George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Daniel Brodhead, 19 August 1781

Fort Pitt Augt 19th-20 1781.

Dear General.

Immediately after my arrival here I informed the Officers that from your Excellencies Letters to me I conceived myself to be in command as usual, untill Mr Fowler, agreeable to your Order had specified the charges made against me—the Judge Advocate Genls’ instructions were filled up with the name of the Deputy, and he proceeded to take the Depositions; when agreeably to the words of your Letter I would give up the command to Col. Gibson, to prevent every Objection to the validity of the Depositions as being taken under any influence of mine, as Commandant. And my orders were received & obeyed accordingly.

Mr Fowler sent me charges more general than those contained in the petition (as will appear by the inclosed Copy) And instead of appearing as the Prosecutor he affects to appear an innocent Man, sheltered behind a multitude, against whom it is clear, I could have no redress for all the trouble & Expence I might be put to, by his malicious prosecution.

Captn John Finley the Deputy Judge Advocate (appointed by Col. Gibson) waited on Mr Fowler and requested him to specify his Charges & prosecute them agreeable to your intention. But Mr Fowler declared himself to be the Dy Judge Advocate & that he would not give up that point untill he was ordered to do it by your Excellency.

From this refusal of Mr Fowler’s I still considered myself in Command untill the Depositions could be taken with propriety. But yesterday Col. Gibson privately assembled the Officers (a great majority of whom are of his own Regt And were ordered to Virginia before I left this place, as surplus Officers) who gave it as their opinion that from your Excellencies Letters to me my Command must cease untill I was acquitted of the charges exhibited against me. They at the same time declared that they entertained a high respect for me & knew no officer under whose immediate Command they would rather serve. That they were convinced the charged exhibited against me were groundless and that they were ready to support me against the unjust Clamors of the Complainants, Lt Col. Bayard and a number of other Officers insisted that it was clearly Your intention that I should remain in Command untill the Depositions were to be taken and that as your Excellency had thought proper to deprive me of the Command They conceived the Officers here were out of their Duty to take upon themselves to determine any thing respecting it.

Thus by the clamor of a set of disaffected persons & others, I find myself in the most disagreeable situation I ever experienced. And were it not for the redress I expect from your Excellencies well known Justice my situation would be insupportable. I therefore beg to know your Excellencies immediate pleasure and that you will be pleased to instruct me how to treat those seditious proceedings. With the most perfect respect I have the Honor to be your Excellencies most Obedt Servt

Daniel Brodhead

Postscript 20th Augt

I have this moment received a Letter from Mr Fowler to Col. Gibson. Copy whereof I likewise take the liberty to inclose.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


19th August 1781


In Compliance with his Excellencey the Commander in chiefs Letters to me of the 5th of May & 12th of June I have furnish’d Colonel Brodhead with, a Coppy of the Accusation prefered against him, and have also notified him that I was ready to proceed in the business and bring forward my Evidence, I have received no answer.

His Excellency the Commander in Chiefs words to me are, The Judge Advocate General sends a Deputation to the Person usualy officiating as Judge Advocate at the Post authorizing him to take these Depositions—Every officer here knows, that I officiated at this Post as Judge Advocate and untill I Receive the deputation sent me by the Judge Advocate General, or receive his further Instructions or his Excellencys, nothing can be done, If Capt. John Finley chuses to act under a Temporary appointment as hitherto, or if Colonel Brodhead wishes to call in a Magistrete to tender the Oath to the Respective deponents to either mode I can have no objection, because it will be acting in obedience to his Excellencys Letter, and the Judge Advocate Generals Instructions, to which I am determind to pay the most scrupules adherence, But I never will submit to Capt. Finleys acting under a Deputation sent to sir your Most Humle Servt

A. Fowler

If Colonel Brodhead doth not attend taking the deposition I shall as Prosecutor Employ a Magistrete to tender the oath to my Evidence, arange the business, and Proceed with the whole to Head Quarters, This I am determined On and therefore, Respecting the business, shall give my self no further trouble. yours,

A. Fowler


Head Quarters Fort Pitt august 19th 1781

Agreeable to your request, we now inform you that From the Letters of his Excellency the Commander in Chief to you, which have been shewn us by Captn John Finley, That it is our opinion, we cannot with propriety be commanded by you, untill you have cleared yourself of the charges which have been exhibited against you, and which are now depending.

At the same time we wish to assure you that we entertain the greatest respect for you and was it not for the present situation of affairs, there is not one of us, but would wish to serve under you. We are sir your most obedt Hble Servants

John Gibson Colo.

Commanding Fort Pitt

Fredk Vernon Majr 8th P. Regt

Uriah Springer Captn

Benjn Bigge Captn

Saml Brady Captn 3d P: Regt

Willm Martin Captn Lt

Lewis Thomas Lieut.

John Harrison Lieut.

Archd Read Lt

2nd Pena Regt

Jno. Ward Lieut.

Jacob Springer Lieut.

Jacob Colman Ensn

Jos. Winlock Ens.

N.B. The above answer appears in the Hand writing of Colo. Gibson.

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