George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 3 November 1779

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters West Point Novr 3d 1779

Sir,

I have taken the liberty to inclose, for the consideration of Congress, the Memorial of Colo. Hazen in behalf of Capt. Joseph Louis Gill Chief of the Abenecke or St Francois Tribe of Indians. The fidelity and good services of this Chief, and those of his Tribe, are fully set forth in the Memorial.1 I have taken upon me to order the subsistence of them till the further pleasure of Congress be known:2 And I would beg leave to recommend the measure, pointed out in the Memorial, of giving this Indian a command, with liberty to engage such a number of his Tribe as are willing to take a part with him. These people will not only be really useful, but there is policy in the measure, as they will in a manner, ensure the neutrality of those of their Allies who remain in Canada. He has heard that Continental Commissions have been granted to some Chiefs of the Northern Indians, and therefore expects something of the same nature. I imagine he would be contented with the rank of Major, to which he thinks himself intitled as having been a long time a Captain. I shall be glad to be favored with the determination of Congress upon this subject; and should they incline to grant the request of the Memorial, I would wish that they may at the same time specify the allowance that shall be made to the Indians for their services.3 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellency’s Most Obet servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read GW’s letter on 13 Nov. and referred it to the Board of War (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1263).

1The enclosed memorial has not been identified. For an earlier expression of Joseph Louis Gill’s loyalty to the American cause, see Timothy Bedel to GW, 5 Nov. 1778; see also Jacob Bayley to GW, 23 Nov. 1778.

2See GW to Moses Hazen, 6 Nov., and notes 1 and 3 to that document.

3Congress acted favorably on GW’s recommendations on 7 April 1780 when it passed a resolution reported from the Board of War: “That a commission of major, to be dated the first of May, 1779, be granted to Joseph Louis Gill, an Indian chief of the St. François tribe, and that all Indians of that tribe who are willing to enter into the service of the United States, be collected and formed into a company or companies under the command of the said Joseph Louis Gill, and receive while in service the like pay, subsistance, and rations, with the officers and soldiers of the continental army.

“That the Board of War be authorized and directed to fill up commissions for one captain and two subalterns, to be appointed to the said company or companies of St. François Indians, when proper characters are recommended to them to hold such commissions” (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 16:334–35; see also Huntington to GW, 13 April 1780, in DLC:GW). For Gill’s subsequent and obviously unexpected cooperation with the British, see John C. Huden, “The White Chief of the St. Francis Abnakis—Some Aspects of Border Warfare: 1690–1790,” Vermont History 24 (1956): 199–210, 337–55.

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