George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 10 October 1776

From Major General William Heath

Kingsbridge Octr 10th 1776

Dear General

Upon being Informed yesterday in the afternoon that a party of the Enemy had Landed at Dobbs’s Ferry, and had Posted Sentries in the Road, I Ordered Colo. Sargent with 500 men and 40 of the Light Horse to march and Dislodge them, at Two oClock this morning he Sent an Express Informing me, that he had reach’d The Ferry, & that there was no Enemy Landed, at that Time, and that the Ships were about three miles above that Place—I have Ordered him to leave about 100 men and a few of the Light Horse for Expresses, and to return with the remainder of the Detachment.1

I every moment Expect further Intellegance, of our Gallies, The Ships which are a Shore &c. which shall without Delay be Transmitted to your Excellency.

Inclosed is the Judgment of the Court Martial on Capt. DeWitt.2

I have Desired Generals Nixon and Fellows to be at my Quarters this Day and if Possible the List of Officers shall be Compleated. I have the Honor to be &c.

W. Heath

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1See Heath to Paul Dudley Sargent, 9, 10 Oct., and Sargent to Heath, 10 Oct., MHi: Heath Papers; see also Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 79–80.

2John L. De Witt (1731–1803) of Dutchess County, who was a captain in Col. Cornelius Humphrey’s regiment of New York militia levies, was tried on 8 Oct. for releasing James McCormick, a soldier under sentence of death, from the main guard on 1 Oct. (see Heath to GW, 29 Sept., and note 1). The court acquitted De Witt on the grounds that he knew of no crime alleged against McCormick and “none appeard in the Return of the Prisoners &c.” (see the court-martial proceedings for 8 Oct. in MHi: Heath Papers). “The General,” GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Cary wrote Heath later this day, “has ordered the proceedings of the Court Martial to be returned, & says, he leaves the mater intirely with you, tho’ the conduct of the Capt. in releasing the prisoner appears extraordinary” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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