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Reports on Harmar's Expedition against the Hostile Western Tribes

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Source Name Image(s)
CollectionLibrary of Congress: William Short Papers view image
Document Information
Date December 16, 1790
Author Name Henry Knox (primary)
Recipient Name George Washington (primary)
Summary Knox's letter to the President includes the General Orders from General Harmer's expedition against the hostile western Indians.
Document Format Autograph Letter
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups George Washington; Henry Knox; Lieutenant Denny; Major Hamtramck; Indians; Josiah Harmer; militia; Colonel Hardin; savages; field officers; Major Fontane's light horse [cavalry]; active riflemen; quartermaster; Captain Strong; federal troops; Major McMullen; Major Hall; Lieutenant Frothingham; Secretary of the Treasury [Hamilton]; ;
Related Places Fort Washington; Vincennes; hostile Indian towns; Miami village; camp at Chillicothe; Shawnee towns on the Onee River; Maumee towns; Miami River; ;
Keywords expedition against the hostile Indians; General Orders; vegetables; corn; pack horses saddles; plunder; wigwams; shameful conduct of the militia; artillery; principle of honor; cattle; slaughter of many savages; loss of Major Wyllis; courage; public debt; ;
Key Phrases The General is much mortified at the [?] behavior of many of the men in the army who make it a practice to straggle from the camp in search of plunder; It is not improbable that the savages may attempt to harass the army on its return; The General is exceedingly pleased with the behavior of the militia in the action of this morning; ...upwards of one hundred warriors fell in the battle...;

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Philadelphia Decr 16. 1790 Further particulars [undecipherable] to General Harmar's expedition against the hostile Indians
Extract of a letter from the Secretary at War [to] the President of the United States
Lieutenant Denny reports verbally that after he left Fort Washington he saw in Kentucky several men of the Militia of that District who had been out with Major Whitley, under Major Hamtranck of the federal troops, [undecipherable] commanded as separate expedition. The said Militia men informed Lieutenant Denny that Major Hamtranck [undecipherable] destroyed several of the hostile Indian Towns on the Wabash; and had returned to his garrison at Post Vincennes without having met any opposition.
Extract from [Anders?]
Note the orders issued previously to the march of the troops and Militia from Fort Washington and until they arrived at the Miami Village relate to the arrangements [undecipherable] the troops the order of march, of encampment and of battle, and the discipline necessary to be [undecipherable] all of which are particularly detailed
General Anders
Camp at the Miami Village about 70 miles from Fort Washington Octr 7th 1790
The General is highly pleased with the [undecipherable] alacrity shown by the army (particularly with the [undecipherable] there was detached under the command of Col. Hardin) come up with the Savages altho it was inpracticable they had [undecipherable] their favourite Towns before the light [undecipherable] reach them.
Leaving behind them such a vast quantity of [corn?] and vegetables is a certain sign that they decamped in the utmost consternation and have not fled an Enemy
The army is to [undecipherable] in its present position until further orders; in the mean time quarter master Pratt is to have the Corn brought in and deposited in one place, on [undecipherable] houses as he can find, and a guard is to be placed over it for its security. [It's?] with received direction how it is to be distributed.
The Superintendent of the horse department (Mr. Caldwell) is to be responsible that his pack saddles are repair'd and put in as good order as possible ready for the next movement of the army.
The general calls upon the commanding officers of Battallions not to suffer their men to straggle from their incampment, otherwise they will certainly stand in danger of being scalped.
The guards are to be extremely vigilant to which the field officer of the day is to pay them most pointed attention. A detachment under the command of Lt Col [Trotter?] consisting of several troops 30Majr Fontaine's Lt Horse 40Active Rifle Men 230Total390 are to march tomorrow early. Lt. Col. Commandant Trotter will receive his orders from the General
General Orders [-] Camp at the Miami village Octr 11. 1790 The General is much mortified at the unsoldierlike behaviour of many of the men in the army who make it a practice of straggle from the Camp in search of plunder. He in the most positive terms forbids this
practice in future and the guards will be [undecipherable] to prevent it No party is to go beyond the line of [centinel?] without a commissioned officer who is of the Militia will apply to Col. Hardin for his orders: the regular troops will apply to the general. All the plunder that may be hereafter collected will be equally distributed among the army--the kettles and every article already taken is to be collected by the commanding officers of Battalions and to be delivered tomorrow morning to M. Bills the Quarter Master that a fair distribution may take place. The Rolls are to be called at [undecipherable] and retreat [undecipherable] and every man is to be reported. The General expects that this order will be pointedly attended to: they are to be read to the troops this evening.
The army is to march tomorrow morning for their home encampments at Chilicothy about two miles from hence. Jos. Harmer Brig General
General Orders [-] Camp at Chilicothy, one of the Shawney Towns, on the Omie River Octr 20th 1790.
The party under the command of Captain Strong is ordered to destroy and burn every house & wigwam in this village together with all the corn &c which he can collect. A party of 100 men, militia properly [undecipherable] and in the command of Col. Hardin, is to burn and destroy effectually this afternoon Pickaway Town with all the corn &c which he can find in it, and its vicinity.
2209 The cause of the detachment being worsted yesterday was entirely owing to the shameful cowardly conduct of the Militia who ran away and threw down their arms without scarcely firing a gun. In returning to Fort Washington of any officer or man for all [undecipherable]
to gut their ranks or not march in the form they are ordered the General will most assuredly order the Artillary to fire on them. He hopes the check they met yesterday will make them in future obedient to orders.
General Orders [-] Camp at Chilicothy Octr 21. 1790 [undecipherable] [undecipherable] the army having completely affected the object for which they were ordered viz a total destruction of the Maiamee Towns as they are generally called with their [undecipherable] abundance of corn and vegetables in them and their vicinity, are now to commence their march, and to return to fort Washington. The General was in sound hopes that that he should be able to break up the {Wheas?] Towns on his return but the weak state of the pack horses and several other circumstances, conspire to render it impracticable at present
The general is to be at [undecipherable] the assembly at half past nine and the whole army to take up the line of march at 10 precisely
It is not improbable that the savages may attempt to harrass the army on its return particularly [undecipherable] rear and blanks. It is therefore incumbant upon every officer to attend to the duties of his station and by no means to quit their ranks or create the least confusion, but on the contrary to keep silence and good order: otherwise the Artillery agreeably to the order of yesterday, shall be certainly ordered to be fired upon such men as are so lost to every principle of honor as to run away in the time of danger. The cattle & pack horses are to be kept up in the most compact order: and the officer commanding
the rear battalion is to be [responsibility?] of The [undecipherable] Field officer of the day, that these orders are carried strictly into [undecipherable] Such horses as Mr. Caldwell may absolutely stand in need of are to be taken from the mounted militia not attached [undecipherable] Major Fontane's Corps, for public service. If these shall be found insufficient the remainder must come from Major Fontane's corps.
General OrdersCamp, 8 miles from the ruins of the Maumee Towns, on the return to Fort Washington Octr 22. 1790The Army is to remain at the present encampment until further orders.
[After?] OrdersThe General is exceedingly pleased with the behaviour of the Militia in the action of this morning. They have laid very many of the enemy dead on the spot. Although our loss is great, still it is inconsiderable in comparison to the slaughter made among the savages. Every account agrees that upwards of one hundred warriors fell in the battle it is not more than man for man and we can afford them two for one. The resolution and firm determin'd conduct of the Militia this morning has effectively retrieved their characters in the opinion of the General: he now knows that they can and will flight.
The loss of Major Wyllis (with so many of the federal troops) and Major Fontain , two gallant officers, he [undecipherable] and deeply laments; but it is the fortune of war.
The General begs Col. Hardin, and Major Mc
Mullan and Major Hall of Lt Col Commandant Trotters regiment, together with the officers and privates of the Militia who in their command to accept his thanks for the bravery displayed by them on this occasion
On The morning of Tomorrow the army is to march at 8 o clock precisely
No Enemy was seen after the action of the 22d of Octr
Private Account of the Above by a Militia Man in the Pittsburg Newspaper.
On the 20th of Octr a detachment marching in column through a Swamp Lt Armstrong who commanded one column was ambuscaded by a party of Indian formed in half moon. Our people retreated: the Indians [undecipherable] in with them tomahawks: the regulars bayoneting them till Armstrong's men were all cut off: many of the Indians fell: we lost 70 men this day. Next was employ'd in burning corn: we killed two Indians. The day following [undecipherable] out and march'd 8 miles homeward & emcamp'd. In the night Col. Hardan Major Wyllis, Major Fontaine, Major McMullan & Col Hall with about 400 men went back to the town they [undecipherable] about day light and in four differant parties march'd to different quarters of the town Each party was attack'd and skirmish'd about three hours. Major McMullan drove a party of the Indians into the Miami River. Col. Harden retreated with loss. Major Wyllis with to men were cut off by a party which came in his rear through some Hasels, Lt. Frothingham
fell at this time. Major Fontaine hurry ordered his men to retreat in a [frenzy?] of carrages, rode directly into the throng of the Indians, butting & slashing, till he was wounded: he was afterwards seen dead & scalped. Major Wyllis was left mortally wounded: he wished to be helped on his horse to give them another charge; but in the hurry of retreat it coud [sic] not be done."
The sum total in specie with which the public funds have been purchased by the Secretary of the treasury amounts to upwards of one hundred & fifty thousand dollars
The quantity purchased upwards of two hundred & twenty thousand pounds nominal.
The last purchases of the Public Debt which were made late in Decr 1790 were at the following rates, funded six per cent at 18/ Defer'd six percents & three percents at 91