Born in 1736 in Marblehead, New York, Daniel Brodhead served as a colonel in the Revolutionary War, commanding the Western Department from his headquarters at Fort Pitt from 1779 to 1781. In the years preceding the outbreak of war, Brodhead operated a gristmill and worked as a deputy-surveyor for the colony of Pennsylvania. Disturbed by the passage of the Coercive Acts in 1774, Brodhead represented Berks County at a protest congress held in Philadelphia. In 1776, he was commissioned as an officer in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment. Shortly thereafter, Brodhead assumed control of the regiment.
After defending Philadelphia from British forces and spending a winter in Valley Forge, the regiment participated in military activities along the Western Frontier. In 1779, Brodhead became commander of the Western Department at Fort Pitt. In this position, he also oversaw a number of surrounding forts in the area, which were located in present day Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
During his tenure at Fort Pitt, local Indian tribes, a number of which had allied themselves with British forces, conducted raids on settlements along the Western Frontier. In August of 1779, Brodhead led a contingent of troops and militia members on a campaign against the Seneca in northwestern Pennsylvania. Later that year, Congress passed a resolution commending Brodhead for his expedition.
Due in part to the remoteness of Fort Pitt, Brodhead suffered from a shortage of supplies for his troops. In 1781, he was removed from command due to allegations of mishandling finances. At a subsequent court-martial trial, Brodhead was acquitted of all charges.
Following the war, Brodhead served as Surveyor General of Pennsylvania and was one of the founding members of the Society of the Cincinnati. Daniel Brodhead died in 1809 at Milford, Pennsylvania.