George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Henry Knox, 8 April 1793

From Henry Knox

War department, April 8. 1793


I have the honor to submit a Copy of a letter from Major General Wayne dated the 30th of March and of my answer thereto of the 6th instant.1

The great demand for subalterns seems to render it almost indispensible that some of the new Ensigns should be called into service—I would therefore submit that the persons acting with the Army as Volunteers and who have been appointed should act as Ensigns—The power is certainly vested in the President for this purpose and the good of the service demands it—the further views relatively to the Indians both North and South may be deemed to be such as to justify the measure.2

It is with pain I submit the enclosed from Mr Seagrove But from his letter to the Inhabitants which is enclosed he seems to exonerate the Creeks from the depredations.3 I imagine and hope that this will be found only a plundering party instigated probably by a rivalship in trade and that it will have no extensive consequences.

Mr Shaw, who was sent to the Cherokees is here. He has made some lengthy Reports relative to the dispositions of the Cherokees which will be reserved for your return. He thinks they may be quieted by some variation of the boundary but he says they certainly do not comprehend the Cumberland boundary as the treaty defines it.4

My health is much mended—and I consider myself as almost well. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your most obed. servant

H. Knox
secy of war


1The letter that Anthony Wayne wrote to Knox from Legionville, Pa., on 30 Mar. 1793 reads: “I have the honor to acknowledge the Receipt of your letter of the 16th instant with the printed lists of promotions &c. but in the organization I discover three material omissions viz. a Judge Advocate—the Paymaster General and SubLegionary PayMasters.

“Agreeably to your orders of the 5th instant I have made an estimate ‘of the strength of the Garrisons, on the upper parts of the Ohio & the number of Scouts that shall be permitted at the expense of the United States to the different Counties lying upon the Ohio and the Allegheny from Fort Franklin to the falls of Ohio’—

viz. Posts and Garrisons Lt. Col.
Captains Subalterns Non Comd
Officers &
No.  1. At Cussawago or Mead Mills 1  21
 2. At Fort Franklin 1 1  74
 3. At the Kittaning  14
 4. At Reids Station  14
 5. At Pittsburgh 1 1 1  46
 6. At Big Beaver 1  21
 7. At Mingo Bottom 1  21
 8. At Wheeling 1  21
 9. At Marietta 1 1  60
10. At Gallipolis 1  42
 Total 1 3 8 334

“The Noncommissioned Officers and privates at present in possession of those posts amount to three hundred and seventy two regular troops exclusive of the commissioned Officers. Query. Are those troops to descend the Ohio.

“From the best information that I have been able to obtain there are eight Counties bordering upon the Ohio in the States of Virginia and Kentucky exclusive of the three in the State of Pennsylvania, viz.

In Virginia in Pennsylvania. in Kentucky
Ohio Westmoreland Mason
Randolph Allegheny Bourbon
Harrison Washington. Nelson
Kenhawa. Jefferson

“Each to have eight spies or Scouts except Westmoreland and Washington—these to have twelve each, total, Ninety six.

“From some recent accounts it would appear that these scouts are essential at this period, the enclosed extract of a letter from Capt. [Jonathan] Haskell, mentions the capture of a Major [Nathan] Goodall [Goodale] from Bellepre, & a Mr [William] Chribbs, who arrived at this place the night before last, says that in coming up the River about the first Instant he saw eight large Rafts about fifty Miles below the great Kenhawa from which upwards of One hundred Indians from every appearance had but recently landed on the Virginia side of the River, this does not look much like peace.

“I have therefore thought it expedient (in addition to other considerations) as well as to keep him out of way of Majors [Henry] Burbeck & [Michael] Rudulph—over whose heads he has evidently been promoted (perhaps upon the political principles of reduction) to suggest the idea of giving Lieut. Col. Comr [John] Clark the general Charge of the posts and Scouts on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“Permit me now to recapitulate our distressed situation for want of Subaltern as well as other Officers to the very great injury of the service.

“1st There is not a commissioned Officer with Captain [William] Buchanan’s Company.

“2d Capt [William] Lewis’s Company is in the same predicament.

“The following Companies are also destitute of acting Officers therefore committed to the Charge of Serjeants.

“3rd The Company late [John] Mills’s, Lieut. [Edward] Turner is Pay-Master to the 2d Sub Legion, and Ensign [Samuel] Drake officiates as Quarter Master to the whole of the Infantry.

“4th Captain [Isaac] Guions company in the charge of Serjeants. The Captain is on Command at Gallipolis—and Ensign [Nanning John] Vischer is Pay Master to the 3d Sub Legion—no other Officer with the Company.

“5. [Henry] Carberrys Company—the Captain recruiting, Lieut. [William] Diven acting as Adjutant to the whole of the Infantry—and Ensign [Campbell] Smith PayMaster to the 4th Sub Legion, the company in the hands of Serjeants.

“6th [John] Cooks the Captain absent recruiting, Ensign [Robert] Lee acting as Quarter Master to the whole of the Rifle Corps—no other Officer with the Company which is also left to the charge of Serjeants.

“There are several other companies that have not more than one commissioned Officer on the Ground—I am therefore reduced to the necessity of placing two Officers Guards under the command of Serjeants and the very Officers who are relieved this day must mount guard again tomorrow and were I to appoint an Adjutant and Quarter Master to each battalion agreeably to the organization (and who are absolutely necessary) I should not have a single subaltern left for Guard, as it is—I expect in the course of a few days I shall be under the necessity of committing some of our Redoubts to the command of Serjeants from the constant duty to which the subalterns are subject as a number are already laid up from that cause, but seeing the necessity the Officers who are capable of duty submit to it with cheerfulness.

“I have been thus particular to shew you that my reiterated complaints for want of Officers were not unfounded.

“Several of the Companies both in the Infantry and Rifle Corps being very weak, (added to the deficiency of Officers as already mentioned) I have in contemplation to incorporate for the present, Pikes & Heaths of the 3d Sub Legion to be commanded by [John] Heath Buchanans & [Jacob] Sloughs of the 4th Infantry to be commanded by Slough & [John] Cummins’s & [John] Cooks of the 1. & 2d Sub Legions to be commanded by Cook. [Uriah] Springers and [Richard] Sparks’s of the 3d Sub Legion (Rifle Corps) to be commanded by Springer.

“Captains [Zebulon] Pike, Buchanan, Sparks & Cummins to be continued, or sent on the recruiting Service, their companies being more deficient than any others in the service.

“The Quarter Master General [James O’Hara] promises to have every thing belonging to his department in readiness for descending the River as soon as the season will permit the troops to encamp say in all April or on the first of May he presented me an estimate of money wanted for specific and necessary articles in his department which will be forwarded by this post.

“I ordered the Surgeon General [Richard Allison] to repair to this place more than three Months since in order to make a Return of Medicine and Hospital Stores and other Articles that may be wanted or necessary for the ensuing Campaign but he has not yet arrived, I have therefore ordered Doctor [John] Carmichael to form the proper estimates which will accompany this.

“You promised to order and forward certain SubLegionary distinctive decorations, also a Legionary Standard, and SubLegionary & Battalion Colours but I have not seen or heard any thing further of those necessary Articles. do forward them—they shall not be lost and we really want them for maneuvring—It is also expedient and necessary, that the Army Clothing for the present year be immediately forwarded with an additional number or surplus of Shoes and Shirts—the public will be amply repaid for these Articles, first by the stoppages of pay when issued and particularly by the services of the Soldiery—who by this means will be rendered comfortable and healthy—and equal to every fatigue and difficulty.

“The progress that the Troops have made both in maneuvring and as Marksmen astonished the Savages upon St Patricks day, & I am happy to inform you that the Sons of that Saint—were perfectly sober and orderly, being out of the reach of Whiskey—which baneful poison is prohibited from entering this Camp —except the component part of the Ration—and a little for fatigue—or on some extraordinary occasion—Apropos when we descend the Ohio, the troops must advance out of reach of any of the settlements, in order to keep clear of that ardent poison, as well as to cut and secure our Magazines of Hay and to cover the escorts from insult.

“I have promised not to establish any new posts advanced of those now in our possession until after the result of the pending treaty unless compelled to it by the conduct of the hostile Indians’ but will it not be prudent and expedient to strengthen and improve those we now occupy?

“May I request your sentiments and instructions upon these subjects as soon as convenient” (DLC:GW).

Knox’s reply to Wayne of 6 April 1793 reads: “I have had the honor to receive your favor of the 30th Ultimo.

“The Garrisons for the posts you suggest, shall be submitted to the President of the United States and his orders taken, wether the troops who compose the Same are in part or wholly to descend the ohio with the rest of the army.

“The scouts you mention will be essential to the security of the frontiers, and I pray you therefore to order the Lieutenants to put them forth without delay. They must be mustered by some Magistrate on their entrance and leaving the Service.

“But the Settlements north of the ohio Marietta Gallipolis and Bellepre must be also indulged with a proportional number of scouts.

“You mention that Lieutenant Colonel Clarke has been promoted over the heads of Burbeck and Rudolph this is not conceived to be the Case, These officers were captains in 1791. when Clarke was a Major, and he was an older Captain than either during the late war. But independent of these circumstances the cavalry and artillery, are to use by them Selves and consistently with the principles of rank delivered you, neither of these officers could be provided for in the Infantry. Congress may perhaps hereafter provide for their promotion, so that they may enjoy rank according to their Seniority. Your Letter shall be transmitted to the President and I hope he will find it consistently with the appointments of the Ensigns to call a number of them in to Service more especially those with the army.

“Every thing required for the campaign shall be prepared and forwarded with all possible dispatch.

“There are four elegant new Silk Standards at Fort Washington which were provided in the year 1791 and which were never used, and which I believe you will consider as answering the purpose of Sublegionary Standards.

“Major Mills will depart to day with the months pay and the Commissions, he has been detained by his own business.

“I am still confined to the House but I hope in a few days to be abroad. I Suppose you may be ready to descend the Ohio by the first of May” (DLC:GW).

2On Wayne’s request for more officers, see Knox to GW, 18 Feb. (first letter), and GW to U.S. Senate, 22 Feb. 1793 (first letter). In making this suggestion to GW, Knox was responding positively to Wayne’s request that the War Department “relieve me from my embarrassment at least as far as it respects the late appointed Ensigns” (Wayne to Knox, 22 Mar., in Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 206). For the president’s assessment of Knox’s recommendation, see GW to Knox, 12 April 1793.

3James Seagrove’s letter to Knox of 17 Mar. came enclosed in a letter to GW of the same date (see also Tobias Lear to GW, 8 April). For the letter to Knox, as well as its enclosures, 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 1:373–74. GW addressed Seagrove’s concerns about the Creeks in his letter to Knox of 12 April.

4Leonard D. Shaw, who had been named U.S. agent to the Cherokee in January 1792, had been in the Southwest Territory and among the Cherokee since the formal ratification of the Treaty of Holston in February 1792 (Knox to Lear, 16 Feb., source note, and Knox to Lear, 17 Feb. 1792; see also Kappler, Indian Treaties, description begins Charles J. Kappler, ed. Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties. 5 vols. Washington, D.C., 1903–41. description ends 2:29–33). Shaw’s reports have not been identified, but they may have been among a number of documents regarding Indian relations in the Southwest Territory given to the president on 19 April. On that date GW received from Knox an undated letter from Shaw to Gov. William Blount, two letters from Blount to Shaw, and a letter from Blount complaining about Shaw’s behavior (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 114–15; for the letters of Blount and Shaw, 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 1:436, 440–41). Shaw’s alleged inebriety and conflicts with Governor Blount soon led to his dismissal (Lear to Knox, 20 April 1793).

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