From Henry Knox
War-Department [Philadelphia] October 28th 1791.
The Secretary of War, to whom the President of the United States referred the letter of his Excellency the governor of Virginia of the 20th instant, enclosing a letter of the 6th instant from H. Smith commanding officer of the County of Russell, Stating the defenceless situation of his County.1
The enclosed draft of a letter to the said governor in answer to his letter.2
That the governor being the best judge of the situation of the said county, and being a dignified and responsible character, will be best qualified to judge of the propriety of calling out a full company from the interior counties.
That the letter, a copy of which is hereunto annexed, was written to the governor of Virginia, on the 2nd of April last, and it was presumed that the power which would then have b[e]en directed by the President of the united States, would have been adequate for the defensive protection of said county.3
That a copy of the power vested in the county Lieutenants on the 10th of March last was transmitted to the said governor on the 14th of the same month, in a letter, of which the annexed is a copy.4
All which is humbly submitted to the President of the united States.
secy of War
LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
For previous correspondence concerning the protection of the frontier counties of Virginia and Kentucky against Indian depredations, see Beverley Randolph to GW, 29 Nov., 10 Dec. 1790, 4 Jan. 1791, n.1, GW to Randolph, 14 April 1791, and Knox to GW, 5, 15 Jan. 1791.
1. The letter of 20 Oct. from Beverley Randolph to GW merely covered a “copy of a Letter lately received from the commanding officer of the County of Russel stating the defenceless situation of his county” (LB, Vi: Executive Letterbook). Henry Smith’s letter to Randolph of 6 Oct. acknowledges receipt of the governor’s instructions of 25 April, informs him of the murder of four families by Indians since August, and requests that a company of one hundred men be raised from less exposed counties to help protect Russell County (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; see also Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 5:374–75). Tobias Lear transmitted both letters to Knox this day with GW’s wish for the “Secretary of War to take them into consideration and report thereon” (DLC:GW).
2. The enclosed draft of Knox’s letter to Randolph of this date stated that GW committed the defense of Russell County to the governor: “that if you should judge that the situation of the said county demands the services of a full company from the interior counties of Virginia, that you will please to order the same from such places and for such time as you shall judge proper; that the United States will pay for the services of such a company of militia as your excellency shall order, according to the rates established by law.” Knox enclosed schedules of pay and rations and asked Randolph to inform the War Department of the numbers and specific time of service of any militia troops he might authorize (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 5:385–86). Lear wrote to Knox on 29 Oct. “that the letter wh. the Secy has written to the Govr of Virga respectg the defence of Russel County, meets [GW’s] approbation; as does the manner in which the Secy proposes to answer the memorial of the Inhabitants of Miro district in the S. Wtn Territory” (DLC:GW). For the memorial from the inhabitants of the Mero District and Knox’s report thereon, see the Officers of the Mero District to GW, 1 Aug., and GW to Knox, 10 Oct., n.1.
3. The annexed copy of Knox’s letter to Randolph of 2 April reads: “Your excellency’s favor of the twenty fifth ultimo was yesterday received. The counties of Russell and Wythe not being upon Ohio were not contemplated in the arrangement made on the tenth of last month; But as the President of the United States will be at Richmond about the time of your receiving this letter, and as it is his desire that the protection should be equal to the danger in all parts of the frontiers, I have no doubt, that he will be pleased to request your excellency to extend the same protection, at the expence of the United States, to the said counties of Wythe and Russell as has been extended to the counties upon the Ohio” (DLC:GW).
4. For these documents, see Knox to GW, 14 Mar., second enclosure, and GW to Randolph, 14 April. On 16 Nov. Knox wrote Randolph that the protection GW authorized in his letter of 28 Oct. should also be extended to Wythe, Montgomery, and Washington counties (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 5:394–95).