HISTORY: Immediately after the Louisiana Territory was ceded by France to the United States, Gen. Daniel Bissell (1768-1833) was appointed Commandant of the U.S. Military Department of Missouri. He built, by government order, the contanment at Bellefontaine, just north of St. Louis. As Commandant, Bissell officially welcomed the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to St. Louis. After his military career ended, Bissell retired to a large tract of land on the Bellefontaine Road near St. Louis.
SCOPE: The correspondence covers the years 1800-1820, during his years as Missouri Territory Commandant. Correspondents include Gen. James Wilkinson; Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike; Gov. William Henry Harrison; Henry Dearborn; William Clark; Frederick Bates; Gov. Meriwether Lewis; and Auguste Chouteau
HOLDINGS: 31 letters or documents in bound volume.
The following documents Nos 1-to-31. inclusive are part of the Papers and Correspondence of the late General Daniel Bissel, sometime Commander of the United States Military Department which comprised the Territory of Missouri.
They are interesting, in that they relate to the troubles and dangers of the Early settlers of the Mississippi Valley and because several are autographs of persons who are distinguished in the history of the Country.
They were donated to the St Louis Mercantile Library Association by Mr Sextus Sheaver, Jr. and were received in the year 1856.
1 Genl. James Wilkinson. Fort Adams. 17 May 1800.
to Capn D. Bissell, New Orleans
2 Genl. James Wilkinson Pittsburgh 6. May 1805
to Col. Thos Hunt. 1st Inftry
3 Copy of Letter to Secretary of War. Dated Bellefontaine 22 Jan 1806
no Signature of This Secretary and Genl. Henry Dearborn
4 Zebulon M. Pike. Garrison St Louis 13 May 1806
to Capn D. Bissell
5 Zebulon M. Pike Bellefontaine 11 June 1806
to Capn D. Bissell
6 Zebulon M. Pike St Louis 15 June 1806
to Capn D. Bissell.
7 Extract from a Letter of Z. M. Pike, (Lieut.) to Governor Harrison
dated 28.th June 1806.
Addressed to Daniel Bissell, Commanding Fort Massace.
8 Genl. Wm. H. Harrison Grouseland 8th Oct. 1806
to Capn. Danl. Bissell, Commandant at Fort Massac.
9 H Dearborn War Department 13th Oct. 1806
to Col. Thomas Hunt.
10 Joseph Browne St Louis 17 March 1807
to Col. Thomas Hunt. Bellefontaine
11 Wm Clark, 2nd Agt St Louis 15 May 1807
to Col. Hunt
12 Copy of Wm Clark’s (2nd Agent) Letter to ___________
17 Copy of Gov. M. Lewis’s orders to Nicholas Boilvin
dated St Louis 14 May 1808
18 Gov. Meriwether Lewis. St Louis 23 May 1808
to Col Thos Hunt. 1st Regt U.S. Inftry Bellefontaine.
19 Same to Same St Louis 26 May 1808
20 Same to Same St Louis 10 July 1808
21 Same to Same St Louis 8 Aug 1808
22 John Cleves Symmes, Actg Adgt Bellefontaine. 26 June 1810
Morning Report. To Lt Col. D. Bissell, Commanding
23 Genl. Wm Henry Harrison Vincennes 9 Aug 1811
to Col D Bissell
24 Thos T. Crittenden Lexington 9 Feby 1812
to Colonel D. Bissell
25 General Orders to the Militia of the Territory of Missouri
dated St Louis 1st March 1813. (Printed) signed
in Autograph by Frederick Bates, Acting Commander
in Chief _ and Will. C. Carr, Aid de Camp.
26 Frederick Bates St Louis 11 March 1813
to Col. D. Bissell. 2nd U.S. Regiment. Bellefontaine
27 D Bissell Portage de Sieux 20 April 1813
to Major James Morrison. Commanding U.S. Militia
on the Island below Portage de Sieux.
28 Benj. Howard. Florisant 23 April 1813
to Maj. Jas Morrison, Islander near Portage.
29 Fragment of General Orders 7 Dec 1813
signed by E.P.Pinkey Adgt Gnrl
Col. Danel Bissell
30 Wm. Clark, Nimian Edwards, & Aug Chouteau,
Commissioners to treat with the Indians.
(dated) Portage des Sioux 11. July 1815
to. Genl Danl. Bissell. Bellefontaine
31 Andrew J. Donelson, Aid de Camp. (dated)
Division of the South. Headquarters.
Nashville 20 Dec 1820
to D Bissell Brig Genl.
Commdr 8th My Dept
No 1 Fort Adams 17th May
I have your two letters for the 3rd & 8th -Jany and note the contents.
If no other accommodation presents, which you if possible to charter the Julian, if she can be got at such price or will enable me by taking a partial Load, to reimburce myself within 4. 5. or 6. or 700 dollars- but no passenger is to be permitted on Board the vessel engaged for me, but of my election. – If a good, & a cargo, & better vessel for accommodation can be had, you may proceed to Charter or Engage [paper missing] – so as not to subject me to a cost of more than 800 or 1000 $. but as much left as possible, - our [ ] will consist of twelve or fifteen, & I shall claim the privilege of using
using names my Band, should also determine, but the point is at yet undetermined- you may enter with general stipulations and I will close the contract in form- mark will that I am to have the control of the Cabbin, and the direction of my Table, & of the Cook which I shall carry with me- the Capt & his mate, will dine Breakfast be with me free of cost, but for this one small deduction must be made in the price- I shall leave this place on the 22nd. I will allow myself to the 28th to get down and I wish not to remain in or near N.Orleans longer than five days, which will bring about the 2nd. or 3rd. of June- but to secure a better vessel & better accomdations in N.York, I shall be content to wait until the 20th. of the next month but no longer- I shall
lineage for about fifteen Trunks, besides our stores & provisions- If we sail in the Julian she is to carry nothing on Deck, indeed I wish you to make this stipulation in case [paper torn] and to limiting much to your discretion with the advice of my friend Mr Clark, whom please I consult- I will only observe, that I had much rather charter a vessel Cabbin de: de: because I can then lend her to my friend-
I arrived the day before yesterday, at this place, where I met Lt. Pinckney, who surprized me by the information that on the 14th Ultimo you had received orders for your own movement, or that of Capt. Richmond- as those orders had been transmited long since, both by myself and the Inspector. I entertained no doubt, of their safe arrival to your hands, and I will still flatter myself, that they reached soon after Mr. Pinckneys departure from Detroit- but fearing this may not have been the case, I think proper to repeat the General import of those orders for your government-
Capt. Richmond with his own company
and Lewis’s Company, and the men of McClarys expecting his music of Non Commdq officers/sergeants to proceed by Fort Wayne, the Wabash, Ohio, and up the Mississippi to St. Louis, to take orders from Col. Kingsbury or Major Bruff- Capt. McClary his music, subatterns [page missing] [pro]ceed to Carlisle in Pennsylvania to recruit- You yourself to proceed by the Wabash, Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, to preside at a Gen. Court Martial to be convened the 10th inst. for the trial of Co. Butler- with permission to resume your command at Detroit & on the lakes, or to remove to Fort Adams, or St. Louis- Your Regimental Staff to accompany Capt. Richmond-
As the movement of the Troops before the falling of the water, will save them great difficulty and delay, and your non attendance
Seasonably in New Orleans, will produce great embarrassments to the public service, and sensible injuries to individuals. I must hope you have received your orders and that both Richmond and yourself are now far advanced on your route to your respective destinations- If however I should be deceived in this expectation, [paper missing] sir I must rely that you will employ the most prompt and energetic exertions to carry into effect the instructions herein contained-
Wishing you health & happiness
I am Dear Sir
Your Obdt. Servt.
Col. T. Hunt
Bell Fontain Jany 22. 1806
Myself and Mr Connor the agent for Mr Smith examined the voucher for September 1805 and found them to agree and I signed the abstracts on this day. But Mr Connor putting the voucher in his pocket I without having the voucher in my possession signed the abstract that the commander might get his money that he has been laid out by Mr Cendrick of his agent Mr Connor
[Outside of letter]
Colo Armstrong to Secretary
Copy of a letter to the Secretary
Of War dated Jany. 11th. 1803-
Relative to Col. Hamtramels
And Col Hunt Commands
Dr Sir Garrison St Louis. May 13, 1806
I arrived here on the 30 Ulto. having succeeded in the principal objects of my voyage, and explored the source of the Mississippi. I should be happy to give you many little details ariseing from my voyage but it might be premature to enter with the detail at present; the vouchers forwarded; and yet to forward to Governt. will at least embrace two quire of paper.
I am much oblidged to you for the pains you took relative to the letter addressed to Gove. Harrison by S. Harrison- I shall address a letter to the former, relative to his strictures on that letter; which may insince him to think, that he wanted foundation for his assertion: relative to my makeing use of the Arms of the United States de de.
I have made a demand of the depositions you requested me to forward;- of the General (who had them impossission) but he has still put me off saying he had not time to search for them- but the Troops being all marchr he will now be more at leisure; & I shall expect to obtain them in a few Days when they shall be forwarded.
Your letter containing my note, and others to W. Nair through a mistake, was carried along with me on my voyage; I would now enclose it, but as Feinteur makeing some small payment to W. Nair on that account as soon as I receive pay; I will retain it until then, when should I not have receive previous orders to the contrary from you I will open the letter take his receipt for the sum paid on the note & then enclose it with the others in a letter; & forward by some safe conveyance.
Having received of my men aboute, or nearly forty Dollars for Kingsly I will pay the sum to W. Nair & endorse it on his note & forward that likewise-
You probably Heard at the Nomination of Col. Hammond for the appointment of Lieut. Col. of the 2nd Rev. of Infantry- he was rejected in the Senate 19 to 12. but what would my father & all old, and indeed [ ] say young Officers; have said in care his Nomination had succeeded.? What is not strikeing at the very root of ambition; & stifeling in the bud every noble sentiment? For who is the poor miserable wretch _ who would be so despicable; as to retain his commission area daily to see citizens called
in to five vacancies over his head Maj. B.- is still in status quo. Write by the earliest opportunity as I am bound on another voyage and may not be here 3 weeks longer.
Mrs. Pike joins me in Respects for your Lady.
Zebulon M. Pike
NB. Lewis not a little surprised to find the depositions unsigned- but as they are, I have enclosed them to you- please to excuse this letter as it does by no means please me- Its being to much filled with Business- Lay nothing relative to Col. H. as affair.
Capt. Daniel Bissell
[Outside of letter]
Bell Foutain. 11 June 1806.
Yours of the 28th June & 2° July was handed me by W. Nughz and shall be noticed in rotation, as in the first you are more than commonly complementary, but work me up after by the notice of my omission in not sending you a return of the Detachment but see here a plain tale will put you down. I was informed on my return, that all my Detachment with myself belonged to Russell- this information came from the Maj. if our Regt. And the Aid De Camp to the Commander in Chief- who, should know the transfers which had taken place if they did not?-as for the affair of the two men it was partly forced on me, and I am sure more qauling to my feelings at that time; then it can be to yours now. Lt. James Wilkinson (who accompanies me) had two favorite men in Lockwood Company whose times were nearly oute and after much
persuasion I agreed to an exchange, the two men entering into engagements that in case they were ordered on command they would serve oute the tour of Duty as Soldiers- but they demanded their Discharges and obtained them- then it is true were transfers to Russell B____ll as we then conceived the whole Detachment to be his_ and__ Lt. Wilkinson wrote the order (by permission of his Lathie) and made it a transfer from R.B. & to him._ without the least ideas of injuring you.
I assure you I will never apply to the Genl. for a transfer of your men, to any person whatsoever; unless I should have a company of my own, then you may give them up as lost: for those men have served with me many a long year and not withstanding- they are such Darn Rascals that you could keep no Ducks or fowls for them, yet I think them very clever fellows.
But I yesterday reduced Bradley, and am uncertain whether he will again be promoted; but beg you to leave
a vacancy for one Serg. and two corps, as I cannot do well without that number.
I have forwarded to your care an open letter for your brother, which you will please to peruse (if you feel an inclination) then read it, Direct it, and forward it to its destination.
With my House, if you can only obtain some person who will keep a fence round it the lot (unless you can get better terms) I shall be satisfied:- you have included an extract of a letter I wrote to Gov. Harrison which you will see is to the point. I shall write you another letter and courier to the particular care of W. Nair and inclose those notes to. I retain them until I settle my money matters in this country- as I am in some hopes to have some [ ].
I am yours Sincerely
Zebulon M. Pike
Cap D Bissell
Dr. Sir St. Louis. 15 June 1806
When I last wrote to you I did not know that the Detach meet under my command belonged to you company; but within a a day or two since I learnt that piece of information. I have therefore enclosed you a muster Roll of the Detachment & have marked an R. opposite to those, who are mustered as [ ] Bissells- You will see on this Role the Alterations which have taken place- and can note them accordingly- I am aboute going on another long and Ardrous command and shall take the same Detachment- You would probably be serveing your company if you had them transferd to your Brothers- I acknowledge I am interested in the Idea, as it would then be possible I would get them if promoted- but do not think that I ever have myself requested this thing to the Genl- and although they are a Darn’d set of rascals yet in the woods they are staunch fellows and very profile for such expeditions as I am engaged in- You have an account inclosed of the amount
of clothing received by each man- Which you were please to charge them- I have no descriptive list of Houte, Carter & Facheron if you could furnish me with one you will oblidge me- The man is waiting for this letter; but you shall have a long one from me before my Departure- but if you will write me an answer to the following querries- it will confer a singular favour- What is your oppinion and information on the subject of the vacancy of Lt. Col- Maj- Capn & as in respects future promotions?- How stands the present Halwin-n- and who will be the candidates, at the next Presidential election? What prospect as to war with Spain- a peace with Great Britain and France?- Where is your Brother and how employed? What is our Noble Capt. Whipple doing?
Pardon me for imposeing the above task- but as you can say to me in a few words- I Should be happy to have your oppinion-
Zebulon M. Pike
Capn D Bissell
Lt Pike of
15th June 1806
[Outside of letter]
Capt. Daniel Bissell
Extract of a letter from Lieut. Pike, to Governor Harrison
Dated 28th. June 1806
I have observed by a Letter and Deposition of Capt. Daniel Bissell, that Mr. L. Harrison wrote you a letter, complaining of me; and asserting that I had basely treated him (in conjunction with Captain Bissell) by taking a House from in his absence.
This circumstance is fully explained by Capt. Daniel Bissell’s Deposition, and I should never have conceived his letter as worthy my further notice. But allow me to say, that, the nature of your Notes on that letter were such, as wounded my feelings; and more deeply as they came from a character, who I had always been induced (as well from duty as inclination) to respect and esteem. Your Note Says “He ought to have looked to Parkenson for address, and [unreadable] “to have made use of the Arms of the United States; “which was put under his direction for different purposes: “To dispossess the person who has obtained a legal possession.” It would be difficult to others, wherein any passage of L. Harrison’s letter, (even admitting it strictly true) would justify the foregoing conclusion of my having taken possession by force of Arms. And, when we refer to Capt. Bissell’s Deposition, we will perceive, that I obtained a peaceable and legal possession of property, which I had been some years illegally deprived of. It is unnecessary for me to attempt to be the pourequrist of Capn Bissell’s character; but I presume that no person can for one minute doubt his having acted with no unpropriety in this affair; and, that the insinuations of Mr. L. Harrison was as unfounded & groundless
as many others raised by the Scoundrels who reside in this vicinity of Massac.
As the before mentioned Documents were handed to my Colonel, I should be happy if Governor Harrison felt himself at liberty, to honor me with a line, etc. pressing his satisfaction of the foregoing explanation.
[outside of letter]
11th June 1806 must th 11th July
Daniel Bissell Capt.
Rec’d 18th July 1806
Grouseland 8th. Oct. 1806.
You must by this time suppose me one of the Worst Correspondents in the World & I have no inclination to deny the charge for all my friends tell me so & what every one believes must be true. I wrote to you however about Six Weeks ago by Colo. Vigo did but as that Gentleman not visit your post as he intended when he set out from this place the letter was returned to me & I intended to have written by Mr Greater but he left this place without my knowing it having called at my house when I was absent. Your letter of the 4th of April last was duly received & invoiced every difficulty with regard to the affairs of T. Harrison. indeed I never had an idea that Lt. Pike for whom I have a great esteem & friendship had done anything more in that affair than what would have been considered if subjected to the most severe scrutiny as an act of imprudence. Such as I myself have committed which in a Military Command & such as all men of ardent minds are likely to commit. I have appointed
Mr. Greater a Magistrate & I am very Glad to find from our mutual friend Whittock that he will be agreeable to you- I intended to have given him a letter to you requesting your advice & assistance in the performance of his Duty respecting which he may be at a loss from his limited acquaintance with our Congressional Manners & Laws- I think that a good understanding between you may be production of mutual advantage & time to preserve tranquility in the letters- main adjacent to your post-
With much Respect & Esteem
I am Dr Sir
Your Humble Servant
William H. Harrison
Capn D. Bissell
[Outside of letter]
Captain Daniel Bissell
October. 13th. 1806
Your letters of the 15th. and 16th. inst the former covering a Return of Ordnance and Mily Stores at Belle Fontaine, have been duly reserved. The appointment of Lieut. Joseph Shimball as Assst. Mily Agent in the room of Mr. Carson is confirmed.
I am respectfully, Sir,
Your Ob. Servt.
Col. Thomas Hunt
[Outside of letter]
Secrety. of War Letter The Humble Secry.
[ ] Mr. of War letter to
Kimball Col. Hunt Oct. 13
St Louis March 17th. 1807
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Letter of the 16th inst. and beg leave to observe, that I know of no Law or regulation for the distribution of provisions to Indians at the Cantonment at Bellfontaine. except under particular circumstances; I know of no orders for the giving of Provisions to Indians who may be disposed to trade with any of the factor of the U.S. If the factor thinks proper to do it, it ought to be on his own responsibility- If any Indians should visit the Cantonment who have business with the Government, they ought as soon as possible to be sent to this place, and in that case if they stand in need of a little assistance your own discretion is the only guide that can govern in such a case as to the quantity- Mrs. Browne
and Mrs. Wescott join in best Respects to Mr & Mrs. Hunt with your very obedient