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Letters from William Christian to Patrick Henry
Christian, William, ca. 1742 - 1786
October 14, 1776 - October 15, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 844-847

[From MS. Records of Virginia.]
Letters from Colonel William Christian Commanding the Virginia forces against the Cherokees to Governor Patrick Henry.


Bank of Broad River, October the 14th, 1776.

Honble Sir,

I am now encamped with the Army on the Bank of Broad river next the Cherokee Nation. On the 12th in the evening just before I was about to encamp, a white man with a Flag met me about five miles from the river. He said that the nation desired peace, and that the Raven Warrior of Chote in particular had sent him to desire he might speak to me & that he did not doubt but that we should agree, in case I would treat upon reasonable terms. He told me moreover that the advanced parties were at my present camp, & that the whole strength of the nation were expected here that evening in order to oppose my crossing, which was easily to be done at this Foarding without great loss. Yesterday about twelve o'clock I came to & formed my Camp on the other side from whence it was discovered there was Indians here. I sent up & down the river to search for fordings, one was discovered above by our men seeing four Indians pass over, & below a place unfrequented was found which it was supposed could be crossed at. Ten o'clock at night I set off with betwixt ten and eleven hundred men, 200 of them mounted on Horses, and by one o'clock in the morning got over with much danger & difficulty; the river being so deep & rapid that none of the men could waid, the night was so very dark I was obliged frequently to make lights, the river about half a mile counting the several windings we were obliged to make. About an hour before day I marched within a mile of this spot where I expected the Enemy were, and at sun rise surrounded the place; but found no enemy. Upon this I ordered the remaining part of the Army with Provisions & Baggage to be brought over, which is now effected. At twelve o'clock the three men mentioned in my former letter returned without a Prisoner, but with intelligence (but the manner of getting it I must not now mention, least this may be miscarried), that the whole Force of the Nation is now near me, with a determined resolution to attack me, and to skirmish at me from here to the Towns; Aiming to destroy the cattle & Horses,

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and in obedience to Stuart's orders (now at Mobile) never to make Peace; to Fight & retreat on.

It appears also that the flag was disapproved of by most of the Towns except three, under the influence of the Raven; that him, his Brother & Capt. Gist [Guest] were here, when the white man was sent to me with the flag. I forgot above to mention my Answer to the Raven's Message, which was: How can he send to me for peace before he has delivered up Cameron, that enemy to white & red people. How can the Nation think of Asking peace of me when they retain our Prisoners? How can they ask a peace when they have the assurance to assemble their men to Fight me, if they should dislike my terms? That I would cross the river and that I would Proceed to the Towns. That Mercy & Bravery was the characteristick of the States of America, and that I should distinguish betwixt those Towns who had behaved well towards us, & others who had not done so. They have not sent to me since; but it seems more than Probable that the Proposals, although really the sentiments of three Towns, that the majority hoped to take me unguarded while a Treaty was on Foot. Six Indians were seen this day, one six miles down the river where I crossed last night & four within half a mile of this Camp. I shall look for an attack to morrow. However I Judge the enemy will be vexed & disconcerted at finding me here to day. It will I dare say take me four or five days to reach the Towns, as I must march slow, & always in order. It is reported in the Towns that Stuart is sending 800 Creeks, who are to be there in a few days. However be as it may, I shall Proceed, & endeavour to have matters settled before I return. General Rutherford has returned to the Seneka Towns, some where about Keowee, after laying waste the Valley. One of my accounts say he has sent a woman Prisoner with Proposals of Peace. Another says he has not. This is all I can hear. But I believe it to be certain, he has returned. Perhaps another Flagg may come, as the Indians say we travel as fast as them, & and seem very impudent. They attended me all the way from the Island but seldom came nearer than to hear the Tapping of the Drums, which was pretty constant, in order to keep the several lines in order. It is now evening, & I intend to march to morrow by ten O'Clock, if possible. Should anything new occur before that time I will add it. I am sir,

Your Most Obed. Servt
WM. CHRISTIAN.
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P. S. Capt. James McCall of South Carolina who was taken Prisoner the first day of July last by the Cherokees is now with me, and a brave man. He had a wife and five children, and wishes it to be Published in the Gazette, that he is here and well. By this means it will get into the Carolina Paper and reach his family.

———


Bank of Broad River, Octr 15th, 1776.

Honble Sir,

I wrote to you yesterday evening what news I then had. It is now a little after sunrise, and I am preparing to march. About an hour after dark last night Capt Gist [Guest] came in with a flag from the Raven Warrior to intercede for Chote. He seems to doubt my other intelligence, that the whole force was to fight me. He says that from the answer I gave the first flag that the Raven had hopes, and had turned all he had influence over, as the enemies forces were encamped about four miles from here; that when his party drew off the others followed, and that yesterday morning great numbers were moving off their families and corn. He says that Cameron offered a great reward for his head, and the man who brought the first flag. That he advises the Indians to burn their Towns and corn, because they must then depend on him for ammunition to get meat and by that means to continue the war. He says that one thousand of the Carolina side Indians are over this side. He says that Cameron will try to assemble them all some where about Highwassey and to defend that place, or to bring them to fight. I intend to speak to some of the warriors to catch him if possible. He says there are several small parties about us who will do what harm they can, but that no general battle will be fought except when I cross the Tennessee, or towards Highwassey, if I follow there. He says that the whole people of the valley and lower settlements have come over and quit that country. That their loss of men was very inconsiderable. I judge the flag was only an excuse for him to get with me. I believe he is sorry for what he has done. I did intend to have him put in irons but the manner of his coming I believe will prevent me. The officers tell me that the camp is in great confusion about him, some think there are many favorable circumstances attending him, and many for killing him, of the last the greatest part. I spoke but little to him, and dont know whether he wants to go back or not. He says that the Creeks are expected

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soon. I shall push first for the Island Town, and those who bred the war, and have thoughts of sparing Chote.

I am sir your most obedient and humble Servant,
WILLIAM CHRISTIAN.