George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh, 14 May 1779

From Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh

Camp [Middlebrook] the 14th May 1779


Altho’ I despised the Slander I found so Industriously Spread upon the Road as I came down. I am too tenacious of my own Reputation. and the reflection it may Occasion upon your Excellencys Judgement in appointing an Improper Officer to a Department, to pass over what may tend to injure either hereafter, & committed to Record. The groundless Aspersions of Colo. George Morgan in the Course of Mister Steel’s Tryal in Fort Pitt.1 and Encouraged by the Success of that. his barefaced attempt now to arraign the Judgement, knowledge & Conduct of the Honle the Board of warr, the Late Commissioners, myself and others acting immediately under the Authority & direction of Congress, in a speech he framed himself and put into the Mouths of a few Delaware Chiefs, & Invited down by him for this purpose,2 altho by far the greater part of that Nation have broke through the most Solemn and Deliberate Treaty & Confederation lately Entered into, and are now in actual Warr against us, & do more Mischief than any other of the western Tribes. Obliges me, however short my time here may be, to request your Excellency that you will please to order an Examination into my Conduct Since I went to the westward, either by a Court of Inquiry or Court Martial as you think proper. And that Colo. John Gibson Mister Sample and any other Gentleman who were West of the Mountains in that time, may be detained for that purpose. I am with the greatest Respect Your Excellencys most obt Hble servt

Lachn McIntosh

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 16 May 1779, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

McIntosh wrote to GW’s aide Alexander Hamilton from camp on the evening of this date: “Upon mature Consideration of the objection you hinted this morning, that my application to the General would Involve in it the whole proceedings of Colo. Morgan & might detain me for a Considerable time from the more necessary services of my Country—& as the Campaign will open soon in every Department, I begg you will inform his Excellency that I have now given him a Clue, whereby he may Unravell the whole Transactions to the westward, when he pleases, or finds it Convenient, & that I Leave it altogether to himself to bring it on now, or at any other time as he thinks proper, & will always be ready to attend, providing the Witnesses on both Sides are got… I will be obliged to you for an answer, by the bearer—If this matter is thought worth Investigation I would wish to have for Evidince—Colo. Crawford Colo. stephenson & Colo. Cox of Youghiagania County. Colo. Evans & Major springer of Monongahala County. Colo. shepherd & Colo. Hedge of Ohio County. Colo. Murrow & Major scott of Berkly County. Colo. Harrison of Shannando County. all of Virginia. and Colo. Lochry of Westmoreland County pennsylvania. Colo. John Gibson. Lt Colo. Campbell. Major Taylor with all the Officers of the 9th Virga & most of the 8th Penna. Colo. Steel D.Q.M. Genl altho he is prejudiced. Colo. John Irwin D.C.G. Issues. Major Ambeson. Wm Brady—D. Zeizberger & G. Heckenwelder. But with respect to my own Conduct particularly, my Transactions are so clear that I am ready now, or at any other time the General pleases to call for them” (DLC:GW). McIntosh may have enclosed an undated, one-page list of charges against Morgan, to which was appended a list of the officers and men who could be called to evidence against him (DLC:GW, filed under 17 April).

Hamilton replied on the same day: “I received your note by Col. Gibson and communicated the contents to His Excellency. Though from the serious nature of the charges you have exhibited against Colonel Morgan, there seems to be almost a necessity for bringing the matter to a thorough investigation; yet at this juncture it would be attended with so many difficulties as to make it utterly inconvenient. The affair involves such extensive consequences that it could hardly be terminated in the course of the campaign. So many principal as well as inferior officers must be called from the Western department as Witnesses, that their attendance would intirely disconcert the department; nor indeed would it be practicable, but in succession, which would increase the delay, expence and trouble. We have already two very important trials on hand, and nothing can be more irksome in the midst of a campaign than long and intricate prosecutions, where the chief officers of the army must compose the courts. You must be detained in a state of military inaction here, while you might be usefully serving the public to the Southward. These obstacles, in our present circumstances at the opening of a campaign, appear to the general to be almost insurmountable, and incline him to defer the inquiry. There are properly no charges against you—therefore a particular examination of your conduct unless by your desire seems to be unnecessary. The General for the reasons here assigned thinks it best the matter should rest where it is, unless upon the whole you give the preference to an inquiry” (DLC:GW). GW wrote to John Jay on 16 May, enclosing the papers relating to this dispute but suggesting that it should be dropped, and Jay replied on 19 May that Congress agreed that an examination of McIntosh’s complaints would be “inexpedient.” McIntosh, who was bound for South Carolina, followed GW’s advice and let the matter drop.

1For the trial and acquittal of Col. Archibald Steele, an ally of Col. George Morgan and outspoken critic of McIntosh, see General Orders, 21 April.

2For the dispute between Morgan and McIntosh over diplomacy with the Delaware Indians, see Address from the Delaware Nation, 10 May, n.4.

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