George Washington Papers

Enclosure II: Israel Chapin to Henry Knox, 17 September 1794

Enclosure II
Israel Chapin to Henry Knox

Canandarqua [N.Y.] September 17th 1794


Since my last I have endeavored to obtain every information from the Westward in my power Mr Wm Ewing having been employed in that quarter returned last evening and the minutes he has made are enclosed, and also the Copy of a letter from Captain Brant. I have had the accounts respecting Genl Waynes Action with the hostile Indians several ways, the particulars are mentioned in Mr Ewings minutes.1

I first had the account by the Indians from Buffaloe Creek and also by a Man and his Sister from Detroit (the latter having been a prisoner among the Indians three Years.) and I have no doubt respecting the Truth of it.

Since the Indians were first invited to the Treaty, the British have endeavoured, if possible to prevent their attending and used every exertion to persuade them to join the hostile Indians at the Westward, till at last they found the Indians would not generally join in the War. The Governor then told them in Council at Fort Erie that they might attend the Treaty and if anything was given them by the Americans to take it &c. &c.

About one hundred and fifty of the Indians came to this place from Geneseo River in order to attend the Treaty but it did not commence at the time stipulated and I thought it best for them to return to Geneseo River and come on again with those from the Westward, to which they readily consented.

The Indians will generally attend the Treaty in my opinion or the best part of them viz. such as are generally in Council and the best friends to the United States.

The Goods and Stores forwarded by Colonel Pickering have arrived and we daily expect him. and the Indians I believe will attend from Buffaloe Creek and also from Alleghany in the course of eight or ten days. I have the honour to be Sir with respect, Your obedt & hble Servant

signed. Israel Chapin

N.B. Sir After Mr Ewing returned and this letter written an Indian came in from Buffaloe Creek and informed that Captain Brant had gone to meet the Lake Indians agreeably to promise and that he had taken with him but 8 or 10 Warriors, and enjoined it strongly on the Chiefs at Buffaloe Creek to attend the Treaty at Canandarqua and that he should return as soon as possible: and I cannot but hope through the whole of his conduct it will appear to be advantageous to the United States. and after all the intrigues that have been used I cannot believe that but very few of the Indians on our side of the lake have joined in the War with the hostile Indians.

Your’s as above. I.C.

Copy, DLC:GW; Df, NHi: Henry O’Reilly Collection. The draft lacks the postscript.

1William Ewing was an early settler at Geneseo, N.Y., where he acted as a surveyor. His report to Chapin, dated 17 Sept., reads: “agreeable to your request of the 26th ultimo I left this place to go and see Capt. Brandt and bring him forward to Canandarqua if possible. As I passed through Buffaloe Creek Settlement I was told by red jacket, one of the Seneca chiefs, that the Indians at that place and the Six nations, in different parts of the Country around, had yet not determined whether they would attend the Treaty at Canandarqua or not, that they were waiting for Captn OBail and other chiefs to come in whose arrival was hourly expected, when they should determine what answer to send to your invitation though himself and many others from the first had determined to attend your Council fire—I was told also by young Jemmeson, a Seneca Indian who you know, that Coll Butler left that place a few hours before I arrived, who had been in council with the Indians for some days past and that he the said Jemmeson was of an opinion, Butler was trying to stop the Indians from going to the Treaty at Canandarqua, and that he did not beleive they would go himself. I from this place crossed the river on to the British side and proceeded down the river to Niagara fort—I found the British had been much alarmed at General Wayne’s advancing into the Indian country—The news was that Wayne had had an engagement with the Indians, that the action commenced in what is called the Glaize, that it was a very severe fought action on both sides, but on the whole Wayne had defeated and completely routed the Indians and drove them six or seven miles down the miami of the Lakes, below the Fort at the rapids, built by the British, and that he demanded the fort as he passed by it, but the officer commanding it refused to comply with his request, and passed on in pursuit of the Indians without doing any damage to the Fort. That the loss on both sides was considerable, some said one hundred Indians some 150 and some 60. some 35. &ca—among the rest a number of principal Chiefs but I beleive from the best information I got, there is between eighty and one hundred missing—the loss on Waynes side is said to be two or three hundred—but the best and the information I most depended on was, as I was returning from Niagara I lodged at what is called the Chippewa fort, at the head of the Falls, at the head of the carrying place, I over heard a Mister Powel, who had just arrived from Detroit relating to an officer the news of that Country, a part of it was, he thought there were eighty or ninety Indians and whites lost, in the late action with General Wayne—he also said there was no depending on the Militia to defend the post in that Country—Governor Simcoe had called out the Militia of the Country about Niagara, it was said to man the post there or to send up to Detroit, but upon hearing that Genl Wayne had returned back to his Forts, some were discharged and some had deserted, about 60 or 70 were yet in the Barracks, so that all movements seem to be suspended for the present. I from Niagara proceeded to the head of Lake Ontario, about 20 miles from Capt. Brandts settlement, at which place I got certain information that Capt. Brandt was set off for Detroit—that he had been gone for a few days—I was told also he wrote you a letter before he set off, and that it was in the hands of a Doctr Carr which I afterwards got, it was said Brandts object was to meet the Southern Indians at Detroit, though I believe he has taken an 150 or 200 Warriors with him, but his object will be known in a future day—I returned by Niagara and Buffaloe Creek—I was told at Niagara that Governor Simcoe would set off for Detroit in a day or two, to meet Capt. Brandt and other Indians at that place, and to strengthen the Forts. On the 13th inst. Simcoe arrived at Fort Erie opposite Buffaloe Creek and Colo. McKee from Detroit met him there the day following—he called over the Indians from Buffaloe Creek to a Council with him and McKee—Simcoe told the Indians where he was going and that he intended making his forts stronger and to put more men into them, so that if Wayne should return again, he would not be able to injure them—that the Fort at the Miami was not strong—nor many men in it when Wayne passed it now, but he intended making it very strong now, so that he would protect the Indians for the future—he told them the Indians had lost but thirty five warriors and four or five white men in the late engagement with Genl Wayne, and that Wayne had lost between two and three hundred, that he would not have drove them, only the Indians were not all collected, but he said times would soon alter, for the Indians were collecting from all quarters and from all Nations, and were coming in daily, and here he observed Capt. Brandt was gone up with a number of warriors, and that the determination of the Indians was to give Genl Wayne a decisive stroke, and drive him out of the Country this fall—this it appears was the news Colo. McKee brought. It was told me by one of the Indians who was at the Council, the next day Simcoe and McKee sailed for Detroit—after this Council I saw the Red-Jacket, and he informed me the Indians would all go to the Treaty at Canandarqua—that the next day they would go into council among themselves, and agree upon the time they should start and the place they would meet &ca, and in two days time they would send off a runner to inform you, but upon the whole there was no doubt, but they would all attend the Treaty, but my opinion is it will be fifteen or twenty days before they all collect. I cannot perceive any difference in the Indians at Buffoloe Creek, they appear as friendly as ever and I do not think they wish a disturbance with the United states, was it not for the British—As to Brandt although he is now gone away to the Southward, and cannot attend this Treaty, and every appearance is hostile, yet I cannot but entertain favorable ideas of his conduct and peaceable wishes to the United states—he acts open and candid, and the part he is now acting it appears to me he is rather forced into by the British and the promises he has formerly made to the southern Indians, though his conversation I have formerly had with him and what I have heard he has said in many places appears to me, his real wish and desire is that a lasting peace may take place between the United states and the Indian nations in general, and that although he now acts the part of a Warrior, that he would be as willing to take hold of the Olive branch of peace as the bloody Tomahawk” (DLC:GW).

Joseph Brant’s letter to Chapin of 2 Sept. complained “that the President of the United States does not seem to come to the main point in question (the line that was proposed) however attentive he may be in other matters,” and stated, “I cannot possibly attend the Treaty at Canandarquay being obliged to meet the Lake Indians according to promise, but should the President of the United States agree to the line proposed and a meeting held at Buffaloe Creek to complete this desireable object, my most cordial sanction shall not be wanting, and my most strenuous exertions shall be used to complete the good work of peace provided the proposed line formerly marked out be the basis of the Treaty, and the boundary line between the United States and the Indian Nations” (DLC:GW).

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