George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 18 September 1776

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters. Col. Morriss’s Sept. 18th 1776.


I have now your letter of Sept. 18th before me; and cannot say that I, by any means approve of your proposal of sending artillery to annoy the frigate, and the Enemy’s batteries on Montrasure’s Island; in my opinion, it would only endanger the loss of our cannon, & waste our ammunition, without answering any one good or salutory purpose.

With respect to the sick, I am as much afflicted at their situation as you or any other person can possibly be, and have taken every step in my power to prevent it; I have furnish’d money to officers chosen by the commanders of different regiments, for the purpose of providing suitable & proper accomodations for the convalescents, and as to the others I have this morning spoke to Doctor Mcknight on the subject and have recommended in the strongest manner to him to fall upon every method the nature of the case will admit of for their relief; and I request you will give him every assistance in your power towards effecting this salutary end.1

I have ordered over to you, Parsons’s Scott’s and Sergents brigades, to which will be added Col. Ward’s regiment, and Haslett’s Shee’s, McGaw’s & Atlee’s battalions are to come to this place; you will post these brigades in the most advantageous manner; for the present I do not concieve you are in any great danger of being attacked on that quarter, as I have recieved intelligence that the enemy have drawn over their principal force to this Island. I am Sir Yr hhble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in William Grayson’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers.

1Charles McKnight, Jr. (1750–1791), who was surgeon for the Pennsylvania flying camp troops, wrote Adj. Gen. Joseph Reed on 21 Sept. about his inability to find any bark, which “is so very necessary for many of the wounded in their present Condition, Wine may be the best Substitute we can prescribe to support the Strength of the Patient sinking under too profuse a Suppuretion. There are two Pipes near by us, the Property of Montizeiur, & should you think prope⟨r⟩ to grant an Order for it, We can immediately appropriate it for the Use of the Wounded.” On the reverse of that letter, GW on the same day signed an order directing Commissary Gen. Joseph Trumbull to procure the wine for the use of the hospital, and below that order appears a copy of Trumbull’s receipt of 23 Sept. for two pipes of Madeira, “said to be the property of Colo. [John] Montresor,” received from Sarah Morris at Morrisania (Ct: Joseph Trumbull Papers). McKnight became senior surgeon of the flying hospital in the middle department in April 1777. Congress named him surgeon general of that department in February 1778, and in October 1780 it appointed him a chief hospital physician, an office that he held until Congress reduced the hospital department in January 1782.

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