George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 26 August 1792

From Henry Knox

Philadelphia 26th August 1792


I had the honor in New York, on the 23d, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 15th instant with the dispatches from Georgia. Having returned to this city the last evening I found your favor of the 19th, which was received here on the 23d instant.

Tomorrow I will lay before the secretary of the treasury, and the attorney Genl, the Georgia papers and your ideas thereon; and the result shall be submitted to you as early as possible.1

I have now the honor to submit Copies of General Waynes letter of the 17th,2 Capt. Jo. Cass’s of the 6 instant,3 and Genl Putnams of the 22d July.4

The conduct of the Waggoners mentioned by Genl Wayne, in leaving the stores upon the road shall be inquired into and remedied immediately, and proper prosecutions take place.

The conduct of Genl Putnam appears to have been judicious, and an anticipation of his instructions lately transmitted.5

By the next post I shall have the honor of making further communication of such circumstances as may be necessary to be submitted to your view.6 I have the honor sir to be with perfect respect Your Obedient Servant

H. Knox


1For the results of Knox’s meeting with Hamilton and Randolph, see Knox to GW, 28 and 31 Aug. (second letter) 1792.

2The copy of Wayne’s letter to Knox of 17 Aug. from Pittsburgh reads in part: “By the many corroborating accounts from every quarter I believe there can be little room to doubt the fate of our three flags and that both Col. Harding, and Major Trueman have been victims to savage ferocity—It’s also probable that the first embassy, if not the second from the five Nations to the hostile Indians (mentioned in the inclosed copy of a letter from Capt. Cass) have experienced the fate of our flags—the first had been absent for two moons the other One, when Cornplanter was at Fort Franklin i.e. the 23d Ultimo; had any material intelligence been received at the mouth of Buffaloe as late as the 7th instant I should have been made acquainted with it by this time.

“The alarm of two large parties of Indians being in the vicinity of this post turned out to be a party of Six only, who finding themselves discovered, went off without doing any damage, they were followed about Sixty Miles—Another small party made their appearance near Whelen about fifty Miles below this place on the Ohio the beginning of this week and fired upon three of our people who returned it, by which fire one Indian fell, and one of our people was shot thro the shoulder.

“I have in some measure anticipated the Presidents orders in firing at marks—by permitting the riflemen to practice two shot per man every fair day, and by directing the Guards relieved from duty, to discharge at marks waistband high as mentioned in my letter of the 10th instant.

“On Wednesday [15 Aug.] we had a sham engagement—the rifle Corps (by reiterated attacks and highly painted) acted well the part of savages—which required all the skill and fortitude of our little legion to sustain, until by a combined maneuvre of the reserve, composed of Cavalry and Infantry—they were out flanked and charged in front and rear at the same instant (by actual surprize) part of the Cavalry having passed and repassed the Allegheny River for that purpose during the Action.”

After disagreeing with Gen. Rufus Putnam’s recently suggested plan of operation and promising to submit his own ideas by the next post, Wayne continued: “The Indians who were attached to Capt. [John] Jeffers’s corps have been dismissed and sent home ever since early in July—except two or three who don’t show a disposition to leave this place, in fact, Jeffers’s whole corps of rangers has been dissolved near two Months, as I found the Soldiers were much averse to that kind of service, which had caused many desertions. . . . It is indispensibly necessary that some effectual mode of transportation of Stores should be adopted—probably if the Owners of Waggons were obligated to deliver the Stores committed to their charge within twenty five days at Pittsburgh it might have a good effect—Captain [Moses] Porter of the Artillery who arrived yesterday says that he seen considerable quantities of public Stores left at several taverns along the road in open sheds from the sign of the ship 34 Miles from Philada to Shippensburg” (DLC:GW).

3The copy of Capt. Jonathan Cass’s 6 Aug. letter to Wayne from Fort Franklin reads: “Inclosed are the returns of this Garrison for the Month of July—Previous to your arrival in this Country, the Secretary of War gave orders for this garrison to be constantly supplied with six Months provisions for 120 Men, beside which there was to be 5000 rations for indian issues, which order I could never prevail on the Contractors to comply with—If it is your intention that quantity should be kept in store, nothing but your authority will accomplish it. the inclosed return of provision will show the quantity now on hand, which will serve this Garrison for the troops and indian issues, about one month. the hurry in which I dispatched my last express occasioned me to neglect mentioning that the Bears-Oil Chief a Massasuaga Indian, called on me in April at this Garrison professed much friendship and on his leaving me promised to do all he could to make his Nation so; from the late Council at Buffaloe Creek where he and they generally attend he sent me a speak together with a string of Wampum, by the Cornplanter and new arrow declaring he had strictly attended to his promise made to me last spring that he had taken much pains among his nation that they had generally become friendly and desired I would make it known to our great Men. The Chiefs of that Nation also agreed in Council to send me a speak and did so, the purport of which was that they had agreed in Council with the Seneka Nations and had agreed to be friendly to them and the 13 fires, that they would do all in their power to persuade the hostile Indians to peace, this the Cornplanter and New Arrow both confirmed, and added that the Massasuaga Nation had agreed in Council to be governed by the policy of the six Nations with respect to their friendship to the 13 fires or words to that amount, that I have every reason to believe that the Senekas the Mohawks, the Massasaugas those living in Canada and many Indians who are gone from this quarter and live on the other side of Lake Erie are zealously engaged in persuading the hostile Indians to peace, and if the United States offer generous terms, I have no doubt they will obtain it, of this however your judgment and information are much better than mine, neither shall my oun occasion any military relaxation on my part have received no account from [Nicholas] Rosencrantz since I wrote you—the Cornplanter informed me it is now two moons since two of their men were dispatched to the hostile Indians to discover their intentions and see if they would listen to terms of peace, those men are hourly expected: that one moon since they had dispatched two more men to the same place and on the same business, that he promised me when those Indians returned I should be informed of their report which I will as immediately make known to General Wayne” (DLC:GW).

4The copy of Putnam’s letter to Knox of 22 July from Fort Washington reads in part: “Jean Krouch the principal chief who arrived here the 3d instant, with Mr Vego [Francis Vigo], died on the 16th.

“I mentioned in my letter of the 14th instant, two prisoners having escaped from the Indians, and being then at Fort Hamilton; these have since arrived here; and by the information they give, I think there is the highest reason to beleive, that [Isaac] Freeman. Truman, & Harden. are murdered, with all the people who went with them. except one, who they considered as servant, as a person of no consequence: and if the Squaw (who gave the information to the prisoners) told the truth, it appears that Truman must be murdered, by order of the Council, as a Confirmation of their resolution, not to make peace.

“When, add to this information, the circumstance, that I hear nothing of Captain Henderick [Aupaumut], I conclude that the Indians met on the Omee or Tawa River, have rejected the overtures made them, by the United States, in the several Speeches sent them, and that the prospect of my speaking with them, through the Channel first proposed, is at an end.

“By the information received from the Wabash, mentioned in my former letters, together with the information received by Mr Wells, the interperter, and the Indians who are now here on a visit to their families, I conceive there is very little reason to expect any more of the Chiefs from that quarter, or if they should, they will be of inferior grades, and a treaty with them will be of no Consequence.

“From all these circumstances I conclude, that my tarrying at this place much longer can be of no service whatever, except to receive your further orders, which I certainly should do or return up the river; but for the following reasons, viz., It appearing highly probable, that the principal Chiefs, from nearly all the western Tribes, with a great number of Warriors may be collected at Port Vincent, if the business is seasonably attended to, and by a proper management, there is the highest prospect they may be detached from, and return to, or be kept in, a State of peace.”

Putnam informed Knox that he had resolved to go “to Port Vincent, for the purpose of holding a treaty with the Western tribes about the Twentieth of September, and shall take measures to have them invited to meet there about that time. . . . I propose to leave this, with the Indian goods, the prisoners &c. &c., about the 15th of August” (DLC:GW).

5Knox had written Putnam from Philadelphia on 7 Aug.: “You will cultivate and make peace with the Wabash tribes to the utmost of your power, and you will judge how far your going to Post Vincennes, or any other place will facilitate the object—Extend your treaties with one tribe after another as far as possible, always subjecting them to the ratification of the President and Senate of the United States” (Buell, Putnam Memoirs, description begins Rowena Buell, ed. The Memoirs of Rufus Putnam and Certain Official Papers and Correspondence. Boston and New York, 1903. description ends 313).

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