieut. Shifflin, Doctr McBeth Froincois Masonville Mr Bellfeiull [Bellefeville] with Eighteen Privates—8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th & 14th—Cloudy weather and Rain all the foregoing Week this morning Wm Mires Set out for Williamsburgh with two Men.

“15th A Party of Piankishaws, Peaurians and Miami Indians wait on Col: Clark and Assure him of fidelity &c. to the Americans and beg their Protection.

“In the Mean time an express arriv’d from Kiskaskias by which we learn that Capt. George with 41 Men were arriv’d there from New Orleans and took command of fort Clark and also that Capt. James Willing had resigned his comp’y to said Capt. George and that he and Capt. McIntire had embarked for Philada. William Mires return’d not being able to go by land to the falls of the Ohio the country overflow’d with Water—so took a Canoe and three Men and went by Water.

“16th Most of the Prisoners took the oath of Neutrality and got permission to set out for detroit Sent by them a copy of the Alliance between the United States and france.

“17. Nothing Extraordinary.

“18th Snow and Rain the best part of the day.

“19. Orders for six boats to be got ready to return to Kiskaskias with the Prisoners.

“20. The Boats ready and loaded Capt. McCarty takes Charge with the Willing—Capt. Keller, Capt. Worthington Ensigns Montgomery & Lawoin each of them to take charge one boat a Serjt and Six Men to take charge of the Small Boat called the Running Fly—About 4 OClock the Whole Embarked leaving Lieut. Brashier, commandt of the fort, with Lieut. Bayly Lt Chaplin 40 Men Serjt & Corp. Includ’d to take care of the Garrison till releiv’d from Kiskaskias—Capt. Helm comman’d of the Town in all Civil Matters and superintendt of Indian affairs Mr Moses Henry Indian Agent Mr Patrick Kennedy Quarter Mastr &c. The Boats after much rejoicing are now out of sight—God find them a good and safe passage” (DLC:GW).

Brodhead enclosed further information on Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark’s capture of Vincennes in his letter to GW of 5 June (DLC:GW). GW did not respond directly to this news in his reply to Brodhead of 23 June (DLC:GW), but on 10 July, GW wrote to Virginia governor Thomas Jefferson in reply to Jefferson’s letter to him of 19 June, and expressed his hopes that Clark would be able to follow up his victory with a move on Detroit (DLC:GW). As GW made clear in writing to Brodhead on 18 Oct., however, “Colo. Clark is not an Officer in the Continental line—nor does he act under my instructions. He is in the service of the State of Virginia” (DLC:GW). Although Clark’s victories were welcome, GW did not consider them as being of any immediate value in the war against Great Britain or in his efforts to protect the western frontiers against Indian incursions; he was much more concerned with the success of Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s impending expedition against the Six Nations (see Sullivan to GW, 16 April). For more on Clark’s exploits, see John Parke Custis to GW, 20 Nov. 1778, n.5.

2Brodhead enclosed a copy of a letter to him from John Heckewelder, dated 25 May at Coshocton, and copies of two speeches to him from the Delaware Indian chief Hinquapooshees, dated 22 and 25 May at Coshocton. The letter from Hackewelder reads: “I recd your kind favour of the 13th instant last night, but am Sorry I cannot have So much time to write much to you this time. The Messenger who is to Carry this to you will, and dare not Stay any longer and is to travil day and night with the news till he reaches you, and then to return Speedily, you will Remr when you See this, what I wrote to you the last time Concerning the Wyondots, depend what the Chieffs tell you this time is True.

“In four days from this they are to begin their march towards Fort Lawrens, but I think they cannot go very fast. I understand two of their Cannon are pritty large peices and the Other two only light, I think the News papers you Sent to me by Pagelands Brother are miscarried and perhaps took to Tuscorawas.

“The Coochocking people wish that the Enemy may find them masters this time. They Say if you only once would come So near together as to an Engagement, they the Enemy would Soon begin to run, and there would be hardily any Stopping of them again” (DLC:GW).

Hinquapooshees’s speech of 22 May reads: “I must inform you that two days ago a messenger came here from Wabash, he was not only sent by the Delewars residing there, but also by the Virginians who live now in the Fort at Chubhicking.

“Brother[.] As the messenger is a young man who could not remember all that was told him, as also the Speeches he was to Carry to Cooshocking, twas therefore all done in Writing by the Commander at that post. The messenger Recd three letters the one from the Comdr of the Fort at Chubhicking to the Commdt at Fort Pitt the Other from the Same to the Commandant at Fort Lawrens and the third from the head men of the Delewars on Wabash to the Straight armd man at Coochocking.

“Brother[.] These three letters containing nothing but what was good and with large white Betts and Strings of Wampum belonging to them, was taken by the Wyondouchala Gang, and by the order of Wyondouchala himself and Matthew Elliott now residing there from the messenger by force, and are now in the Enemys hands.

“Brother[.] I will now inform you of what the messenger has told me, and which also was particularly mentioned in the letters to you, he says as follows.

“That not long after the Virginians had taken the Fort at Chubhicking from the English, Six of the head nations who live about there went into the Fort, and made a firm peace and Chain of freindship with the Virginians That those nations then turned to the Delewars, Saying now Grandfather I have made up all my matters with the Virginians I have Shook hands with them, and we are one people. I therefore tell you now Grandfather that “I Shall for the future entirely listen to you and whatever you Shall tell me to do, that I will do.

“Brother[.] We have Often heard how the back nations are at War with the Virginians this has Often been reported to us by the bad people, but now we are informed to the Contrary. The messenger informs us that all the back nations are quiet and peacable and friends the Virginians, That he heard of no bad people and Enemy’s to the Same till he came to the Shawanese Towns, and to the Wyondoughala Gang when he heard nothing at all that was good, untill he got to Capt. Pipe and Wingenund where he again heard of friendship with the Virginians.

“Brother[.] Capt. Pipe has Sent word to me by the messenger that he cannot bear the reproaches of the Enemys to the Virginians no longer, he has Sent to me to come to him, When to Consult on a place for his future residence as he is determined to Stay no longer where he is but to come and live Somewhere near Coochocking when then I Shall go there (which will be as Soon as my messengers returns from you) I will if I See any possibility of Getting the letters, go there myself and try to get them and then deliver them to you, I only fear they are by this time in the hands of Alexr McKee.

“Brother[.] My Brother who is the head man of the Delewares on Wabash is gone with Some of his men to See their Brothers the Virginians at the Fort on the Falls of Ohio” (DLC:GW).

Hinquapooshees’s speech of 25 May, given with “the Other Counsellors,” reads: “Yesterday evening I recd your letter which Pagelands’ Brother brought. I am always very Glad when I hear from you.

“Brother[.] now hear what I have to Say to you and believe me for I Shall always tell you the Truth.

“Brother[.] Just now I have recd authentic Intelligence of the disposition of the Enemy. one of my men who left the Shawanese Towns Six days ago, informs me that in Ten days from the day he came away the Wyondots, Shawanese and Mingoes with Some English, with four pieces of Cannon were to march for Fort Lawrens, That most of the Enemy were ready already and at the Wyondot Towns, but others were Still preparing tho with the Greatest haste, That When they begin to march a Strong party is to go before the main Body and post themselves all round that Garrison that no body may be able to go in or out, and So to remain till the main body and Cannon come up, and then to attack the Fort. That these nations have declared possitively that they will no more listen to any body that Should Offer to Speak to them or try to Stop them, So as the Delewares did the last time when they were there, but that they will have that Fort this time let it go as it will.

“Brother[.] Consider now quick what you will do, for you will See what I now tell you will prove true.

“Brother[.] I Shall Send now immediately a messenger to Capt: Pipe Wengenund who are our friends and also your Brothers, they are hated by the Enemy who Call them Virginians. These our friends and Brothers I Shall call here immediately and then you know that all those who remain there are your Enemys and Consequently will know how to treat them.

“Brother[.] I now immediately Send also a letter with this News to Major Vernon at Fort Lawrens’ (DLC:GW).

3Brodhead apparently enclosed a copy of a speech by him to the Shawnee Indians, dated 8 April at Fort Pitt: Brothers the Shawnese[.] I always took you to be a wise and good Nation and am sorry to hear that you are likely to follow the ways of bad men, who come three Thousand Miles to rob and Steal, They will tell you fine Stories, but are you not wise enough to know that they would come so far if it was not with a view to rob and Steal and fill their Pockets.

“Brothers[.] listen to me whilst it is yet time to Speak together. I tell you these very people from the Other Side the great Water first Cheated you out of your lands and now come and Speak to you to Join with them to rob us to make them rich, if they say they are your friends they decieve you and yet you receive their false reports with as much Greediness as bad women receive the embraces of any one who gives them a little Rum or a Blanket. I have thought it right to Speak my mind freely as I always do to every people, I wish you would be wise and listen to your freind before it is too late⟨.⟩ This is the last time I Shall Speak to you if you do not listen to your Grandfathers the Delewares, their talk goes with mine and we have one heart and both wish you would think of your Wives and Posterity, I Suppose you think they the English are great Warriors you dont know that we have killed almost all of them except a few who ran to Georgia to Steal Some Rice and Negroes to take home with them to England and what do you think will come of you when these plunderers are Gone, do you think that Your fair Speeches will do then, Dont be decieved I am Sure they will not, Therefore I once more tell you to be wise in time (DLC:GW; another copy of this speech in DLC:GW has appended to it a speech from the Delawares to the Shawnees).

4This detachment had been guarding prisoners at Fort Frederick, Md., before GW ordered it to reinforce Fort Pitt; see the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council to GW, 8 May, n.12.

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