George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Benedict Arnold, 21 June 1778

To Major General Benedict Arnold

June 21: 1778. 10 Miles from Coryels [N.J.]

Dr Sir

This will be delivered you by Major Wemp who has the conduct & care of some Warriors from the Seneca Nation—who are also accompanied by a few of our Oneida & Tuscarora Friends. The inclosed Extract of a Letter from our Indian Commissioners at Albany, will inform you of the Senecas’s business in this Quarter.1 I cannot give them the smallest account of Astiarix of whom they are in pursuit, nor did I ever hear of his captivity till I was advised of it a few days ago by Genl Schuyler. They have been treated with civility, but at the same time I told them of their Hostilities, and that as soon as the British Army were gone, If they did not immediately cease them, I would turn our whole force against them & the other Indian Nations who have taken a like blody part against us and cut them to pieces. They have also had a view of the main body of the Army and been told of our great resources of Men, and number of Troops elsewhere. I hope This circumstance with the evacuation of philadelphia and their own evidence of it, added to our civilities & some presents, will have a happy effect upon the temper and disposition of their Nation when they return. I wish you to order them such Trinkets &c. as you may judge necessary, keeping up however a distinction between them & the Oneid⟨as, &⟩ Tuscarora’s who are our Friends. I would have the favors & presents to these greatly to exceed. Majr Wemp has dispatches from the Sachems for all the Warriors & Men, here before, to return Home immediately. Such as remain, I beleive are with Monsr Tussard; I shall be glad that you will have them collected and have them well presented, after which they may return to their nation in obedience to their Sachems orders if they incline. I have given the Senecas a Letter to Congress respecting Astiarix’s releasement if he can be found.2

I received your favor yesterday. If Morgan’s corps could have been on the rear of the Enemy they might have harrassed them, but not without considerable risk. They are now advancing as the whole Army is to the Delaware. We have been much impeded by the rain. The Troops with Genl Lee crossed the River last night. I am in haste Dr Sir with great regard & esteem Yr Most Obedt Se[rvan]t

Go: Washington

you will be pleased to give the necessary orders for their being supplied with provision while in Philaa & on their way to Congress.

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets is missing from the mutilated draft and has been taken from the Varick transcript.

2See GW to Henry Laurens, this date. GW’s aide James McHenry wrote an account of GW’s meeting with the Indians in his diary entry for this date: “In the Morning as we were about to move, we were stopped by a deputation from the Seneca, Tuscarora and Oneida Indians, who request an audience of the General. Their Speaker informs the General that the Indians which he represents are now at War with the Americans but that this circumstance did not prevent him from trusting himself with his Enemy when in Search of the Warior Astiarix, whom he understood was a Prisoner with the Americans. As he came upon a Peacefull errand, he had relied upon protection, & he had got it. As he came to seek his Freind & a Warrior, he was sure that the great American Warrior woud not with-hold his Freind whom he sought. They were both great Warriors, & must know each other, & must both be inspired by the same generous Sentiments. I ask nothing but Astiarix, and I do not ask him but upon such conditions as you may impose. We are willing to deliver up one of our Cheifs in his Stead, or to ransom him with our Property—You can ask no more—If this will not do, and you shoud have doomed Astiarix to die, I am sure he will not forget the Nation to which he belongs, nor his great Deeds in Battle. You may torment him—but he will allways be Astiarix, and his Nation will never forget his Ashes, nor the Hand which Scatters them to the Winds.

“His Excellency replied to this bold & animated Speech through the interpreter—that he did not know any thing of the Warrior Astiarix—that perhaps he might be in Virginia; that he was sorry to be at War with the Senecas Tuscororas & Neidas, & that he wished to bury the Hatchet. He then desired the Indian to observe the Army (which was drawn up & ready to March) suggesting that if Peace cou’d not be made upon reasonable terms with the Indians, he must send those men, pointing to the Troops, to make it. The Indian then took leave, & the army took up its line of march” (NN: Emmet Collection; see also McHenry, Journal, 2).

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