George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Heath, 13 August 1780

NewPort August 13th 1780

Dear General

When I addressed you yesterday I expressed my determination to join your Excellency in a few days. I expected General Count Rochambeau would object to my leaving him but I apprehended, I should be able to obviate those objections. I have this day mentioned my wishes and intentions to repair to our Army, he will not hear a word of it—says your Excellency has intimated to him, that if he finds my services necessary to detain me; that you have informed him no considerable movements will for the present take place; that while our army remain quiet, if I am with it, there will be but little for me to do there, & at the same time my services are very essential to him here; that as soon as he learns from your Excellency that the American Army will be in motion, he will consent to my departure so that I find I must either leave this place directly against his will, or without your interposition be detained I know not how long. I therefore request that you would be pleased to signify to the Count, that it is necessary I should repair to the Army, without this I shall not be able to get away. I take the liberty to inclose the proceedings of a general Court Martial lately held by my order; as the sentences are capital I request your Excellencys opinion and direction as soon as may be agreeable, the Culprits are old Country men, are of the six months Levies belonging to the State (Rhode Island) and deserted soon after they had received their bounties and joined their Regt. This Evening the Hon: Mr Cushing & Paine arrived from Boston, they are a Committee from the Council of the State of Massachusetts sent to represent to the French General & Admiral, that the Contractors for the French Fleet & Army, purchasing Cattle and provisions with hard money, will soon totally prevent the American Commissarys purchasing for our army with paper money. What the result shall be I cannot say—Before this reaches you, your Excellency will probably have heard, that the greater part of a Fleet, of Vesselsictuallers and Merchant Ships from Europe for Quebec, have been taken by our Eastern Citizens; Sixteen of which have arrived at different Ports. The inclosed papers I received this morning from Colo. Allan—Inclosed also your Excellency will find a return of three Regiments of three months Militia from Massachusetts, who are employed in fortyfying Britts Hill. There is another Regiment employed on [Tommany] Hill. I have not received the return of them: Their number is about 200. Some Recruits joind the other three Regiments yesterday. The British Fleet remains as when I wrote last. I have the honor to be with the greatest Respect your Excellencys Most Obedient Servant

W. Heath

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Instructions to Mr John Fulton

26 June 1780

On Your Arrival at Cobiquid, you will persue the following Measuers, and such Other Matters as may Accrue to Your Mind.

You will Endeavour to Gete one Judicious good Man of each County Thro the province perticularly Cobiquid, Kings County & County of Cumberland, fix’d for the purpose of Communicating and procuring Inteligence.

Those people Are not to be too suddintly pitched upon, & None but of firm Integrity Knowledg & Zealious for the American Cause.

No person Whatever is to Know your Bussiness, but such as are So Appointed.

Inteligble Judicious Men Are to be dispatched for Halifax Immediatly On your Arrival.

What is perticularly wanting at present & what I Command you to Use your Utmost Endeavours Consistant with your Situation, to procure is as followeth.

A plan of the Whole Hearbour of Halifax as Accurate as possible with Accurate drafts of the Town & the Several Fortifications round the Hearbour.

Number of Cannon, the weight of Metal, the powder Magazein & where they Ly: the Depth of Water Near the Several fortification.

The Commander in Chief—the Several Regiments with the Number in Each, with the Names of the Commanders & Field Officers—what Men And of What Core in the Several Fortifications—with the Names of the Commandeer in each place—also the Number of Artilary Men Stationed in the Several Posts.

A Draft Also of the Avenues to Halifax from the Country by Land with the Several posts, the Number of Men & Names of the Commanders.

An Accurate plan of Fort Cumberland, Windsor Fort Annapolis & Cornwalice, with the Number of Cannon, Weight of Metal, Commanding Officers Number of Men & what Cores—In all this I should be glad to Know the Number of Commissioned Officers Seperate by it Self.

In all Drafts of Fortifications, it is Neessary if Possible to take the Several Heights which Commands Such Fortifiations and what Access to Such Heights.

An Exact draft as possible be taken of the Naval Yard with what Utencels—the State of Naval Stores &c.—This may be [done] in the plan of the Town.

An Accurate Account Must be Got of the State of the Nav[y] of the Several Commanders, there Stationed—What Armd Vessells the Comm[and] and by Whome fix’d Out—& in General Must Know the Genel State of Army—Navey—Forts— Fortifications & every Matters Respecting [Warr in] This the Whole provience.

The State of Trade in Novascotia, more perticular in Halfiax How Many Ships Imployed in the London Trade—The Commanders. [The] Burthen of the Ships & the Times they Are Expected—the same of West Ind[ian] Matters—Also the Packets Imployd to England, New York & other British ports.

A List of the Inhabitants of Novascotia Young & Old the Stock of Cattle the Same Manner as formerly done in that Provience, in this Must observe to have Notice taken of Sentiments of the people—at Least perticular Notice of those Most Active Against America.

Accurate Coppys of every thing done, Must be Tak[en] and secured in Some place, for fear of Any thing happening the Origena[ls].

In the pursuing this bussiness Your Are to follow two—Maxims To it, Secrecy & Certainty—The bussiness being of Importance and Consiquently Must Expect Great Expence—Both there will be lost if the most profound secrecy is Not Observed & every path followed & [co]nduct pursued, as not to Give suspicion, Dearest Friends & Acquaintences Must be Esteem’d in this, the worst of Enemys—As to Certainty the Importance of the Bussiness & Expence Arriving requires it—No hearsay Vague reports Are to be Attended to but facts Only founded Upon permanent and [Solid] Information.

As You will have Authority from me for what you do Agreeable to my Instructions—You will give a Certificate to Any person Imployed signifying this Bussiness in the Service of the United States & its being my Order so to do—You will See to Gete five or Six Active Clever fellows Imployd in the Service for the Bussiness of Carriers & Express—You will Use all possible Oeconimy & Keep Regular Accts—Giving Certificats for Any Expence payable by me Commander in Chief of the Indians’ Eastern Department & Asure all such Ample & Compleat—Satisfaction will be Made to all.

If You will Try to Gete a London Court & City Register & Millans List of the Army the Leatest Out—Also Any Magazien & London & Novascotia papers (of News) & every Intiligence Respecting the British Movements—& European News that Can be procured.

The Imployment you Are Intrusted with, is a post of Honour, & Requires Every Perticular to be Observed Agreeable to that—Vigilance in the Executing this Important Bussiness, that you do not Imploy Yourself in Any Bussiness—nor be in Any Company, that will Any way Impare or thawrt the Intentions of your Commission Relying therefore on Your Honour & Intigrety—I wish you success & every Happiness, and Am Your sincear Friend &c. As it is Not prudent to put Your Name or Mine down—this [will be] as binding by Instruction as is Regularly Signed and dericted.


July 26 1780


I now beg Leave to make a report of my proceedings Dureing the time I have been to Novascotia on the Business ordred—Agreeable to your Instructions I Left Machias the 28 of June with four men in a whale Boat—the 7th July I arrived at the Head of Cobequid Bay—where I Endeavoured to get as True a State of the Province as Possible and in particular the State of Halifax—I endeavoured to get a person to go to halifax on the business but could not—as the time I could Stay and other Reasons would not permit it, however I appointed Agents to get Intelligence of every particular matter through the Province which is to be Sent as Soon and as often as possible—after continueing at Colequid Seven Days I prosceeded to Cumberland where I made inquiry respecting every matter—and got an accurate State of that Garison which you have herewith—after Continueing at cumberland Two days I Set out on my return and arived here the 24 Inst. I am extremely Sorry I could not get a more certain account of the State of that province—but you may Depend on haveing the most authentick Intelligence very Soon from the agents I appointed for that purpose.

From the best Intelligence I could get at the Several places I was at, beg Leave to lay before you my own observations and opinion of the State of that province—Goverment is under the greatest apprehensions of an Invasion—and to Strengthen Halifax the more, has Evacuated or called in Several of their out posts—while Drafts has been made from others—there is none of their out posts defensible against three hundred men with propper Artillery—goverment is determined to make Halifax a place of great Strength and for that purpose has made a demand of every Sixth man in the Province to repair old works and Errect New ones this has given the friends to america the greatest Trouble of any thing they have yet met with—Colequid in particular who has opposed and Baffled every Arbiter proceeding of goverment is at Last obliged to comply and Send a party of militia to halifax—their Situation in that province is Truly pitiful, the province in general only wants an opertunity of Shewing their friendship and Loyalty to Congress, and is willing to cast their Lives and Intrests in to the Same Seale with the Inhabitants of the united States.

Several Thousand men may be Depended on to reinforce an American Army Should they Invade that province—at the Same time a Sufficient army Should be Sent for the reduction of that province when Congress sees fit to Invade it—the present State of their Garisons and Fortifications are Such that not Less then Ten Thousand men would be wanting for their reduction.

The manner of my Negociating the Business, with the names of the agents I appointed in Novascotia, you will Have in a Secrat Letter, it not being prudent to make a formal report of it, their Lives being in Danger if Disscovered.

hopeing to meet with your Approbation in the agency, I had the honour to be appointed to—am with due respect your most Obedient and most Humble Servt

John Fulton

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