George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 12 July 1779

From Major General William Heath

Amewalk1 [N.Y.] July 12. 1779

Dear General

I send, to be disposed of as your Excellency may think proper, one John Hodge an Inhabitant of New york, who is Suspected of being a Spy.2

Inclosed is a Copy of a Letter just received from General Parsons, by which you will perceive that the Militia are destitute of Ammunition.

If it be your pleasure that they be Supplied Let me request an order from your Excellency for a quantity to be immediately forwarded by the commanding officer of Artillery. It seems by General Parsons’s Letter, that he had written another which I have not yet received.

perhaps it Contain’d occurrencies of importance.3 The Intelligence I have been able to obtain by report & which I think may be depended on is, that Yesterday the Enemy burnt Norwalk except a very few Houses. they also burnt Bedford.4 There was an action at Norwalk in which a few were kill’d on both sides.5

I Shall push on the Troops with the utmost dispatch. the Severe rain on Yesterday deprived us of Nearly a days march. It is said the Enemys principal force is in the Neighborhood of Byrom Bridge.

My Intelligence as I approach nearer will be better. Such as is of consequence Shall be immmediately transmitted. I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most obedt Servt

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1Amawalk (Amewalk) was an Indian village in the present-day town of Somers, New York. The location is about eighteen miles southeast of West Point.

2A letter from Heath’s aide-de-camp Daniel Lyman to James Chambers, written from Amawalk on this date, reads: “You will take into your care one Joseph Hodge taken up on suspicion of being a spy and [have] him safely convey[ed] to Lt Colo. Sherman or other commanding Officer at the Highlands. …

“The Officer who receives this is requested to forward the Letter and Prisoner to his Excellency” (DLC:GW).

3The enclosure is a copy of a letter from Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons to Heath, written at Wilton, Conn., on 12 July: “I forgot to mention to you in my last that we are almost destitute of Ammunition. In the action yesterday most of our Cartridges were expended & the Militia have not more than five or Six rounds a man, & cannot be Supplied unless you order a quantity Sufficient for the purpose. I beg you will take effectual measures for Supplying us. We are now marching for Canaan parish. I believe We shall take post between that and Stamford. I shall advise you of every movement of the Enemy, but am Convinced of the Necessity of expediting your march as fast as possible” (DLC:GW). The original of this letter is in MHi: Heath Papers. For the letter from Parsons to Heath earlier on this date, with an overview of the military situation in Connecticut, see Heath to GW, 14 July, and n.1 to that document.

Heath’s reply to Parsons on this date in part reads: “Your favor of this days date was handed to me this Evening … I have not with me, a Supply of Ammunition for the Militia, I have Sent Copy of your Letter to Genl Washington and requested, that he would direct the Commanding Officer of Artillery to forward a Quantity immediately” (MHi: Heath Papers). For GW’s efforts to secure the requested ammunition, see his letter to Heath of 14 July.

4Bedford, N.Y., was not burned as part of this British raid along the Connecticut coast. Some buildings in Bedford were set on fire during a cavalry action on 2 July (see Heath to GW, 4 July, and n.1 to that document; see also Scharf, Westchester County, description begins J. Thomas Scharf. History of Westchester County, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge, and West Farms, which have been Annexed to New York City. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1886. description ends 2:598–99).

5For the British attack on Norwalk, Conn., see Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, 11 July.

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