George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 14 February 1780

To Samuel Huntington

Head Qrs Morris Town February 14 1780


I have been honoured with Your Excellency’s Favor of the 7th and am much obliged by the transmission of the Letter from Major General Lincoln—and for Major Lane’s state of the prisoners at the Southward. The General is not precise in his information on this subject, as to the number or rank of Our Officers still in captivity, but from what he says, I conclude it is nearly as Major Lane has related it.

I transmit Your Excellency Extracts from some dispatches I have lately received from Major General Heath. Those indorsed No. 1 2 & 3 will inform Congress, that Two fires have happened at the posts in the Highlands—and of the loss of Stores in the Quarter Master’s department, occasioned by the First.1 There has been a very minute inquiry with respect to this—and the Court have reported unanimously that it was accidental.2 Besides these Two fires—One of the Redoubts on the East side of the River, suffered a little in the same way some time before.3 Major General Heath appear⟨s⟩ by His orders, issued so early as the 10th of January to have pointed out & enjoined every proper precaution to prevent accidents of this kind in the Barracks & Works4—but these will sometimes take place notwithstanding every provision that can be made. The Extracts No. 4 & 5 contain an account, the best I have yet received, of a moveme⟨nt⟩ on the part of the Enemy on the morning of the 3d against a Detachment of our Troops under the command of Lt Colo. Thompson, which was advanced to the Neighbourhood of the White plains.5 Captain Stoddard’s relation of this affair is very imperfect; but it seems pretty evident that it was unfavourable in the issue. I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

P.S. Since writing the above I have received a Letter from Generl Heath, giving a particular account of the movement of the Enemy against the Detachment under Lt Colo. Thompson. This and the result of the affair Your Excellency will find in the Inclosure No. 6.6

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 19 Feb. (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 16:176).

1The first enclosure was an extract taken from the first two paragraphs and part of the third paragraph of Maj. Gen. William Heath’s letter to GW of 27 Jan.; only the portion of the third paragraph describing the officers’ losses and the fire was included in the extract (DNA:PCC, item 152).

The second enclosure, headed “Return of Stores in the Qr Master General’s Department at West point consumed by & rendered unfit for service by the late fire (the night of 26 January 1780[)],” was a copy in Harrison’s writing of the return submitted with the enclosures to Heath’s letter to GW of 4 Feb.; for a description of the return, see n.5 to that letter.

The third enclosure was an extract taken from the fourth and fifth paragraphs of Heath’s letter to GW of 2–3 February. The extract included all of the fourth paragraph and all but the final twenty-eight words of the fifth paragraph (all in DNA:PCC, item 152).

5The fourth enclosure was a copy of Capt. Orringh Stoddard’s letter to Heath of 3 Feb.; see Heath to GW, 4 Feb., n.1. Enclosure number five was an extract taken from Heath’s letter to GW of 4 Feb., consisting of the first paragraph of that letter. Both are in DNA:PCC, item 152.

6Enclosure number six was an extract taken from Heath’s letter to GW of 10–11 February. The extract consists of the first four paragraphs of the letter, except for the sentence regarding the American troops burying the dead (DNA:PCC, item 152).

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