George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 9 August 1793

From Henry Knox

War Department, 9th August 1793.


I have the honor to submit to you, several letters from Major General Wayne, dated the 20th of June,1 and the 2d2 and 10th of July last,3 with enclosures.

As some measures may be to be taken in consequence of these letters, I will have the honor to wait upon you, for that purpose, at 8 o’clock to morrow morning.

I have also the honor to enclose the copy of a letter from Wm Wilson to James Brison Esqr: dated Detroit 8 July 1793, and which was transmitted to me by Major Craig from Pittsburg.4 I have the honor to be Sir, with the greatest respect, Your most obedt Servt

H. Knox


1The letter from Anthony Wayne of 20 June was dated at Fort Washington and contained copies of letters from Kentucky governor Isaac Shelby to Wayne of 27 May, and from Col. George Nicholas of the Kentucky militia to Gen. James Wilkinson of 25 May 1793, both “upon the subject of mounted Voluntiers.” According to Wayne, both Shelby and Nicholas agreed that the U.S. Army could be reduced in size and that “the Militia are the most proper people to enterprize against the Indians, & to act independent of the Regular troops or in other words—to be organized, & to act independent, of the Executive of the General Government.” Wayne strongly opposed this idea and wrote letters to Shelby and Kentucky militia officers Charles Scott and Benjamin Logan on 14 June “to convince them that they must be amenable to my orders & directions.” After expressing confidence that he could “bring into the field from Six to Eight hundred Mounted Voluntiers properly Officer’d & Appointed independent of those influential Characters,” Wayne expressed concern about the amount of flour and other rations for the army. Wayne also enclosed copies of his letter to Lt. William Clark, “the Officer who has charge of the stores & articles for the Chickasaws,” and his speech to the Chickasaw nation, both dated 18 June 1793. After expressing concern about Clarke’s ability to deliver goods to the Indians without interference from the Spanish, Wayne wrote: “I have no account as yet of any stores—troops or Clothing having arrived at Pittsburgh, & I dread the want of Water, (altho we have rather too much at present) and delay may therefore be attended with very alarming consequences—as the troops … are nearly Naked.” He reported that the Indians in the Northwest Territory “continue hostile” and listed a number of recent minor engagements (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 , 244–47). Shelby’s letter to Wayne and Wayne’s letters to Shelby, Scott, Logan, and Clarke are at PHi: Wayne Papers. Wayne’s speech to the Chickasaws and Nicholas’s letter to Wilkinson have not been identified.

2In his letter to Knox of 2 July, which was written at Hobsons Choice, Wayne assured Knox that he did not intend to advance his troops or to create any new posts beyond those already established until the results of scheduled U.S. negotiations with the Northwest Indians were known. Wayne again outlined problems with supplies and supply lines. He then continued with an exposition on the “Conduct & motives of the British in Procrastinating the pending treaty for it is Evident that it is not the Indians who have done it.” He concluded with his “Opinion that an expedition against the Indian towns & settlements at the rapids of the Miami of the Lake, (being the place where the stores & supplies for the Indians are always Issued) ought to be undertaken by Six or Seven Hundred Mounted Voluntiers from the frontier Counties of Pennsylvania & from Ohio County in Virginia.” In preparation for such a force, Wayne drafted a circular letter to the militia inspectors and county lieutenants of Washington, Westmoreland, Lafayette, and Allegheny counties in Pennsylvania, and to David Shepherd (1734–1795), the lieutenant of Ohio County, Va., “which if approved of by the President, I pray you to send & forward at a proper time & season,” along with 50 or 60 blank commissions for company officers to be filled in by Wayne when their names were known (ibid., 250–55). Wayne also drafted a letter to the “Leiut. Colo. Comdt.” of Pittsburgh of 2 July. This draft, the circular letter to John Gibson, Charles Campbell, Absalom Baird, John Heaton, Joseph Torrence, and Presley Neville of 30 June, and the letter to Shepherd of 30 June are at PHi: Wayne Papers. Wayne also enclosed a copy of a letter from Shelby of 24 June with its accompanying report from a council of militia officers held at Lexington, Ky., on 24 June. The council agreed unanimously that “the Officers of the State when called into Service of the United States ought not to fall one grade lower than the Commissions which they now bear. … And it is clearly our Opinion that the Volunteers when called into service should be engaged against the Enemy seperate from the Regular Troops so far as may be consistent with the general Interest of the Army” (both, PHi: Wayne Papers). In his enclosed reply to Shelby of 1 July, Wayne wrote: “I shall employ the mounted Voluntiers of Kentucky within supporting distance of the Legion (of which I must be the Judge) under their own officers, but at all times subject & amenable to my orders & commands; until circumstances shall justify me in detaching them in pursuit of a distant object” (PPPrHi: Shane Collection). Wayne also enclosed a copy of a letter to him from Logan of 24 June, which has not been identified, and a requisition of 1 July for the appointment of additional officers in the Kentucky militia (PHi: Wayne Papers).

3Wayne’s letter to Knox of 10 July was written at Hobsons Choice and enclosed copies of his earlier letters of 20 June and 2 July, with all their enclosures. Wayne wrote: “no troops or stores have yet arrived … I therefore feel very uneasy least this long delay—& the state of the Water may prevent their timely arrival.” He reported that a large number of southern Indians were on the move to join with the Indians of the Northwest Territory to form a “strong confederacy” against the United States, and he feared that the British delayed the peace treaty “until everything is in a perfect readiness & in a proper train to dictate the boundary line” between the Indians and the United States, “‘or to let slip the dogs of war’” (ibid., 255–56). GW received all three of Wayne’s letters and their enclosures on 9 Aug. (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 217).

4Pittsburgh resident William Wilson wrote James Brison, also of Pittsburgh, from Detroit on 8 July that the Indians gathered at the Glaize on the Maumee River “have been alarmed lately and a confusion in their councils on account of General Wayne’s army being seen advancing into their country.” Wilson had heard that the Indians demanded “the Alleghany river and the Ohio” as the boundary line for their territory and if the U.S. Commissioners appointed to meet with them could not agree to that demand, they would be sent home. He also reported that about twelve hundred Indians had gathered, and if the peace negotiations fail, they intended to commence “hostilities,” including a strike on Wayne’s camp (PHi: Wayne Papers). This letter was enclosed in Maj. Isaac Craig’s letter to Knox of 2 Aug. 1793. Knox enclosed a copy of Wilson’s letter in his reply to Wayne of 16 Aug. 1793 (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 , 266–70).

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