George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 22 January 1792

From Henry Knox

[Philadelphia] Sunday Morning 22 Jany 1792


I have not, and shall not lisp the characters mentioned yesterday to any mortal1 but observe the usual discrtn. Genl St Clair has arrived, I have not seen him but shall this morng.2 I am sir with perfect respet Your most obedt Sert

H. Knox

ADfS, NNGL: Henry Knox Papers.

1Knox crossed out “until you think the proper time” and completed the sentence with an interlineation.

2Shortly after his disastrous defeat, Arthur St. Clair had reached Fort Washington, where he reported to Knox (see William Darke to GW, 9–10 Nov. 1791, source note, and GW to U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 12 Dec. 1791, third enclosure), but his return east to protect personally his reputation against “bitter calumnies, gross misrepresentations, and vile falsehoods,” as he later wrote, was delayed by his continuing illness (St. Clair, Narrative, description begins Arthur St. Clair. A Narrative of the Manner in Which the Campaign against the Indians, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-one, Was Conducted, under the Command of Major General St. Clair . . .. Philadelphia, 1812. description ends vii). St. Clair wrote Knox on 24 Nov. that he was finally able to leave his room, although gout still prevented him from sleeping or eating and drinking anything but bread and tea (Smith, St. Clair Papers, description begins William Henry Smith, ed. The St. Clair Papers. The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair: Soldier of the Revolutionary War; President of the Continental Congress; and Governor of the North-Western Territory with his Correspondence and other Papers. 2 vols. Cincinnati, 1882. description ends 2:269–71). Knox replied on 23 Dec., anticipating St. Clair’s imminent arrival, but the general was not able to report in person to the War Department until after the new year (ibid., 275–76). St. Clair informed Capt. John Armstrong on 7 Dec. that he proposed “to set off for the Atlantic country to-morrow,” even though he was “still very much afflicted” and had scarcely left his room three times since 8 Nov. (ibid., 273–75). Instead of taking the Ohio River route to Wheeling, Va., which was particularly hazardous in the middle of winter, St. Clair traveled overland 700 miles to Philadelphia through Lexington and Crab Orchard, Ky., Abingdon, Roanoke, and Staunton, Va., Hagerstown, Md., and York and Lancaster, Pa., probably accompanied much of the way by levies whose enlistments were up. He arrived at the capital on 21 Jan. 1792 (see Federal Gazette [Philadelphia], 23 Jan.), even though Knox wrote to Tobias Lear on 19 Jan. that Lt. Jacob Melchor (Melcher) had just arrived with letters to be presented to GW from St. Clair, who himself intended to arrive the next day (DLC:GW).

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