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Letter from James Seagrove to Georgia Governor Telfair regarding Georgia inhabitant resistance toward his efforts to meet with Creek leadership

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Source Name Image(s)
CollectionNational Archives and Records Administration: 3d Cong, House, Sec War Confidential Rep, RG233 view image
CollectionPrinted Version only (no image)
Document Information
Date September 17, 1793
Author Name James Seagrove (primary) Location: Fort Fidius
Recipient Name Henry Knox (primary) Location: Philadelphia
Summary From Ft Fidius on the Oconee River, Seagrove describes the Georgia inhabitants as being violently against peace with the Creek Nation. Notes that parties of militia are kept out to intercept Seagrove if he attempts to enter the Creek Nation. Describes a scene at Long Bluff whereby some Indians were attacked by Captain Stokes of the militia, an affair which has kept the Indians from coming forward to meet Seagrove. Seagrove fears for the safety of the messengers he is using to attempt to make contact with the Creeks. Seagrove reports that spies watch his movements; insolent threats common. Suggests that expedition of Georgia volunteers, commanded by Colonels Alexander Lamar and Melton, will attempt to disrupt contact with friendly chiefs. Raises the question as to under whose authority this party has been raised. Comments that he sees no opposition by the Georgia government against these unwarrantable proceedings by frontier settlers. As long as this goes on, Seagrove believes it highly imprudent to attempt to go into the Creek Nation. The Georgia settlers would likely disrupt the proceedings. Creeks cannot discriminate state from federal government behaviors. Notes the pointed disrespect by the settlers of the upper country to every person in the immediate service of the general government. Seagrove suggests that people of Georgia are like no other states in the Union with regard to Indian Wars, and believes that there are deep designs and unfair doings in this business. Seagrove suggests that any request from Governor Telfair for support against the militia would received little attention. He praises the efforts of Colonel Gaither. Suggests that Gaither has is the victim of false and malicious statements by Captain Mc Lean and Mr Minor. Indian situation appears quiet. Refers to statement by James Aiken and his confrontation with Georgia settlers and Lieutenant Sedgewick, Commander at Ft. Matthews, report that Georgia militia officer Captain Williamson and a troop of horse, went toward Oakmulgee to intercept Seagrove. Points out that these are the same militia called out by Governor Telfair for the protection of the frontier. Note: 22 September, Seagrove reports no new information. Captain Williamson advanced as far as Apalachee. After dissension with his men, they drew back. Indians are generally ddisturbed and are losing confidence in Seagrove, and Federal Government declarations of peace. Peace will not occur as long as the militia is allowed to act as they do. Note: 22 September, 2 pm, Telfair reports the Indians seek peace; no obstacles but the refractory people of frontier. Believes the Spaniards have changed their style of talking with Creeks and has asked Governor Telfair to take action to prevent Georgia settlers from crossing the boundary line Post Script: Cherokees calling upon Creeks for general war against whites because of iHanging Maw incident against Cherokees in Governor Blount's territory
Document Format Copy of document
Document Notes This document is enclosed in a statement relative to the South Western frontiers, as connected with the state of Georgia and Creek Indians, the south Western territory of the United States and the Cherokees submitted to the House of Representatives on December 4, 1793. This document is an integral part of [Public Reports] and other communications of the Secretary of War, 12/99/1793.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups James Seagrove; Edward Telfair; Colonel Gaither; Captain Dickinson; Georgia militia; Creek Nation; Captain Stokes; Timothy Bernard; Timothy Barnard; Colonel Alexander Lamar; Colonel Melton; Federal Government; Georgia government; Governor of Georgia; President of United States General George Washington; Captain McLean; Mr Minor; James Aiken; Lieutenant Sedgewick; Spanish agents; Cherokees; Hanging Maw; Bloody Club; Captain Beard; ;
Related Places Fort Fidius on the Oconee; Long Bluff; Oakmulgee; Augusta; Georgia; Upper Country; Ft Matthews; Apalachee; Spain; Florida; ;
Keywords [not available]
Key Phrases [not available]

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Fort Fidius on the Oconee 17th Septr 1793
Since writing you from Augusta on the 6th inst. I arrived in this place in company with Colonel Gaither on the 9th. I could plainly discover before I left Augusta, that the business of peace which I was going on, was very disagreeable to many men in that metropolis, and was informed that I should meet with insults and perhaps worse if I attempted going to this place. I treated all this as an idle story, however when we had reached within thirty two miles of this place, we were not a little surprized to see Captn Dickinson with a party of federal troops meeting us. They were sent as you will observe by the enclosed paper, it being the opinion of Council of all the officers at this Garrison for our protection, they having received alarming accounts respecting us, especially myself, of whom it was said currently that parties were out waylaying the roads to shoot me, we did not meet with any interruption, and got safe here.
From undoubted information which I have every day received since being here, and from the conduct of the generality of those frontier people, I find that it is a matter determined on by them that peace with the Creek Indians shall not take place on any terms whatever. That in order to prevent my meeting the Indians, parties of militia are constantly kept out between this this river and the Oakmulgee, to intercept and destroy myself or messengers, and doubtless Indians also, whether friend or foe.
On the 2nd or 3rd instant a party of thirteen horsemen under command of Capt Stokes of the Militia went from a place called long bluff on this river (about 30 miles below this garrison) towards the Oakmulgee, where they found four Indians cooking on the margin of that river. Stoke's party fired on the Indians, and it's said killed three of them: certain it is he brought off three horses, a quantity of deer skins and four rifles. My informant a man of good repute was a witness to the sale and division of this property arranged by the captors after their return into the settlement. It is said that these Indians had stole two horses from long bluff a few days before, and were followed in consequence. This affair I fear has prevented the Indians coming forward agreeably to my request of the 29th July. Not hearing of any of the Indians being at the Oakmulgee and being anxious to know the situation of matters, I dispatched two trusty persons in the night of the 11th thro' the woods with a letter to Mr. Barnard for the purpose of obtaining information. I am not without great fear for the safety of those messengers, or any that may be coming to me from the nation, as several scouting parties of the militia of the Country are constantly patroliing between this and the Oakmulgee, in order to intercept either Indians or white, and to put them to death.
Ever since I have been here spies are kept about to watch my movements, and threats of the most insolent kind are denounced against me should I dare oppose their darling object, an Indian war. For a week past an expedition hath been forming in the neighborhood of of this garrison, and in Green County, with intention as is said of going into the Creek towns. They call themselves volunteers, they appear to be commanded by the Colonels Alexander, Lamar, and Melton. The party from the best information will not exceed two hundred mounted men, with provisions for ten days. They crossed the Oconee near Shoulder-bone on Sunday the 15th instant. My opinion is that they do not mean to go father than the river Oakmulgee, where they expect that the friendly chiefs will be coming to meet me. Should it be the case, and those people fall in with them the consequence will be dreadful. By what authority this party hath been raised and sent out I know not. I can only say that there does not appear any opposition of this government to the violent unwarrantable proceedings of those frontier settlers.
Whilst such measures are pursued by the people of Georgia, I conceive it would be highly imprudent in me to attempt going into the nation with a view to establishing any thing of a pacific nature with the Creeks, being fully convinced in that those restless people would render the whole a nullity, if not bring much censure and discredit on the United States and their servants with the Savages, who cannot clearly discriminate the actions of individual States or people, from that of the general government. The opposition to every measure favorable to peace with the Creek Indians, as well as the pointed disrespect to every person in the immediate Service of the general Government is so conspicuous and general among the inhabitants of this Upper Country. as in my humble opinion to give just reason to fear that the cause proceeds in a great degree from a source in the State which it ought not.
The conduct of some of the people of Georgia viewed with those of other states in the Union who are unfortunately engaged in Indian Wars, is so extremely opposite as to justify an opinion that there is unfair doings here and deep designs in the business. I am sensible that those opinions if known would be very unpopular in some parts of the Country. I believe them just and so long as I am employed by the general Government, I will give my opinion as an honest servant.
I should have wrote Governor Telfair and requested him to put a stop to those parties of his Militia from going out against the Indians at this time; was I not already convinced by his conduct, that no kind of attention would be paid to my application on this or any other Indian business.
I have received every attention and assistance I required from Colonel Gaither and those under his command. His returning with me to this place (when his health required a change of climate) in order to forward the orders of the President to me, points out the attentive, faithful officer which I do verily believe him to be in every instance, and to my knowledge he has been most cruelly [alienated?] by the late Capt. McLean, and a Mr. Minor, which will be appear to you.
The Indians appear to be perfectly quiet in every direction along the frontier of Georgia, and I firmly believe it is their wish to continue so, if not drove to extremes by the people of this country. I shall continue here until I can hear from the nation, and know what possibly can be done; in the present situation of matters I cannot attempt anything with with safety.
The enclosed declaration made by James Aiken who I sent with my pack horses from Savannah will serve to acquaint you with the temper of the inhabitants of this Country towards federal officers, and the risque we run in doing our duty on this lawless frontier.
You will find enclosed a certified extract of a letter from Lieutenant Sedgwick commanding at Fort Matthews, mentioning that a Capt. Williamson, with a troop of horse from that quarter had gone toward the Oakmulgee to intercept me or the Indians. I believe it will be found on enquiry that a principal part of those parties who are now out to oppose me in affecting a peace are those very militia called out by Governor Telfair for the protection of the frontier and who expect to be paid by the general government.
22d September 1793, I have delayed sending forward the proceeding information in hopes of hearing from the nation, but as yet, I have not the least information of what is doing. My messengers not having yet returned I am of opinion the Chiefs have convened to come to some determination on my last letter to Mr. Barnard a copy of which I herewith send you.
The Captain Williamson mentioned by Lieutenant Sedgwick went as far as the Apalachee with 70 men but as usual a dissention took place between the commanders, and he with his party returned.
By such futile expeditions as have of late been set on on foot from this country the minds of the Indians are disturbed and their confidence destroyed either as to our prowess in War of the sincerity of our declaration for peace with them.
If such men are allowed to act in this stile they now do, it is in vain that any measures are perused to preserve a peace between this Country and the Indians. The motive for such conduct with many of the principal actors, as well as a long train of associates is so conspicuous, as not to require futher explanation by me.
22d September: 2 o'clock in the afternoon - Since writing you as above this morning, I have received an express from the nation in answer to my letters of the 29th July and that sent by Mr. Aiken on the 11th instant.
It affords me exceeding pleasure to be able to inform you that from the information I have this day received that the Creek Indians appear well disposed to comply with any wish of peace upon terms of equal justice; There appears no obstacle in the way of peace, but the refractory people of this frontier. I shall leave this in four days in order to meet the friendly chiefs on the Oakmulgee and go with them into the nation and yet hope I shall live to see peace established.
I find the Spanish agents have changed their stile of talks to the Indians, they are at present favorable. I wish they may be sincere I have wrote to Governor Telfair this day requesting him to put a stop to parties of his people crossing the boundary line, a copy of my letter I now forward you.
I am &c.
P. S. I am sorry to inform that the Cherokees have sent twice of of late the bloody club into the upper Creeks, calling on them to join in a War against the white people, in consequence of the injury done the Cherokees by people from Governor Blounts territory, in particular that by a Capt. Beard on the Hanging Maw and others. The Creeks positively refused them and are determined to sit still. I fear the Cherokees will do mischief.
At a Council of Officers called for the following purpose, viz, From the information of Mr. Aiken an express and a letter from James Seagrove, Esqr that he had sent his pack horses forward which he recommended to my care, and from the information of him the said Aiken, that Mr. Seagroves would at farthest be on here by the 7th instant accompanyed by Colo Gaither commandant of the federal troops in Georgia: and Captain Freeman, who is public agent for the United States, who brings on pay for the troops, as can be seen from a Letter directed to me signed Harry Gaither and dated 29th August 1793 and hearing that Mr. Seagrove was in danger of his life in consequence of his going to hold a treaty at the Oakmulgee with the nation of Creek Indians, and receiving intelligence that the party of Militia stationed at the Rocklanding are fattening their horses at the said Rocklanding to proceed on the 15th instant, headed by on Jeremiah Oats, and from Aikens knowing that the treaty must be held on the 10th inst suspecting that some fatal accident has happened, or may happen to the aforesaid party. We the Officers, do think it expedient from from the above communications of the Commandant, that he on calling on us, should be justified in sending out a party of federal troops consisting of one Serjeant, one Corporal and twelve privates under the command of Capt. Dickinson, to afford protection, and guard the party to this post or gain intelligence, and he is inpowered to draw provisions for four days, or money in lieu thereof furnished by the contractor, or if necessary to send an express to Georgetown, and even carry the party to that place if expedient.
Given under our hands this 7th day of September 1793.
Joseph Dickinson, Captain, 2d SubLegion, U. S. }
John Bird, Lieutenant, 2d Sublegion, U. S. }
T. L. Van Allen, Lieutenant U. S. Artillery}
Thomas Farley, Surgeon's Mate:
Rd B. Roberts Capt 2d Sublegion, U. S. and Commandant.}
Thomas Marlen, Capt. 1st Sublegion U. S.

James Aiken's declaration
James Aiken being duly sworn, deposeth and will that on the 31st of August 1793 he parted from James Seagrove, Agent of Indian Affairs, being then on the Augusta road at a place called Lambertstown. That this deponent proceeded by way of Waynsborough [Waynesboro] toward a Fort Fort Fidius on the Oconee with the packhorses and baggage of the said Agent, agreeable to orders received from him, having as an assistant a free negro man named Fred'k Chaves that they proceeded by way of the white ponds in the County of Washington where they stopped to refresh themselves and horses, that whilst at that place this deponent and with very great insult, and his life was threatened by several of the inhabitants because he was in the service of the said agent, and it was understood by those people that the agent was going to the Creek nations to establish a peace that the people at that place as well as on his way appeared very inveterate and determined to injure the agent as soon as any Indian. That a man who this deponent understood to be of the name of Randal Griffin, did actually cock a rifle gun and present it at the said negro man called Fred'k Chaves and said in a very violent manner that he would kill the said negro on the spot if he knew with certainty whether he had ever been in the Creek nations on business for the said agent. The negro made no reply or gave any cause for such usage. That this deponent verily believes that had it not been for the timely interference of the Reverend James Hutchinson he the said negro man as well as this deponent would have lost their lives, that the conduct of the people of the Country through which this deponent past appeared violently opposed to every thing like peace between this Country and the Indians, and that he conceives the said Agent in danger of his life as he travels through this Country and further this deponent saith not. (Signed) James Aiken