George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 9 October 1776

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters 9th October 1776


I have this Moment yours of this Evening.1 The Party of 100 Men were ordered up to assist a Detachment of Artillery in covering the two New Ships, should the Enemy attempt to cut them out or destroy them. Soon after I got home from Fort Washington I recd a Report that the Enemy had passed the new Ships and were landing at Dobb’s Ferry, I then directed Colo. Read to desire you, if that should be the Case to send the Feild Peices and Howitzers forward if it should be judged necessary, and as Genl Clinton best knew the Ground to consult him upon the Necessity of sending on the Artillery, and if it was sent, that a strong covering Party should go with it.2 Till I recd yours I heard no more of the Matter. I am sorry you have been misinformed as to the Movement of the other Ships below, they have never stirred from their Moorings. You will therefore be pleased to order Capt. Benson to be as expeditious as possible in getting the new Ships afloat and bringing them down to where they may be conveniently ballasted.3 I will take proper Care of the prisoners you are sending down.

L, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers. Tilghman added a concluding paragraph that reads: “While I was writing the above by his Excellency’s Direction he went to Bed. I thought it a pity to disturb him to sign it. I therefore have the Honor to subscribe myself Yr most obt Servt Tench Tilghman.”

1This letter has not been found.

2The report that the British warships that went up the Hudson River on this date were landing men at Dobbs Ferry proved to be false (see Heath’s first letter to GW of 10 Oct.). On 10 Oct. Heath wrote Capt. Jotham Horton: “You will remain with the Cannon and Howtzer which were Ordered up with you, at the Place which you were directed to take Post, by the General [GW], which I Suppose is to Cover our Ships and prevent the Enemy Burning them or Cuting them out, If there is not a Sufficient number of men there to Cover them, upon your Signification of it they shall be Sent to you[.] as Soon as the Ships are got off you will return with the Cannon &c. Major [Edward] Crafts will return with his Howtzer Immediately” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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