Thursday, March 05, 2009

Robert Elliott Army Contractor 1794.

Ann Elliott, was the wife of the late Robert Elliott, Esq., who was a contractor to the United States army in 1794, and commanded by General Anthony Wayne. The army had a general order that stated; “Escorts and guards for the safety of the provision, and for the protection of the cattle against the enemy, shall be furnished whenever, in the opinion of the commanding officer of the army, or of any post, to whom application may be made, if the same can be done without prejudice to the service; and the party of the second part shall not be answerable for any deficiency of supplies at any of the said posts or places, if it shall appear, upon satisfactory proof; that such deficiency was occasioned by the want of proper escorts or guards.”

On the 21st September, 1794, General Wayne wrote Mr. Elliott, requesting him, immediately on the receipt of the letter, to use the utmost dispatch in advancing to Fort Recovery all such supplies as he could procure for the use of the army; adding, “the enclosed abstract will show you that even one day’s delay may be fatal.” Mr. Elliott received this letter on the 5th October, and, having his supplies in readiness, wrote the same day to the commanding officer at Fort Washington, desiring an escort for two hundred packhorses, twenty-five wagons, three hundred cattle, and three hundred sheep. The answer of Captain Pierce, then commanding that post, give the following answer; “I have to inform you that I will furnish one sergeant, one corporal, and twelve men from this to Hamilton, and which is all that the present situation of this garrison will admit of. Could I furnish one hundred, I would do it with pleasure.”

Mr. Elliott was under no obligation, from the strict letter of his contract, to proceed with the supplies thus unprotected, yet, urged, it is believed, by a regard to the suffering condition of the army, and by that high sense of duty and of patriotism of which there are but few examples, he set out the next morning, without convoy, and, advancing two or three miles in front of the provisions and stores, attended only by his servant, he had arrived within a few rods of Fort Washington, when he was attacked and slain by a party of Indians. His body, stripped of its apparel, was left in a mangled condition. His horse was also killed, and the equipage, with his portmanteau, containing all his most valuable papers, fell into the hands of the savages. The servant escaped, but, unfortunately, the next day, in the attempt to convey the body of his master to the fort, he was killed, as well as the horse on which be rode. The provisions which Mr. Elliott thus put in motion, at the expense of his life, reached Fort Wayne in safety, and in such season as to prevent the post from being abandoned, and (as the general himself expressed it) “to save the troops from starving.”

Robert Elliott, left an amiable wife and ten children, who, by his untimely fate, the loss of all his most useful papers, and the consequent derangement of their affairs, were reduced at once from affluence to poverty. To his family his death was a misfortune which no munificence of the Government can repair; but, in their present indigent situation, even the value of the property sacrificed on that occasion would be an important object. This is estimated at seven hundred and eighty dollars, exclusive of the cash the deceased might have had with him, the amount of which cannot be known, but is supposed, from several circumstances, not to have been an inconsiderable sum.

Authors note. This was a report sent to Congress, as Mrs. Elliott was asking for relief. The committee stated; “Mr. Elliott was under no obligation by his contract, but believing the army was suffering and the to save the troops from starving, and having a high sense of duty and of patriotism, of which there are but few examples, we of this committee will grant relief.”

The following is the Bill that passed.

CHAP. XXV.—An Act for the relief of the widow and orphan children of Robert

Be it enacted, &c., That the sum of two thousand dollars be allowed to the widow of Robert Elliott, who was killed by a party of hostile Indians, while he was conducting necessary supplies to the army, commanded by Major-General Wayne, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, and that the same be paid to her, for the use of herself and the children of the said Robert Elliott, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
APPROVED, March 2, 1805.

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