George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 14 December 1790

From Henry Knox

War Department [Philadelphia] Decr 14th 1790


Lieutenant Denny arrived last evening from Fort Washington, on the Ohio, charged with letters from Governor St Clair, and Brigadier General Harmar copies of which I have the honour herewith to submit, and also extracts from the orders issued during the late expedition, also a return of the killed and wounded.1

Lieutenant Denny reports verbally that after he left Fort Washington, he saw in Kentucky, several men of the militia of that district, who had been out with Major Whitly under Major Hamtramck of the federal troops, who commanded a separate expedition.

The said militia men informed Lieut. Denny, that Major Hamtramck had destroyed several of the hostile Indian towns, on the Wabash, and had returned to his garrison at post Vincennes without having met any opposition. I have the honour to be with the highest respect sir, Your most Obt Servt

H. Knox
Secy of War.

Copy, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; copy, OClWHi: Alfred T. Goodman Papers; extract, WHi: Draper Manuscripts, Frontier Wars.

1For background to Josiah Harmar’s unsuccessful campaign against the western tribes, see Jefferson to GW, 29 Aug. 1790, n.2. Ebenezer Denny (1761–1822) was born in Carlisle, Pa., and served as an ensign and lieutenant with Pennsylvania regiments in the Continental army during the Revolution and as officer in the postwar army. He was appointed a lieutenant in the U.S. Army in September 1789 and served with Harmar on the northwestern frontier. He was promoted to captain in December 1791. He resigned shortly thereafter, establishing himself as a merchant in Pittsburgh. He was elected first mayor of that city in 1816. On 15 Dec. 1790 the Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia) reported (incorrectly) that Denny had arrived in Philadelphia the day before and printed the dispatches he carried with the preface: “By the following official information received at the War-Office, it appears that the grand object of the expedition against the Indians has succeeded, notwithstanding the reports to the contrary”

Knox’s letter covered four enclosures: a copy of a letter from St. Clair to Knox, dated 6 Nov. 1790, a copy of a letter from Harmar to Knox, dated 4 Nov. 1790, a series of extracts from the general orders issued by Harmar during his campaign, and a report of the killed and wounded. In the last, titled a “Return of the killed & wounded upon the Expedition against the Miami Towns under the command of Brigadier General Harmar,” dated “Fort Washington Novembr 4th 1790,” Harmar reported that seventy-five regulars (including two commissioned officers) had been killed, and three wounded. Of the militia, Harmar reported that 108 (including ten officers) had been killed, and 28 (including 3 officers) had been wounded (DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages).

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