George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 30 November 1791

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

[Philadelphia] Nov: 30th 1791

Dear Sir.

I transmit, enclosed, a letter intended for General St Clair, which is submitted for the approbation of the President of the United States; and I will call upon the President, to morrow, after he has returned from riding, about half after twelve, to receive his commands thereon, and upon another subject.1 I am, Dear Sir, Yours sincerely



1The enclosed draft has not been found, but Knox’s letter to Arthur St. Clair of 2 Dec., which GW apparently approved, reads in part: “As the period has arrived when your operations may be drawing to a close, and you about to return to fort Washington; and having a safe opportunity, by the troops hereinafter mentioned, about to descend the Ohio, which will be the last for the season, on account of the probable difficulty of navigating the river, it seems proper that a full communication should be made to you, at this time, of such circumstances as the public service may require. I have conceived it important, as well for the comfort of the levies and militia, acting under your orders, as for the reputation of the Government, that the said troops should have their accounts adjusted at fort Washington, and each man paid the balance that may be found due to him before his discharge. I have therefore sent Mr. Caleb Swan, of this office, to perform the business. . . . As the levies will, most probably, have to return by the way of the wilderness, it will depend upon your judgment as to the manner of their return. You will, without doubt, order them up the Ohio, if the weather and state of the river will permit, at least as far as Marietta or Wheeling. It would, most certainly, more comport with good order, that they should preserve their military consistence and organization, until they should reach their respective battalion rendezvous. . . . No doubt can be entertained, but that you have, agreeably to your original instructions, furnished the post you may have established at the Miami village, and its communications, with six months’ salted meat, and a due quantity of flour. This circumstance omitted, the safety of the said posts must be considered as extremely precarious. If there should have been any defects in the contractor’s department, it is to be hoped that you have remedied them, according to my several letters to you upon that subject. Upon the return of the troops at fort Washington, you will, I am persuaded, have made the best possible arrangement of the sale of the spare cavalry and pack-horses, so that the public may sustain as little injury upon that subject as possible. The expense of the quartermaster’s department has far exceeded my estimates. But I flatter myself, that the excess has been dictated by such sound principles, that, when they are developed, they will appear not only reasonable, but inevitable. . . . I enclose you a list of the officers as they now stand. In this, you will perceive, that General [James] Wilkinson is appointed the lieutenant colonel-commandant of the second regiment of infantry. I hope he will merit your approbation, and that his conduct will reflect honor on his country and the troops. It is the expectation of the President . . . that, at the expiration of the campaign, the necessity of an adjutant general will cease, and that the duty may be performed consistently, by the inspector; and it is also his expectation, at the expiration of the campaign, that Major General [Richard] Butler will retire with the levies. He was appointed specially for them, and under the law by which they were raised; and however desirous the President. . . might be to retain him in service, he would not have the power, without a new law for the purpose. You will, therefore, intimate to him, in handsome terms, this order. His pay and emoluments will, however, be continued him, until his arrival at fort Pitt. I have detained Captain [Jonathan] Haskell’s company for some time past at fort Pitt, as a substitute for the dismission of the militia. But [Capt. Thomas Humphrey] Cushing’s company having arrived at that place, they will be detained no longer than the arrival of Mr. Swan, who will, with his money, be under their protection. . . . Some disturbances have lately been excited among the Creeks, by one Bowles, styling himself General William Augustus Bowles. He has set himself up in opposition to [Alexander] M’Gillivray, and has prevented running the line, agreeably to the treaty at New York. It seems probable, that either M’Gillivray or Bowles must fall. The United States will support the former, who appears to have conducted with propriety and sincerity. Brigadier General [Josiah] Harmar has arrived, and the proceedings of the court of inquiry are in the press. He has intimated his intention of resigning, but has not yet executed it. . . . I sincerely hope, by the time this letter arrives, you will have returned to fort Washington, crowned with success, having made an equitable and lasting peace with the poor Indians, and entirely fulfilled all the objects of the campaign. But although entire confidence is reposed in your talents and arrangements, we shall entertain a painful anxiety until we shall be relieved by your despatches” (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 1:183–84). For the intrigues of Bowles among the Upper and Lower Creek villages, see Knox to GW, 14 Nov., n.1.

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