George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 15 May 1794

From Henry Knox

War Department May 15. 1794


I have the honor to submit to your consideration the drafts of letters to General Wayne and the Governor of Kentuckey, and also a draft of the instructions for General Scott.1 I have the honor to be with the highest respect Sir Your most obedt servt

H. Knox


1The drafts have not been identified. The entry for 16 May in GW’s journal of proceedings records that he "Read & approved (with the alterations which were suggested)" the three enclosed documents (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 303).

As finally sent, Knox’s letter to Anthony Wayne of 16 May regretted the "suicide of Captain Stiff Knee the Seneca" within Wayne’s camp, opined that the Indians would "continue their wanton barbarities" until they were convinced by a "severe example" that "tranquillity" was in their interest, and stated that "Upon the most mature consideration of this subject the President of the United States has conceived that the national interests and dignity are intimately blended with the measure of terminating the western Indian war during the course of the present year.

"The necessity of such an event is greatly enhanced by the consideration of the critical position of our affairs with some of the European powers."

Knox continued by giving Wayne authority to call for 2,000 mounted volunteers in accord with the ideas expressed in Knox’s letter to GW of 12 May and the cabinet opinion of 13 May. He enclosed a copy of his orders to the quartermaster general, noting that "the expence of every supply in the advanced posts, is in itself a strong reason of closing the war, but there are other circumstances which render the measure indispensible. . . . On this head the President conceives you will want no further incitement. The measure if practicable at all, must be decided the present year, provided means adequate to that end can be procured."

Knox also addressed arrangements for the supply and pay of Wayne’s troops; discussed army appointments, noting among other things that "The President has not thought proper at present to nominate a Brigadier General in the room of Brigadier Posey resigned, the incomplete state of the legion does not seem to require that measure"; and directed Wayne’s attention to the problem that some officers "coming home apparently on their own business" had taken advantage of "some implication" in Wayne’s orders to "obtain a compensation as coming upon extra and special service" (PHi: Wayne Papers; see also Knopf, Wayne, 327-32).

Knox’s letter of 16 May to Kentucky governor Isaac Shelby read in part: "Much complaint has been made by travellers from Kentucky thro’ the Wilderness against the Officers and Garrisons of the Posts which have been there established under your orders at the expence of the United States—It is said that every species of discipline and protection is wanting, and that at times officers and men are absent upon their own concerns, almost to a total dereliction of the places intrusted to them. I have conceived it to be my duty to make this communication. And at the same time in the name and authority of the President of the United States to confide to your judgment whether the said posts shall be reestablished, and if so, whether it would not be better to have three instead of two, each to consist of one Subaltern one Serjeant one Corporal and fifteen privates—It would be proper to devise some mode to muster and inspect the Garrisons and to mulct as a deserter, any absentee, unless upon some necessary occasion, as connected with the objects of his duty.

"Major General Wayne has been written to not to interfere in the defensive protection of Kentuckey which is hereby in the name of the President confided to your Excellency under the following general principles": blockhouses allowed every 25 miles, garrisoned as indicated above; four scouts "allowed for the intermediate distance between each Blockhouse"; the troops to be sworn to perform their duty and to be mustered and inspected every two months; and the pay abstracts to be made up every two months and certified by Shelby, who would submit them to the army paymaster for prompt payment (DNA: RG 94, Miscellaneous File).

The instructions to Charles Scott, dated 17 May, called on him to "make in Kentucky . . . provisionary arrangements" to engage 2,000 volunteers to serve four months, the final arrangements to be dependent on Wayne’s orders, and gave Scott detailed information about appointments and pay (PHi: Wayne Papers).

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