I have received information that a murder has been perpetrated on one Butler, a Cherokee Indian, by Major Hubbard of Greene∗ County, without provocation, which if not enquired into, may shortly be productive of very serious consequences, and involve the Western Country in an Indian war. I have thought proper to repose special trust and confidence in you for this enquiry, that you will please to convene the witnesses before you, and take their examinations on Oath, who, if they prove the killing you will issue your warrant to apprehend the said Hubbard directed to the Sheriff or such other officers you judge proper, to be brought before you,1 Superior Court to which he will be remanded to take his trial for said offence. But if Testimony can be produced that the killing was in his own defence, and the same effected through necessity or unavoidable accident, you will admit him to bail to appear at the said Superior Court of Washington there to abide by such determination as will be awarded respecting him. Should you find it necessary in the first case to commit him, I have thought Burke Jail more secure than in Washington, where he may be rescued, and should you want a Guard out of the County You will apply to Genl. Sevier, who will order such you may think necessary, as also General McDowal. I am much concerned at this event, especially at this time when the Cherokees are tampered with by the Northern Indians to join them in making war upon the Americans, which by my last information from Congress they are encouraged by some British emissaries to begin in the Spring. The Cherokees have as yet refused to listen to them, but how long this may be, is uncertain, as this act of Hubbard may raise a flame not to be extinguished but at the expense of a great deal of blood and trouble, which by prudent management may be prevented.
You will therefore conduct this business with such Secrecy, prudence & address that if Hubbard be guilty of criminality (of which I have great reason to believe he is) he shall be brought to exemplary punishment, not only to give the Indians satisfaction, but to support Government where it has of late been asleep. You will please to write me on this subject the first opportunity, and your transactions thereupon.
1 Now, Greene and Washington Co's., Tenn.