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Statement of Facts Relative to the Georgia Militia

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PublicationLetter from the Secretary of War, accompanying His Report on the Petitions of William Milton, and Others, exhibiting Claims for Militia Services in the State of Georgia. N.p. (no image)
Document Information
Date February 13, 1799
Author Name Constant Freeman (primary)
Recipient Name William Simmons (primary)
Summary Freeman clarifies the situation regarding the Georgia militia and the US Army beginning in 1793. Freeman asserts that he was never properly informed the total number of militia active in the state, and determined that those not mustered were unauthorized by Congress and the Department of War, although they were activated by the Governor.
Document Format [not available]
Document Notes A copy of this letter was attached to the Secretary of War's Report on the Petitions of William Milton, and Others, exhibiting claims for Milita Services in the State of Georgia.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups William Simmons; Constant Freemen; Georgia militia; President of the United States; George Washington; Governor of Georgia; Edward Telfair; scouts; spies; militia dragoons; Creek Indians; troops; Secretary of War; Henry Knox; Colonel Gaither; Governor Mathews; Captain Armstrong; Congress; paymaster of the militia; Captain Shepherd; Captain Hampton; Accountant; Timothy Pickering; Abraham Baldwin; James McHenry; citizens of Georgia; frontier settlers; Twiggs; Colonel Melton; Major Brenton; Captain Charles Williamson; Captain France; Captain Phinizy; ;
Related Places Georgia; frontier; Creek country; Washington County; Chatham County; Effingham County; Burke County; Columbia County; Elbert County; Oakfuskee village; Little Chehaw village; Flint River; Savannah; Augusta; ;
Keywords statement of facts; alarming situation of the frontiers; authorization; offensive operations; equipment; arms and ammunition; expedition into Creek country; expense; returns; muster rolls; necessary forms; muster; horse; pay rolls; unauthorized; estimates; claims; certificate; defensive operations; press of business; unauthorized claims; stealing horses; murdering; incursions; Oakmulgee expedition; sold claims; speculation; clothing; necessaries; debts; ;
Key Phrases [not available]

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Philadelphia, 13th February, 1799.
In compliance with the request contained in your letter of the 19th of last month, I make the following statement of facts relative to the militia claims of the state of Georgia, which have been heretofore denominated unauthorized.
The alarming situation of the frontiers in 1793, induced the President of the United States to authorize the Governor of Georgia to call into service, at the expense of the Union, one hundred horse and one hundred foot; and scouts or spies in proportion of two to every ten miles of the extent of the frontier. (1) Several detachments of militia dragoons had been called into service in 1792, and paid by the United States. (2) It was, however, supposed the force now
(1) Letter of the Secretary of War to the Governor, 30th May, 1793.
(2) Commanded by Captains Fauché, Barnett, Phinizy, Charles Williamson and Melton.
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contemplated would be equal to the protection required: And the Governor was directed to avoid offensive operations against the Creek Indians. The equipments for the dragoons, and arms and ammunitions for the militia, were sent to Georgia, subject to the orders of the Governor. (3)
Mr. Telfair, who then presided in that state, did not think proper to call into service the troops authorized by the President, but had drawn out the militia for the protection of the frontiers; on my arrival in Augusta (September, 1793) I found him seriously occupied in making preparations for an expedition into the Creek country; which he supposed himself authorized to do upon some expressions in a letter to him from the Secretary of War, dated the 10th of June 1793, but another letter which I handed to him, written in July, put a stop to this business. (4) I was afterward directed by the Secretary not to concur in any arrangements at the expense of the United States, which the Governor might choose to make for the purpose of invading the Creeks. (5)
About six hundred militia were calculated to be in service this year, but I could never ascertain the numbers accurately; as I neither received returns, nor muster-rolls, although I had furnished the Governor with the necessary forms.(6) And Colonel Gaither, the commanding officer in that state, did not suppose he should be justified in directing an officer under his command to muster the militia, unless he should be first informed upon what authority they had been call-
(3) Letters of the Secretary of War to Major Forsyth the 29th April, and to the Governor 30th May, 1793.
(4) My Letters to the Secretary of War of the 4th and 11th September, 1793.
(5) The Secretary's letter to me, 5th September, 1793.
6) My letters to the Secretary of War, 4th, 11th, and 25th September, 21st of October, and 31st December, 1793.
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[called] into service and should receive instructions from the War-office for the purpose.(7) The militia therefore were not mustered.
The force was continued on the frontiers: and it was not until the 8th May 1794, that I received any correct information on this subject: Governor Mathews then wrote me that, the troop commanded by Captain Armstrong were to be considered as the hundred horse, and certain militia posts on the upper frontier as the hundred foot: these have been in part paid agreeably to the estimates transmitted to your office.(8) I was ignorant of what might have been the total number of militia in service--it was said that at one period twelve hundred drew rations of provisions from the United States. It is certain the number greatly exceeded what had been contemplated by the President.(9)
In answer to the several communications I had made to the Secretary of wAr, relative to militia affairs, I received orders to transmit to the War-office the muster and pay rolls for those who had been in service, in order that they might be submitted to Congress.(10) In consequence thereof I directed the paymaster of the militia not to receive, or examine, any rolls for services performed after the 31st March 1794, and I supposed the Governor had received, about that time, his letter from the War-office of the 22d February: the periods were afterwards extended to the 10th May for the upper, and to the first of June for
(7) My letters to the Secretary of War, 21st October and 31st December 1793.
(8) 16th August and 27th December 1794, and 2d January 1795.
(9) Letters of the Secretary of War to the Governor and John Habersham, Esq. 22d February 1794.
(10) Letters of the Secretary of War to the Governor and myself 22d February 1794.
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the lower counties.(11) It is therefore to be understood that all the militia services performed in Georgia in the year 1793, and to the
periods before mentioned in 1794, except the hundred hundred horse, hundred foot and the spies, for which appropriations have not already been made, are termed unauthorized; because they exceeded the numbers limited in the letter of the Secretary of War, to the Governor, of the 30th May 1793.
On the 7th of November 1794, I transmitted to our office the Estimates No 1, accompanied with one set of the muster and pay rolls: I refer you to my letters to the Secretary of War, and to your predecessor, of that date, for the fullest information upon this subject. The receipt of these rolls was acknowledged by the Accountant on the 10th of December 1794.
As the Estimate No. 1, did not comprehend all the militia claims, other muster and pay rolls for similar services were received by the pay-master. On the 27th February, 1796, the Estimate No 2, was transmitted to your office; and the receipt thereof acknowledged on the 8th April, 10th and 17th of June.
I now submit to you two other Estimates, No. 2 and 3, these four contain all the claims for unauthorized services which have been received either by the paymaster of the militia or myself, to the 12th September, 1798, except some rolls which have been returned to be corrected, particularly for services performed in Washington county, under the command of captains Shepherd and Hampton. There are also some to be expected from the counties of Chatham, Effingham, Burke, Columbia and Elbert.
The Accountant informed me that the Estimate No. 1, had been submitted to the Secretary of War,
(11) My letter to the Secretary of War, 7th November 1794.
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and he required explanations relative to the services which had been performed. (12) He farther requested me to obtain from the Governor a certificate that the militia were called into service for defensive operations.(13) These inquiries are fully answered in the Governors letter to me of the 8th of May, a copy of which I transmitted to the Secretary of War on the 23d June, 1795. It does not, however, appear that General Knox made any report to Congress upon this Estimate; probably the information required from the Governor could not be obtained before he resigned the office of Secretary of War.
You also informed me that you had reported on these claims, and submitted them to the Secretary of War; and that a decision might be soon expected.(14) The Secretary, in his letter to me of the 6th August, 1795, writes, that "The large Estimate for services about which my predecessor doubted I have looked into and will immediately farther examine. From the complexion of the claims connected with the Governor's certificate in his letter of the 8th of May last to you, and which I received enclosed in my letter of the 23d of June, I am inclined to think they must be, at least, generally admitted. Whatever is to be done about militia arrears shall be in a few days determined." Unfortunately, the peculiar situation of the government, about hat period, engrossed the whole time and attention of the Secretary, who left he Department of War before any decision could be made.
Nothing farther has been done, to my knowledge, relative to this business, excepting that on the 8th
(12.) His letter to me, 10th December 1794.
(13). HIs letter to me, 12th March, 1795.
(14) Your letters to me, 31st December, 1795, and 8th January, 1796.
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March, 1797, I accompanied Mr. Baldwin, member of Congress of Georgia, on a visit to the Secretary of War, to whom I explained the nature of the claims: It is probable that had not the Secretary been engaged in more weighty concerns, that he would have reported thereon to Congress. Independent of the press of business, another cause has operated to retard a decision: since the Estimates were transmitted two Secretaris have left the War Department.
It is proper to observe that the citizens of Georgia never thought the force authorized by the President adequate protection of the frontiers; as may be seen in the representations made from the Governors of that state to the Secretary of War. And the General Government have from time to time made appropriations for extra bodies of troops for this service.
The period within which these unauthorized claims are made, are particularly marked in the history of that state for misunderstandings between the Creeks and the frontier settlers. There were faults on both sides. The Indians were continually stealing horses, murdering and doing other injuries to their inhabitants, who in retaliation made incursions into their country: Such were the Oakmulgee expedition under general Twiggs in June 1793, (15) which consisted of about seven hundred and fifty horse and foot; the destruction of Oaksuskee village by colonel Melton in September, who had under his command about eighty-eight officers and me; (16) the detachment of one hundred and twenty-five men, who marched under the order of major Brenton against the Little Chehaw village, on Flint river, (17) and several of less note
(15.) The Governor's letter to me, 8th May 1795.
(16.) My letters to the Secretary of War, 2d and 21st Otober, 1793
(17.) My letter to the Secretary of War, 5th November, 1793
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where were made by volunteer parties of militia. It has been supposed that these expeditions have as objections to admitting the militia claims.(18) Although these might have been irregular, it is certain that some of the detachments who were then in service afforded great security to the peaceable inhabitants on the frontiers. (19)
The militia have been induces to believe they should be paid, because the Executive of Georgia conceived himself authorized to call them into service. The seeming acquiescence of the President to the measure, expressed in the letter of the Secretary of War to the Governor of the 10th June, 1793, and the opinion of the Head of the War Department on their claims in his letter to me of the 6th August, 1795, have confirmed them in this belief. They have also been encouraged to expect something would be done in their favour by their delegation in Congress. But it has been so long since their claims have been submitted, that many have sold them to individuals, who have purchased them upon speculation.
However, there were several officers who, in the fullest confidence of being paid, became responsible to merchants in Savannah and Augusta for clothing, and other necessaries, which they furnished to their men.(20) If these claims should be rejected, these gentlemen will be greatly embarrassed, as they will be compelled to pay the debts for which they have given security.
It is to be understood that the service performed by a troop of militia dragoons, some time in 1793,
(18.) Letter of the Accountant to me, 12th March, 1795.
(19.) See the Accountant's letter to me of the 27th August, relative to a claim of captain Randolph, and my answers of the 15th October and 7th November, 1794.
(20.) The petitions of Captain Fauché and others, now before Congress.
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under the command of Captain Charles Williamson, is not to be classed with the unauthorized claims. He had been called into service under the same authority as Captains Franche, Phinizy and others, who were paid by me in 1793. His rolls have not been transmitted to your office, owing to some difficulty between him and Colonel Gaither.
I have endeavoured, Sir, fully and impartially to answer your letter from the documents in my possession -- It is probably that farther information may be obtained from the communications of the Governors of Georgia, to the Secretaries of War, and their answers thereto.
I am, with great respect, SIR, Your obedient and humble servant,
(Signed) CONST. FREEMAN, A. W. D.
William Simmons, Esq. A. D. W.
[Stamped: The Johns Hopkins University The Milton S. Eisenhower Library Special Collections] [Right Margin: This document is the property of The Johns Hopkins University, and may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of The Johns Hopkins University.]