George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Daniel Brodhead, 18 February 1781

From Colonel Daniel Brodhead

Fort Pitt [Pa.] Feby 18th 1781.

Dear General

Since my last1 the half Indian Bawbee, by the concurrence of a Sergeant belonging to, late Captain Heth’s Company, made his escape; and persuaded a Fifer of the 9th Virga Regt to desert to the Enemy. The Delaware chiefs at Cooshocking seized the Deserter, and sent him back, and he is confined in Irons; But he cannot be tried untill your Excellency is pleased to order a Genl Court Martial.2

I have heard nothing of Mr Wilson, since my last, indeed I am apprehensive he has not made the Contract for Cattle, upon account of the opposition given him by the Commissioners. At present we have a considerable supply of Flour, but not an ounce of Meat, and unless Mr Wilson has purchased a supply, which he may forward, we must endeavour to live without it.

A report prevails amongst the Inhabitants, that the regular Troops are to be recalled from hence, and as I could not possitively say, they were to continue, they are under the most dreadfull Apprehensions.

Should your Excellency be pleased to grant me an order to draw upon the fixed Magazines, for such Arms & Ammunition as may be necessary for the Troops in this district, it will prevent my troubling you with future applications on that score, and I will make a prudent use of it.

I take the liberty to inclose a copy of a letter lately received from the Delaware Council. I have told them that, their request could not be complied with untill your Excellencies pleasure was known, and I beg you will be pleased to instruct me respecting their Message.3

I have also taken the liberty to inclose an Indent of Ordnance Stores signed by the Commandg Officer of Artillery. Should an expedition be carried against Detroit or Niagara from hence I conceive the content will be necessary.4

Colo. Presley Neville will do himself the Honor to hand you this Letter. And will be able to inform your Excellency of many circumstances which I may have omitted.5 I have the Honor to be with the most exalted respect & esteem your Excellencies most Obedt & Humble Servt

Daniel Brodhead


2For Brodhead’s concern that Henry Baubee served as a British spy, see his letter to GW, 7 Dec. 1780, postscript, and n.10.

3The enclosed copy of a letter from “Wm Penn and the Councellors of Cooshockung” to Brodhead, dated at Salem in the Ohio country on 13 Jan. 1781, reads: “Brother Maghingwe Geeshuch[,] Listen to me[,] You spoke to me twice already, and desired that we all who were your Friends should live in one place together, I told you that I would do so, & promised to move to Cusheushkee. I told you that what I said, I also would do, and therefore you might depend on my word.

“Now Brother, When I look upon my circumstances I find this matter almost impossible for me to perform, You know Yourself that I am poor, & not able to undertake such a great work without Assistance, My Children would suffer greatly, for it is winter now, & when I consider Spring being so near, I cannot comprehend how I should do all this work in such a short time, for I must always consider planting time as not to be neglected. As this is now a matter of Consequence I am coming to you to speak further about it.

“Now Brother, All the Councellors have earnestly consulted one another, concerning what you told me two Years ago, namely that you would build a Fort at Coochockung, A year ago I told you to come and build me strong Houses, but it was not done on account of some of the Councellors being against it, Brother now we are all of one mind, we have considered the matter well, & therefore desire you to get ready and build a Fort at Cooshockung, & we further desire You to Send 300 Men to live in that Fort.

“Now Brother, If you will do this for me, I will send a good many of my Men to you to guard you out, then You will be at Cooshockung, and have an Opportunity of knowing every one. You have often told me that there lives some with me who are not good. All these I Suppose will withdraw themselves on Your Appearance and if any one should abide there, You will soon know such a one.

“Brother[,] If anything should happen you while you are on Your way to Us. I mean if any of the Enemy should do harm. My men that I send with you shall pursue them untill they get them.

“Now Brother, You have heard what I had to say to you I am ready. But Brother, You told me last year when the Wyandot Man was at Pittsburgh, that I had no courage to speak to him, but that I hung my head, and was afraid of him, who was but one Man.

“Brother[,] I assure You that I am not afraid of any body, and I tell you now, that I am resolve’d to get up and Fight, I have considere’d this matter from my heart. I am able to fight any one of my Colour. I am no Coward that you know yourself: and you will find it so for the future” (DLC:GW).

4Capt. Isaac Craig signed the enclosure at Fort Pitt on 17 Feb.: It listed “Ordnance Stores Necessary at this post in Addition to those at Present here, In Case any Offencive Operations are Intended From this Place Against the Enemys posts Westward.” The numerous items included one 10-inch mortar with accoutrements, fuses and tubes for shells, one 12-pounder brass cannon with accoutrements, howitzer cartridges, 100 pounds of sulpher, and “6 Tannd Hides … N.B. 200 Good Riffles are also Necessary” (DLC:GW).

5GW replied to Brodhead on 16 April, enclosing a “power” for holding courts-martial at Fort Pitt and informing him that he would write to the Board of War about the ordnance stores (DLC:GW; see also GW to the Board of War, 20 April, DLC:GW).

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