George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 25 June 1779

To Major General William Heath

New Windsor June 25th 1779

Dear Sir,

I have received your two favors this morning—I have only to request you will take the best measures in your power to ascertain the enemy’s movements and designs, and have your troops in readiness to act as occasion may require but without interrupting the works. You will continue to advise me. I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obet, servant

Go: Washington

P.S. I think it will be adviseable to detach a couple hundred men towards Robinsons stores at Mahopack pond1—to march light and with caution, endeavouring to magnify their number to the inhabitants. This may serve to check the enemy and help to discover their design.2

Go: W——n

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS.

1Mills owned by Loyalist brothers-in-law Roger Morris and Beverly Robinson were located near Mahopack Pond, now known as Lake Mahopac, a 603-acre body of water with a western boundary east of West Point roughly eight miles from the Hudson River.

2A letter from Heath to Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons on this date draws attention to the postscript and reads: “I have this moment received ⟨a⟩ Letter from his Excellency Genl Washington … In consequence hereof you will please to detach as soon as may be One Field officer and One hundred Light Infantry Properly officrd this Detachment from your Brigade will be Joyned by one hundred from Genl Huntingtons Brigade, as I do not fully know the best rout I request you would direct one, and point out to Genl Huntington the place where the Infantry of the two Brigades Shall form a Junction and at what hour. my Dear Sir let no time be lost, if Possible let the men have a little rum with them, and Such provisions as may be necessary. … P.S. please to direct the orders to Such Officers as you may appoint” (MHi: Heath Papers). Heath wrote a similar letter to Brig. Gen. Jedediah Huntington on the same date: “You will please to detach One hundred Light Infantry properly officerd to Joyn the like Number from Genl Parsons’s Brigade who are to be Commanded by a Field Officer from that Brigade. If Possible let the men Draw a little rum, and such Provisions as may be necessary” (MHi: Heath Papers).

Heath also responded to GW’s directive by writing on this date to an unidentified field officer, probably Lt. Col. Thomas Grosvenor: “You are to take Command of one hundred Light Infantry to be immediately detached from Genl Parsons’s Brigade and the like number from Genl Huntingtons Brigade in the whole two hundred with which you are to proceed towards Robinsons Stores at Mahopack Pond—Your men are to march light, and with caution, you will keep out advance flank and rear Guards and endeavour to magnify your numbers to the Inhabitants as much as Possible, perhaps it may not be improper to hint that you are the advance of a larger Body who are Coming on. you will receive the rout from Genl Parsons—should you fall in with the Enemy not Superior in force Charge them vigorously should you be attacked by a Superior force make a Soldierly retreat disputeing every Defile in your Rear and Send off an Express to the nearest Brigade for assistance. preserve Strict order & discipline on your march and having marched to the place before mentioned return to Camp, Communicate any discoveries you may make or Intelligence you may obtain to Genl Huntington who will be nearest to you … In case of accident appoint a place where your Troops shall rendezvous” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also Heath to GW, 26 June).

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