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Letter from James Robertson to Richard Caswell
Robertson, James, 1742-1814
January 14, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 246-248

JAMES ROBERTSON TO HIS EXCELLENCY RICHARD CASWELL, AND IN HIS ABSENCE TO THE HONOURABLES THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON PUBLIC SERVICE. AN EXPRESS BY THOMAS HOUGHTON.
[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]


Washington County, January 14th, 1779.

Honored Sir:

I am now to acquaint you that I left the Cherokee Nation and Town of Chota on the 24th of Decem. last. The Indians living in the upper Towns, by all that I can gather from them, are firmly for peace, the lower Towns, Chickamogga and others of that party, I am as well Convinced Are not friendly in reality, though they are afraid to Declair themselves openly, but Enemies they are, and I believe will Remain so, while the Tories, our professed Enemies, Dwells in that Country amongst them, and the Communication betwixt the Indians and the Tories there, and the Inhabitants of West Florida, Subjects of the British Crown, Remains. One Wm. Cole, on the Virginia Side of Holston, by Decoy fell by the hands of some of those Indians a few Weeks past. And when I left the Nation the greatest part of the leading Indians of that partie and several of the Tories, as the Indians informed me, was then gone to Pensacola. Their business is Secret, but I apprehend it's for no good to the States in General, and the Frontiers in particular.

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I expect that before this time you have seen a letter I wrote to General Rutherford, dated the 29th of September last. I cannot yet chainge my Sentiments with Respect to a war with the Chickamogga Indians the Insuing Spring, Except some good methods are Used to prevent it. If it should be thought Requisite to permit a party of Men to go against those Indians, which I Humbly am of opinion is the only step that can possibly be Taken to prevent a bloody and Expensive war, I would just Inform you that I beleave, on leave being given a Sufficient Number of Men, would go on their own Expense. I am well Informed that the first day of March near 200 men, and many families amongst them, Are to meet at the Long Island of Holston in order to go down the River, with a design to settle Cumberland river, a fork of the Ohio, which might be a convenient time for the Expedition; and posably under the cover of Women and Children they might pass unmolested; and I have told the Indians that people are going to settle that Country the coming Spring. Stuart, Agent on the part of the Crown to the Southern tribes of Indians, just before his death, Told the Indians that they were very stupid to suffer an Army of white people ever to march into their Country, as they might meet them before Expected, and destroy their Pack Horses all in one Night, and so prevent their marching any further, and I believe the Indians are full of that Notion.

Honored Sir, I would now beg leave to tell you and the Honorable General Assembly, that from many disadvantages to me with Respect to my private property, and the Necessary Business that now compells me to other distant parts, it is not in my Power to Perform the trust Reposed in me. I have now left a Deputy to Act in my Stead, that the Cheaf Worriours freely Rec'd, until an answer can be had from the Legislative Body, and I would Humbly beg leave to resign that trust to any person you and the General Assembly may see cause to appoint in my Room; and if I might be permitted, without offense, to nominate a person to that Trust, I should Rather Incline to Ellis Harling than any other person I am Acquainted with, as I Am well assured that no Person Unacquainted with Indians, and Indian affaris, can possibly do the service that an acquainted person might do, and having

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nothing more of importance to say, I take Leave to subscribe myself.

Your Honor's most obedient and very Humble Serv't,
JAMES ROBERTSON.

P. S. I shall refer you to Mr. Houghton, the Bearer, for further Intelligence with Respect to the Indians and other particulars.