George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Knox, 10 October 1791

To Henry Knox

Mount Vernon 10th Octo: 1791.


Your letter of the 1st inst: I have duly recd—likewise one of the 4th, covering a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury together with some communications from Lt Colo. Beckwith.

I herewith transmit you an Address & Memorial of the Officers, Civil & Military, of the District of Miro, which was sent to me by Govr Blount—I wish you to take the same into your consideration, & make a Report thereon at my return to Phila.1 I am Sir Yr hble Servant.


1For the communication from the officials of Davidson, Sumner, and Tennessee counties of the Southwest Territory and the lost cover letter of 20 Sept. of territorial governor William Blount, see the Officers of the Mero District to GW, 1 August. Henry Knox reported to GW on 28 Oct. “That the subject of the said letter, seems to be as fully answered, by a letter written by the subscriber to the said governor, on the eighteenth day of August last, as the nature of the case will admit, a copy of which letter is hereunto annexed. That it is therefore submitted that a copy of said letter be transmitted to the subscribers to the said memorial, together with a reply to the congratulatory part of the same” (DLC:GW). The enclosed extract of Knox’s letter of 18 Aug. to Blount reads: “I have received your several favors by Major [James Cole] Mo[u]ntflorence of the 21st 26th and 28th July. The depredations of the Indians upon Cumberland, and upon Major Montflorence’s party are of that nature, as to require to be immediately and effectually checked. But it must be confessed that it is a work of difficulty. The expence of military posts is very considerable, and that of an army much more so. The exertions making to punish the Indians north west of the Ohio has prevented the Company being sent to your government, that was intended—But I should hope that immediately after the expedition that one or two could be spared for the objects you mention. In the mean time the President of the United States, hereby authorizes you to embody as many of the Militia of your government by voluntary engagements or otherwise, according to Law, as in your judgment the defensive protection of the frontiers shall render indispensible. It is to be hoped, that at the excess you may not require more than the two Companies mentioned in your plan for the protection of the frontiers—but at any rate he is persuaded that from a regard to your own character, and to proper œconomy, you will not call out an unnecessary number. The Militia to be so called into service in pursuance of this authority, to be upon the same pay and rations as the troops of the United States, agreeably to the Schedule herein enclosed—and for such periods of service as you may judge right and just, taking care to replace them from time to time, while the defence of the frontiers shall require it. You will make such arrangements for supplying the said Militia with provisions, by contract, as you shall think just—provided that each ration shall not be charged higher than eight Cents, but to be obtained as much lower as circumstances will admit. The Militia are to be regularly mustered by some person you shall appoint, upon entering and leaving the service, and the Captains are to make oath to the truth of their muster-rolls. The returns—muster-rolls and Abstracts of the Pay and rations of said Militia, must be transmitted to this Office, supported by proper documents, for examination and payment, and also powers of Attorney to receive the money. It is however to be observed, that this service being to be performed under the general powers vested by law in the President of the United States, no provision for payment can be made until the next session of Congress. The said Militia, while in actual service, will be subject to the rules and articles of War, copies of which are herewith transmitted. You will give the most pointed instructions relative to the destination and operation of said Militia—and report to me the number you shall call out, and the periods of service, and the arrangements you shall make for furnishing them with rations. But besides this arrangement, it is the express desire of the President of the United States, that you send some discreet person to the tribes to which the Offenders belong, and to represent to them, that they must devise some mode for the punishment of their guilty young men—That the United States cannot and will not suffer, the depredations of any part of the Indian tribes with whom we have treaties—That it is the desire of the United States, to treat the Indians with entire justice and humanity—and that a similar return will be exacted. The person whom you send on this business, ought to be intelligent and a lover of peace—and you will report the result. The acts of Congress, authorizing the President of the United States to call out the militia, have not provided any punishment for delinquency—But after they are in service, they will be subject to the rules and articles of War—It would be prudent therefore to consider the militia of your territory as governed by the laws of North Carolina, until after they are in actual service, and to inflict such punishments as the laws of that State provides for delinquency” (DLC:GW).

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