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Lot 419

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G. Washington Rare Commission For an Indian Fighter alongside W. H. Harrison, and Lewis and Clark in Legion of the United States.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Partially Printed Document Signed, Commission of Nanning J. Vischer as Lieutenant in the Second Sub Legion, August 27, 1795, Philadelphia. To rank from May 1, 1794. Also signed by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering. 1 p., 14.875ʺ x 18.5ʺ. Backed with cloth; minor losses at upper and lower right corners; small holes at lower margin from previous framing. Displayed and matted to the left of the portrait of George Washington after Gilbert Stuart, to a completed size of 27.25" x 23."

In reaction to multiple defeats in the Ohio country in 1790 and 1791, President Washington in December 1792 ordered the organization of “The Legion of the United States” for the protection of the northwest frontiers. It was based on a plan that Secretary of War Henry Knox had submitted to Congress in 1790. Washington assigned Major-General Anthony Wayne to command the Legion. Formed from remnants of the First and Second Regiments of the Continental Army, the Legion was composed of four sub-legions. Each sub-legion was a self-contained unit with two battalions of infantry, a rifle battalion, and a troop of dragoons. Each sub-legion also had a company of artillery attached to it.

On May 9, 1794, President Washington nominated Vischer to be a lieutenant in the second sub-legion, as a group of five of “the oldest ensigns in the respective sub Legions taken to supply the deficiency of Lieutenants in this Sub Legion,” and the Senate confirmed the nominations on May 12. Vischer did not receive this commission until fifteen months later, but his rank was effective as of May 1, 1794.

After training in western Pennsylvania, the Legion moved down the Ohio River, then northward into Native American territory. They established a line of forts as they advanced. In August 1794, the Legion participated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in northern Ohio, where American forces defeated Native American tribes and their British allies. It was the last battle of the Northwest Indian War (1785-1795) and led to the August 1795 Treaty of Greenville that established a boundary between Native Americans and European-American settlers that ran through present-day Ohio and Indiana. As a result of the Jay Treaty with the United Kingdom, ratified by the U.S. Senate in August 1795 and effective in February 1796, General Wayne and the Legion also accepted the surrender of all the British forts in U.S. territory. In the wake of these treaties, Congress reduced the Legion to 3,359 officers and men and renamed it the United States Army. The first through fourth sub-legions became the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Regiments of the Army.

Among the famed members of the Legion of the United States were Lieutenant William Henry Harrison (future President), and Lieutenant William Clark and Ensign Meriwether Lewis (future leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Nanning John Vischer/Visscher (1771-1821) was born in Kingston, New York. Vischer served in Colonel Henry K. Van Rensselaer’s regiment of New York militia in 1786, toward the end of the Revolutionary War. On March 5, 1792, Vischer received an appointment as ensign in the third sub-legion of the Legion of the United States. In 1793 and 1794, Vischer served as a paymaster in the third sub-legion. In 1795, he was promoted to a lieutenant in the second sub-legion, to date from May 1794. In December 1797, Vischer was appointed to command the garrison at Oswego. He was promoted to captain on November 1, 1799, and to major in the 2nd Regiment of Infantry in 1801. In January 1807, he married Catherine Glen Van Rensselaer (1785-1866), of the prominent New York family, but they had no children. In April 1809, President James Madison appointed Vischer as a Captain in the regiment of Riflemen, but in June, the U.S. Senate refused to consent to the appointment. He received permission to go to England to settle some private business at about the time of the beginning of the War of 1812. When he returned, all the officer ranks had been filled with men junior to him, so he resigned from the U.S. Army on November 30, 1812. He died at Greenbush, New York, at age 49.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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