George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 25 June 1794

From Henry Knox

War department June 25, 1794


Last evening I received a letter from Major General Wayne dated the 26th of May, and from the Deputy Quarter Master General at Fort Washington dated the 31st of the same month. I enclose a copy of the General’s letter.1

General Scott would probably arrive at Fort Washington about the 6th instant, his instructions therefore would not militate with Wayne’s arrangements as the latter in a letter to Govr Shelby says that General Scott would expect to command.2

On the 13th of May some Savages attacked an escort carrying Provisions from Fort Washington to Fort Hamilton killed five out of six of the advanced Guard but were repulsed with the loss of one killed and six rifles taken, but they carried off some horses, so says Wilkinson.3

I have also another private letter from General Wilkinson4 in which he says on the subject of provisions

"The strife between the Contractors and the General appears to increase, but our provisions increase also, and I think all difficulty on this head must soon cease, as a competition in the purchase of Beef Cattle, has taken place between them, which must soon secure a sufficient stock."

The other parts of the letter complain of the detachment at Fort Massac as not being sufficient. That General Wayne had suspected that he, Wilkinson, had been the cause of the defaults of the Contractors.

I myself am pretty well convinced that the contractors will not fail for want of flour, as by the enclosed letter from Mr Williams it appears that they must have at Fort Washington and advanced of it, one year’s supply for five thousand Men—but the transpo. may be doubted.5

General Wayne’s intelligence of Simcoe’s being at the Miami rapids is drawn from a distant source, to wit, some reports at Cahokia on the Mississippi May the 6th and therefore not to be depended on. He appears to know nothing immediately from the rapids.6

I have received a letter from General Chapin dated the 12th Instant, a copy of which is enclosed. The narrative mentioned is not material excepting as to the dissatisfaction excited among the six nations by the Presq’ue Isle business and the confirmation of the british erecting a post at the Miami under the idea of its being an indian fortification.7 I have the honor to be Sir, with perfect respect Your obedient Servant

H. Knox


1Gen. Anthony Wayne’s letter to Knox of 26 May enclosed copies of his correspondence regarding supplies and of his correspondence with Kentucky governor Isaac Shelby about the Kentucky mounted militia, which Wayne had called up and believed "will probably be wanted to assist in repelling a premeditated attack upon the legion . . . not only from the Savages but from the British Troops as their Auxiliaries." He also enclosed documents about the "movements and conduct" of Spanish forces and reported intelligence from some Chickasaw chiefs that the Spanish "have taken post at the Chickasaw Bluff and distributed goods and presents to the Chickasaw Indians," who were "much divided thro the promises presents and intrigues of the Spaniards . . . there are five spanish Gallies now at the Mouth of the Ohio carrying a large number of Cannon and Sixty men each." Wayne described his instructions to Maj. Thomas Doyle and expressed "hope that there will be

Map 2. Northwest Territory, 1794. (Illustrated by Rick Britton. Copyright Rick Britton 2010.)

no mistake between the Spaniards and Major Doyle should they ascend the Ohio as far as Massac." Finally, Wayne reported that he had begun "a Citadel" at Greeneville (DLC:GW). The letter from the deputy quartermaster general at Fort Washington has not been identified. The quartermaster probably was John Belli (d. 1809), of Kentucky and later Ohio, who served as a deputy quartermaster general from April 1792 to November 1794.

2See Wayne to Shelby, 21 May (PHi: Wayne Papers).

3Gen. James Wilkinson’s letter to Knox on this subject has not been identified. The initial report to Wayne about the skirmish stated that the Indians killed "Eight Infantry and one Dragoon" and took "about 40 horses," while "it is said that two Indians were killed" (John F. Hamtramck to Wayne, 13 May, PHi: Wayne Papers).

4This letter has not been identified.

5The letter from Elie Williams to Knox of 21 June reported "that ten thousand Barrels of flour have been sent from Pittsburg to Fort Washington, since the first of January subject to no application but the subsistance of the Legion and its followers in that quarter . . . there is and will be an ample supply of that Article for the subsistance of the regular Troops and the Volunteers. The meat part of the supplies is drawn from Kentucky and Mr Elliot being now there or at Head Quarters, will be ready and able, with timely intimation from General Scott, to comply with any requisition he may have reason to make" (DLC:GW). Elie Williams (1750-1822) of Maryland was a brother of Otho Holland Williams. He and his partner Robert Elliot were contracted to supply provisions to western army posts.

6The rapids of the Maumee River, often called at this time the Miami River or Miami River of the Lake, begin near present Waterville, Ohio, and end near Perrysburg.

7The enclosed copy of Israel Chapin’s letter to Knox of 12 June, certified by War Department chief clerk John Stagg, Jr., reads: "I had the honor of informing you in my letter of the 7th Instant that on the return of Mr Ewings the person sent to upper Canada by me that I would communicate such information as I should receive by him—The enclosed is the Narrative that he has committed to paper since his return.

"The Council which was to have been held at Venango is to meet at Buffaloe Creek—I have already received three messages from the Indians requesting my immediate attendance—I was in hopes that I might have been able to put off going until the return of my Son, but this last message presses me in the most earnest manner to repair thither immediately and I shall accordingly start to morrow.

"I am afraid of the consequences of the attempt to settle Presquilse at present the Indians do not acknowledge the validity of the Cornplanters Sale to Pennsylvania.

"I shall inform you by Express of the result of the Treaty at Buffaloe Creek on my return to Canandarque" (DLC:GW).

William Ewing’s narrative has not been identified.

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