George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 14 August 1793

From Henry Knox

War department August 14th 1793


I submit to your consideration a draft of a letter to Major General Wayne—and also his letters to which the said draft is intended as an answer.1 I have the honor to be with the highest respect Your obed. humble servt

H. Knox


1For Knox’s previous submission of Anthony Wayne’s letters of 20 June, 2 July, and 10 July, with their several enclosures, see Knox to GW, 9 Aug. 1793, and JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 217. GW returned the draft, which has not been identified, to Knox on 16 Aug., after “perusing & suggesting some alterations therein, & likewise intimating that as the Secy. of the Treasy. was a man of military knowledge, it might be well to have his opinion thereon” (ibid., 220–21). In his letter to Wayne of 16 Aug., Knox reviewed a series of letters that he had sent Wayne regarding the U.S. Army’s preparations for a war with the Indians of the Northwest Territory at the same time as U.S. commissioners Benjamin Lincoln, Beverley Randolph, and Timothy Pickering attempted to negotiate a peace treaty with these same Indians. “The idea has been given to you,” Knox wrote, “that no movements should be undertaken which would endanger the Commissioners, frustrate the Treaty, or be inconsistent with good faith—But every other preparation has been ordered and the means left to your own discretion, so that you might with a superior force move as early as possible, after receiving a letter from the Commissioners or me of the Treaty being broken off.” After noting various supplies available for the army, Knox wrote that GW had given Wayne’s proposition “for a collateral expedition from the upper parts of the Ohio to the rapids of the Miami a serious consideration, and the result is that he cannot at present concur” because it would be very difficult to coordinate the movements of Wayne’s troops and volunteers expected from Kentucky, the “destruction of a few huts are not of such importance as to require the risque of the Corps of Six or Seven Hundred Men,” the expedition should not be attempted while the treaty was in progress because news of it would mean the “destruction of the Commissioners and the disgrace of the United States,” and if the expedition was “of real importance” it might be done later, when the main army advanced, “by a detachment of mounted Volunteers from your main Army.” In response to Wayne’s request of 2 July for blank Commissions, Knox replied: “As the Officers of your mounted Volunteers are considered as mere Militia for a short period, the President conceives that your appointing them in general orders with his approbation will be sufficient. He is apprehensive that Commissions signed by him for such desultory service would, even if his powers were competent which may be questioned, have a train of endless evils in future, and he therefore declines the proposal of signing Commissions on the occasion” (Knopf, Wayne description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends , 266–70).

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