George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 3 February 1792

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

Philadelphia, Tuesday Evening, 3 Feb. 1792. Submits to the president the bill that has passed the House for his remarks as well as a letter from Mr. Kirkland of 17 Jan. and reports “All quiet at Fort Pitt on the 27th ultimo.”1


1On 1 Feb. 1792 the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a vote of 29 to 19 a bill “for making farther and more effectual provision for the protection of the frontiers of the United States” (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 2d Cong., 1st sess., 355). The enclosed letter from Samuel Kirkland to Henry Knox has not been found, but Kirkland’s draft of it, dated near Kanadasegea, N.Y., at 4:30 A.M., 17 Jan. 1792, reads: “I did myself the honor to address you from Oneida the 5th Instant—when I acquainted you that Peter Otsequette & capt. Jno. had set out with Coll Pickerings invitation Speech for the Buffaloe—also Last tuesday, which was so soon as I could get the Cheifs ready sat out from oneida with Good Peter—Skenendon Capt. Hendrick & five others for Genesee the place appointed for our rendezvous. The day before yesterday arrived at Kanadasegea, after a most fatiging Journey—by reason of the extreme cold weather & great fall of snow, unusual in these parts. The old Cheifs were so completely worn down—they desired one day to rest their bones in hopes the path in the mean time may be broken. two Seneka Cheifs are hunting in this vicinity & sent a request to be notified of my arrival. I find the Indians are much alarmed with their present situation—& as much divided in opinion what course to take. If the western Confederacy prosecute the war with vigour the ensuing spring tis probable the Buffaloes & [Joseph] Brants settle[ment] will be obliged to take a decided part. a few Senekas & Cayogoes were in the action at the Miamee, when our Army were defeated. Brant I am told has had two scalps sent to him, since the battle—it is said they were presented by a Cayogoe. This is expressive of what he must expect, on condition he refuses to join them. Yesterday I had a long conference with a Mr Stedman, who resides at Fort Slusher, above the falls of Niagare & has for many years occupied the carrying place over said falls. He left Niagare eight days ago—(in company with Esquire Paine.) He gives me the following informa[tion] that some time before he left Niagare A Cayoga Indian called Dequanny who was in the action of the 4th of Novr had returned from Detroit wth two Scalps & had in charge Genl St Clairs field Book, & many other papers which he was to deliver at Montreal—That the Indians designed to harrass the frontier in small parties during the whole course of the winter—particularly Muskinggum & the settlements on French Creek. That the family of the Gurtys were exceedingly enraged & very active. Mr Stedman also told me he had been well informed, that between 20 & 30 white persons from Detroit (mostly french) were with the Indians in the action at the Miamee That several of our Army had deserted the day before & joined the Indians & are now in Detroit. That the Indians had buried the Canon they took at a small distance from the place of action That the Indians had been plentifully supplied with provisions &c.—that he had rode over the carrying place, 18 boatloads at one time, destined for Detroit & expressly for the Indian Department. he likewise observed to me that he had rode over the Carrying place at Niagare [of] Kings Stores the Season past about 6000 barrels which was nearly of 4000 more than usual—twelve large cannon—that the British had built two new schooners in lake Erie the last year—& orders had lately been sent up for cutting timber for a large ship, to be built the next season—that they had expended between two & three thousand pounds in repairing the garrison of Niagare the year past. I mention these circumstances to you Sir, because the operations of the British in this quarter have great influence on the minds of the Indians. It is doubtful in regard to the Fish-Carriers coming down—I hear he is much offended with the burning of the houses on the Cayogon Reservation—& more especially the one on the mile square, which he always considered as his own property—& expressed in the Deed of cession to the State of New York. I expect to proceed for Genesee early this morning, am just now ready to call up the Indians.” Kirkland marked a paragraph in the draft, apparently for deletion: “I am credibly informed that Brant has lately indulged himself too freely with the intoxicating draught—which is ascribed to his having lost so much of his influence among the Indians & being exposed to the resent[ment]—particularly [of] the western Confederacy” (NCH: Samuel Kirkland Papers; characters in square brackets are written in Kirkland’s personal shorthand code in the original draft).

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