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Requesting Postponment of a Campaign and Lamenting the Death of Two Officers

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Source Name Image(s)
CollectionClements Library: Anthony Wayne Letterbooks view image
Document Information
Date August 7, 1792
Author Name Henry Knox (primary) Location: War Department
Recipient Name Anthony Wayne (primary)
Summary Knox wants to postpone the campaign until after winter unless the possibility of success is so high that the hardships to be endured would be justified. The troops are not sufficiently trained to undertake a major campaign. He despairs at the murder of two officers who were messengers to the hostile Indians and discusses potential sites for future posts.
Document Format Recipient's Letterbook Copy
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Anthony Wayne; Henry Knox; Newton; Trueman; Colonel Hardin; hostile Indians; Girty; British interior agents; Senecas; Captain Hendricks; Colonel Louis; Captain Brant; Council of hostile tribes; Shawnees; Brigadier Gen. Putnam; President of the United States; Wyandots & Delawares; raw recruits; Cavalry; Major Heart; Brigadier General Wilkinson; Israel Chapin, agent to the Five Nations; Senecas; Captain Jeffers; opposers of peace; ;
Related Places War Department; Kentucky; Fort Washington; the Ohio; Auglaize; Wabash and Omie Rivers of Lake Erie; Big Beaver & Cayahoga route; Sandusky; Miami village; Fort Jefferson; Kentucky; the Muskingham; Fort Lawrence; Ohio and Washington counties; ;
Keywords lowness of the waters in the Ohio; Trueman's fate is sealed; peace; treaty; murder of our messengers; progressing hostilities; collisions with the British inteior agents; offensive operations; hardships and dangers of the late season; autumn and winter; ensuing spring; waters and herbage; navigation of the Big Beaver Creek; the late Major Heart's report; a post on the Muskingham; maps; pacific overtures; powder and lead; vice of drunkeness; gaming;
Key Phrases The season of the year is too far advanced, the number of recruits too few and the undisciplined state of the army such as to preclude any great expectation of all forward important movements this season.

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No 11 From Genl Knox Secy of war
War Department August 7th 1792
Sir, Having received by the way of Kentucky, the dispatches herein enumerated from Fort Washington, and [undecipherable] that the lowness of the waters in the Ohio, mentioned in yours of the 28th ultimo, may have prevented you from
from receiving similar intelligence, I have thought proper to forward copies for your information & consideration of Express.

Comparing the information now transmitted with that from Burton contained in my last, but little doubt can remain that poor Truemans fate is sealed - but I hope Coloo Hardin may have escaped.

Although two sets of messengers (Hardin perhaps excepted) have thus been destroyed, the hostile indians may be possessed of the desires of the United States for peace - unless Girty and such wretched dependent on the traders under the British auspices, may have concealed them.

If Hardin should also be murdered our remaining hope for the hostile tribes to be acquainted with our pacific over-tures must rest upon Seneca's, Captain Hendricks, Colonel Louis and Captain Brant, the indians who were in this city for that purpose.

I estimate that some of the above indians are at [Au Gloria?] at present & perhaps most of them will be there in a few days - I should hope that considerable dependence may be placed on Captain Brant - He is well acquainted with the subject, and if his faithfulness, in this cause be equal to his intelligence, he will probably effect a treaty.

Time will shortly disclose whether the murder of our messengers has been the premeditated act of the [council?] of the Council of the hostile tribes - the Act of the Shawanes & other opposers of a peace, or the effect of blood thirsty disposition of [endurance?].

I have enclosed you Brigadier Genl. Putnams plan
for carrying on the war - I feel exceedingly obliged to him or any other person for any plans, ideas or even hints which they may think proper to offer, but every idea which he has brought forward and has been weighed naturaly by the president of the United States previously to the present arrangement. The result was that the Wabash and Omie river of Lake Erie should be the boundaries in case of progressing hostilities.

If the propositions made by Genl. Putnam were then relinquished for the present plans, reasons, for appearance therein multiply greatly. I shall therefore attempt to point out the exceptions to the big Bever of Cayohoga route which occur to my mind.

First, reasons of national policy will restrain (during the present negotiations relative to the posts) all arrangements on the lakes, which might occasion collisions with the British inferior agents - this is a delicate point & is not therefore to be undertaken.

Secondly - that in case of offensive operations a division of the probable efficient force would be such as to render the success problematical.

Thirdly no immediate object could be found for the operation of the said force moving by the way of Cayahoga - provided the information given by Captain Brant could be depended upon, to wit, that the Wyandots & Delawares have left Sandusky.

Fourthly - that even if the foregoing reason did not exist so strongly the advanced reason would prevent the
the measure, this year, unless the motives were so powerful as to be a reason for the Troops encountering all the hardships and dangers of the late season as in the last Campaign.

Fifthly - a post or, posts established at & below the Miami village towards Lake Erie would it is presumed have the direct effect to make all the hostile indians, hitherto resident to the Eastward of the said Omie river, as at Sandusky & other places remove to the west-ward of the said river, provided they have not already removed, which is highly probable.

The above objections together with others arising from the necessity & propriety of continuing our advance from Fort Jefferson to the Miami village are offered on Brig.rl Putnams propo-sition for your consideration & remarks.

The season of the year is too far advanced, the number of recruits too few and the undisciplined state of the army such as to preclude any great expectation of all forward important move-ments this season.

If the war is to progress the number of recruits authorities by Law must be completed during the autumn & winter and every prepara-tion by discipline and otherwise be made for the most active & forward operations as early in the ensuing spring as the waters & herbage will allow.

Another conflict with the savages with new recruits is to be avoided by all means.

I shall transmit these remarks to the president of the United States & his observations on the propositions of Brigadier Putnam, & the objections herein stated shall be transmitted to you.

You will judge from Brigadier Genl. Wilkinsons letter of the propriety of forwarding him a respectable detachment of four or five hundred troops - The men designed for the Cavalry with & course be forwarded, as they must be mounted there - but I pray you to give the proper orders that they be not prematurely hazarded.

More volunteers from Kentucky would be to expensive.

In order that you may have all the information I possess on the subject of the navigation of the Big Beaver Creek and the route thence over to Cayahoga, I enclose you the late major Hearts report upon that subject in consequence of instructions from me in the year 1790.

The letter of Brigadier Genl. Putnam of the 9th of July relative to the Establishment of a post on the Muskingam is referred to your judgment - If the maps are to be depended upon, a post at the place where Fort Lawrence, stood which was built in the year 1764 would appear to have a good effect to protect Ohio & Washington Counties: but whether it would be [undecipherable] in itself unless the garrison was very large, and whether it could be easily supplied are to be enquired into, and above all whether the division of force and the expense would be amply repaid by the benefits.

I enclose you copies of the letters written to Brigadiers General Putnam & Wilkinson.

It would be a species of injustice were it concealed that Brigadier General Wilkinson has afforded the greatest satisfaction, by his conduct which has evinced the most indefatigable industry of zeal to promote the good of the Service.

I have
I have this moment received the enclosed letter from Israel Chapin the agent to the Five nations - I transmit it to you as a new light upon the pacific overtures, and the expectation which we may enter-tertain of the agency of the indians, independent of Captain Brant, who I think will be at the Amie river of Lake Erie, rather previous to the 20th instant.

I am still of opinion, and the more confirmed in it from Chapins letter, that the Seneka's with Captain Jeffers' party ought not to be pressed to stay in service - their continuance may have bad effects.

I shall from time to time communicate to you all the information which I shall receive relative to the objects of your command in order that you may be enabled to take a comprehensive view of the subject and decide accordingly as the public interests shall direct.

The President of the United States in a letter received from him this day mentions "Reiterate in your letters to General Wayne the necessity of employing the present calm in disciplining and having the troops under his command for the peculiar service for which they are destined - He is not to be sparing of powder & lead (in proper & reasonable quantities) to make the soldiers marksmen.

So long as the vice of drunkeness exists in the Army, so long I hope ejections of those officers who are found guilty of it will continue; for that, and gaming will debilitate & render [undecipherable] active serve any army whatsoever.

I have the honor to be with great respect your most Obedt Servt
Maj-Genl Wayne
P.S. The dispatches for Fort Washington you will please to [form?] and by the first conveyance -