George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 1 March 1792

From Henry Knox

War-department March 1 1792.


I have the honor to submit a draft of a letter to general St Clair;1 and also, a representation from Judge Putnam relative to the situation of Marietta2—If perfectly convenient, I will wait upon you to morrow morning, relative to these subjects, and some others, relative to the appointments of officers soon to be made. I have the honor to be Sir, with the highest respect, Your most obedient servt

H. Knox


Northwest territorial governor Arthur St. Clair arrived in the federal capital of Philadelphia on 21 Jan. 1792 to defend his military reputation against the “bitter calumnies, gross misrepresentations, and vile falsehoods” that had arisen in the wake of his disastrous campaign against the northwestern Indians (see St. Clair, Narrative, description begins Arthur St. Clair. A Narrative of the Manner in Which the Campaign against the Indians, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-one, Was Conducted, under the Command of Major General St. Clair . . .. Philadelphia, 1812. description ends vii; Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 23 Jan. 1792). For the background to St. Clair’s expedition and the major defeat of 4 Nov. 1791, see Knox to Tobias Lear, 25 Feb. 1791, note 1, GW to the U.S. Senate, 4 Mar. 1791 (second letter), to the Miami Indians, 11 Mar. 1791, Knox to GW, 14, 18 Mar. 1791 (first letter), note 2, 13 Oct. 1791, note 1, William Darke to GW, 9–10 Nov. 1791, GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 12 Dec. 1791, note 1, Knox to GW, 22 Jan. 1792, note 2, and to Lear, 31 Jan. 1792, note 1.

1On 24 Feb., St. Clair wrote GW a letter which apparently covered a draft (not found) of a second letter defending his performance as commander of the failed expedition. In the cover letter St. Clair notified GW that the enclosed “Letter is intended to be published . . . if there be any Sentiment in it, or any thing in the manner of expression that you disaprove of, you would be pleased to point it out that it may be suppressed or altered before it be too late” (see GW to Knox, 29 Feb., note 1). On 29 Feb., GW asked Knox to prepare a draft of his reply to St. Clair’s letter. After receiving Knox’s draft, which has not been found, GW forwarded it to Thomas Jefferson. For Jefferson’s comments, see Jefferson to GW, 2 March. St. Clair’s revised letter to GW bears the date 26 March. GW’s revised response is dated 28 Mar. 1792. The correspondence between GW and St. Clair concerning the resignation of the latter’s military commission was printed in the 14 April edition of the Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia) and in the 16 April issue of the National Gazette (Philadelphia); see St. Clair to GW, 26, 31 Mar., 7 April, and GW to St. Clair, 28 Mar., 4 April 1792.

2The enclosed “representation” from Judge Rufus Putnam has not been identified. For Putnam’s letters to GW since his arrival at Marietta, a new settlement in the Northwest Territory, see Putnam to GW, 20 Dec. 1790, 8 Jan., 28 Feb., and 26 Dec. 1791.

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