George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 8 May 1794

From Henry Knox

War Department, May 8th 1794


I have the honor to submit, a letter just received, from Constant Freeman, dated the 18th of April 1794, by which it appears that the information respecting the expedition from Georgia, against the Floridas, is confirmed.1

I have also the honor to enclose a letter from the Governor of Georgia of the 23d ultimo.2 I am sir, Most respectfully, Your obedient Servt

H. Knox


1The enclosure has not been identified, but an extract of the letter, certified by War Department clerk John Stagg, Jr., was sent with GW’s message to Congress of 20 May. Freeman stated that there was no longer any doubt that persons were recruiting in Georgia "a corps of troops for the service of France. . . . Officers have been appointed, and are now acting under the authority of the French republic. Parties of recruits have already marched to the rendezvous appointed for them. . . . An agent is appointed to furnish the supplies; and he has, for that purpose, received ten thousand dollars." One officer of the corps told Freeman "that large detachments had marched from the back settlements of South Carolina, and from the State of Kentucky; that the men were to be engaged for three months, and were to receive bounties of land in the provinces of East and West Florida, and Louisiana, which they were to conquer from the Spaniards." Freeman added, "It appears that the Spanish Government in the Floridas is greatly alarmed at the preparations which are making to invade these provinces; and the Governor of East Florida has made complaint to the Governor of this State, who has issued his proclamation, dated the fifth of last month, forbidding all persons joining these adventurers, or aiding or assisting them in any way whatever" (ASP, Foreign Relations 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 , 1:459).

2In the letter of 23 April, George Mathews acknowledged Knox’s letters of 20, 24, and 26 March and promised to carry into effect any of GW’s orders "not incompatable with the Laws and interest" of Georgia. He added: "From the present appearances of things, it is too much to be feared, the United States will be involved in a War; should that be the case the frontiers of Georgia will be much exposed to the inroads of the numerous tribes of Indians that are on our borders, and I am well perswaded that no means will be omitted on the part of the Spaniards and British to engage the Savages to take an active part.

"I have good information of the Spaniards having at this time a Considerable number of Creek Indians employed in their service on the Saint Mary’s, and who will no doubt be disposed of either in attacking our frontiers or in defending themselves as occasion may require.

"From these Circumstances, I flatter myself the president will see the real necessity of having the frontiers of Georgia put in a proper State of defence" (G-Ar: Governors’ Letterbooks).

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