George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh, 3 April 1779

From Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh

Fort Pitt [Pa.] 3d April 1779.


Since I had the Honor of writing to your Excellency the 19th March. I received your Letter of the 5th ditto Just as I returned from Fort Laurens to Beaver with the Inclosures which I delivered immediately to Colo. Brodhead.

My Intention when I set off was, if the Indians did not Meet me at Tuscorawas to proceed to sandusky & Destroy the Wyandot Towns, & if we could get any Supplys there proceed farther, and if Fortune favored us perhaps finish the Matter at once in that quarter by such an Unexpected push. when I arrived at Fort Laurens I immediately disclosed this, & Consulted the field Officers & principle Men of each County who were with me upon it, and they were Unanimously against it at that time. Giving the following Reasons, that it was too early in the season, that great part of the Road was yet under water. that the Little Forage we could bring was already Exausted, & the Grass would not Support our Horses yet. and that the Small quantity of Provision we had, which would serve the Garrison of 100. Men in Fort Laurens above two Months would only last us Ten or Twelve Days, & must be Evacuated for want of Provision whether we Succeeded or not, which probably would Unite All the Indians to a Man against us, & drive all the Inhabitants over the Mountains, & that the plan could at any time be Executed with more favourable Circumstances while Fort Laurens was kept up & Supported in the Heart of their Country, which the Savages Saw into themselves, & kept them puzzled & Counciling Since its first Establishment. these reasons weighed so much with me that I returned to Beaver, & it was happy I did, our Men as well as Horses tired, & we were six Days coming a Journey we made out in little better than three.1

I intended setting off to Morrow for Head quarters, but am informed Some of the Delaware Chiefs are on their way up to this place agreeable to an Invitation I gave them when last at Fort Laurens to See me before I went, or accompany me down while I was there, I heard there was a Grand Council of all the Nations held at sandusky, the result of which I am now informed is that the Wyandots are inclined to make peace with us. which I Judged would be the Case, or that they would remove over the Great Lakes.2any further information I receive Shall be Communicated to your Excellency when I have the pleasure of Seeing you.3 I have the Honor to inclose you the last Letter I recd from Mr Heckenwelder one of the Moravian parsons at Coochauchking.4 I am with the greatest respect Your Excellys most obt Hble servt

Lachn McIntosh. Comg W. Dept

P.S. I inclose a Letter I Just received from Major Vernon, Commandt F. Laure⟨ns.⟩5

ALS, DLC:GW. A notation on the cover of this letter reads: “Colo. [John] Davis, D.Q.M.G. at Carlisle is desired to forward this letter per. Express. Thos. McClaskey.”

1The British and Indians surrounding Fort Laurens had retreated before McIntosh arrived with his relief force on 23 March, achieving the primary aim of the expedition without a battle.

2This council of Indians at Sandusky apparently began in December 1778 and continued into early 1779 (see Wellenreuther and Wessel, Diaries of David Zeisberger description begins Herman Wellenreuther and Carola Wessel, eds. The Moravian Mission Diaries of David Zeisberger, 1772-1781. University Park, Pa., 2005. description ends , 489–90).

3McIntosh reached GW’s camp at Middlebrook by early May (see McIntosh to GW, 3 May, DLC:GW, and GW to John Jay, 11 May, DNA:PCC, item 152).

4This enclosure, found in DLC:GW, is a copy of John Heckewelder’s letter of 19 March to John Gibson. For the transcription of another copy of this letter, see Daniel Brodhead to GW, this date, n.8.

5In this letter of 28 March from Fort Laurens, Maj. Frederick Vernon wrote McIntosh that “this morning I sent out a party of about Forty men, Comanded by Ensigns, Wiatt [Thomas Wyatt], and Clark, to bring in wood for the Garison, as Ensn Clark was placeing the last Centinal, he was fired on by a party of Indians, (that Lay Consealed, Some Small distance beyond where the Centinal was Plac’d) they killed him and the Centinal, and scalped them, before the party Could Come to their assistance, as the Greatest part of the men had got their Loads and was on their way to the fort, what few men had not got their Loads up, Ran towards the fort Expecting there was a Large party of Indians, When this hapned Mr Wiatt had not got up with his party, as far as Mr Clark was, I immediately Sent out three Indians to make A discovery how Large the party was, they Returnd in A short time, and told me that party was not Large, but they had Discovered A number of tracks, on the point of A Ridge Some small Distance from where the Indians were that don the mischief, from their ac[coun]ts I think there was more parties than one. I got two Indians to go Express to Beavercreek, with the intiligence to you as soon as Possible” (DLC:GW).

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