Letter from Willie Jones to Richard Caswell
Jones, Willie, ca. 1741-1801
Volume 22, Pages 742-744
FROM HON. WILLIE JONES TO GOV. CASWELL.
Halifax, June 2d, 1776.
Being just returned from the Treaties held by the Commissioners, with the lower Cherokees, and the Creek Indians, I embrace this opportunity, by Col. Long, of inclosing the proceedings to you. We sent an invitation to the Overhill Cherokees also; but they not only refused to come themselves, but used all their Influence to prevent the Lower Cherokees from treating with us, sending Runner after Runner to countermand their coming down, even when they had almost reached Fort Charlotte.
You will perceive, by their talks, that the Lower Cherokees made friendly professions, and I believe they were sincere at the time; but as the Overhills are the ruling Division, and as we have not Goods, either to make presents, or supply the Indian Trade, it is probable that, if these last attack the White people, then they will draw the former into the same measure. When we asked the Reason of the
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non-attendance of the Overhills, the Lower Cherokees were not very explicit; they said, it might be that they expected ammunition & other things from Stewart, and were afraid to come to us, lest he should be offended, and with hold his presents from them; and perhaps it might be that they were unfriendly, and meant to commit hostilities against the white people. But the Lower Cherokees said, in this last Case, that they should desire, of the Overhills, that the Mountains might be the Division between them, as they were determined to remain neuter, in the present contest between Great Britain & the Colonies. The Good Warrior, of Kewee, refused to accept the presents destined for him, and his people; however we, at last, prevailed on him to receive them, and we have not since heard any complaints from the Lower Cherokees. Some time after the Treaty, Mr. Wilkinson, one of the Commissioners, who lives in Kewee, and went up from Fort Charlotte, with the Indians, sent a messenger to us at Augusta, and informed us that a party of the Overhills had brought in one White Scalp, that it was received in the Council House, and a Dance was had in consequence of it; which is an Approbation of the Deed, and amounts with them to a Declaration of War. A Trader, who came to Augusta, gave us the same Intelligence, and said further that he was told, when among the Indians, that they had taken seven more Scalps; but that he did not see these last, and therefore could not affirm it for a fact. We had authentic intelligence of the Arrival of Stewart’s Brother among the Overhills, with 30 or 40 Horse Load of Ammunition. He was accompanied by Nat Gist, and one Colbert, two men who are equally unprincipled and formidable; they are deep in the mistery of Bush fighting, conversant in the Manners & Customs of the Indians, and quite familiar to the Frontiers of North Carolina, and Virginia. Upon the whole I am of Opinion that the Overhill Cherokees either have already commenced, or will soon commence Hostitlities; but where or against which particular proviince, I am at a Loss to determine. I conjecture that, whenever any one of the Southern Colonies shall be attacked on the Sea Coast, they will attack the same province on the Frontiers. Mr. Wilkinson promised to obtain intelligence of their Motions as soon as possible. It might not be amiss to direct Gen’l Rutherford to send some trusty person to Kewee, for Information. It is not very far from Mecklenburg, and there is no danger in going there, at this time. Having now laid before your Honorable Board all that I know respecting
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the Cherokees, you will take such steps for the protection of our Frontiers, as you, in your wisdom, shall think best. I am told that the Congress has already ordered some Ammunition for the back Country. I shall attend to this and endeavour to have it sent up with all possible Expedition.
The Creek Indians made strong professions of Friendship and Neutrality, and I believe they are sincere. We should have had no difficulty with them, had it not been for the Murder of one of their people in their way to the Treaty. I hope the Steps we took will prevent any worse consequences, from this Circumstance, than the loss of one or two Scalps, out of that particular Settlement where the Indian was murdered.
The number of Gun men among the Cherokees is computed at 2,000 or 2,500;—one half Overhills, the other below the Mountains; Gun men among the Creeks, from 4,000 to 5,000.
I am Sir, your most obedient & very humble Servt.,