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Indian Relations and Troop Status

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionChicago Historical Society: James Wilkinson Papers view image
CollectionOhio Historical Society: Anthony WayneTranscripts (no image)
Document Information
Date July 17, 1792
Author Name Henry Knox (primary) Location: War Department
Recipient Name James Wilkinson (primary)
Summary Secretary Knox discusses peace with Indians and white aggression with General Wilkinson. Details on recruiting service, desertion, and discipline.
Document Format Letter Signed
Document Notes Cited in Wilkinson to Knox, 09171792.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups James Wilkinson; Henry Knox; Capt. Ford; Elliot; Captain Hunt; Wells; Captain Hughes; Captain Cass; Captain Platt; Captain Shaylor; Swan; Capt. Montfort; Major Hamtramck; General Wayne; General Putnam; Colonel Hardin; Major Trueman; Capt. Brant; Freeman; Gerrard; Hodgdon; Colonel McDowell; Benjamin Van Cleve; Senecas; Indians;
Related Places War Department; Massachusetts; Columbia; Mississippi [River]; West Side of the Omie River of Lake Erie; St. Dusky; Ohio [River]; United States; Kentucky; Miami of Lake Erie; Fort Washington; Harmer's Trace; St. Duskey; Rapids of the Omie; Rapids of the Miami; Sandusky; Wabash; ;
Keywords correspondence; secretary of the territory; attorney general; soldiers who are clearly entitled to be invalids; principal surgeon; medical department; nature and degree of the disability; incapacitate the invalid entirely from labour; certify the time and place at which the invalid was disabled; wounds or other casualties; War Office; draw his pension; proofs of the powder transported; salted meat; salt; wholesome provisions; comply with orders of the commanding officer for provisions; equitable remedy at the Treasury; public service; civil authority; regulations of the troops; claim of the contractors for a deduction of two ounces from the meat ration; bacon; beef; pork; goodness of the article; draft of the scales; genius of the republic seems adverse to the permanency of an army; render troops radically good; seeds of a standing army designed to overturn the liberties of the country; principles of economy, obedience to orders, habitual vigilance and sobriety and good morals; perfect discipline; dignified military reputation subservient to the laws; Secretary of the Treasury; promote serjeants; line of officers; ill operation to bar their progress; brilliant coup; man may be a first rate officer of his grade; opportunity presented to him of distinguishing himself; circumstances may arise at the moment to prevent his embracing it without any imputation of his merit; talents and certain qualifications; criterion of promotion; grades above Captains; impartiality and more accurate judgements than commonly belong to human nature; degress of merit; generate greater evils than those it was intended to remedy; seniority is the surest rule to be adopted generally for promotion; retaining to the government the right of extraordinary promotion; troops have been raised in extreme haste; esprit de corps so essential to the rank of officers; improper characters will shortly be reformed or expelled; ensigns; possess proper educations, principles and spirit; military academy; good foundation would be laid for a respectable army; suspension of an officer accused of a misdemeanor or crime; discipline of the Army; habit; prejudices; spirit of desertion mentioned in your letters ought to be checked by the most exemplary punishments; remarks of the disproportionate punishments of death or one hundred lashes are just; suggestions of hard labor seem to promise better success; power of a court according to the present rules and articles of war; dollar; scouts; allowance; Paymaster meets your approbation; Captains Hughes and Cass's companies; recruiting a company in Massachusetts; Army shall be organized; irregular detachments will be avoided; nature of the service will require frequent detachments; hope in God that a spirit will arise among the officers in such a degree that every officer who is a drunkard shall be expelled the army; exemplary discipline and prompt obedience of orders will characterize every class of the army; order of the President of the United States; proceedings of the court; authorised to agree with choice woodsmen to carry your dispatches; new clothing for all the old troops; issue your warrant for the payment of the account; prompt punishment; ensure obedience to orders; constituted the judge of reward to the Columbia Volunteers; promised them the value of the property recovered; persuade the chiefs of the Wabash to repair to this city; loss of officers or soldiers, as men, is to be regretted; Shawanese; families; hostile indians; public; all the Miami villages had been abandoned; settlements; frustrate the pacific overtures; ascertain the motives for the incursion; organization of the government of Kentucky; written to the governor; Commander in Chief; county lieutenants were informed of the pacific overtures; unjustifiable opposition to the Government of the United States; merits particular observation and inquiry; promised to be at the council; entire tranquility of the frontiers it would appear probable they must have called in their War parties; conduct of the parties; Senakas; they move in councilling with a snail's pace, very different from their motions in war; information of the actual departure; enquiries of the courses of streams of water when they were within one days march of the main body of the Indian councils; conductors murdered them on a belief they were spies; first messengers were sacrificed by their own indiscretion; made prisoners; made the indians understand they were the bearers of pacific measures as a flag; conducted as such to the rapids of the Miami; delivered your favours; issue of McDowells expedition is not mentioned in your letters of June; inclined to believe that some of yours are missing; McDowells party disagreed among themselves and returned without seeing, or being seen by, any Indians; information of your situation; reply; express; employed on occasional service with the expectation of your further information either relative to the pacific overtures or the issue of the inroad of the militia; acknowledge the receipt of your several favours; ;
Key Phrases correspondence; secretary of the territory; attorney general; soldiers who are clearly entitled to be invalids; principal surgeon; medical department; nature and degree of the disability; incapacitate the invalid entirely from labour; certify the time and place at which the invalid was disabled; wounds or other casualties; War Office; draw his pension; proofs of the powder transported; salted meat; salt; wholesome provisions; comply with orders of the commanding officer for provisions; equitable remedy at the Treasury; public service; civil authority; regulations of the troops; claim of the contractors for a deduction of two ounces from the meat ration; bacon; beef; pork; goodness of the article; draft of the scales; genius of the republic seems adverse to the permanency of an army; render troops radically good; seeds of a standing army designed to overturn the liberties of the country; principles of economy, obedience to orders, habitual vigilance and sobriety and good morals; perfect discipline; dignified military reputation subservient to the laws; Secretary of the Treasury; promote serjeants; line of officers; ill operation to bar their progress; brilliant coup; man may be a first rate officer of his grade; opportunity presented to him of distinguishing himself; circumstances may arise at the moment to prevent his embracing it without any imputation of his merit; talents and certain qualifications; criterion of promotion; grades above Captains; impartiality and more accurate judgements than commonly belong to human nature; degress of merit; generate greater evils than those it was intended to remedy; seniority is the surest rule to be adopted generally for promotion; retaining to the government the right of extraordinary promotion; troops have been raised in extreme haste; esprit de corps so essential to the rank of officers; improper characters will shortly be reformed or expelled; ensigns; possess proper educations, principles and spirit; military academy; good foundation would be laid for a respectable army; suspension of an officer accused of a misdemeanor or crime; discipline of the Army; habit; prejudices; spirit of desertion mentioned in your letters ought to be checked by the most exemplary punishments; remarks of the disproportionate punishments of death or one hundred lashes are just; suggestions of hard labor seem to promise better success; power of a court according to the present rules and articles of war; dollar; scouts; allowance; Paymaster meets your approbation; Captains Hughes and Cass's companies; recruiting a company in Massachusetts; Army shall be organized; irregular detachments will be avoided; nature of the service will require frequent detachments; hope in God that a spirit will arise among the officers in such a degree that every officer who is a drunkard shall be expelled the army; exemplary discipline and prompt obedience of orders will characterize every class of the army; order of the President of the United States; proceedings of the court; authorised to agree with choice woodsmen to carry your dispatches; new clothing for all the old troops; issue your warrant for the payment of the account; prompt punishment; ensure obedience to orders; constituted the judge of reward to the Columbia Volunteers; promised them the value of the property recovered; persuade the chiefs of the Wabash to repair to this city; loss of officers or soldiers, as men, is to be regretted; Shawanese; families; hostile indians; public; all the Miami villages had been abandoned; settlements; frustrate the pacific overtures; ascertain the motives for the incursion; organization of the government of Kentucky; written to the governor; Commander in Chief; county lieutenants were informed of the pacific overtures; unjustifiable opposition to the Government of the United States; merits particular observation and inquiry; promised to be at the council; entire tranquility of the frontiers it would appear probable they must have called in their War parties; conduct of the parties; Senakas; they move in councilling with a snail's pace, very different from their motions in war; information of the actual departure; enquiries of the courses of streams of water when they were within one days march of the main body of the Indian councils; conductors murdered them on a belief they were spies; first messengers were sacrificed by their own indiscretion; made prisoners; made the indians understand they were the bearers of pacific measures as a flag; conducted as such to the rapids of the Miami; delivered your favours; issue of McDowells expedition is not mentioned in your letters of June; inclined to believe that some of yours are missing; McDowells party disagreed among themselves and returned without seeing, or being seen by, any Indians; information of your situation; reply; express; employed on occasional service with the expectation of your further information either relative to the pacific overtures or the issue of the inroad of the militia; acknowledge the receipt of your several favours;
Transcription

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July 17, 1792
War department July 17th 1792
Sir
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your several favors hereinafter mentioned by Benjamin Van Cleve an express who arrives [here?] on the 8th Ulto: and who has been detained [illegible] excepting being employed on occasional service with the expectation of your further information either relative to the pacific overtures on the issue of the [inroads?] of the militia under Colonel McDowell.
But it was not until yesterday that Mr Hodgdon delivered our favors of the 19th of June.
The letters received by Van Cleve were dated the 6th, 14 and 28 of April, and the 5th, 9th, & 10th of May.
As the issue of McDowells expedition is not mentioned in your letter of June, I am inclined to believe that some of yours may be missing between [undecipherable] of May and 12th of June. [undecipherable] [Hodgdon?} informs me that [undecipherable] among themselves and return without
without seeing or being seen by any Indians
Yours of April 6th containing information of your situation does not require any particular reply.
There is but little doubt in my mind from the information of Captain Brant, that Freeman and Gerrard your first messengers were sacrificed by their own indiscretion as it would appear that they were made prisoners and made the Indians understand they were the bearers of pacific measures, as a flag and that they were conducted as such to the rapids of the Miami, but they made so many inquiries of the courses of streams of water that when they were within one days march of the main body of the the Indian Councils, their conductors murdered them o a belief they were spies. Brant was impressed with their conviction and you may judge from circumstances how far he was right.
Although I have not received any information of the actual departure of [undecipherable] and Major Trueman yet from Mr Hodgdon [undecipherable] mation, they set out from Fort Washington [undecipherable] Harmars [undecipherable] about the [undecipherable] they were to proceed to a certain [undecipherable]
about [undecipherable][Hodgdon?] to push for S'Duskey [Sandusky?] and [undecipherable] to the r* of the Omie. I hope sincerely they may have arrived safely and succeeded so as to prepare the way for General Putnam.
I am uncertain whether the Senekas have proceeded to the Rapids of the Miami that they will go. I have no doubt but they move in counciling with a [undecipherable] pace very different from their motions [undecipherable].
Brant has also promised to be at this Council at the [undecipherable] of Lake Erie but he cannot possibly be there until the middle of August. [But?} by the entire tranquility of the frontier it would appear probable they must have called in their war parties.
The conduct of the parties from Kentuckey, which you state in your letters, after the County [Leiutenants?] were informed of the pacific overtures, [undecipherable] justifiable opposition to the government of [undecipherable] and well merit particular observation
the Governor thereof, a copy of which I have enclosed to the Commander in Chief and another I enclose to your as it is probable he will continue some considerable time on the upper parts of the Ohio.
But it would be proper that you should without occasioning any particular observations as certain the motives for the incursion by whom stimulated and headed and whether or what effects the measures may have had to frustrate the pacific overtures and communicate them to General Warne who will transmit the same to me.
The terms you stipulated to Colonel Hardin shall be performed on the part of the public.
It ought to be mentioned to you that Captain Brant states that all the Miami villages have been abandoned and also all the settlements at St. Dusky excepting about four families and that all the hostile Indians had removed to the West side of the Omie River of Lake Erie and further that the Shawanese had prepared to remove to the West side of the Mississippi, if hard pressed of if a [undecipherable] should we concluded which they disliked.
The direction you gave Major Hamtramck of
of endeavouring to persuade the Chiefs of the [undecipherable] to repair to this City, was highly judicious and it is desire that he may accomplish it.
The loss of Officers or Soldiers, the men, is to be regretted, but it seems as if such prompt punishment however severe as Captain Montford received is absolutely necessary to ensure obedience to orders.
You are hereby constituted the judge of reward to the Columbia Volunteers if you, [undecipherable] them the value of the property recovered they ought to receive it, and if so, you will cause the account to be properly reported to you by Mr [undecipherable and [undecipherable] your warrant for the payment.
In all cases of your having important communications to make to the Commander in Chief, while he shall remain in the upper parts of the Ohio you will be authorized to agree with choice woodsmen to carry your dispatches with safety and [confidence?]
The new clothing for all the old Troops are packing and will be forwarded immediately.
The proceedings of the Court relative to Captain Shaylor were by order of the President of the United States, referred to the Commander in Chief as will also be those relative to Captain Platt.
I hope on God that a spirit will arise among the Officers in such a degree that every officer who is a drunkard shall be expelled the Army and that exemplary discipline and prompt obedience of orders will characterize every class of the Army.
As soon as the Army shall be organized, it is to be hoped that irregular detachments will be avoided, but the nature of the service will require frequent detachments.
Captains Hughes and Cass's companies will be organized by the Commander and Chief your observations shall be transmitted to him.
Captain [Harent?] is recruiting a company in Massachusetts as is Mills in this City, he has since returned from the Southward.
It has been considered that five sixths [illegible] to include every allowance.
I am well satisfied that the Paymaster sent you approbation and that of the other officers.
The spirit of desertion mentioned in your letter ought to be checked by the [illegible] punishments but it is questionable whether the most severe
severe be of that description.
Your remarks of the disproportionate punishments of death or one hundred lashes are just and the suggestions of hard labour seem to promise better success and I shall communication the same to Major General Wayne. This is within the power of a Court according to the present rules and articles of war.
But it is not so with regard to the suspension of an Officer accused of a misdemeanor or crime. He must be tried as soon as [illegible].
The Articles of War require revision but it is to be apprehended if attempted they would be rather altered in such a manner as to relax instead of bracing the discipline of of the Army.
Most of your ideas of promotion are just on an abstract view of the question unfettered by habit or prejudices.
It may and will be proper to promote Serjeants occasionally but when ones brought to the line of Officers is is conceived it would have [illegible] extreme ill operation to bar their progress unless in the case of some very brilliant coup man maybe
a first rate Officer of his Grade without ever having a fortunate opportunity presented to him of distinguishing himself if presented, circumstances may arise at the moment to prevent his embracing it without any imputation of his merit
To make talents and certain qualifications the only criterion of promotion to the grades above Captains would require, in practice more impartial and more accurate judgments than commonly belong in human nature. there would be degrees of merit [illegible] and so new the qualifications required us the mind ^making the appointments and yet falling short of [illegible] such a plan it is apprehended would generate greater evils than those which it was intended to remedy.
Indeed I believe all things duly considered that seniority is the surest rule to be adopted generally for promotion, always however retaining to the government the right of extraordinary promotion
Our troops have been raised in extreme haste. In too many cases imposition has been practiced sanctioned by names held in respect [illegible] are thereby perpetuated to a [illegible] period.
3d sheet 24
If the troops will consider their [true ideation?] and the officers introduce and keep up that [ins]esprit de Corps[/ins], so essential to the rank of officers, in proper characters will shortly be [reformed?] or expellis.
Great care ought to be observed in the introduction of the Ensigns that they possess proper educations, principles and spirit.
Were it consistent with the views of the Country to have a military academy in which it should be an indispensible preliminary to study (excepting the promoted Serjeants) a good foundation would be laid for a respectable Army.
But the genuis of the Republic seems adverse to the permanency of an Army and every plan which may be proposed to render troops practically good would probably be regarded by many well intentioned citizens as the seeds [illegible] ?tanding army designed to overturn the liberties of the Country.
The Army must therefore depend upon itself for its discipline. The Officers who possess [extraordinary?] [illegible] must inclucate those principles of {autonomy?], obedience to orders, habitual vigilance, and sobriety, and
and good morals so essential to perfect discipline and a dignified military reputation subservient to the Laws.
I have consulted with the Secretary of the Treasury on the claim of the Contractors for a deduction of two [illegible] from the meat ration when [illegible] in bacon, this cannot be allowed. They are to deliver [illegible] beef or pork and if they choose to issue the latter while the goodness of the article be not changed the quantity ought not to be diminished.
The quantity to be allowed for the draft on the scales will be adjusted at the treasury with Mr. Elliot who may be expected daily.
It is considered that when salted meat shall be issued that the salt weight not to be remanded.
The Contractors are by their contract always to have three months good wholesome provisions in advance on hand ^this must be salted meat. But independent of this part of the Contract which is obligatory on terms the nature of the case obliges the [illegible] comply with orders of the Commanding Officer [illegible] of
of every sort on due notice being given them. If the contract is silent the Contractors will always have an equitable remedy at the Treasury. But the [present] service cannot be injured by a little inconvenience to them.
As the accounts of the rations are to be settled at the Treasury, I have submitted [illegible] you transmitted on the 12th June together with your observations thereon to the Secretary of the Treasury as soon as I shall receive his opinion it shall be transmitted.
There does not exist a direct [illegible] that the civil authority have not the least [contract?] of the Officers, as it shall relate to the discipline or punishment of the men, any attempts on there part to interfere with the regulations of the Troops appears highly absurd and improper and not to be tolerated.
I shall however lay the correspondence between you and the Secretary of the Territory before the Attorney General and shall transmit the result to the Commander in chief who will [illegible] it to you.
All the Soldiers who are clearly intitled to be invalids must be examined by the Principal Surgeon
and the two next seniors in the medical [illegible] these must certify the nature and dogma of the [illegible] [malady?], whether it will incapacitate the invalid [illegible] from labor or in what proportion, and whether the disability is perceived temporary or permanent.
The Officer commanding the Corps to which the invalid belonged ^at the post which he is at must also certify the time and place at which the invalid was disabled, and the circumstances thereof whether by wounds or other [complication?].
These certificates are to be [transmitted to] the War Office [illegible] with the State in which the invalid chuses to draw his pension.
If the certificates are satisfactory the invalid will be placed upon the list and he shall receive a pension in half yearly payments [illegible] portion to his disability according to Law.
All the officers making the [certification?] [illegible] issued will be responsible for the entire truth and [illegible] thereof.
I request you to send forward the [illegible] of the powder, transported for the last [illegible] which have been made at Fort [illegible] this year by Captain Ford, as there [illegible] wanted as evidence.
4 sheet 28
I have the honor to be Sir, with great respect, Your most obedient Servant
H Knox
Secy of War