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Greathouse of Augusta County, VA
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1774, May 29 - Letter: Arthur St. Clair to Gov. Penn, 1774.
I doubt not but before this time you have expected some account from me of the situation of this Country, but as I could not write with certainty respecting the intentions of the Indians I chose to defer it.
In my last to Mr. Shippen I think I mentioned that Mr. Croghan had sent a Delaware Chief (White Eyes) with two of our Traders with a Message to the Shawanese; their return had been impatiently expected, tired at last with the suspense, I determine to go to Fort Pitt, whatever might be the consequence, and am just returned from thence. I was lucky enough to arrive there the day they came in, and tho' their account are alarming enough, yet I cannot think they are equal to the Panic that has seized the Country.
The Shawanese Message is insolent enough, and we have certain account that twenty of their Warriors are gone out, but we have still reason to think they do not mean mischief to the people here, as they lay all to the charge of the big Knife, as they call the Virginias. The substance of their speech is that they think what Mr. Croghan and Mr. McKee say to them is lies; that they know the Path is open from Philadelphia, and that they will keep it so if they please, but that the big Knife has struck them, and when they have got satisfaction they will speak to him, but not before; that now they have nothing and are all upon their Feet, with other threatening expressions in their way.
There were several Chiefs of the Delawares and the Deputy of the six Nations, (Gayasutha) with eight others of the Seneca Tribe at Pittsburgh, by Mr. Croghan's advice they were called together and I made a short speech to them, they seemed to receive it with pleasure, and in return gave the strongest assurance that they wished for nothing more than to continue in Peace with this Province, and to become as one People. I think there can be no doubt of the sincerity of the Delawares; they have given substantial proof of it in the care they took of the Traders that were to have gone to the Shawanese, and if the Six Nations are in the same Disposition the War will be of little consequence, but I fear it is to be doubted whether Caysutha knows the sense of the League or not.
One of the Traders who went with White Eyes was detained at New Comerstown; they, it seems, thought it imprudent that more than one should go, very soon after the others left it, they were met by Shawanese Man, who fired at Duncan within a very small distance, but fortunately missed him. White Eyes immediately called to him to make back to Town, and he himself got betwixt the Indian and him, and came up with him when he had stopped to load his gun, and disarmed him; they both got safely back to the Town, and were immediately shut up in a strong house and guard kept on them day & Night to preserve them from any attempt that migth be made by the Shawanese or Mingoes, (a small party of these last live near the Shawanese, and are in a manner incorporated with them) and this was continued till White Eyes went down to the Shawanese Town and returned, during all which time they were furnished provisions, and every thing that could be procured for them, in the most liberal manner. This, I think must be an unequivocal mark of their Disposition.
The mischief done by Cressap and Great House had been much exaggerated when I wrote Mr. Shippen, but the number of Indians killed is exactly as I informed Mr. Allen, viz: thirteen. Cressap has lately been in the neighborhood of Pittsburgh with intentions, as it appeared, to pursue the Blow he had before struck, but Mr. Connolly sent a message to him forbidding him to attempt any thing against the Indians. This he has taken in high Dudgeon, and declares publickly that what he did before was by Mr. Connelly's orders, so that it is to be hoped some of the devilish schemes that have been carrying on here will come to light. I ventured to say that an Indian War was part of the Virginia Plan. I am satisfied it must at least be part of Mr. Connelly's plan, for he has already incurred such an expense by repairing the Fort and calling out the Militia, that I think it is impossible that Colony will never discharge it, unless Disturbances be raised that may give his manuevres the appearance of Necessity.
It is scarcely possible to conceive the Distressed situation of this Country, one day the Spirits of the People are raised a little and some prospect of their being able to remain on their Farms, the next a story worse than any they have heard before, and a thousand times worse than the truth, sinks them into dispair, and those about Pittsburgh are still in a more pitiable state, being harrassed and oppressed by the Militia, who lay their hands on every thing they want without asking questions, and kill Cattle at their pleasure, they indeed appraise them when the owner happens to know of it, and give him a Bill on Lord Dunmore, which is downright mockery.
From what I saw it was evident to me that the Country must very soon be totally evacuated unless something was done to afford the Inhabitants the appearance at least of Protection. I therefore consulted with some of the Inhabitants at Pittsburgh, and Mr. McKay, Mr. Smith, Col. Croghan, Mr. Butler and myself entered into an association to raise, victual and pay a ranging Company of hundred Men for one month, to which a number of the Inhabitants, as I came down, readily acceded, and I think in a few days we will have it compleated. We flattered ourselves, indeed, that your Honor, if you approve the measure, would take such measures with the House as would release us from the expense, but as you may probably want a formal requisition to lay before the House, I have acquainted you with it in another letter. One thing further I had in view, the Inhabitants of Pittsburgh propose stockading the Town, when that is done should your Negotiation with Lord Dunmore miscarry throwing a few men in that place would recover the Country the Virginians have usurped. I beg pardon for so long a letter, and yet I believe I should be given you more but that I am detaining Mr. Montgomery, who charges himself with forwarding this to your Honor. I have only to request that you will please to give us your directions as soon as possible.
I am, Sir, Your most Humble and most obedient Servant,
Pennsylvania Archives, Series 1, Volume 4, Pennsylvania Archives 1774, Page 502, Letter: Arthur St. Clair to Gov. Penn, "The mischief done by Cressap and Great House had been much exaggerated."
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