Describes Activities at Post Vincennes, Plans to Work with Indians, French Settlers

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Source Name Image(s)
CollectionWestern Reserve Historical Society History Library: Alfred T. Goodman Papers view image
CollectionPrinted Version only (no image)
PublicationThornbrough, Gayle, ed. Outpost on the Wabash, 1787-1791: Letters of Brigadier General Josiah Harmar and Major John Francis Hamtramck and other letters and documents selected from the Harmar Papers in the William L. Clements Library. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 1957. (no image)
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Document Information
Date August 7, 1787
Author Name Josiah Harmar (primary) Location: Camp at Post Vincennes
Recipient Name Henry Knox (primary)
Summary Reports arrival of Captain Zeigler with his men and goods. Sent Major Hamtramck with 100 men to assist from the landing to the post. Describes an arduous journey with the rapids, the heat, the thickets, with the need to lighten the load. French settlers welcomed them on their arrival. Describes houses at the post--both log and bark, and number of American and French settlers. Met Monsieur Vincennes and Bartholomew Tardiveau. Left Ensign Ryker Sedam to bring the clothing and whiskey left at the mouth, who were attacked by Indians and killed one of Zeigler's men and a Frenchman. Reports publication of the Congressional act of land provisions in both French and English. Arrival of 8 Kiankashaw Indians from Terre Haut, placated with wampum. Sent message with these Indians to all chiefs on the Wabash to gather. Attention will go to French charter for land, matters with Indians
Document Format Contemporary Copy of Letter
Document Notes In unbound journal marked "correspondence of General Josiah Harmar transcribed by the War Department 1812."
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Henry Knox; General Josiah Harmar; Captain Zeigler; troops; Colonel Le Graes; Colonel LePress; Colonel Le Braes; french inhabitants; sergeant; Major Hamtramck; French; Americans; Monsieur Vincennes; French Officer; Bartholomew Tardiveau; Ensign Ryker Suydane; Ryker Sedam; Leydam; Lieutenant Armstrong; Piankishaw; Kiankashaw; Indians; tribes; Chiefs; Sugdam; Congress; agent; General Clarke; General Parks; militia; Colonel Harmar; Mr. O'Hara; Board of Treasury; ;
Related Places Camp at Post Vincennes; Post Vincinnes; Kentucky River; rapids of the Ohio; Ohio River; Rock; Delaware Old Town; Green River; Wabash; White River; War Office; Kaskaskias; Kentucky; Vermillion Town; Terre Haute; ;
Keywords goods; provisions; cattle; order of march; warm weather; flour; water; thickets; open woods; prairies; meadows; barges; fleet; houses; log and bark; French grants; whiskey; clothing; resolve of Congress; strings of wampum; columet; speech; canoe; killed; murder; illegal movements; public lands; private property; petition; charter; relief; tomahawk rights; Outhouses; Barns; Papers; French Charter; ;
Key Phrases [not available]

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Copy of a letter from Brigadier General Josiah Harman, dated Camps at Post Vincennes August 7. 1787.
I had the honor of addressing you last on the 4th also from Camp on the Kentucky shore just below the rapids of the Ohio.
On the 6th ultimo C Zeigler with a party and an adequate number of goods, was detached from thence with the provisions. On the 8th we embarked with the remainder of the fleet and arrived on the morning of the 10th at the Rocks, on the landing and crossing place, called also the Delaware old town about eight miles above green river and one hundred and eighty miles below the rapids. In the afternoon of the same day I detached Major Haufrauck with a party of one hundred men to conduct the whole fleet from the landing to the mouth
of the Wabash and then to assend the river to Port Vincennes. On the morning of the 11thwith the [undecipherable] of the troops I took up the enclosed order of March with our cattle in the center, [undecipherable] very warm weather and the men being obliged to carry fifteen days flour upon their Packs rendered it very fatiguing. A due north course from the landing and carrying place would have struck the Post in fifty miles distance from the Ohio but we are obliged to oblique for the sake of water On the 16 th we forded the White river (a considerable stream) about fifteen miles below the forkes and arrived at Post Vincennes on the 17th at noon. From the Ohio where we set out to the White river we had a very difficult march the country being full of thickets and scarce of water, but afterwards we marched through fine open woods and large prairie of national meadows and encamped
on the Banks of the Wabash. On the 18th we were visited by Colonel Le Gras, the Magistrates and the principal french inhabitants, welcoming us upon our arrival. Their behavior was most respectfully submissive. In the afternoon of the same day finding the Wabash so low and difficult to assend I deteched a Sergeant and twenty men in three barges and five pettiaugers to meet Major Hamtranck and lighten the fleet.
Post Vincennes is a very considerable villiage situated upon the Wabash about one hundred and twenty miles from the mouth, it contains near four hundred houses (log and bark) out houses, barns etc. The number of the inhabitants about 900 (souls) french and about 400 (souls) Americans. Monsieur Vincennes the french officer from whom it derives its name I am informed was here and commenced
the settlement sixty years ago.
On the 20th I called upon Colonel LeGras for a sight of the french grants and all other papers respecting the original settlers. The papers were produced but I declined having a translation of them until the arrival of Mr Bartholemew Tardiveau (a french gentlemen who was with Major Hamtranck on the fleet, well acquainted with the inhabitants, and the footing they held their lands upon. I expected his arrival every day, Major Hamtranck did not arrive with the boats until the the 25th having been eleven days on very severe fatiguing duty ascending the Wabash.
He was obliged to leave Ensign Ryker Suydam with a party with the clothing, all the whiskey and chief part of the flour at the mouth of the Wabash the water being so shoal that the boats could not ascend the river.
On the 26th I detached Lieutenant Arm-
-strong with a part of forty five fresh men in several pettiaugers to join Ensign Suydam and assist in bringing up the provisions and our new clothing which was left behind at the mouth of the river.
On the 27th the Resolve of Congress respecting the intruders on the public lands together with my orders were published in English and French which amazed the inhabitants exceedingly particularly those who stile themselves Americans. A copy of said resolve and order relative thereto I do myself the honor to enclose.
On the 28th eight Piankeshaw indians arrived from the Terre-Haut up the Wabash, in consequence of Colo. LeGras's information to them of the Troops coming to the Post. On the 29th I had a conference with them and presented them with thirteen strings of wampum, and assured them of the friendly disposition of the United States and advised them not to
listen to what any bad people might say to the contrary.
I sent a message by these indians to all the Chiefs of the different tribes on the Wabash inviting them to assemble here and hear what I had to say to them. These indians were well pleased, they presented me with a Calumet. I gave them some small presents and they set off on the 31st to deliver my message to the different Chiefs. The French inhabitants at the same time sent a speech to them a copy of which I have the honor to enclose.
On the 5th instant Lieutenant Armstrong and Ensign Suydam arrived with the stores clothing etc. from the mouth of the Wabash, after a very fatiguing dangerous passage. Several parties of indians were hovering about the Wabash, they waylaid a Canoe on the 25th ulto. which had fallen in the rear of what is called the long rapid on board of which were some flour and whiskey private property belonging to our guide
they killed one of Captain Zeiglers company and a frenchman and took prisoner one of the men whom I had enlisted for one year. I informed the indians of this circumstance and to tell their chiefs that if they did not desist they would certainly draw upon them the vengence of the United States. They disavowed in strong terms any knowledge of this murder.
I humbly conceived that the great objects I have to attend to will be to prevent illegal encroachments on the public lands to secure happiness to the inhabitants and to protect private property from arbitrary invasion and to remove if possible diffidence, fear and jealousy from the minds of the indians. To these points I shall lend my attention.
I have been busily employed with the aid of Mr Tardiveau in order to make a discrimination between the lands legally obtained and those
that have been encroached upon without sufficient authority. The French inhabitants are about framing an humble petition to Congress and will I believe give up their charter and trust to Congress for what lands that Honorable body may please to grant them. Such American inhabitants as have settled under the French charter are also framing a petition to Congress praying for relief and they will be recommended by the French.
As there are no intruders out of the villiage I shall wait for these petitions and endorse them to the War Office and although the First of September is the given period for them to depart as I cannot yet possibly ascertain who are actually intruders, I shall not proceed there, until their petitions are sent on and their fate determined and I receive orders from Congress or the War Office upon the subject.
Both parties will appoint Mr Bartholo-
-mew Tardiveau as their Agent. He will go to Congress in the course of next month.
As the Indians Chiefs (if they come at all) will not be here in less than a month I propose to take a Subalterns guard and to proceed to Kaskaskias in company with Mr Tardiveau the next day after tomorrow, in order that I may be enabled to give a statement of affairs in that part of the United States.
This movement of the troops will have a pecular good effect. It will deter several people from Kentucky and other parts, from taking up the public lands. A door was opened very fast for intrusions from that quarter. Many of General Clarks Militia on their march toward the Vermillion town, had cast their eyes on choice land and I am informed had made what they called tomohawk rights.
Be pleased to receive the following enclos-
-ures viz:
No. 1. Colo. Le Gras's answer in behalf of the inhabitants at Post Vincennes to Col Harmars letter of the 19th June.
2. The address of the French inhabitants of Post Vincennes to Colonel Harmar.
3. The address of the American inhabitants of Post Vincennes to Colonel Harmar.
4. The Recommendations of the French inhabitants of Col. Harmar in favor of the American inhabitants.
The petitions of both the the French and American inhabitants to Congress I have not yet received, they shall be forwarded by Mr. Tardiveau.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 1st June enclosing the Contract of Mr. OHara with the Board of Treasury for the supply of the troops etc. x x x