George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Thomas Mifflin, 10 April 1795

From Thomas Mifflin

Philadelphia 10th April 1795:

Sir.

Inclosed I transmit copies of reports, which I have just received from Colonel Biddle1 and Captain Denny,2 respecting the state of the Garrison, and the Military and Quarter Master Stores, at Fort Le Boeuf, together with a copy of the remarks of Captn Denny, on the neighbouring Country, and the establishment proposed to be made at Presqu’-isle.3 An early knowledge of these communications, may facilitate the arrangements contemplated in the letter from the Secretary at War of the [ ] ultimo:4 and, as the Act for laying out the Town at Presqu’-isle will, probably, pass in a few days,5 I wish to submit to your consideration the propriety of supplying, without delay, the deficient stores enumerated in Captain Denny’s Return, that the opportunity of an easy transportation, during the Spring-floods, may not be lost. You will, doubtless, likewise, consider how far it may be advisable to take immediate measures for erecting a sawmill, and other improvements, on the spot intended to be allotted for the use of the General Government; but I am apprehensive, my power under the law will not extend to objects of that nature, though their utility is obvious.

As soon as the Act is passed, I shall request such information of the plan of the General Government, as will enable me to afford an effectual co-operation, in renewing the enlistments of the State Troops, and directing the proceedings of the Commissioners, appointed to lay out the town &c. at Presqu’-isle. In the meantime, permit me to call your attention to the necessity of supplying a competent Garrison for the Fort on Mud-Island. The Legislature, contemplating the cession of that Island to the General Government, by a Bill now depending, has made no provision for maintaining the party, stationed there, subsequent to the first instant; though certainly the preservation of the peace and neutrality of our Port, as much as ever, requires the establishment.6 I have the honor to be, With perfect respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant

Thomas Mifflin

LB, PHarH, Executive Letterbooks; LB (rough copy), PHarH, Executive Letterbooks; Df, PHarH, Executive Correspondence. The draft is in the hand of Alexander James Dallas.

1Mifflin enclosed a letter from Clement Biddle dated 9 April, which included a copy of the latest return Biddle had received from Fort Le Boeuf. On the back of the return was a list of supplies needed in case that garrison was ordered to go to Presque Isle. Biddle also had forwarded a letter addressed to him from Ebenezer Denny dated 12 March, which Biddle described as expressing “the want of about 50 or 60 Muskets or rifles and some Ammunition, and a Chest of Medicines and Surgeon’s Instruments.” Denny, said Biddle, also “suggests the propriety of building a Saw Mill at Presque Isle, for which purpose the Iron work complete and the saws are at Cussawaga, if not already at Le Beuf” (Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 2d ser., 6:858–61).

Denny’s letter to Biddle of 12 March also urged that “whatever stores are sent forward, ought to reach Pitt in next month, in order to embrace the spring floods” and hoped that Mifflin “would authorize a few artificers to be raised” (Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 2d ser., 6:857).

2Mifflin probably was referring to a letter from Denny dated 29 March, in which Denny reported on the recruits raised to maintain the post at Fort Le Boeuf (Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 2d ser., 6:858–59).

3Denny’s report on the neighboring country and proposed establishment at Presque Isle has not been identified, but for a discussion of Denny’s letter of 9 March to Timothy Pickering on that subject, see Pickering to GW, 27 March, and notes 1 and 2 to that document. Denny’s letter, dated 11 March, is in Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 2d ser., 6:861–62.

4Mifflin may have been referring to Pickering’s letter to him of 27 March. The secretary desired to know whether the military and quartermaster stores at Fort Le Boeuf could “be transferred, either on purchase or exchange, to the United States.” Pickering also inquired about roughly 100 state troops “now on foot” and engaged to continue in service “until the May next.” He desired information “whether that (or what) number is at Le Boeuf: and whether, at the expiration of their present engagements, they may probably be further engaged, as militia, to serve at that post & Presqu’ Isle, until the fort at the latter place shall be erected, when a small number of troops may suffice to defend it.” Pickering emphasized that GW was inclined “to establish a post at Presqu’ Isle; and is in doubt only about the means of obtaining a competent force to … garrison it, in the present reduced … state of the Legion” (MH: Frederick M. Dearborn Collection).

5On 18 April, Mifflin signed into law an act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly “to provide for laying out and establishing towns and out lots within the several tracts of land heretofore reserved for public uses, situated respectively at Presqu’-Isle, on Lake Erie, at the mouth of French creek, at the mouth of Conewango creek, and at Fort le Bœuf” (Pa. Acts, 1794–95 description begins Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Passed at a Session, Which Was Begun and Held at the City of Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Second Day of December, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Four, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the Nineteenth. Philadelphia, 1795. description ends , 757–64).

6On 16 April, Mifflin informed GW that “The General Assembly of Pennsylvania has passed a law, entitled, ‘An Act to cede to, and vest in, the United States of America, the island commonly called Mud-Island’” (LB, PHarH, Executive Letterbooks; LB [rough copy], PHarH, Executive Letterbooks; DfS, PHarH, Executive Correspondence. The draft is in the hand of Alexander James Dallas). For that act, see Pa. Acts, 1794–95 description begins Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Passed at a Session, Which Was Begun and Held at the City of Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Second Day of December, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Four, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the Nineteenth. Philadelphia, 1795. description ends , 720–21.

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