George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Daniel Brodhead, 17 April 1779

From Colonel Daniel Brodhead

Fort Pitt April 17th 1779

Dear General

On the 8th Instant I was honoured with your Instructions together with Copies of Letters to General McIntosh & myself, and in future will use the same precaution for fear of Accidents.1

I have hitherto heard nothing of Colo. Rawlins nor do I know whether he is yet on his March, but suppose he will make no delay after his Corps is relieved by the Militia. As soon as he arrives & his Men are refreshed I will give him instructions for building a Fort at Kittanning & another at Venango. Colo. Gibson & his Men have been rilieved sometime ago by an hundred & six rank & file Compleatly Officered under the Command of Major Vernon.

The Stores at Fort Laurens are considerable and it will be impossible for Major Vernon to remove them unless pack Horses or Craft be sent him for that purpose. About fifty Horses left there are either killed or drove off by the Enemy, and he cannot without too much risque send out a party to make Craft.

I inclose a return of the Stores at Fort Laurens (besides Arms & Ammunition of which I have no return,)2 and will give Major Vernon Orders to hold himself in readiness to March as directed, but apprehend it may be necessary to send up a Detachment with Horses to bring in the Stores.

General McIntosh has taken with him the returns of the different Corps in this department which he will doubtless lay before your Excelly, but least they may not arrive so soon as may be wished I shall inclose a general return.3 There is very little choice between Fort Pitt & Fort McIntosh either for covering the Frontiers or intercepting Indian parties And as Fort McIntosh is on the Indian Land and keeps up an Appearance of hostilities to the Westward and some of our Horses & Cattle have already been drove off from thence perhaps on account of some Jealousy. And the Expedition is intended up the Allegheny, and therefore the Magazines which may be laid in at that post must again be brought up to this place which is upwards of thirty Miles. Likewise because the Inhabitants of this Village would be very apt to desert it should the Fort be evacuated & thereby greatly discourage the Inhabitants of the Country it at present appears to me that this post ought to be supported, but as to the rest I cannot see how they with so few Troops can be kept up and yet I think it a pity to evacuate Fort McIntosh, (where almost all the Stores in this Department are at present,) I shall endeavour to do every thing for the best but wish I was a little nearer to you, where I might oftner receive your Excellencies Commands.

I think it was sometime in March last that Genl McIntosh ordered two Companies to be raised in Westmoreland for the defence of its Frontier they were to be subsisted by the Inhabitants during their term which I understand is six Months. And sometime afterwards he ordered another Company to be raised for the protection of the Frontiers of Monongahela & Ohio Counties for the subsistance of which he ordered the public provisions to be retained in Monongahela County. I have not yet been informed what success the officers appointed to command these Companies have had in recruiting but you shall soon be acquainted after I receive their returns.4

I have tried to borrow some Money to enable the officers to recruit Men but have not succeeded to my wish nor expectation most of the Money here being of the Emissions called in by Congress,5 but I will endeavour to borrow some from the Staff untill a sum can be brought up from the board of Treasury. I have thought of with drawing the Garrison from Canhawa which consists of less than forty men and being 150 Miles from the Inhabitants it is very difficult to subsist it at any rate.6 It appears to me that small Garrisons are not of half the Benefit in protecting the Inhabitants that light parties will be if employed to scout on the Indian side up & down the River; who by making rafts of dry wood, falling down the river by Nights and Marchg up by Days could scarcely fail of intercepting the Enemy either in their approach to or return from the Settlements, and the Militia would answer very well for that purpose and the public Stores would be secured by being collected to one grand magazine and fewer Staff officers (greatly multiplied) employed.

Inclosed I send a Copy of Colo. Lochery’s Letter it is Affecting enough but similar Calamities are suffering in different parts of this extensive Frontier, and I wish the Country may not be evacuated before we are enabled to push the War into the Enemies Country.7 I shall not fail to encourage the Inhabitants and if possible give the Enemy a blow by a sudden March to some of their Towns if with but few Men, for many I cannot collect without evacuating a number of posts which the Inhabitants conceive are of great security to them, though in fact they only serve to lull them into a treacherous idea of Security. I likewise herewith send some Notes taken by Colo. John Campbell in 1762. He informs me it is 130 Miles from hence to Venango by Water & only 70 by Land, that French Creek is one entire Rapid for seven Miles above Venango and from thence it is very crooked having many short turns and he thinks at this time a great many Trees fallen across it and that the Causway is altogether impassible & very difficult to be repaired. He likewise says that small Craft cannot live in lake Erie only in a Calm and that on seeing a Cloud if in three Minutes after the Craft cannot be dragged on Shore they will be filled with Water and that they are constantly exposed to the Fire of the Enemies Vessels in the Lake.8 I cannot yet find a person so well acquainted in the Seneca Country as to give satisfactory information of the extent of the Navigation & face of the Country above it, I have sent for a whiteman who was several years a prisoner up that way but fear he can give but an imperfect Account of the Streams & paths leading either to Niagara or the Seneca Country. From hence to Kittanning is 45 Miles and it is thought the Craft may proceed up the river allegheny about ten Miles a Day on an Average in fair Weather. it is about 20 Miles to an Indian Town above Venango on the Allegheny & about 70 Miles to Konnewago and from thence about 30 to another Town this is computed by Land but the distance by Water is nearly double. but it is uncertain whether Indians are now living there. I am informed that the Savages have left their Town on river La Bœuf upwar⟨ds⟩ of a year ago. The Delaware Indians seem very desiro⟨us⟩ to assist me by every means in their power and I hope to engage some of them against the Mingoes after I have advanced some distance into their Country, provided I am furnished with the proper Articles to reward them which are Indian Goods Trinkets & black wampum9 I have not yet been able to gain proper information of what communication can be formed with the par⟨t⟩ of Pensilvania from whence supplies may be drawn, or wh⟨ich⟩ in case of extream urgency might serve as retreats but ⟨will⟩ write you again as soon as I can obtain it with ⟨mutilated⟩ degree of certainty.

It is obvious that the Delawares are ne⟨mutilated⟩ observers of the supplies taken out for the Subsistance of ⟨mutilated⟩ Army and our Interest with them & the other Nations ⟨mutilated⟩ greatly depend on the appearance of resources. For my part I could wish to be enabled to hold every foot of the Country that may be covered by the Army for the benefit of the States and I have a happy presage that we may soon be Masters of Lake Erie & the adjacent Country. The Indians generally consume a double quantity of Flour but kill a great deal of wild Meat. The Quarter Master has already engaged a great number of plank & some Tar for the Boats that may be Built and a number of Artificers are set out to build large Canoes. Inclosed are copies of Speeches to & from the Indians.10 The Chiefs informed me the Scioto is Navigable for Canoes & Batteaux untill Harvest but afterwards it is said to be very shallow. It is a plane Country between the heads of Scioto & Sandusky & in summer the portage will be good and the Herbage extraordinary, they likewise say it is but a short distance between the two Rivers.11 a great part of the Country between Fort Laurens & Detroit is wet in June but gets dry after Harvest except some Savannahs, which must be causwayed before Carriages can pass them, and they say that the Country for the most part is level & thin of timber. Herbage is already very forward & the Waters low, in three Weeks hence there will be the greatest plenty of Food for horses & Cattle.

As we have not been enabled to comply with our Contracts made with the Delaware Runners I am apprehensive it will be difficult to engage them to explore the Seneca Country, but I must & will if possible engage two or three for that purpose. Birchbark is not to be had in this part of the Country nor can I learn that any other bark will do so well for making Canoes. The Delaware Chiefs have promised to furnish me with Guides for every route and some of them have offered their Service to go personally with me, but it will scarcely be in my power to obtain so perfect an Account from any Spies that may be employed as to enable me with any degree of precision to mark the daily halting places either by Land or Water and because of the Waters sometimes raising very high and at other times being too low for Navigation.

I beg your Excellency will send some discreet French Gentlemen to this place some if possible that are acquainted with the Customs of Indians & one or two good Engineers likewise an adequate Number of good Artillerists to the pieces you are pleased to assign me. And hope you will pardon a repitition of my request for a few light Swivels.12

Captain Heth’s independant Company at this place is as useless a Corps as any I ever saw, they are composed Chiefly of the Inhabitants of the Neighbourhood, his own Farm is near to the Fort and I am informed the Soldiers either work their own Farms or their Captains or are hired to work for wages and that he can seldom shew twenty Men out of fifty odd which he returns at this post I think it would be proper to join this & Captn Moreheads Company to the Regiments but will wait untill your pleasure is known in regard to them.13

By a late Law of the State of Virga the drafts for eighteen Months receive fourteen or fifteen hundred Dollars bounty;14 this has put an end to the recruiting Service for sometime, And the terms of a great Majority of my best Men will expire next August, when they will probably insist on discharges and be much wanted, but if I could now offer them two hundred Dollars bounty each I think many of them would reinlist. I could have reinlisted most of the New levies during the war had they been permitted to choose their Corps, after Genl McIntosh had issued orders to enlist them but he thought proper to order my recruiting officers to desist.

I am happy in being quite disinterested in the dispute between Pensa & Virginia and I am informed that the Legislative bodies of both States are taking effectual Steps to prevent every disagreeable Consequence on that account in future.15 We have had two Days severe Cold weather & Snow, the fruit & mast16 is lost for this Season and the Waters of Monongahela are so low that the Craft now at redsto⟨ne⟩17 cannot get down with loads untill the water ris⟨mutilated⟩ has Genl McIntosh’s leave to ⟨mutilated⟩ Country, he will doubtless wait on you and answer ⟨an⟩y questions you may please to ask him. With the most perfect Regard & Esteem I have the Honor to be your Excellencies most obedt most Humble Servt

Daniel Brodhead
Colo. Commandg Westn district

I beg my respectfull Compliments may be presented to yr Excellencies family.



2Brodhead apparently enclosed “A Return of the Quarter Masters Stores at Fort Lawrence,” dated 24 March and signed by deputy quartermaster Samuel Sample (DLC:GW). Another return of the stores at Fort Laurens, written on 13 Feb. by Lt. Andrew Lewis, was enclosed in Brig. Gen. Lachlan McIntosh’s letter to GW of 12 March.

3GW, pursuant to a resolve of Congress, had appointed Brodhead to replace McIntosh in command of the frontier posts of western Pennsylvania and Virginia (see GW to McIntosh, 5 March). McIntosh arrived in Philadelphia in late April and then joined GW in camp, submitting an extensive report on the military situation along the frontier (see Joseph Reed to GW, 25 April, and McIntosh to GW, 27 April). The enclosed “Return of the Troops in the Western Department Commanded by Colo. Danl Brodhead,” dated 17 April at Pittsburgh and signed by Brodhead, is in DLC:GW.

4The two companies of rangers that McIntosh ordered raised in Westmoreland County were nearly complete by the beginning of May. On 20 July, Col. Archibald Lochry wrote to Joseph Reed, president of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council, that “the two Companies raised by Genl. M’Intosh’s orders are nearly compleated and are now at the Kittanning or scouting in that neighbourhood, but I am sorry to inform you their times will shortly expire” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:362, 404, 565).

5On 2 Jan. 1779 Congress had resolved to call out of circulation the Continental bill emissions of 20 May 1777 and 11 April 1778 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:22–23).

6Fort Kanawha was another name for Fort Randolph near what is now Point Pleasant, West Virginia. GW gave Brodhead a free hand on whether to retain the fort, so Brodhead had it evacuated (see GW to Brodhead, 10 May, and Brodhead to GW, 5 June [DLC:GW]).

7Archibald Lochry (1733–1781), of Westmoreland County, Pa., served throughout the war as a militia colonel, county lieutenant, and in a variety of other local offices. In the spring and summer of 1781 he raised two battalions of militia for the defense of Pennsylvania’s western frontier, and led them west to support Col. George Rogers Clark’s expedition against the Ohio Indians. Unable to link up with Clark, Lochry was killed and his battalions destroyed during an ambush near present-day Aurora, Ind., on 24 Aug. 1781. The enclosed copy of a letter from Lochry to Brodhead, dated 11 April at Hannastown, Pa., reads: “I received your favor of the 13th Inst. by your express, & have sent you the maps you desire. I am sorry to inform you the account Nicholson gave you is too true. Three men with one Dennison of your regiment that Major Huffnogle sent to you are not returned, & I fear they are fallen into the hands of the enemy.

“You are no[w] to learn Dr Colo. that our frontiers have stood as long as they can & with infinite pain I inform you they are now removing & evacuating the country but I have told them that if they will stand their ground you will in the course, of your usual good offices accommodate them with a few men at Ligonier, Fort Wallace, Fort Lochry & Cavits mill, to assist them in working their fields.

“I have taken the liberty to station some Recruits at those places, but these helps are too feeble. I must therefore request that a party of Continental Troops, may be sent to fort Crawford, or such places, as your better sense may advise & give relief to a truly distressed people” (DLC:GW).

8John Campbell (d. 1799) was born in Ireland and immigrated to America as a young man, trading with Indians and dealing land in the Ohio Country during the 1760s and 1770s; he also served briefly as a waterman on Lake Erie. In 1776 Campbell, a self-described Virginian, was appointed lieutenant of Yohogania County, which encompassed lands around Pittsburgh that were claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia, and he also became colonel of the county militia. On 4 Oct. 1779, Campbell was captured during a skirmish with Indians near the intersection of the Ohio and Little Miami rivers. The Indians turned him over to the British, who held him prisoner until February 1783. After the war, Campbell moved to Louisville, which he had helped to found before the war, and pushed for the establishment of Kentucky statehood, which Congress granted in 1792. He subsequently helped to write Kentucky’s constitution and also served as a senator in the state legislature. The enclosed copy of Campbell’s table of “Distances, from Presq’u Isle to Sandusky Block House 1762” lists several points, mostly creek mouths and harbors, along 143.5 miles of Lake Erie’s southern shore. “It is to be remember’d,” writes Campbell, “that the entrance into most of the Creeks & harbours is difficult, owing to the Banks of sand that are moved by every Change of the wind, these remarks were also made, when I was a Young water Man, therefore the distances may be incorrect” (DLC:GW).

9The Iroquois considered black wampum twice as valuable as standard wampum, which was white.

10The enclosed copy of a speech by Brodhead to Baubee, “the Chief of the Wyandat Nation,” dated 8 April at Fort Pitt, reads: “I am much rejoiced to hear from you by your Nephews the Delawares, & that the great good spirit has inclined your Hearts to do that which is good for your selves & your posterity. Brothers—your Nephews the Delawares of Cooskocking have acted a wise part which all the Nations must soon Confess—The great good spirit has been particularly kind to them & kept them in the right path for which their Hearts will soon be joyfull—Brothers—The Mingoes, who always pretended to be wiser than other Nations, have ruled a number better than themselves long enough—When God intends to save a Nation from destruction he Opens the Eyes of its Rulers—& discover[s] to them the Danger it is in—so when a Nation is grown too wicked and God is determined to destroy it he suffers it to go on in its wickedness & continues it in blindness untill destruction comes on it like a Whirlwind—Nations are like Men when they grow too Old they enter into another Childhood their Councils are Foolish & they must die—The English are like to these, both them & the Mingoes, have for many years lived upon Robbing & plundering their Neighbours most of the English are dead already & the rest must die very soon Brothers be strong in the good works you have begun and let the Nations all round you hear your voice & be ashamed they have been fools so long—you will act wisely to gather in those bloody Tomhawks, that are stained with the blood of the Innocent Women & Children of the Americans, your Country Men born & Grown up in the same Country with you—And who wou’d never have differed with the Indians if they had not been forced to it by the English, when their king ruled America—Brothers—I long to hear from you, rise up & come quickly—The season advances for my Warriors to take up their Guns and Tomhawks & march to fight our Enemies. Brothers—The French King desires the Americans to be strong & fight their Enemies & his Enemies the English & their Allies are our Enemies & they will see how we fight before too Moons ⟨are⟩ past. Brothers—your Nephews the Delawares say that you have spoken to them, to speak with your brothers the Americans—& they now request you will meet them here in thirty days from this time on their return from Philadelphia—The Delawares say now Uncles be strong & don’t fail to meet me at this place our old Council Fire at Fort Pitt in thirty Days—I send the same Man to you that carried my former Speech—& the same Man will come along with you to this place. The Delawares say now Uncles you have heard my Speech. Listen to me now my Grand Children the [T]awas Ch⟨ipe⟩wa’s & Postowatomies I will mention the Speeches we had before of the good works between us Now you told me Grand Children that whatever I should desire you to do you would do it Now Grand Children I take hold of you softly by the Hand and desire You to get up and come & meet me at this place our old Council fire at Pitsburgh in thirty Days from this time.

“Grand Children Now I see the Works are very good I see that our Brothers the Americans are with us one people If you come it will be the Means of our Children & Grand Children living to see a new Day” (DLC:GW).

Brodhead also enclosed a copy of a speech by the Delaware Indians in conference, dated 9 April at Fort Pitt. It reads: “Of our Ancestors the good Men of our Nation—We now handed you down a Name, as we look upon you to be an Upright Man, you are henceforth called by us the Delaware Nation, the Great Moon, that is in Delaware Maghingua Keeshoch, Hereafter our great Grand Children yet unborn, when they come to the years of Understanding, shall know that your Name is handed as their great Grand Father—All the speeches you now send to the Nations, must be signed with your present Name Machingua Keeshoch & all the Nations will address you by that Name—There were four great good Kings of our Nation, One of their Names you have Taimenend is another we have yet two to bestow Our Ancestors in former times they were of a good disposition & are the cause of our now being as one Man—& now we place you in the same light with us—now here after perhaps those of our Nation yet unborn are to know that was the name of their Ancestor—Capt. Johnny says that now he comes to know the will of God he rejects his former Name & title—& desires to be called Assilaus, Capt. Killbuck says his name is Killalamernt, Pakelend desires his Name to be taken down” (DLC:GW).

11The Sandusky River originates in what is now Crawford County in northern Ohio, and flows west and north to enter Lake Erie at Sandusky Bay, about sixty miles due south of Detroit.

12Brodhead had previously made this request for swivel guns in his letter to GW of 21 March.

13Henry Heth (1718–1793), a native of Ireland, settled near Winchester, Va., before moving to an estate near Pittsburgh that he dubbed “Heth’s Delight.” He was appointed captain of an independent Virginia company for service at Fort Pitt in October 1777, and the company remained in existence until January 1782 despite GW’s support for its absorption into an established continental regiment (see GW to Brodhead, 21 Nov. 1779, DLC:GW). Samuel Morehead (1749–c.1814), also a native of Ireland, was appointed captain of an independent Pennsylvania company in January 1777; he resigned in June 1779, after which his company was absorbed into the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment.

14See “An act for speedily recruiting the Virginia regiments on continental establishment” (Va. Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends [Hening], 9:588–92). The law actually specified bounties of $300 for men who enlisted for eighteen months, and $400 for men who enlisted for three years or the duration of war, and in his reply of 10 May, GW questioned Brodhead’s figures of $1,300 or $1,400. Brodhead responded on 5 June that since classes of militia hired substitutes at these bounties, it had the same effect as if it had been enacted by law (DLC:GW).

15Congress resolved on 27 Dec. 1779 that Virginia and Pennsylvania should settle their dispute over the western territories (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 15:1411). As a result of meetings between Robert Andrews and James Madison, commissioners for Virginia, and George Bryan, David Ewing, and David Rittenhouse, commissioners for Pennsylvania, at Baltimore in 1779, both states resolved in the summer of 1780 to settle their boundaries along the Mason-Dixon Line and the Ohio River (Va. Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends [Hening], 10:534–37; Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 8:352–54, 570–71).

16Mast is “the fruit of beech, oak, chestnut, and other woodland trees, esp. when fallen and used as food for pigs” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray et al., eds. The Oxford English Dictionary: Being a Corrected Re-Issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. 12 vols. 1933. Reprint. Oxford, England, 1970. description ends ).

17Redstone Fort, built in 1754 where Redstone Creek flows into the Monongahela River twenty-nine miles south of Pittsburgh, at present-day Brownsville, Pa., was abandoned in 1763. It nevertheless remained an important launching point for expeditions down the Ohio River because of its location at the western terminus of the Cumberland Pike.

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