Clothing, Muskets, and Powder

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Document Information
Date July 13, 1792
Author Name Anthony Wayne (primary) Location: Pittsburgh
Recipient Name Henry Knox (primary)
Summary All is quiet on the frontier but the lack of clothing for the troops is a disgrace. Wayne discusses a modification of his muskets which, using a fine-grain powder, will eliminate the need for priming and result in more efficient firing of the weapons. He asks that this new powder be sent immediately so as to avoid another defeat at the hands of the Indians.
Document Format Author's Letterbook Copy
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Henry Knox; Anthony Wayne; hostile Indians; Indians; farmers; General Wilkinson; first Regiment; second Regiment; commanding officers; light troops; Cavalry; ;
Related Places Pittsburgh; borders of the frontiers; Fort Jefferson;
Keywords harvest; hay; grain; temporary suspension of hostilities; provision; forage; clothing; wage; experiment; musket; touch hole; powder; charge; cartridge; hatchet; sample; double price; post; fine grained powder; no traces of hostile Indians; hay and grain; temporary suspension of hostilities; supply of provision and forage; destitute of clothing; disgrace to the service; improvement of the musket; alteration in the touch hole; the necessity of priming; concussion of the air; each musket to prime itself with more certainty; the eye of the soldier; top of the cartridge; the report of their own muskets; the aid of powerful and well appointed cavalry; olive branch; a sample of the powder; all possible dispatch; present overtures of peace;
Key Phrases I have made a small experiment of the idea I mentioned to you respecting the improvement of the musket by an alteration in the touch hole; I herewith send you a sample of the powder. I wish for, pray forward it with all possible dispatch if it can be met with or purchased at double price, for if the present overtures of peace are treated with contempt or neglect, we must not suffer another defeat;
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No 6 To Major Genl Knox Secy of War
Pittsburgh 13th July 1792
Dear Sir,
There are no traces of hostile indians to be discovered upon the borders of the frontiers, all is quiet & the farmers are assiduously employed in harvesting their hay & grain, which I hope they will effect, & secure in safety.
I have directed Genl Wilkinson to improve the present opportunity (il.e. this temporary suspension of hostilities) to throw as large a supply of provision & forage into Fort Jefferson, and the intermediate posts as circumstances will admit of no troops have yet arrives - the first & second regiment are almost destitute of clothing; in fact the language of the commanding officers at the respective posts generally is "that the situation of the troops with respect to clothing is a disgrace to the service:, for god's sake send it forward (if not already done) that I may have it in my power to shut their clamorous mouth's.
I have made a small experiment of the idea I mentioned to you, respecting the improvement of the musket, by an alteration in the touch hole i.e. by filling up the old, and drilling a new one pretty large in an oblique in place of a right angular direction with the caliber; which with a very fine grained powder will most certainly preclude the necessity of priming: the conclusion of the air, in forcing down the charge will cause each musket to prime itself with more certainty, in action than the common mode; the eye of the soldier will therefore be constantly upon his enemy; & he can pursue & load in full trot without danger of losing any part of his powder, as he will have nothing to do, but to bite off the top of the cartridge, & introduce it into into the piece, and, much quicker than he could load standing in the rank's in the usual way; This is a maneuver that must be practised by the light troops - it will accustom them to the report of their own muskets, so, as not to be alarmed at their own fire; and with the aid of a powerful and will appointed cavalry (should the Indians prefer the Hatchet to the olive branch) I trust will produce a Conviction, not only to the savages, but to the world, that the U. S. of America are not to be insulted with impunity - the Fire in this way is as three to two standing & as two or one running - and may yet be improved by an equal ramrod.
I herewith send you a sample of the powder I wish for, pray forward it, with all possible dispatch, if it can be met with or purchased at double price, for if the present overtures of peace are treated with contempt of neglect, we must not suffer another defeat.
I have the honor to be with Sincere esteem and friendship, Sir, yr most obedt and very huml Servt -
Anty Wayne
8 OClock P M the post has this moment arrived, & I have the honor to acknowledge your's of the 7th with duplicates of No. 4 of the 29th ulto. as nothing material has happened, since this morning. I will not detain this post who appears to be indolent.
The Honble
Major Genl Knox
Secy of War