George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 12 May 1792

From Henry Knox

War department May 12. 1792


By the Pittsburg post it appears that all is quiet in that quarter.

I have the honor to submit the extract of a Letter from Governor Blount to Doctor Williamson dated April 14th 1792, boding trouble in that quarter.1

But I have but little doubt that upon the arrival of my letter and Mr Allison with the goods that tranquillity will be again restored.2

I also enclose the copy of a letter from James Seagrove dated the 24. April.3

You will probably have learned that General Williams has declined. It were to be wished Governor Howard would accept.4

Captain William Lewis of Bottetourt has also declined and agreeably to your orders Alexander Gibson is appointed.5

An Ensign in the same quarter by the name of Patrick Shirkey has declined, Mr Moore is to nominate a proper character to succeed him.6 I have the honor to be with perfect Respect Your humble servant

H. Knox


1The enclosed extract of a letter from Gov. William Blount to Hugh Williamson, which was written at Knoxville on 14 April 1792, reads: “Thursday last was a week [5 April] an unlucky day, an Indian man passing peaceably from Colonel [James] Hubbards with four Squaws was fired on by two people he says Hubbards sons, one ball grazed his cheek and the other passed through his side not mortal—I have not yet been able to fix it on any particular persons. In the morning of the same day, Harper Ratcliffs wife and three children were killed in Stanly Valley which is on Clinch just below the Virginia line, five Indians were seen in the act by Ratcliff himself supposed to be [ ] the birch and his party and the same Evening a Number of Horses were taken from a station in Powells valley about twenty, And on the evening of the same day Thursday as the Head man of Hiwassa and other indians were encamped between Comberland mountain & Clinch they were fired upon, the Headman killed another wounded and the camp robbed of every thing they had. This is the account of the wounded man who reached Cayattee on the succeeding Sunday night [8 April]—Immediately on hearing his account dispatched a Messenger over to Clinch to enquire who could have done it—and can hear nothing as to who did, but I am pretty sure it is by no people of this Territory and their is strong reasons to suspect that it was done by a part of those two companies Stationed on Clynch for the protection of the frontier of Russel County—I am also using my endeavours to find out the author of this damnable act. On thursday also the same day, I had ordered a company to be drafted in Hawkins County (being general muster day) to March on the 25th instant, for the defence of the frontiers of Cumberland under Captain [James] Cooper, which was done with great readiness, but all the unforeseen circumstances taking place, I shall order this company to range for the protection of the frontiers of Hawkins, and shall order another company to be raised to March to Cumberland, in some other county—I have order’d two to turn out in Miro district the whole four, for three months each.

“Yesterday arrived here three Chickasaws on their way for Philadelphia with a letter to the President from Piemingo [Piomingo; Mountain Leader]—I shall endeavor to turn them back; but its uncertain whether I can or not—They speak peace from the Chickasaws and Chactaws and say they will turn out 500 Men to assist the United States the next campaign—I shall immediately dispatch a Man to them to get them out as early as possible, and should have done it before, but . . . there were reasons to fear that they were hostile in which case there could have been no hope of success—If these Chickasaws do turn back it will be in consequence of my assuring them that a Treaty is to be held with them at Nashville and the Chactaws too in which I fully depend and if it is not, my reputation with them will be worse than General [Arthur] St Clair’s, and that is bad enough. I depend much a Treaty is to be held—With these Chickasaws, came [James] Randolph Robertson, and Anthony Foster who inform that the scout sent out by General [James] Robertson over took a party of the Indians regained two horses wounded some Indians and lost two of their own party” (DLC:GW).

2For the background to Governor Blount’s conference with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians at Nashville in the summer of 1792, see Henry Knox to GW, 21 April, n.1. Deputy paymaster David Allison, who had come to Philadelphia earlier in the spring to collect goods for the treaty, arrived at Knoxville on 31 May 1792 (see William Blount to Henry Knox, 2 June, in Carter, Territorial Papers, description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends 4:154).

3James Seagrove’s letter to Secretary of War Knox of 24 April has not been identified.

4For the recent offer of a brigadier generalship to Otho Holland Williams and his decision not to serve, see Knox to GW, 8 May, n.2, GW to the U.S. Senate, 8 May (second letter), and Williams to GW, 13 May, and the notes to that document. Former Maryland governor John Eager Howard also declined an appointment in the U.S. Army at this time. He continued to serve in the state senate until 1795.

5For the reasons behind Capt. William Lewis’s inability to serve in the military, see Andrew Lewis, Jr., to GW, 27 April. Alexander Gibson, who was appointed in Lewis’s place, was a captain in the U.S. Army from 1792 to 1800 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 19 Nov. [second letter]; Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:125–26).

6Patrick Shirkey apparently continued serving in the U.S. Army until his resignation in January 1793, making it unnecessary for Andrew Moore to choose a replacement for him. For Shirkey’s nomination, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 6 Mar., enclosure; ibid., 101–2, 105.

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