George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 5 August 1794

From Henry Knox

War department August 5th 1794


I have the honor to submit a letter from Mr O Hara Quarter Master General containing the confirmation of the affair at Fort Recovery, also letters from Major Craig and Lieut. Colonel Butler.1

Ensign Semple2 who came express with these papers says that General Neville and Major Lennox intended to go as low as Washington and then cross the Country. That he learnt at Greensburg that the Insurgents had burnt Wells’ house an excise officer, and that after that they had generally dispersed.3 I have the honor to be with the highest respect Your humble Servant

H. Knox


1James O’Hara’s letter has not been identified, but it presumably relayed the information contained in Gen. Anthony Wayne’s letter to him of 4 July discussing an attack of between 1,000 and 1,500 Indians on an army escort near Fort Recovery on the morning of 30 June, followed by "a General assault from all quarters upon that Post, in which they were repuls’d with considerable Slaughter." The Indians continued to fire on the fort until they retreated on the afternoon of 1 July, and the army’s casualties in the engagements were 21 killed and 29 wounded (PPi: Isaac Craig Papers). The incident was reported unofficially in Philadelphia newspapers by 2 Aug. and confirmed on 6 Aug. from "Official information . . . received at the War Office," probably O’Hara’s letter (Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 2 Aug.; General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 6 Aug.). For Gen. Anthony Wayne’s report to Knox, dated 7 July, see Knopf, Wayne, 345-49. For a report from the Indian perspective, see Thomas Duggan to Joseph Chew, 10 July, in Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Historical Collections, 12(1908):121-22.

Isaac Craig’s letter to Knox of 28 July reported the robbery of the mail near Greensburg, Pa., on 26 July, and enclosed duplicates of his letter of 25 July and enclosures, which he feared lost. The letter of 25 July enclosed various returns of stores and vouchers, gave news of the flight from Pittsburgh of John Nevill and David Lenox, noticed threats to Presley Nevill and himself, and reported that "The Civil Officers & officers of the militia are either unwilling to incur the displeasure of the insurgents or afraid to do their duty" (both T: James Robertson Papers).

The letter from Thomas Butler has not been identified.

2Robert Semple, Jr. (1772-1813) of Pennsylvania was appointed an ensign in the 1st sublegion in May of this year. He remained in the army until October 1800, being promoted to lieutenant in 1797.

3In addition to burning Benjamin Wells’s house and barn, the insurgents reportedly burned clothing and bedding, broke furniture, and destroyed pots and hardware. Wells claimed his damages from this incident amounted to $1,553.50. He received $827.50 as compensation from the government in 1795 and 1796 (depositions of John and Jemimah Woodruff, 27 Nov. 1800, and Wells to U.S. Congress, n.d., DNA: RG 233, HR21A-G3.1, "Wells, Benjamin").

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