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Native American and Tennessee related ALS. One page handwritten letter on laid paper from the "Father of Middle Tennessee" Brigadier General James Robertson (1742-1814), addressed to Colonel Robert Hays (1758-1819), Revolutionary War officer and Muster Master / Lt. Col. of the Cavalry, Mero District, dated April 9, 1795. The letter commands Hays "…on the receipt of this, [to] Muster into service one Cornet [modern equivalent second lieutenant], one Corporal, one Sergeant, and seventeen privates as Mounted Infantry to pursue a party of Indians who lately appeared in Neely's Bend [outside Nashville] for twenty days I am [your humble servant] Jas. Robertson B G" with additional ink inscription reading "Colo. Robert Hays 9th April 1795" lower left. Ink inscription reading "Genl. Orders Apl. 9 1795" with later pencil inscriptions, en verso. 6 7/8" H x 8" W. Biography: "James Robertson, early leader of both the Watauga and Cumberland settlements, has been called the 'Father of Middle Tennessee.' Born in 1742 in Brunswick County, Virginia, he was the son of John and Mary Gower Robertson. In late 1769, as [James] Robertson grew increasingly frustrated with the provincial rule of North Carolina Governor William Tryon, he became intrigued by the stories of the land west of the Appalachian Mountains and began to consider relocating his family there. Late that year, he crossed the mountains and found a suitable site in the upper Holston Valley near the Watauga River. To establish his claim, he planted corn and built a corncrib and a cabin. On the return trip, Robertson became lost and wandered aimlessly for approximately two weeks before hunters directed him across the mountains. Encouraged by his favorable description of the land, several of Robertson's North Carolina neighbors decided to accompany him to the new frontier. In May 1772, when the Watauga settlers met to establish a government, they selected Robertson as one of the five magistrates to lead the Watauga Association. In addition, he was elected commander of the Watauga Fort. He was also an early companion of explorer Daniel Boone. In 1777 Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Land Company purchased a large tract of land from the Cherokees, including most of what constitutes present-day Middle Tennessee. In the spring of 1779 Robertson and a small party of Wataugans, acting on behalf of Henderson's claim, traveled to a site along the Cumberland River known as French Lick. There they selected a suitable location for a new settlement. Late that same year, Robertson returned with a group of men to prepare temporary shelter for friends and relatives, who planned to join them in a few months. The men arrived on Christmas Day and drove their cattle across the frozen Cumberland River. Crude cabins were erected for immediate winter housing, and a fort was built atop a bluff along the river. The fort was named Fort Nashborough, in honor of Francis Nash, who had fought alongside Robertson at the battle of Alamance in 1771. A faction of Cherokees known as the Chickamaugas opposed the Transylvania Purchase and warned the new settlers that trouble would follow their claim to the land. Attacks on the Cumberland settlement lasted several years and reached a peak between 1789 and 1794. Robertson's brothers, John and Mark, were killed, as were his sons, Peyton and James Jr. Another son, Jonathan, was scalped. Robertson narrowly escaped death on two occasions. In 1790 Congress created the Territory South of the River Ohio, and Robertson became lieutenant colonel commandant of the Mero District. The following year, President George Washington appointed him brigadier general of the U.S. Army of the same region. Occasionally, Robertson acted on behalf of the federal government to assist in the treaty negotiations with various Indian tribes. In 1804 he was commissioned U.S. Indian agent to the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. His final mission took him to the Chickasaw Agency at Chickasaw Bluff. In his seventies, Robertson made the trip during heavy rains that forced him to swim several swollen creeks along the way. As a result, he became ill and died on September 1, 1814. His remains were later returned to Nashville, where he received a formal burial in the City Cemetery." (source: "James Robertson" written by Terry Weeks, Tennessee Encyclopedia, published by the Tennessee Historical Society, on October 8, 2017, accessed October 21, 2022, http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/james-robertson/). Colonel Robert Hays was born in Salisbury, N.C. and came to Middle Tennessee on a Revolutionary War land grant. There, he married Jane Donelson, daughter of the founder of Nashville and sister of Rachel Donelson, who later married Hays' friend, Andrew Jackson. In 1790, he was commissioned Justice of the Peace and Lt. Col of the Mero District under James Robertson. He later became Lt. Commander of the district (1797). He would go on to fight in the Creek wars as Muster Master under Jackson, and died in 1819 in Haysboro, Tennessee, named in his honor.
PROVENANCE: By descent from the estate of Stanley Horn, Nashville, Tennessee.
CONDITION: Letter with toning, areas of dampstaining, largest 2 1/2" x 4 1/4", smudges, ink blots, creases, general handling wear (does not overly affect writing and signatures). Robertson's signature is in good, legible condition, appears to have been hastily written.