George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Guy Carleton, 31 March 1783

New York March 31st 1783


I have received from General Haldimand a paper of so interesting a nature as to require the communication of it’s contents to your Excellency, a copy of which, with an extract of the letter that accompanied it, I therefore enclose.

To your Excellency’s consideration these papers must be referred, but I cannot help wishing and expecting, that such measures will be adopted as may put a stop to those calamities, from which I was always persuaded neither party cou’d derive much benefit, in any stage of the war, but the present situation leaves not the least pretence for continuing those barbarities on that unhappy frontier, on the contrary, seems very strongly to urge the most healing measures, & the closing up of those wounds with all possible diligence.

Your Excellency will find that General Haldimand has received no official dispatches for a considerable time past, or advices whatever which he can depend on. With respect to myself, I have also no official advices since those I last communicated to your Excellency, & have consequently none to communicate to General Haldimand of much importance. It is therefore from you, Sir, he must hear of peace, accompanied with the fruits of peace, benevolence, it’s most pleasing, as well as most unquestionable evidence. I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

Guy Carleton

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


17 February 1783

Extract of a letter from Gen. Haldimand to Sir Guy Carleton dated Quebc Feby 17th 1783

"I have very lately received letters from Brigadier General McLean, commanding in the upper Country, accompanied by a speech from the six nation Indians, so strongly expressive of their resentment at, and determination to retaliate the late barbarity committed by the Virginians, in the total destruction of a Shawanese settlement (standing Stone Village) and the indiscriminate massacre of all it’s inhabitants; that I think it my duty to the King’s Service to communicate their resolution to you, for the purpose of representing to General Washington the fatal consequences which must unavoidably follow the unwarrantable advantage which has been taken of my restraining, (in consequence of orders from the King’s Minister) the Light troops and Indians from offensive war in that Quarter. I have employed every argument, in my power to suggest, to dissuade the Indians from their purpose; at the same time I cannot passively look on and see their country ravaged, their women and children murdered for their attachment to the royal cause, I have therefore promised to assist them with troops and by every means in my power to oppose the incursions of the Enemy into their Country, & I shall most faithfully perform it. The difficulty & uncertainty of communicating at this distance with General Washington prevents my addressing him myself upon this interresting subject, but your situation affords a facility of doing it, which I request you will improve should you, as I do, think it necessary for the King’s Service, for which purpose I enclose to you an extract of the speech delivered by the six nations.

Reports have lately circulated here that Charles Town is evacuated, that the french fleet and army have departed for the West Indies, that Lord Howe has effectually relieved Gibraltar, and obtained some advantage over the combined fleet, with many others that may be equally true or false, and which I can neither confirm or contradict not having received the least official communication from any Quarter."


11 December 1782

Extract of a Speech delivered to Brigadier General Maclean by the principal Chiefs and Warriors of the Six Nation Indians, assembled in Council at Niagara N.Y. the 11th December 1782


We thank the great Spirit for this opportunity of meeting the General and the other Officers here assembled on this particular occasion, as it gives us the power of laying before him and Colonel Butler, the Result of our deliberations in a late Council of the Chiefs—held at one of our Villages in consequence of Intelligence we received from our Brothers the Shawenese informing us of their late misfortune, their lower town having been cut off by the perfidious, cruel Rebels, at a time when they and we were forbid to go to War, and directed to cease Hostilities by the great General of our Brother the King of England, and upon our agreeing to obey the Orders of the General, the perfidious Rebels have taken the advantage of our inactivity, and have come like Thieves in the night, when the Shawanese Warriors were out at their hunting Grounds, surrounded one of their towns, and murdered all the Women and children—We therefore think it proper to acquaint you that you may let the great General know, that we shall remain no longer idle and see our Brethren and people destroyed by these cruel Rebels—since the fate they have met with may be our’s next, if we do not go to War to prevent it—We therefore desire that you will request the great General, in our name to assist us heartily in sharping our Axe.

We have already mentioned unto you the Cruelties committed by the Rebels upon our younger Brothers the Shawanese, & we are persuaded there is no reliance to be had on the faith or promises of the Rebels, whose unparallelled Cruelty lately destroyed the poor innocent Moravian Indians, their near neighbours, who never went to War against them, or any other people, yet under the cloak of Friendship, they murdered them in cold blood, and reduced their Bones to ashes that the Murder might not be discovered.

In the year 1779 when the Rebels attacked the Villages of the six nations, their cruelty was equally great, for at the Onandago Town (of which I am one of the principal chiefs) they put to death all the Women and Children, excepting some of the young Women whom they carried away for the use of their Soldiers, & were afterwards put to death in a more shameful manner. Yet these People call themselves Christians. We have been so often deceived by the Rebels that we can no longer trust to their Words, and we find by sad experience that the Enemy profit by our laying still and following the advice of the General—We are therefore resolved that, in future, we will act upon their own principle, and shew them no lenity or mercy, and hope for Assistance from the great General, and that he will not find fault with us for following the Example of the Rebels—And that we have hitherto, in general, refrained from retaliating their Crueltys, except in the instance of Colonel Crawford, the principal Agent in the murder of the Moravians; and he was burned with Justice and according to our Custom; yet we make no doubt the Rebels will imagine that our not going to War proceeds from fear—We therefore purpose to send a Flag to them to acquaint them, that we shall in future follow the Example set us by themselves, seeing it is their intention to destroy the Indians and possess themselves of their Country.

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