George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Daniel Brodhead, 7 December 1780

From Colonel Daniel Brodhead

Fort Pitt [Pa.] Decemr 7th 1780

Dear General

I am honored with your favor of the 13th of October. And should have appointed the time and place for the immediate Execution of Gamble. But both him & Davis had effected their escape as I informed your Excellency in a former Letter. The Officers who commanded the Guards at the times they respectively escaped were arrested tried & acquitted, and therefore I thought it unnecessary to trouble you with the Proceedings respecting them.1

I was applied to, to endeavour to intercede with your Excellency to remit the sentence of Captn Beal, but I thought it too just, to Say any thing about it.2

The proceedings respecting Gosset, was packed up in a mistake. The Court Martial Sentenced him to be whipped, and as your Excellency had authorized me to determine upon all proceedings which did not affect life, or the dismission of an Officer. I did not intend to have troubled you with the proceedings respecting him.3

I have for a long time past had two parties in the Country (commanded by Field Officers) to impress Cattle, and yet the Troops are frequently without Meat for Several Days together.4 Indeed I am So well convinced that there is not half meat enough on this Side the Mountain, for the supply of the Troops, that I have thought it adviseable to risk the sending a party of hunters to kill Buffelos at little Canhawa and lay in the meat, untill we Shall be able to send for it, which I expect will be in the spring.5

The Delaware Chiefs have declared War against the Seneca’s and Captn John Montour was immediately sent with two Delawares & one whiteman to bring a prisoner from their Towns—At french Creek (Venango) he fell in with a party of eight Seneca’s who, a few days before, had taken a woman & two Children from Westmoreland County, he shot one of the Indians upon a raft in the Creek and the rest ran away, but after a few minutes one of them retu⟨rn⟩ed under cover of some timber And asked Montour who he was, he told them that he and his Men were Delawares that they were sent by their Chiefs And that they might thank God, the water prevented his getting at them, when the Seneca expressed some mark of Contempt and followed his own party this relation may be depended on. Captn Montour with a party of Delawares is now in pursuit of another party of Indians Supposed tobe Delawares or Muncies, who were discovered by a Delaware Runner on their way towards these Settlements.

I do all in my power to encourage partizan Strokes. But was I at liberty to give rewards, I have neither Money nor Goods to do it with. I can venture to say, that I could, at any time, for a small quantity of Goods, engage a very considerable number of Delaware Indians to go with me upon an expedition. And I believe that a considerable quantity would enable me to set the Indians at war against one another, so as to divert them from our frontiers.

Many of the Inhabitants are uneasy to see any notice taken of the Delaware Indians, and once attempted to destroy a great number of them who were under our protection but were prevented by a guard of Regular Troops. I have hitherto made use of every address in my power to keep as many of them from joining the Enemy as it was possible for me to do, in Obedience to your Excellencies instructions.6 And I shall be very thankfull for your further Commands respecting them.

I am sensible that there are, a great number of disaffected Inhabitants on this side the Mountain, that wish for nothing more than a fair oppertunity to submit to the British Government, and therefore would be glad to have the regular Troops withdrawn.7

I have received the General Orders respecting the new Arrangement of the Army. And shall remit the Arrangement of my Regt to Genl Wayne by this conveyance. I am a stranger to the intention of most of my Brother Officers, but for my part, I am inclined to assist to the end, in a work so nobly begun.8

I beg leave to return your Excellency my warmest Thanks for your continual care of the Troops which I have the Honor to command. I have the Honor to be with the most exhalted respect & esteem your Excellencies most Obedt & most Humble Servt

Daniel Brodhead

P.S. A half Indian of the name of Bawbee, brought me a draft of the Works at Detroit, which I take the liberty to enclose.9 He dropped some hints of his being in British pay and I confined him in Irons but know not how to punish him without bringing more trouble upon the Inhabitants.10


ALS, DLC:GW. Although GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote “Ansd 9 Jany” on the docket, GW replied to Brodhead on 10 Jan. 1781 (DLC:GW).

Brodhead wrote a similar letter to Board of War secretary Richard Peters from Fort Pitt on this date, but he added details on the limited success in impressing cattle for meat, of how clothing shortages provoked desertion, on Loyalism in the vicinity, and of his need for “full instructions” regarding Indian relations. “In one of your former letters you did me honor to inform me that his Excelly the Commander-in-Chief, had demanded of our State 7000 galls. of rum. … I hope we shall be furnished with a few hunded galls of liquor fit to be drank” (Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 301–2; see also n.4 below and Brodhead to Joseph Reed, 8 Dec., 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., 8:640–41).

1Pvts. David Gamble and Peter Davis had been convicted of desertion, but GW pardoned Davis (see General Orders, 13 Oct.; see also Brodhead to GW, 18 Aug., and n.2 to that document). For their escape, see Brodhead to GW, 14 September.

2Capt. Thomas Beall had been dismissed for fraud (see the references with the first sentence in n.1 above).

3Pvt. John Gossett’s infraction has not been identified. For the discretion given Brodhead to approve sentences, see GW to Brodhead, 13 July 1779.

4See Brodhead to William Taylor, 27 Oct., 15 and 28 Nov. 1780, and Brodhead to Frederick Vernon, 28 Oct., 7 and 28 Nov. 1780, in Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 288–89, 292–95; see also the source note above.

5Brodhead had written Moravian missionary David Zeisberger from Fort Pitt on 2 Dec.: “Being desirous of laying in a larger supply of salt provisions than from the present appearances will be laid in by the commissaries for the supply of my troops, I take the liberty to propose to you the sending fifteen or twenty of your best hunters to the best & nearest place of hunting buffalo, bear & elk near the Ohio River, & salting the same in canoes made for that purpose. …

“Should your people exert themselves in laying in a large quantity of meat, they will particularly recommend themselves to the esteem of their countrymen” (Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 300). Provision shortages continued to plague Brodhead’s command (see Brodhead to Ephraim Blaine, 10 Dec., in Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 306; see also Brodhead to GW, 23 Jan. 1781, DLC:GW).

6GW had encouraged Brodhead “to preserve the friendship of the Indians who have not taken up the Hatchet” (GW to Brodhead, 3 May 1779).

7See the source note above.

8The enclosed arrangement has not been identified, but Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne had written Brodhead from camp at Totowa on 2 Nov. 1780: “I have it in Command from his Excellency Genl Washington to transmit you the Inclosed copy of the new Arrangement of the Army—by which you’l find that the Quota of Infantry for the State of Pennsylvania are reduced to Six Regiments—consequently we shall have a Number of supernumery Field Officers & Captains—many of whom may chuse to retire from the field, & accept of the Honorable provision made for them by sundry acts of Congress, particularly those of the third & 21st Ultimo—which is giving several brave & Worthy Officers (whom local circumstances would not admit of their continuing much longer in Service, an Opportunity of returning to the ranks of Citizens with a Genteel annuity for life, & an exemption from petty Offices & Militia duty, yet Eligible to any Office of honor or profit in the Civil line that their Country may think proper to bestow—without interfering with their half pay, or other Emoluments.

“But as this Arrangement & Incorporation of Regiments is to take place on the first day of January next—it will be Indispensibly necessary that a return of those Officers who chuse to Continue in service belonging to the 8th Regiment, together with the Non Commissioned Officers & privates Inlisted for the War—should be transmitted to this Army previous to that period—as we can not go on with the Arrangement without it, you will therefore please to forward the return with all possible Dispatch by Lieut McFarlin who is sent express on the Occation.

“I mention Field Officers & Captains only because we shall be in want of Subaltns therefore none of that Class can be permitted to retire with those Emoluments—nor can any other Officer after the first of January (unless he be a Supernumery) so that this is the crisis to Determine.

“Will you be so Obliging as to present my best & kindest wishes to the Gentlemen under your Command” (PHi: Wayne Papers; the enclosure has not been identified; see also General Orders, 1 Nov.).

Brodhead replied to Wayne from Fort Pitt on this date: “I am honored with your favor of the 2d ult, & the enclosure. … My regt is very small indeed, but expiring enlistments have, I presume, thinned others nearly as much.

“The honorable provision made for officers who choose to retire is indeed a great inducement, & I have no doubt many will accept it. I am sensible it would be greatly to my advantage to retire, but I love the cause in which we are engaged, & wish to entertain the pleasing reflection that I did not quit the field until I had seen the Freedom of my country fully established, and have entered the list for the war.

“My situation is at present very remote which deprives me of an opportunity to solicit a particular regt, but I expect from you the most ample justice, according as my rank may entitle me. I have only this favor to ask, which is, that the officers and men who have so long been under my command, & are well acquainted with my disposition, may be continued in the regt which you may be pleased to assign me” (Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 303–4; see also Brodhead to William Irvine, 14 Dec., in Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 307–8).

9Brodhead enclosed an undated but detailed diagram labeled “New Fort at Detroit.” The fort was “abt 40 yards square” with a “Ditch around the whole 9 feet wide & picketed” as well as cannon, numbering 18 “mounted 4 & 6 pounder.” The walls were “abt 12 feet high 12 feet thick” and enclosed a “Parade abt 5 yards wide” along with 4 larger barracks for soldiers and a smaller “Officers Barrack.” The walls also enclosed a guardhouse, well, necessaries, and provision store with “Plenty of pork & flour.” Next to the new fort distant “abt 150 Yards” was an “Old Fort constr[u]cted Old pine picket.” Within that area were “Stables & Horse Yard” and a “Magazine of many Hundred Cords of firewood.” The area also included a tavern, guardhouse, “Smoke Shop,” a structure with “Provision for Indians,” and a “Provo[st] Guard for Amer[ica]n Prisoners.” Running along one side was a “Street 5 yds wide & near the River Detroit.” One note commented on the troops at the fort: “N.B. The Garrison of Detroit does not exceed 150 Reg[ula]r Soldiers” (DLC:GW; see Fig. 3).

The British constructed Fort Lernoult during the winter of 1778–79. Belatedly transferred to the United States in 1796, it was renamed Fort Detroit in 1805.

10Brodhead had written the Delaware chiefs on 19 Nov. from Fort Pitt: “Henry Bawbee who lately came from Detroit says he belongs to the English & is paid by them to observe the conduct of you who live at Coochocking & to let the


Fig. 3. Fort Lernoult was built at Detroit by the British during the winter of 1778–79, transferred to U.S. control in 1796, and renamed Fort Detroit in 1805. (Library of Congress)

Commanding Officer know if any are friends to the Americans.” Brodhead then explained to the chiefs how Henry Baubee (Bawbee) posed a threat to them and had been confined pending a trial. They needed to “see who are the true Friends to the Indian Nations” (Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 295–96). The Delaware chiefs replied to Brodhead from Salem, Ohio country, on 30 Nov. to thank him “for the Intelligence” and to affirm “our great Friendship which we have made with one-another, this We will keep firm and fast, and not suffer it to be broke by one bad Man, nor even if there were ten of them or more, we could not be in the least inclined to speak for them, but to let them stand their chance for their bad Work” (Kellogg, Frontier Retreat description begins Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison, Wis., 1917. description ends , 296–98, quotes on 296–97). Baubee subsequently escaped and persuaded a soldier to desert (see Brodhead to GW, 18 Feb. 1781, DLC:GW).

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