Letter from Richard Henderson to Richard Caswell
Henderson, Richard, 1735-1785
Volume 14, Pages 121-125
RICHARD HENDERSON, ESQ., TO GOV. CASWELL.
[From Executive Letter Book.]
Granville, June 19th, 1779.
An appointment is made between the Commissioners of Virginia and myself, in behalf of those of our State, to meet at Fort Chiswell on the 10th of August next to begin the extension of the
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boundary line on the 15th. It was necessary to begin early, or it would be in depth of winter before we could return, at which time a passage through those Western mountains will be very difficult, if passable. I fear this notice is too short for the necessary preparation; however, hope it may be so conducted as to enable us to keep the appointment, for, if I can obtain assurance of support to follow in any reasonable time, shall be contented, and I make no doubt but the rest of the Commissioners will also agree to put themselves to some disadvantage rather than cause the Virginians to wait or return after running their State to the expense of travelling, transporting, &c., near two hundred and fifty miles. In short, Sir, a failure on either part might prevent the execution of this necessary business for years.
Your Excellency is empowered to cause a sufficient guard to attend us on this occasion. Dr. Walker & Mr. Madison, Commissioners on the part of Virginia, requested a hundred men at least on each side, and accordingly provisions were making a fortnight ago, when I left Williamsburg, for that number, a Com missary sent on to purchase, &c.; an order obtained on the public store for Tents, Camp utensils, Ammunition, and in short every Thing needful. They had also appointed a field officer, who was immediately to return home, which is in the Frontiers, and recruit his men, in which he will have no difficulty, as numbers are fond of the employ. There can be no doubt but everything on their part will be in readiness, as I am acquainted with the men who are appointed Major and Commissary, and know them to be active, and indeed on those officers much depend. These things, Sir, I thought proper to mention, as perhaps you will receive no official information of them in time, nor am sure that such a thing is intended or needful. That a hundred men on each side will not be too many after we leave the Inhabitants also is my opinion, nor would I willingly go on such business, attended with such delay, in an Indian Country with a less number, for if those people were amicable, (which is not the case,) the marking a line through their Country would cause a madness and rage that nothing but fear could prevent from breaking out in Acts of revenge and savage barbarity, but as the Chickamogy tribes have lately received a severe drubbing, or rather an utter rout of their whole people, and all their Towns and plantations laid waste by the late expedition
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against them, I think that two hundred men may, at this time, proceed to the business without much danger; at least I am willing to risk it, but cannot help suggesting that a power might well be lodged with the Commissioners to raise another Company of fifty men in case of apparent necessity. The business may possibly otherwise be broke off after much expense, tho' cannot think they will be wanting. Should your Excellency think these proposals, as to a guard, reasonable, it may not, I hope, be impertinent to observe that a month of the business may well go on with a fifth part of the number, as near one hundred miles in the worst part of the Country will be in or very near the Inhabitants, and, I think, twenty men will be sufficient for markers, chain-carriers, pack-horse men, and also serve as a horse guard, for we shall be surrounded with thieves on all sides. I am much afraid your Excellency will not only think me tedious but impertinent and troublesome, tho', when you consider, Sir, that, to perform this trust, I have already thrown myself out of the way of my profession, and have sustained considerable loss already, that this loss will necessarily continue for some time, and also consider that I now feel myself engaged to those Gentlemen in Virginia, as well as to my Country, am fully persuaded you will look over those matters, and consider them as flowing from a laudable design. Half my business to Williamsburg was to procure proper instructions for performing this business. It was not in my power to obtain one, and now, Sir, if you cannot assist us, the whole must fall through, or a matter of so much consequence be submitted to the exactness of one Quadrant, and that produced on the part of Virginia. This, I think, will not only be a reflection on our State, but rendering a matter which ought to be mathematically certain very precarious, besides the great delay for want of several Instruments in order to bring the matter, as often as we try, readily to a conclusion; therefore, Sir, permit me to ask the favor of your friendship and influence so far as to write to any and every Gentleman in this State, who you may have reason to believe can supply a good Hadley's Quadrant, and if any where a good Azimuth Compass can be had it will be very useful. This, Sir, is troubling you with business out of your way, but your uniform desire of serving your Country, will plead my excuse. To be candid, none of the other Commissioners have yet troubled
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their heads about the matter. I have done all I can, and without your Excellency's aid the business will end in abortion, therefore have taken the liberty of this address. The bearer, Mr. James Bristow, is employed to go to any part of the province where you may direct; he is without money or power to contract; therefore, Sir, must rely on you to do the needful as to buying, hireing or any thing else besides transportation. The power, I observe, is in the Commissioners to purchase instruments, &c. What I now ask is that you would exercise that power; it will not only put the business in such forwardness as will enable us to begin and go through, but prevent a total disappointment, for 'tis not in my power to make the circuit of the State in quest of these articles, particularly a Hadley's Quadrant, and be ready to meet at Fort Chiswell on the 10th of August, or even any day in that month. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Nathaniel Jones, a brother to the General, and one Mr. Peebles intended to apply for appointments in the Escort. If they or either of them have not succeeded, may I venture to ask such a thing in favor of my Brother, Samuel? He went out with me in my first enterprise, has shared largely in the general calamity of the Country, is a good woodsman, acquainted with the Indian manner of fighting from sad experience, is diligent and active, has been in so much estimation before he went to Kentucky as to sustain a Major's Commission in Guilford County, and I will pledge myself for his integrity. Should the office of Commander of the Guards be disposed of, or your Excellency think of another, an appointment of Commissary would be thankfully accepted. This, I own, has the appearance of too much selfishness, but I am confident of the faithful discharge of his duty, and am sure that he could immediately raise the men in the Frontiers, where, for various reasons, it would best answer, and in case of Commissary, his diligence would ensure success. Much, I think, depends on these two officers, and I make no doubt but proper attention will be had to the appointments. Shall be highly obliged for a short answer to the very long and imperfect letter, if possible, before Mr. Bristow returns, in case you should send him to New Bern or elsewhere, which, I hope and trust, will be the case. Enclosed is a rough Estimate of the immediate expense before the business can well be begun, so that your Excellency may be able to form some opinion as to the sum
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needful to put into the hands of the Commissary. Should my Brother be so happy as to meet your approbation as to this appointment, good and sufficient security shall be given in any sum you may require. In the above-mentioned Estimate is also added a memorandum of such articles as will be absolutely neces sary for Camp equipage, &c., which I make no doubt of being ordered. Altho this address is from myself alone, hope your Excellency will consider it as from the Commissioners jointly, as I am by the rest of them requested to transmit these matters.
I am, with sincere respect, Sir,
Your Mo. ob. & very huml. Servt.,