Patrick Henry's Instructions to George Rogers Clark
Sir, Decr. 12, 1778
You are to retain the Command of the troops now at the several posts in the county of Illinois and on the Wabash, which fall within the limits of the County now erected and called Illinois County, which troops marched out with, and have been embodied by you- You are also to take the Command of five other Companies, raised under the act of Assembly which I send herewith, and which if completed, as I hope they will be speedily, will have orders to join you without loss of time, and are likewise to be under your command; With your whole force you are to protect the Inhabitants of the County, & as occasions may serve, annoy the enemy.
It is thought that the Indian Nations may be overawed and inclined to peace with us, by the Adoption of proper measures with you. Or if that cannot be effected, that such of them as send out parties towards our Frontiers on this side of the Ohio, may be chastised by detachments from your quarter. For this purpose it will behove you to watch their motions, and to consider, that one great advantage expected from your situation is to prevent the Indians from warring on this side of Ohio.
In order more effectually to prevent this, you are to establish such posts in different parts of the Country as you judge best for your troops to occupy.
I consider your further success as depending upon the goodwill and friendship of the Frenchmen and Indians who inhabit your part of the Commonwealth. With their concurrence great things may he accomplished. But their animosity will spoil the fair prospect which your past successes have opened. You will therefore spare no pains to conciliate the affections of the French and Indians. Let them see and feel the advantages of being fellow citizens and freemen.
Guard most carefully against every infringement of their property, particularly with respect to land, as our enemies have alarmed them as to that. Strict, and even severe, discipline with your soldiers may be essential, to preserve from injury those whom they were sent to protect and conciliate. This is a great and capital matter, and I confide that you will never lose sight of it, or suffer your troops to injure any person without feeling the punishment due to the offense. The
honor and interest of the state are deeply concerned in this & the attachment of the French & Indians depends upon a due observance of it.
John Todd Esqr being appointed County Lieutenant according to Law during pleasure, with ample powers chiefly confined to the civil Department, will have Directions to act in Concert with you wherever it can be done. On your part, you will omit no opportunity to give him the necessary Cooperation of the Troops where the case necessarily requires it. Much will depend upon the mutual assistances you may occasionally afford each other in your respective Departments. And I trust that a sincere Cordiality will subsist between you. The contrary will prove highly detrimental.
Some measures will be fallen on for carrying on a Trade to supply Inhabitants of your County. You will afford the Agents such aid or protection from time to time as affairs require & your Circumstances will permit.
I send you herewith some Copies of the Act of Government & Bill of Rights, together with the french Alliance. These will serve to shew our new friends; the Ground upon which they are to stand, & the Support to he expected from their Countrymen of France. Equal Liberty & Happiness are the objects, to a participation of which we invite them. upon a fair presumption that the people about Detroit have similar Inclinations with those at Illinois & Wabash I think it probable, that they may be brought to expell their British Masters. & become fellow Citizens of a free State. I recommend this to your Serious Consideration, & to consult with some confidential persons on the Subject. Perhaps Mr. Gibault, the Priest (to whom this country owes many Thanks for his Zeal & Services) may promote this affair. But 1 refer it to you to select the proper persons to advise with & to act as occasion offers. But you are to push at any favourable Occurance which Fortune may present to you. For our peace & Safety are not secure while the Enemy are so near as Detroit.
I wish you to testify to all the subjects of Spain upon every occasion, the high regard, & sincere friendship of this Commonwealth towards them. And I hope it will soon be manifest that mutual advantages will derive from the neighbourhood of the Virginians & the Subjects of his, Catholic Majesty.
I must observe to you, that your Situation is critical. Far detached from the Body of your Country, placed among French Spaniards & Indian nations Strangers to our people, anxiously watching your Actions & Behaviour, & ready to receive Impressions favorable, or not so, of our Commonwealth &-its Government, which Impression will be hard to remove & will produce lasting Good or ill Effects to your Country; These Considerations will make you cautious & Circumspect. I feel the Delicacy & difficulty of your Situation, but I doubt not your Virtue will accomplish the Arduous Work with Honor to yourself & advantage to the Commonwealth. The Advice & assistance of discreet good men will be highly necessary. For at the Distance of your County, I cannot be consulted. General Discretionary powers therefore are given you
to act for the best in all Cases where these Instructions are Silent, & the Law has made no provision.
I desire your particular attention to Mrs. Rocheblare & her Children, & that you suffer them to want for nothing. let Mr. Rocheblares property which was taken be restored to his Lady so far as it can be done. - You, have the Sum of sixty pounds - sent for her use in case you cant find her husbands Effects to restore.
Prudence requires that provisions be laid in to subsist the Troops you have & those to be expected to arrive with you Colonel Bowman has contracted to deliver 35,000lb Bear Bacon at Kentucky, But Bread must be had at Illinois. You will provide it if possible before the arrival of the Troops, or the necessity to buy it becomes generally known as perhaps advantages may be taken by raising the price. Lay up also a good Stock of powder & Lead.
There is a Cargo of Goods at a Spanish post near you belonging either to the Continent or this State. Rather than let your Troops be naked, you are to take a Supply for them out of these goods. But this is not to he done but in Case of absolute necessity. Let an exact Account be Kept of what is used & let me receive it.
In your Negotiations or Treaties with the Indians, you will he assisted by Mr. Todd. Let the treatys be confined to the Subject of amity & peace with our people, & not to touch the Subject of Lands. You may accept of any Services they offer, for expelling the English from Detroit & elsewhere. In case you find presents to the Savages necessary, make them sparingly as possible, letting them know our stock of Goods is small at present, but by means of our Trade with the french & other nations we expect plenty of Goods before it is long.
Lieutenant Colonel Montgomery will convey to you ten thousand pounds for payment of the Troops & for other Matters requiring money; In the Distribution of money you will be carefull to keep exact accounts from time to time & take Security where it is proper.
I am, Sir
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