George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 26 December 1776

From Major General William Heath

Peeks-Kill [N.Y.] Decr 26th 1776

Dear General

yesterday General Wadsworths Brigade went Home leaving the Stores without a Guard Untill I sent one Down.1

The Militia of this State are Coming in—None have as yet arrived from the Eastward, Brigadier General Warner was at Danbury the Last night with 4 Companies Only—more are Hourly Expected—General Lincoln is on the Road, I have Sent your Excellency’s Letter by Express to meet him.2

I have Received per Colonel Sheldon 156750 Dollars and shall apply them to the Purposes Directed by your Excellency.3

The Case of the Regiments of General Lee & Sullivans Divisions which are Divided Partly at your Excellency Camp & Partly Here will be very Difficult The Naked, Convaliscents, and Sick were Left Here, they Constitute the Greater Part of the Regiments and Cannot get Home without their wages being destitute of money, and unless the Colonels who are with your Excellency, Send the mens wages to them they will Suffer—Colonel Read & Colo. Little are Here with Such of their Regiments as were Left behind.4

I shall Endeavour to Secure all the arms accoutrements ammunition &c. which are in the Hands of the Troops belonging to the States, before they leave the Camp if Possible.5

I find by your Excellencys orders of the 21st of January last that such Recruits as should find “their own arms Provided they were Good, should be allowed one Dollar for the use of them” I should be glad to be Informed if there was another order that Such as had arms found them should Pay the like Sum for the Use of them—Such an order I thought there was but Cannot find it as yet, and therefore request a Determination from your Excellency untill which I shall Delay the payment of the December Abstracts.

The State of the Regiment of artillery, a Corps most Essential to an Army, is Such that I cannot omit makeing mention of it to your Excellency, many of those who are here would have Enlisted, but no attempts have been made towards it—They will all go Home in a few Days, and we shall not have men to Discharge a Cannon, Unless I can Prevail upon Some of them to Continue Untill I hear from your Excellency.

The Convention of this State for about a fortnight have been meditating a Secret Expedition, it is Still a Profound Secret (But talked of every where) this or Some other Intention of the Enemy has Induced them as I am Just Informed to Send a Brigade of Hessians up to Kings Bridge—The moment I am able I shall Pay attention to West Chester County, I have ordered a Regiment Down to morrow, and Hope ere long not only to Curb the disaffected and Pick up Some of the Enemy But also avail my self of Quantities of Forage from that Quarter.

It is reported here that your Excellency has Lately Given orders respecting Such Plunder as may be taken from the Enemy, or those who take up arms against us, If any New orders have been Given in this respect I should beg to be acquainted with them.

As Soon as the Tents, arms, Tools, &c. are Collected and Stored, a Return of all the Stores shall be made to your Excellency I should be glad to Know if your Excellency would have the Artificers again Engaged, or any Part of them, and whether in a distinct Corps, or Taken from the Regiments, as has been Practised Heretofore. I have the Honor to be most respectfully your Excellencys most Hbble Servt

W. Heath

ALS, DLC:GW; two ADfS’s, MHi: Heath Papers. The text of one of the drafts is almost identical in wording to the text of the ALS. The text of the other draft varies greatly from the text of the other two documents. For significant differences in the text of the variant draft, see nn. 1, 2, 4, and 5.

1In the variant draft this sentence is preceded by a paragraph that reads: “On the 23d Inst. I arrived at this place where I found but very few Troops” (see also Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 114).

2See GW to the Commanders of the Connecticut and Massachusetts Militias Marching to Peekskill, 24 December. Jonathan Warner (1744–1803) served as colonel during the Lexington alarm in April 1775 and a brigadier general of Massachusetts militia from 1776 to 1780. The variant draft reads: “The Militia of this State are now coming in—none have as yet arrived from the Eastward—I sent out an Express the day before yesterday to meet them but he is not as yet returned—but I have just been informed that they are on the Road & pretty well advanced.” Later in the variant draft, Heath writes: “My Express is just returned from Danbury—Brigadier General Warner has arrived at that place, with Three or Four Companies only on yesterday, but more expected hourly—General Lincoln is said to be on the Road—This day we have a most severe Snow Storm, which I am afraid will retard the March of the Militia.”

3For the sending of this money, see GW to Heath, 16 Dec., n.8.

4The variant draft reads: “There are here Five Regiments of General Parsons’s Brigade[,] Five of General George Clinton’s, One of General James Clinton’s, & General Wadsworth’s Brigade, to be paid out of this money, besides furnishing the recruiting Officers—Col. Read & Col. Little are also left on this Side of the River, having as they inform me near Two Thirds of their Regiments here including Convalescents & the Sick—they are importuning that their Regiments may also be paid off here—the State of Col. Reads has I suppose before this been laid before your Excellency as he some days since sent forward an Officer for that purpose—Col. Douglass has also sent an Abstract, examined by the Paymaster General before he left this place—The Col. Sollicits that it may be paid off here—If the last mention’d Regiments are to be paid here, a further Sum of money will be Soon wanted.”

5The variant draft reads: “I am afraid there will be some difficulty in ascertaining the number of Arms, which the different Regiments have received, as I am informed that the Books containing the Accounts of those delivered at Cambridge, were left there—I shall send for Col. Cheever, who is at Fishkills, to morrow, and obtain the best Accounts he may be possessed of.”

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