George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 17 October 1794

From Henry Knox

War department, October 17th 1794.


I have the honor to transmit you, enclosed, copies of two letters received from Governor Blount dated the 21st, and 22d of September last; also a letter from Major Craig of the 10th instant; and one from Alexander Macomb of New York dated the 15th.1 I am Sir, with the highest respect, Your most obedt Servant.

H. Knox


1All four enclosures are in DLC:GW. William Blount’s letter to Knox of 21 Sept. reported “a continuance of Indian depredations—On the 6th instant a Negro woman belonging to Peter Turney, who lives in the district of Mero near Sumner County Court house was stole by Indians, and on the 18th—Walker was captured by Indians on the frontiers of Hawkins as he passed from his own house to that of a neigbour. And by the Maw by way of the Tellico Block house. I am informed that a small party from the Running water town are out for satisfaction for a fellow killed by Capt. Evans on Cumberland mountain. The fellow killed by Captain Evans had stole horses from Hinds’s pasture as before reported to you and was overtaken and killed with the horses in his possession.”

Blount’s letter to Knox of 22 Sept. reported the destruction of two Cherokee towns by Tennessee militia: “I am informed by such authority as may be depended upon, but not officially, that a detachment of the Militia of Mero district by order of General Robertson lately pursued the trail of a party of Indians to the Tennessee near Nickajack and crossed over and destroyed the Towns of Nickajack and Running water, killed upwards of fifty Indians and carried twenty prisoners to Nashville. I expect an official account in a few days which I shall embrace the earliest opportunity to forward to you—In the mean time I assure you that if General Robertson has given an Order for the destruction of these towns that he is not warranted in so doing by any order from me.”

In addition to reporting his preparations for apprehending Robert Newman, a deserter from Anthony Wayne’s army (as requested in John Stagg, Jr.’s letter to Craig of 4 Oct., PPi: Isaac Craig Papers; see also Wayne to Knox, 14 Aug., MB: Chamberlain Collection), Isaac Craig wrote to Knox that “The Leaders of the insurrection, in order to escape punishment, are using means to deceive the President into an opinion that the People of this Country are in a state of submission to the Laws of the United States, whilst nothing is more certain than, although they have desisted from burning houses &c. they generally declare that an Officer of the Excise shall not exist amongst them, and notwithstanding the Army intended for their Suppression has advanced to Carlisle they are still of Opinion it will never cross the Mountains.”

Before and during the American Revolution, Alexander Macomb (1748–1831) was a prosperous merchant and fur trader at Detroit. After the Revolution he relocated to New York City, where his mansion was leased by GW in 1790 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:26). However, his extensive speculations in land and public securities left him bankrupt in the Panic of 1792.

Macomb wrote Knox: “I have this moment recd a letter from Niagara of 22d Ulto in which is the following paragraph.

‘Our Governor is now on his way to Detroit, to make some arrangements which I hope will conduce to a peace between the Americans and Indians.’

I thought proper to mention this to you altho it can be but of little service. If Gr Simcoes intentions are at present friendly they are suddenly changed.”

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