George Washington Papers

Enclosure I: Timothy Pickering to Henry Knox, 20 September 1794

Enclosure I
Timothy Pickering to Henry Knox

Kanandaiguay [N.Y.] September 20th 1794


I arrived here yesterday. Two or three hours before, two runners arrived from the Indian Council at Buffaloe Creek, with their answer to your invitation to meet me at Kanandaiguay for the purposes therein mentioned. They apologized for the delay in sending their answer, by saying that they had waited the arrival of the Chief (meaning Cornplanter) by whom their former speech on the subject had been delivered. They say that they had explicitly declared that the place of treaty must be at Buffaloe Creek—that this was their determination: and they desire me to meet them there.1 I shall return an answer to day—which of course will be that I cannot meet them at Buffaloe Creek and give such reasons as occur, why they should assemble at Kanandaiguay—Notwithstanding their apparent determination announced by the runners General Chapin is confident that they will come to this place.2

Three or four days ago, a man and his sister whose release from captivity he had obtained, passed thro this place from the Westward. The Man had been working at the Fort built by Simcoe at the foot of the rapids of the Miami. He said General Waynes Army fought a body of Indians within sight of the fort—that the Horsemen had nearly surrounded and made a great slaughter of them—that a Man whom he saw at Fort Erie told him he saw from the fort, the horsemen pursuing and cutting up the Indians—Another Man whom General Wayne had employed as a spy passed by the way of Genesee and gave a similar account to James Wadsworth who related it to Thomas Morris, from whom I have received it.3

The runners have told General Chapin that Colonel Simcoe called the Buffaloe Creek Indians to a Council at Fort Erie and gave them an account of a battle near his fort; acknowledging that Wayne had driven the Indians; but saying that he had killed but twenty two of them while they had killed upwards of three hundred of the American Army. That tho the fort he had built there had but few Soldiers in it, yet that the Americans had not attempted to take it and that now he was going to make it very strong.

The information here is, that Simcoe has sent almost all his regular troops to the Westward and followed them in person calling out the Militia to garrison Niagara and the other posts in that quarter. I am respectfully Sir Your most obedt servant

signed. Timothy Pickering

Copy, DLC:GW.

1Knox wrote Israel Chapin on 25 July to invite the Six Nations to attend a meeting at Canandaigua on 8 Sept., “for the purpose of amicably removing all causes of misunderstanding and establishing permanent peace and friendship between the United States and the Six Nations” (NHi: Henry O’Reilly Collection). The runners probably were referring to the speech that Cornplanter had addressed to GW from the conference at Buffalo Creek on 4 July (Knox to GW, 16 July, n.1).

2Pickering wrote a second letter to Knox on this date (also enclosed) reporting that when he delivered his answer, “The Runners then took out another bunch of strings, all white and said the Chiefs directed them to tell me, that if it was not in my power to confer with them at Buffaloe Creek they would meet me at Kanandaiguay, for they were very desirous of conferring with me.” Pickering estimated, “It will take the runners two days and an half to return; and the Indians as they travel with their Women and Children and are never in a hurry may be a week on their march—the distance about One hundred Miles.” A postscript added that “Capt. Brant is gone Westward to meet the Lake Indians” (DLC:GW).

3Neither of the two men reporting news of the Battle of Fallen Timbers, nor the sister of the first, have been identified. James Wadsworth (1768–1844), a 1787 graduate of Yale University, was acting as a land agent in the Genesee area for his relative Jeremiah Wadsworth, an investor in the Phelps and Gorham Purchase in that region. Thomas Morris (1771–1849) was acting as agent in the area for his father, Robert Morris, who had made substantial land purchases from Phelps and Gorham. Thomas Morris reported the news he had received of Wayne’s “very important Victory” in a letter of this date to an unknown correspondent: “Wayne is said to have slaughtered a number of them to have driven them 12 Miles back as far as the fort & to have destroyed all their Cornfields. the Indians had been emboldened to the Attack by their friends the brittish a Company of their Militia headed by its regular officer all painted together with various other Brittish Subjects are said to have been in the Engagement, four of them were taken prisoners and hung” (N: manuscript 11203).

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