George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Heath, 21 July 1775

From Brigadier General William Heath

Camp at Roxbury [Mass.] July 21st 1775


I have the Pleasure to inform your Excellency that Major Vose of my own Regiment; beside⟨s⟩ securing the Barley on Nantasket; yesterday morning Landed on the Light-House Island with Six or Seven Boats, the Light House was set on Fire and the wood work Burnt, the Party brought off Three Casks of Oyl, all the furniture of the Light house, about 50 wt of Gun Powder, a Quantity of Cordage &c. (an Inventory of which will be forwarded to your Excellency;)1 Some of the Brave men who effected this with their Lives in their Hands, have just now applied to me to know whether it was to be consid⟨ered⟩ as Plunder, or otherwise; I was not able to detirmine this matter, but told them that I would Lay the matter before your Excellency; I would beg leave to add that these Brave men, were some of them at Grape Island, Deer Island & at Long Island when each of those Islands were Stripped of their Stock &c.2 I have the Honor to be your Excellency’s most obedient & very Humble Servt

W. Heath

Copy, DNA:PCC, item 157; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. The copy in PCC, item 157, was enclosed in GW to Hancock, 21 July 1775 (third letter).

1On the night of 18 July, Maj. Joseph Vose (1739–1816) of Milton, Mass., led a detachment of about four hundred soldiers and mowers onto the Nantasket peninsula on the south side of Boston Harbor, where they cut and removed 1,000 bushels of barley and a large quantity of hay, which it was feared that the British were about to take for their use. Vose’s raid of 20 July on nearby Lighthouse Island was made by a company of soldiers in whaleboats. The burning of the lighthouse alarmed the British warships in the harbor, and after the raiding party returned to Nantasket, several barges, a cutter, and an armed schooner attacked the Americans, resulting in the wounding of two of Vose’s men. The lighthouse was again attacked on the morning of 31 July. See General Orders, 1 Aug. 1775, n.1, and GW to Hancock, 4–5 Aug. 1775, n.14.

2For an account of the American raid of 11 July 1775 on Long Island, see GW to Hancock, 14 July 1775, n.5. The livestock on Grape Island was removed and its hay burned on 21 May 1775 after a skirmish with a British foraging party. Deer Island was cleared of sheep and cattle by American raiders on the night of 2 June 1775.

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