George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 8 June 1791

From Henry Knox

War Department [Philadelphia] June 8th 1791.


Colonel Procter has just arrived in this City by the way of Fort Pitt—He was unable to go forward to the Western Indians without an escort of the six nations—He could have obtained such an escort after counselling with them at Buffaloe Creek, from the 23d of April, until the 15th of May—But the Indians could not proceed either in Canoes along the lake, or by land, but required a vessel—He applied to Colonel Gordon, commanding Officer at Niagara for a vessel either public or private, for which he would pay, but he could not obtain one. The design therefore of inviting the hostile Indians to peace, previously to striking them, has been frustrated.1

Brant with thirty Warriors having Girty, and McGee with him, set out from Grand River, to the Western indians about the 1 ith of May—The Senekas say that his design is peace—That he will return in June to the treaty at the painted Post—That in that case one half the Chiefs will attend at the painted Post, and the other go forward to oblige the Western indians to peace.2

The Cornplanter continues his attachment to the United States, but he is exceedingly suspected by Brant’s people who are in an opposite interest—the six Nations are for peace.

Colonel Procter transmitted from Fort Pitt, a full account of his proceedings to General St Clair—He will therefore be no longer in doubt about pushing forward the Kentucky expedition.3

Colonel Procter has not made a written Report yet—but he will soon do it—I have thought it proper to submit the substance of his Mission to you. I have the honor to be With the highest Respect Sir, Your most Obedt hum. servt

H. Knox


1Col. Thomas Proctor arrived at Philadelphia on 7 June. For his aborted mission to the Miami and Wabash Indians, see Henry Knox to GW, 30 May and note 7.

2Soon after leaving his home at Ohsweken, or the Mohawk Village, on the Grand River in April, Mohawk sachem Joseph Brant arrived at the Six Nations’ council at Buffalo Creek, which authorized him to proceed on a peace mission to the northwestern tribes. Brant left before the arrival of Proctor and Cornplanter, the Seneca chief who accompanied Proctor on his mission, and reached the foot of the Maumee Rapids by mid-June. An Indian council was meeting there with Alexander McKee, British deputy agent for Indian affairs at Detroit. Brant was unable to interest the council in peaceful propositions; instead it decided to send a delegation to Quebec to solicit from Lord Dorchester the erection of a British fort at the mouth of the Maumee as well as military aid against the American army mustering at forts Pitt and Washington. Brant, McKee, and representatives from the Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Huron, Shawnee, Delaware, Tustur, and Iroquois nations arrived at Quebec in early August and conferred with Dorchester before he left for Britain on 18 August. Dorchester remained noncommittal. Instead of returning to Detroit with the rest of the delegation, Brant went home in early October and remained there (see Knox to GW, 4 Oct., and Kelsay, Brant, description begins Isabel Thompson Kelsay. Joseph Brant, 1743–1807: Man of Two Worlds. Syracuse, N.Y., 1984. description ends 445–51, 455).

3Proctor was supposed to have reached Fort Washington to report the results of his mission by 5 May, and Brig. Gen. Charles Scott’s expedition was scheduled to commence on 10 May. Scott’s first detachment marched from Frankfort one week later, almost a month before Knox authorized Arthur St. Clair to have Scott advance (see Knox to St. Clair, 9 June, ASP, Indian Affairs, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:177).

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