George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Dobbs Spaight, 8 February 1794

From Richard Dobbs Spaight

No. Carola New Bern 8th Feby 1794


By the last post I received the Secretary of Wars letter of the 21st Jany 1794.1

At the time the legislature passed the resolutions which I did myself the honor to transmit you on the 6th July last2 they had grounds to apprehend an attack on our frontiers by the Indians. they had from the representations made to me in novem: been in the habit during the Summer and fall of committing depredations on the property of the Citizens of this State,3 and we had reason to think, after the attack made on the Indians by the Militia of the territory South of the Ohio under the command of general Sevier that they would have committed hostilities on our frontiers.

As soon as a peace is made with the Cherokees by Governor Blount and our frontier is in a state of safety the Scouts now in service can be discharged.4

I enclose you a copy of my orders to Colo. David Vance: you will perceive that they are conformable to the Secretary of Wars letter to me and the resolutions of the General Assembly.5 I have the honor &c.


LB, Nc-Ar: Governors’ Letterbooks.

1For Knox’s letter to Spaight of 21 Jan., see n.1 of Knox to GW, 21 January.

2Spaight is referring to the proceedings of the North Carolina legislature that he enclosed in his first letter to GW of 6 January.

3For these representations about the Indians, see David Vance to Spaight, 22 Nov. 1793, in n.2 of Spaight to GW, 6 Jan. (first letter).

4For an expedition in October 1793 against the Cherokee Indians by militia troops of the Southwest Territory under the command of Gen. John Sevier, and for William Blount’s efforts to achieve peace with the Cherokee Indians, see Sevier to Blount, 25 Oct., and Blount to Knox, 28 Oct. 1793, 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 , 1:469–70.

5In his letter to Vance of 1 Jan., Spaight instructed him to “proceed immediately to call into service seven Scouts or patroles of rangers consisting of eight men each, they must be composed of the most bold, active, & experienced hunters or woodsmen, and kept out on the frontiers, in order to discover signs or the approach of Indians, and give the necessary information to you to repel any attack that may be made on our people. Each patrole is to have as near as can be for its particular care, a frontier of twelve miles in extent they must not by any means commit any hostilities on the Indians but merely observe their motions.” Spaight ordered Vance to select fourteen men from Buncombe County, twenty-two from Burke, and twenty from Rutherford. “Each ranger or Scout will receive from the United States the sum of five sixths of a dollar per day which is allowed in full of all expences whatever.” After explaining the proper procedures for keeping records of actual time served and for submitting payrolls to the War Department, Spaight instructed Vance, as the commander, to divide the militia into four equal classes, the first of which should “hold themselves in readiness to be called into service whenever occasion may require it.” The other classes are to be held in reserve. The rangers “must confine themselves to act on the defensive only” until further orders are sent (Nc-Ar: Governors’ Letterbooks).

Index Entries