George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 2 January 1777

From Major General William Heath

Peeks-Kill [N.Y.] Janry 2nd 1777

Dear General

The Day before yesterday I received the Honor of yours of the 27th Decr and most Heartily Congratulate your Excellency on your Signal victory over the Enemy at Trenton,1 This will be Productive of the Best Consequences, and has already given New Life to Our affairs.

The last night I had the Honor of yours of the 28th Containing the agreable News of the Retreat of Count Donnop—I am Extremely Sorry to acquaint your Excellency that none of the Militia from Massachusetts Bay have arrived Except Colo. Sparhawks Regiment Consisting of about 500 men Three Companies of which I have been obliged to Send to the Forts on the River and One to Croten Bridge, so that only five Companies out of the nine are at this Post on whom we must now Depend for Guards & Defence2—I have Prevailed upon a few of the Old Regiments to Stay Ten Days longer the Rest are gone Home notwithstanding the most pressing Perswasions.

I am Informed that more of the militia are on their march on this Side of Danbury for this Place, I have Sent an Express this morning in addition to Several Sent before to Quicken their march3—as the State of New york are Drawing in their Militia, and your Excellency thinks that there is not the least Danger of the Enemy’s making a move towards this Place, I shall Exert my utmost Endeavours to Push the Militia, and as Soon as I can Collect 1500 of them will march as Rapidly as Possible, I Imagine your Excellency will not think a less number Sufficient to answer much Purpose.

By the return of the Flag which Carried Down mr Inglis’s Family I am Informed that General How is in the City preparing his Dispatches for Great Britain, with so much application that He attends to Little other Business.

The 156750 Dollars which your Excellency was Pleased to order to this Place is not much more than Half Sufficient for the Present Emergencys The Seven Regiments of Genl Wadsworths Brigade to Which five months Pay is Due amounts to more than 160000 Dollars Besides these there are five Regiments of General Parsons’s Brigade, five of General Geo. Clintons & one of Genl James Clintons, with Some one, others Two, Three, and four months Pay Due—add to this the Pressing Demands for the Recruiting Service This must be Speedily attended to or the Service will be greatly Injured—In ordering the paying of the money already Sent I have Endeavour’d to Do Equal Justice to all the Regiments—The Deputy Pay master Pro-Tempore has wrote to Colo. Palfrey on the Subject.

The Convention of the State of New York have requested the Loan of a number of Small arms for Some of their Unarmed Militia Intended for their Expedition,4 with reluctance I have Spared them about Sixty to be return’d when Called for, The Committee alledged that the last Spring the State had furnished many arms for the army, and that now without this assistance they Could not Attempt their Design with a prospect of Success—the Committee have Engaged to be accountable for them.

I shall Do all in my Power to answer your Excellency’s Expectations, and nothing but the Delay of the Militia will prevent it. I have the Honor to be with great respect & Esteem your Excellency’s most Humble Servt

W. Heath

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1Heath is referring to GW’s first letter to him of 28 Dec., which contains an account of the battle. Heath says in his memoirs that on 30 Dec. “Col. [John] Chester, of Connecticut, arrived at Peekskill, from Gen. Washington’s camp, with the agreeable news, that on the preceding Thursday morning, being the 26th, Gen. Washington, at the head of about 3,000 men, crossed the Delaware, and attacked the enemy at Trenton, being about 1,600 Hessians; and in about 35 minutes entirely defeated them” (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; see also Heath to James Bowdoin, 30 Dec., MHi: Heath Papers).

2Heath says in his memoirs that this regiment arrived at Peekskill on 30 Dec. (see Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 115). Nathan Sparhawk commanded the 7th Regiment of the Worcester County, Mass., militia (see the return of his regiment, 8 Jan. 1777, in Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 1:540).

3Heath on this date wrote Gen. Jonathan Warner: “I must request you to push on all the Militia that are at Danbury without a Moment’s Loss of time, as there is a most urgent Call for them—and that you would come forward yourself” (MHi: Heath Papers).

4See Jonathan Landon and John Sloss Hobart to Heath, 1 Jan., MHi: Heath Papers.

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