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Indian engagement, training, and Putnam's strategy

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionClements Library: Anthony Wayne Letterbooks view image
CollectionOhio Historical Society: Anthony Wayne Transcripts (no image)
CollectionPrinted Version only (no image)
MicrofilmHistorical Society Of Pennsylvania: Anthony Wayne Papers (no image)
PublicationKnopf, Richard C., ed. Anthony Wayne, A Name In Arms: The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1960. (no image)
Document Information
Date August 17, 1792
Author Name Anthony Wayne (primary) Location: Pittsburgh
Recipient Name Henry Knox (primary)
Summary Wayne discusses the loss of two officers in an engagement with the Indians as well as the probable failure of peace overtures. He talks of a mock-attack in which Americans pretended to be Indians and which provided an effective training exercise for his green troops. He disagrees with Gen. Putnam's strategy because it depends upon on veteran troops rather than the inexperienced ones that are on hand.
Document Format Author's Letterbook Copy
Document Notes Cited in Knox to Wayne, 09/01/1792, and Stagg to Wayne, 08/25/1792.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Henry Knox; Anthony Wayne; General Putnam; General Wilkinson; General Israel Chapins; Captain Heart; Major Hamtramck; Colonel Harding; Major Trueman; the five nations; hostile Indians; Capt. Cass; the cornplanter; the rifle corps; our little Legion; Cavalry and infantry; raw & undisciplined troops; Captain Jeffers's corps; Captain Mills; Major Craig; Captain Porter; owners of wagons;
Related Places Pittsburgh; Fort Franklin; the mouth of Buffalo; Whelan; the Allegheny; Carlisle; Philadelphia; Shippensburg; Fort Washington; Fort Hamilton; Forts St. Clair & Jefferson;
Keywords the fate of our three flags; victims of savage ferocity; the first embassy; the presidents orders; a sham engagement; the skill and fortitude of our little Legion; combined maneuver of the reserves; this little representation of an action; a spirit of emulation; plan of carrying on the war against the Indians; list of articles that have not yet arrived; invoices from the 1st of January until the 17th of July; several taverns; supply of provisions; rifle clothing; By the many corroborating accounts from every quarter, I believe there can be little room to doubt the fate of our three flags; and that both Col. Harding and Major Trueman have been victims of Savage ferocity;
Key Phrases [not available]

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No 13 To Genl Knox Secy of war
Pittsburgh 17th augstĀ : 1792
I am honored with your's of the 7th instant p Express, inclosing copies of Letters & communications from Generals Putnam, Wilkinson, & from Genl Israel Chapins, also Captn Hearts reports & sketch of the big beaver &c I had the honor to inclose copies of
of Genl Wilkinsons letters & Major Hamtramck's communications to you, on the 3d instt in which I took the liberty to request them to be returned, as I would not have time to take copies without detaining the post; these you have now honored me with forecloses the necessity of others.- By the many corroborating accounts from every quarter, I believe there can be little ^room to doubt the fate of our three flags; & that both Colo Harding and Major Trueman, have been victims of savage ferocity: it's also probable that the first embassy, if not the second, from the five nations to the hostile indians (mentioned in the enclosed copy of a letter from Capt. Cass) have experienced the fate of our flags: the first had been absent two moons; the other one, when the cornplanter was at Fort Franklin, i.e. the 23d ultimo- had any material intelligence been received at the mouth of Buffaloe as late as the 7th. instt I should have been made acquainted with it by this time.
The alarm of two large parties of indians being in the vicinity of this place, turned out to be a party of about six, who finding themselves discovered, went off without doing any damage; they were followed about sixty miles.- another small party made their appearance near Whelin about fifty miles below this place on the ohio, the beginning of this week, and fired upon three of our people, who returned it, by which fire one indian fell, and one of our people was shot thro' the shoulder.
I have in some measure anticipated the Presidents orders, in firing at marks- by permitting
the rifle men to practise two shot p man every fair day- and by directing the Guards relieved from duty, to discharge at marks, waistband high as mentioned in my letter of the 10th inst.
On Wednesday we had a sham engagement- the rifle corps, (by reiterated attacks & highly painted,) acted well the part of Savages- which required all the skill & fortitude of our little Legion to sustain, until by a combined manoeuvre of the reserve, composed of Cavalry, and infantry- they were outflanked and charged, in front & rear, at the same instant, (by actual surprise) part of the Cavalry having crossed and re-crossed the alleghany, for that purpose, during the action, this little representation of an action, has had a good effect, by inspiring the respective corps with a Spirit of Emulation- but it will not do to repeat it- at least for some time- I had no idea, that the mind could be so diffusively inflamed by imagination only- fortunately no material accident has happened, some have had their faces a little burnt with powder- and two or three slightly wounded with wadding- but in a manner that caused more anger than hurt.
I am much obliged by Genl. Putnam's plan of carrying on the war against the indians, & for your observations thereon; and will give them a full consideration- I had digested in my own mind, a plan of operation something different from that of Genl. Putnams; and am decidedly of opinion that the season he proposes for
for operation, is very improper, for raw & undisciplin'd troops- who have not yet learned to live upon their ration: I will not enter into a discussion at present; as I mean to submit my ideas, fully & freely to you, upon this subject by the next post.
The Indians, that were attached to Captn Jeffers's corps have been dismissed & sent home, ever since the beginning of July- except two or three, who don't shew a disposition to leave this place.- in fact Jeffers's, whole corps of rangers has been dissolved near two months, as I found the soldiers were much averse to that kind of service, which had caused many desertions.-
Captain Mills did not march from Carlisle, until the 10th nor do I hear of any other detachment being, near, - I expect him here about the 24th.
Whilst I am writing I am honored with your's of the 10th with inclosures; and shall direct major Craig, to make out a list of the articles that have not yet arrived, mentioned in the invoices from the 1st of January, to the 30th of June; & from the 1st, until the 17th of July.
It is indispensably necessary, that some effectual mode of transportation of stores should be adopted- probably if the owners of waggons were obligated to deliver the stores committed to their charge at Pittsburgh, within 25 days it might have a good effect- Captn Porter, of the artillery, who arrived yesterday, says that he seen considerable quantities of public stores left at several taverns, along the road
in open sheds, from the sign of the ship 34 from Philadelphia to Shippensburgh.-
At the moment of closing this letter to be in time for the post, a boat arrived from Fort Washington with letters from Genl Putnam, to you under cover to me, & left open for my perusal: I enclose enclose you a copy of a Deposition sent me by Genl Wilkinson; the original was forwarded by way of the wilderness on the 23 ultimo, which you probably will receive before this comes to hand.- Genl Wilkinson writes me on the 26th July, that he was just then setting off for Fort Jeff Hamilton, in order to push forward a considerable supply of provisions for Forts St Clair, & Jefferson under a proper escort, as he considered the present moments precious under present circumstances.
I anxiously wait the arrival of the rifle clothing, and dismounted Dragoons, in order to reinforce Wilkinson- they shall not remain in this place an hour after they arrive, if the water will float them.- the boats &c. will be ready for their reception.
I have the honor to be with every sentiment of esteem your most obedt huml sert
Anty Wayne
The Honble Major Genl Knox Secy of War