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To George Washington from Colonel Daniel Brodhead, 3 April 1779

From Colonel Daniel Brodhead

Fort McIntosh [Pa.] April 3rd 1779.

Dear General—

On the 28th of last Month I was honored with your Letter Dated at Head Quarters Middle Brook 5th March 1779.

I have the highest sense of the Hono⟨r done⟩ me by your appointment and I sincerely Wish to merit a Continuance of your good Opinion of me, but can only promise that my best exertions shall not be wanting to answer your most sanguine expectations of the Army in this Department, so soon as General McIntosh shall please to signify that the Command has devolved on me, which by his Letter of the first instant he has informed me shall be done.1

Your Instructions of the 31st of January & 12th of Feby last to General McIntosh,2 he put into the Hands of Colonels Gibson & Crawford to read. I mention this circumstance to avoid sensure should the contents transpire. I have not heard of any persons being employed to explore the Country or examine the Navigation; therefore I fear you will receive but imperfect accounts Concerning them, untill I can procure such as may be more satisfactory, which I will do as soon as I am fully Authorized.3

There is a prodigious deficiency of Clothing & Money in this Department, some Cloth has indeed been purchased in the State of Virginia, but the means of making it up are not provided; Shoes and Linnen cannot be had at any rate unless they are sent up by the Clothier Genl and I am wearied with making fruitless applications to him and the Board of War, although the Troops are full of Vermin.4

All the Money lately brought up by the Deputy Pay Master General is insufficient to discharge the Arrearages of the Troops, therefore no recruiting Officers can be sent out untill a sufficient Sum for that Purpose is sent up by the Board of Treasury, And as the Deputy Paymaster (Mr Baynton) declines that service, I shall be Oblidged to send an Officer express to Philadelphia to bring it up.5

My Son has suffered a long and painfull Captivity, And I am informed remains at Philadelphia inactive, having no Command. He is very desirous as well as myself of an interview and I beg your Excellency will permit him to Come to this Department, where I conceive he may be usefully employed in the Service of his Country.6

The Delaware chiefs informed me in a conference Yesterday that four British Officers & sixteen Privates in an Armed Vessel arrived at Sandusky a few Days ago, and brought with them a great quantity of Liquor & Goods to ingage the Indians to go with them to Fort Laurens. They are to proceed to Kyahaga, thence up that River to a carrying place about five Miles from the head of Tuscarawas, and make a road that distance for some artillery, thence down the Tuscarawas to Fort Laurens & besiege it. The Indians say this is practicable & have offered me two of their best young Men to go & watch the Enemy, and bring me intelligence of their approaches. The Delaware chiefs seem desirous to do us every Service that will not involve them in a war with People of their own colour, and as their intelligence has chiefly been true, I cannot now despise it.7

The Loss or evacution of Fort Laurens would greatly encourage the Enemy, at the same time it would discourage our Inhabitants.

I have taken the liberty to inclose two Speeches one from me to the Delaware Chiefs, the other is their answer Also Copies of Letters from Mr Hackenwelder to Colo. Gibson & from Major Vernon to myself.8

I conceive that 1,000£ worth of Indian Goods at the former cheap rates would save a great many Thousands in this department, if properly applied in gaining intelligence, engaging some Indians in amity with us to act as Scouts & Guides, & finally as Warriors.

Our Provisions are very low at present and the Delaware Chiefs with their attendants of Men Women & Children amounting to sixty seven in number have lessened it considerably, but it is necessary to put the best Face on our Circumstances, as the Enemy constantly endeavour to p⟨er⟩sua⟨d⟩e them we are very indigent.

A Deputy Adjutant Genl, Deputy paymaster Genl, Muster Master & Inspector, will be necessary in this Department, And it would afford me great satisfaction could my Son be appointed to one of these, particularly one of the first mentioned. The Muster master appointed by General McIntosh was a Lieutt in my Regt and resigned upon a supposition that he was reduced to an Ensigncy by the late Arrangement. He is a very young Man and it is now clear that he has lost nothing of his rank, therefore I cannot conceive why he should be aversed to joining his Regt.9

General McIntosh has appointed several Ensigns to my Regiment as well as Colo. Gibsons, And a number of promotions have otherwise taken place, The Officers are very anxious to have their Commissions and I should be much Oblidged for a few blanks if there be any at Head Quarters and leave to fill them up. I am very sensible of the necessity of using the utmost diligence in procuring Craft, and on receipt of your Instructions gave immediate Orders to the Quarter Master to engage six persons capable of superintending & directing the Building & making them, And to the Superintendant of the Works here to take the Names of all the Handy Craftsmen in the 8th Pensa & 13th V. Regts as well as the Independant Companies that might be employed in that Service. And as no perfect account is yet obtained of the Navigation of the different Waters you have directed to be examined, they will be chiefly employed in making large Canoes, of which a great number may be made up Yoghegania River.10 Mr John Dodge informs me that there is often a very high Swell in lake Erie. I am informed that the Mingoes living up the allegheny at a place called Connewago are much reduced by the small pox.11 Should the intelligence respecting the Enemies design against Fort Laurens prove groundless, I have thought of taking some Circuitous route to attack a small Town on the river La Beuf because the Indians there have been remarkably hostile.12

I shall be happy to hear from you as often as Convenient and receive Instructions; nor will I fail to transmit to your Excellency every interesting Account that may Occur, although Expresses (considering the enormous expence of traveling) ought not to be multiplied.

Every sentence you have or may hereafter think proper to communicate to me will remain a profound secret. With the greatest regard & most perfect esteem I have the Honor to be your Excellency’s most Obedt most Humble svt

Daniel Brodhead Colo. 8th P. Regt

LS, DLC:GW. GW replied to this letter on 3 May (DLC:GW).

1Brig. Gen. Lachlan McIntosh’s letter to Brodhead of 1 April has not been identified. For McIntosh’s replacement as commander of the western department by Brodhead, see GW to Brodhead and to McIntosh, both 5 March, and McIntosh to GW, 12 March; see also GW to Gouverneur Morris, 20 March.

2Brodhead is referring to GW’s letter to McIntosh of 15 February. For the discrepancy in dates, see the source note for that document.

3GW’s need for information about the routes and distances up the Allegheny River from Fort Pitt diminished markedly after he decided not to include Brodhead or his troops in the expedition against the Six Nations along the Pennsylvania-New York frontier (see GW to Brodhead, 21 April, NNGL).

4Brodhead’s previous applications to Clothier General James Mease and the Board of War concerning clothing for troops in the western department have not been identified, but see Brodhead to Timothy Pickering, 15 April and 22 May (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 12:106, 113), and GW to Board of War, 5 May (DLC:GW).

5John Baynton, whose father, John Baynton (1726–1773), had been a Philadelphia merchant active in the frontier trade, was commissioned as deputy paymaster general for the western department on 11 July 1777, and he submitted his resignation in a letter to John Jay of 3 June 1779, citing “the Inconveniency attendant on my Continuance in that Capacity” (DNA:PCC, item 78). Brodhead sent Samuel Sample to bring funds west from Philadelphia (see Brodhead to James Duane, 16 April, in Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 12:109).

6Daniel Brodhead, Jr., was commissioned a first lieutenant in the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1776 and taken prisoner at the Battle of Fort Washington on 16 Nov. of that year. Exchanged in late August 1778, he tried without success to rejoin the army at a higher rank based on his prior service and sufferings. For GW’s interest in Daniel Brodhead, Jr., see GW to Daniel Brodhead, Sr., 3 May 1779, DLC:GW, and to Arthur St. Clair, 24 July, DLC:GW (see also Daniel Brodhead, Jr., to John Jay, 25 Sept. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 78, and Papers, Retirement Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Retirement Series. 4 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1998–99. description ends , 3:225–26, 229).

7For similar intelligence concerning a possible attack on Fort Laurens by an expedition across Lake Erie, up the Cuyahoga River, and then overland to the Tuscarawas River, which flowed southward past the fort on its west bank, see John Heckewelder to John Gibson, 8 Feb., in Lachlan McIntosh to GW, 12 March, n.8.

8These enclosures, all in DLC:GW, are Brodhead’s speeches of 1 and 2 April to the Delaware chiefs; their reply of 3 April, recorded by Brodhead at the end of his speech of 1 April; John Heckewelder’s letter of 19 March to John Gibson; and Frederick Vernon’s letter of 28 March to Brodhead.

In the speech of 1 April, delivered at Fort McIntosh, Brodhead praised the Delawares and Wyandots for their friendship with the Americans, encouraged them to settle and stay in one town for security, urged them to resist overtures from the Mingoes and British, and predicted a successful American attack on Detroit. In the speech of 2 April, also delivered at Fort McIntosh, Brodhead again acknowledged the friendship of the Delawares and Wyandots, assured the Delawares that there was no smallpox at Fort Pitt, and wished the chiefs well as they began their journey to Philadelphia to consult with Congress. The reply of the Delaware chiefs on 3 April reads: “The times have been troublesome & as we intended going to Philada we determined to answer your talk at this place—We now tell you we are not acquainted with the Nature of renting Lands—But as we are one people you are welcome to make Gardens & fence pastures, so long only as the present Troubles last, & if you choose to give us any thing for it, we leave it to you, if not we shall be Satisfied.”

Brodhead then commented: “They requested me to send a Speech to the Wyandats & another to the Shawnese and said the Wyandats wou’d come in & make peace—if the Shawnese did not, they had done their Duty, & wou’d have done with them.”

Heckewelder says in his letter to Gibson of 19 March, written at Coshocton, that, “By Philip who takes your Corn up, I must acquaint you of some news that I forgot to mention Yesterday—some shawnese who came up here yesterday say that it is a fact that the Governer of Detroit [Henry Hamilton] has taken a Fort—which according to their Description lies between the Falls of Ohio & Detroit—That Majr Henry is taken with his wife prisoner by the shawnese, & Robbed of every thing he had—That Matthew Elliot who had been sent by the Governor to view how the Fort at Ohio Falls lay, had brought in his Account of the same to which the Governor is now gone with 400 Indians & several pieces of Cannon—That Matthew Elliot is at the shawne Towns now where he has a large Store of Goods—That the shawnese understood by a Letter that was taken—that Robin George was comeing up the big River with a 100 Men & about seventy Horsload of Goods—& that therefore a Hundred Indians were gone of[f] to watch & take his Goods from him—That the white Fish [Shawnee chief] is gone with some of his Men to meet the Governer—A prisoner by the Name of George Hendricks who was taken above a year ago at the Salt-Lick with Capt. [Daniel] Boone, but afterwards made his Escap & was taken again by the Mingoes, was forced along with the Warriors to fight against your Garrison—He thought to make his Escape then, but was closely watch’d but says if they take him again along the next time—he will give them the slip—I told him to try to get inside the Pikets, that runs from the Fort to the River where he wou’d be quite out of sight of the Indians, & might speak to you.

“Mr [Richard] Connor [Moravian follower] desires you to inform the Taylor at your Garrison who was here lately with Mr Semple [Samuel Sample] that he has certain Account that his Daughter is liveing & adopted in, to the family of Logan’s [Mingo chief] as his Sister where she is thought much of—Snake [Shawnee chief] thought at First of taking Mr Connor & Family away but is quite put out of it—We had hard times since the W⟨arr⟩iors were here, & they are not all gone yet—The Chiefs was very strong & behaved exceeding well towards these Scoundrels who did all they cou’d to get them along and to War—we hope the Delawares will be considered, & something done in time for their safety—other wise they will be ruin’d, & that before long—Nothing in our Opinion wou’d be better than to build a Fort upon Hockhockang, & march from Fort Laurens to sandusky—[Alexander] McCormick [frontier trader] desires us not to have a Fort built here—he says it is concluded as soon as a Fort shall be built at Coo-shocking, to fall upon us & kill the Delawares first—Snake says he will never make peace with the Virginians—& they seem to be all of that mind—Since the English see that their giveing Goods to the Indians at Detroit for to go to War, helps them but Little, the most of them Contenting themselves with the presents, forgetting they are to do something for it—he has found out now a better way in bringing the Goods to this side of the lake, where he will be nearer the place the stroke is to be made as also know better who will fight, & who not.”

Vernon’s letter to Brodhead of 28 March, written at Fort Laurens, reads: “This Morning I sent out a party of Forty Men, Commanded by Ensigns [Thomas] Wyatt & Clark, in order to bring Wood for the Garrison—as Ensign Clark was placing the last Centinal, he was fire’d on by a party of Indians (that had Conceal’d themselves behind a Log, some distance on the outside of the Centinal) which kill’d him, & the Centinal, and Scalp’d them, before any of the party cou’d come to their Assistance, the greatest part of the Men had picked up Wood, & was on their way to the Fort, what few Men had not got their Loads of Wood, made towards the Fort—I immediately sent out three I——s to make a Discovery how large the party was, they return’d in a short time, & told me that party was not large, but had discover’d a number of Tracks on another point of a Ridge, which makes me think, there was more party’s than the one we seen—I then sent out a party with Capt. [Samuel] Brady, & Ensn Wyatt, to bring in the Dead Bodies, they went to the place where the Indians sat, & found Four Blankets, two Gun Covers, & a long knife, laying in the Top of a lying Tree, there appeared to be about Ten Indians in that party Mr H[eckewelder] (one of the M[oravian M[issionaries]) was here two Days ago, & told me we may depend, there will be a Large party of Indians, & some English, with several Pieces of Artillery, will pay us a visit in a short time—I wou’d be glad to have two pieces of Cannon to Exchange a shot with them—please send me your Opinion of it—as I am determin’d to defend this post while I have one man alive, & able to Fight—I have received a quantity of Corn from Cooshacking—but I have not goods here that will suit the Indians to satisfy them for bringing it up—I have given a Certificate to them for Twenty Bucks, which they Expect to be paid to them at Beaver Creek, the Bearers of this Letter are not paid for their Trouble nor have I set any price with them they expect pay there also, I am inform’d there is several parties of Indians out, some is gone over the Big [Ohio] River to Murder the Inhabitants—some of the parties are return’d back, with prisoners & scalps—... P.S. the name of the Soldier that was kill’d is Adkins, one of the new Levies.” Frederick Vernon (died c.1795), whose father and a brother sided with the British, was appointed a captain in the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1776, transferred to the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment twelve months later, and was promoted to major of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment in June 1777. He commanded a garrison of slightly more than 100 troops at Fort Laurens from late March 1779 to the following June. Vernon subsequently served to the end of the war, transferring to the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1781 and to the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1783.

9Brodhead is referring to William Amberson (1755–1838), who had joined the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment as an ensign in August 1776 and was promoted to lieutenant in July 1777. Wounded at the Battle of Brandywine on 11 Sept. 1777, Amberson subsequently served as adjutant for Brig. Gen. Lachlan McIntosh before being appointed mustermaster for the western department in early 1779 and then commissary of purchases for Westmoreland County, Pa., in early summer 1780. After the Revolutionary War, Amberson served as treasurer of Allegheny County, Pa., and later as a judge in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

10Brodhead wrote John Heckewelder from Pittsburgh on 13 May 1779 that “Upwards of 150 Boat builders are constantly employed at this and the other posts on the principal waters” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 12:111–12). For information on the navigation of principal waterways in western Pennsylvania, see Brodhead to GW, 17 April (DLC:GW). The Youghiogheny River enters the Monongahela River about eighteen miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

11John Dodge had been an Indian trader at Sandusky whose escape from British confinement had previously brought him to GW’s attention (see Horatio Gates to GW, 13 Nov. 1778, and n.1 to that document). Conewango was an Indian village located where the Conewango Creek flows into the Allegheny River at present-day Warren, Pennsylvania.

12Le Boeuf Creek flows into French Creek southeast of Presque Isle in northwestern Pennsylvania. For Brodhead’s expedition against the Indian villages in that vicinity between 11 Aug. and 14 Sept. 1779, see Brodhead to GW, 6 May, 5 June (both DLC:GW), and 16 Sept. (DLC: Peter Force Papers); and GW to Brodhead, 23 June and 18 Oct. (both DLC:GW).

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