The exposed and weak state of our western settlements, and the danger to which they are subject from the northern Indians, acting under the influence of the British post at Detroit, render it necessary for us to keep from five to eight hundred men on duty for their defence. This is a great and perpetual expense. Could that post be reduced and retained, it would cover all the States to the southeast of it. We have long meditated the attempt under the direction of Colonel Clarke, but the expense would be so great, that whenever we have wished to take it up, this circumstance has obliged us to decline it. Two different estimates make it amount to two millions of pounds, present money. We could furnish the men, provisions, and every necessary, except powder, had we the money, or could the demand from us be so far supplied from other quarters, as to leave it in our power to apply such a sum to that purpose; and, when once done, it would save annual expenditures to a great amount. When I speak of furnishing the men, I mean they should be militia; such being the popularity of Colonel Clarke, and the confidence of the western people in him, that he could raise the requisite number at any time. We, therefore, beg leave to refer this matter to yourself, to determine whether such an enterprise would not be for the general good, and if you think it would, to authorize it at the general expense. This is become the more reasonable, if, as I understand, the ratification of the Confederation has been rested on our cession of a part of our western claim; a cession which (speaking my private opinion) I verily believe will be agreed to, if the quantity demanded is not unreasonably great. Should this proposition be approved of, it should be immediately made known to us, as the season is now coming on, at which some of the preparations must be made. The time of execution, I think, should be at the time of the breaking up of the ice in the Wabash, and before the lakes open. The interval, I am told, is considerable.
I have the honor to be, &c.
your most obedient and humble servant,
LETTER XXVI.—TO MAJOR GENERAL GATES, October 4, 1780
TO MAJOR GENERAL GATES.
Richmond, October 4, 1780.
My letter of September 23rd answered your favors received before that date, and the present serves to acknowledge the receipt of those of September 24th and 27th. I retain in mind, and recur, almost daily, to your requisitions of August; we have, as yet, no prospect of more than one hundred tents. Flour is ordered to be manufactured, as soon as the season will render it safe; out of which, I trust, we can furnish not only your requisition of August, but that of Congress of September 11th. The corn you desire, we could furnish when the new crops come in, fully, if water transportation can be found; if not, we shall be able