George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Daniel Brodhead, 13 July 1779

To Colonel Daniel Brodhead

Head Quarters New Windsor July 13th 1779

Dear Sir

Yours of the 25th of June was delivered me yesterday. I inclose you a duplicate of mine of the 23d1 which gave my consent to an expedition against the Mingoes. I am glad to hear you had received a supply of provisions and only waited my concurrence to make an expedition against the Senecas. I hope by this time you are carrying it into execution.2

I have more than once applied to the Board of War to supply you with some articles to reward the Indians—I shall renew my solicitations.

I approve the sentence against Straffain. He appears justly to merit the punishment. But I leave its execution or remission to your discretion. If the circumstances of the Garrison require an example, let it be made.3 You will be pleased to determine yourself in the other cases; and for the future, it will be unnecessary to send me any proceedings, but where the sentences affect Life or the Dismission of an Officer—All others you will decide yourself. I am Dr Sir Your most Obedt ser.

Go: Washington

P.S. It may be well for you to endeavour to open a correspondence with General Sullivan that your movements if possible may be serviceable to each other.4

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, sold by Sotheby’s, Sale 8507, 3 April 2008, no. 38; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1This enclosure has not been identified.

2Brodhead led an expedition up the Allegheny River valley from Pittsburgh between 11 Aug. and 14 Sept. (see Brodhead to GW, 16–24 Sept., NNGL).

3A court-martial convened in Pittsburgh on 7 June had tried Pvt. William Straffain (Straphane) of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment on the suspicion of desertion. The proceedings, from a court-martial held 6–14 June, resulted in a conclusion that reads: “after Maturely considering the Evidences given in & the heinous Nature of the Crimes of the Prisoner, in attempting to desert to the Enemy & endeavouring to persuade others to do the same at a most Critical & alarming time, when the Garrison were at quarter allowance day, being sensible of his wicked & dangerous intentions of informing the Enemy of the distress’d situation of the Fort Are fully of the Opinion that he is guilty of the Crimes laid to his charge, & agreeable to their Consciences and Custom of War in like Cases tho’ not particularly express’d in the Articles of War of the United States of America, do sentence him to be hang’d by the neck untill he is Dead” (DLC:GW). For Brodhead’s decision to spare Straffain’s life, see the postscript of his letter to GW of 31 July–4 August.

4In response to GW’s suggestion, Brodhead wrote letters to Maj. Gen. John Sullivan from Pittsburgh on 6 Aug. and 10 Oct. (Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 1st ser., 12:154–55, 165–66). Brodhead’s letter of 6 Aug. reads: “I have obtained leave from his Excellency, the Commander in Chief, to undertake an expedition against the Seneca Towns, on the waters of the Alleghany, & he has directed me to open a correspondence with you, in order that our movements might operate in favor of each other.

“I shall be very happy in such a correspondence (if it can be effected without too great a loss of Messengers,) & an opportunity of favoring your designs against the enemy, but fear this will not reach you in time to form an useful co-operation.

“I have everything in readiness, and am only waiting for the Garrison of Fort Lawrens to come in. If no unforseen impediment happens I shall set out for Cannawago in three or four days and expect to reach it about the 20th Inst. I do not intend to stop there, but expect to proceed nearer to the route I am informed you are going and will endeavour to write you again. . . .

“Should you have a little leisure you will greatly oblige me with a long letter, I have but little news. The Indians sometimes take a scalp from us, but my light parties which I dress & paint like Indians have retaliated in several instances. . . .

“I think they are willing by this time to make peace, but I hope it will not be granted them until they are sufficiently drubbed for their past iniquities.”

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