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Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on Call for Volunteers from Kentucky, 13 May 1794

Cabinet Meeting.
Opinion on Call for Volunteers from Kentucky

[Philadelphia] May 13. 1794

At a meeting of the heads of the departments and the attorney General, at the house of the President of the United States, the subject of affording an auxiliary force to Major General Wayne1 for the purpose of enabling him to make a vigorous and offensive campaign against the hostile Indians being considered, it was advised, that he be authorised, to call for two thousand mounted volunteers from Kentucky, for the period of four months, if he should judge the measure expedient.

Alex Hamilton Edm: Randolph
Wm Bradford H Knox

LS, in the handwriting of Henry Knox, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1Major General Anthony Wayne had been appointed commander of the newly reorganized United States Army on April 11, 1792. The proposed campaign against the western Indians had been delayed during 1793 while the United States commissioners, Timothy Pickering, Benjamin Lincoln, and Beverley Randolph, engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to make peace. (For the abortive treaty, see “Conversation with George Hammond,” November 22, December 15–28, 1792, February 24-March 7, 1793; H to Hammond, December 29, 1792; “Draft of Instructions for William Hull,” January 14, 1793; Hull to H, February 6, 1793; George Washington to H, February 17, 1793; “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion Respecting the Proposed Treaty with the Indians Northwest of the Ohio,” February 25, 1793; Arthur St. Clair to H, August 9, 1793.) On August 21, 1793, the commissioners informed Knox of the failure of the negotiations (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Indian Affairs, I, 359–60), and Wayne renewed his preparations for the campaign. On March 20, 1794, he wrote to Knox from his headquarters at Greeneville in the Ohio country that “The Enemy are now assembling in force & will constantly increase in Numbers, from the positive promise, of a plentiful supply of Provisions … on the part of the British Indian agent Colo. [Alexander] McKee—whilst the Army will melt away to an alarming degree in the course of a few weeks, from the daily expirations on the term of inlistments.… The aggregate of our effective Regular force … will not exceed Two thousand men.… I have had in contemplation to call out Five Hundred Mounted Volunteers from Kentucky & to employ a number of Chickasaw Indians, but … I have some doubts upon my mind respecting the propriety of the Measure, & have therefore determined to wait for further orders upon the Occasion …” (Knopf, Wayne description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed., Anthony Wayne: A Name in Arms; Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; the Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence (Pittsburgh, 1960). description ends , 311–13).

On May 12, 1794, Knox submitted to Washington a report which, among other matters, suggested “That it … appears indispensible … that Major General Wayne should be possessed of a force, not only to take, without material risque, the posts contemplated at the Miami Villages, and at the mouth of the Au Glaize, but also that he should have, after garrisoning the same, a force remaining superior in numbers, supplies, and equipments, to any probable combination of the indian tribes.

“That no appearances justify the hope of a sufficient number of recruits, being inlisted to complete the legion in season, or, indeed, to replace the soldiers, whose terms of service have expired, and are about expiring.

“That under the circumstances of the case, the only solid expectation of an adequate auxiliary force is to be derived from the mounted volunteers of Kentucky.…

“That it therefore appears that the number of One thousand five hundred mounted volunteers, non commissioned and privates, ought forthwith to be engaged, in Kentucky, for the period of four months, from the time they should join the headquarters of Major General Wayne.…” (DS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.)

On May 16, 1794, Washington “Read & approved (with alterations which were suggested) the … letter from the Secretary of War to Genl. Wayne…” (JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 272). Knox’s letter to Wayne is dated May 16, 1794 (Knopf, Wayne description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed., Anthony Wayne: A Name in Arms; Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; the Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence (Pittsburgh, 1960). description ends , 327–32).

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