George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Edward Hand, 15 September 1777

From Brigadier General Edward Hand

Fort Pitt [Pa.] 15th Septr 1777


From the weakness of This Garrison and almost Constant Alarms, it is liable to I was Induced to detain a Detachment of the 13th Virginia Regimt also, a few Straglers & deserters from the 8th Pennsylvania & other Regiments Particular returns of which are inclosed for your Excys Inspection.1 I flatter myself that when your Excy is acquainted with the particular Situation of this Post you will not disapprove the measure—or the detention of the few men now at the Kanhawa. the western Indians are United against us. Gouvernor Hamilton’s Proclamation together with his Agents have gaind many of the Infatuated Inhabitants even of this remote Corner to the British Interest.2 the Militia are Cald and Promise to turn out on an Expedition that must for the Security of the Frontiers, be Carried in to the Indian Country, but they cant be induced to do duty here So that, daily detachments, after Stragling Scalping Parties of Indians, transporting Provisions to the posts lower down the Ohio, repairing the Works, & defending the Stores depend on this little Garrison, upwards of an Hundred men in mongalia an[d] Yohogania Counties had Sworn to Support Our Enemies. the Greatest number of them are Already in Custody & will be sent to Williamsburg—An [In] Augusta Also a number of the Same Stamp were discovered, I Sincerely Congratulate your Excelly on the Success of the American Arms in the Northren department, and hope Shortly to be Able to give you a Satisfactory Acct of the Savages in the West—Moses Carson formerly a Captn in the 8th Pennsylvania Regt who Deserted to the Enemy & left them at the Head of Elk some small time since, was Apprehended the 12th Inst. at Ligonier. I have Order’d him with a Guard to Carlisle Goal, to be dealt with as your Excy thinks proper.3 I wish you every Success & Happiness & am with every mark of Respect your Excys Most Obedt & very Hble Servt

Edwd Hand

To Add to the other Inconveniencies this Post is liable to the Small Pox has Crept in so that a Third of it[s] strength⟨th⟩ there not having had that disorder must be Immediately Inoculated & thereby their Service lost for sometime.


1The enclosed general return of 15 Sept., which is signed by Brigade Maj. James Ewing, shows that the total strength of the garrison at Fort Pitt on that date was 7 commissioned officers, 22 noncommissioned officers, and 219 rank and file. Only 149 rank and files were present and fit for duty, however, and a note at the end of the return lists the names of 8 commissioned officers who apparently were not included in the totals on the return, being either absent or sick (DLC:GW).

2Hand apparently enclosed the copy of Lt. Gov. Henry Hamilton’s proclamation of 24 June 1777 that is in DLC:GW. Writing at Detroit, Hamilton promises in it that “all such persons as are inclined to withdraw themselves from the Tyranny & Oppression of the Rebel Committees, and to take refuge in this settlement or any of the posts Commanded by His Majestys Officers; shall be humanely treated shall be lodged and Victualled and that such as come off in arms and shall use them in defence of His Majesty Against Rebels & Traytors till the extinction of this Rebellion, shall receive pay adequate to their former stations in the Rebel service, and all common men who shall serve during that period, shall receive his Majestys bounty of two hundred acres of Land.” Hand wrote on the reverse of the document: “The Indians leave these on or near the bodies of the People they murder, Good encouragement.”

3Moses Carson, who had become a captain in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment in September 1776 and had deserted to the British in April 1777, was found guilty of that offense in the fall of 1779, and he was sentenced to be drummed out of camp and confined until the end of the war (see General Orders, 3 Nov. 1779).

Index Entries