George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 6 June 1791

From Henry Knox

War Department [Philadelphia], June 6th 1791.

Sir,

On the 30th of the last month I had the honor to submit to you, a general view of the Affairs in my department—Nothing material has occurred since.

The frontiers seem to be quiet—Major General Butler in a letter dated at Fort Pitt, on the 22d ultimo says “that a boat has this day arrived up the river in 22 days from Fort Washington without seeing one Savage or meeting the least molestation on the passage.”1

Mr Brown in a letter dated at Danville on the 26th of April says, “the plan of the expedition meets with universal approbation throughout the district, and the proposed number of Volunteers are already engaged. The board will again meet at this place on the 2d of May, to appoint and commission Officers, and to make final arrangements for putting the army in motion—General Scott will take the command, and unless countermanded will be in readiness to march upon the 12th or 15th of May—Doctor O’Fallon’s schemes have all blown up, not one man will join him from this Country.”2

I have heard nothing from or of Colonel Procter since the 8th of April, as mentioned in my former letter.

I am apprehensive that his delay may interfere with, and retard General Scott’s expedition. But I hope that General St Clair will not permit it to be suspended too long.

The recruiting service still continues to languish in the eastern States—But in the States from Connecticut westward, recruits are obtained in greater numbers—from this State eastward, about Two hundred and fifty regulars are recruited, and additions are daily making to the number. Those in this City, will march in day or two, and those in New Jersey, about one hundred, will march next week—Those more east are ordered to move forward as fast as a company shall be collected at any rendezvous.

The upper battalion of the Levies of this State are nearly completed according to General Butler’s account—The number of Fifteen hundred at least, which I mentioned in my last will in all probability be marched in the course of the present month—This number is exclusively of those recruits who marched during the months of April and May—I have the honor to be Sir With perfect Respect Your most Obedt hume servt

H. Knox
secy of War

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1Richard Butler’s letter of 22 May, which arrived at the War Department while Henry Knox was absent for several days, was acknowledged on 2 June by chief clerk John Stagg, Jr. (ASP, Indian Affairs, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:187). A copy of it probably was forwarded to Congress and examined with other correspondence by the House committee on the causes of the failure of Arthur St. Clair’s expedition (see Thomas FitzSimon’s report, 8 May 1792, ASP, Military Affairs, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:36).

2The letter, probably from John Brown, a member of the Kentucky District’s board of war who accompanied Brig. Gen. Charles Scott’s militia expedition against the Ouiatanon (Wea) Indians on the Wabash River, has not been further identified. For background to the schemes of Dr. James O’Fallon, see Knox to GW, 22 Jan., n.4, Thomas Jefferson and Edmund Randolph to GW, 14 Feb. and source note, and GW’s Proclamation of 19 Mar. 1791. Knox’s instructions of 21 Mar. to St. Clair noted: “The conduct of the said Doctor O’Fallon is considered of such a nature as that the attorney of the district of Kentucky has been directed to commence a prosecution against him, . . . and, in order that all concerned under him should be warned of their situation, the President of the United States has issued another proclamation, which is hereunto annexed. . . . It is presumed that the arrest of Doctor O’Fallon, and the issuing of the proclamation, will operate to prevent the execution thereof; but, if they should not, and the party proceed in the execution of their plan, it becomes an important consideration whether the military shall interfere to prevent them. This point is now under consideration of the legal department, and you shall be informed of the result” (ASP, Indian Affairs, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:172–73). On 15 Aug. Tobias Lear returned to Jefferson a letter concerning O’Fallon that the federal district attorney for Kentucky had written to Jefferson on 12 May (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). See also William Murray to Jefferson, 12 May, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 20:395–97.

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