George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 15 September 1793

From Henry Knox

Near Philadelphia 15 Septr 1793


On the 13th I received a letter from General Wayne dated the 8th ultimo. He acknowledges to have received mine of the 20th of July, written in consequence of an express from the Commissioners forbidding him from encreasing his force at the head of the line. He complains of these orders and says that “our greatest difficulty will result from the want of timely supplies of provisions at the head of the line.1

One of the contractors is here and says they have an abundance of provisions at Fort Washington, and means, to carry on at once a large Supply equal to 200000 rations. I have directed him to make specific and official returns of the quantity on hand, the quantity he can move with the Army, and the supply he can keep up with the Army while operating towards the Miami villages and the rapids of the Omee river.2

Brigr General Posey has been into Kentucky and reports to Genl Wayne that the voluntiers are all or nearly all engaged so as to march at a moments warning.

The express from the Commissioners arrived at Pittsburg the 1st instant and was sent off the same day, the three copies, also arrived before the 3d, and were also all sent off to head quarters.3 General Wayne would probably receive the first on the 8th, his voluntiers would I should imagine all arrive by the 1⟨9⟩4 or 20th instant, so that he would then be able then to move forward at the rate of 15 miles a day—I should hope that he would move with his whole force from Fort Jefferson—the 1st of October at furthest. he states his regular troops for action to be about 2800, officers included. to these will be added of the detachments not arrived, at least 200—If he obtains his whole number of 1500 mounted voluntiers, his force will be equal to every savage combined, to the south of the lakes, and north of the Ohio. God grant him success!

Map 1. Northwest Territory, 1792–1793.
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Map 2. Southwest Territory, 1792–1793.
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I have received a letter from Genl Smith secretary of the southern territory dated the 23 August giving an account of another lawless expedition against the cherokees, in which were killed ten indian men, two Women, and sixteen women taken prisoners this expedition consisted of 180 mounted voluntiers under Colo. Dohorty.5 The consequence of this and such other expeditions is, that the cherokees are preparing to attack the territory with their whole Force. Apprehensions are great, and a considerable force is called out for the defence of the Country. An expence of one hundred thousand Dollars will probably be thus incurred by the said expeditions before the meeting of Congress!

I have received a letter from Mr Seagrove of the 22 ultimo dated at Savannah in which he says that all continues quiet and that he was preparing to set off to the Rock Landing with the intention of going into the Indian Country provided the party should meet him at the Oakmulgee as he had requested to escort him into the nation.6

Colonel Pickering and Mr Randolph have arrived. The former found the yellow fever in his family having a son and servant sick with it but both likely to do well. Mr Randolph is with the attorney General. I have not seen either of them but Colonel Pickering has sent me their journal.7

The fever made great havoc the last week. among others Doctr Warner Washington. Doctor Rush’s success however is great indeed. I understand that he has given his medicine to upwards of 500 patients. He does not pretend to say they have all had the yellow fever but many undoubtedly had, and he lost only one since he adopted his new mode. He has acquired great honor in visiting every body to the utmost of his power. but his applications have been so general that it was utterly impossible to attend to all of them. But he directs the medicine and the Apothecaries prepares it.8

Mr Dupont the french Consul is dead with it. Mr Willing and Mr Barclay are well.

Colonel and Mrs Hamilton have both recovered by a mode quite different from Rushes, and which is published under the signature of A.K.9—Doctor Kuhn—They set off on saturday last for New York.

The different opinions of treatment excite great inquietude—But Rush bears down all before him—so that I think if the weather should be cold, together with some rains that the fever will hardly be known on the 1st of Novr. from the opinions collected from a variety of quarters I do not think it encreases. the great seat of it at present seems to be from 2d to 3d street, and thence to Walnut streets. Water street however continues sickly. But the alarm is inexpressible. Every body who could, has removed into the Country.

I hope to be able to set off hence eastward on the 19th or 20th—All the public offices of the State and of the U.S., are shut I beleive, or at least that very litle is done in them, exepting the war office—But as all my efficient clerks have left me from apprehension, mine will be as the others. According to my view however nothing will suffer during my absence as I shall put into train of execution, all the preparations directed.

I beleive the french ships did not sail until the 15th from NewYork. Not a word has transpired of the communications to Mr Genet.10 The July packet has arrived. No news from Europe.

Since writing the above I have seen Colonel Pickering, and also I have read the Journal. The verbal information, added to the written, remove every doubt of the source of the opposition, covered however in the most plausible manner. From his information it would appear impracticable to collect of the hostile Indians more than one thousand. He says that the most sensible of the quakers are of opinion that the United states have offered all that they ought to offer.11 He is of opinion that Brant has acted faithfully, and that the English do not much like him. I am Sir With the most perfect respect and attachment Your humble Servt

H. Knox


1Treaty commissioners Benjamin Lincoln, Beverley Randolph, and Timothy Pickering wrote Knox on 10 July reporting that they had promised the Indians they would request orders to Anthony Wayne, “not only to abstain from hostilities, but to remain quietly at his posts” (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 , 1:351). In response, Knox wrote Wayne on 20 July instructing him to withdraw any troops “exceeding the usual Garrisons” from his forward posts and to keep the army “in the vicinity of Fort Washington until the event of the Treaty be known” (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 , 256–57).

Wayne’s reply to Knox of 8 Aug. argued that the intelligence that the Indians had given to the commissioners to elicit the order was unfounded—that very few new troops had been stationed at the advanced posts and that there was no buildup of provisions—and he complained, “I had presumed that as Commander in Chief of the Legion of the United States, some confidence ought to have been placed in my honor, as well as conduct; when I promised not to advance into the Indian Country or to establish any new Posts in front of those we then possessed, until the result of the pending treaty was known.” He had, however, “obeyed with promptitude, by ordering Genl Wilkinson to withdraw the one hundred and eighty seven officers & men from the advanced Posts.” Wayne enclosed intelligence “of the depredations and murders committed by the savages” and noted, “that there is a general confederacy forming against us I have not a doubt.” He then summarized his preparations for the possible Indian campaign, ending with the sentence quoted here by Knox (although Knox’s quotation differs slightly from the surviving letterbook copies by adding the words “of provision” and removing the underline from “timely supplies”) (MiU-C: Wayne Papers, see also 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 , 260–66).

2The Omee River now is called the Maumee River.

3The expresses carried a letter of 23 Aug. in which the treaty commissioners informed Wayne that the Indians had “finally determined not to treat at all” (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 , 1:359).

4The letter-book copy has “16th,” but “19th” seems to be the best reading of the over-written character on the ALS.

5Daniel Smith’s letter to Knox of 23 Aug. has not been found. The Knoxville Gazette of 27 Aug. reported on this expedition: “On Sunday the 4th inst. a volunteer company consisting of one hundred and eighty men, from the counties of Knox and Jefferson, under the command of Col. George Doherty assembled at Gambles Station, on Little River, for the purpose of marching into the Cherokee towns, and on the same day crossed the Tennessee. The next day they marched to Big Tellico, where they killed two fellows and a squaw, and took one squaw prisoner. On Tuesday they crossed the mountain to Tyno⟨tla⟩, a town on the Highwassee river, wounded one fellow and a squaw, took nine prisoners, burnt the town, and destroyed a large quantity of growing corn. After liberating 9 prisoners, the company proceeded to the Big Valley Town, passing several small villages on their march, which they burnt, and destroyed the growing corn. On Wednesday morning the Indians fired on a party of white men in view of their camp, and wounded Archibald Lackey. The same day a party of Indians posted themselves in the gap of a mountain, where the white men had to pass, and on their approach fired on them; the white men returned the fire, killed three Indians, wounded several, and put them to flight. The next day the Indians fired on their rear, and wounded one man. The same day the company took six prisoners at a village gathering provisions; and towards the close of the day they killed four fellows and a squaw, and wounded several others. On Saturday morning, the 10th, (before day) a party of Indians fired on the white men in their encampment, and wounded James Henderson, Nicholas Davis, and John Frame. On Monday the 12th inst. the volunteers returned to the settlements, by way of Big Pigeon, in Jefferson county—The prisoners they brought in (who were examined separately) say, that the Indians had received notice of the intended visit of the white people from Swannanoe, a frontier settlement in North Carolina; and that all their young men and warriors had gone to John Watts, at Eufenaula where they were to hold a council and war dance.

“The party killed in the whole of their rout nine Indian men, and, by mistake, two squaws, and brought home seven women and children prisoners.”

George Doherty (1749–1833), a veteran of the battle of King’s Mountain, rose to serve as a brigadier general of East Tennessee militia in the Creek War of 1813–14. He represented Jefferson County in the Tennessee Senate, 1797–98, and House, 1799–1801.

6Knox may have been referring to James Seagrove’s letter of 21 Aug. (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 , 1:407). Rock Landing is located on the Oconee River in Baldwin County, a few miles southeast of Milledgeville.

7For the journal of the treaty commissioners, see 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 , 1:342–60.

8Dr. Benjamin Rush directed that “as soon as” one was “affected” by symptoms, he should take a powder “consisting of ten grains of Calomel, and fifteen grains of Jalap, for an adult,” in sugar and water “every six hours, until they produce four or five large evacuations from the bowels.” By 18 Sept., William Delany, chemist and druggist, was advertising for sale “Doctor Rush’s Mercurial Sweating Purge for the Yellow Fever, with the Doctor’s Directions,” and a similar advertisement was placed by the druggists Goldthwait and Baldwin the next day (General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 14, 18, and 19 Sept.).

9The letter-book copy reads “H.K.” The letter from A.K. was printed in the Federal Gazette (Philadelphia), 11 September. It recommended against the use of emetics or laxatives unless the patient had a specific problem. A.K. instead administered twenty drops of “elixir of vitriol” every two hours, along with bark and laudanum. However, he placed “the greatest dependance for the cure of the disease, on throwing cool water twice a day over the naked body.” He also recommended a diet using ripe fruit and wine, keeping the patient in a spacious chamber with good circulation and frequent changes of bedclothes, and vinegar and olive fumes to sweeten the air. A postscript to the letter, printed in the Federal Gazette of 12 Sept., credited Edward Stevens, Alexander Hamilton’s physician, for many of the observations on which the cure was based.

Dr. Adam Kuhn (1741–1817), who received an M.D. degree from Edinburgh University in 1767, had been employed as a professor at the College of Philadelphia, now Pennsylvania University, since 1768, serving at this time as professor of the theory and practice of medicine. He was also on the staff of the Pennsylvania Hospital and a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Edward Stevens (c.1755–1834), who had known Hamilton since boyhood in the West Indies, graduated from King’s College (now Columbia University) in 1774 and took an M.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1777. In 1794 he joined the medical faculty of Columbia College for one year, and in 1799 he was appointed U.S. consul general for Santo Domingo.

10Knox may be referring to the letters from Thomas Jefferson to Edmond Charles Genet of 7 and 9 Sept. (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 27:52–53, 67–69).

11A delegation of six Quakers had attended the treaty conference (see GW to Henry Knox, 5 April, and n.2 to that document). For some of their accounts of the treaty, see Lindley et al., “Expedition to Detroit,” description begins Jacob Lindley, Joseph Moore, and Oliver Paxson. “Expedition to Detroit, 1793. The Quakers, the United States Commissioners, and the Proposed Treaty of Peace with the Northwestern Indian Tribes.” Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society 17 (1890): 565–671. description ends and Evans, Journal of William Savery description begins Jonathan Evans, comp. A Journal of the Life, Travels, and Religious Labors of William Savery, a Minister of the Gospel of Christ, of the Society of Friends, Late of Philadelphia. Philadelphia, 1863. description ends , 28–75.

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