George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 11 May 1781]

11th. Major Genl. Heath set out this day for the Eastn. States, provided with Instructions, and letters couched in strong terms—representing the distresses of the Army for want of provisions and the indispensable necessity of keeping up regular supplies by the adoption of a plan, which will have system & permanency in’t.1

This day also I received advice from Colo. Dayton that 10 Ships of the line, and 3 or 4000 Troops had sailed from New York. The intelligence was immediately communicated to Congress, and to the French Genl. & Admiral at R. Isld.2

1See entry for 6 May 1781. Heath carried with him a circular letter of 10 May to the New England states from GW stressing the army’s need for supplies: “From the Post of Saratoga, to that of Dobbs Ferry inclusive, I believe there is not (by the Returns & Reports I have received) at this moment, one day’s supply of Meat for the Army on hand. Our whole dependence for this Article is on the Eastern States: their resources of it, I am persuaded are ample. . . . I have struggled to the utmost of my ability, to keep the Army together; but all will be in vain, without the effectual assistance of the States” (DLC:GW).

2Elias Dayton to GW, 9 May 1781 (DLC:GW). GW received Dayton’s letter on 10 May. On 11 May he ordered Dayton “either to confirm or contradict, as speedily as possible and with as much precision as you can, as to the number of Ships of War, Troops and destination” (DLC:GW). Dayton’s letter was forwarded to the president of Congress on 11 May with GW’s comment that “it does not carry the strongest marks of credibility” (DNA:PCC, Item 152). The information was sent to the comte de Rochambeau, in command of the French forces at Newport, 11 May 1781, with a request that it be transmitted to Charles René Dominique Gochet, chevalier Destouches (1727–1794), temporarily commanding the French fleet at Newport (DLC:GW).

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