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Letter from James Robertson to Daniel Smith
Robertson, James, 1742-1814
July 07, 1789
Volume 22, Pages 790-791

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FROM JAMES ROBERTSON TO GENERAL SMITH.


July 7th, 1789.

Dear General:—

I have delayed writing in hopes of better times, but the people are so dispirited by the Indians continually harrassing them, that I have almost lost all hopes. Indeed, they have not carried on the war so vigorous since 1781, and I cannot account for the cause, otherwise than that they, knowing we are out of the Union, suppose they may commit every species of devastation on us with impunity. I have taken every opportunity of writing to Mr. McGillivray; have acquainted him of your appointment and of your sincere desire to cultivate peace and friendship with all the Indian tribes. I have even been so particular as to prevent parties who have done mischief being followed (fearing McGillivray would say, as he always does, innocent Indians sufferd), but without experiencing the least cessation of hostilities.

On the 10th of June last, a party of thirty Indians attacked me and my hands in the field about 200 yards from the fort. By good fortune they all got in safe but myself, who received a flesh wound in the foot as I entered the fort gate. They kept up a warm firing on us for some minutes and went off to Johnson’s Station and Dunham’s, both which they burned—they having been evacuated a few days before. I directed my brother to raise fifty men and pursue, which he did, and came up with them at Duck River, killed one and wounded several. Our party discovered a great deal of Indian sign. On the 12th my sentinel discovered some Indians near the fort and fired on them. They returned one gun and ran off. The 13th a man was scalped at Hoggett’s Station and shot through the body, but is likely to recover. The 16th one man killed and one wounded at the mouth of Red River. I omitted mentioning the attack at Dunham’s, in which our people had one man wounded, but killed one of the Indians and wounded one. In short, sir, there has been seventeen persons killed and many wounded in this county since my return from the last General Assembly. I have myself lost thirty horses by them since last fall and my neighbors a number more.

All the encouragement I can give the people is that I have no doubt but the next Assembly will cede us to Congress, it being the general

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opinion of every thinking person that our not being immediately under the protection of the United States causes our Southern neighbors to set the Indians on us, imagining our distresses will oblige us to take protection from them. Indeed, this summer’s war has distracted the minds of many; those who have the greatest aversion to a measure of that nature say that without an alteration of times they must leave the country or become Spaniards. When at the last Assembly, I had doubts these advantages would be taken of our situation, but it was impossible to convince those against the cession our dangers were so great, or they were indifferent what became of us.

I think, sir, if you would make a full statement of our distresses to his Excellency, Governor Johnston, the attention and regard which he has always manifested for this country would induce him to lay our case before Congress, which might hasten relief when we get into the Union, as I have little hope from the treaty, the Creeks being fully persuaded the Unied States are afraid of them, and Mr. McGillivray not being candid enough to say he cannot enforce the observance of any treaty, thinking it might lessen his consequence.

I should be happy to see you, but time will not admit. I hope you can leave home to attend the next General Assembly. It will be utterly out of my power and will, if I can keep possession by staying, which I am determined to do or fall in the attempt till I can hear from the next General Assembly, and if no alteration takes place, God only knows what may be the consequence.

All the houses which have been left are burned. I find it impospossible to keep up much strength at the frontier stations, the militia being worn out by three years’ war and that growing on them. I think it could not be amiss to range and drive off these mischievous parties if possible, should the Creeks not treat. Since we have not followed them, they do much more damage.

I am, with the greatest sentiments of esteem,
Your most obedient humble servant,
JAMES ROBERTSON.

P. S. A Mr. Skinner sets out in a few days for the lower parts of this State. You will have an opportunity by him of writing to the Governor.

General Smith.