From Henry Knox
War department July 28th 1792
Since the letter I had the honor of transmitting the 21st instant I have received a letter from Governor Blount dated the 4th instant.1
A meeting of the Cherokees at Estanaula had taken place which lasted from the 24th of June to the first of July at which the little Turkey and many other Chiefs were present but the Bloody Fellow and John Watts2 whom the Governor in his former letter styled “the Champions for peace” were absent—But most of the others who composed the delegation were present.
The dispositions manifested were friendly—a number of chiefs were selected to protect the boats who were to pass down the Tennasee with the goods designed for the conference to be held with the Chickasaws and Choctaws at Nashville.
But the little Turkey expressed considerable dissatisfaction at the line towards Cumberland alledging it to be the hunting grounds of the four Nations to wit—the Creeks—Cherokees—Choctaws and Chickasaws.
It is to be observed that this Man is the most influential chief of the Cherokees, and that he was neither at the Treaty of Hopewell in 1785 or Holstein in 1791—I have had some doubts whether that part of the line was agreeable to the opinion of the Cherokees generally—and it really appears to me that something will yet be to be arranged on that subject.
Some Indians supposed to be Creeks have committed several murders at Nashville, and have wounded General Robertson and his Son.3
The Governor has had discretionary power to call forth such portions of Militia as he should judge expedient for the protection of the exposed parts of his government, and he has at different periods actually called for five companies of militia most of which are now in service.
The Governor expected the Chickasaws and Choctaws to meet him at Nashville about the 25th instant.
The Goods for the conference at Nashville left Holstein under the charge of Mr Allison the 3rd instant under a proper escort, besides the Indian chiefs before mentioned.
The Governor and General Pickens were to set out for Nashville on the 5th instant to cross Cumberland Mountains escorted by some horse which he called out for the occasion.
The Governor has transmitted the affidavits of two Men recently from the Creek Country, tending to prove the interference of the Spanish Agent to prevent the Creeks from running the line—and also of some parties of Creeks making depredations on the Cumberland Settlements.4
It would seem the Creeks consider the Cumberland settlers as intruders on the joint lands of the four Nations, and therefore they have a right to steal horses and in case of opposition to kill.
It is to be hoped the Governor may devise some measures to prevent the progress of those depredations and which lead to a general confusion and war with the Creeks and Cherokees—I shall write him by the way of Fort Pitt.5
No information yet of Colonel Hardin or Major Trueman6—General Wayne on the 20th gives information of some recent depredations by small parties on Ohio County.
About three hundred and twenty effectives of his troops had arrived.
The information of Recruits since the last Return is agreeable to the within.7
The desertions of the troops on the march are excessive—Out of about three hundred and fifty, nearly fifty deserted from Reading to Fort Pitt.
General St Clair has returned from the Western parts of this state I have intimated to him your desire of his repairing to his Government but he says it will be extremely inconvenient to him to do it as he has a law suit to be tried in September next—He seems to think that it would not be proper or necessary for him to be present at the Trial of Ensign Morgan—He is to deliver me his evidence in a week or ten days when I shall order Mr Morgan to join the Army for his trial.8 I have the honor to be with the highest Respect Your most obed. Servant
Secy of War.
LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
1. See William Blount to Knox, 4 July, 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 4:157–59.
2. John Watts (Kunoskeskee; Young Tassel) was one of the leading Cherokee chiefs.
3. Governor Blount wrote Knox on 31 Aug. that on 15 July two Americans were killed and one wounded “On the road that leads from Nashville to Kentucky” (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 1:276). On 4 July, Blount wrote Knox: “On the 8h of June General [James] Robertson and his Son were wounded by Indians on his own plantation, himself shot through both arms, one broke and his Son through the thigh but both are on the recovery” (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 4:159). James Robertson (1742–1814) was appointed a justice of the peace for Davidson County, Southwest Territory, in December 1790, a brigadier general of militia in February 1791, and a U.S. agent to the Chickasaw Nation the following year.
4. Blount enclosed three affidavits in his letter to Knox of 4 July: those of James Ore, Ezekiel Abel, and Daniel Thornbury (see 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 1:274–75). Ore said that he “was informed by a white man, who understood the Creek language, and one in whom this deponent had entire confidence, that the purport of Oliver’s [Pedro Olivier] talk with the chiefs of the Creeks was, ‘That the Spanish talk, the French talk, and the British, were all one; when was the day they asked them for land? But the Americans were still wanting their lands; and if they wanted ammunition and arms to defend their lands, come to them, meaning the Spaniards, and they should have them’” (ibid., 274).
5. See Knox to Blount, 15 Aug., 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 4:162–64.
6. For the background to the peace mission of Alexander Trueman and John Hardin, see Thomas Jefferson’s Memorandum of a Meeting of the Heads of the Executive Departments, 9 Mar., and Knox to GW, 1 April 1792, n.2.
7. Knox enclosed a return “of the Recruits at the respective rendezvous” of 28 July, which reported that 1,734 recruits had arrived by 21 July and 93 more by 28 July, for a grand total of 1,827 soldiers (DLC:GW).
8. John Morgan (1770–1819), who had been commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Army in May 1790, served as an aide to Gen. Richard Butler during Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s expedition of 1791. Following the disastrous defeat of 4 Nov. 1791, St. Clair charged the deceased Butler with failing to inform him of the presence of a large force of Indians nearby on the night before the battle. Morgan’s court-martial was brought on by a letter of condolence that he had written to Butler’s widow in which he exonerated Butler and blamed St. Clair for the defeat. When this letter was published, St. Clair brought charges of slander and insubordination against Morgan. Morgan’s court-martial was convened at Anthony Wayne’s headquarters a short distance south of Pittsburgh in August 1793, and he was found guilty and cashiered in December 1793.