1807 – The Seizure of Chribbs’s Boats

[transcribed from Document B201, Letters Received by the Secretary of War, Registered Series, 1801-1870, Microfilm M221, Roll 3 (May 1806-April 1808, A-B229), National Archives and Records Administration]

1807 Jan 24 Bissell p1

First page of letter

Fort Massac
January 24th 1807


For sometime past, from sundry circumstances, I was lead to believe that some persons at, and in the neighbourhood of the mouth of Cumberland, Kentucky, were indirectly concerned in the supposed enterprise or expedition against the Spanish territory or dominions; and on the 18th Instant, two Barges, well maned, and equiped, with oars poles &c, with about ten Barrels poark in each, besides [ ] from that place were about passing this and as I believed them suspicious characters I had them detained and on the 19th Fredh Graeter Esq. one of the Justices Peace for Randolph County Indiana Territory critically examined the masters & crews and from each of their Testimony it appeard they were bound up the Mississippi to St Gennavia, Louisiana, for Lead and were to fetch two loads each, to the mouth of Cash [Cache River] – thirty miles below this, which was then to be reshiped on board of an Orleans flat and sent down the Rivers and two of the witnesses declard they understood the Lead was for the public – explaining themselves they ment; the expedition or enterprise, before alluded to; the testimony generally was though to vague for to prosecute further; However the owner of the Boats, Wm Chribbs, being a great debtor and Executions for a considerable amount in the Sheriffs hands against him, the Sheriff immediately leveled [levied] on the property and the masters & crews have abandoned the Boats & returned to Cumberland.

Second page of letter

Second page of letter

I do not think Chribbs the principal agent of the association, for his character is to conspicuously notorious; and I cannot as yet fix on any other base enough I think to be the person; though from circumstances I have thought there must be some one. I have wrote the Commanding officer at the militia on duty at or near that place and I hope there his exertion to be able to find one, if there are any suspicious characters in the neighbourhood.

As yet, I have not found any difficulty in fetching the boats too, which in all cases I have done and caused an examination, detaining them as little as possible.

And have the Honor to be
Respectfully, Sir,
your Obedient Servant

Dan. G. Bissell, Capt.

A Box of Saddles with as many bridles and Several Valices or Saddlebags was also in the boats. Articles filed on as portage from this County.

The Honorable
The Secy at War
Washington City

[Secretary at War notations follow]
Fort Massac Jany 24, 1807
Danl Bissell
Relative to the seizure of two Barges supposed to be engaged on Col Burr’s expedition
Recd March 25, 1807