George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Irvine, 2 May 1782

Fort Pitt May 2d 1782


I did not receive your Exellencys letter of the 22d March, untill two days ago, I shall observe your directions respecting the Roads &ca leading to Niagara, as yet have not been able to fall in with any person who has even a tolerable knowledge of them—there has been very little communication with that Quarter since last war and few of the people who were then imployed are now living—Several of the Officers who went with Colonel Broadhead in 79—up the Alegany say they Marched about 170 miles, to a Creek called Conniwagga—they were informed that it took its rise about thirty Miles from that place, in a small Lake, that at this lake the waters divided—other small streams ran out of it towards Niagara and that from thence the Country was pretty Civil & neither Rivers nor Marasses of any consequence in the way—as far as Colonel Broadhead went—it was almost impassable either by land or water greater part along the River, one continued defile—They went in September at that season it was with difficulty they got up some small Canoes, & this on the main Branch of Alegany—They took Dark Horses along—some say they were at one time not more than thirty Miles from General Sullivans line of march, or rather I believe the extreme point he marched to.

I have it in report from Officers & others, that French Creek, from Venango to Le Boeuf, is so full of Timber that it would take great labour to clear it—and that in the summer season it is a very small stream—from Le Boeuf to Presquit Isle, the old Bridged Road is entirely Rotten & under water—These Gentlemen Assert that it would be easier to make a new Road, than to repair the Old, by their accounts it appears almost impracticable, to March any but light Troops without Artillery or heavy Stores or Baggage—I will however continue to get the best accounts in my power and transmit them to your Excellency.

In my letter of the 20th April I mentioned that the Troops were reduced to obedience, since that time Devertions have been numerous and tho nothing like general Mutiny has taken place yet several Individuals have behaved in the most daring and licentious manner—Two of Whome are now under Sentence, and shall be Executed tomorrow, which I hope will check these proceedings.

I have sent several officers Mounted after the Deserters, who take different routs—and sent by them circular letters to the County Lieutenants & Militia Officers, by which means I hope to have some of them taken—I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Sir your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant

Wm Irvine

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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