George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 13 October 1791

From Henry Knox

War Department [Philadelphia], 13 Oct. 1791. Submits copies of letters received from Arthur St. Clair and Richard Butler, both dated 18 Sept.: “I would not unnecessarily occupy your time at present—but, knowing your anxiety for the success of the operations, as they approach to a crisis, I have conceived it proper for your satisfaction to enclose these letters.”1


1The enclosed copy of Arthur St. Clair’s letter of 18 Sept. from Fort Washington to Henry Knox reads: “On the 18th, I had the honor to advertise you of the arrival of general Butler, and the last of the troops, I had reason to expect for the campaign, and that I had heard of Captain [John H.] Buel’s arrival; and to enclose the last monthly return. The militia from Kentuckey are expected on the 25th—It is probable that I shall move from the camp on the great Miami on or before that day, and they will follow, but I doubt I have been too sanguine in my calculation of the time necessary for erecting the Fort there, but as soon as it is enclosed, and the shell of the houses up, the garrison will be able to complete it for themselves before winter. The Commissary has got forward to that place about one hundred thousand rations, and the quarter master informs me that he expects to move from hence every thing immediately necessary in his department by the 21st, and the court of enquiry will probably be over about the same time, so that I do not now see any thing that is likely to impede us any farther. I have given you, Sir, this short view of our present expectations for your satisfaction, because this letter, which goes by a light canoe of the contractors to Pittsburgh may possibly get to hand before that of the 18th, where they are detailed more at large to assure you once more, that every possible exertion shall be made to bring the campaign to a speedy and happy issue” (DLC:GW). St. Clair presumably was referring to a letter he wrote Knox on 18 Aug., which has not been identified (see Knox to St. Clair, 13 Oct., 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 1:183).

Butler’s letter to Knox, with the same dateline, reads: “I have the honor to inform you, that I arrived here with the companies of Captns [Patrick] Phelon and [Joseph] Shaylor of the 2nd regt—[William] Fa[u]lkner’s additional levies—the last of the horses, stores &c: on the 10th inst.; 11 o’clock A.M: & on the 13th Capt: [Samuel] Newman with his company arrived, as directed by my order from Wheelen—The whole are moved to an encampment, about 21 miles advanced, with the artillery &c. there (I presume) to undergo a formation for the campaign. I am detained, with Cols. [George] Gibson and [William] Darke, on an inquiry in general Harmer’s conduct on the expedition of the last year. This will take up a few days of our time, and prevent us joining the troops till that is over. I was honored with your favor of the 25th August at this place, wherein you are pleased to mention—‘That the President of the United States is by no means satisfied &c.’—I am very sorry the President or yourself should suppose a want of exertion in me. I entered into the service from principle, and with a heart devoted to the welfare of the United States and peace of the frontier, and I feel conscious of having done every thing that was in the power of any man to do, circumstanced as I was, to promote the service, and that every object intrusted to me was performed with an honest alacrity and punctuality which I hope will accord in the general system, and answer the purposes expected, and I feel a confidence in the justice of the President of the United States when I assure him of these facts, that I will meet his approbation. I shall now devote myself to the service, and do everything in my power, as an honest man, to assist in the most decided manner, to execute any part which may be committed to me, to attain the great and desireable objects of the campaign” (DLC:GW). For the inquiry into Josiah Harmar’s conduct during his 1790 expedition, see GW to Henry Knox, 19 June 1791, n.4.

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