George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Daniel Brodhead, 5 June 1779

From Colonel Daniel Brodhead

Pittsburgh June 5th 1779

Dear General

I am honored with your favours of the 10th and 21st of last Month. on the 26th of last month I threw in a small Supply of Provisions to Fort Lawrens with orders to Major Vernon to throw up inner Works of earth Sufficient to resist light Artillery. this Supply will last the Garrison Consisting of 75 Rank and file untill the 19th of this month, by which time I hope to be able to throw in Another Supply of Salt Provisions, which I have ordered from Carlisle. The Provisions for the Troops come exceeding Slowly, there being only 864 Horses employed to bring them and the Other Stores over the Mountains only 224 of which are public Property. Major Vernon had my Orders to send off all the useless Stores with the last Escort but the Horses were so much hurt with the loads they took out and otherwise reduced that they could not bring in any except a few empty Bags, The Muskingham is not navigable all the way to Tuscarawas.

as your Excellency has given Fort McIntosh the preference I Shall order that to be the principal Rendevouz for the Troops, but I beg leave to assure your Excellency there is Neither Meadow, Pasture, Garden or Spring Water convenient to that post, and I do not think it would be prudent to inclose the Indians land as it would Naturally excite a Jealousey; I Shall be glad to remain here a few days longer untill I see whether the Intilligence of the Enemys Designs against the frontier on this Side the Lawrel Hill1 be Authentic2 and untill a post is established at Kittanning for which a few of the Troops are now assembling.3 When I mentioned that Fort McIntosh would keep up an Idea of Hostilities I conceived it could not be in my power to Support the Garrison at Fort Lawrens.

The Fort at Canhawa4 I have been told was Erected by the State of Virginia and for Some time Garrisoned by the Militia, untill last fall when the remaining part of Captain Oharas Company which was Originally raised for the defence of that post, was ordered there by General McIntosh. before that period Captn Oharas Company had been cheefly employed on trading Voyages down the Missisipi River but for whose benefit I know not.5 That Company having lost a great Number killed in hunting about Canhawa and other parts of the Country is reduced to 29 in Number which was too Small a Garrison to answer any Salutary purpose at Canhawa and it was next to an impossibility to Support them at 200 Miles distance from any Inhabitants, and admitting they could have been Supported they could no longer answer their first design which was to cover the Inhabitants living in the vicinity of that post. The Fort at Canhawa was attacked two years ago by the Savages and at that time about 300 Head of Cattle besides Several Men were killed. For these reasons which I trust will appear good to your Excellency, I have evacuated the post at Canhawa, and I have the pleasure to inform you that the Garrison and Stores with about 50 Head of Cattle and four Horses belonging to the States are now Safely arrived at this post. your Excellency may rely on my employing the Troops to the best advantage, but I can do nothing at present excep⟨t⟩ Sending out Small Scalping parties untill I am Supplied with a Number of Shoes. I am much Obliged to your Excellency for mentioning the Swivels to the Board of War and I hope you will soon favour me with a few light Field pieces and Howitzers. at present I have Scarce a man that understands any thing of Artillery.

Upwards of Sixty men are raised in the County of Westmorland for the term of Six months. Seventy by monthly Drafts from the Militia in monongahala and 18 and four Spies in like manner in Ohio County, which two last Numbers far exceeds the permission given to the Lieutenants of the Counties by General McIntosh, besides I imagine the last mentioned were to be raised for the Same term with those in Westmorland County. and therefore it appears to me that as many of those in Monongahala were drafted without any Authority except that of the Lieutt Such ought not to be paid by the publick, but I shall always be ready to Submit to your Excellencys Judgment as well in this as Other Matters.6 I inclose a Copy of Mr Clares letter to Captn Skelton relative to the Seizure of the public Provisions.7 Mr Clare I am told is a Purchasing Commissary and has Supported a fair Charecter, and if his Testimony on oath is Necessary I Shall transmit it by the Next express.

your Excellency has taken no notice of what I mentioned respecting Captn Moreheads Company,8 most of the men belonging to the Independant Companies, Seem desirous to reinlist into the larger Corps, during the War.

I thank you for the Money Sent by Mr Sample but I believe the Sum is greater than you mention. I shall take care that no undue practice happens in the Enlistments. I was not misinformed when I said that in Consequence of a law lately passed in the State of Virginia 18 Months drafts received 14 or 1500 Dollars.9 I will explain it. The Militia are Classed and each Class is forced to furnish a Man. These Classes Generally hire Substitutes at 14. or 1500 Dollars, which has the Same effect as if it was So ordered by Law.

Inclosed I take the liberty to Send you Copies of Sundry letters containing encouraging Intilligence.10 I have Sent out one Scalping party towards the Mingoe Towns and am preparing another. if they answer no other purpose they may bring Intilligence of an approaching Enemy. but Should a firm peace be concluded as I have reason to believe with the Wyondots (or Hurons) it would give me great pleasure to make one grand push against the Mingoes at and near Canawago, who will not, and ought not, to be Treated with, but at the Point of Bayonet.11

No abuse of Stores or money that may come to my knowledge Shall be permitted, to prevent it I countersign every order for Quarter Master, Military and Commissaries Stores at this post, and my Officers at the different Garrisons have orders to observe the Strictest Œconomy. Particular care is and Shall be taken of all Sorts of Craft. I have upwards of forty large Canoes made and ready to bring down the Monongahala. Seven Batteaux are on the Stocks and nearly finished, the Carpenters Tools are not yet come to hand, but I hear they will be here within a day or two. for want of these the Boat Builders Chiefly have been idle Since their arrival.

I never was an Advocate for the establisment of Martial Law where the Civil was in force except from great Necessity; and I hope your Excellencies General ⟨or⟩ders which I have published to the Troops will have the desired effect.12

I have ordered a General Court Martial and appointed Lieut. Colo. Bayard President; besides the Man Who is Supposed to have Murdered the Deleware Indian, there are Several to be tried for disertion. I expect to Transmit to your Excellency the proceedings of the Court Martial Should the Sentences effect the lives of the Criminals.13

I believe I have greatly Softened the Grief of the Fishes14 Relations but his principal relation is one of the Chiefs down the Country, who I have no oppy of Communicating the Matter to. The Guard that went down the Country with the Indians I expect will return with them and be a Sufficient Escort.

as yet I am ignorant of Militia Law of the State of Virginia but will make enquiry and take proper Steps to obtain Justice for the injury done to the public by the Seizure of the provisions in Monongahala County.15 as to the holding or Evacuating Fort Lawrens I Shall be the better able to determine after Some conversation with the Wyondots.16

As I mentioned in a former letter there is an emulation between the Wyondots and Mingoes17 and I hope to have it in my power to oppose them to each Other. but this is a purpose difficult to effect with words only.18

When I mentioned to your Excellency the limits of this District I meant only to be instructed how far and out of which Counties I should be enabled to Call a part of the Militia in Case of Necessity. it was not owing to an ignorance of your proper Authority over the whole.

I am over obliged to your Excellency for honoring my application for Shoes and am quite happy that my Observations appear to you reasonable. you may depend on the Strictest public œconomy So far as it may be in my power. and that to the Utmost every Necessary intilligence Shall be obtained. I dont like the Southern Clime but a few men might with a Howitzer reduce the Garrison at the Notchez.19 With the Most perfect regard and Sincere Esteem I have the honor to be your Excellencies most Obedt Hble Ser.

Daniel Brodhead


1Laurel Hill (Laurel Ridge, Laurel Mountain), located in southwestern Pennsylvania some fifty miles east of Pittsburgh, runs for seventy miles from north to south with an average elevation of 2,700 feet.

2Brodhead is referring to the postscript of a letter from Moravian missionary John Heckewelder to him, dated 28 May at Coshocton, which apparently was enclosed in this letter to GW. Heckewelder’s letter reads: “I have the pleasure to inform you that by John Monture who came here from the Wyondot Towns we are assured that the Wyondots are ready to make peace with the States, and on thier way to Pittsburgh already, They rejoiced greatly when your Speech was dilivered to them and had waited a long time for Something from the Americans themselves, when Monture came away they had yet three days to Council, the first they were to make out how many of them were to go to the Council at Pittsburgh, The Second day they were to get Speeches ready to the Tawas and Chibaways that they also might go with them and the third day they were to Speak to thier fathers at Detroit, and to tell them now you have cheated us long enough. we desire therefore tell us the truth and keep our eyes Shut no longer, and then to tell him, now we are going to Shake hands with the Virginians, we are their freinds already. John Monture particularly desires me to inform you of the following: That [George Rogers] Clarke had taken a Fort lately in which he got Govr [Henry] Hamilton, Hays [Jehu Hay] and Desyoung [Philip Dejean], three worthless fellows Prisoners. The Cannonading lasted from the Middle of the day till, and began next Morning again after which the Govr Surrendered, without the loss of one man on either Side, Mr Clarke Treated all the Prisoners very well and the report of his killing So many Indians is false and only reported that the Indians Shall beleive that the Virginians are ill disposed towards them all.

“That further in the letters which Mr Clarke had Sent to Kentucke, but Which were taken by Some Warriors he (Mr Clark[)] wrote to the people there, that he had the Governor and would deliver him into the hands of those Women who had lost their Husbands by his Wickedness, in Sending the Savages to kill them, they then might do with him what they pleased—further that the English had built a very Strong Fort at Detroit, and that he Monture thinks it will be very hard taking, without bomb Shells, tho he Says he does not know but What they will leave the Fort immediately when they See an Army Coming. That further there were two Vessels posted out to Watch for the American Army, the one up and down by Guyahoga [Cuyahoga] to Prisqueile and the Other at the Mouth of Twechtwee or Miami River, That the Shawanese, Mingoes, and Wyondaughala Gang were to go with Capt. [Henry] Bird and Ten English Soldiers to Attack and take Fort Lawrens that he did not know the Number, but that the Capt. Said he would have about 3 or four hund⟨r⟩ed Men, but he Monture thinks there will be Scarce half that [N]umber no Wyondots will be along and as the Capt. knows this he Says he does not Want Them for they were all turned Rebels. Bird told Monture that he would fix his Swivels (for now we know for certain they are but Small Swivels) on Sixty Yards from the Fort and knock it down in a hurry, to which Monture replyed he would do the Virginians a great Service if he would go that Near, he intends to Shoot double headed Shot which he makes himself; the Merchants and Others in Detroit desired Monture to do all he could that the Captn Might be taken, and he thinks it could easily be done. When the Wyondots were a Counciling near Detroit the Commandt Sent a file of Men to take Monture Prisoner (because as they Said) he was turning the Wyondots to become Rebels. These Men were Nine days after him but Could not get him, That Thomas McCarty is gone he thinks down Scioto with 40 Men to Cross the Ohio to War, a few days after Monture left Detroit, They had great rejoicing there, the Cannon being heard firing, That 160 Men came lately from Niagara to Detroit, 100 of them regulars and 60 Prisoners who were bought of the Indians and made Soldiers off. That by a late Information of a Mercht who came from Quebec to Detroit it appears that there has not above 800 soldiers between them two places, This far John Monture to you.

“I understand by Monture that after this Battle at Fort Laurens is over the Mingoes will all go home to their own Country, and then the Six Nations will fall on the Wyondots, he Says nothing is Surer than this, but they (they Wyondots) Say if we have the Americans to our friends, they will Certainly help us to fight them when they Come.

“Monture likewise tells me that perhaps when the Shawanese See what the Wyondots are about, and that they are a going to Treat at Fort Pitt, they may alter their Minds and not go along against Fort Laurens, but he Says this is uncertain and a great many will go if ever they turn back, he wishes that you might be ready for them.

“The letter from the Wyondott Chieff [Captain] Bawbee to you was wrote by a prisoner for them.

“Monture tells me that at that time when he was called to come to Pittsburgh it was impossible for him to go, and would have cost him his life, but if he had recd Mr Dodges letter a few days Sooner Much Mischief might have been prevented.

“Excuse Sir this letter not being wrote in a Proper Manner, tis Impossible for me at this time I having So Much to do and could not Rem[embe]r every thing directly, therefore all is mixt together,

“Simon Gurty acts Wickedly and does all he can against you. …

“P.S. paper is So Scarce with me that I hardly can Write another letter. …

“I was Obliged to open my letter again as John Monture informs me as a Certain fact that Legonir and all this Side of the Lawrel hil will be Attacked by the Six Nations, and Butlar at the head of them with two hundred Rangers, the Private News of this runs thus.

“We have found out a piece of Ground where no disturbance has been made, where there is Provision and every thing plenty the farmers there are busy at thier farms and Suspect Nothing, we will now as Soon as the Strawberrys are ripe fall in that Country all at once, then let the Virginians try to Carry on a Campaign against us. This is Guyashuta [Kiashuta] his private Speech to the Mingoes Monture desires you to be ready for them, and not Consider this as a false report for he says it is a fact” (DLC:GW). For Brodhead’s reply to Heckewelder on 3 June, see Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 1st ser., 12:124–25.

3For Brodhead’s order on 17 June to build what became known as Fort Armstrong at Kittanning, Pa., see his letter to GW, 25 June, n.6.

4This is a reference to Fort Randolph.

5James O’Hara (1754–1819) was born in Ireland and educated in Paris. He briefly served as an ensign in the British army, went to Philadelphia in 1772, and became an Indian trader on the Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiers. As captain of a Virginia independent company, he was stationed at Fort Pitt from 16 Sept. 1777 to 20 May 1778 and then took part in George Rogers Clark’s expedition to Vincennes. Resigning his captaincy, O’Hara oversaw the general hospital at Carlisle, Pa., before becoming an assistant quartermaster under Q.M. Gen. Nathanael Greene. O’Hara left the army in 1783, opened a general store in Pittsburgh, secured army contracts, and was active in politics. GW nominated him as quartermaster general on 17 April 1792, and he served in that capacity until his resignation in May 1796. O’Hara subsequently promoted the development of Pittsburgh as an industrial center.

6For GW’s reply to this concern about militia pay, see his letter to Brodhead of 23 June.

7The enclosed copy of a letter from Thomas Clare to Capt. Joseph Skelton, written at Georges Creek, Monongalia County, Va. (now W.Va.), on 28 April, reads: “I have made Return of the Provisions Purchased by me since my last settlement but some few Articles which I intend sending down by Serjeants Blake & Porter—The chief part of the Bacon I have sent to you the remainder Colonel [John] Evans has taken and does insist on all that I have of every kind—I show’d him Colonel Broadhead⟨’s⟩ orders—his answer was that Colonel Broadhead should have not one pound of any kind, likewise Colo. McCleery [William McCleary] said he looked upon it that Colo. Broadhead had wrote for Nothing but Bacon—I then show’d your letter to them, they seem’d to give little or no answer—I told them as soon as the River raiz’d I should send all the Provisions to Pitt—Colo. Evans said the Militia could not starve and he would not let it go—As for the Flour I have some, and a good deal paid for, but the Water is so low the Mills cannot grind—I should be glad to get an answer concerning of this for I am pretty shure that before the Provisions goes the Militia will stop it, for the Savages is seen every day in the Neighbourhood and committs Murder and Kill the peoples Cattle—I am much afraid that Beef will be very scarce & dear in short they ask two hundred Dollars for a Cow” (DLC:GW).

Thomas Clare (d. 1814) migrated from Ireland to Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He purchased substantial properties in the vicinity, apparently prospered through various ventures (including operating a ferry over the Monongahela River), and became friendly with Albert Gallatin, who leased a portion of Clare’s land for a store.

Joseph Skelton was appointed deputy commissary for purchases at Fort Pitt in 1777 and apparently worked closely with George Morgan.

8Brodhead had raised the issue of merging Capt. Samuel Morehead’s independent company into Continental regiments in a letter to GW of 17 April. GW replied to Brodhead on 23 June.

9For this Virginia recruiting law, see Brodhead to GW, 17 April, n.14.

10This enclosure contained copies of four letters: Big Cat “and the Councillors of Coschocking” to Brodhead, 29 May; Big Cat to John Killbuck and Delaware “Chiefs who went to Philadelphia,” undated; “Capt. Bawbee” (Wyandot chief) at Detroit to Brodhead, 12 May; and John Montour at Coshocton to John Dodge, 28 May (all DLC:GW). Each letter suggested increased support for the American cause among tribes in the Ohio country.

11Conewango was found to be deserted when Brodhead led an expedition up the Allegheny River valley from Pittsburgh between 11 Aug. and 14 Sept. (see Brodhead to GW, 16–24 Sept., NNGL).

12Brodhead probably is referring to a portion of the general orders for 1 Jan. that set regulations for liquor sellers (see Brodhead to GW, 3 May, and GW to Brodhead, 21 May, and n.2 to that document).

13The proceedings of this court-martial, held 6–14 June at Pittsburgh, are in DLC:GW. The man accused of murdering a Delaware Indian, Pvt. James Beham of the 13th Virginia Regiment, was acquitted on 9 June. GW had called this incident “an unfortunate affair” in his letter to Brodhead of 21 May.

14A mark at this place in the letter matches a similar mark at the end of the letter where there is an identification that reads “the name of the young Delaware Man.”

15Brodhead first mentioned this seizure of provisions in his letter to GW of 3 May.

16For an outline history of Fort Laurens from its construction in November 1778 to its evacuation in August 1779, see GW to Brodhead, 3 May, n.2; see also Brodhead to GW, 31 July–4 August.

In a letter of this date to Joseph Reed, president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, Brodhead discussed the difficulties connected to maintaining Fort Laurens and asserted that “Genl McIntosh must have influenced his Excell’y into a favourable opinion of the use of that post as well as Fort McIntosh. Or the General must have reasons that I am a stranger to … You may depend on my close attention to the protection of the Settlements, but I have told his Excellency the Commander in chief that I can more effectually protect them with one thousand men acting offensively than with three times that number on a defensive plan, and I have received no answer to induce me to alter my opinion” (Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 1st ser., 7:465–66; see also Brodhead to GW, 6 May).

17Brodhead apparently is referring to his letter to GW of 6 May.

18Brodhead failed in his efforts to separate the Wyandots from the Mingos and to side the Wyandots firmly with the American cause (see Kellogg, Frontier Retreat, 66–72; see also GW to Brodhead, 23 June).

19Brodhead is referring to a British force at Natchez along the eastern bank of the lower Mississippi River. The British relinquished Natchez to the Spanish later in 1779 (see Juan de Miralles to GW, 2 Oct., DLC:GW).

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