To Major General William Heath
Head Quarters Fredericksbg 25th October 1778
I have just recd intelligence from two different quarters that the Fleet, which sailed on the 19th and 20th instants from the Hook, contained only the Invalids of the Army bound for Europe—the Officers of the reduced Regiments, and the families of several public and private Gentlemen.1 perhaps all outward bound Vessels might have taken the benefit of Convoy, which may have swelled the fleet to an uncommon size. My accounts still confirm a very considerable Body of Troops being embarked, but that they yet remain in the Bay of New York. Hence arose the mistake. My intelligencers were not before sufficiently accurate, and I was naturally led to beleive that the fleet which left the Hook on the 19th and 20th had the troops on board.
You shall be advised of the sailing of this second Fleet. I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt
LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in Heath to the Massachusetts council, 30 Oct. 1788, M-Ar; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS. GW forwarded his letter to d’Estaing of this date with this letter (see Heath to GW, 30 Oct. [first letter]).
1. This intelligence apparently was contained in the unfound letters that Israel Putnam and Stirling had written to GW on 24 Oct. (see GW to Putnam and to Stirling, both this date). Admiral Byron’s fleet, which was seeking to intercept d’Estaing’s fleet off the Massachusetts coast, and the fleet of transports bound for England had sailed together from Sandy Hook on 18 or 19 Oct. (see Richard Howell to GW, 9 Oct., and note 3 to that document). Maj. Gen. James Grant’s West Indies expedition, which consisted of ten British regiments, embarked between 25 and 28 Oct. and sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 November. Expeditions to East and West Florida also sailed in November.